Chapter 2
The Search for Truth

"I say, you set such a lovely high price for me, any didn't even send people to look for me and you didn't even send
anyone after me yourself. I knew that you didn't really care." Cary stated, half-jokingly. She never really had thought that
they cared about her. They were so harsh on her sometimes, always restricting her to 'protect' her and 'keep her safe and out
of harms way'. It made the girl sick!

"Oh Cory, you're home! My baby!" The queen Sunshine dropped all dignity upon hearing the remark and seeing its
deliverer. Almost tripping over her pale blue frilly dress that she was made to wear when citizens came to call, as she ran
to greet her child. "Where were you, darling? I was so scared. I thought that something awful had happened to you when we
couldn't find you!" She exclaimed and flung her arms around her first and secretly, as she wasn't supposed to have, upon
agreement with her James, favorite child. "I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't come home. I was terrified!" she
whispered.

"Your reward, kind sir." King James stated and motioned to two muscular male fairies by the door, who hefted 6 huge
bags of gold each. Lites are about equal, in value, to 1 human pound, the money kind, and there were plenty there. The king
looked from to his daughter, (secretly his favorite, even though he wasn't allowed to have one upon agreement with his beloved
wife), to the strange boy looking around that was standing beside her, to the new fairy with them, and back.

"Thank you, my Liege, but I wish for no reward, being in your presence is wonderful enough, as you are the wisest
rulers Liife has seen in centuries, and your loving hearts magnify this golden age." Alfred bowed gracefully, as gallant as
the price himself. His long hair came out of it's binding, and fell into the fairy's face.

"Be a dear and at least have some tea with us, sir. We don't even know your name! It would be lovely to become
acquainted with you and this lovely young man that our daughter has brought with her from wherever she went." Sunny said,
making both Mer and Alfred turn bright red, to both her and Cory's delight. Men never ceased to amaze the two. They giggled,
but tried to make it sound regal, as they were in front of people that weren't part of the royal family, which was impossible
to do, and they burst out laughing. James chuckled a little; their lilting laughs were way too contagious!

"First allow me a quick word with Cornelia, of you please." James said, beckoning towards the drawing room with a
meaningful glance at his wife, she shrugged lightly, but also gave him the 'Look', that meant 'watch what you say. When Cory
entered the suggested room, he shut the doors behind them, and dismissed the elderly maid who was dusting the magical creature
figurines that the queen had recovered from her time on earth. The collection was quite remarkable and included statuettes of
dragons, unicorns, fairies, phoenixes, griffins, sphinxes and pegusi. "Who is that young man?" he started.

"His name is Merlin, but I can call him Mer." She considered a moment, then added "My new boyfriend."

Inside, James jerked, and thought 'Let's hope he's not, like your last boyfriend', but said calmly "Where is he from?
Not Liife certainly."

"Earth." Cory answered simply.

"So that's where you were. We should have known. I knew that you weren't on Liife. How old is he?" James was shaken;
this was not good, but hoping for some reasonable answers in the time to come.

"Here, he's 19, there he's about 16."

What's his surname?"

"O'Conner." Cory drawled, lounging in an armchair.

James had kept tabs on the McSun family ever since the 'incident' 18 years ago, and knew that Sylvia had married an
O'Conner, and that they had had two children, the elder one male. This boy was obviously part unicorn, and part of a lot of
species, but most defiantly part unicorn. "What is his mother's name, Sweet?"

'Pet name. He's either upset or wants something'. "Sylvia, why? Do you know her?"

"The boy's a natural traitor, that's what." James mused aloud, twisting his silver moustache and running a hand
through his short hair. "I want you to stay away from him, and don't talk to your mother about his family." He ordered sharply.
"We'll send him home shortly."

"But he's my friend and we like each other." Cory retorted

"What do you know about his background, Cory? Anything at all?"

"I know that he's part fairy, part human, and part unicorn, and that his mom is weird and hates me, but hey, that's
nothing new."

"Okay, let's make a deal. Find trustworthy blood in him, and prove that it, as well as he, is trustworthy. Only then
will I approve a relationship between the two of you. Until then, I wish you would not talk to him too much or interact with
him too much. Don't touch him unless it's necessary. You will need to travel to find this information. This Mer, or Merlin,
may accompany you, as may on of you cousins. You shall start the quest in Kloud Kingdom, to see if your aunt and uncle might
have some information for you, and pick up a cousin if you wish."

"Okay, and my bet is 10 bodyguards. How many are you going to send? I know you don't trust me, and that it would look
really bad if I ran away again. Everyone already hates me, but it'd be a scandal if I was sent away one my own and disappeared.
So, how many are you going to send?"

"Five actually, and maybe Nicholas."

"I don't care what you say! I'm not taking my little brother!" Cory yelled at her father. He wasn't being realistic!

"Alright, alright. I was only joking anyway."

