By Kate Appleyard
He had faded away beautifully. One day, when people no longer talked about him the unicorn had closed it’s eyes. The warm sun no longer reached him, but gentle, white clouds had carried him to the little planet where all mythical creatures go when their time comes to an end.
Now he was alone in a barren, limitless plain with just an old tree for company. The tree had only rough, gnarled branches to offer, and having no other shelter, the unicorn laid down, teardrops in his eyes.
“ Come now Sonny, it’s not that bad, there’s no need to cry”.
Where did the voice come from? He could not see a soul.
“Look up silly, it’s me!”
Raising his head, he noticed a pale image on the trunk of the tree. So that’s what it was. The spirit of the tree was talking to him. Not great, but better then nothing.
“I’m sorry, but being in a place I’ve never seen always gets me down,” he sniped.
The spirit of the tree looked wistful.
“Hm, I’m around for nearly a thousand years, take my word you get used to it.”
“But I don’t want to get used to it,” the unicorn cried.
“Alright, so you don’t want to, but like the others you have to.”
“There are others?”
“Well of course Sonny, even those who are not real need friends.”
“But I am real,” the unicorn cried.
The spirit grew silent, but only for a moment.
“It’s sad, but fact is you’re only real as long as people believe in you.”
Before the unicorn could object again, a huge, fearsome Tatzelworm jumped through the air toward him and settled in the grass. Nostrils flaring and glowing, the dragon squinted and stared at him. Having never seen a creature like it, the unicorn tilted its head, his curled horn ready to attack.
“Chill out, I’m a bit old for that. In fact, I can not even remember ever breathing fire,” the dragon groaned. “I mean no harm. Look on me as a welcoming friend who passes on the things you have to know. You don’t want to upset the Griffin with your ignorance, do you?”
“I’m sorry, I did not know,” the highly embarrassed unicorn cried. “ I just, I just…”
“Never mind, lay down and listen.”
The old tree, trying hard to provide more shade, shook his crown and was all ears as well.
“Here goes! All creatures ever created by mans imagination end up on Rainbow Planet, but the planet only exists as long as we believe in it. When we stop believing, it will simply vanish. The same thing happens to all of us. People stop believing and we have to go.
“There was a time when I was beautiful and green, but that was long ago,” the spirit of the tree whispered.
“There was a time, when every living creature feared me. I could breath fire like no other, I think,” the Tatzelworm remarked.
“Are we then here to stay forever,” the unicorn asked.
“O no, there will always be people who believe and when there are enough we can go back.”
The dragons eyes looked sad.
“I have not seen the start of a rainbow for many a year and the Griffins time is stretching into centuries. They do no longer need heraldic creatures. That’s why he now is our king, so show him the respect he deserves. Don’t focus on him too long, for he is touchy beyond belief.”
“I’m sorry, I do not mean to offend,” the unicorn whispered highly embarrassed.
A shadow fell onto the group and a beautiful winged horse now slightly out of breath glided down.
“Hi everybody. Hope you don’t mind me joining Tatz. Got great news for some, but first I must rest.”
The dragon turned towards the unicorn.
“ Now this is Pegasus our daily messenger. He lets us know when we can slide down the rainbow and go back to earth.”
“It won’t be long Sonny,” the spirit of the tree declared.
Things got too much and the unicorns eyes began to get heavy. Just before falling asleep he saw a bright red sun falling into the clouds.
A new day dawned. When he woke up a giant who had sat beside him shook his head.
“I have been waiting here for hours.”
Sonny recognized him immediately. It was Argus with the many eyes.
“I’m here to lead you to our daily meeting.”
Sonny kept quiet as he trudged beside the huge man through a valley with a lovely fruit orchard. The path was covered in purple clover and fat, green grass.
“Don’t walk through the grass,” the giant urged, but unable to resist the soft bedding on his hooves, the unicorn paid no attention. Shortly after he began to feel hungry and soon the pain in his stomach became unbearable. He reared and picked up a fruit hoping to still the nagging ache. Almost instantly he dropped it when it began to move in his mouth. The orange burst open and out flew a fruit fairy furious and screaming with anger.
“I don’t believe it. A tree laden with fruit and you have to pick the one that’s my home. Go away, or I put a curse on you.”
When the startled unicorn pranced, Argus reached into his pocket and threw a handful of ash-berries at her. Almost instantly she dashed away. The giant shook his head.
“Let’s go before you attract more grief.”
He picked up three apples and gave them to the unicorn.
“You better eat these before it’s too late. You walked on hungry grass and most of us die, if we don’t eat soon after.”
In the distance stood a crowd and as they came closer peculiar beings crossed their path.
Suddenly he saw the Griffin in all it’s glory. Perched on the edge of a small rock, he had lost nothing of his former splendour. His wings glistened in the sun and his golden eyes shimmered. The terror people once felt when looking at his beak and claws had created a majestic aura around him. The vibes that came from the rock were strong and clear. Scary and fierce, he was a born leader, a paragon of force and beauty.
At his side was, well, it must be the Queen. A phoenix so lovely, it took his breath a way. Her crown of wispy feathers shadowed gentle eyes and when the sun fell on her plumage, he could see all the colours of the rainbow. The unicorn stared in awe, only just remembering what the Tatz had said. Averting his eyes, he froze and only moved when Argus touched his mane.
“Time to go, we are last.”
The rest of the day was spent lazing by the river and Argus told him more about the fairies.
“If you were a real horse, you’re hooves would protect you. Fairies don’t like iron, you were lucky. They are a devious lot, pretty, but devious. Next time be prepared and listen to those who want to help you.”
Months passed by and eventually the unicorn lost track of time. Then one day Pegasus called for him.
“Your time has come Sonny. See the spirit of the tree and she will tell you what to do.”
Unable to speak, the unicorn only got excited when he heard the familiar voice again. He could not wait to do as she suggested. When eventually he stood on top of the rainbow, he closed his eyes and made a wish. As he opened them again, he saw a meadow where lots of animals were grazing. A peacock strolled over and in the distance he could see children play. Was the Tatz right when he had told him that those who believed could see him? As he slowly walked towards the children a young boy suddenly cried out.
“ Look at the beautiful unicorn!”
The peacock opened his tail feathers and as a hundred eyes looked at the unicorn he heard the voice of his friend Argus.
“ Keep on walking Sonny, this is your day.”