Passenger – The Last Unicorn

They’d gravitated towards each other, each feeling the other’s pull in the crowded room, and at first glance they had seen something of themselves in the other. Loss. Pain. Inconsolable, and yet longing for some kind of consolation.

Their eyes had met, and they had shared a sad smile, seeing the truth in each other in that first glance. And so they had begun to talk.


The room was simple, unassuming. A table, chairs. The bed. Anonymous. Mutual consent had brought them here, an understanding they shared and an ache they each felt, and they stood before each other, close enough to touch and yet separated by miles.

“This isn’t…”

He couldn’t find the words. He feared to cause her pain, even as he knew that he could not, would not, and he feared being hurt himself. He shook his head, frustrated at his stupidity and his arrogance. She placed her hand on his cheek and held his gaze with bright blue eyes. Eyes he might have drowned in, he thought, if not for…

“You love who you love,” she said. “And so do I.”

He nodded, and her hand slid round to the back of his neck, and she pulled him toward her, their lips meeting in a kiss, cautious but urgent.


They twined about each other in the darkness of the room, their embrace eager, needful. There was no holding back in the darkness, no need to lie, for the truth was plain for both of them. Their shapes were imperfect together, neither feeling the connection, the seamless, perfect joining that they had both known and lost. But there was a connection, a joining, and as their bodies rose to meet each other in the shadows of that anonymous room, they found release and a kind of comfort.


The room was still hidden by the night when she woke, too conscious of the unfamiliar breathing pattern beside her, the incorrect comfort of the arms that held her. She lay in the darkness, comparing and remembering, despite herself. When he pulled away from her in his sleep, curling in on himself, she had not resisted.


Eventually the light of morning bled slowly into the room, filtering through the ill-fitting curtains to trace out the shapes of the table, the chairs, the large bed. Their two bodies curled inward, side by side; together, but alone again. Solitary once more as the morning chased away the shadows and illuminated the truth.

She watched his face slowly emerge from the darkness, listened as the rhythm of his breathing shifted as he, too, drew toward waking. He was handsome enough, she thought, but he wasn’t…

He woke, his body shifting slightly as he drew in a deep breath. His eyes opened slowly, and met hers. They looked at each other in the faint light and shadows, an understanding between them. After long minutes, she spoke quietly.

“What’s her name?”

“Who?” The question was unnecessary, and they both knew it. Her eyes stayed focused on his, and he shrugged, smiling. “Sorry.”

He turned away from her then, shifting onto his back and lifting his shoulders, swinging his legs out of the bed, the wooden floor cold on his soles. He rose, moving across the room to the window, and she watched his tall, slightly too thin frame. He looked out at the town, which was slowly coming to life as the morning sun rose higher over the horizon. He thought he heard the ocean, the faint whisper of crashing waves, but that was impossible, of course. The ocean was half a world away from here. The sky was lightening slowly, and for a while he stood, watching the blue shifting shades towards bright daylight. He still felt her eyes on him, and he sighed, pressing his forehead against the cool glass of the window and closing his eyes.

“Amalthea,” he murmured, and then he turned back to the woman, a sad smile on his face. “Her name is Amalthea.”

She stepped towards him, hand held out in entreaty, and he moved to her, arms enclosing her. In the shadowy room they stood, entwined in an embrace that brought both comfort and pain.

They neither of them had who they wanted. But for now, at least, they had each other.


I Know a Guy with a Golden Touch

This story was inspired by…

Deep in the heart of Phrygia on the Sangarios River sat the mighty city of Gordion. Gordion was the greatest city the world had ever known (according to the the great Bard Yelpio) and was known to be home to the most beautiful women, the most exquisite crafts and more importantly the largest pile of gold ever assembled. All of which was probably why it was currently encircled by ten thousand angry Cimmerian’s waving pointy things and demanding to be let in… again.

While outside the walls the massed forces of the Cimmerian’s formed up for another assault, breaching ladders and battering rams in hand,  inside men wearing grim faces and studded leather looked on with sinking hearts. They might have had the finest blades, the tallest walls and the stoutest hearts but they were outnumbered ten to one and everyone knew if you threw enough shit some of it would eventually stick.

While the two opposing forces eyed each other like strange cats, hissing in the night, in the highest tower of Gordion the council tried to come up with a plan.

“Gordion has never been taken and it never will,” blustered the red-faced General Jaffir as he stalked up and down the room.

“They out number us ten to one,” replied High Steward Demir with a wave of a manicured hand. “In the end numbers will tell.”

“Nonsense! These walls have seen a hundred battles, they are too tall and too thick to breach.”

“Apparently, they aren’t the only ones to thick to breach. We must sue for peace.”

“Sue for peace? Sue for peace!?” bellowed the irate General sending spittle flying. “We are Phrygians! We have the largest empire in the world. We do not sue for peace, we find out enemies and crush them.”

“They’re charging again,” said Sanem from over by the window. The low buzz of voices rose and in the distance drums could be heard. Sanem watched in silence as the wave of men threw themselves against the wall. Ladders were raised and thrown down, arrows flew on both sides and everywhere she looked men fell. After several minutes of intense fighting a horn sounded and the wave of men retreated leaving the plain dotted with the dead and dying.

