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Story 2

Sara Codair

Finding a kitten a home is all in a day's work, right? Unless you are a delectable maiden, and the home belongs to a kelpiecorn, a cross between a kelpie and a unicocrn. A fluffy kitten cements an unlikely relationship in the finely crafted story A Kitten for the Kelpiecorn.  

Sara Codair lives on a lake in Massachusetts with a cat, Goose, who “edits” their work by deleting entire pages. Sara’s debut novel, Power Surge, will be published by NineStar Press on Oct. 1, 2018. Find Sara online at or @shatteredsmooth..

I wrote A Kitten for the Kelpiecorn for my cat, Goose, and for all the strays stuck in shelters, waiting to make a difference in someone's life. -- Sara Codair



A Kitten for the Kelpiecorn

By Sara Codair


“You’re a what?” asked the blushing maiden. Her blond hair was restrained in a tight bun that accentuated her high cheekbones, creating the illusion of blush popping off of her cheek.

“A kelpiecorn,” I replied. “A mix of unicorn and kelpie. I get the slimy, green scales from Mother, and the sparkling horn from Dad.”

“A stunning combination.” Her voice oozed with sarcasm as she folded her arms across her pink pinafore.

“Watch the attitude,” I said, suppressing the urge to pull her into the lake and drown her. It would only take a few seconds, and then her squeaky voice would be silenced forever.

She giggled. It was painfully shrill and bouncy. I bared my teeth, slowly moving out of the water. My horn was itching to pierce her smooth skin. Her scream would be music and the silence bliss.

“Oh come on, Mr. Kelpiecorn, if you attack me now, you’ll never get a kitten.”

I hissed, easing my way back into the water. I did want a kitten very badly, and I needed to stop hunting humans or I’d attract the knights that slew Mother.

“That’s better,” she smiled. “Now, were you interested in a male or female?”

“A male,” I said. “His fur needs to be white.”

She batted her lashes at me, and then she made some notes on a glittering scroll that reminded me of Dad’s dung: cylindrical, rainbow, and covered in so much glitter that you’d sparkle even if you touched it with a ten—foot pole.

“Alright – we have several whites available. Are there any other, um, requirements?” she asked, staring down at the brown water I was wading in.

“He needs to be snuggly and playful,” I said. “There are plenty of trees for him to climb, birds to hunt and reeds to play with, but when he’s tired, I want him to sit on my back and purr. Purring is so calming. Nothing else makes me forget about drowning people.”

“I’ll make a note of that.” Her lip twitched. She took a careful step back from the water and looked around. “And where do you plan to keep this kitten? They generally don’t like water and certainly can’t breathe it.”

I narrowed my eyes. “My cottage. Only purebred kelpies have gills. I can’t live underwater any more than the kitten can.”

“And where is this cottage?” asked the girl with a smug smirk.

“If I told you that, I’d have to drown you.”

“Right.” She pursed her lips and took another step back. “While the United Empire’s Animal Rescue Society promises not to discriminate based on species, it is mandated that adoption agents inspect the home of the prospective pet parents. I cannot allow you to adopt a kitten without first inspecting your home.”

“But the letter said my application was approved.” I stood up, letting her see all four of my massive legs and the weeds dangling from my belly. A kitten would have such fun playing with me. My stomach could shelter him while he batted the milfoil and bladderwort.

“Your application was approved pending an interview and home inspection. While you proved very knowledgeable about the nutritional and exercise requirements, you have been very vague about your living situation. I cannot allow you to take a feline to a home I have not deemed suitable.” She kept backing up without breaking eye contact.

I suspected she was getting ready to bolt. I stepped out of the lake and stomped my hooves. I’d butcher the little brat if she didn’t let me have a kitten. “My home is suitable. My test scores prove I am qualified to make that decision.”

The girl stopped moving when her back hit a tree. I could smell panic pouring out of her, yet even as she trembled at the terror of being my next meal, she mustered the courage to stand tall and square her shoulders saying, “My opinion is the only one that matters. If I do not approve your home, then you do not get a kitten.”

I stared into her eyes. They were blue like the kind of shallow water Mother said was terrible for hiding in, like the kind Dad would have lounged by if he were looking for scantily-clad maidens to groom his coat or purchase his glitter. This girl possessed the valiant virtuousness Dad admired in women. If Mother hadn’t murdered him, he would’ve liked this girl. He wouldn’t have wanted me to harm her.

I inhaled. Below the fear, I could smell faith in her ability to survive and trust in the terrible monster that was tempted to eat her.  I breathed until my blood ceased boiling and I no longer wanted to pin her tiny body to the bottom of the tarn. I didn’t speak until I was as calm as I could get without a visit from one the feral felines who hunted in the fen.

