Middle-grade novel, 39,099 words
Chapter One of Twenty-Four Chapters:
"Spiridon, ride on the wind! Dig in your hooves, and push!" I cheered, running beside the brilliant blue-winged horse.
Dark pink flowers and grass from the meadow brushed against my legs. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The hills rolled along a quiet brook. Grasshoppers bounced through the field.
I hoped my inspiration would be enough to help Spiridon fly for the first time. If he didn’t learn to fly by his fourth birthday, only five days away, he would lose his wings and be earthbound forever.
I pulled my amethyst dream stone from my pocket and made one wish after another that Spiridon would take off. As I stared at the crystal, the wind started to blow. My dress blew above my knees. I quickly pushed it down.
“You can do it!” I beckoned. As he leaned back on his hind legs, I bent my knees and stretched my arms at my sides. His nostrils flared, and he flattened his ears.
Then all of a sudden, The Whirlwind shot out of my crystal stone. It spun and twirled, picking me up with its winds. I flew into the air and did a somersault into the center of its tunnel. It felt like I was caught in a tornado. The music in The Whirlwind grew louder as the wind blew harder. The last time this had happened, it was the beginning of a great adventure. After all, The Whirlwind does make all dreams everywhere.
“What do you want with me?” I called to The Whirlwind. I felt seasick, bobbing up and down in the funnel. I swirled and whirled every which way.
“Fly, Priscilla, you will fly!” The Whirlwind called, as its song blared with the demand.
“I’m already flying,” I yelled. “Put me down!”
Through the winds, I could see Rafael, Spiridon’s owner, standing flat on the ground. He was obviously unable to see the magic taking place through my dream stone. I wondered why The Whirlwind didn’t ever visit Rafael this way.
Then just as swiftly as The Whirlwind had picked me up, it put me right back in the field in Visus.
“Did you see The Whirlwind?” I asked Rafael, getting my balance. I took a deep breath.
“Priscilla, you know The Whirlwind spins in the Templum on the other side of Visus,” he said. “It was just a little wind.”
“Uh-huh,” I said, knowing that The Whirlwind had a special reason for communicating with me in such a dramatic way.
So I tried to take my instructions from The Whirlwind seriously. I needed to fly, and if I would ever fly, Spiridon would need to fly first. I imagined what it must feel like to have wings, except that felt scary, almost like spinning in The Whirlwind.
“Fly, Spiridon, keep your head up!” I cheered as he galloped through the field.
I ran until I could no longer keep up with him. Then Spiridon spread his blue silky wings and grunted with determination, and I tried not to stare at his bruised forelegs from his many failed attempts to fly.
At least when he crashed, he didn’t hurt himself with a pointy horn. Unlike most unicorns, he hadn’t inherited his mother’s alicorn. He did, however, have his father’s wings.
As Spiridon charged ahead, Rafael covered his face and peered through his fingers. He could hardly watch Spiridon’s fifth endeavor to fly.
Instead, he stared at the ticking jasper metronome in his hands. The metronome swayed slower and slower. When Spiridon’s time had run out, its magic pendulum would stop swinging.
“Catch the breeze,” Rafael said, squinting through his amethyst glasses. His shiny outfit sparkled in the afternoon sun. He had been trying to teach Spiridon for days without success. Teaching me to dream took Rafael far less effort, and if I do say so myself, I know a lot about dreaming now.
With great expectation, I brushed my long, dark brown hair from my face and fixed my eyes on Spiridon’s wings. I braced myself, believing he would fly.
“Jump! Soar! Fly!” I said. I leaped into the air, watching him charge forward. After gaining momentum, Spiridon finally jumped, trusting the wind to catch his wings. My heartbeat rose at the thought of his triumph.
He neighed and coasted a few feet. Just when I thought he might take flight, he came to a crashing halt in the grass. He whinnied, skidding forward, only to stop inches from an apple tree in the meadow. Resting next to the trunk, he closed his turquoise eyes and buried his head in his left wing. He swished his white and green tail across the ground.
I ran to his side and plopped myself next to him.
“That’s enough for today,” Rafael said. A piece of his gray hair blew in his eyes. “Spiridon, we’ll try again another day.”
“Another day?” I asked. “Oh, it must be so hard to fly! Isn’t there something else we can do to teach him?”
“Not this afternoon,” Rafael said. He motioned to Spiridon that it was time to go home. “Priscilla, I know we both thought you might be able to help him take off for the first time. It’s not your fault. Spiridon needs to hear the song in his father’s wings to learn to fly. His wings even resemble black and white piano keys.”
“Where is Spiridon’s father?” I asked. “Why can’t Spiridon hear his father’s song?”
“His father, Mirabilis, and the other winged horses in Visus have been missing since the last time you visited us,” Rafael said. “They disappeared when grazing outside Visus. No one can find the horses. It’s been devastating to everyone.”
At the same time, I felt brave and upset.
I ought to be qualified to help Spiridon locate the missing horses of Visus. I did bring dreaming back to my land, Zur. Quite an accomplishment for a 10-year-old girl and her friends!
“Look, I learned this new dance step,” I said to Spiridon, dancing through the field. He raised his head for a split second, and then dropped it again in discouragement.
Rafael brushed dirt from Spiridon’s side.
“Sorry to put you through all this, Spiridon,” I said, walking through the meadow. The young horse meandered beside me, hanging his head. “I thought for sure that I would be able to encourage you to fly.” Then I looked at Rafael. “But what if time runs out, and his father doesn’t return in time . . .”
Spiridon scuffed his hooves across the ground. I tried to imagine a melody beautiful enough to make him soar.
“Do the unicorns have any idea where the missing horses might be?” I asked, hoping Rafael had already asked them.
“Not one of them has any idea where Mirabilis and his friends could be,” Rafael said. “It’s as if the horses vanished.”
“Vanished, maybe,” I said, wondering what really happened.
“I just know that Spiridon’s mother has been very worried,” Rafael said. “She knows Spiridon needs to learn to fly now and that Mirabilis is the only one who can teach him.”
“I can only imagine how his mom feels,” I said to Rafael.
“Now I don’t want you to worry about this, Priscilla,” Rafael said, as we arrived back on the golden streets of Halom, the capital city of Visus. “You need to stay focused on Zur,” he said. “Your people have just begun dreaming, and King Miobe will surely need your support.”
“Yes, of course,” I said, swallowing hard. I looked at the cuts and scrapes on Spiridon’s body. He sighed while walking.
Although Halom has wide streets, there were too many nearby buildings to practice soaring. Spiridon could have easily damaged one of the ruby, emerald, or sapphire structures. He might have even crashed into the jasper wall that surrounds the land and really hurt himself.
“Glad to see you’re safe,” said one of King Miobe’s royal guards as we approached Rafael’s blue and yellow topaz home.
Just in case of any danger, King Miobe assigned a royal escort to me for this trip. Rafael had promised the guards he would look after me while we visited the meadow.
“You shouldn’t worry so much,” I replied.
Spiridon moaned, drinking from his water bucket in front of the house. “I’m so proud of you for trying to fly,” I told him.
I could only hope that Spiridon would take off before it was too late.
Copyright 2013 Jennifer Waters