“Oh, that’s where the traces of fire at the tunnel entrance came from.” Melissa grinned. “I already thought something bad had happened.”
While Melissa welcomed her friends and fooled about with them, Lysande unpacked their stuff once more. Then, she looked into the pot hanging over the fire. It held a boiling vegetable soup. She seasoned it to taste and called the others. Only now, Reginald and the dragon noticed the witch. Melissa introduced her as her friend, and a smile spread over Lysande’s face. Reginald bowed deeply and revealed to Melissa that he had often pinched salad from Lysande’s garden.
“This smells delicious,” the dragon said and took a large portion of the soup. Melissa soon noticed that Lysande understood the dragon, but neither Reginald nor Leander. So, she repeated everything the two said. Lysande nodded at her gratefully.
After the meal, Melissa explained why they had come.
“Of course, I will help you against the knights,” the dragon said. “It’s matter of honor.”
“I will fight too,” Leander said.
Melissa shook her head. “You are much too small.”
“But I want to fight.”
The idea that her little friend wanted to fight, scared Melissa. She tried to talk him out of it, but Reginald interrupted her. “Since your strength is with nets,” he said to Leander, “you might want to consider providing us with many. If you produce the adhesive variety, the knights will stick to them which might hinder their fighting abilities.”
Leander was very pleased with this idea, and Melissa secretly breathed a sigh of relief. If he made nets, he wouldn’t get hurt.
Reginald stretched and changed his color to a radiant white. “In the early morning, I will set out at once and inform my fellow unicorns. Maybe, I will manage to convince some of them to grace us with their help. That could prove favorable.”
“And I will help the king’s army to get to a suitable battle-field as fast as possible,” the dragon said. “If you humans accompany me, the knights will not harm me, will they?”
“I will come with you,” Lysande said. “Also, the prince is with the army. He will also make sure that nothing happens to you.”
All eyes focussed on Melissa.
“Whom will you accompany, fair Maiden?”
“I don’t know. I have the feeling, I have forgotten something important.” She sighed.Lysande put her hand on Melissa’s shoulder. “Thanks to you, we are able to defend our world and Korosadja.”
“Korosadja,” the dragon asked. “That Korosadja?”
Melissa nodded, pulled the stone from her pocket and showed it to the dragon. “Do you know how to use it?”
The dragon shook his head. “No. But the Talking Trees might.”
“The Talking Trees seem to know quite a lot.” Melissa pocketed Korosadja in again.
“I have been looking for them for a long time,” Lysande said. “In the past, people with a magical talent could live with them for a couple of years. Most returned as famous witches. But I did not discover a single Talking Tree so far.”
Melissa looked at her friends. “Does nobody know where they are?”
“My raven Lukas claims he had heard some talking near my house, but we found none despite intensive search.”
Reginald shook his mane and said, “your raven was right, Lady Lysande. When I last met a Talking Tree, it wasn’t far from your domicile.”
While Melissa still translated Reginald’s comment, she came to a decision. “I will look for the Talking Trees. If we can use Korosadja, we will surely win.”
“But damsel Melissa! You cannot travel alone. Don’t you know the dangers lying in wait for you in the Unicorn Woods?”
“I must look for the Talking Trees anyway. They are the only ones who can take me back to my world.”
“Reginald is right. Somebody must accompany you,” Lysande said.
Melissa shook her head. Suddenly, she was sure as if someone had told her what to do. “Each of you has an important task. Please, let me do my share before I have to go home to my relatives. I am sure nothing will happen to me. Korosadja will protect me. I think it has already done that the whole time.”
Reluctantly, the others agreed. To end the discussion, Melissa wrapped herself into her coat, wished the others a good night and curled up to sleep. It took her a long time to fall asleep although she was exhausted by the long ride.
Djarret had learned from the incident with the giant birds. Two men scouted the area ahead of the troop. To find cover in the steppe, the Dark Warriors kept close to the rocky foothill that Melissa had also followed.
“Go faster,” Djarret ordered and lugged the magician’s arm. The old man tried to hurry, but he stumbled at every step. Finally, Djarret ordered one of his people to carry the old man. The warrior threw the magician over his shoulder like a bag of flour.