“Do you know the difference between a unicorn and a carrot? One is a funny beast, and the other is a bunny feast!”
Princess Pulverizer doubled over, laughing at the joke.
Her buddy Lucas laughed along with her. “That’s funny,” he said.
“There’s a whole chapter of unicorn jokes in this book.” Princess Pulverizer held up her copy of Unicorns from A to Z
. “Here’s another one: ‘You know why the unicorn didn’t join the king’s army? He didn’t like the uni
Lucas giggled. But Princess Pulverizer’s other friend, Dribble, didn’t. So she searched the book for something he might find interesting. “Did you know unicorns change colors to match their surroundings?”
Dribble barely seemed to be listening.
“Here’s another fun fact,” Lucas added. “Unicorns eat flowers.”
“You’re right,” Princess Pulverizer said. “It’s here on page nine.”
“I don’t need a book,” Lucas said. “I’m watching Fortune eat his breakfast.”
Princess Pulverizer looked over at the young unicorn they’d been traveling with. He was eating a bed of purple tulips.
“Look! His fur is turning purple!” Lucas exclaimed.
“Told ya,” Princess Pulverizer said as Fortune pranced toward some bright red and yellow marigolds. “Now he’s red and yellow.”
Fortune took a big bite of marigolds. Yellow pollen blew into the air. Aachooooooo!
Dribble sneezed so hard a flicker of a flame escaped his mouth. “Grrr . . . allergies,” the dragon complained.
Princess Pulverizer turned to her book. “What did the baby unicorn say to the mommy unicorn?”
“What?” Lucas asked.
“Where’s my Pop-corn
?” The princess laughed so hard she snorted.
“We really need to focus on looking for Fortune’s
parents, and his whole herd,” Dribble reminded her.
“A unicorn’s herd is called a blessing,” Princess Pulverizer corrected him. “
It would be a real
blessing if you would start searching for unicorns,” Dribble insisted.
Princess Pulverizer really did want to find Fortune’s family. After all, it was her fault he was separated from them. She was the one who’d lured him out of the woods and into plain sight, where he could be captured.
But she hadn’t meant to do that. She’d been tricked
into helping an evil traveling showman named Ralf with his plot to capture a real unicorn.
Ralf was very mean, and very greedy. He’d forced Fortune into a cage, which had made the unicorn miserable. But all Ralf cared about was how much he could charge the people of Beeten Wheeten to come stare at a real live unicorn.
Thanks to some fast thinking and true bravery on Dribble’s part, Fortune had been freed. But that didn’t change the fact that while Fortune was caged, his entire blessing had disappeared. The princess figured they’d gone out searching for Fortune.
The only way Princess Pulverizer was ever going to be able to forgive herself was to reunite Fortune with his family. That would be a good deed. Perhaps the best Princess Pulverizer had ever accomplished. Which was saying something, because Princess Pulverizer was an expert at good deeds.
She had to be. Good deeds were what a Quest of Kindness was all about. And the princess had been on just such a quest for quite a while. So far, she and her friends had accomplished six good deeds. Which meant she only had two more to go before her greatest wish could come true. After completing eight good deeds . . . Princess Pulverizer would be allowed to go to Knight School!
The Quest of Kindness had been her father’s idea. King Alexander of Empiria loved his daughter, Princess Serena (boy, did Princess Pulverizer hate when he called her that!). But he also believed she was too selfish, spoiled, and snobby to be a knight. He hoped that by doing good deeds for others, she might become more knightlike.
Oh, and King Alexander had insisted she bring back eight tokens of gratitude from the folks she’d helped as proof she had actually completed her good deeds. Because the princess could also be a bit of a fibber.
“Okay. No more facts or jokes,” Princess Pulverizer said. “For now.”
“Good.” Dribble leaned back against a tree and began to scratch a hard-to-reach itch against its bark. “Finding Fortune’s . . . hey, where is
Princess Pulverizer looked around. The unicorn was nowhere to be seen.