“I will provide you with safe passage to and from my home if you are accompanied by kittens. Bring three white ones for me to meet. You and the fuzzy fur balls will ride me to the cottage. If you do not find it suitable, I will return you and the kittens safely to land. If you approve, one kitten will stay with me.”

“It would not be a violation to delay the inspection a few more days, especially since you did so well on your exams. I need to confirm with my master, but I believe we should be able to hold the meet-n-greet and inspection simultaneously.” As the girl spoke, her words got stronger and her shaking ceased. She held her hand out palm up. “Do we have a deal?”

“Yes, we do indeed.” I licked her palm to confirm the accord. My saliva was as murky as the swamp, but I was pleased to see it sparkle in the sunlight.

“I’ll meet you here in three days,” she said, gazing at the murky glitter on her palm.

I backed far enough away so she could walk by me without being afraid, and watched her swiftly skip away from the swamp.


Three days later, the young maiden returned. This time, she was wearing a burnt orange smock over a pale yellow shirt and navy trousers. Three purring kittens accompanied her. Their fur was same pure white that Dad’s mane had been.  They were beautiful creatures that chilled the fire in my blood and softened the stones in my heart.

“Mr. Kelpiecorn!” called the girl. “I have returned as promised.”

Grinning, I rose out of the lake and trotted to meet her on the road. “They are purrrrfect!”

She beamed up at me. “Time for the inspection.”

A kitten, with a fluffy mane that made its neck indiscernible from the rest of its body, leapt from her head to mine. He purred like a little engine, and he rolled around between my ears.

“I think Snowball likes you,” said the girl.

“I like Snowball,” I whinnied as his whiskers tickled my ear. “Why don’t you and the other kittens hop on my back? I’ll give you a ride over to my home. If you sit cross-legged, you shouldn’t get wet.

“Alright.” The girl removed two sleeping kittens from her smock’s deep pockets and placed them near their fluffy brother. She was about to climb on too when she paused. “And you promise not to drown me?”

“Of course. I will not drown you on the way to or from my cottage. Safe passage was included in our deal.”

“But there are stories,” she said, taking a step back. “A kelpie offers safe passage to a knight, but the kelpie breaks his promise and drowns the knight or eats him, I forget which.”

“It is both.” My silver mane pricked. Snowball pounced, wrapping his body around the hair and kicking it. His claws tickled my scales so much that I laughed, causing him to pounce and kick until he got himself so tangled that it was as if he were resting in a hammock.

“Mr. Kelpiecorn? Are you going to drown me if I get on your back?”

Catching my breath, I grinned at her. “Not as long as the kittens are there. It was in my mother’s nature to be a lying, man-eating monster, but I have my father’s nature.”

“Seducing virgins?” she asked with one eyebrow arched.

“Protecting them,” I said. “As you can see, I am not suited for seducing anything.”

The girl broke out into a fit of giggles and climbed onto my back. She gathered the kittens into her lap and grabbed my mane. “I’m trusting you, Mr. Kelpiecorn, but remember, there are many knights courting me back home. If you drown me, a host of fearsome warriors in gleaming armor will cut your scales from your body and turn you into a purse.”

“I do not doubt it, fair maiden,” I said, adopting the formal speech of the gentry.  “A rose like you must have all manner of men trying to woo her skirt off.”

“More like all manner of morons,” she giggled.

“All knights are morons. That was one thing my parents agreed on.” I slid into the murky water.  The mud squished under my hoofs, coating them in fresh slime. The ground sloped downwards until there was nothing under my feet but water and the feathery tips of lake weeds.

“Do your parents both live here?” asked the maiden. “I’ve always wanted to meet a true unicorn. If one were to bless me, it would be acceptable for me to remain unmarried.”

“They’re both dead.” I kept my eyes fixed on the river’s entrance.  

“Mine too. They died of the plague when I was young. My grandmother raised me for a while, but she died too. That’s why I work for the adoption agency. I need to support myself until I marry.”

“Well, it sounds like you have many options.”

She snorted. “Many bad options that lead to me spending my life cooking meals, rubbing a hairy back and scrubbing muddy floors for some foul—smelling oaf.”

“Why can’t you just keep working for the adoption agency?”

We were halfway to the river now, and the lake was at its deepest. I could feel the bottom pulling. This was where Mother would murder the people that she offered safe passage to because she knew that once they got below a certain depth, they would never rise again. My body couldn’t withstand the pressure that deep, so I had always been forced to pin my victims in shallower water.

“No one does that,” muttered the girl. “Eventually they’d fire me – probably when I wasn’t cute anymore, and no one would want to marry me anyways. I’d be a lonely old hag. Gods, I’d have to be a Nanny or something.”

