The Sign by the Road

THE TWINED SERPENTS

   Claire rushed after the butterflies, hoping they might show her a way home, but they disappeared into a grove of oak trees. Claire followed a trail far below her that snaked through the mountains, and she found a sign with twined serpents. She flew down to it and pondered. Was it showing directions or giving a warning? As she was staring at the sign, one of the serpents spoke to her.
   “There are so many ways that you can go,” it claimed.
   Then the other serpent chimed in, “Yes, so many ways that you can solve this problem.”
   “But you don't even know what my problem is!” Claire exclaimed.
   “You are looking for a friend,” one snake hissed.
   “You are looking for your self,” the other snake sighed.
   “If you know yourself, you will find a friend,” they both exclaimed and hissed.
   “I don't have time for such nonsense!” Claire declared and flitted away.

The Queen by the Stream

   Claire settled next to a stream. Suddenly a woman with a crown and long flowing hair approached her.
   “Who are you, may I ask?” Claire inquired.
   “I am the Queen, my little one.”
   “Do you know where I am?” Claire asked politely.
   “Of course I know who you are,” the Queen responded. “You are a princess, a small part of all that is. You are home with me. If you stay with me, you shall have a cat and the doves to watch over you.”
   “I will rule a kingdom?” Claire brightened.
   “Of course, you will rule yourself. Do you think you can do that?”
   Suddenly Claire glimpsed the fairies far off in the distance. The Queen was already gone when Claire turned back toward her.

The Barely Visible Boy

   Claire flew after the fairies until they vanished once again. She was thirsty and stopped by a stream to get a drink. When she gazed into the still water, she saw the face of a boy, barely visible in the water. Suddenly he offered her a golden cup and three roses.
   “Do I know you?” Claire asked, startled.
   Claire thought she heard him speak. Perhaps it was only the gurgling water.
   “I have a golden plate and cup for you,” he seemed to be saying. “But I cannot stay long for I am part of the sun. You can follow me if you wish, but you will become part of the sun yourself.”
   Claire brushed the skin of water and the boy's face shattered. Suddenly a cloud blocked out the sun, and the stream grew dark.

Basilisk

   Claire flew toward the sun, but a strange beast blocked her way.
   “Do not come too close,” it warned. “If you look into my eyes, you will die!”
   Claire shielded her eyes, but she felt drawn more and more toward the sun.
   “The sun will burn you up until you are only a clinker, a quintessence. Stay where you are!”
   The sun was roaring. She was moving her lips, but she didn't seem to be making any sounds at all. Suddenly she closed her eyes and stepped into the light.

Meet the Unicorn.