“I thought you
were keeping track of him,” Princess Pulverizer told Dribble. “I was too busy reading from the book to keep my eye on him.”
“I was too busy telling you to stop
reading from the book to look out for him,” Dribble answered.
The princess and the dragon both turned to Lucas.
“Don’t look at me,” he said. “I was too busy laughing at Princess Pulverizer’s jokes.”
“We’ll find him. Easy peasy,” Princess Pulverizer assured her friends. She began calling, “Here, Fortune. Here, boy!”
“I’m not sure he even knows
his name is
Fortune,” Lucas added. “We’ve only just named him, after all.”
make things a bit more difficult.
“Ow!” Dribble suddenly grabbed his rear end and jumped. “Cut that out!”
out?” Princess Pulverizer asked.
“You pulled my tail.”
“How could I?” the princess argued. “I was standing right here.”
“Lucas?” Dribble asked.
“I’d never pull your tail,” Lucas assured him.
“Then who?” Dribble looked around.
“M-m-maybe it was a ghost!” Lucas stammered.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Princess Pulverizer said. “Dribble must have imagined
someone pulled on his tail.”
“I did not,” Dribble insisted.
“Shhh . . .” Lucas interrupted. “Did you hear that?”
Princess Pulverizer listened. Something was definitely rustling behind those bushes and trees.
“We’re going in,” she declared.
“We don’t know what’s in there,” Lucas said nervously.
“Come on, little buddy,” Dribble urged Lucas. “We’ll go together. You don’t want to stay here alone, do you?”
“I don’t like being alone,” Lucas admitted.
Princess Pulverizer began making her way through the bushes and trees. “It has to be Fortune. Who else . . . WHOA!” Princess Pulverizer gasped as she walked into a clearing. “What an amazing garden!”
“There’s Fortune!” Dribble added excitedly.
“No wonder he came here,” Lucas chimed in. “There’s a lake to drink from and a whole buffet of blossoms to eat.”
“He’s really pigging out on those petunias,” Princess Pulverizer said. “I’m getting hungry watching him.”
“I wouldn’t mind a melted swiss cheese on rye,” Lucas agreed.
“We’re out of rye bread,” Dribble replied. “We haven’t got any cheese, either.”
“I saw a sign for a kingdom a while back,” the princess recalled. “Let’s go and get supplies.”
to be looking for unicorns,” Dribble reminded her. “Going back to where we came from isn’t going to help. Besides, I don’t want to risk taking Fortune into a kingdom. Some greedy person might want to capture him again.”
That was true. And yet . . . Grumble rumble!
Princess Pulverizer’s empty stomach was saying something else.
“What’s Fortune doing now?” Lucas pointed toward the edge of the lake. The unicorn was twirling on his hind legs.
“Looks like a happy dance,” Princess Pulverizer replied. “Probably because his belly is full,”
she added, glaring accusingly at Dribble.
“He’s awfully close to the water,” Lucas noted. “Can unicorns swim?”
“Let’s see.” Princess Pulverizer opened her copy of Unicorns from A to Z
Before the princess could find the right chapter, Fortune twirled himself right into the lake.
“I’ll save you, Fortune!” Dribble called.
But Fortune didn’t need
saving. The unicorn was dog-paddling—er, unicorn-
paddling—in the cool clear water. He stopped to snack on some water lilies, then swam back toward shore.
As Fortune climbed out of the water, he galloped over to Dribble and yanked the dragon’s tail with his teeth.
“Ow!” Dribble cried.
“I guess we know who pulled your tail,” Princess Pulverizer said, laughing. “Fortune was hiding in the bushes, and he got you.”
Fortune shook his body. Water splashed all over Dribble.
“Now I’m soaked,” the dragon groaned. “And I’ve got mud between my toes.” He began picking at his feet. “This stuff hardens fast.”
