“Damn this confounded weather,” shouted Rucksack. His cursing didn’t cause the rains to subside and torrents rushed down the mountain. 

“If I don’t find shelter soon, I’ll be swept off the ledge for sure.” At that moment he could see a mass of swirling debris flowing toward him. In desperation he pinned himself against the cliff and grabbed hold of the roots sparsely growing along the precipice. As the flow washed around him, the earth gave way. 

CRASH

He would’ve been buried, but as fate would have it, he fell deep into the mountain.

Soon the darkness grew brighter as blue light reflected on the walls of the cavern.

SPLASH

Rucksack hit the water. When he came up for air he could see darkness above him. Swimming across the underground lake was effortless for the magician who later described the sensation as floating through air and crawling onto land completely dry. He ventured into a forest of white trees that grew close to the water’s edge.

Rucksack knew the trees were growing, but everything felt dead. There was a subtle wind, but it wasn’t strong enough to move the pale forest fortified in stone. The gentle draft reminded him of fine silk slipping through his fingers or small grains of sand skipping across his skin. As he walked on hesitating footsteps, he looked at the silver patches on the ground.

“It glistens in its own light and seems out of place.”

As Rucksack thought to himself, his feet took him deeper into the white woods. The magician noticed pools of quicksilver running into each other as they flowed into a gurgling river. He was transfixed.

 “Was he falling asleep or had it already happened?” Rucksack tripped on a tree root and fell flat on his face covered in silver sludge. It made him feel weightless. He was sad and happy at the same time. He began to cry and then he started to laugh.

Suddenly, real sound echoed off the walls of the unreal place he was in.

Clip…Clop…Clip…Clop

 It was a unicorn. It had a white body, gray hooves, a silver mane, and a red mouth that smelled of strawberries. In a casual voice it spoke to Rucksack without opening its mouth. “Have you seen any sweet grass growing around here?”

Rucksack was speechless, but found he conversed with the magnificent beast all the same. “I’ve only seen white trees. Where have you come from?”

The unicorn twisted its face into a confused expression. “I come from where I’m from,” it replied.

Rucksack couldn’t tell if the animal was brainless or just playing games, but he lost his patience. “What I mean is; where have you been?”

“Been,” replied the unicorn in a dreamy voice? “I’ve been where there are no sunsets, only sunrises. Where the air is cool and the ground is hard. It’s a place no man ventures and where my ancestors entered space and time.

Rucksack was awestruck and intimidated by the horn protruding from the beast’s head, but somehow he knew it was a friendly creature. “Nuptial, would you be willing to help me find my way home?”

The unicorn turned to Rucksack, giving a noticeable smile. They walked side by side in the direction of the blue lake, neither being the master over the other. The water was no longer peaceful, but a swirling thunderstorm raging with electricity. Nuptial wasn’t bothered by the ferocious maelstrom and walked into the tempest.

“Wait; there must be another way,” shouted Rucksack over the thunder.

Nuptial looked at him with a peaceful expression on its face, “Aren’t you coming?” Something must have tossed the unicorn’s head thought Rucksack. He wondered if magical creatures had brains, along with their other powers. Then something caught his eye; the unicorn began to grow wings. At first they were as small as a hummingbird’s and flapped just as fast. Soon they were bigger than an eagle’s, then larger than an albatross’s. The wings grew until a dragon would have been envious of the glistening white feathers. Nuptial danced and rejoiced in its new freedom of flight. 

“Come; hop on my back. It’s time to leave the ground and soar to the sky.” Rucksack didn’t realize he was covered in magic. He was lighter than a feather as he jumped, landing gracefully on Nuptial’s back.

 Before he could ask for a moment to gather his wits they left the ground, moving upward, through the darkness, much faster than an ascending elevator, spinning in circles as the unicorn flexed its wings. Suddenly, they burst through the side of the mountain into a blinding summer day.

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