Authors: Chloe Ryder
For Lucy, Jessica, Andrew and Harry
With special thanks to Julie Sykes
Early one morning
, just before dawn, two ponies stood in an ancient courtyard, looking sadly at a bare stone wall.
‘In all my life this wall has never been empty. I can’t believe that the horseshoes have been taken – and just before Midsummer Day too,’ said the stallion.
He was a handsome animal – a copper-coloured pony, with strong legs and bright eyes, dressed in a royal red sash.
The mare was a dainty yet majestic palomino with a golden coat and a pure white tail that fell to the ground like a waterfall.
She whinnied softly. ‘We have so little time to find them all.’
With growing sadness the two ponies watched the night fade away and the sun rise. When the first ray of sunlight spread into the courtyard it lit up the wall, showing the imprints where the golden horseshoes should have been hanging.
‘Midsummer Day is the longest day of the year,’ said the stallion quietly. ‘It’s the time when our ancient horseshoes must renew their magical energy. If the horseshoes are still missing in eight days, then by nightfall on the eighth day, their magic will fade and our beautiful island will be no more.’
Sighing heavily, he touched his nose to his Queen’s.
‘Only a miracle can save us now,’ he said.
The Queen dipped her head regally, the diamonds on her crown sparkling in the early morning light.
‘Have faith,’ she said gently. ‘I sense that a miracle is coming.’
A high-pitched cry woke Pippa. Throwing the duvet back, she was out of bed even before she’d properly opened her eyes. In the enormous bed opposite hers, Princess Stardust was tossing about, thrashing her hooves and sobbing like a little foal.
Pippa went to comfort her best friend.
‘Stardust, what’s wrong?’
‘No,’ Stardust wailed, her breath coming in noisy snorts.
Gently Pippa shook her friend awake.
‘It’s all right,’ she soothed. ‘You’re safe now. It was just a bad dream.’
Stardust struggled up, sleepily squinting at Pippa through the darkness as if she couldn’t quite remember who she was. Pippa smoothed a tangle of white forelock away from the Princess Pony’s eyes.
‘Better now?’ she asked.
Stardust nuzzled at Pippa’s hand.
‘I was dreaming,’ she said flatly. ‘It was awful. It was Midsummer Day and we hadn’t found all the missing horseshoes. The moment the sun set everything went completely black and there was a terrible roaring sound. Stableside Castle collapsed and the island shrivelled up, leaving nothing but a lump of volcanic rock. All the ponies were huddled together on a tiny piece of land surrounded by sea. The tide was coming in, swirling around our hooves and rising quickly up our legs. There was nowhere to go to escape the water. Baroness Divine had wings and she flew over us, shrieking with laughter and telling us that from now on we must wear hoods and not tiaras.’
Stardust clambered out of bed, picked up a comb and half-heartedly tugged it through her mane.
‘We’re not going to let that happen!’ Pippa said, taking the comb and brushing Stardust’s mane with long, calming strokes.
‘You’re such a good friend,’ Stardust neighed. ‘And perhaps we
find the last horseshoe.’
Pippa hugged Stardust and walked over to the turret window.
‘It’s dawn,’ she said, pointing at the streaks of pink that stained the dark sky.
Stardust picked up her pink jewelled tiara from the dressing table and hurriedly placed it on her head between her ears. Grabbing a cloth, she gave her hooves a quick polish. Usually Stardust spent ages getting ready so Pippa could tell that the nightmare had really frightened her.
Pippa reached for the clothes that had magically appeared overnight and were laid out in a neat pile on the dressing table – her new outfit was a pretty stripy top and cut-off trousers.
‘I’m ready,’ Pippa said, shoving her feet into sandals.
Stardust hesitated at the bedroom door.
‘Pippa,’ she whispered, her brown eyes suddenly looking too large for her face. ‘What if we don’t find it in time?’
‘We will,’ Pippa said, her confident tone masking her own fear, ‘if we work together!’
Six days ago Pippa had just arrived at the seaside for a holiday with her family when two giant seahorses magically whisked her away to Chevalia, an island inhabited by talking ponies. There she had learnt that the enchanted island was in grave danger. Eight golden horseshoes were supposed to hang on an ancient wall in the Castle courtyard. Every Midsummer Day the horseshoes’ magical energy was renewed by the sun, ensuring that the island continued to thrive. But the horseshoes had been stolen and Pippa learnt that it was her quest to find them and bring them home in time for Midsummer Day. If she failed, Chevalia would fade away.
With Stardust’s help she had managed to find seven of the missing horseshoes, but now Midsummer Day was here and if Pippa didn’t find the last one before sunset then it would all have been for nothing. Fear gripped her stomach like an icy hand. Leading the way out of the bedroom, she set off down the turret’s spiral ramp at a run.