"Right. Well it wasn't funny. Can I go back to the hall now, or maybe my room? Or are you going to interrogate me
some more?" He knew just how to get under her skin sometimes!

"Sure." The king shrugged and exited the room. This was a big problem. And so was her attitude. But if this kid was
as emotionally unstable as his uncle was, Cory was in for a heartbreak, and maybe some danger. Why hadn't they set up a
marriage for her, instead of wanting her to marry for love and be happy? After all, he and Sunny had been an arranged marriage
and they loved each other more than anything.

Cory skipped tea and went to her room instead.

"Quack!"

"Hello Webster!" Cory cooed to her pet duck that her father had given to her on her 17th birthday. "I bet you were
the only one that really missed me. Maybe Nicholas did though; he'd have no one to bother all the time. Or maybe my parents,
they'd have no one to interrogate or yell at. The girls probably didn't even notice I was gone."

"Quack!" replied the duck

"What do you think of me Webster? What am I?"

"QUACK!" Webster replied as if with extra-loud, understanding enthusiasm.

"Webster! I am not!" she said as she packed some of her less-formal clothes in a bag. Everything had lace or expensive
material or embroidery or some sign of royalty on it. Even the stupid bag was embroidered and had a gold drawstring. "What am
I really, Webster? Really?"

"WACK!" Webster answered, waddling up beside her. His feathers shone in her candle-lighted room. She liked it dark
and mysterious and loved tricks that made things so.

"Do you want to come too, Webster?"

"Quack! QuACK! Quaaaaaaack!"

"Okay, hop into my saddle bag. We're going to transport of Kloud Kingdom and wherever else on horses, so we don't
have to walk all over creation." The princess fastened the leather covering around the duck's head. "Quack if you need out,
okay?" she patted his blue-green head.

"Quaaack." Webster acknowledged her request.

"Alrighty then, let's go." She hefted her bags and left her room, walking down the hall towards the green room where
tea was always held in the springtime.

"You should have joined us, Cory." Hermione said, waltzing the other direction, out of the room. "It was lovely." Mia's
dress was a frosty pink, her favorite color, while her identical sister favored an ice blue. It was lacy and frilly, just
like a doll's. Her porcelain skin gave no sign that their father always had them out and about outside in the sun. The perfect
ringlets that the girl got from her mother bounced around her shoulders, and her cheeks and lips were naturally tinged red,
making her even more doll-like. Sometimes the way her sisters looked disgusted Cory, and sometimes she was envious. Usually
she was disgusted that she was envious, but now she was just disgusted.

"I sure it was, but I wanted to be alone for a little while." While trying to be polite, she shifted uncomfortably in
a pair of her riding breeches that she was wearing under her dress. How could people dress like this? 'At least I don't have
to ride side-saddle.' She thought, sighing with relief.

"You like him, don't you?" The younger princess had been joined by her twin and they were both staring at her.

"Why on Liife would you say a thing like that?" she hissed at them.

"One, you brought him home, of course. Two, you've got a dreamy expression on you face. Three, you yelled at Daddy,
not that that's unusual, but about Merlin, and four, you look like you're going somewhere." Anastasia answered for both of
them. She had always been the brighter of the two, and the ruder one, Cory thought as her little sister added an un-princess-y,
"Duh!" and set off down the hall whispering to her twin.

Moving towards Mer, who was emerging as well, she said "I've got to go on a trip, and you get to come with me. We'll
get a mount for you at the stables. How and what do you ride?"

"I've never ridden before." Mer shrugged, "I just never had much interest in it. I see it as enslavement, really. I
prefer to run free on my own accord. Whatever."

"Well, then it's definitely Cloverbud for you. She's perfect for beginners, since she's as mellow and tame as a mare
can get."

Mer got a little shock when Cory led him to the stables.

"Bob!"

"Yes milady?" A lad of around 15 appeared from the loft. He too, like almost everyone except the Royal family that
Mer had seen, appeared to be a fairy, with ebony hair and emerald eyes with a mischievous glint in them. The boy seemed to be
used to work, as he had a muscled figure and a relaxed-but-strong look about him. He mocked a deep bow and winked at Cory.

"Ready Cloverbud for my friend here, please."

Yes'm." Bob went to a nearby stall and lead out a pale green horse with a hunter green mane and tail. It looked a lot
like a royally treated one of those My Little Pony things, only it was a horse, and it was as alive as the rest of them.
Looking around quickly, Mer saw pink, blue, red, yellow, and orange horses with names like Blush, Skye, Daystarr, Sunshyne,
and Panzi. "Which do you ride milord?" Bob asked, interrupting Mer's train of wonder-filled thought. He was standing by
Cloverbud's stall where two types of saddles were draped along the top of the wall. Then, seeing the puzzled look on Mer's
face, he said "I'll give you an eastern, they're easier for beginners and foreigners. Blackie for you, Princess?"

