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"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.

The Red Queen

Shannon Fay is a Clarion West graduate and writer living in Mi'kma'ki/Nova Scotia. Her first novel, Innate Magic, will be released later this year from 47North. She can be found online at @shannonlfay.

"I've come to say goodbye, old friend," Princess Cardena said to the unicorn. The sunlight made the creature's white flank sparkle.
Oh? The unicorn said. You are going away?
"No. But I am to be married." Cardena blushed, not wishing to speak plainly of how she'd soon no longer be a maiden, able to see unicorns. "Soon, I shall be changed."
The unicorn nudged her shoulder. Princess, if you change, I shall change too. We will meet again.
Cardena's groom was a warlord that had invaded her country. By giving him her hand she'd keep her people safe. She held onto that one thought, gripping it as she gripped her bridal bouquet and later the bed sheets. It was all right, she told herself. It was for her people.
But as time passed it became harder to hold onto that belief. She saw how her husband's armies roamed the land, ransacking shrines and killing resistors.
As a year passed a mix of rage and despair engulfed her. When they had married, she had foolishly believed that her husband would change, that as a legitimate ruler he would feel beholden to his subjects. Beholden to her. But he had just continued to take what he wanted, offering nothing in return.
She had given herself away for nothing.
Cardena ran to the woods.
"Old friend! Are you there?!"
A figure emerged from the trees, not a flesh-and-blood unicorn but the skeleton of one, its eyes burning red with promised vengeance.
"You've changed," she whispered.
So have you.
It was true--she wasn't the blushing maiden from before. Now she was a queen, ready to slaughter the invaders that had brutalized her nation.
She'd start with her husband.
"Come, old friend." Cardena climbed onto the creature's back. "We have much work to do."
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

Author Comments

I've never really liked how the unicorn myth put such an emphasis on virginity, in particular female virginity. I wanted to write a story where the myth changed as the woman changed.

- Shannon Fay
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