I didn’t know much about civilization, so I kept silent. The girl, however, seemed to consider silence an appalling state. The less I spoke, the more she rambled about how handsome, stupid, and smelly her suitors were. At first, her voice irritated me. There were more than a few moments where I considered breaking my vow and tossing her off my back. Fortunately for the girl, the kittens were meowing, trilling and purring in response to her stories. While I had never felt even the tiniest drop of guilt over slaying a human, I would never forgive myself for killing a kitten.

The journey to my cottage was a long one.  Over the course of it, I came to understand that the girl didn’t like humans any more than I did. By the end of the first hour, and she had not done anything but complain about other humans whether they be suitors, co-workers or courtiers.

Soon, we left the lake behind, entering a windy river. The water was clear and shallow, a window to a wondrous world below the surface, which was filled with fish, rocks and weeds. There was more than one occasion where a kitten got too excited at the sight of a fish and leapt off my back in a foolish attempt to catch it. Snowball proved himself a decent swimmer, but his shorthaired brothers needed to be rescued every time.

“It’s peaceful out here,” said the girl, sprawled out across my back while the kittens dried themselves in the sun. “I love it when work takes me to places free from other humans.”

“Do you have a name?” I asked. The water was getting shallow enough for my hoofs to scrape the tops of the rocks. Soon, we’d be walking again.

“Mirabella Woodsong,” she said with a sigh. “Do you have a proper name, Mr. Kelpiecorn?”

I snorted. “Mother didn’t believe in names. She said they gave people ‘false notions of importance.’”

Mirabella giggled.  “People certainly have those, especially the knights. Did your father ever try to name you?”

My hoof landed on solid rock, so I waded towards shore. “He called me Kelpiecorn, or ‘Corny.’ He tried to take me away from mother once, but she ended up drowning him.”

“I suppose Mr. Kelpiecorn is better than Corny,” she said. “You could have come up with your own name once your parents were gone. Why didn’t you?”

“I tried,” I said, climbing up the riverbank. “But I never thought of a good one.”

“Can I name you?” Mirabella slid off my back. The two shorthaired kittens followed her, but Snowball remained.

“I suppose.” My cheeks were warm. I imagined if I were human, I would be blushing. Mother would be furious, and Dad would be pleased.

“Is that your home?” Mirabella pointed at a cobblestone cottage covered in so much moss that if you weren’t looking for it, you would assume it was just part of the landscape. I was impressed that she had spotted it at all.

“It is.” I trotted ahead and pushed the door open with my nose so she could follow me inside. There was no furniture save a pile of blankets on the floor, but there was a sink with a handle big enough for me to push with my nose if I wanted to get a drink of water without going outside. There were cabinets and counters left over from the humans who had once lived here, but they were dusty and unused since I had no need for anything but a roof over my head.

“I wish I lived here. It’s like something out of an old tale.” Mirabella spun around. “It could be quite cozy with some furniture – a table, a bed and a big old armchair.

“If it is good enough for you, does that mean it is good enough for a kitten? Can I keep Snowball?”

“Of course!” she beamed. “Snowball will love it here! He can climb rafters, hunt bugs and birds, and curl up on the blanket with you at night. He’s lucky he gets to stay. His brothers and I have to go back to the shelter.”

     I looked at her golden braids, blushing cheeks and blue eyes. She brought a light and warmth into the old cottage that I hadn’t seen since the day my father showed up with an entourage of maidens meant to spirit me away while Mother was busy hunting. When she had dragged them to the depths, I thought I would be cold and alone for the rest of my life.  “You don’t have to leave just yet. You can spend the afternoon.”

Mirabella’s face lit up like a firefly. “I’d love to!”

We spent the rest of the day exploring the marsh around my cottage while the kittens chased birds and frogs. Snowball even managed to catch a few, which he dutifully deposited in Mirabella’s lap. I pulled some fish out of the small stream, and we had a picnic. The cats and I ate our meal raw, but Mirabella slowly roasted hers on the fire. Before I knew it, the sun was setting.

“I suppose we should get going back,” said Mirabella.

I glanced up at the red ball of fire slowly sinking beyond a horizon broken by gnarly trees. I was the biggest fish in the pond during the day, but after dark, nightmares roamed both land and lake.  “The sun is setting swiftly. It will be safer to spend the night at the cottage. We can set out from there at dawn.”

I expected her to argue, but she just agreed with a shrug and a look of mischief more devilish than the kittens’ most impish expressions. “Alight. I suppose there are worse monsters here than you?”

