The Missing Unicorn in the Land of the Zombie Fairies—Part Eight
By: David K. Montoya

DEDICATED TO MY GIRLS, ZOIE & LILY

Unable to speak Prince Theophrastus von Hohenheim one day who would become King of the Gnome world of Paracelsus watched as smoke rose from the burned buildings. His new friends walked up behind him and witnessed the aftermath of a previous onslaught in which was brought against the peaceful kingdom.

"They are all gone," Theo mumbled in a cross between horror and shock. "Everyone…Everything."

Tears fall from his surprisingly calm face, in his short life, the young Gnome Prince had never seen devastation and chaos that was before him in that moment. The four friends stood at the front gate of Paracelsus and held hands, while unfriendly fires dances where beautiful buildings once stood.

"What…What could have happened," Prince Theo asked. The words were horse, as his throat was dry from the thick smoke that hung in the air. Olivia turned to her older sister for answers but received only a shrug.

"I think we need to go inside, passed the gate and investigate," Olivia said softly to Theo and the others. "I think the clue are there by the fire."

Olivia let go of Prince Theo's hand and headed toward the destruction, but Emma stopped her as she stepped in front of her to block her entrance.

"Hey?! What the big idea, Em," Olivia demanded to know.

Emma gave her younger sister a loving smile, and took her fingers moving a strand of hair out of her face. Then said, "Livi, there might be very horrible things in there. Things that neither of us have ever seen…I am scared that you might…that we might see something that might haunt us forever."

"Let me do it," Kén Tauros said and stepped forward. "While I may come across as a dimwit, I have seen many horrors in my life. I will go inside, pass the gates. I will bring back information on everything I see."

"You are a noble friend, Kén," Emma said, in a heartfelt and understanding tone. "Thank you."

"I will make this as fast as possible, my dear friends," Kén Tauros said and then headed toward the front gate which lead into Paracelsus.

The centaur was only a half a step away from passing through into the chaos, when Prince Theo stopped him as he said, "Wait, Kén, wait!"

Kén stopped and looked back toward the gnome price and said, "Yes Theo?"

Theo walked up to the centaur and in a shaky voice asked, "If…If you see my dear mother…please…"

Theo was unable to finish his sentenced as he dropped to knees and welled out in sorrow. The sister came to the Price's aid and embraced him lovingly, while he emotionally cried out. Kén looked to Emma for an approval to continue forward, which she did with a nod, and one returned from the centaur.

Kén Tauros was afraid as he stepped into the realm of Paracelsus, the brunt grass cracked beneath his hooves while he moved slowly inside. The wooden structures popped, and glowed red from the flames hidden within. As the centaur traveled forward, he noticed that the buildings were intact—they were lit on fire without being damaged, But where are the people, Kén wondered. There is no one here.

Although he did not want to, Kén moved along the once grassy path toward the Gnome Castle, like everything in Paracelsus the royal structure was crafted from wood. As it burned, it smelled like a sweet pine—he stared while the fire raged and imagined how it looked. I bet it was quiet, majestic, Kén thought with a slight smile.

Kén's eyes worked from ground level of the castle to where he believed the throne room would had been located. His nervous stomach twisted at the thought of what he needed to do next. The centaur moved to the side of the castle and heaved his back legs outward and the entire face of the gnome palace detached and fell forward onto the already burnt ground.

It reminded him of an oversized doll house at the front of the house folded down to show the inside. His mind shifted to his sister, who he had not thought about in almost one hundred years. "That was so very long ago," Kén thought aloud. Memories flooded in like a wild tsunami, the pain, the sorrow and the regret, all vivid and awake. "I had to…"

His words faded into silence and for a moment the centaur was lost in time, until an unwelcomed thought reminded him of his current task at hand. Kén wiped his eyes, then scanned the castle, specifically where he thought the throne room would be, he tried to ignore the memories that the current landscape triggered, but that was almost impossible.

After Kén Tauros reviewed the entire castle from the top where the bedchambers were to the floor level and much to his delight—the entire castle was…

"Empty," Kén said in almost a whisper. He turned to head back to the gates and noticed something in the dirt—it was a large hoof print. "Is it mine?"

Kén puzzled over the print for a good while, he was confused as he noticed hoofs all over the area. Then in a striking revaluation, the answer to his question came to him, "Ah! It's the Zombie Fairies! They are the ones who attacked," Kén shouted as he ran away from the remains of the Gnome Castle.

#

Kén Tauros walked past the gates and found his friends waiting for his return. He could not help but notice Prince Theo's expression of wide eyed of fear. "Your mother was not there, Theo," he said softly.

"Oh, thank Heavens," Prince Theo sighed in relief.

"No one was, actually," Kén Tauros said while she shook the soot from his hair. "Not a single person…or gnome rather."

"What do you mean, Kén," Emma asked while she cocked her eyebrow.

"No one was there," Kén Tauros said again. "It appeared that everyone fled Paracelsus, before it was set on fire."

"Huh?" Olivia questioned.

"I don't think they fled, Livi," Emma said as she turned to address her puzzled little sister.

"I think it was the Zombie Fairies, my friends," Kén Tauros revealed. "I saw prints that made me think of them."

"That would make perfect sense," Emma pondered aloud. "Zombie Fairies are known to take prisoners for slaves, steal supplies and destroy anything they could not take with them."

"But it appeared that there was no struggle," Kén said. "Other than the fire, everything was intact."

"That makes sense, we gnomes are friendly and peaceful people," Prince Theo explained.

"What, you wouldn't have fought them off," Olivia asked. "You know with like an army or weapons?"

"Oh no, no," Theo said. "We did not feel it was safe for weapons in our kingdom, so mother outlawed them and since we are a peaceful people there was no need for armies and such."

Olivia cocked her head toward her sister and asked, "Oh, so, they busted through the gates and captured everyone?"

"The gates look untouched," Emma answered while she pointed to the undamaged gates that surrounded the kingdom.

"That's because the Gnomes had no enemies and we left the gates open to all who wished to enter," Theo elaborated. Tears begin to fall once again, as the weight of the matter collapsed on the poor gnome prince. "Oh! Oh! That, that means my people are slaves to the Zombie Fairies, I pray to the Gods that they do not eat any of them!"

"What do we do, Em?" Olivia asked.

"I think we continue on to the old Magus in the village," Emma explained. "We can have him transport us to the Land of the Zombie Fairies…we confront Schartzmugel and his legion… With any luck we free Yoon and the Gnomes!"

"Luck will not have anything to do in this, Emmy," said a man who was dressed in a black and purple knight's armor.

Wide eyed, Olivia looked to her sister and said, "There is only one person who calls you, Emmy."

Emma walked over to the knight and examined the person that stood before her. "It can't be."

The man removed his helmet, he struck many facial features as the two sisters, Emma's brown hair and eyes, while he had the same smile and chin as Olivia.

"Brother?" Emma asked in a surprise tone.

To be continued…

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