The smell of Africa was one that sickened yet strengthened the boy. The bacteria that were bound to stick to such unsavory creatures as the zebras was supposedly omnipresent, at least according to those who knew of his travels to such a distant land. A disturbing collection of personal hygiene equipment in his mother's luggage perhaps proved this to be true. And yet, the thrill of the moment led him to forget the stench of sweat and conquest, and perhaps it is good we first see our mane character in this light. For this is a tale of racism and misconception, and it is important to realize that the boy had no part in the prejudice that his race had leant a hoof in creating. The fuchsia horse-drawn wagon was a stranger to these foreign lands, and every bump in the unpaved road lead the glorious contraption to shake unnaturally, as if in the midst of a sneeze.

The cabin that resided in this revolutionary machine leaked obvious signs of overpowering wealth and importance to those on the outside, both of which its inhabitants had obtained since their very births. Decorated with animal furs and feather in its interior, it was in fact quite ugly, at least to the boy. As he as not the one who paid for its embellishment and decor however, he supposed he was not in the position to be thinking such things, no less saying them, and he had never spoken a word on his true feelings for the thing. The lad dabbed his sweat with a silken handkerchief; the murder of the beads of moisture were only hinted at by the slightly wetted scarf. The thing tickled his nose quite dangerously, but he daren't sneeze for he was in fear of seeming impolite and spreading more germs than necessary. Magic from his horn wrung out the bodily exertions outside of the window, spoiling the previous hardened dirt that made up the road. He was quite proud of this, being quite unskilled in the ways of magic, but did not brag as most children would have done at his age.

On one side of the child was a mare laced in pink frill and lace, carrying the dazzling beauty of a summer's afternoon. They were the sole occupants of the cabin; indeed, his father had died of a rather unlucky case of leukemia three years prior and his property and business had been left to his wife. The said wife happened to be the boy's mother, as one has probably inferred, and though she was an excellent business woman, the same could not be said of her ideas of ethics and equality. She insisted the boy call her not mother, yet by her full name of Fleur de Lis, for reasons unknown to the child. He rather not question the fact, and was a obedient child for the most part when it came to such matters on his mother's side. On the other side of him was a stuffed toy, a rabbit whose fur challenged the white of snow, to be exact. It was sewn with fine silks and fibers, given expert details by skilled Canterlot artisans and stuffed with real rabbit pelt. A gift for his seventh birthday from his father, it was quite possibly the bane of his mother's existence, if one didn't account for her hatred of non-pony breeds.

"And what type of man," she would sniff, "is found clinging onto a toy to solve his problems?"

He was a optimistic lad, you had to credit him for that. He assumed, or at the very least, tried to assume his mother's ramblings to be of actual substance instead of unmasking them for their true identity: nothing but unsupported ramblings by a drunken mare who was king of her world. When word had come that land in Africa had been successfully bought by his mother's company and he was to report there immediately, he did not groan, much unlike his school friends once he had delivered the news them last Friday morn.

Hoity Toity had widened his eyes at the mere thought. Then again, what with his ridiculously large (and ridiculously expensive) glasses, it was quite hard to tell nowadays the corse of action his eyeballs took. "That sounds positively horrid. Celestia speed."

"Now darling, I don't mean to sound racist, so please don't take it the wrong way. But sweetie...won't you be around zebras? Don't they eat their first born children, or something crazy like that? Oi, Photo Finish!" Sapphire Shores called the small German pony, a part of the prestigious group, who stared upwards into the much larger mare's eyes.

"Wasn't it Mr. Filthy Rich who told us that zebras eat their first-born children?"

"Ja, ze social studies teacher, correct?"

"Yeah."

"I don't think you'll have to worry much about me." he replied, his feet scratching the ground the same way a chicken digs for worms.

"Ah, ze little Fancy is being so modest. I respect zhat, but I think you zhould opt out of this journey."

"Yeah, babe. Or at least watch what you eat!" Sapphire snorted, believing her joke was worthy for glorious recognition and laughter. Hoity complied, offering a smirk as a reward. She beamed.

He did not laugh, nor did he move his lips in the slightest.

He was not even sure what he was doing in this little ring of friends, other than the fact that they were the richest children in school. Fleur had mentioned something about their parents being worthy, and he knew that they were nothing more than business connections. Every arranged play date was nothing more than a scam. They were not true friends to the boy; his heart yearned for a friendship not judged by the yellow of his bits nor by the greed that growled in Fleur's foolish eyes. There were days in which he pondered the meaning of friendship.

As the carriage slowed to a stop, so did his thoughts on companionship.

"Why are we stopping? Fancy Pants, don't step out of the cart." The sudden joy that had been born on his mother's face (for she had thought that the two were possibly at their destination after a three-hour drive) suddenly died almost as suddenly with a certain flip of the curtains. The boy, lowered to the ground and stretching for the door to make his exit, could not see what his mother was witnessing due to his small height and his current position on the ground. But yes, his retreated to its rightful place, and he was left standing on the padded floors of the compartment, the seat before him a mountain of sorts. His combat with the leather seat and trying to mount it proved rather difficult, but as he reached the climax of the fight, he noticed his mother's problem. A racist's horrific nightmare was spelled before her, though the boy honestly saw no wrong with it.

Seas of zebras stood like ghosts before them, their tails flicking brown flies and the black african sun lowering in the distance, illuminating shadows on their dark stripes and making them appear longer than they were in all reality. The blackness became an obsidian warpaint on their bodies, adding to a sort of horror on their actually quite solemn faces. They carried no malice, no weapons, but simply the eyes of shock and the markings of a warrior, a man waiting for his death sentence to be announced for the sole reason to be at peace.

Their eyes were the most stunning of their body, even when one explored their powerful leg muscles and intricate stripes. Pieces of ornate glass were woven into fine threads, passed off as flowers rather than an iris in their pupil. A symphony of perfect stained glass shards. They struck the boy hard, perhaps with realistic force, perhaps because his mode of transport had started moving again- a wheel had been stuck in mud as the road turned more and more turbulent, but had finally been kicked loose by one of the ponies driving the machine- and he offered one last look to the creatures before falling to the floor. There was one in particular that stood out in that brief moment of his attention, perhaps because of her unusually showy decoration. Gold bracelets donned her body in the pattern that butterflies don flowers. The metal reflected in her eyes, green wonders in which yellow splashed like daisies in a field. Her age could not have been too far off from his very own, considering her height amongst the older ponies. The cart moved. His thoughts moved on to match the pace.

He was unaware at the moment, but the said zebra would become his desired experiment in friendship.