The Big Finish

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          As Atamar waited by the finish line, she couldn't help wondering who would win.  The afternoon was turning to evening.  The sky was slowly growing darker. 

She knew that at any moment, she might begin to see the first contestants racing toward the finish.  She hoped that they had all had fun. 

She knew that those who didn't win would be disappointed, but she hoped that they wouldn't show it around her.  It would be hard not to say something unkind since they at least had had the pleasure of the race, and she had had nothing at all. 

She tried to stifle a sigh as she glanced around searching for the first approaching rider.  Suddenly she saw Nehat approaching from the direction of the cave. 

She saw Mitym not far behind.  It was hard to recognize people so far away, but she realized that Thifa was the one on the yellow dragon behind them. 

She saw that Isoje was catching up to the three dragons very quickly.  On the ground below them, she saw Yendys and Nesaly on their horses approaching fast. 

When Atamar glanced toward the tree, she saw that Noj Vidad and Eticia were racing toward her from that direction.  The unicorn looked so small next to the giant oliphant, but Atamar saw that Fire was having no difficulty keeping pace. 

In fact, he was a nose ahead.  In the air above them, Atamar saw that Thalanein was pushing his red dragon hard. 

Atamar turned her attention toward the lake.  She saw that Enitala was galloping toward her at top speed on her horse.  She was far ahead of Snitrik and her horse.  Above them, she could see Thananoj racing toward her on his yellow dragon. 

She looked back toward the cave and saw that Yesac's blue dragon & Isoje's Pegasus had nosed past Thifa's yellow.  Mitym and Nehat were almost neck and neck.

When she looked toward the tree, she saw that Yt on his green dragon and Fanfity on her red dragon had passed Thalanein. 

Sesje was catching up on his horse as was Lylek.  However, Noj Vidad & Eticia were still in the lead, although now Eticia was slightly ahead. 

Atamar again turned her attention toward the lake.  Enitala was still definitely in the lead, in fact, she appeared to be closer than anyone Atamar realized. 

It was hard to believe that a mere horse could win against dragons, unicorns, Pegasus, and oliphants, but these were the famous horses of SET.  They were known far and wide for their speed, endurance, and spirit. 

Atamar quickly glanced back and forth between the three groups.  It was good that lamps had been lighted around the grandstands and field so that the contestants could be more easily seen in the gloom of evening as they drew close to the finish line. 

There were many contestants whom she didn't know, some were interspersed among her palace friends.  She could see that everyone was giving it their all, but now it was obvious that Enitala was leading everyone, although only by a small margin.  Would she win?  She was so close.

Suddenly the wind picked up around Atamar and she struggled to see the racers through the darkness and her blowing hair.  As suddenly as it had come, the wind stopped, and there was Enielda hopping off Krandess seemingly having appeared out of midair and laying a red, a green, and a purple scarf at her feet. 

After a moment of stunned silence, the crowd erupted into loud cheers as Atamar handed Enielda the tri-colored scarf she had used to start the race. 

Each year the scarf was given to the winner as a trophy to their victory.  Enielda tied it to her arm before leading Krandess toward the stable amidst the cheers of the crowd. 

During the banquet, Enielda smiled as she sat in the place of honor beside Atamar.  Enielda was so excited, she couldn't eat much.  Besides, she wanted to make Atamar smile. 

She told her about the months of planning with her parents.  She told about the many mishaps as she and Krandess learned to fly the gap at the amethyst caves. 

Atamar listened attentively to her story as did many of those around them.  As Enielda looked around, she caught sight of her parents and beamed when she saw how pleased and proud they looked. 

She gave them a small wave and mouthed the words "Thank you."  They nodded back.  Enielda knew that it was a day she would never forget. 

As the meal was ending, Atamar & Enielda looked up as a strange figure walked into the room.  Although they had never seen the person before, they both knew that it had to be the Mysterious Tepry. 

The hall quickly fell silent as others noticed the figure and stopped as if frozen.  Atamar looked at her parents and saw that their faces were pale and they kept glancing between her and the mysterious Tepry. 

What could it mean? 

Then the mysterious Tepry began speaking: It has begun, but it's not too late.  Take the right steps and avoid a bloody fate." 

Looking back at her parents, Atamar saw that their faces were even paler than before. 

Atamar & Enielda looked at each other with fear.  They both knew that something had gone terribly, terribly wrong...

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