Chapter 1

The stars twinkled high in the black blanket of the night sky. The Misty Mountains stretched upward, reaching towards those ethereal heavens. The snow atop them glistened in the moonlight. Beams of it shot down in large numbers, landing softly and calmly onto the grass beaded with evening dew.

In the long jungle-green grass of Mirkwood Forest, a figure lay in the grass, breathing heavily. Her white coat gleamed with sleek straightness and a star-white mane lay on her trembling neck. Her stomach heaved and shook, her breath coming in raspy gasps. She snorted through her long, elegant snout. Her silver hooves kicked at the dirt, kicking it up in small clouds. A long, elegant horn was placed in the center of her forehead.

She was a unicorn.

She was soon to be joined by another.

She had lost track of how long she had lay there, but a sudden wave of relief hit her and her stomach felt empty. Hunger struck her as well, along with something else. An emotion of... love.

A short, high whinny came from behind her. With renewed energy, she sat up. There, stumbling in the now-soaked grass, was a small white foal.

The newborn shook her head, spraying droplets onto the grass which seemed to grow greener as the fluid hit them. Slowly, she put a hoof ahead of her and sniffed the ground. Her eyes fluttered open, exposing a lovely blue color that she shared with her mother. Her mane was long for a foal's and straight as well. She slowly made her way to her feet, her knees knocking together as she struggled to stay standing.

Her mother quickly and gracefully stood as well, nudging the foal's snout softly with her own. The foal whinnied again a rubbed against her mother's soft coat affectionately. The mother licked her first daughter as she began to suckle.

The mother grazed as the foal drank. Soon, her belly was full and she began to take some unsteady steps. She shared every feature from her mother, the same glorious coat, the beautifully straight mane, just a single difference. The foal didn't have a horn placed in her head such as her mother did. There wasn't even a lump where the horn would grow. She could only receive such a gift if she was able to prove her worth in the world. It was unpredictable when she would get one, or if she would get one.

The moon rose above the two, blessing them with the brightest beams available. Their two coats shone brightly, sending off an eerily beautiful glow that illuminated the small thicket they stood in. Their forms fairer then even the elves that dwelled in the kingdom nearby.

The mother's ears twitched as a twig cracked nearby. She stopped her feed and glanced around the clearing, as alert as a deer in the meadow. He head swiveled every way, glancing for some sign of another presence. After a quick and curious scan, she concluded that her and her daughter were still alone, therefore reaching down and gnawing at the grass once more.

She was wrong.

A rope was thrown and it tightened around her crested neck. She reared in surprise, landing gracefully over her young one as another rope lassoed her snout. She gritted her white teeth as her jaw closed. She shrieked in terror, her foal cowering under her belly.

All at once, several large forms emerged from the shadows, circling and tossing more ropes around her ankles and over her head. Eventually, she was forced to the ground. Her foal dashed out from underneath just as she landed on the grass. Dew sprayed up, landing gently upon the foal's face.

A large hand pulled the young one away and a rope was tied around her frail throat. She struggled to return to her mother, but to no avail. The rope held tight and dug into her throat whenever she would pull on it. She felt so helpless as the figures neared her ailing mother, glistening items in their hands.

Suddenly, a loud cry ripped through the air. The foal felt sorrow and misery wash over her when she saw her lifeless mother through the bulky legs of the figures. She thrashed and kicked wildly, stumbling onto her knees. A malicious laugh erupted from behind her. She looked to see a tall, burly animal that walked on two legs instead of four. He had short, fearsome facial hair that was unclean and untidy. She shivered with fear.

A scent flowed on the air, hanging at a level that seemed deathly to the newborn.

Blood.

She was suddenly filled with rage and she thrashed out once more. She felt her hoof hit something almost solid, but rather soft as well. A strange, muffled sound came from the creature behind her. Then she tried once more to bolt. The rope dropped to the ground and she ran, the rough strings chafing her neck.

She looked back to see several figures leaning over her mother, lying lifeless with red stains upon her head. The figures suddenly grew into a clamor of cries as they pursued her. She turned back to her path, running her broken heart out.

She didn't know how long she ran, just that the woods had disappeared behind her and raised again ahead and all around. A clearing. She dodged the rocks, stumbling on the ground as she went.

Finally, something struck her. Her all-out run came to an abrupt halt as she fell to the meadow grasses. Her back leg was suddenly ablaze with pain. She could feel it suddenly grow warm and something wet trickling down it. She struggled, but soon was pinned to the floor. Kicking hard, she slowly began to wedge away from under the weight. However, she was only pulled back under. She finally risked a glance towards the face of her attacker. Facial hair and dirty stains. A different one, yet cruel all the same.

A sudden power filled her, and she lashed out with all her strength. She watched in amazement as her back hoof caught the beast's stomach and threw him back. Where this strength had come from, she didn't know and didn't yet care to know. She quickly got to her feet and broke into a run again.

She could hear them behind her, slowly advancing. She dashed behind a large boulder, still feeling the massive pain in her leg. Suddenly, her whole body struck something and she fell once more. Aching entered her head and back thigh as the pain slowly spread. She looked to see what she had run into.

A golden head wheeled around, blonde locks swaying. Another. No facial hair and a clean face, yet still looking the same. However, something was definitely different. She wasn't sure what it was, just that she could feel it. Then, one word entered her mind.

'Greenleaf.'