The Prettiest Peophin
I slowly woke up from my nap, feeling quite content and comfortable. But as I looked around, still half-asleep, I realized something.
“Wait, this isn’t my bed!” I thought.
Now fully awake, I looked around some more, trying to remember where I was. And then I remembered: I had fallen asleep on my owner’s lap!
I felt myself start to blush as I looked up into the kindly gaze of my owner, the adult man we all called BG.
“BG, you didn’t have to sit here and let me sleep,” I said apologetically. “If you had things to do, you could have woken me up and told me to move.”
“I don’t have anything pressing to do right now, Urasina,” he replied. “Ming’s got things under control. I can spare the time to let you nap.”
I blushed more as I stretched, yawned, and rolled onto my back, staring up at him adoringly. As he began to rub my belly, I thought about how he was the best thing that had happened to me in all my nine years of life.
We both heard the front door of the Neohome swing open, then shut again. Then one of my adopted sisters, Nayrem the Christmas Peophin, came gliding into the room, looking excited. She had a piece of paper in one front hoof.
“I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” she asked.
“No worries, Nayrem,” I responded. “I’m just cuddling with BG.”
She handed the paper to our owner.
“I was just getting ready to come home from work and one of the other librarians handed this to me,” she said, sounding eager.
“A beauty contest for the Peophins of Sahkmet, eh?” BG replied. Nayrem nodded eagerly.
“I’m glad it’s not for Unis AND Peophins,” I chimed in. “I can’t hold a candle to you, Nayrem.”
She blushed a little. I’m a Speckled Uni mare, but my patterns are unusual and I have dragon wings, not feathered wings. So I’m hardly the epitome of beauty.
“You’re going to enter, I assume?” BG asked. She nodded again.
“I’m going to see if any of the other Peophins in the family want to enter as well,” she added as BG handed the paper back to her. Then she glided out of the room.
Our family was quite the motley bunch. There were two Unis, (me being one of them), three Bori, and six Peophins. All of whom had gradually gathered under BG’s leadership and guidance.
I stood up and rubbed my head against BG’s shoulder, taking care not to jab him with my horn, before hopping off his lap.
A few hours later, Nayrem had gathered the other Peophins. I was there too. The Christmas Peo passed the flyer around.
“Is it only for mares?” Mywne, the Lost Desert Peophin stallion, asked.
“It says mares and stallions, fillies and colts, all are eligible,” Nayrem responded.
“Do we have to dress up?” Ludroth, the Darigan Peophin mare and Mywne’s mate, asked next.
“No, it says no clothing, accessories, makeup, anything,” Nayrem answered. “It’s basically come as you are.”
She looked around at the other five Peophins.
“I’m entering for sure,” she commented. “Who else wants in?”
“Not me,” Mywne said quickly.
“Not me,” echoed Ketdav, the blue Peophin stallion, who was Mywne’s and Ludroth’s oldest foal.
“I’ll give it a go,” responded Pyoga, the RG Peophin mare.
“Nah, I’m not beautiful enough,” Ludroth said with a shake of her mane.
“Lu, please stop that,” Mywne cut in, using his mate’s special nickname. “You’re more than beautiful enough.”
“To you I am, My,” she responded, giving her mate a nuzzle and using his special nickname. “But you know the stigma attached to Darigan pets. And Kelpie Peophins.”
“I wanna try it!” Udjebten, the purple Peophin filly, who was Mywne’s and Ludroth’s secondborn foal, said eagerly.
“Ten, do you really-“ Ketdav started to say, but Ludroth made a noise in her throat and he shut up instantly.
“Ket, it’s fine,” she said to her firstborn. “It’ll be a new experience for her.”
The next day, Nayrem entered herself, Pyoga, and Udjebten in the beauty contest. The contest was two weeks away. According to the rules, each Peophin would get 15 seconds to show off on stage. They couldn’t say anything, couldn’t make any entreaties to the crowd or judges. Just show off their beauty. They would be judged by a panel, and the judges would decide the winners.
Nayrem and Pyoga both worked on routines for their 15 seconds. Ludroth tried to teach Udjebten a routine of her own, but barely a minute into the lesson, Ten declared routines to be “so boring.” Rather than try and force the filly to learn, the Darigan mare told her to simply be herself.
The two weeks passed. On the day of the contest BG brushed all three girls from end to end, polished their hooves and faceplates, and combed out their manes.
Nayrem was naturally beautiful, with her dark green fur, long flowing mane, and small hooves mostly hidden by feathering, even though she was a warmblood Peophin, not a draft.
Pyoga, a scrappy little mare who was training to be a heroine, like I was, was quite a contrast with her lithe, slightly-muscled body, shorter mane, less refined head, and complete lack of feathering. But I still thought she was beautiful. Especially her crystal-clear eyes.
Udjebten still had the lanky look of a weanling Peophin filly, and her mane just refused to stay straight and even no matter what BG did. But her big, bright eyes and the bounce in her step made her absolutely adorable. Could adorable match up to beautiful? We were sure going to find out!
