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Cloud Magic

Cloud Magic

Titel: Cloud Magic
Autoren: Linda Chapman
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High
Above…
    The snow-white stallion raised his head. His ears flickered. Something was wrong, but what? Tor’s dark eyes swept over the jagged mountains, deep valleys and the meadows and streams of his cloud kingdom, searching for something that looked out of place. But his herd was peaceful. The mares were grazing, lifting their heads every so often to check on the foals, who were chasing each other nearby. Further off a group of six young stallions were play fighting, testing their strength. Tor’s nostrils flared. Everything looked normal. Down below he knew that the people who lived on the coast would be seeing white clouds floating slowly across a calm sky. So what was bothering him? Tor could feel his eyes being drawn to a wood nearby. Just outside it there was a large cloud with a hole in the centre. Tor hesitated. Could it be that? It had been seven years since anyone had used it…

    He tossed his head and trotted towards it.
    One of the foals broke away from the others and galloped over. A beautiful pale grey, he was only young – his legs long and gangly, his short mane sticking up – but already his neck had the same proud arch as the stallion’s.
    ‘Mistral!’ The stallion stopped to greet his son.
    ‘Is everything all right, Father?’ the foal asked.
    ‘Yes,’ Tor reassured him, nuzzling him gently. ‘Everything is fine.’
    ‘Where are you going?’ Mistral asked eagerly. ‘Can I come with you?’
    Tor hesitated. But just then there was a soft whinny and he looked round to see Snowdance, his lead mare and Mistral’s mother, cantering over, her long mane sweeping almost to the ground. ‘Stop bothering your father, Mistral,’ she told the colt. ‘Go back to your friends and play.’
    Mistral looked as if he was about to argue, but his mother flattened her ears slightly and he gave in. Plunging round, he cantered back to the group of foals, kicking his heels up defiantly as he went.
    Snowdance smiled as she watched him go and then she stepped towards Tor. They touched muzzles. His eyes searched her beautiful face. He could see she looked troubled.
    ‘Do you feel it too?’ he asked quietly.
    Snowdance nodded. ‘There is something in the air that feels wrong.’
    He glanced towards the strange cloud formation by the trees and she followed his gaze.
    ‘Perhaps someone is trying to speak to us again.’
    ‘It does not feel quite like that… but maybe.’
    Tor felt almost as if he was being pulled, urged closer. ‘I will go to the gateway and see.’

    They touched noses again and Tor plunged away. He cantered across the meadow towards the trees, his mane and tail streaming behind him. Anyone watching from below would have seen the clouds begin to move a little faster across the sky.
    But what no one saw, not even Tor, was that in the shadow of the trees a dark figure waited…

C H A P T E R
    One
    Erin walked down the lane, the wind catching at her long dark-blonde hair. Breathing in the sharp smell of seaweed, she looked longingly towards the path that led over the cliff top. ‘Can I go down to the beach, Jo?’ she asked.
    Her stepmum, Jo, nodded. ‘Of course. Just come and say a quick hello to Aunt Alice first. You know how much she likes to see you.’
    Jo headed towards the small stone cottage at the side of the lane. Overhead the seagulls cried out with high-pitched shrieks as they swooped across the cloudy sky, buffeted by the breeze. Glancing up at them, Erin thought how wonderful it would be to be a bird and be able to fly like that.
    Black-headed gull, kittiwake, common gull… she thought, recognizing the different types of gull. She loved all animals and birds and wanted to be a vet when she was older – either that or a riding instructor. Horses were her favourite animals of all.
    Jo glanced over her shoulder. ‘Come on, Dizzy Daydreamer!’
    Erin sighed. She was always getting teased by her family for daydreaming. Jo, her dad and her three older stepbrothers were all really loud and sporty and thought she was odd because she was quiet and liked reading. Erin loved books, particularly ones about magic, although now she was eleven she didn’t dare admit that she still believed in magic because she knew how much she would be teased at school and at home. No one understood.
    If only I had a proper best friend , she thought, someone who loves the same things as me. But she didn’t. Her two best friends had once been Fran and Katie who she sat with at school and also

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