A chill ran down Melissa’s spine. With her sore foot she was easy prey for the spider. The unicorn stallion also trembled. Melissa looked at Leander reproachfully. “You said she never leaves her valley.”
“I had hoped that she thought the Roc had caught me. Hurry! Let’s go,” whispered Leander. Awkwardly, Melissa climbed the unicorn. When she sat, she breathed a sigh of relief because her foot felt as if someone were eating it from the sole up. The unicorn’s gaze wandered from Leander’s net to the gigantic spider and back. The stallion was stiff with fear.
“You have to run!” Melissa kicked his flanks with her heels. He jumped and sped past the giant spider. He ran so fast that he virtually flew over the yellow grass. Melissa bent forward until she almost lay on his back and clung to the mane. She was surprised by the strength of the slim animal. She would never have believed him capable of such a speed. They rode silently for a while. Melissa marveled at the speed with which they neared the mountains. Nevertheless, she was bored soon because Leander had fallen asleep and the unicorn kept silent obstinately.
While Lysande prepared dinner for herself, she thought about the girl.
“I never would have thought that Evil looks so harmless.” She talked more or less to herself. Lukas sat in the living room lying in wait for the mice that liked to search for food there. “I can hardly believe that I defeated her. It was so simple. It cannot be so simple, can it?” Lost in thought, she diced the meat and threw it into the boiling water. She swung the hook with the pot of soup over the fire and started to clean vegetables.
A mirror in the living room called for Lysande’s attention by making a sound like the gurgling of water on the stones of a creek. The raven Lukas croaked for his mistress. She wiped her fingers on her apron and went into the living room. She breathed on the mirror and spoke the words that connected it to its twin.
A man with crown appeared. His clothes were impressively simple but of excellent quality, and his dark hair and goatee were neat. Lysande frowned when she recognized the face of her older brother. “Gregor! What do you want this time?”
“But Sibyl! It has been almost fifteen years since we have spoken to each other.”
“I am not Sibyl any more, Gregor. Get to the point.”
The man in the mirror removed his crown and turned it in his hands. “Prince Victor celebrates his sixteenth birthday tomorrow, and we have planned a masked ball. All women dress up as men, and all men as women. I wanted to invite you.”
“I got better things to do than to play idiot at a masquerade.”
“He is your only nephew. Don’t you want to be there when he chooses a bride?”
Lysande pressed her fists to her hips and bent forward. Her eyes sparked at Gregor, and a steep wrinkle appeared between her eyebrows. “So, that’s where the rabbit is running! I am supposed to prophesy for him at the engagement, right? But you’ve got another think coming. I am the Mistress of the Talking Trees! Look for someone else for your farce. I will not come.” A single gesture turned the mirror milky. The connection dispelled, but not Lysande’s anger.
“The idiot. He always calls when I need him the least.”
Lukas flew into the kitchen, sat on the arm-rest of a chair and croaked soothingly.
“I know that he knows nothing about the problems I’m facing. If only I could be sure that she is truly dead.” While she cleaned the vegetables she explained her problem to Lukas. “What if the girl has survived my spells? Evil is hard to defeat.”
Croaking, the raven reminded her of the crystal ball with which they had searched for a long time without success.
“I know we couldn’t find her in the crystal, but she surely is a better witch than me. If she has noticed my spells, she will protect herself. We must be on the safe side.” Lysande threw the vegetables into the pot with the meat and sighed.
She slapped her forehead. “That’s an idea.”
The raven crooked his head questioningly.
Lysande squatted and looked him right in the eye. “Think about it. Gregor’s army is only one prophecy away.”
Unmoving, the raven’s black button eyes looked at Lysande.
The witch knew that he waited for an explanation.