"A Dangerous Crusade"
Where there is anything of value,
there will be hunters;
and so, where there are unicorns,
there will be unicorn hunters.
The unicorns are all but impossible
to find, let alone to catch -- it's hard
to hunt what you can't even see.
It goes without saying that
those who hunt unicorns
are too profane to see them.
It's a dangerous crusade
for precious little pay.
The forest is deep and dark,
full of tree roots to trip the unwary,
leaves and branches blocking the view.
The mountains are high and cold,
their flanks clad in blinding ice,
the stone too hard for hoofprints.
The desert is open and empty,
with a view that stretches for miles,
but the wind sweeps away tracks
before anyone can follow them.
The swamp is muddy and dank,
and if there's a gleam in the distance,
it's probably no more than foxfire
and only a fool would follow it.
Once in a great while
they might manage a capture,
but it doesn't do much good --
a captive unicorn bends all its energy
on escape instead of healing.
The horn of a dead unicorn
won't heal anything either.
That's been tried.
It never takes long
for the other unicorns
to find the captive and
break the locks and escape.
The unicorns know the scent
of their attackers, and will not
come near them if injured on
a battlefield or ill in a temple.
The wilderness, too,
has its dangers --
many a hunter had died
crushed under a rotten tree,
falling down a mountain slope,
lost in the withering desert, or
drowning in a pit of quicksand
while the air shimmers
just a few yards away.
No matter how the hunters
scrabble and cry out in vain,
salvation remains mockingly out of reach.