“At least, we were polite enough to not vomit in the nape of you neck”, Melissa said.
Laughter like a mountain stream sparkling over stones rang through the clearing and became a voice that matched the laughter. “You must admit that the human is quick-witted, old friend.”
“The tiniest storm knocks her over, Emeralda.”
“A storm is not everyone’s cup of water, my dear.”
With surprise, Melissa looked at the green brown dappled mare that stood next to the dragon as if it had never been anywhere else. She was sure that the animal hadn’t been there a minute ago. Only now did she notice a horn on the mare’s forehead. “Another unicorn”, she said.
The mare cocked its head. “So, you know us? That is unusual. Humans haven’t come into the Woods of the Talking Trees for a long time.”
“I had the honor to travel with a unicorn stallion for a while.” Melissa tried to talk as old-fashioned as Reginald.
The mare studied her for a long time. Melissa had the feeling she looked into the farthest corner of her heart. Finally, the mare nodded. “It isn’t easy to resist the magic of a unicorn. Especially, if one is as injured as you are, my child. You are astonishing.”
Melissa hated to be called a child. To change the topic, she introduced herself and the prince. The mare indicated a bow and said, “be our guests. Ease your tired limbs and call me Emeralda.” She raised her head and neighed.
From the edge of the forest, a many-voiced answer resounded. A little later, Melissa, the prince and the dragon were surrounded by a herd of unicorns. While the mares talked with the dragon, a white foal with a rainbow colored mane jostled close and bombarded Melissa with questions without waiting for answers.
“May I nudge you? Are you really a human? What are the strange things that grow from your shoulders? Why do you only have two legs? Are you really real? Do you think I’m beautiful? Mom says I am vain. Am I vain?”
Melissa laughed. The foal reminded her so much of Reginald that she knew without looking that it had to be a male. She extended her hand to pat his nostrils, but remembered Leander’s insistent warning and withdrew her hand. “You are beautiful, and I believe all stallions are a little bit vain, are they not?”The foal looked at Melissa with sparkling eyes. “Will you sing for me? Please.”
The dragon seemed to have his eyes and ears everywhere, because he said, “Go ahead. It would be wonderful if he could keep his mouth shut, if only for ten minutes.”
“But I don’t want to stroke him and sing to him for an eternity plus three days.”
“Don’t worry”, Emeralda said. “His magical appeal on humans will only begin when he has won a pond of his own.”
Relieved, Melissa sat down and started to sing. “A wild water sprite courts in the castle well above the lake …” »The Poor Lilofee« was her favorite song. She had learned it from her grandmother. The foal sat down beside her and listened enraptured. Soon, he put his head in her lap. Melissa stroked his silky mane and sang one song after the other. Again, her body tickled like on the beach of the Roc colony. She realized that she actually felt the tingle the whole time. She just hadn’t taken any notice during her adventures. I should try to find out what causes the tickle, she thought and started a new song. She was surprised how many songs occurred to her although she hadn’t sung them for years. After some time, she noticed that she felt better with every song. The sunburn on her arms gave way to a bronze tan, the exhaustion fell off, and even the cut in the sole of her foot did not hurt any more. She felt lighter and happier than ever before. It was as if warm sunshine had lightened her heart and driven away all thoughts of worry and mourning. Melissa felt as safe as in the arms of her mother. In her mind, she saw her freckled face clearly. The sun fell through the side window of the VW beetle and made her red hair shine.
Brakes squeaked, metal screeched on metal.
“No!” Melissa jumped up so fast that she rammed her knee into the foal’s throat.