Chapter 5: Albert
Sofire followed Uni through a maze of branches, leaves and hedgerows. Her wings felt like she had been flying for days since she rarely flew herself.The dew dropped from some leaves just missing her entire head as she darted this way and that.Uni kept a straight line and looked like he vanished and reappeared on the other side of a tree that was in his way.Flashter occasionally turned to look back at her but otherwise looked to be having the time of his short life, holding tightly to Uni’s flowing white mane and giggling as his tiny wings tickled his legs.Eventually Uni started to slow down and started dropping down closer to the ground.
They settled on a mossy bank by a waterfall that fell into a lagoon. Ferns hung like long graceful fingers into the water while the silvery edges of fish glistened against the gentle points of the pool’s ripples.The water was interrupted occasionally by the bright pink and creams of the lilies that stood proudly out against the green pads beneath them.The only sounds were the songs of the nearby sparrows and Robins over the gentle tapping of water against moss.Sofire felt all her worries and concerns fall straight off of her shoulders as she relaxed into the beautiful surroundings.
“I’ve looked at this place for a while now and no-one comes here” said Uni.
“It’s beautiful” sighed Sofire.
“Yes I thought that might help.We should be safe here though, you can carry on with Flashter’s training and I’ll keep look out.We’ve got a couple of human hours and then we’ll have to head back again.I don’t want your parents to get suspicious of anything.
“I’m going to sleep in your room from now on, if that’s ok with you? I’ll be able to keep an eye on your brother that way.I’ll know what’s going on with Queen Maylada because we unicorns are connected by thoughts.
“Oh, I didn’t tell you that before? Yes we all know what each other’s thinking, that’s why they changed colour in the trees earlier.
“Did I not tell you that either? Ok, so we change colour to show our moods.All the pretty colours you’ve seen mean we’re safe and secure and helping.If we go dark colours, especially green then there’s trouble ahead, you know because green blends into the trees and stuff.White is when everything’s fine and nothing going on at all, like me now!” smiled Uni.
Just as Uni finished making his speech, a loud crashing sound came stomping through the bushes in their direction. All three of them looked this way and that in utter panic.The snap and crack of branches snapping, thundered in all directions and the ground shook.Uni shot up into the air and dived straight into the lagoon, Flashter shot straight into the air and stayed there while Sofire hid under a fern.The thundering came to an abrupt end when a huge, great, wrinkled human skidded and flopped right at her feet!
Sofire knew it was Albert straight away, she knew before he had collapsed at her feet. She knew his smell, she knew his threadbare cardigan and she knew the white of his hair.She could not believe her luck, Queen Maylada wanted to prove she was dealing with humans and now one had fallen flat on his face right in front of her.This was definitely, definitely, not going to be good.The worst thing was, she knew that Albert could see them so there wasn’t much point in hiding under a fern, even if she was the size of his small finger.
“Hello Albert” sighed Sofire, as she climbed over dead leaves and lumps of moss.
“Thank you for showing yourself. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t important.I promise you faithfully, I would never ever ask anything of you if it wasn’t absolutely serious.”
“Have you hurt yourself Albert?” asked Sofire.
He rolled over and sat up, examining the wet knees of his brown corduroy trousers as he moved. He winced when he rubbed them and Sofire said he better let her look at them.He pulled up his trouser legs showing a cut on one and a deep graze on the other where he must have fallen on a stone.Sofire ran to get some doc leaves and water in a leaf to cleanse them and called for Uni to show himself too.Uni was hiding under a lily pad in the lagoon and making no move at all to show himself when Sofire stood with her hands on her hips saying he couldn’t stay there all day and night.Giving in rather than agreeing, he swam out from under the pad and pulled himself out of the lagoon.He gave himself a good shake and then trotted over to the human, showing patches of dark green over his back end and mane.Flashter was still hanging in the air like a firefly until Sofire dragged him down by one foot.
Albert looked about him at the lagoon area and smiled at Flashter while his eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw Uni. He had seen the fairy folk lots of times since he had fallen into the golden dust cloud as a little boy, but he had never ever seen a unicorn.Uni’s ears were pulled back and he looked like he wanted to growl at Albert and he wasn’t looking best pleased at Sofire either.He sat next to Flashter who dreamily stroked his mane which made him feel a bit better.
