A small white Uni peered at the dying sun with an expression
of mixed fear and apprehension. Tarselene* hadn’t seen her herd since morning,
and evening was on its way. Not much longer, and she would be abandoned in the
Haunted Woods at night.
A twig broke behind her, and the Uni whirled,
her silvery mane flying, and searched the shadows for signs of an attacker.
There was no movement, but it took several moments for her heart to stop pounding.
Tarselene sighed. What if it had been a Lupe?
She pounded the fallen leaves on the ground hard with her hoof in anger. It
was the Lupes’ fault that she was alone, for they had chased the herd that morning,
and it had been during the chase that she’d become separated. And now, the Lupes
would be after her, the straggler.
Warily, she continued onward, trying to smell
the air for traces of her family, and staring hard at the windblown earth for
footprints, but her efforts yielded little. She would have to stop soon and
rest, but she wanted to find a sheltered area first.
Soon the young Uni began to grow weary. The
darkness was complete, and clouds smothered the moon and stars. Tears of despair
began to well up in Tarselene’s eyes, for she saw no hope ahead. The woods would
not end for miles. Exhausted, the little white Uni fell to her knees upon the
After crying silently for a few minutes, Tarselene
pricked her ears. The forest had no sounds. The night insects had fallen quiet,
and nocturnal animals did not stir. The Uni knew that the unnatural silence
Then she head soft footsteps ahead, coming toward
her. In an instant, she was on her feet, frozen, for she recognized the sound
of the footsteps. They were that of a Lupe.
Before Tarselene could even turn to run, the
Lupe was before her. It was gray, the color of shadows, with luminous yellow
eyes. The Uni began to back slowly away, but then she turned to see that she
was surrounded by the rest of the pack. They all watched her silently, with
their eyes flashing brightly, and hungrily, she thought.
She would have neighed loudly, or reared up,
but her throat was glued shut and her legs leaden. Tarselene knew that she had
no chance of escape.
The gray Lupe stepped forward. “What’s the matter?”
he asked in a surprisingly soft voice.
After a few moments of fighting, Tarselene finally
won the battle of control over her voice. “You…are going to eat me,” she whispered.
The Lupe laughed. “Eat you? Why? What is a skinny
little Uni compared to a nice, juicy cheeseburger, eh?”
Tarselene gulped. “I don’t believe you,” she
croaked. “You dirty Lupes chased my herd this morning. Don’t lie. You are going
to eat me, so just get it over with!” Amazed at her own bravery, the Uni then
The Lupe’s brow wrinkled, and he looked almost
as surprised as Tarselene felt. “I am not lying,” he remarked softly. “My pack
does not lie, nor do we hunt Unis. I don’t know what other Lupes do, little
Uni, but perhaps it is wise to consider that not all Neopets of any species
are the same. There are good and bad in any group. Assuming otherwise is wrong.”
Tarselene could not reply. She looked around
at the faces around her, and noticed that they did not look as hostile as she
had imagined. Some even looked sympathetic. She glanced back to the gray Lupe.
“My name is Tarselene,” she offered.
A broad grin split the Lupe’s face. “And I am
Ralsadan*, leader of this pack.” He gave a friendly bow. “We saw you here, alone,
and thought that you might be in danger. We came to offer our help.”
Tarselene returned Ralsadan’s smile. “Thank
you,” she whispered, finding it difficult to speak, but this time her voice
was not lost because of fear. Finally she added, “I am sorry for thinking you
were…like the others. You aren’t.”
Ralsadan nodded. “No, I’m not, Tarselene, and
I am glad you gave me the chance to prove it. Now rest, and tomorrow we will
see that you are escorted back to your herd.”
* * * * *
The Lupes were true to their word. They fearlessly guarded Tarselene all night,
taking turns so that there were always several Lupes on guard. After a few minutes,
the Uni curled into a small white ball and drifted to sleep among the dead leaves.
