The story so far
Ben flopped into the leather arm chair. He had said very little after they had found themselves back sitting round the picnic rug in South Park. They all felt dizzy and confused. Ben had exclaimed, “I hope you all saw what I saw or I am going mad.”
Ali had uttered “Unicorns.”
Tania had added, “A meadow near a castle,” they all confirmed the shared experience.
Craig told the girls to pack up the picnic things and he went and had a word with Jane’s mother. Jane had finished playing the harp and was receiving a lot of congratulations..
Craig, Ali and Tania had all then piled into Ben’s camper to made their way back to Tania’s house.
“I need a drink to steady my nerves,” Ben told Craig.
Tania disappeared but came back with four glasses and then got a box from a cupboard. She took the lid off and handed Ben a miniature whiskey.
Ben looked in the box. “That’s a lot of miniatures.”
“The Magic Unicorns played the tune for a advert for a whiskey company. They were handouts for the group,” Tania informed them.
“Will your Father mind?” Craig asked concerned.
“I don’t care if he does,” Tania defiantly announced. “He only supported me after my mother disappeared because a DNA test proved I was his daughter. He sent me to a boarding school. I haven’t seen him for years.”
Craig could see how upset she was, so he quickly suggested they reviewed what the Unicorns had both told and instructed them to do.
“Good. Idea,” Ben replied opening his second miniature.
“I know how you feel Tania, our Parents left us with our Grandmother and went to India and they disappeared too,” Ali said with empathy. “You feel abandoned.”
“Strange!” Ben added thoughtfully, “My father was a climber and he disappeared in an avalanche in the Himalayas. So all four of us have had disappearing parents.”
“Alisha was a street kid, so she has disappearing parents too,” Craig pointed out.
“But Jane has parents, you spoke to them Craig, so that breaks the chain of coincidences,” Tania objected.
“Well, no. When I spoke to the ‘The Parents’ I said they must be proud. They said they were always proud when any of the foster children did well. So all of us could have disappearing parents,” Craig explained.
“Is there another connection,” suggested Tania, “You said, Craig, Ben told you the story of the Unicorns.”
Ben nodded in agreement as he lined up his empty miniatures like soldiers. “My father wrote children’s stories. It was the last story he wrote. They found it in his things.” Ben explained.
Tania continued, “I have of course, ‘Magical Unicorns in my history. Do you have Unicorns in your history too?”
It was Ali that answered, “Craig and I were six when our parents disappeared. Shortly after a package arrived with two miniature unicorn toys. Craig gave his to me but I still have them.”
“When I first met Jane she was wearing a t shirt with a Unicorn on so if nothing else she likes Unicorns,” Craig informed them. They were all silent for a time.
Ben helped himself to another miniature before he suggested they got back to finding a mare in foal, saying there must be thousands of them.
“Well, no, just the ones connected to White Orchid. Could we get a list of mares from the Castle Stables?” Suggested Craig.
“Then what? Even if we visited all of them, how will we know which one?” Enquired Tania.
“There are two points,” Ben commented, “Point One, the Unicorns couldn’t find the mare because she is shielded by black magic. Which means it could be dangerous and it’s only Ali who can hear horses. It might be only Ali who could detect the foal we want. The other point, all this comes from the break in and the attack on Ali. What’s the connection,” Ben pointed out using his detective skills.
All four remained silent as they digested the facts they individually knew.
It was finally Ali that broke the silence, “Just a point but not all mares were serviced at the stables. Some of the mares could be anywhere in the world.”
“What?” Exclaimed Ben.
“I think Ali means, like IVF for horses,” Tania commented.
“Hang on,” Ben sat up and got his mobile out and searched his phone for a photo before handing it to Craig. “It’s one of the security photos. I have zoomed in on the glass. It’s too thin and and has too narrow a shape to be a drinking glass. Pass it to the girls. Ali could it be a file that in the Unicorn’s phase held its ‘essence of life’?”
“Yes,” Ali confirmed simply.
“Then what was happening at the stables wasn’t someone trying to steal horses or doping them but stealing the sperm,” Ben announced. “We have to find the culprits to find the mare before she foals.”
“There is something else I have thought of.” Ali reached for a miniature and poured it. “ It’s the history of thoroughbreds. All purebred horse trace their lineage back to three stallions that were imported to England from the deserts. That’s the three stallions the Unicorns told us about. That means White Orchid’s DNA came from one of or more of these Sand Stallions who were direct descendants of a Unicorn. The Unicorns spoke of different domains. So for instance the wild mustangs in America could come from the Prairies Unicorns.”
“The Ice Unicorns, which we want, could not come from Antarctica. There are no horses there,” Ben pointed out.
“But they could come from Siberia, Iceland or Norway. We are looking for a mare from a different breed of horse that has been given White Orchids ‘Essence of Life,” Ali explained.
“And that mare could be anywhere in the world and we have to all be there including Alisha from an orphanage in Kathmandu,” Ben summed up. “The first thing is to find out who attacked Ali because that’s the only lead we have right now.”
“This is not going to be simple and it could be dangerous. We are dealing with criminals and black magic,” Craig pointed out.