Dreamed 2012/6/28 by Wayan
I step through the Portal into the human world--the Kingdom of Ecotopia, just outside its capital, a city called San Francisco. I've come to take my place. I'm the lost heir to their throne. Well, bastard heir.
"Bastard" is undeniable, but maybe "lost" isn't quite the word; I was hidden purposefully. I'm only half-human. It's why I'm a bastard; fey marriage was illegal back then. So I was raised on the unicorn plane, sheltered from the prejudices and dangers of a human royal court.
Yes, despite appearances, our two species are cross-fertile. Clearly wizardry's involved, but I'm not sure how. Are unis a human offshoot, are humans devolved unis? Even full unis can turn humanoid at will (though often with a tail, and a bud or even a horn on the brow), so one race or the other may have started as some wizard's pet project--but whether that mage was uni or human, I don't know. Could only matter to a purist, and by definition, I'm not one.
The worldgates are little used these days, so news comes slowly. Only a couple of months ago did I learn that my royal human parent had died two years back! I'm the only heir, so my unicorn parent has decided I must face that half of my heritage.
I put on my most human form, and leap through the Gate.
What I find in this spectacular human city is... complicated. Since my royal parent's death, the Kingdom of Ecotopia has been run competently enough by a cunning old woman and adult son, the matriarch and heir of a prominent family. Though technically usurpers, they're tolerated if not deeply respected. A bit repressive, and taxes are high... but not outrageous, and they've kept the peace.
But they never even tried to find me.
When I show up at the palace audience-room and announce I'm the lost heir--me, with a bud on my forehead marking me fey--the upstart King and Queen Mother just have the soldiers eject me as a crazy troublemaker not worth even arresting. That doesn't work, of course; I'm not exactly a wizard, but even a half-uni can make people face truths. And my claim is true; though I was raised by unicorns, I am the late ruler's child, and it shows.
Within weeks, they're grudgingly conceding it's true I'm a bastard heir; they're clever enough not to wage open civil war over it. Their claim's not so strong that anyone wants to die for them. They propose a regency. Guess who'll still rule!
I counter-propose to keep them as high ministers, and one as prime--whichever they think will be most effective. They're not fools--they'll know that back home on my plane, ruling alliances are more fluid and provisional than human royal lines--you lead if you're liked and respected and good for the herd, though as in all species, family helps. So I'm hoping to sidestep some of the kingly disasters I read in Shakespeare. I'll shamelessly play up my unicornity as an excuse, if need be.
If I have to play traveling figurehead around Ecotopia's hinterlands for a year or two, while these two continue to king it in the City, that'll do--if the country gains by it. While the kingdom learns about me, I can learn about humanity, and acquire a reputation as a healer and wizard (I'm only half, but still a fair hands-on healer). And from what I know of human territoriality, it's wise to let our neighbors (especially the acquisitive ones) learn the new contender has unpredictable powers.
Conversely, if the realm would gain more from my being an ambassador for a time abroad... or if I free up one of the two current regents to travel diplomatically (which they haven't dared) cementing the legitimacy of the new regime... that might work too.
But all contingencies hinge on one big if: can I convince these two cunning all-too-human courtiers of the plain truth? I'm not out to unseat them, because skin or fur, two legs or four, I play by unicorn rules.
NOTES IN THE MORNING
SEVEN YEARS LATER
I now know my differences are, as the dream said, genetic. I have a mutation causing Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome--which can cause, along with a lot of odd physical problems, high-functioning autism. Amusingly, EDS patients call themselves Zebras. Sixty years without diagnosis, due to that delightful med school mindset focused on statistically common diagnoses: "If you hear hoofbeats, think horse, not zebra." Too bad if that cheats the rare patient who actually is a zebra. Or... unicorn.
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