Runt isn't sure what to think when his whole world is turned upside-down.
Runt knew he shouldn’t have, yet he couldn’t help himself. His father had told him all the stories passed down from his father and his father before him. Generations of the Equs Tribe had lived in separation for the greater good. His father told him how the Tribe almost caused its own extinction because groups of them simply couldn’t get along. The hooved giants had fought so much and so long there were very few left.
Which is why his father warned him against being around others for anything other than propagating.
But he couldn’t help it; on the other side of the river stood a group of three Equs. Long heads bowed in the cold sunlight, one back foot cocked with wide hips slanted in rest. The feathers running from blunted ears to swirling tail were still, occasionally swatting as they shifted position. Each eye was closed, two of them with heads resting on one another’s shoulder.
Even more interesting was their coats; Runt’s father, mother, brothers, and even himself, were only ever bathed in the color of rusted mud, a dull red containing no color or substance. Yet the entire group had coats ranging in color: a soft orange-coat leaned near an Equs decorated with bright yellow along his body, while the third’s deep green coat hung around his bones like wet leaves. And their feathers! The feathers of those three were long and wild, boasting more colors than he knew what to do with.
His family was not allowed to wear their feathers very long. His father insisted. Told them stories about how the old Tribes would flare those feathers and cause fights, usually as he was pulling the longer bits from their bodies.
He was staring so intently he didn’t hear someone approach until a muzzle gently touched his shoulder. Runt spun with a shudder, skin twitching as he glanced over the intruder.
A large eye stared back at him from the center of a flat forehead, short ears swiveled forward. Large nostrils flared as the newcomer studied Runt, watched his stubby tail slap his flanks as he huffed and pranced.
Eventually, the newcomer dipped his head. “Calm down. I don’t mean to scare.”
Runt stared, blowing as he struggled to understand. “...No scare? Why here?”
The newcomer blinked slowly, glancing at the others. They were fully awake now, watching the interaction with ears straining forward. He shook his neck with a pawing stomp, letting his feathers jostle for a moment as he thought. “...Not allowed elsewhere.”
Runt swung his head to the others. “...And they?”
“Not allowed elsewhere,” he answered. “Found it better to be together.”
The newcomer nodded. Oh yes, he knew the stories as well. His own father had told him about how Equs tried to destroy themselves. “Lies the Old Ones say,” he answered. “Least...not true anymore.”
Runt took a step. Hesitated. Took it back. Looked at the other one. “How?”
The other shook his neck again, looked to the others. Timber twitched under his moss-green coat and gave a nod, white feathers falling over his eye with the movement.
He took a breath. “First,” he said, getting Runt’s attention, “must promise not to hurt or lead others to hurt.”
Runt hesitated. He was only supposed to be gathering berries and twigs until the sky changed, due back to his family soon. He knew telling his father would lead the old stallion down to this creek. But this was too intriguing. He felt a pulling to know more, had to learn about these colts living together, how they seemed so calm together.
Legs shaking, girth twisting to his stomach, Runt nodded. The colt breathed an easy sigh as he began relaying the tale.
It was a long walk back to the cave, made longer by Runt’s mind reeling from the story.
The colt had introduced himself as Darkrain, a name he chose for himself when he found the others. Timber had started the group when he ran into Rockfoot, neither of them wanting a fight. They began to follow each other, first at a distance before finding they could graze in peace while side-by-side. The orange-coat, now known as River, saw the pair and challenged them on being together. They explained, but River still ran to get his family when he tripped and fell down the mountain. Timber and Rockfoot heard the noise, running to help River. Since then the orange-coat stuck nearby.
Darkrain himself stumbled upon the group one winter when food was scarce. Instead of chasing him away, the small group offered a bit of what they already had. The colt realized the benifit in working together, and so the group of three became four.
Runt stumbled, forcing his mind back on the group. He knew the stories, just like the other colts. He knew the teaching about how groups of Equs were considered dangerous, to themselves and others. But they hadn’t tried to hurt him, and Runt saw no attempts of them hurting each other.
He made his way back to the cave in short order, watching his father nip at his brothers for being late. He watched the older ones fight over the scant food they brought back, fighting encouraged when it came to food. His sister, standing in the corner, shook against the wall and ran when the fighting got too close. She had never been a fighter. Everyone had looked on her as weak for this, but if Equs only fight, he wondered why fighting over food was encouraged.
Of course, he knew the answer. Their father told them. If you could not fend other foals from your food, were unwilling to fight for survival, then you would not survive on your own.
He watched the others chase her from the cave when she tried to get a nibble. He watched his father’s approval of thier anger and bluster. For the first time, he saw his sister’s ribs and knobby knees, wondered of the ‘rightness’ of it.
Stumbling down the hillside, he made his way to the others. He was kicked at for coming late, shoved for not bringing food back to the cave. All his life, Runt had been told this was to make him stronger. This was how he learned to gather for himself and to think for himself.
He glanced at his sister as she approached again. Watched one of his bigger sisters run her off again. His father snorted in approval as the sky deepened, knew another hungry restless night was waiting for her. He had more than one night outside the cave in the freezing wind. He hadn’t made up his mind about anything, but couldn’t stomach the idea of this continuing to happen.
Waiting until his family was deep asleep, Runt lowered his head and left the cave. Approaching Moss with head down, he couldn’t stop her from prancing and snorting at his approach. Her short tail flared, her skinny legs carrying her backward in fear. He shook his head trying to get her to calm down, but she wouldn’t. Ears slowly spinning backward, he began to chase her away, nipping at her flanks and sides to direct her around and up the hill. He chased her down the route he had come, pressing her until they got to the river.
The group was nowhere around. He paused, looking and looking among the high plants and thick trees, but could not see where they had gone. He stared at Moss again, her sides heaving. Bobbing his head, he managed to get out, “...no harm. Wanted...show you.”
