Eldnium, p.6
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       Eldnium, p.6

           Enoch Pyle, Jr
The stagecoach was typical of what Landon had seen being used in the Hardlands of his own planet. It was enclosed, rolling atop four large, wooden wheels, and the driver, a weird little man named So, was perched outside the coach’s cabin, holding the reigns and driving Landon and Li’an across the countryside to the Fountains.

  The animal pulling the coach, however, was unlike anything Landon had ever seen before. It appeared to be a mammal of some sort, but it hunkered low to the ground and moved like a lizard, its long, ringed tail swishing back and forth through the air. It was, indeed, almost rodent-like, though even the head resembled a lizard.

  “It’s called a rabodon,” Li’an said, noticing Landon peering out the window to get a better look at the beast. “Very strong, very sturdy. They can move much more smoothly at very high speeds than most other animals.”

  “Is it dangerous?” Landon asked.

  “None of the animals here are dangerous,” Li’an answered. “At least not to other animals. They’re all herbivores. They won’t threaten you unless you threaten them. As long as you respect them, there’s certainly nothing to fear.”

  “Can you tell me more about The Fountains?”

  “The Fountains’ story can only be told by The Fountains themselves. That’s the magic of The Fountains.”

  “I’ve never really believed in magic,” Landon said. “It’s not a concept we entertained on my world.”

  “But magic is just another word for things that inspire wonder.” Li’an looked through the window and into the sky. “See?” She pointed to the sky. “The clouds float magically through the air. The moon moves magically around the planet. The sun magically brings life through millions of miles of dead space.”

  “But we know how those things work,” Landon answered. “It’s not magic.”

  “Just because you understand something, Landon, doesn’t mean that it can’t still inspire wonder. Open your eyes to the world around you, and you’ll see that everything is magical. The grass. The trees. Even the air you breathe.”

  “How old are you?” he asked, his eyes squinted skeptically.

  “On my home planet, I’d be fifteen,” she answered.

  “You seem older.”

  She smiled, and for the first time, Landon saw her as more than a tour guide. He saw her as…

  A girl.

  A pretty girl. And he turned his face out the window hoping to hide his blushing cheeks.

  The coach slowed to a clumsy and bumpy stop.

  “We’re here,” she said, and she climbed out of the stagecoach, her white dress fluttering in the wind. Landon hadn’t noticed the dress until now, but he thought he finally understood, for the first time, the true meaning of both beauty and magic. It was something about the way it tied around her waist, and how her long, dark hair laid against it.

  “Are you coming?” she asked, her eyes sparkling blue in the sunlight.

  Landon choked, “Uh…yeah…yeah, I’m coming,” and he climbed out after her.

  “Thank you, So!” she called to the driver, giving a friendly wave.

  “Would you like I should wait?” the driver asked with his crusty voice. “I don’ mind.”

  “No,” Li’an answered. “I’d like to walk Landon back along the shoreline.”

  “Right. Take caution!” So tipped an imaginary hat, turned the coach, and scurried back along the path they’d come.

  Li’an turned to Landon, “See this?” She pointed to a cobbled pathway leading up a grassy hill. “The Fountains are just beyond that rise. Follow me.”

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