There are many different creatures that make their home in The Enchanted Forest: fairies and dragons, pixies and goblins, giants, trolls and ogres. The rarest and most beautiful creatures of all, however, are the unicorns. With long, flowing manes that shimmer like spun gold in the sunlight, coats of purest white, and elegant twists of golden horn, they are a sight to take your breath away.
This tale is about the youngest of the unicorns.
Snowdrop lives in the Enchanted Forest with his family – his Mummy and Daddy, his older sister, his aunts and uncles and cousins. He’s a brave and adventurous sort. He loves to explore the forest near where he and his family live. Every day whilst his mummy chats with the other unicorns Snowdrop skips away through the trees, scrabbling over tangled roots, peering under bushes and jumping into streams. His mummy always tells him not to go too far away, but Snowdrop doesn’t always listen to her warning.
One day Snowdrop wanders further than he really should. It’s only as the daylight begins to dim that he realises that he is lost. All around him are unfamiliar sights. It’s growing darker and colder as night settles over the Enchanted Forest and all Snowdrop wants is his mummy – but he doesn’t know how to find her!
“Mummy!” he calls, but his mummy doesn’t answer. She’s too far away to hear him. By now he’s feeling sad and scared, but he reminds himself that he’s a brave unicorn and brave unicorns don’t cry. All he needs to do is go back the way he came…
Snowdrop trots back through the forest but everything looks and sounds so different at night, with the faint moon-glow doing little to light his way. Soon he realises that he doesn’t actually know which way he came from. Every unfamiliar noise makes him jump in fear, whilst the shadows beneath the trees make him imagine all sorts of monsters ready to leap out and eat him for their tea.
Reminding himself that he’s a brave unicorn is no longer enough. Tired and cold, Snowdrop crawls beneath a bush and cries himself to sleep.
The first thing he sees when he wakes up the next morning is the face of a girl peering at him through the leaves. He stares at her in shock, the remnants of his previous night’s fear making him shy as he blinks the sleep out of his eyes, but then she grins and his fear melts away at the friendly sight.
“Hello!” the girl says as he scrambles out from beneath the bush. “What are you doing under there? I’m Merelda. I’m a princess. Are you a unicorn? I’ve never met a unicorn before. I thought you’d be bigger.”
“I’m still growing,” Snowdrop says indignantly.
“Oh – you’re a baby?” She jumps to her feet, her tangle of dark curls bouncing wildly around her head. Her dress is covered in mud and there are twigs in her hair.
“I am not!” Snowdrop isn’t sure he likes this girl. A baby! He is not a baby! “I’m a big, brave unicorn!”
“What’s your name? Do unicorn’s have names or should I just call you little unicorn?”
“Of course I have a name. I’m Snowdrop.”
Snowdrop stamps his hoof and glares at the girl, but Merelda continues to smile.
“That’s a nice name. Is this where you live, Snowdrop?”
Merelda’s question reminds Snowdrop of his situation. “No. I’m lost and I want my mummy!”
“Oh. Maybe I can help you!” Merelda says excitedly, and Snowdrop starts to think that maybe she isn’t so bad after all.
“Do you know where my mummy is?” he asks.
“No. But I know where the pixie village is. Maybe they’ll know where the unicorns live. Come on!”
Snowdrop is feeling much better now that the sun is shining. Feeling like a big, brave unicorn once again he follows his new friend through the trees.
The pixies live in the deepest, darkest part of the enchanted forest, where the toadstools grow taller than any you’ll find elsewhere. They’re so big that the pixies live inside them.
Now there’s one thing you may not know about pixies – unless there is music playing, they are incredibly grumpy.
“Hello!” Merelda calls kneeling to peer into the toadstool village. Snowdrop kneels beside her.
A pixie pops his head out of a window of a toadstool house. “What do you want?” he growls.
“Snowdrop is lost,” Merelda explains. “Do you know where the unicorns live?”
“No!” The pixie slams the door.
“Does anyone know?” she tries again.
Another pixie looks out.
“Nobody knows,” she snaps. “Now go away!”
“Oh,” Merelda says sadly as she rises back to her feet. Turning to Snowdrop she apologises and adds. “I thought they’d be able to help.”
