Jewel was in history class. A very boring history class.
“Anyone know what the two types of unicorns here on Octara are?” Mrs. Pyrite asked.
Ruby answered promptly, “The Ring of Warriors and the Circle of Nobility.”
“And what are the physical distinctions between the Ring and the Circle?” Mrs. Pyrite said.
Across the room, Sapphire replied, “The Ring unicorns have a beard and extra hair around their hooves, and they are bigger and stronger than the Circle. The Circle- us- are sleeker with lots less fur, and we are slimmer and smaller than the Ring.”
“Good,” Mrs. Pyrite praised Sapphire. “But who can tell me the mental differences?” Her green eyes roved across the room, and finally rested on Jewel. “Jewel?”
Jewel started. She had spent most of the class period staring at Zircon. Zircon was the cutest colt in school, and the most popular.
“Um…” Jewel murmured, trying to think of the question. She finally gave up. “Could you repeat the question, ma’am?”
Mrs. Pyrite sighed. “What are the mental differences between the Ring and the Pure?”
Jewel racked her brain, trying to think of the answer. “There is no difference?” she peeped.
The teacher sighed again. “Zircon? Do you know the answer?”
Zircon flashed Mrs. Pyrite a smile. “Of course I do,” he answered charmingly. “With such a great teacher as you, how could I not?”
Mrs. Pyrite blushed. “Well, then, what is it?”
“The Ring is more warlike and obsessed with obliterating opposition. The Circle is more pure and good. We also prefer the arts- sculpture, dance, painting. The Ring prefers an art- war.”
“Very good,” Mrs. Pyrite purred. “But if the Ring is so warlike, why haven’t they attacked us?”
Zircon confidently said, “Because the leaders agreed not to attack each other, but rather to join forces against enemies, but live separately during day-to-day life.”
“Excellent!” The teacher scanned the room once more. “Who can tell me the standards of the Ring and the Circle?”
Jewel replied, “The Ring has no restrictions on color, but shape and size must fit regulations for the army.”
“Even the mares?” asked Mrs. Pyrite.
“Yes,” Jewel said. “Because the mares must be big enough to have big foals. The Ring also doesn’t tolerate personalities uninterested in war, but they are moderate, too. They don’t accept particularly bloodthirsty personalities. And in the Circle, mares must be under 15.2 hands, and stallions over. All unicorns must be pure white, with blue, green, or gray eyes for mares, and hazel, brown, or green for stallions.”
Jewel snuck a glance at Zircon. Usually she wouldn’t attempt answering such a big question, but after his answer, she had to impress him.
Zircon noticed her gazing at him, and before she could look away, he gave a wink of his big brown eyes.
Mrs. Pyrite said, “Correct, Jewel. And since you could answer that, what happens to unicorns who don’t fit those rules?”
Jewel tore her eyes away from Zircon and forced herself to focus on the question. “The Hills!” she exclaimed, happy to remember something. “Outcast unicorns are banished to the Hills! The respectable ones live in herds with others who are the same type, in hopes that in a time of famine, or- um, war, or anything where more unicorns are needed they will be let back into their herds. Unicorns that mingle with the opposing herds are forever banished.”
“Yes,” Mrs. Pyrite was surprised to admit. “That is the answer.”
A bell blared through the school.
“Homework: prepare a report on any rule of the Circle. Explain why that rule should be changed. It can be oral or on paper. Dismissed.” Mrs. Pyrite retreated to her desk, and her class filed out of the room.
The school was a collection of caves that served as classrooms, and the main cavern was an auditorium.
But the unicorns didn’t live in caves. They lived out in the fresh air. But there was a community cave that the unicorns slept in when it rained, hailed, or snowed.
Jewel cantered into the meadow, and headed for a small burrow she spent most of her time in.
Once she had settled in the burrow, she checked to make sure that no one was coming. Then she took a deep breath, and popped out her contacts.
Her eyes were brown.