Hidden Truths, Hidden Hearts

The first in the Hidden Truths trilogy.
Maria always knew she was different. From when she was a child she could do things she couldn't explain and had a power she couldn't understand. Then she meets Zac who changes her life forever. Together they embark on a journey that presents dangers, reveals long forgotten truths and brings them together in ways they could never imagine.

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8. Elvira

Maria looked around as if in a dream. She had never seen a place so beautiful. This must have been what paradise looked like. It could not be real.
"Where now?" she asked.
Zac pointed towards the river.
"There." he said.
He began to run down the hill. Maria didn't understand why he was heading for the river. There was no boat that she could see and although she could swim well enough she didn't know how deep it was. She cautiously followed him feeling nervous but excited. 
She heard a whinny and turned to see a snow white unicorn looking at her with pricked ears. It whinnied again and trotted towards her. She stopped to let it approach and held out her hand for it to sniff. Zac had gone on ahead but she saw no need to hurry. The unicorn nuzzled her arm and knelt on the ground. She placed her hand on its back. It blew gently and she understood. She mounted and instantly the unicorn rose and broke into a gallop towards the river. Maria clung to its mane and wanted to cry out with joy as the wind whipped her hair. They were going so fast that any faster and she felt certain that they would fly.
She saw Zac waving and laughing as they slowed to a halt beside the river. Dismounting she patted the unicorn's neck and waved as it cantered away.
"That was incredible! It was like we understood each other completely." she said catching her breath.
Zac laughed. " You have magic. The creatures here are naturally drawn to you. They can sense it. Many will have dreamt to see the day you come here."
Maria suddenly felt a little suspicious, "Why? I'm nothing special."
Zac looked out across the water, "I don't know. I was told in a dream to bring you here as soon as I met you."
Maria took a step back from him, "Why should I trust you?"
A sly look played from Zac's eyes as he looked at her, "Maybe you shouldn't. How do I know I should trust you? Neither of us can be certain. But when I first saw you, I felt...something. Something deep that I can't explain. Something I've never felt before. A sort of spark in my heart. Did you feel the same way?"
Maria gazed deep into his eyes. He seemed to be telling the truth, "Yes. I felt a need to be with you. When you left I couldn't stop thinking about you. I kept wondering if I would ever see you again. I'm glad you came back."
He reached out his hand. "Then trust me."
He extended his other hand out over the water. Maria could hear him muttering something but again couldn't understand. Something disturbed the water in the centre of the river causing ripples to flow towards the banks. A large dark shape under the water began to slowly move towards them. Maria felt a shudder of fear but Zac squeezed her hand reassuringly. The ripples became larger and more choppy as the shape became larger and darker. Something was swimming towards the surface.
Suddenly the shape broke through the surface revealing a large green-blue snake-like head. Its eyes darted between Maria and Zac and its forked tongue flicked with curiosity. Gradually it rose out of the water, dripping water which soaked them. Zac bowed low and Maria nervously copied him. The creature blinked then lowered its head. It nudged Zac with its nose and to Maria's surprise it spoke, "Zac, you know I hate formal greetings."

Zac stood and grinned, "How are you, Elvira?"
Maria stared at Zac in confusion. He gently pulled her towards him.
"Maria this is Elvira. She is a sea serpent. Elvira this is Maria." he announced.
Elvira flicked her tongue and seemed to smile, "The prophecy. It's begun. I hoped I would live to see this day."
"Can you take us to the four dragons?" Zac asked, "They will want to meet Maria."
This time it was Elvira who bowed, "An honour. I will carry you both to them quick and smooth."
Maria decided to pluck up the courage to speak, "What prophecy?"
Elvira looked off down the river, "The four dragons will explain. Climb on my back. I will take you to them."
Elvira began to rise further out of the water. Maria gasped at the creature's size. She was over 50 feet long  and a lot of her was still concealed beneath the water. Zac climbed on then helped her up. Elvira's scales were smooth and cool to the touch. They glistened as tiny droplets of water hung on. Maria clung on tight and held her breath as they plunged beneath the water.

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