Title: THE OSTRICH AND THE ROSE
Genre: Middle-Grade fantasy
Word count: 79,000
Hogwarts House: Gryffindor! Maris is a girl of action. While others dither and delay, she seizes the ostrich and rides out to save her father. Fantasy quest with an magic ostrich. What could go wrong?
When a cranky sorcerer turns Maris’ father into a button, she must take an enchanted ostrich to save him by infiltrating the sorcerers’ desert fortress—without collapsing the land’s crumbling magic, and ending the world.
Half the day went by before I managed to escape the whirlwind of last-minute packing in the house and slip outside to say good-bye to our best ostrich. Ducking my head so Aunt Sophronia wouldn’t see me out the window and find me another chore, I darted across the dusty dooryard.
Harel watched as I hitched up my skirts and climbed onto the bottom fence rail. When I stretched out a hand filled with grain, he sauntered up to me and pecked at the food. It hurt a bit, but I held my hand still.
"Hey,” I murmured, “it's me, Maris.” Harel stiffened as I ran my free hand down his leathery neck, but I could see a few shining threads connecting us, like strands of spiderweb. Father insisted the threads were a trick of the mind. I’d learned not to mention them.
As I stroked Harel’s neck, I imagined the thin threads growing thicker and brighter, sewing us up tight together. The trick worked best on cranky things—Snake the barn cat, grumpy farm hands, ostriches. Friendly, agreeable creatures had too many threads waving around to keep track of.
Harel didn’t exactly nuzzle me, but he didn’t bite my ear, and he let me nuzzle him. I’d just sighed in contentment when someone bellowed out in the road.
I groaned when I saw a spindly figure in a red robe drumming his fingers on our fence. A Brother of the Symmetrars had come calling, just in time to ruin my last day at home.