Her ears spun back and pressed against her head. “No harm!? Harm is life. How chase is no harm??”
“Group here,” he tried to explain. “Not like home. Equs live...with each other.”
Moss shook her head and mane, stomping in the river as she snorted. “Not. Lies. Equs not live together. Hurt others.”
He shook his mane. “What if...stories wrong? What if...olders not know? Because...they choose not know?”
“Unwilling to change.” Moss and Runt spun to face the new voice, rough and deep. Timber stood in the forest nearby, watching. Moss blinked several times, glancing back to Runt and prancing sideways.
“Who?” she finally asked.
“Olders,” Timber answered. “They not lie. Old stories true, in that time. But that time not this time. Olders scared to think if old ways change. Do not know what happens if Equs live together. Do not care. Old days, Equs together was disaster. Many hurt. Many killed. Olders grew knowing story, decided best to not question past. They think Equs hurt in past, then they hurt in present. Olders not understand seperation not needed now. Not understand that mind dies if not able to think through change.”
The siblings stared. Timber shook his mane with a sigh; he had seen this more than once. Staying alone, not willing or able to try new things or ask questions had made other Equs not as smart. Being in a group made it so they could ask questions and get answers they hadn’t considered. This ability let them ask more and more questions, talk to each other, develop more words than the others.
Timber had even run into similar groups of Equs, some made of only fillies and some of both kind, and had traveled with them before breaking off. They had even encountered a few of the other Tribes of different kinds, discussed things with a young Alces and TeKaye who were traveling together. What the Olders didn’t understand, and didn’t teach the youngsters, was the idea of the world being so much more than the Equs Tribe, holding so many different kinds of lives. River had even told their group he heard of a tribe across the waters that didn’t separate at all, instead living in one giant group working towards the same goals.
Runt pawed at the rivers edge as he saw the others glancing through the trees, eye turning to face each one before turning back to Moss.
“They Equs,” he told her. “They together. They not fight.” Moss stared around, eye bulging as the others came into view. Darkrain stepped to the river’s edge, his dark blue coat standing out against the purple river. He held a few twigs and berry-branches in his mouth, shaking them towards Moss and tipping his head so she could see them. When she didn’t move, he carefully dropped them on the ground and took a few steps back.
“They help,” Runt said, coming up behind her and nosing her flanks. She spun to stare at him. “They not like others. They not like me.”
Turning with a glare at the group, Moss stumbled her way forward and sniffed at the bundle. One bite was all it took before she snatched the rest up, head shooting up so she wouldn’t be taken off-guard.
River stepped forward then, head down and moving slow. Moss watched him closely. “We have more,” he ventured. “You need more?” When she didn’t answer, he glanced at Timber who was already disappearing into the forest. Nudging her shoulder with his nose, River tossed a head after the green-coat. “Follow him. You stay with us. We give food. Then you run if you need.”
Moss glared, but didn’t turn away or look back. She followed Timber through the forest, River and Rockfoot disappearing as well. Only Darkrain and Runt were left, standing on opposite sides of the river.
“Lies,” Darkrain huffed, taking a drink. Runt tilted his head, one ear cocked, so the other colt explained. “Told her you not like us. I think you lie.”
Runt shook his mane. “Not like me. I…” He stomped, the river splashing around his hoof in a dance. “Not like me.”
“Could be.” Runt stared at Darkrain. Was the colt saying what he thought? “You not like others. You not lead hurt to us, instead leading one in need. You are brave.”
Runt hesitated. None of his family had called him brave. His family hardly noticed him, a strong reflection of his name. Could he...could he really live so differently than the way he was raised? Could he simply walk away from what the others believed?
Would it be worth it if he no longer recieved shame because he wasn’t like the others?
He took a step into the river. “What if…” he hesitated. “My coat. My coat is not like yours.”
Darkrain snorted with a short laugh. “Our coats not like this at first. Began to change after living together.”
Runt tipped his head. Took another step. “How?”
The colt swung his feathers so Runt could see under them. His blue coat was streaked with the muddy red, blue growing in patches along his neck and chest. “Not all sure. Timber thinks color belongs to feathers. Let feathers grow out, coat changes color. No same colors, all different.”
Runt took another step across the river. “I...stay?”
Darkrain shook his feathers back into place. “If you want. We not force you stay.”
Another step. “...I go with Moss.”
Darkrain nodded and turned, leading Runt the rest of the way. Runt’s history screamed at him, demanded he turn. Demanded he run. Equs do not live together, Equs only fight. Yet these did not. In truth, he wasn’t sure what he thought. Old training from his family told him one thing, his eyes another. It was possible his old training was wrong...wasn’t it?
And in the end, if Equs didn’t have to fight with each other, wouldn’t that be better?
The Short Stories
From time to time I have minor adventures, whims, or odd ideas that manage to be written down. Below you'll find all my little nonsensical adventures, anything from other-worldly to other-wordly.
Occasionally I get a wild hair and do something I can't particular categorize. So it gets classified as 'nonsense' and put into the corner for others to look at.
To shorten this introduction: I'm a Millennial Gemini Ravenclaw Firebending INTP-T that is somewhere in the range between Enneagram numbers 4-7 (It keeps changing and I keep forgetting which number I'm supposed to be). If that doesn't give you some kind of picture of how I operate then you'll just have to start Googling things.
All 30of30 Animal Bear Bubbles Cocky Cookies Detective Event Funny Grandma Halloween Haunting Hedge LevelUP Marwolaeth Mystery Noir Parody Phone Calls Plants Pupmkins Rabid Plants Redmoon Rocky Roses Satire Squirrel True Love Valentines Story Zombies
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies