Some things in life are priceless.
In The Fairy Mountains
Amy held tightly to the unicorn’s mane, as the beast sped through the waist high flowers of Gnome Meadows. Running, with the sure footedness only a magic steed could possess, the roan mare fled toward the snow-capped peaks of the Fairy Mountains. There was no question in the minds of either the mount or its rider that danger stalked them. They could sense Prince Altar’s frayhounds, on their back trail, attempting to pick up the steed’s scent. Fortunately, the meadow’s precious Mist Flowers hid both the aroma and the marks of the unicorn’s passage.
At the edge of the meadow, the mare halted and stepped onto the scarred and pitted scarlet tiles of an ancient road; then turning north, she run, down the precise center of the crumbling highway, raising a cloud of red dust around herself and her rider. “Crystal,” Amy whispered in the unicorn‘s ear. “Stop, get off this road before Prince Altar finds us.”
Crystal continued to run until she came to an amalgam of boulders on the side of the road. She stopped and stomped her front hoofs, leaving fresh marks on the tiles and stirring up the dust even more. Then in one swift leap, she jumped over the boulder mixture landing on the other side of the huge rocks. There she picked her way carefully through the cactus and succulents that grew at the foot of the Fairy Mountains. After an hour of slow and careful travel, the unicorn jumped over another boulder. This time she landed on the green tiled surface of another road and turned east ascending a pass into the mountains.
Looking behind her, Amy saw an enormous pile of boulders and huge stones blocking the road. Turning her gaze to the road ahead, she saw rabbits, foxes, mice, and pixie cats skitter out of Crystal’s path and flee into the brush along the side of the road.
Finally, Crystal stopped at the crest of the pass. Lying on the ground at her feet was a halter, a silver studded saddle with saddlebags, and a lavender silk hooded cloak. Getting off the unicorn, Amy put the halter, the saddle and the saddlebags on the animal before donning the cloak and remounting the unicorn. However, instead of continuing down the other side of the pass, Crystal walked to the edge of the road and passed between two granite columns.
The air around Amy and Crystal burst into multicolored ice-cold flames. When the air cleared, Amy glanced quickly around. They stood in front of the mot surrounding the granite and sandstone walls of a rainbow-towered city. Slowly the gate of the city opened to reveal a white bearded wizard holding a sapphire pitcher in one hand and an amber flagon in the other.
“You’re late,” the wizard said pouring an amber liquid from the pitcher into the flagon. “I expected you three days ago, Princess.”
“Lord Battlewolf,“ said Amy dismounting. Taking the flagon from the Wizard, she emptied the elixir it contained in one gulp. “Prince Altar blocked the escape route through the Seer Swamp. We had to take the long way around.”
“The one through Gnome Meadows and up the Scarlet Road,” a thoughtful look crossed Battlewolf’s face as he poured more liquid into the flagon, then handed the pitcher the pitcher to a waiting servant.
“Yes and … Prince Altar can find where we left the road.”
“So Crystal marked the spot, did she.” Battlewolf smiled as he took Crystal’s reigns.
“Yes, Lord Battlewolf, she did!”
“Good, his mounted troops can’t get past those boulders and even his magic can‘t unseal the Emerald Road. Indeed, only the witch who cast the Sealing Spell can unblock that road. Fortunately she‘s been dead two centuries.” Lord Battlewolf handed Crystal’s reigns to another servant.
“Prince Altar now knows where I am,” Amy handed the flagon to one of the servants. “He will find a way to follow with his troops.”
“Princess, since we last met I’ve found a way to defeat Altar, but it requires that he and his troops enter our valley.”
“How … Why,” Amy said as the pair turned their backs on the gate and began to wind their way through the city streets.
“Altar’s demon troops can neither be killed in battle nor die a natural death. They can, however, be poisoned.”
“Poisoned … the white blossomed Agrimony?”
“Yes, Princess, this year‘s crop will be in full bloom by the time Altar’s army reaches Star Pass. There is not a demon in all the land, which can resist either the scent or the taste of the plant.”
“In order for Altar to reach the city and me, he must lead his army through the fields. We sacrifice this year’s profits for safety.”
Word Count = 729