“I used to play here as a little boy” said Albert to Sofire.
“So much for a secret place then Uni” she smiled, Uni tutted.
“I loved it here.It’s so pretty and peaceful.It isn’t far from where I first found you all.”
“Albert you said there’s something important.What is it?”
“I’m afraid it’s the humans. I can’t apologise enough, but I have to tell you straight away as this affects us all.They are planning on building a big bridge with a really big road, the bridge would finish right where our house is right now which means the road would flattened your fairy town.The plans are being approved and if it all goes ahead, we will all be homeless!”
Uni, Sofire and Flashter all jumped up in one movement and inwardly gasped. They each looked about them at the beautiful lagoon, the trees, the lily pads, the hedges and mosses.Sofire’s mind then raced towards the poor animals and the birds, where would they go?She grabbed her chest and sucked in some air as she tried to calm herself down.She knew they needed help on this and it was bigger help than she could do on her own, even if she did have the help of a unicorn.
“Albert, you need to stay here and I need to find Karmy. I can’t help you by myself and I don’t know what to do anyway.Can you stay here?”
Albert agreed to wait for them, so Sofire and Uni with Flashter on his back sped off as fast as they could back through the forest to Karmy. Sofire felt leaves slap her face as she flew as fast as she could.Uni was a blur in front of her as he flew faster than anything she had ever seen.As if sensing their panic, some sparrows were flying alongside them and trying their best to get any overhanging branches out of their way before they hit them.They slowed as they neared Karmy’s house, the small mound of earth with the pebbled path leading to the front door stood in the clearing of the meadow.Uni dropped to earth with a tiny patter of golden hooves and Flashter slipped off his back in a smooth graceful movement.Sofire flitted down next to them both, in front of Karmy who was naturally expecting them.He tapped his gold pointy toe in his usual, cross way when faced with Sofire.
“So you’ve been speaking with humans again and unless I’m mistaken, you’ve also graced us with one of Queen Maylada’s unicorns as well!” exclaimed a cross-armed Karmy.
Sofire had forgotten about Uni in her panic. She looked at him, wrinkled her forehead and looked back at Karmy.She shrugged her shoulders and looked imploringly at him.He sighed and nodded at her.
“Karmy, Albert came crashing through the forest while Uni and I were trying to teach Flashter. He was in a blind panic about the humans wanting to build a ridge, or a bidge, or a something…”
“A bridge” interrupted Uni.
“Yes a bridge, on the human house!Then they’re going to build a toad, or a load….”
“A road, I think” interrupted Flashter.
“Yes” smiled Sofire, “a road, right through our homesteads! We’re all going to be made homeless!”
“What?!” screeched Karmy. “These humans value nothing! They want to build on everything that holds this world together and makes it beautiful.Well they’re not going to get away with it!Not on my watch!”
Karmy set about walking this way and that, tapping his gold shoes and rubbing his fluffy white beard. He stopped still and put a finger in the air, then shook his head and walked in the opposite direction.He carried on this way and that until he nearly caught his pointy toes up around each other.Then he stopped, stared at Sofire and smiled.
“Now fairy girl, you are going to have to be very careful.You have now officially spoken to a human and Maylada will have you arrested for that.So you better keep yourself as hidden as you can possibly be.But we also need to help Albert make the humans see sense!I’m going to take this to the other fairy Elders and call a meeting of the Elvedon Manor.You are going to have to stay away for a while until this is planned out and organised. Otherwise my fairy-girl, you could very well end up in prison.
“Unicorn being.Can you help hide her?”
“Uni is my name and yes I can.I think this is what brought us here. We knew we had to help Sofire but we didn’t realise you were all in trouble, even perhaps the humans!We are not here for Queen Maylada, she’s just our cover.”
“That’s ok, I understand.So you’ll take care of our fairy here and this fresh one?How can I contact you if I need to?”
Uni explained to Karmy that if he thought of three bright colours in quick succession, pink, yellow, mauve, pink, yellow, mauve, not the words but the colours, he would hear the thoughts and come to him. With the code worked out and the care of Sofire and Flashter organised, the three of them flew back to Albert.They left Karmy to explain everything to Sofire’s parents and speak to the fairy Elders at Elvedon Manor.