A ragged shout went up from the defenders but it felt hollow, more for show than any genuine joy. They had inflicted a heavy price on the attackers killing twenty men for every man they lost but the each man lost on their side felt like a mortal blow, the line stretching thinner and thinner while outside the walls the mass seemed undiminished.

“They are winning,” she said at length. “Slowly and with a huge cost but they are winning.”

“How can they be winning? We the best equipment, the best training, the best mercenaries.”

“We had the best mercenaries…”

“Those bastards! When I get my hands on that slimy…”

“They knew which way the wind was blowing as soon as they saw the Cimmerian army. They were out beyond the wall turning coat before they had even set up camp.”

“Well what would you suggest we do about it?” asked Demir looking down his nose at the Princess.

“The same thing I’ve been saying for the last hour…”

“You can’t honestly believe he would make a difference.”

“He is the King,” she replied spinning and fixing his with a glare. “Of course he will make a difference.”

“He never was much of a fighter and that was before the… incident. What good would he do now?” asked General Jaffir, dropping heavily into a wooden chair which groaned in protest.

“You know his powers, simply seeing him would be a lift to the people.”

“A lift?” scoffed  Demir. “The man is a murderer.”

“It was an accident.”

“He singly-handedly ruined the economy.”

“He was trying to do the right thing.”

“It’s his fault we’re in this mess. He made the whole of Phrygia a target.”

“He’s a menace.”

“He’s our only hope!”

“Fine but when this back fires I expect you to do the right thing and end this madness before all we have left is castle full of bodies.”


The sun rose on Gordion the next morning to find the whole of the Phrygian army, minus a few sharp-eyed men who remained on the wall to warn of attack, arrayed in the main square facing the steps to the inner keep. They had been roused from their beds with no explanation and now huddled together shifting nervously and eyeing the heavy wooden doors with trepidation. There was a rumour that surrender was imminent and it was widely known that the Cimmerian’s did not treat their captives respectfully.

After several minutes of anxious waiting a bell tolled and the doors swung open. The chattering of the crowd vanished and silence hung over the gathered men. As the members of the Council stepped forward followed by a man with long brown hair, flowing golden robes and his hands held behind his back.

“Men of Phrygia,” said Princess Sanem stepping forwards. “We have suffered at the hands of the Cimmerian dogs and their traitorous allies for too long. Each and every one of us has seen a friend, a brother or a father fall in battle. Well no more! Now we strike back and end the war once and for all and to lead you in battle I present to you our fearless leader. The King of Phrygia the greatest city that ever was or will be. King Midas!”

The King stepped forward and waved.

“Hi everyone.”

The silence evaporated as everyone started talking at once.

“Just get him a horse and a sword before they all turn on us,” hissed Demir.

The general signalled and two grooms ran up one leading a stout white charger and the other holding an immaculately wrought broadsword. The King stepped forward and took the sword from the groom. As soon as he touched it bright yellow sprang from his hand and raced up the blade until, after only a few seconds, the shining steel had been transformed into solid gold. King Midas thumbed the edge with a frown.

“It’s a it dull Jaffir,” he said with a frown.

“Don’t worry sire it’s only ceremonial anyway your loyal subjects will protect you.”

King Midas pondered for a moment then shrugged and stepped towards the groom holding the horse. The man shied away backing up a step before the General halted him with a stern look.

“Keep your hands in the air sire, there’s a good King let the groom get you settled.” He waved to the groom and after a long pause his eyes darting left and right the groom eventually grabbed the King around the waist and, using a box for height, heaved the king into the saddle.

“Now try not to touch the horse father,” said Sanem stepping up to the King and resting a hand on his leg. “You know what happened last time.”

The King let out a long breath. “Are you sure this is a good idea darling? I mean I’ve not been in battle for thirty years and that as before all this.” he waved the useless golden sword.

“Don’t worry father just lead the men out, they will do the rest. Just steer with your legs and try not to touch anything that you like, including me. Are you ready?”

“As I’ll ever be…”

“Good luck father. I love you,” as she said those words she slapped the horses flank and it leapt forwards towards the gate.

“After me meeeeeeeeeen!” shouted the king and the soldiers in the square looked at each other for a moment before charging after the departing noble battle cries on their lips.


King Midas was on the first man before his army had made it halfway across the battle field. The Cimmerian was a brute of a man in thick plate mail wielding a giant war hammer. His first blow knocked the golden sword right out of the king’s hand and sent it skittering off across the battlefield followed by a handful of kicking a biting warriors. King Midas tried to turn his horse but before he could the great war hammer rose and fell. The king closed his eyes threw his hands in front of his face an waited for the end. After a few seconds when the end didn’t come he opened his eyes to see a golden statue of the Cimmerian in front of him.

As he stared in disbelief a second Cimmerian swung a sword at him. King Midas batted it aside and that man too turned to gold. A third stepped forward and King Midas grabbed him by the collar before he could attack and again the man was replaced by a gold statue. Seeing his power in person the remaining Cimmerians turned and ran. By the time the King’s army finally reached him the whole army was running for their lives.