“Perhaps we really should take a break”, Leander suggested. With his head cocked, he looked at the surrounding area. There were many rocks, and the ground rose steeper with every step. “We have reached the foothills of the mountains. There will be some caves on the way to the pass.”
“I know a good one not far from here. If you would trust me once again, damsel Melissa, I would love to show you.” Reginald managed to look remorseful and elegant at the same time.
Melissa couldn’t be less impressed. She did not want to stumble into another unpleasant experience. “There isn’t a unicorn pond round there, is it?”
Reginald wrinkled his nostrils. “Unicorns don’t live in caves. We prefer the woods.”
“Well then, what are you waiting for”, Melissa said, and Reginald walked faster. A little later, he trotted into a cave. Stiff-legged Melissa got off. Now, the cut in the sole of her foot and the scratches on arms and legs were not the only body part that hurt. Secretly, she rubbed her bottom and sat down carefully into the hollow of a big stone.
” I feel thirst, and a little deeper into the cave a well provides fresh water”, Reginald said. “If you do not object, I will retire for a drink, damsel Melissa.”
Leander looked at the unicorn mistrustfully. “I’d better come along. We don’t want you to disappear through a side exit, so that Melissa must walk the rest of the way.”
Melissa leant against the cool rock and closed her eyes. Her neck and shoulders hurt from the sunburn, but at least the throbbing in her foot had abated a little. Nevertheless, she decided to take care. “I will stay here and rest for a while. I’ll follow you later.”
“I will spin a thread for you. Then, you won’t get lost.” Leander pulled a thread from his spinning glands in his abdomen and stuck the end to a rock.
Melissa nodded gratefully and watched, as they disappeared in a tunnel big enough for a whale.
With a rapidly beating heart, Lysande stood in front of the doors to her brother’s throne room. She had not been in the castle for a long time, but very little had changed. The gold-plated doors looked a little more worn than during her father’s reign, but the banisters and floors were cleaner, a sign that his servants liked working for him. Gregor seems to be a good king. Patiently, she waited to be announced by the Grand Marshal. Finally, it was her time.
“The seer Seraphina Goodmood,” he announced with a loud voice and banged his stick three times on the floor.
Lysande stepped through the door and strode along the long carpet. Fighters in gold-plated armors stood on either side, and the walls were covered in silk carpets. He always had a liking for pomp. Lysande reached her brother’s throne. She curtsied.
“Voice your wish,” ordered the first secretary who stood next to the king.
Lysande curtsied once more. “Your Majesty. Forgive a poor seer that she takes up your precious time. My gift indicated to me that your family is in dire need. Great harm threatens you and your kingdom if you do not intervene.”
“Nonsense,” the secretary said.
The king signaled him to be silent. “Why have I not heard about you, Seraphina Goodmood? I know all seers of my kingdom.”
“I am from the Land of the Setting Sun where king Konstantin reigns.”
“What will he say if I ask him about you?”
Lysande knew exactly that her brother despised king Konstantin. She smiled and bowed. “He will assure you that I am the country’s best seer.” The lie easily left her lips.
The king stroked his goatee. “Well then, what news did you see in your vision?”
Lysande took a deep breath. She had waited for this question, and this time, her answer wasn’t a lie. “Your kingdom and your son, crown prince Victor, are in danger, Your Majesty. A Black Shadow arrived in our world. The cold of his hate precedes him.” Without giving king Gregor a chance to speak, Lysande talked on. “It’s someone with feelings and powers as black as the night. He or she, because it could also be a woman, will not only demand your kingdom. The crown prince will give his life, but still, darkness will descend on all the thousand kingdoms of Greenwitch.”
King Gregor giggled behind his hand. “I love the stilted way the seers talk”, he whispered to his secretary. He then turned to disguised Lysande. “How do you intend to prove to Us that your vision is true? We know well that the strength of the magical guild has declined since the Emperor Amardant the 24th.”
Lysande pressed her lips together, although she had anticipated such a request. She would have been happier if Gregor had believed her without proof. But she was ready to show him her vision if he would give her his army for it.