It was early the next afternoon when Katerina saw a bridge arching across the river. Racing towards it, she was across and in the woods in no time at all.
“We’re almost there, Bell!” Katerina slowly dismounted, feeling exhausted. “Come on, let’s walk the rest of the way.”
“Oh, you’re not going anywhere,” a gruff voice growled. Terrified, Katerina whirled around. Standing by a tree were her father’s two personal guards, Spiro and Petros, evil,twisted smirks on their faces. She realized that they suddenly looked fierce and menacing instead of the loyal protectors that they had always been..
“What. . . what are you doing here?” Katerina trembled in fright. “Aren’t you supposed to be Father’s guards?”
“What one is supposed to do and what one wants to do are two different things sometimes.” said Spiro, his face slipping into a menacing glare.
Katerina tipped her head, trying to decipher that statement. “What?”
“We are, but we now have a bigger dream. To rule the tribe.”
“But you can’t! If something happens to Father, I’m next in line!”
“Yes, but if something happens to you, we get to take over.”
Katerina gasped, realizing that she was in terrible danger, not for the first time in her young life. But for the first time, she would have to battle the danger herself, without the protection of her father. Her mind was racing, trying to figure out a way to escape without having to battle the guards.
The guards started walking towards her, hands poised on the gilded hilts of their swords. Katerina dug her heels into Bell, and raced off towards the tree.
“I can do it, I can do it,” her heart pounded and her head ached. “I need to get back to my father!”
Katerina approached the tree. Reaching out, she grabbed five flowers off a branch, being careful not to crush them in her hurry.
“It’s time to go home, Bell,” she whispered in the unicorn’s ear. “And hurry!”
Looking back, Katerina saw Spiro and Petros close behind, scowls of contempt on their faces.
Katerina, not daring to stop to rest, rode all night for home, pushing Bell as hard as she could.