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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 19th day of Awakening, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 107 > Short Stories > Heart of Gold

Heart of Gold

by drhull

Long ago, when humans were just setting foot in Neopia (and before then), bands of Unis roamed wild across the Endless Plains outside of the town that would soon be the true heart of the land, Neopia Central. They owned themselves, listening to naught but the lead stallions or mares of their herd. Sure, they didn't have fancy food or Neocola, but it was the life they liked and knew. Humans changed that, and that is the story I am about to tell you. I have done years of research, and with the help of my pet AlannaDarknight and the memories she holds of her past and her people. This is Alanna's story, the story of her kind, the gallant and majestic Unis.

***

I was a little foal when I first saw a human. The girl had had a thin frame, short and petite, with crystal blue eyes full of depth and wonder. Her bronze hair was floating in the spring breeze, her boots covered with wet morning dew. I had liked her, wanted to go out to her, greet her.

     Yet it was not the way of the Unis to associate with humans. They were dirty, and brought with them alien food. Their ways were odd to some, downright disgusting to others. I received scolding looks from the older mares by think humans were worthy of Uni mention.

     Tania, my only true friend, said I had a heart of gold, to think humans pure and creditable. She didn't exactly despise humans herself, but I can honestly tell you she didn't love them, either.

     For years I pondered. I had been born a thinker. Why? I questioned, as I lay awake at night, the green grass cushioning me like a bed. Why? I questioned, as I ran alongside the other foals. Why? I questioned as I splashed into the ice-cold water in winter. Why? I was always myself. Why are humans not respectable by my herd, my people, my kind?

     I found out on the eleventh summer of my life. For the last few years, I had been persistent in all of my questions, especially those that included humans. The elders of the herd had looked away and passed by the question. One day I had had as much of it as I could possibly take. I was down with the elders. I made my decision and went to the lead mare of my herd.

     Anatolia was boss horse of the Shadow Wind herd. She was black as the night, with stormy gray eyes and silvery hooves. Her loose, windblown mane and tail were a color to match her hooves, while her horn was a deep purple. Like me, and unlike the others that had been the leaders of my herd, she was a deep thinker, a unique profundity to her, something different from the rest. Anatolia made the right choices when they were needed. The wrong choices could often lead to the destruction of an entire group of Unis. It had happen before with other bands.

     If we had had a different leader, I would have never thought to ask. But Anatolia would here me out, and if she truly thought I was ready, she would give me my answers.

     She stood upon the top of a grassy hill, overlooking the water. As I approached, I heard a sigh escape the female. I snorted, and Anatolia looked around and smiled.

     "You've come for answers," she said with wisdom only a true guide of a Uni herd could have. "What is your question?"

     I stretched down on the grass. "Well," I began. "All my life, I have seen humans be disregarded as if the were nothing. Just something beneath the members of this collection of Unis. Why is that?"

     Anatolia looked deep into my eyes, and for the first time, someone I valued all my life really saw me for what I was. The great mare sighed again. "If you truly want to know, I will tell you."

     "A summer or two before you were born, a tragic thing happened within the herd. A human approached us, and offered food in exchange for our young. The leader we had was Leif, the Uni whom is covered in what looks like fire. Leif could never seem to get enough food for his herd, although it was everywhere. He was a very foolish leader. He took the man's offer."

     "The food is that what domesticated pets in Neopia Central eat. Neocola, Cheesy Neos, Candy Vampires. We thought if was similar to the food we usually ate. We were wrong. It made us desperately sick."

     "Instead of blaming the chief Uni, who made the fault, the herd blamed humans. All except me. That was why no one really wanted me to be the head of the herd, because I didn't believe in what the others did."

     "We found out that Juliana, the young exchanged, was being trained into a domesticated pet, and was being made eat these alien foods. When the herd found out that she had had foals that were pets for humans, everyone was enraged. They thought they all were unhappy."

     "Truth is, Juliana and her kin are happy as pets. They get toys, homes, and whatever they want to eat, and not just grass. More importantly, they receive love."

     My question had finally had been answered. And I was amazed. So much hate for one filly? Why did it matter if she was happy where she was?

     Suddenly, I began to see my world in a whole new way. My kinfolk had kept me from being with humans for all these years because of a bad choice, a bad leader. They had kept from being loved like the herd could not. They had made an injustice in their ways, and now I was taking the blows for it.

     Out of the blue came the sound of thundering hooves. I was pulled back as a wave of Unis came to stand before Anatolia. I noticed that not all of them were part of our herd. Tikal, a pure white Uni with a silver mane stepped forward.

     "Anatolia, leader of the Shadow Wind herd, your people, all of us, except for one, Tania, and the entire Ever Flame herd agree that your time as leader of our herd is over, and that I, Tikal, shall take your place, unless-"

     "NO!" someone screamed. I realized it was I, and stepped forward.

     "I object, and there is a law to be considered. It is said on the Old Stone, that when two herds meet to make a decision, the decision that is made must depend on the fate of the two herds."

     "You pesky little--" Tikal snarled, and launched himself at me. Anatolia whipped her hoof out to trip him, and send him flying flat on his face.

     The leader of the Ever Flame herd stepped forward, a stallion that looked much like Tikal. "Fine, but there is the fact to be considered that this youngling has a bad influence on others in many ways, and is endangering her herd at this very moment."

     Boiling with anger, Tania stepped forward and opened her mouth, only to be pulled back by her mother.

     "She endangers all Unis, for that matter," another Uni went on. "So, we take a vote, all in favor of banishing her here with from any further contact with any wild bands of Unis, say 'aye'!"

     A chorus of 'aye's went up from the onlookers. Tears began to roll down my face, knowing that neither Anatolia nor Tania could save me from my fate. I had wanted to be with humans, but not in this way. Not banished from any contact with my family or friends.

     I walked forward, looking back only to see that both of my true friends were weeping with me.

     Yet a voice in my head said I had saved Anatolia, and that my heart was one of gold.

***

Where do I, drhull, come into play? Actually, I am the girl in the beginning of the story. After walking for miles, Alanna came to Neopia Central, exhausted, where I met up with her, and gave her her name. You see, Alanna told me that members of the wild herds are not given their names until they have lived twelve summers, so I named her, Alanna after a true heroine, like her, and Darknight because it was like that when I found her. We grew up together, and shared secrets (some of which I cannot divulge). This was many years ago. Now, there are still wild Unis, but they remain hidden, as their disgust and detestation of humans has increased even more so.

     Still, Alanna is heroine to those few who know of her and what she did, and her kindness to others nowadays. She has dedicated a lot of her time to helping other Unis in need. To all those Unis who aren't wild, she is the Heart of Gold.

The End

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