Once the time came, BG, Ludroth, and I escorted Nayrem, Pyoga, and Udjebten to the Sakhmet market. The girls registered and got their assigned stage times. Since they were all in the same family, they would go one after the other. Udjebten first, Pyoga second, Nayrem last. The three of them were also set to go near the end of the contest.
The contest had more than 30 Peophins in it, almost exclusively mares. As the judges called each one’s name, they went up the ramp onto the stage and showed their beauty. There were some really beautiful ones in the bunch, and I could tell Nayrem and Pyoga were getting nervous.
“Next on the stage: Udjebten!” called the lead judge.
“Go get ‘em, Ten,” Ludroth whispered, giving her filly a nudge.
Ten bounded up onto the stage, faced the audience, and did a play-bow like Lupe pups do, before bouncing around the stage with surprising energy. She didn’t seem nervous at all. A chorus of “Aww!” rose from the audience, and the filly just lapped up the attention. I thought for sure she would forget when her time was up, but she didn’t. She stopped bouncing, did another play-bow, then waved happily at the audience as she bounded off the stage again.
“My Fyora, that was something else,” I said to Ludroth as Ten ran back to her mother, quivering happily.
“She really got the crowd going, didn’t she?” Ludroth replied, nuzzling her filly.
“Next on the stage: Pyoga!” came the call.
Pyoga didn’t look very nervous as she stepped regally onto the stage, bowed deeply to the audience, and began to slowly walk along, periodically turning a slow circle. She had been a lady of the court in Brightvale before a series of events forced her into exile, and she hadn’t forgotten her courtly manners, even all these years later. When her time was up, she bowed again and left the stage, still regal.
“Next on the stage: Nayrem!” was the next call.
Nayrem looked much more nervous than Pyoga, and I understood why. She may be the beauty queen of the family, but she hates showing off. She bowed to the crowd, then gave a nervous smile as she began a routine similar to Pyoga’s. Just with less circles and more stately walking, extended her stride in a very practiced manner. At one point she ran one hoof through her mane, making it billow like a cloud. Then she dipped her head to the audience and left the stage.
“Oh Fyora, that was nerve-wracking!” she whispered to us as she returned.
“But you looked great up there,” BG responded, rubbing her on the muzzle. “All three of you did.”
The last several Peophins took their turns, then the judges declared a recess while they made their decisions. The crowd dispersed a little, but I noticed that the contestants stayed away from each other. BG’s little group was soon joined by my friend Peopatra, the Sahkmet Petpet shop owner.
“I’m rooting for all three of you,” she said. “You all looked gorgeous.”
“I would have thought you’d be entering,” I said to her.
“I’m not pretty enough,” she responded with a bashful smile.
“You and me both,” Ludroth giggled, getting me and Peopatra to giggle too.
The recess ended and the judges finished sharing notes. Then the lead judge stood up, thanked everyone for coming, and got ready to read the winners’ names.
Pyoga and Nayrem both looked nervous. Udjebten, however, was treating this much like a game and didn’t seem nervous at all.
The lead judge called the third-place Peophin. It was no one we knew.
Then he called the second-place Peophin. Again, it was no one we knew.
Pyoga and Nayrem were literally sweating buckets, they were so nervous. Only one Peophin could win it. Would it be one of BG’s?
“And finally, the first-place winner and this year’s prettiest Peophin in Sahkmet is…” said the lead judge.
I felt my jaw hit the sand, and Pyoga and Nayrem responded the same way. Ludroth, however, grabbed her filly and roughed up her mane in celebration.
“Ten, did you hear that?!” You won!” she cheered.
“Ohmigosh, ohmigosh, OHMIGOSH! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” the filly squealed, bouncing in joy.
“Come on, let’s go get your prize!” the Darigan mare said, and nudged her secondborn back onto the stage. Ten was too little to pick up the trophy, so Ludroth did it for her. The cheering from the crowd was deafening; it was clear they approved of my young niece’s victory. Both Peophins took their bows before they stepped down from the stage and rejoined us.
As Ludroth handed BG the trophy, Nayrem and I recovered from our shock.
“I can’t believe it,” I said breathlessly. “Wait, yes I can. The crowd loved her, and the judges did too.”
“I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t place, but I’m plenty happy for you, Ten,” Nayrem added, nuzzling the filly.
Pyoga was still stunned. BG gave her a nudge to snap her out of it.
“I’ll be honest, I was kind of expecting that result,” she sighed. “I would have liked to at least place, but…”
She looked a bit ashamed and stopped talking. I nuzzled her to reassure her.
“There there, you all did great,” I said to them all.
“Agreed,” BG added. “And besides, sounds like there will be another contest next year. You’ll get another chance.”
“Once is enough for me,” Udjebten chirped happily. “Hope you two win next year!”
We all laughed.