The Sea Pony
Grace ran down the golden beach, her brown eyes sparkling with excitement. Sea ponies were leaping and galloping in the waves. Water drops
glittered on their smooth white coats. Their brightly colored tails and manes gleamed in the sunshine.
Grace stopped at the water’s edge, feeling the warm sand under her feet and the waves lapping at her toes. A lighthouse with white and orange stripes towered on the clifftop behind her. Palm trees swayed gently in the breeze. Farther along the bay was a cluster of colorful houses. This was Cala Sands, the village where Grace lived.
Every day Grace’s cousins sailed out of the harbor on their fishing boat. Grace went with them to catch fish to sell at the market. She loved sailing, but she loved coming to the beach to see the ponies even more!
The ponies jumped high, splashing one another with their hooves. They were beautiful creatures
with bright patterns across their manes and tails. Grace’s favorite sea pony had a rainbow pattern that gleamed every time she sprang into the air. She looked a little younger than
the other ponies and she was full of energy. All the sea ponies could jump, but this pony sprang higher than all the others!
Kicking off her sandals, Grace ran into the shallows and waded out to where the water got deeper. The sea ponies neighed happily when they saw her. The one with the rainbow tail flicked water into the air with her nose, as if she wanted Grace to come and play.
Grace grinned and splashed water back with her hands. Being friends with the sea ponies was the best thing about living in Cala Sands.
There were lots of magical creatures in the Kingdom of Arramia—sky unicorns, dragons, and firebirds—but she was sure none of them were as wonderful as the sea ponies! They had the power to bring peace to the waves by using special movements that looked almost like a
dance. Grace had seen them calm the stormy sea many times to help the fishing boats.
She dived under the surface without worrying about her wet shorts and top. The water was warm and everything would dry quickly in the sun afterward. Little silver fish darted through the turquoise water. Pink shells gleamed among the pebbles on the ocean floor.
The waves rocked Grace gently as she bobbed back to the surface.
The rainbow sea pony flicked her tail and dived under the water before popping up a little farther away. Grace laughed and tried to catch up with her. Grace was a strong swimmer, but she knew she could never be as good as the sea ponies! They moved so gracefully through the water. The rainbow pony jumped high and soon all the sea ponies were leaping and splashing too.
Suddenly a shadow fell across the water and blocked out the sunshine. The sea ponies neighed as if they were talking to one another. Then they dived under the waves and swam out to sea.
“Don’t go!” called Grace, but the sea ponies were already far away.
Swimming back to the beach, she climbed on to the sand and squeezed the water out of
her curly black hair. She glanced at the sky, expecting to see a rain cloud blocking out the sun. Instead she saw a creature zooming toward the beach.
As it got closer, Grace saw that it was actually two creatures. From a distance, the smaller one looked like a white horse. Its hooves left a sparkling trail in the air. The bigger one was a dragon with huge, leathery wings.
Grace’s heart raced. She was used to seeing sea dragons—they were small blue creatures that lived on the Island of Ixus out in the bay. The island was said to be an amazing place where no humans lived at all. Grace desperately wanted to go there someday. But this dragon in the sky wasn’t a little sea dragon. This was a full-size
storm dragon and it was flying right next to a sky unicorn!
The dragon and the unicorn swooped low over the water and landed on the sand not far from Grace. A girl with blond hair jumped down from the dragon’s back, rushed into the waves, and joyfully flicked water into the air. “Maya! Windrunner!” she called back. “I’m standing in the Great Ocean. I can’t believe it! I’ve never even seen the ocean before!”
“Sophy, come back!” A girl with smooth dark hair climbed down from the sky unicorn’s back, laughing at her friend. “There’s someone else here—look!” She came toward Grace, smiling. “Hello, I’m Maya. I hope we didn’t startle you. We needed somewhere to land for a rest. We’ve been flying for ages.”
Grace stared at her, a thousand questions
whizzing around her head. “Hello, I’m Grace. Where are you from? I’ve never seen anyone flying on a dragon or a sky unicorn before.”
“We’ve come from the Emerald Plain,” said Maya, smiling. “We started off in a town called Blyford next to Misty Lake. My family and I had sailed there on our boats because we’re traveling performers. That’s where I met Sophy.”
“That’s me! I’m Sophy from Greytowers Castle.” The blond-haired girl bounced up to them. “Is this Cala Sands Bay? And have you seen any sea ponies lately?”
“Yes, this is Cala Sands Bay.” Grace frowned. Why was this girl asking about the ponies? “There were some sea ponies here a minute ago, but they swam away. Did you come here to meet them?”
Sophy leaned over to whisper something in
Maya’s ear. The other girl shook her head and murmured something back.
Grace folded her arms. She didn’t like people keeping secrets from her. It happened to her all the time with her cousins, who thought she was still a baby even though she could hoist a sail and cast a fishing net just as well as them!
She was about to turn away when she felt a nudge at her elbow. The sky unicorn was standing by her side, the golden horn on its forehead gleaming in the sun. Its coat and mane were snowy white, and its tail was a beautiful pale green.
“Hello, girl!” said Grace, softly stroking her nose. “What’s your name?”
“She’s called Marella,” Maya told her. “And the storm dragon’s name is Windrunner.”
The dragon bowed his head in greeting. A
little gust of wind swirled across the beach.
“Do you like magical animals, Grace?” asked Sophy, her brow creasing. “Do you think people should be kind to them?”
“Of course I do!” said Grace. “They’re so special! Although I think we should be kind to all animals.”
“I told you!” Maya said to Sophy. “We should tell her. She might be able to help us.”
“Help you with what?” Grace felt that if they didn’t tell her their secret soon, she’d burst!
“We’ve come here to help magical animals in danger,” Sophy told her. “You see, I’m a maid at Greytowers Castle, where the queen lives. There’s a wicked knight called Sir Fitzroy living there too, and he’s persuaded the queen that all magical creatures should be captured. He’s sent letters to his supporters all over the kingdom
ordering them to catch every magical animal they can find.”
“That’s horrible!” cried Grace. “How could he do that?”
Sophy shook her head. “He’s a bad man. He hates the magical animals and he’s telling everyone they’re too dangerous to be free.”
“We rescued a unicorn foal together at Misty Lake,” added Maya. “Sir Fitzroy was really angry about that!”
“After that we went on different adventures and helped to rescue other magical creatures like firebirds and star wolves,” said Sophy. “But when I heard that the sea ponies could be in
danger I knew I had to fetch Maya and come right away!”
The unicorn brushed against Maya’s shoulder and made a long whinnying sound.
“That’s right, Marella. I’d forgotten!” said Maya. “There’s meant to be a large boat that’s hunting for the sea ponies—”
“Wait a minute!” interrupted Grace. “Did you just talk to the unicorn?”
Maya blushed. “Yes, I did!”
“We can both talk to magical animals,” said Sophy proudly.
“But how?” gasped Grace.
Sophy pulled a thread from around her neck. Hanging on the end of the necklace was a rough gray stone. “I can show you if you like, but you have to promise not to tell anyone!”
She unwound the thread from the stone and
pulled it gently, so that it opened into two pieces. Inside each part was a hollow filled with gleaming purple crystals. “This is how I speak to magical creatures. There’s magic in this stone that lets me talk to them whenever I like!”