Once upon a time, in the Land of Fairies and Magical Creatures, there lived a unicorn named Sparkles. Every unicorn has a special ability and its own unique appearance and Sparkles was no exception. His special ability was that he was able to eat the… rainbow colours!
Now, make no mistake, this special ability influenced the way he looked. After eating the rainbow colours, Sparkles’ hooves, horn, tail and mane would glisten in a thousand shades of the colours he had gulped down. That is how he had got his name. Sometimes, he ate only the blue and the yellow and he would glisten like the moon on a dark clear sky. Despite how many rainbows he ate, his skin always remained pure silver.
In the whole Land of Fairies and Magical Creatures, the rainbows are not as rare as in the Human World, yet it’s still a treat to get to see one, let alone to eat one. Besides, there weren’t any other unicorns that could eat all the rainbow colours, like Sparkles could. Some of them could eat only the yellow or the green, some only the violet. Most of them could eat the red, while others cannot eat the rainbow colours at all!
Sparkles’ best friend was Half-Horn, who was also a unicorn. He had got his name when he was a calf. He and Sparkles had been chasing each other quite a lot and, one-time, Half-Horn slipped on a stone near the Crystal Waterfall and he hit his horn onto a rock. The horn broke in half and, to everyone’s surprise, it never grew back.
One day, while Sparkles and Half-Horn were chasing each other in a meadow, they ended up reaching the edge of a forest they had never entered before. From the distance, the forest didn’t seem different from other forests they had explored. The trees had massive trunks and their crowns were rich in leaves. What was strange was that the roots of the trees were very thick and they were popping from the ground, twirling and intertwining, making it very impossible to find a path.
‘Let’s go back,’ Half-Horn said fearfully.
‘Don’t be silly! Let’s go explore!’ replied Sparkles.
‘I don’t like how this forest looks like!’
‘Oh, come on! Just a tiny bit! Listen! Can you hear that?’
‘Hear what, Sparkles?’
‘There’s a waterfall in there. Aren’t you thirsty? Let’s just go and have a drink and then we’ll go back. Alright?’
‘Oh, fine!’ said Half-Horn resigned, but not really convinced.
As the two unicorns approached the forest, the roots started to shift aside, opening a path for them. Guided by the sound of the water, it didn’t take them too long to reach the waterfall. However, instead of getting at the base of the waterfall, the path had taken them to the top of it. The view from there was fantastic! They were able to see the forest spreading ahead all the way to the Silver Mountains in the distance.
As they were admiring the beauty of their world, Sparkles’ eyes caught some beautiful colours in the trees nearby. He looked more attentively only to see that it was a rainbow! And a very strong coloured one, for that matter!
‘Hey, Half-Horn, do you see that?’
‘What? The Silver Mountains? Yes… They are so beautiful!’
‘No, there on the right-hand side! There’s a rainbow there, isn’t it?’
‘Ew! You know I’m allergic to rainbows!’
‘I know, but I am not! We’re the only ones here, so I am going to eat it all!’ said Sparkles greedily and started hopping around with joy.
‘You said we’ll have some water and we’ll leave,’ whimpered Half-Horn.
‘Yes. You drink and I’ll eat the rainbow while you drink. Deal?’
‘And then we’ll leave?’
‘Then we’ll leave.’
‘Fine. Then, go!’
Sparkles took a huge leap over the river and landed on the other side of it. He ran through few trees and, guided by the smell of the rainbow colours, he got to one of the ends. It smelt sweeter than any other rainbow he had ever eaten before. He loved the smell of fresh rainbow.
Sparkles trotted around it for a while out of excitement, because he didn’t know what colour to choose to eat first. Then, he decided to go up the rainbow and work his way down. He climbed the rainbow with ease and that was surprising even for him! Usually he was slipping down quite a few times! The higher he got, the greedier he got, so he continued climbing. He wanted to eat as much rainbow colours as possible. Soon, he reached the top of the rainbow. Sparkles took a moment to admire the view from the top of the rainbow, and then he looked down and saw that the rainbow was not equal. The longer part of it was downwards, towards the base of the waterfall.
“What a disappointment,” he thought.
It was too dangerous to start eating towards that side, so he turned around to the side he climbed from and took a huge gulp of the red and the orange, which were on the side. Oh! They tasted like the beauty of autumn! A bit of yellow nibbling and the crunchiness resembled the yellow leaves rustling in the wind. Sparkles reached down again and got quite a sizeable bite of the green. There was an explosion of flavours: from the first grass of spring to the strong blueberry leaves during the summer. Oh, what a delight! Every bite had a different taste and Sparkles couldn’t be happier!
