Calix’s world is dying. He and his brothers have hidden in a realm they created four-hundred years ago when the humans were hunting them down. As the three remaining unicorns, they’ve kept themselves safe and hidden away from the threat of humanity.
But without the earth’s magic, they and their world are slowly dying. They need the help of three humans, triplets, to save them, but Calix and his brothers disagree greatly on how their help is to be earned. Calix wants to save them and their world, but he refuses to hurt anyone—even a human— in the process.
He’ll have to befriend one of the men and hope for the best if he has any chance of surviving.
There was something so unfair about watching his older brother die. Calix hated it. They were unicorns. He should have been able to heal him. A century or two ago, their magic would have been able to easily do that small task and more. But back then Sayer wouldn’t have needed his help anyway, because they would have still been living on Earth in the land of the humans, where magic was plentiful and no one ever stopped to question its existence.
“Come away from him and let him get some rest,” their middle brother, Xavier, called out from behind him.
“He’s growing weaker. What if tonight the wind comes for his spirit?” Calix protested.
Xavier came up to him, his footsteps nearly silent on the old stone floors, and laid his hand gently on Calix’s shoulder. “Then we have failed him.”
And that was something Calix refused to let happen. “Five more minutes. Please?”
Xavier joined him on Sayer’s large bed. It was big enough to easily hold the three of them in whatever shape they chose to be in at the time, and for years they’d laid there together telling stories of their lives back on Earth. Calix remembered the stars above them and the sound of his brothers’ laughter. They didn’t laugh much anymore. They didn’t have much reason to.
Xavier knelt beside their brother’s shoulder and began to softly sing to him. Sayer was far too weak to sing along to the tune, and soon enough Calix had to turn away before either of his brothers could see his tears. There was no more magic left in this land they’d created. Four-hundred years ago, while fleeing for their lives from the humans, they’d created this world as a refuge with a good deal of their magic. But this was not a natural world, and the magic had slowly leached out of it over time, leaving them all weakened.
There was a solution, however, as much as Calix refused to accept that humans were the answers to their prayers. They’d caused them to run in the first place, but Calix still found himself going back to his bedroom in the large castle they’d conjured. He knelt on the old stones and drew three symbols around himself, each one more powerful, more draining, than the last.
They had settled on three brothers to come and bring magic into their world. Three perfectly ordinary human brothers, except that they were triplets. For some reason he didn’t explain, but that Xavier had been adamant about, the magic had to come from triplets. As the smallest of them, Calix was tasked with gathering the easiest of the humans and bringing him into this world.
He placed each of his hands on two of the symbols, then laid his forehead over the third. He instantly felt the pull of his magic bringing him to the other side where the humans lived, just beyond theirs.
Calix gritted his teeth and waited for the pain to ebb as horrid smells assaulted him. He’d been to the human world once before to observe the brothers, and it didn’t smell any better now. They lived in dirt and smoke, and the sky was thick with their pollution. From every direction there was noise, and so many people he could hardly tell them apart from each other in the masses.
He’d come up in an alleyway, and he stayed there as he steadied himself. He was just out of sight of all but the most curious humans, which suited him just fine. He had belonged in this world centuries ago. This awful place was not the home he’d loved and had been forced to flee. This was nothing but death and garbage everywhere.
For all its faults, Earth still hummed with old magic, though. His connection to those ancient lines of power was weakest in the smoke-filled city, but he felt the call well enough, and he drew on that low, resonating power to sustain him as he faded from sight. People still bumped into him as he made his way down the sidewalk to where his human was supposed to be, but they did not see him. Though he was sure that these humans had long ago lost what hunting instinct they had when it came to finding the unicorns, he knew that they would likely be able to tell that something was different about him, and he wanted to draw as little attention to himself as possible. It was far better that no one notice him at all.
He was two blocks from where the first of the brothers worked. Once Calix and his brothers had found them, they'd kept tabs on them. He'd been aware of this brother for months now, but their situation hadn't been quite so dire before. He'd been putting off getting the humans, and now his brother was suffering because of his choice to delay capturing them.
The human he'd been sent to bring back, Jasper, worked in a garage full of what the humans called classic cars. Calix was over four-hundred years old. These cars weren't classics to him. A sword was, or maybe some pottery from when he'd last had a home on Earth, but these cars had only recently come into being, as far as he was concerned. And he didn’t like how they smelled, the noise they made, or the way the world had been changed to accommodate them.