"Drop the formalities, Bobby, it's only me," Cory rolled her eyes, "and of course I want my horse. She's a useless
mount to anyone else, my Black Widow!" Cory said, voice swelling with pride.

"Nice name for a horse." Mer said sarcastically.

"Thanks." She grinned, "My mother wanted me to name her Beucephelas. I was going to name her Widowmaker, but that's
Pecos Bill's stallion."

Mer scoffed. "Pecos Bill is a myth. Name your horse what you want."

"I bet you thought that my people and subjects were just myths yesterday." Cory said, voice raising, fire leaping
into her eyes. "I'll tell you something Merlin. Pecos Bill is alive as you and me, along with Paul Bunyon, Babe, John Henry,
and all the others. Nothing that anyone believes in or once believed in, ceaces to exist. Once anyone dreams up something it
has a life of its own. Your God and all the others of earth, though not worshipped by my people, exist. Extinct species
thrive on other worlds. Imaginary things are real. And for your information, Pecos Bill is my godfather and I can summon him
at whim." She gave a sharp, ear-splitting whistle. "Godfather Pecos, please come forth. I have a matter I wish to consult
you in." There was a flash of light and a wild gust of wild that threw Mer back, making him fall over. As he scrambled to
his feet, he saw two jet-black, fierce, wild-looking horses that had suddenly appeared. One was being by a duster-swathed
cowboy, and one being lead by Bob.

The cowboy, presumably Pecos, jumped down from his mount and kissed Cory on the forehead. "Cactusflower! Haven't seen
you in ages! Heard that you went to earth, though. Is that what you wanted to talk to me about?" He shot a quick glance at
Mer, whose jaw was sweeping the floor and eyes staring at Bill.

"How did you know, Pecos? Could we ride a bit while we talk, though? No bodyguards, you won't let me run off."

"Sure thing Sweetheart." They mounted gracefully onto their nearly identical horses, leaving Bob to half shove the
inept Mer onto Cloverbud.

They started their leisurely ride in a vast, flowery, field with many flowers that Mer had never seen before. Then
he remembered what Cory had said, (and when she said it, he couldn't help but notice how very pretty she was), about everything
anyone still believed in, even in their imaginations, being real, and wondered how many of the flowers had been dreamed into
being. As she and Pecos conversed, he just watched, letting Cloverbud lumber along, ambling along behind them. Mer noted
everything about her, from head to toe, and everything that he knew of her.

'Well, she's a princess, a unicorn, beautiful, she has two sisters and one brother, her parents seem nice enough,
she's beautiful. Uh, the sun makes it look like she's got a halo in her hair, she doesn't have a boyfriend (yes!), she's
gorgeous, her mother more-or-less grew up on Earth, we were both named after my uncle, she's more than lovely.'

All of a sudden he gave Cloverbud a nudge and ended up beside her. He'd been meaning to ask her this all along.
"Cory?"

"Mmmm?" she answered, observing the field.

"You know that stuff you did to my sister Clara? Was that magic?" he inquired.

Cory responded by jerking her beautiful head to face his and looking very alarmed and sharp. "No!" she said sharply,
"We are no sorcerers! We don't practice devilish arts!"

Seeing how worked up she was, Mer tried to make amends. "Sorry, I misunderstood. Then what did you do to Clara? I
didn't mean to suggest that you were evil." He murmured hurriedly.

"A trick." She replied, relaxing some, and calming down a little, "Handy things that make life or playing pranks
easier. During our parent's years as kids, there were no cults on other planets that practiced an evil art that they called
witchcraft and magic, and the term could be used loosely. Our mage healers would have had more than anyone would. But recently,
these groups have organized, calling themselves witches, warlocks, druids, mages, sorcerers, enchanters, and so many other
magical titles, that are now as misused as the words gay and queer on earth. Some go as far to say that they're immortal,
doing devilish deeds. Such as murders and sacrifices."

"Oh. I really didn't mean to upset you. Could I learn how to do any tricks? I mean, supposedly I have fairy and
unicorn blood, so maybe I've the ability?"

"I don't know. What do you think, Godfather?" the princess of Liife consulted her friend and advisor, who appeared to
be amused by their conversation.

"I don't know, Sugarcane." Mer envied his right to call the princess things like that. "He might be able to, you
never know 'till you try. What was the first trick you and you siblings learned?" he asked her.

"Um. Summon Help, I think. Yeah, that's what it was. Thought the first one Nicholas really learned was more Summon
Cookie more than Summon Help. And for Hermione it was Summon Hairbrush the vain little thing."

"Alright. Start teaching him that. It has an incantation, unless I'm much mistaken. As you can see, though, we
approach the stables, and I must be off. I'm meeting Jane in a half-hour and mustn't be late." With a flash of light, air,
and high-pitched whinny, they were gone, and the two about to embark on a journey returned to find the rest of their party
awaiting them.