I nodded. We watched the sun set for just another moment before she and the kittens climbed onto my back. I galloped to my cottage, where the five of us spent the night all curled up on my pile of blankets.


I woke to a shrill screech, followed by giggles and purring.

“What’s wrong?” I roared as I pushed myself upright and looked around.

Mirabella was curled up on the floor, covering her face as laughter shook her body. The kittens prowled around her, occasionally daring to swat her hair or pounce on her feet.

“Why are you laughing?” I asked looking around to find nothing amiss. Mirabella was laughing too hard to answer me.

I felt a swift pressure travel from my belly to my rump. Recognizing the signs of an upset stomach, I fled outside just in time to avoid pooping all over the cottage. When I was done, I turned around to bury it so Mirabella would not step in it, and that is when I realized something had changed.

Normally, my dung was as black and foul as swamp muck. Today, it was a log of glittering rainbows. I looked down at my legs and saw my scales had turned white. I twisted my neck, examining my body. I still bore the scales of a kelpie, but instead of moldy green, they were unicorn white.

I galloped over to the water’s edge and studied my reflection. Not only had my scales changed color, but also the whole shape of my body had transformed. My torso was leaner and longer, my snout was sharper, and my horn was dusted in sparkling rainbows.

Dad had once told me that unicorn magic was the most powerful force around, but it was tied to the soul and hard to control. Before he died, he claimed Mother’s vile actions were poisoning me, shaping me into a monster just like her. He believed I’d be more like him if we lived together. I’d doubted his words then, but now I couldn’t think of another explanation. I’d resisted the temptation to harm Mirabella, and I even sheltered her in my home. Somehow, the good deed had awakened something deep inside me, and it had set a mysterious metamorphosis in motion.

“You’re beautiful,” said Mirabella. “When the sun rose, I watched the white slowly creep over your scales. The kittens kept swatting the scales as they changed, and then you farted rainbows. I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe.”

Envisioning the scene, I laughed.

“You’re like real unicorn now, only with scales instead of fur. It’s magical.” She slowly ran her hand across my back. “I wonder if you could bless me.”

Her words evoked a wave of energy that began in my belly and rolled all the way to the tip of my horn. “I think I can. Dad told me about his magic. I even watched him bless a maiden once. She knelt down while he did it.”

“Have faith,” she said, falling to her knees.

The magic built inside me until I felt I’d explode if I didn’t eject it. I touched the tip of my horn to her head, letting the power flow free. Rainbows and glitter poured forth until Mirabella was engulfed by an iridescent cyclone of color.

When it was done, we were both lying in the muck exhausted from the blessing. She looked nearly the same as before, except her skin had a faint glow, and her brow was adorned with a radiant rainbow star just like the ones Dad’s attendants had bourne.

“Thank you,” she whispered as she climbed to her feet. “Now no one can make me marry.”

“What do you plan to do?” I slowly lifted myself to all fours. I was a little unsteady from using so much magic, but I felt stronger with each step forward.

“Return to the Rescue Society to give my notice, I suppose.”

“And then what?”

“I don’t know. I could go live at the Unicorn Temple.”

“Well, you’re welcome to stay with me as long as you like. It was good to have company to share a meal with, instead of having my company become the meal.”

Her smile melted my soul. “I think I’d like that. Perhaps we could create a refuge for homeless cats.”

“I’d like that too, but I still need to fulfill the second part of the bargain and return you and the two short-haired kitties to the spot I found you in. Snowball is already adapting to life in the wetlands, but his brothers would be happier in a drier location.”

“I suppose you’re right. It would be wise for me to make a few public appearances before I move in permanently or else the knights will assume you ate me.”

I laughed. “Hop on board. I ate a knight once. He tasted like dung.”

In a flying fit of giggles, Mirabella leapt onto my back and wrapped her arms around my neck. After collecting the two kittens I wasn’t keeping and making sure Snowball was safely in my cottage, we set off for the landing we originally met at. Mirabella didn’t stop talking the whole swim back to the swamp’s border, but I was never tempted to drown her. In fact, I found her voice quite pleasing.  

We arrived at the border around midday. Mirabella hugged me goodbye and promised to be back in a fortnight with more longhaired cats and all her belongings.

“Can I call you Charlie?” she placed one hand on my head.

“If it pleases you.”

“That was my father’s name. I think it will suit you just fine. Goodbye, Charlie Kelpiecorn.”

“Goodbye, Mirabella Woodsong.” I couldn’t help but grin as I watched her skip down the path. She had more bounce in her step now and left a trail of glitter in her footprints.

Deep inside, I knew more than my appetite had changed. I was looking forward to the day when Mirabella would return and help me figure out just how deep my transformation went. In the meantime, I had Snowball to keep me company.



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