“Good people of River Heights!” Mayor Strong announced. His suit of armor creaked as he threw his arms up into the air. “I, Sir Mayor the Strong, welcome thee to the Dragon’s Breath Fair!”
Eight-year-old Nancy Drew cheered with her best friends, Bess Marvin and George Fayne. It was the start of the Dragon’s Breath Fair, a medieval festival that came to the girls’ town every fall.
“What is ‘medieval,’ anyway?” Bess asked.
“It was a time hundreds of years ago,” Nancy explained. “When there were kings, queens, jesters—and knights in shining armor.”
“And dragons!” George said, her dark eyes flashing. “Don’t forget about dragons.”
“Oh, no!” Bess gasped. “What do we do if we run into a fire-breathing dragon here at the fair?”
“Roast marshmallows!” George joked.
The girls turned back to the mayor. He was telling the crowd the fun they would have.
“There will be jugglers, games, hearty food, and puppet shows,” Mayor Strong boomed. “And the most thrilling challenge of all—the joust!”
“I know what a joust is,” George said to Nancy and Bess. “It’s when two knights on horseback try to knock weapons out of each other’s hands.”
“Of course, I would love to be in the joust myself,” Mayor Strong told everyone. “But first I need a horse!”
The visor on the mayor’s helmet fell in front of his face with a clunk.
“He needs a horse and a new helmet,” George whispered.
The mayor raised his visor and shouted, “I hereby declare the Dragon’s Breath Fair open!”
After a big cheer the crowd scattered in all directions into the fairgrounds. Nancy didn’t know what was more colorful, the striped tents and banners hanging everywhere, or the red, yellow, and gold leaves on the trees.
“Do you think they had detectives in those days?” Bess asked. “Detectives like us?”
Nancy smiled at the thought. She, Bess, and George were good at solving mysteries. So good that they’d started their own detective club called the Clue Crew.
“Sure, they had detectives,” Nancy decided. “Somebody had to figure out who stole the queen of hearts’s tarts!”
“And speaking of stuff that’s yummy for the tummy,” George said, nodding in the direction of the food stalls, “there’s my mom.”
Nancy could see Mrs. Fayne stacking jumbo cookies on the ledge of a food stall. Mrs. Fayne ran her own catering company and was in charge of the food at the Dragon’s Breath Fair. She was also in charge of bringing Nancy, Bess, and George to the fair every day that weekend.
“What should we do first?” Bess asked, rubbing her hands together. “Play a game or eat one of those cookies?”
Nancy wanted to watch the archery contest—until she noticed a wooden sign stuck in the ground. It had a red arrow and the words THIS WAY TO WIZARDLY WOODS.
“What’s Wizardly Woods?” Nancy wondered.
“There’s only one way to find out,” George said.
The girls followed the path until they reached more colorful tents, their flaps wide open. Inside were men and women selling jewelry, candles, and scented oils. Outside a blue tent decorated with silver stars stood a rack holding dried flower garlands.
Bess grabbed a garland and placed it over her long blond hair. “Does this make me look princessy?” she asked.
“You mean prissy!” George said, and smirked.
“Very funny, Georgia,” Bess replied, and smirked back. “Sometimes I can’t believe we’re cousins!”
George gritted her teeth. She hated her real name, Georgia, even more than she hated wearing dresses and skirts—a major difference between Bess and George.
Bess was about to look for a mirror when a voice called out: “Huzzah, fair maidens! Do you like magic?”
Nancy turned to see a woman wearing hoop earrings and a tunic decorated with stars.
“You mean like card tricks?” George asked.
“Cards are for playing Fish,” the woman scoffed. “But if it’s magic you’re looking for, Enchanted Elly has just the thing for you!”
Out from behind her back Enchanted Elly pulled a magic wand. Lavender ribbons streamed from the long silver stick. But the best part was the glittery purple star on top.
“It’s awesome!” Nancy exclaimed.
“And it can be yours for a mere pittance,” Elly said.
“A what?” Nancy asked, scrunching her nose.
“That’s medieval for five dollars,” Elly said. She nodded at the flower garlands on the rack.
“I’ll even throw three garlands into the deal.”
“Buy it, Nancy,” George whispered. “You love purple!”
“And I love this garland!” Bess said, patting her head.
“So what do you say, Red?” Elly asked, nodding at Nancy.
Nancy knew Elly was talking to her because she had reddish-blond hair. She also knew she wanted that magic wand more than anything.
“I say yes!” Nancy said, digging into her jacket pocket for a five-dollar bill. “I’ll take it!”
“Is it really magic?” George asked Elly. “I mean, does it come with a spell book or something?”
“You make up the spells,” Elly explained. She raised the wand into the air. “Then you just point—and poof!”
Elly handed Nancy the magic wand. Then she selected garlands, which she placed over Nancy’s and George’s heads.
“There, m’ladies!” Elly declared. “Now beauty will follow you wherever you go.”
“You mean bees will follow us!” George groaned, looking up at the dried flowers encircling her dark curls.
As the girls left the Wizardly Woods, Nancy couldn’t take her eyes off her new wand. She waved it in the air, making the lavender ribbons twirl.
“Ohmigosh,” Bess gasped. “I never saw anything so amazing!”
“Thanks,” Nancy said, still gazing at her wand.
“No, not your wand, Nancy,” Bess said. She pointed into the distance. “That!”
Nancy looked to see where Bess was pointing. Then she gasped too.
Inside a fenced-in pen was a magnificent white creature with a mane and tail like a horse. But a single silver horn on the creature’s head told Nancy it wasn’t a horse at all. It was—
“A unicorn!” Nancy cried.
© 2009 Simon & Schuster, Inc.