When she woke, she found Ralsadan regarding
her with his steady yellow eyes. “You must have been tired,” he muttered, “You
slept for hours past dawn.”
“Sorry!” cried Tarselene, not wanting to give
the helpful Lupes any inconvenience.
Ralsadan smiled. “It is nothing. Now, why don’t
you eat, and then we can leave?”
The Uni nodded fervently, eager to see her herd
again. She nibbled greedily at the grasses around her, surprised at how hungry
she was. The Lupes waited for her to finish with calm patience.
Finally, Tarselene had eaten her fill. “I’m
ready,” she said.
Together, Ralsadan along with several handpicked
Lupes put their keen noses to the ground to track the scent of the herd. They
found it far more quickly than the little Uni would have been able to, and followed
it at a rapid and steady pace.
They traveled all morning and into the afternoon,
stopping only briefly for rests. While they were traveling, the Lupes made sure
that Tarselene was keeping up, and was not feeling too tired. She marveled at
how they genuinely cared for her when other Lupes had attacked her herd so recently.
It was amazing how different the two groups were.
Finally, the herd came into view, a large number
of Unis placidly grazing in a lush valley. Tarselene’s heart leapt at seeing
her family and friends again. She turned to offer a final thank-you to Ralsadan,
but the Lupe had disappeared so as not to frighten the herd.
Tarselene paused one moment at the edge of the
woods, thinking about her discovery, and how the herd would react when she told
the tale. They probably wouldn’t even believe her after remembering how the
Lupes had chased them the other morning.
But that didn’t matter, Tarselene knew. What
others thought was never as important as the truth that she knew. It is not
the species or the race, but the individual that makes the person.
With that, the little white Uni lifted her head,
and trotted off to rejoin her waiting herd.
They were amazed to see her. Tarselene’s mother
raced over at a full gallop, crying, “Tarselene! You’re alive! How did you ever
escape the Haunted Woods?”
Tarselene grinned, and nuzzled her mother affectionately.
“It was really scary, at first,” she admitted, “but then a Lupe came—”
Her mother whinnied in shock. “A Lupe! Tarselene,
did it bite you? Are you hurt? My, my, I cannot believe that you survived!”
The little Uni sighed. How was she to explain?
“The Lupe and his herd saved me, Mother. They protected me all night, and led
me to you. I would have been lost without them.”
“Lost without them?” parroted her mother in
disbelief. “You were lost because of them! The filthy Lupes are the reason we
were separated in the first place. You know that.”
“But it wasn’t those Lupes, Mother, they were…different
Lupes. All Lupes are not the same.”
Her mother considered this. “Perhaps you are
right,” she admitted eventually. “It never occurred to me that some might be
different. I always thought that they were all vicious, savage brutes out to
bully harmless Neopets. But I guess this proves that I cannot make assumptions
or stereotypes without there being exceptions.” She suddenly broke out into
a grin. “We should thank them.”
Tarselene’s heart swelled with joy. Her mother
understood! “We most certainly should!” she agreed enthusiastically.
After a long talk with the herd leader, the
Unis finally agreed to thank the valiant Lupes that had saved little Tarselene.
They walked back into the woods (on a bright, sunny morning, of course) and
eventually found the Lupe pack. Ralsadan was most honored that they would seek
him out and thank him, and glad that they no longer thought so poorly of all
Lupes just because of the actions of a few.
The Unis left the Haunted Woods that evening
bringing something with them not tangible, but of a greater value than any physical
item. They left with an entire new outlook on Neopia and its creatures. No longer
did they see the world through the eyes of the ignorant, where blanket statements
sufficed to categorize everything, but now viewed life with the enlightened
eyes that could see each individual for what it was, and see what each had to
offer. With their new tolerance they learned things they would never have known,
and experienced joys that would have been closed to them, and all because a
few individuals decided to make a difference.
* Note: The characters in this story were created by Nurluen, and not based
upon any existing Neopets Users or Pets.