Elsi’s face was aglow. “Tessa, it’s a unicorn!”
Tessa gasped. It was indeed. Elsi had not spoken for many years. If the Aedhira could heal her of that, she was grateful to them, despite their inability to give her what she herself lacked.
The unicorn and Elsi slowly approached each other, until they stood face to face. Tentatively Elsi reached out and embraced the unicorn’s neck. The unicorn made no move to stop her. Tears streamed down Elsi’s face, and she closed her eyes and hugged the unicorn tightly.
“And you,” a voice said, behind her. Tessa turned to see Tidhana standing there, watching. “When will you speak again?”
“Me? I speak. In several languages, in fact.”
“And yet you do not speak in any of them.”
Tessa paused. “Some things are too encompassing for a fake unicorn to heal.” She spoke quietly, out of her mood, but also to be sure Elsi, entranced with her unicorn, would not hear.
“Is that all we are to you?”
Tessa looked down, a little ashamed. “No, I know you are magical, and what you have done for Elsiana is beautiful, and very kind. But… it cannot help me. I know too much, I am too wise.” She laughed, devoid of humor.
Tidhana’s eyes were infinitely gentle. “Have hope. Things are not finished yet.”
Tessa was not sure how Tidhana could know that, but she let her walk away without trying to question her further. She was tired, and with her heart dead, why should she care about hope? There was a little life in her heart yet, true; but it was only just enough for Elsi. Some things just were. Hoping for anything different would not change a thing. She had gotten more than she had hoped for when the Kivan slaves had freed her, but then she had found herself still trapped, still dirty.