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"Remember the tale of the great wizard Nikos. Once, in the woods, he beheld a unicorn sleeping with his head in the lap of a giggling virgin, while three hunters advanced with drawn bows to slay him for his horn. Nikos had only a moment to act. With a word and a wave, he changed the unicorn into a handsome young man, who woke, and seeing the astonished bowmen gaping there, charged upon them and killed them all. His sword was of a twisted, tapering design, and he trampled the bodies when the men were dead."

"And the girl?" the unicorn asked. "Did he kill the girl too?"

"No, he married her. He said she was only an aimless child, angry at her family, and that all she really needed was a good man. Which he was, then and always, for Nikos could never give him back his first form. He died old and respected - of a surfeit of violets, some say - he could never get enough violets. There were no children."

The story lodged itself somewhere in the unicorn’s breath. “The magician did him no service, but great ill,” she said softly. “How terrible it would be if all my people had been turned human by well-meaning wizards - exiled, trapped in burning houses. I would sooner find that the Red Bull had killed them all.”

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