(A/N: Disclaimer: I own nothing. This covers the important parts of the first chapter of Into the Land of the Unicorns and IS NOT MINE in any way, shape, or form. I just abbreviated it.)

"Grandmother, is that man following us?"

Cara's grandmother glanced over her shoulder, toward the library. When she turned back, her face was twisted in a look that Cara had never seen before. Tightening her grip on the girl's hand, the old woman began to walk faster . . .

"In here," said Grandmother Morris suddenly, pulling Cara's arm to steer her to the right. They went down a narrow street-little more than an alley, really-and turned into the side entrance of St. Christopher's church . . .

"Put this on," the old woman said, slipping a chain from her neck.

Cara's eyes widened. "Your special?"

"Take it! Put it on. You may need it before this is over."

"Before what is over?"

"No time to talk. Take it!"

Reluctantly, she closed her hands over the bauble. Her fingers began to tingle. . . .

"We have to get out of here," her grandmother whispered. "We're going to crawl to those doors as silently as we can. I will push one open. You go through first. Be ready to run if I give the word."

. . .The smooth floor was cold beneath Cara's fingers.

"Be ready," whispered Grandmother Morris. Kneeling beside Cara, she began to push on the door.

Cara was halfway across the threshold when her grandmother called, "Run, Cara! Run!"

. . .They came to a small landing.

"Do you have the amulet?" her grandmother whispered. Cara nodded.

"Here is what you must do . . .climb to the top of the tower. Count the tolling of the bell. On the twelfth stroke, press the amulet tight to your chest and whisper 'Luster, bring me home.' . . . Then, you must jump."

We arrived in the backyard of a suburban house. Amy gasped and sank against a nearby tree.

"All right there, Amy?" I asked, watching her concernedly.

"Fine," she muttered, never one for admitting to weakness. "I just hate Apparating."

"Well, we're here now. I wonder where my parents got to," I mused. "I don't see them."

"Neither do I," Amy said, who was looking less pale and clammy. "Shall we look around and see if we can spot your grandmother?"

"Yes, I suppose so," I replied. "We should walk around to the front-they're both Muggles and might be surprised to find us in their backyard."

Amy grinned. "Of course, the noise like a gunshot might have alerted them to our presence."

"Perhaps," I said. "But no one is coming to investigate . . . Come on."

We let ourselves out through the gate and walked around to the front of the house. Amy rang the doorbell.

Nothing happened.

"Aren't they here, then?" I wondered out loud.

"Maybe. . .Maybe they've gone out?" Amy said. But we both felt it-the house was empty, abandoned. We exchanged uneasy looks.

"Maybe something dreadful's happened," Amy said, voicing my own thoughts. "Maybe we should see what's wrong."

"Maybe you're right," I said. Pointing my wand at the door, I said, "Alohamora!" Still no sound from inside-surely someone would notice the sound of a door being forced open?

"C'mon," I said, stepping inside. Amy followed, both of our wands drawn.

The house was undisturbed; when we looked in closets, no possessions appeared to be missing, and no signs of a struggle, ruling out the possibilities of vacation and attack, respectively. But why did the house feel so empty? I could detect the subtle magic of laughter, love, and life in the building, but the traces were very faint.

Amy's voice came from upstairs.

"Clary! Come here, quick!"

I hurried towards the sound of her voice, already aiming my wand as I did so. Turning the corner into a bedroom, I saw Amy bending over the unconscious form of an old woman lying on a bed.

"Is she asleep?" I asked, finding my voice at last.

Amy shook her head. "I don't think so. I shook her, and she didn't wake up. But she's not dead-she has a pulse, see?" Her fingers were pressed lightly to the woman's wrist.

"Maybe she's been Stunned," I suggested, pointing my wand at the woman's chest. "Enervate." A jet of red light flashed from my wand, but nothing happened.

"Clary. Look at this," Amy said. She was holding a book in her hand. A note was taped to the front.

"It's addressed to my father," I said.

Dear Nick,

I am so sorry that I am not here to welcome you. I know it was I who suggested this visit. I also would like to apologize for avoiding you for so many years. This was for your own safety as well as the safety of myself and Cara, your niece.

Cara has been living with me since her parents left several years ago. We are being pursued, and have now been cornered. I have sent Cara to safety, and if you're reading this letter, I have been incapacitated. You are in grave danger. The instant you set foot on this property, my enemy will be able to reach you. Leave at once, and don't come back. Don't worry about me, for I can take care of myself.

I am so very sorry to have brought your family and Cara into this. You must trust me, and forgive me if you can.

All my love,

Ivy

"Ivy," I murmured. "My grandmother's name is Ivy. Does that mean this woman is my grandmother?"

I peered at her face. Now that I was looking for it, I could tell that she looked a lot like my father-small, blue-eyed, pale skin, graying red hair. "But what's wrong with her?" I said to myself.

Amy was rereading the letter. "'The instant you set foot on this property, my enemy will be able to reach you.'" She glanced up, her eyes wide. "Her enemy? What enemy would that be? And Clary-oh, Clary-what if this enemy has taken your parents?"

My own eyes widened in horror. "We have to find them." Frantically, I opened the book, looking for any clues of where they could be. It appeared to be a diary. Together, we skimmed the pages.

"This is weird," Amy said after a moment. "Reading your own grandmother's diary. What all this she's talking about another world?"

"'Luster, the land that magic creatures fled to escape men.'" I quoted. "Amy, we've heard of this before! In History of Magic!"

She stared at me like I was insane. "You paid attention in History of Magic?"

I rolled my eyes. "The point is during medieval times, when wizards were forced to go underground, the magical creatures left Earth!"

Amy stared. "That can't be true! What's Care of Magical Creatures, then?" she demanded, referring to a class we had both taken at Hogwarts.

"Wizards can hide better than most animals can. The Ministry of Magic advised those who could not to leave for their own safety. Bellenmore himself, the Minister of England at the time, opened a passage for them in two different worlds.

"Most, like wizards, went into hiding, and those who couldn't fled to where they could live in peace. But the ones who couldn't hide and wouldn't leave were abused and tortured until they became dumb beasts; the Ministry couldn't stop it."

Amy looked worried. "But where's your cousin, then?"

I thought for a moment. "My best guess is that my grandmother sent to her Luster on her own. The Ministry created a handful of amulets, to allow passage for a select few. They keep tabs on whoever owns one, but I've never seen the register. It could be that my grandmother had one in her possession."

"What enemy would be after her, though?" Amy asked.

"Maybe . . ." I said, struck by sudden inspiration. "A long time ago, a Muggle girl was sick. When a unicorn found her, it tried to heal her, but her father battled it to the death. The girl, Beloved, she was called, became immortal and raised an army of her descendants to wipe out all unicorns. She became immensely powerful and learned magic without being born with it, like we were. I think . . . I think this was Beloved's work. But why would my father keep this from me?"

"Maybe he didn't know," Amy suggested. "Maybe she never told him. Clary, I think your cousin needs help. She's a Muggle; she doesn't know how to defend herself."

"I think you're right," I said. "But how to get to her?"

"Maybe," said Amy nervously, "maybe we could Apparate."

I had to think for a moment. "To another world? Would that work?"

"We could always try," Amy said.

We didn't have much time to decide, either. Based on what the letter said, Beloved could take us at any moment like she had taken my parents. In the end, we decided to try and look for my parents on the way.

Focusing our minds onto the drawing of trees and flowers we had found in the diary, for the second time that day we gripped hands and turned into suffocating darkness.