He took a few more bites from every colour, just to feel their individual taste. For a moment, he felt the rainbow tremble underneath his hooves, but he couldn’t stop! He continued to munch as much of the colours as he could. Yellow, purple, green and a bit of red and then blue – he gulped them greedily, sometimes without even chewing them! The more he ate, the more he felt the rainbow trembling, but Sparkles chose to ignore that. Out of the blue, the rainbow became completely unstable. It was something that had never happened before. The rainbow started bending from one side to the other, as if it were about to snap in the middle!
‘Sparkles, are you alright up there?’ Half-Horn’s neigh reached Sparkles. ‘Get down already. It doesn’t look safe!’
As soon as Half-Horn said that, the rainbow bended again and this time, Sparkles had lost his grip and slid off, towards the waterfall.
Sparkles was falling fast and despite trying to get his hooves stuck into the rainbow to stop himself from falling, he couldn’t. His desperate neighs echoed through the forest as he was tumbling down.
‘Sparkles!!’ Half-Horn cried out again, but his friend was nowhere in sight. He rushed to the edge of the waterfall, but all he could see was the falling water and the clouds of droplets at the bottom. ‘Oh, no…’, he said to himself.
Sparkles had closed his eyes expecting a harsh fall and maybe some broken bones. Instead, he felt as if he was flying softly. Water droplets hit his face gently and then water was all around him. Instinct kicked in and Sparkles moved his legs trying to swim to the surface. Soon enough he emerged from under the water, shook his mane and opened his eyes. He swam to the shore and got out without too much trouble.
‘Half-Horn!!! I’m okay!’ Sparkles yelled while looking around to see how far away he fell. ‘Wait… what is this? I don’t recognize anything. Everything seems changed. Where am I?’
The trees at the bottom of the waterfall didn’t look anything like the ones at the top! They were normal-sized trees, with regular foliage and roots deep in the ground. He trotted around and started calling out his friend who was supposed to be at the top of the waterfall, but Half-Horn wasn’t there. Sparkles started to be a bit concerned when, unexpectedly, he saw something move in the bushes not far away.
There was a soft ruffle and the bush moved as if something had just fled.
‘Hey! Wait!’ Sparkles sprung to that side and a few moments later he was looking down at a human boy holding an old camera.
‘Please don’t hurt me, Mr. Unicorn,’ the boy whispered shakily.
‘What? I am not going to hurt you! Why are you here?’
‘I am with the Scouts, but I got lost in the woods and got here. We are supposed to photograph mushrooms and get back by nightfall.’
‘Wait, you understand me?’ Sparkles said startled, then he realised shocked that the waterfall he and Half-Horn had found was a portal to the Human World!
‘What are you going to do with me?’ the boy asked shakily.
‘Huh? Erm… nothing. I just have to go back to my world. Will you be able to find your camp?’
The boy took a long look at Sparkles. The colours of the rainbow he had eaten before falling down made his hooves, mane, tail and horn sparkle in thousands of colours. The boy hesitated for a moment then said:
‘I am Pete. Nice to meet you. What’s your name?’
‘I don’t know how to get back to my camp, Mr. Sparkles. The camp is close to the top of the waterfall because I remember hearing the water falling loudly, but I am not sure which one is the path that will take me back there.’
Sparkles turned around and looked up at the falling water. It was calming him, despite being loud.
‘Up there, you say?’
‘Yes. Do you know how I can get there?’
Sparkles weighed the situation for a moment. He thought that if he had fallen from the rainbow into the waterfall basin and got into the Human World, it would be only normal to do the other way around to get back to the Land of Fairies and Magical Creatures, where he belonged.
‘I think I might find the way. Come!’
Sparkles kneeled to let Pete climb on his back.
‘Can I? Really?’
‘Sure! We’ll get there faster. But, just so you know, the sparkles on the mane will stick to your hands forever.’ laughed Sparkles.
‘Oh, at least I will have a proof that I have met a real unicorn!’ laughed Pete.
‘They will never believe you, will they? Well, don’t worry. They will disappear when I go back to my world, but they will sparkle again when I am back here, in your world.’
‘Oh, wait! I did take your picture earlier!’
‘I’ll be surprised if you could see me in there,’ Sparkles chuckled softly.
‘Why do you say that?’
‘Well, you see Pete, we magical creatures are not visible to everyone in the Human World. Only a few can see us.’
‘Yep. I don’t know why for sure, but it’s got something to do with how close you still are to my Land.’
‘What do you mean? Was I ever close?’
‘Of course! Every human being is close to it when they are little children. Because that is when they believe in us and they seek us. When they grow up, they stop believing in magical creatures. I can’t understand why.’
