I sniffed the damp air, trying to get a sense of direction. The vine-strung trees blocked out any light from the sky, and my horn didn't help with this situation. I snorted, then dipped my head and stuck my tongue to the ground, trying to identify where some water might be. The humid air spoke of water's presence, but the ground spoke dry. I scrapped the clinging earth from my tongue, and began walking again. I'd been walking for, to my idea of time, a half-moon, or fourteen days.
I heard a faint scream of pain in the distance, and my head shot up. Most of the sounds in the Hydra's Bog were of the very creatures it was named for. But I knew that no snake could make this sound. It was the cry of another unicorn. I took a testing few steps, then skipped into a gallop, though my body was stiff from enforced slowness. I hadn't wanted to trip in this forest of leaping shadows.
I sailed over a long twisting root, though it seemed to flex when my darkness, my shadow, passed over it. A faint memory of how shadows came to be impinged my thoughts.
Once upon a time, long ago, unicorns had no shadow because they were all the white of a small moon. They were incorporeal, unable to touch this world we now reside in.
I remembered the tale now. I dodged a black tree with slime that hung from it's bark.
They were faster than the lightning they could harness in their horns, which were straight spears of bone back then. But many unicorns were unhappy with their powers, as it meant they were bound to the sky rather than the earth. So they sought a way to change.
I skidded, feeling something spongy under my cloven hooves, and stopped with effort. I saw a small unicorn, obviously male, hunched against a tree, terror widening his gray eyes. Blood sheeted down his hind leg, coming from a bite mark on his flank. I then saw the hydra, a small creature that was all the more poisonous to protect it from it's larger brethren.
So the rebelling unicorns took poison into their horns and wreaked havoc across the lands they protected. Their leader named himself after their cause, as Tainted. The pure unicorns sought to outcast the rebels and seal their powers, when they found a small baby tainted, a unicorn unlike the ones before it. For this foal was all black, save for a little crescent moon on it's forehead. But it was clearly a unicorn, despite how it was black and corporeal. The little unicorn soon died, but the pure unicorns realized that being corporeal, which was the Tainted goal, was the only way to save their world. They explored the option, but soon found that the only way to seal the rebels to the earth was to become corporeal themselves in the process.
I realized that while the male foal had noticed me, the serpent was too focused on it's prey to see me behind it. I'd only get one chance. So I crept up, as silently as a unicorn could (which, when you think about it, is actually really quiet), and reared back to strike the hydra's head. Crushing it's head would prevent it from lashing out at me with it's fangs.
The pure unicorns didn't want to sacrifice their magic to save the world, but one of them, known as Sun, went behind his companions backs and cast the first spell. He became corporeal, and that sealed the fate of every unicorn. But while he became a pale gold, then other unicorn, the tainted he had struck, had become silver. And he realized that while the unicorns would lose much of their magic, they would gain the individuality of color. He looked down, and realized that now that he had a solid body, now too would he have a shadow.
I slammed my fore-hooves into the serpents head, feeling it's blood splatter my belly and chest. I felt an instant of revulsion, but continued to grind the serpent's head to death, until it was trampled. It twitched slightly when I moved away. I grimaced, then spat slightly, trying to remove the twisting colicky feeling in my gut. Unicorns can't throw up, like horses. I turned towards the unicorn, who had a coat of pale gold and a horn of silver. He also had one white sock on his hind leg, the one against the tree.
I began to walk towards him woodenly, then inspected his flank. There was poison festering in the wound, and I decided that my parents, so determined to teach me magic, had finally been useful. I began to heal the bite, drawing out the venom. The venom was already in deep, but one of my magical affinities, besides earth, was healing. I made any healing spell twice as powerful in me. Transparent green fluid leaked from the wound, until only blood flowed freely. Then the bite sealed over.
I sagged with exhaustion. I'd only used the spell twice. Everything went fuzzy.
"You're one lucky colt that I was here to save your tail," I said with a thick tongue. My knees wobbled, then I was on my side, everything falling away.
Sun banished the now-corporeal tainted to the far side of the Wasteland, the place created by their foul poisoned magic, a complete desert where not even cacti would grow with time. For the sand was black with the blood of sky-bound unicorns.