“You stay here and dry off,” Princess Pulverizer suggested. “Lucas and I will go into the kingdom for supplies.”
“Make it fast,” Dribble finally agreed. “We’re losing daylight. And it won’t be easy to go unicorn searching in the dark.” Chapter 2
“The king here must be brave,” Lucas said as he and Princess Pulverizer entered the kingdom of Leononia. “His royal crest has a lion on it. Lions are brave—like I wish I could be.”
Princess Pulverizer didn’t respond. There wasn’t much she could say without hurting her friend’s feelings.
“Come on,” she replied instead. “Let’s get some food. I’m starving.”
“Please make sure that roast beef is lean,” the princess heard a woman saying as she walked into a nearby food shop. “It’s for the king. I’m his chef.”
“You’re not the royal chef I met yesterday,” the shopkeeper said. “Or the one I met the day before.”
“Nobody in the king’s kitchen keeps their job very long,” the chef admitted.
Princess Pulverizer snickered. The king must be one picky eater. Why else would he keep firing chefs?
“The king is convinced that his previous chefs were all trying to poison him,” the woman continued. That is another explanation
“I need a bag of navy beans, too,” the chef continued. “King Harvey wants beans with every meal.”
“Don’t they give him gas?” the shopkeeper asked her. “Terribly,”
the chef agreed. “You can’t imagine the sounds that come out of that man. Every time his stomach hurts, he fears he’s been poisoned,” the chef explained.
The shopkeeper laughed. “The king is
a bit fearful.”
“Afraid of his own shadow,” the chef added.
“Can’t the royal doctor convince the king that it’s the beans causing his tummy trouble?” the shopkeeper wondered.
“He doesn’t believe him,” the chef replied. “King Harvey is convinced the only way to stay safe from poison is to drink from a unicorn’s horn. So he has ordered his knights to bring him one.”
“Good luck with that. There’s no such thing as a unicorn,” the shopkeeper scoffed.
Princess Pulverizer opened her mouth to insist that unicorns were very real, and that their horns were called alicorns
, but before she could get a word out, the chef said something very alarming.
“One of the knights actually spotted one—an old fellow, with little strength.”
“That should have made him easy prey,” the shopkeeper pointed out. “If he really saw a unicorn, why didn’t he catch him?”
“It was before the king gave his order,” the chef explained. “I’m hoping the knight will find the old unicorn again and present King Harvey with his horn. It’s probably the only way I will keep my job past tonight’s dinner.”
Princess Pulverizer gasped so loudly they both turned to stare at her.
“Can I help you, miss?” the shopkeeper asked.
“Um . . . no
,” the princess answered nervously. She grabbed Lucas by the arm. “Come on. We have to get out of here.”
“But we haven’t bought anything,” Lucas objected.
“We don’t have time,” the princess argued. “We have to get back. NOW!”
“How am I supposed to make grilled cheese sandwiches without cheese or bread?” Dribble wondered when Princess Pulverizer and Lucas arrived back in the garden empty-handed.
“We can eat later,” Princess Pulverizer told him. “After
we save a unicorn.”
“A very old
unicorn,” Lucas added.
Dribble looked at him, confused. “Fortune isn’t old,” he said.
“Not Fortune,” Princess Pulverizer explained. “There’s an old unicorn who’s been spotted by one of the king’s knights. He’s in big trouble, because the king has ordered the knights to get him a unicorn’s horn.”
Dribble frowned. “So now we have to find Fortune’s family and
keep the knights from capturing the old unicorn.”
“Exactly,” Princess Pulverizer agreed. “Good thing I know so much about unicorns. The information in this book will give us clues to places they go and how they think.”
“Yes!” Dribble said. “Hopefully we know more about unicorns than those knights do. That book may come in handy.”
Princess Pulverizer wanted to say “I told you so.” But she didn’t. Why waste time boasting when an old unicorn out there needed saving?
Copyright © 2019 by Nancy Krulik; Illustrated by Ian McGinty. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.