“You could always ask the dragon,” a voice pipes up from behind them, and there they see another pixie sitting on a branch – this one, however, seems happy to meet them.
“Dreago!” Merelda cries excitedly. “Why didn’t I think of him? The dragon knows pretty much everything about the Enchanted Forest. I’m sure he’ll know where your mummy is!”
“He’ll probably be at his cave. I know the way,” the pixie says. “I can show you, if you want – though one of you might have to carry me. Otherwise I won’t be able to keep up!”
The pixie – whose name, they learn, is Tixel – is lifted up to sit on Snowdrop’s horn and from there he guides them through the Enchanted Forest.
Merelda chatters as they travel. “It’s a shame you’re not bigger, Snowdrop. If you were then I could ride on your back. I’ve always wanted to ride on a unicorn. My sister would be so jealous. Do you think I could, when you grow bigger?”
Before too long the three new friends are approaching the dragon’s cave.
The dragon is lounging in the sun, his wings spread wide and his eyes closed. His large head rests on his claws, wisps of smoke puffing out of his nostrils as he breathes in and out.
Snowdrop feels a little bit scared. What if the dragon breathes fire at them? But he reminds himself that he’s a brave unicorn and the dragon might be able to help him find his way home.
“Don’t worry – he’s friendly,” Merelda reassures him. “Hello, Dreago,” she calls.
The dragon cracks open his eyes.
“Well, well, well. What do we have here?” he rumbles. “What brings you to my cave, younglings?”
“We’re looking for the unicorns,” Tixel pixie says.
“Snowdrop is lost and wants to go home,” Merelda adds.
“Do you know where my mummy is?” Snowdrop finishes.
The dragon closes his eyes and thinks deeply for several long minutes – so long, in fact, that Snowdrop starts to think he’s fallen back to sleep – before he opens his eyes, shakes his head and says, “The unicorns do not have one single place in which they live. They move around from place to place, going wherever their fancy take them. The last time I saw them they were in the fairy glades. Go and see the fairies. They will know where they are now.”
“But where are they?” Tixel asks.
With a sigh, Dreago rises to his feet. Folding his wings close to his back he lumbers over. “Follow me,” he says, “and I will show you.”
Snowdrop, Merelda and Tixel follow the dragon as he stomps through the forest, crushing the plants that grow in his path beneath his huge feet.
“Why don’t you fly?” Merelda asks him.
“Would you be able to follow me if I did?”
Dreago finally stops at the edge of a flower filled clearing.
“This looks almost like home,” Snowdrop whispers.
The fairies flit from place to place in showers of fairy dust, the sound of their tinkling laughter echoing in the surrounding trees.
“Greetings!” Dreago calls.
“Can you help us?” Tixel adds.
A fairy lands on a branch nearby.
“Hello,” she says. “I’m Flissy. What can I do for you?”
“Do you know where the unicorns live?” Merelda asks.
“I’m lost and I want my mummy!” Snowdrop finishes.
“The unicorns? Of course I know where the unicorns are!” Flissy laughs. “Follow me!”
Snowdrop, Merelda, Pixel and Dreago chase after the fairy as she flits between flowers and zips around trees in exuberant flight. Finally they reach another flower filled clearing, at the centre of which stands a tall, graceful unicorn.
“Mummy!” Snowdrop shouts and gallops to her side.
“Oh Snowdrop. Where have you been? I’ve been so worried!” his mummy says, lowering her head over his neck in the unicorn version of a hug.
“I was lost Mummy! But I’m home now and look, I’ve made lots of new friends.”
From this day on Snowdrop often plays with his new friends in the Enchanted Forest. They laugh and run and jump, and some of them fly. Snowdrop always makes sure, however, not to wander too far away from home. He remembers what it’s like to be lost and he doesn’t want it to happen ever again.
This is the third version of my children’s story The Lost Unicorn. This one is aimed at children aged seven(ish).
There is also a post looking at the ways in which the versions differ and why, which can be found here.
I am currently working on a fourth version that is aimed at older children again, but it will probably be a little while before it’s complete.
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Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own, instead of someone else’s. Billy Wilder