“This is the main Unicorn field. Males live out their lives here except when breeding or as young foals. Those stay in the main barn until weaning.” We could see a herd of white animals in the distance.
“Why are their manes different? I saw reds and greens on the group of females up front.”
Walter pursed his lips for a moment. “It’s a breeding thing. Certain traits carry forward with certain gene lines. We track and record which Unicorn is crossed with which. On occasion we have had to bring in a new male or female from Canada to enhance the lines.”
Glancing at Walter I asked the question that was bothering me. “What about Unicorns with blue manes? Do they exist as well?”
“Yes, blue. Do you have any of them?” Both Cat and Bill carefully watched Walter.
“At this time, no. That is a rare line. We haven’t had one of those in more than ten years. I think. Robert would know. Why do you want to know?”
“No real reason. I just saw one of them recently and the colors surprised me, that’s all. How many Unicorns are here on the ranch?” I tried to change the subject.
“Several hundred. This blue you saw, was it at the British Columbia site?” Walter peered at me allowing the cart to slow down.
“No. It was in private hands.”
Without thinking Walter blurted out. “The only blue not on the farms is Ferg…”
When my eyes widened he shut right up in mid word. I felt a faint tickling at the very edge of my shield as they came slamming down! What was with this family?
My hand felt warm and a fireball formed in it lighting up my face. “No one touches the Witch!”
Walter recoiled backwards almost falling out of the cart. “Sorry!”
“I warned your Uncle and I will warn you. Manipulative Magick is against the law in this country. I will send you to Crowley prison in a heartbeat. Stop it.” Bill grabbed him and set him back into the cart.
“Finish the tour please.” Cat laid a clawed hand on Walter’s arm shocking him.
The rest of the tour was very quiet. We arrived at cabin nine and Walter practically threw us out of the cart. “Start sending the hired hands to us please, Walter. It’s just an interview. We are investigators. Talking to people is what we do.”
Cabin nine was what you imagine a dude ranch would be. Rustic is the word my grandmother might use. It sounds better than run down shack in a field. I think the paint was what was holding it together.
“People pay real money to sleep here?” Cat was trying to avoid touching anything.
Seeing the grease covered floor and windows I didn’t blame her. It looked as thought it hadn’t been cleaned in a century. “They do. According to my briefing material they pay a couple of thousand a season and they work for free as ranch hands. Sort of like that old movie City Folk. The one about that comedian Willy Clear?”
Bill perked up. “That’s one of my wife’s favorite movies. She just loves how they adopt the cow at the end.”
“Exactly. The come here and work for free earning more money for the Magnus family. It was a group of the tourists that reported the deaths along with the missing Unicorns.” I reached into my shirt pocket and pulled out our little protester setting him on the cleanest looking table.
“We know you’ve been listening this whole time Fergus. It’s time for you to talk to us. Please. If not for us, do it for the Unicorns that have died.” I looked down at him. He just stood there staring at his feet. “Fergus did you hear me?”
“Sacrifices don’t come back. I told you that. They aren’t my herd again.”
“Don’t give me that. I saw how you reacted when we went to that museum with Jack. You hated that a Unicorn died to make that display they created. We all know that you aren’t a dumb animal. Help us find the killers or whatever it is that is making they disappear. Only you can talk to the herd.”
Kneeling down on the filthy floor I got down on his level. “Will you help us?”
“Whatever. I heard that guy start to say my name. I didn’t know they knew it.” Fergus looked up at us.
“Yes, that’s interesting. Agatha didn’t you say that someone must either understand Unicorn or speak human here on the ranch?” Cat looked at me.
“It’s what I think. How else would Fergus be able to describe things on the ranch to my grandmother and get the names correct? You would think an operation such as this would number the animals not give them names. So where do the names come from?” Cocking my head I stared at Fergus.
“My mother said I was named after my uncle Fergus who escaped and terrorized the town. That and that it was the name of a King.”
“A human King. There’s a Celtic king Fergus in our history as well as a cartoon one.” Bill pointed out.
“Didn’t you mention elders to Grandmother?”
Fergus trotted to the left then the right. “I might have. It was a long time ago. They are the oldest of the herd. They teach us the rules, language, and our history. Elders are supposed to know everything.”
Knock. Knock. Knock.
A loud almost pounding on the door made all of us look up. “Our interviews are starting. Fergus, can you listen to what they have to say? Let us know if you catch anything.”
“Sure.” He hopped onto my hand.
I stuck him back in his pocket space in my shirt. The seamstress the Grandmother uses is owed a huge hug from me when I see her. “Go ahead and let them in.”
Bill opened the door. Two men that can only be described as rough hewed stood staring at us. “Hello we’d like to interview you about the Unicorn deaths and mutilations. We are aware that others have already talked to you but we just want fresh eyes on everything. Is that OK with you?”
Both men shrugged and nodded. Taking one at a time we let the first man inside.