With different contestants going in different directions, it was hard to keep track of how you were doing. It truly was a speed race against yourself. If you worried about anything besides going as quickly as you could, you would lose.
Noj Vidad and his unicorn were ahead of everyone else who chose to go to the amethyst caverns first. He patted his unicorn's neck as, with seeming ease, it galloped towards the cave. He was thankful that the animal was his.
Noj Vidad, was the son of the head of the palace guard. As such, he had been born at the palace. He had been free to roam the palace grounds, when he was not in class.
As a palace youth, who might one day join his father on the palace guard, he had been trained with the prince and princess and other palace youth in many subjects including diplomacy, history, court protocol, and many other subjects. He had also received instruction in sword-play, archery, riding, scouting, first-aid, and much more.
He trained hard so that he would be ready to prove his skills when he was allowed to try-out for the palace guard on his 18th birthday. Being in the middle of a large family, he also wanted to prove that he was himself, an individual worthy of respect for his own merit, not just because of his father or his siblings.
Noj Vidad did not love being in a classroom, but he did love being outdoors. He had gone to the stables one day to meet Nehat, who was his best friend. When he entered, he saw several people standing outside one of the unicorn stalls.
Remembering that one of the unicorns was due to give birth any day, he had hurried toward the group. Nehat's father, Kelu, was in the stall, as well the mothers of Isoje & Eticia.
Since Nehat's father was in charge of the stables including the horses, unicorns, dragons, Pegasus, oliphants, centaurs, etc., Noj Vidad was not surprised to see him with the pregnant unicorn.
However, seeing the two great elf healers in the stall was very surprising. He knew that meant that there was trouble. Unicorns were highly prized and valuable animals, but there were many talented elf healers around the palace. Seeing the top two healers meant that this unicorn was in danger of death.
As he watched, one of the grooms came hurrying in with a packet which he handed to Isoje's mother, Yonta. She immediately opened the package and she and Bibma, Eticia's mom began rubbing the cream on the unicorn's belly, head, and legs. As they did, they explained that it would ease the pain and help the unicorn give birth more quickly and explained that if the uni were not born soon, the unicorn would die.
Noj Vidad watched breathlessly with the others as the elf women worked. He saw the medicine take effect as the unicorn began to breathe more easily.
Suddenly he gasped as he saw the uni's front hooves appear. He had never been to a birthing before, and it was the most amazing experience, but even he could tell that something was wrong when the uni lay on the stall floor...
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Princess Atamar has always grown up being the best. Of course, it wasn't of her choosing. Every teen in the kingdom, including her closest friends were forced to make sure Atamar always won their games, had higher grades, and was better at everythin...