Lysande’s memory of her nephew replaced the presence. Finally, a thought occurred to her. I cannot believe that he became the victim of a dragon. He would have defended himself. She knew how well Victor used his weapons. There should at least have been some splashes of dragon blood in the garden. A traitor must have abducted or even killed him in the name of the Black Shadow. But I need proof. She wiped her eyes and sat down with her crystal ball again. It was difficult for her to concentrate, but finally the crystal shone.
Slightly distorted, her brother’s castle and the lands around it appeared. Since she expected the Black Shadow from the direction of the sea, Lysande turned her mind toward sunrise. The picture reacted and showed her the area east of the castle. Slowly, she moved the picture further to the east. She looked at everything that seemed suspicious somehow, but she found nothing. With increasing darkness, it became harder to recognize anything. Lysande concentrated until the blood roared in her ears. Pain pulsated in her temples. Finally, she admitted to herself that she needed a break. At this moment, she discovered a shadow on the eastern edge of the kingdom over the Unicorn Woods. She disregarded the headache and moved the picture toward the woods.
There is really a dragon. It looks as if it is flying in this direction. Why would it do that? She moved the picture closer to the dragon. Something small seemed to sit on its back, but because of the darkness, it was hard to see. She forced herself to ignore the ever growing headache and moved the picture in the crystal ball still closer to the dragon. A human arm pointed in her direction, and a red-haired girl looked at Lysande with wide open eyes as if she could see her.
The Black Shadow! Lysande recoiled. Immediately, the crystal ball blacked out. She’s got a dragon now. Oh Mother of all Magical Worlds, how could that happen? And they are so close already. They can be here in a few hours. I must do something!
Lysande flung the window open and stared into the moonless night. Innumerable stars sparkled at the firmament, only seldom covered by clouds gliding past.
This has to change. She extended her hands, sang and hummed and danced in the growing wind. Blue lightning shot from her fingertips. Clouds grew and spread rapidly over the sky. Finally, she released the wind and called, “sweep the Black Shadow and his dragon away. Break their bones in the crowns of the Unicorn Woods.”
Wailing, the wind shot eastward, rapidly growing into a hurricane, dragging the clouds along. Lysande swayed. She felt empty. Her head was as sore as if it had been used as an anvil. She turned to the bed which waited inviting her with its softness, but she caved in before she reached it.
The old cherry in Lysande’s garden moved its crippled branches in the growing wind. The storm carried the voices of its friends and relatives.
“Come back to the woods.”
“You are safer with us.”
The cherry heard their calling, but its strength did not suffice for an answer.
Melissa felt like in an airplane with uncomfortable seats and without a roof, safety belts and board service. She fought against nausea. Soon, she noticed that she felt better if she did not look down. She watched the sunset that dipped the sky in red, pink and violet and turned the treetops of the gigantic jungle under them into black silhouettes. The first stars flickered in the sky, and the floor merged with the night. Melissa’s nausea abated when she could no longer see the ground speed past below them. In vain, she looked for the lights of human settlements. Apparently, this world has only very few human residents. She turned to the horizon in the hope to see their travel destination.
Two gigantic eyes stared at her. They hung in the sky as if painted on see-through paper. Without a face, they looked creepy and dangerous. It made Melissa’s skin crawl. She stared back and extended a shaking hand toward them. She felt the hairs raise one her arms. Her heart pounded like a steam driven battering ram, and her knees seemed to be made of jelly. She would have fallen hadn’t she been firmly wedged between the dragon’s horn plates. She still trembled when the eyes disappeared abruptly.
“What’s wrong?” Prince Victor asked. “Are you cold?”