“Try again.” Isabel pointed at the bundle of twigs surrounded by stones. “You can do this, Cloud. And think what fun it would be to make a fire.”
Cloud nuzzled her. “Okay, Isabel, I’ll try again for you. But I’m almost certain that I don’t have fire magic.”
It was lunchtime at Unicorn Academy, and most students and their unicorns were lazing around together on the banks of Sparkle Lake, enjoying the summer sunshine. Isabel and her unicorn, Cloud, had sneaked away to a quieter part of the grounds.
“You don’t know for sure.” Isabel stroked Cloud’s neck, tracing the pale-blue swirls on his white coat.
All the unicorns on Unicorn Island were born with a special magic power, although they couldn’t be sure when that power would be revealed. Isabel was desperate for Cloud to discover his magic.
Please let Cloud be like Blaze and have fire magic, she thought.
Blaze, Scarlett’s unicorn, had been one of the first unicorns to discover her magic. Isabel was happy for Scarlett, her best friend, but she secretly hated the fact that Blaze had discovered her magic before Cloud.
Cloud stared intently at the pile of sticks. He lifted a hoof and struck the ground.
“Again!” instructed Isabel. “Do it again, harder. I’m sure there was a spark.”
Cloud rapped the ground repeatedly. The noise made Isabel’s ears ring, and the dusty earth made Cloud sneeze.
“Achoo!” Cloud couldn’t stop sneezing. “Sorry, Isabel. I really can’t make fire.”
Isabel heaved a sigh. “Okay, well, maybe fire magic isn’t your thing. Why don’t you try turning invisible again? I’m sure the tip of your ear vanished the last time you tried.”
Cloud shook his head. “No, it didn’t, and I think we should stop. My parents told me that magic can’t be rushed. We both need to be patient.”
Isabel buried her face in his silver-and-blue mane, trying to hide the frustration inside her. Cloud was lovely, he was sweet and kind, but Isabel couldn’t help wondering if Ms. Primrose, the academy’s head teacher, had made a mistake when she put them together. Ms. Primrose said that she paired students with the best unicorn for them, but patient Cloud wasn’t anything like competitive Isabel.
Is he really the right unicorn for me? she thought. Surely I should have a lively, more adventurous unicorn like Blaze.
Like all the other first years, Isabel was ten years old and had started at Unicorn Academy back in January. The students spent at least a year at the school, getting to know their own special unicorn and learning how to become guardians of Unicorn Island. Their beautiful island was nourished by the magical multicolored water that flowed from the center of the earth and out through a fountain in Sparkle Lake in the grounds of Unicorn Academy. The water was then carried around the island by rivers and streams, and its magical properties helped people, animals, and plants to flourish.
Most students and unicorns only spent a year at Unicorn Academy, but some stayed longer. Ms. Primrose called them the lucky ones because they got extra time at the academy while their unicorns discovered their magic or bonded with their student. When a unicorn and student bonded, a lock of the student’s hair turned the same color as their unicorn’s mane.
“I need a rest,” said Cloud. “Let’s go back to the lake.”
“Okay,” said Isabel, vaulting onto his back.
She really hoped Cloud would discover his magic soon. She didn’t think she could bear staying at Unicorn Academy another year, after all her friends had left!
They set off for Sparkle Lake. Isabel shaded her eyes from the dazzling sunshine as they drew nearer. She could see her friends from Sapphire dorm sitting exactly where she’d left them. The group was talking in whispers, casting glances at Sparkle Lake. Isabel had a feeling she knew what they were talking about.
“Someone’s definitely trying to cause trouble,” said Sophia as she threaded daisies together in a long chain. “Too many bad things have happened for it to be a coincidence.” Sophia pushed her hair back over her shoulder. “There was the time the lake was polluted and the time when it froze over—”
“But who would try to harm the lake?”
Copyright © 2019 by Julie Sykes; illustrated by Lucy Truman. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.