‘I don’t know either. You are so lovely and you sparkle in thousands of colours! Tell me more about your world,’ asked Pete as they were slowly climbing the hill on an unbeaten path only Sparkles could see. Sparkles started telling him about Half-Horn and how he got his name, about how they chase each other and play all day in the meadows and forests of the Land of Fairies and Magical Creatures.
They got to the top of the hill and then they took a long look down. The water was falling loudly and they could barely hear each other. Pete pointed to something upstream. It was smoke rising in the sky and Sparkles understood that the camp was near. They weren’t able to see it from where they were because the river made a turn, but Sparkles knew that Pete would be able to go back safely by following the stream of water.
Pete got off Sparkles and caressed his neck slowly and thanked him for the help. Sparkles smiled and then took another look at the waterfall. He was wondering whether falling into the basin below will actually take him back to his world. The fall was quite steep and he was a bit concerned now that he will be in a lot of trouble if he was not right.
Pete’s soft touches on his shoulder gave Sparkles the power to decide to take the leap. He took a few steps back and right when he was about to start running, Pete rose his hand to stop him from running. He was still on the edge and had seen something down the waterfall.
Sparkles came closer to the edge again and saw Ashes fly majestically. Ashes was a good friend of his and Half-Horn and he was a phoenix bird. Ashes soared into the sky, with his feathers of flame crying shrilly. He started looking around as if he was looking for something. When he saw Sparkles shining at the edge of the waterfall, he gave out another cry of recognition and flew down to his friend. Only when he landed, did he see the little human boy.
Pete was in awe! He got to see two magical creatures in the same day! The heat of Ashes was both hot and cold at the same time; something Pete had never experienced before.
‘Oh, what’s he doing here?’ asked Ashes.
‘Don’t worry, he still believes in us. Besides, he just got lost and I helped him get back up here so he could get back to his camp right, upstream, beyond the river turn. How come you got here?’
‘Half-Horn called me and said you fell off the rainbow. That’s one of the ways of getting into the Human World. Didn’t you know that?’
‘No, it had never happened to me. So if I fall from any rainbow, I get here?’
‘Yes. That’s how it works. Well, there are some other ways too, but that’s one of them.’
‘Tell me something, Ashes. If I had jumped into the waterfall basin below, I wouldn’t have got back to our world?’
‘No! You should never do that! You have to fly into the fall of water! Why didn’t you pay attention in Orientation?’
‘You two are simply awesome!’ Pete chuckled amused.
‘Thank you, kid!’ replied Ashes as the unexpected compliment made him feel a bit embarrassed. His yellow and orange feather flames changed quickly into a strong red colour.
‘You’ll be alright getting back, Pete?’
‘Yes, Mr. Sparkles. Thank you! I will never stop believing in you!’
Sparkles smiled and softly touched Pete’s head with his horn.
‘The gate won’t stay open forever, you know,’ Ashes nudged them. ‘We have to go.’
Sparkles jumped on Ashes back and said good-bye to Pete.
‘I hope we meet again, kid,’ said Ashes and plucked a red feather and gave it to Pete. ‘Here’s something to remember me by. Although it will turn into a normal red feather as soon as I leave this world. But whenever I am back here, it will fire up. That way I can find you and I will come visit, alright?’
‘Yes, please do! You too, Mr. Sparkles!’
‘We’ll talk more some other time, kid. Remember: you’ll be able to see us again only if you still believe in us. Take care for now!’
Sparkles nodded and Ashes flew up in the sky, made a huge circle to gain speed and then dashed right through the falling water.
Pete looked down amazed as the unicorn riding the phoenix bird splashed into the waterfall. As soon as they went through the waterfall, his hands stopped sparkling and the flame feather turned into a normal red one.
‘So they’re back to their world. I hope to see you soon,’ he whispered to himself.
Later, when his Father developed the film from the camera, Pete couldn’t see Sparkles. Instead, the photograph showed a thousand colours in front of a waterfall, as if the sun flared into the lens.
Back in the Land of Fairies and Magical Creatures, Sparkles got to eat a few more bites from the rainbow before it disappeared, but not before getting scolded by Ashes and Half-Horn.
His friends made him realise that he had been careless and greedy and that got him in trouble. They insisted on him promising not to be reckless again. Sparkles was grateful for his friends helping him and never broke the promise he had made to them.
In the years to come, Sparkles and Ashes visited the Human World a few times, to meet up with Pete. They had great fun catching up and running around the meadows in the Human World. One time, Sparkles even got to eat a rainbow that formed in the Human World, but he reckoned it wasn’t as delicious as the ones that appeared in the Land of Fairies and Magical Creatures.