The Tale of a Unicorn Rider
I write this document at the request of the priests of Lankhor Mhy; my master instructed me to learn to read and write, and to pay the priests with whatever information they desired. This document is the price of my training.
My name is Stormchaser's Hands. I was called Lilla when I was born among the Sable People, and am still called that by the Hands of the other Starchildren. I was married at 18, had a son at 19, and widowed and captured by the Bison people at 20. My son was taken from me, to be raised by loyal Bison women. I was sullen, and my owner beat me often.
One night, after my owner had used my body and then beaten me for my indifference, I heard a voice in my head say, "There is freedom in the chaparral." I did not know where the voice came from, and I did not care; I realized that I would rather die in the chaparral than live as I was. I examined my owner's goods-- I had been utterly trustworthy until then-- and stole a waterskin and a dagger. I killed my owner with the dagger, and fled into the darkness. I still carry that dagger today.
I walked for half the night before I heard the voice again. "Now you are free to die," it said.
"Better dead than whore and brood mare for a man I hate, who will raise my children to hate my family," I answered.
"And if there were a third way?" asked the voice.
"I would gladly hear of it," I answered.
"Swear yourself to me, and I will make you a warrior and a hunter and a magician. I will show you all of Prax, and much of the wide world beyond," said the voice.
"Who are you?" I asked.
"I am Stormchaser Starchild, and I would have you as my hands. What is your answer?" And then I saw him for the first time by the light of a spell he had cast on his horn. I said I would serve him, and he helped me to mount his back, and he carried me to a holy place.
We were met there by other Starchildren (unicorns) and their hands (riders). We stood beneath the stars, and Stormchaser had me cut him, and annoint myself with his blood, and then cut myself, and annoint his horn with my blood. I was taught an oath, and I swore my soul to Stormchaser, and he gave a piece of his soul to me. When it was over, he and I could talk mind to mind with no effort, and he could draw on my mind and my soul as it pleased him.
That night I learned that Starchildren share their dreams with their hands. In the land of my master's dreams, I was a female of his own species, and we were lovers, and we were waited upon by the shades of all of my master's hands who had come before me.
The morning after my initiation we were joined by the Starchild Blackwind and his hands, a former llama woman who called herself Agutha. We left Prax and journeyed through Dragon Pass and the Holy Country. Over several years, the three taught me how to live as the hands of a Starchild. I learned to ride without a thought; I became an expert archer; I learned to make straight arrows; I learned many spells. Most important, though, I learned how to care for my master.
Such is the life of the hands of a Starchild; once a woman has been adopted and initiated into the life, she is taken on a five year long apprenticeship with her master, and another Starchild with his hands. On returning to Prax, master and hands run with the herd for another five years, and then, when the woman is judged ready, and there is a need, she and her master join another Starchild with untrained hands, and aid her through her own apprecticeship.
1999 (probably much earlier, but this was the last modification date on the file)