The Last Unicorn

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade July 2001

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THE LAST UNICORN The unicorn of our story is as fleecy and white as a summer cloud. She has long golden tresses for her mane and tail. She has a horn of the purest white and eyes that gleam like stars. Her name, in fact, is Starlight.

It was around the time that Starlight was beginning to grow up that animal families of every kind and color began to move to the island of Elysia. Humans had started to become intelligent; they were taking all the living space and causing problems. Elysia seemed to be a safe place to escape to. The unicorns did not mind at all, it had begun to become lonely all alone on Elysia. It was also around this time that trouble started brewing for the unicorns. All of a sudden unicorns started to disappear, one evening they would be there and then the next morning they would be gone.

No one took much notice of the disappearance of the unicorns because there was so much commotion with all the new animals moving to the island.

Starlight was the only one that seemed to notice the disappearances. Each morning more and more unicorns would turn up missing. One evening loud roaring and crashing awakened Starlight. She was too afraid to find out what it was so she remained still and listened. First there was load growling and crashing, then she heard the whinnying of unicorns, and lastly a strange sound that reminded her of wings beating. The next morning she found more unicorns missing. The noises each night and the missing unicorns in the morning persisted until Starlight could find no more unicorns prancing about on Elysia. When she couldn't find anymore unicorns she concluded that she was the last unicorn on Elysia.

The other animals began to worry with Starlight. They sent her to the Wise Owl hoping he could help. The Wise Owl advised her to travel east, until she came to a large canyon, then she should cross it and travel until she reached the rock shaped like an eagle.

Starlight traveled until her legs ached. Trees and their branches blocked Starlight's way and forced her to go around many things adding extra steps to her path. Thistle and bramble scratched her fleecy white legs. After a few hours of travel she emerged out of the forest onto a cliff overlooking a large canyon. Starlight knew this was the canyon the Wise owl had told her about. Starlight had no idea how to get across. About fifty feet from where she was standing a slender crossing to the other side of the canyon could be seen. Starlight carefully trotted over to it and examined it. She decided to try to cross it. Very cautiously she began to make her way across, when she was about halfway across the rock started to crack. Large chunks fell from the tiny rock crossing. Then the whole rock crossing started to shake and began collapsing. Starlight galloped as fast as she could to the end of the rock, but right before she reached the edge the rest of the rock crossing collapsed. Starlight made a leap trying to reach the canyons edge, but she did not jump far enough. Starlight rammed hard against the canyon wall. The minute she hit it she blacked out and lost consciousness. Starlight fell to the canyon floor and landed in a cushioning patch of bushes.

Several hours later Starlight awoke with a throbbing headache. For a moment she could not remember what she was doing so far from home, then she regained full consciousness and everything came back to her. Starlight got up and shook herself off. She then looked around and tried to figure out a way out of the canyon. As far as she could see the only way to go would be to travel along the canyon until she could find a way out. How would she ever find the rock that looked like an eagle traveling along the canyon? First she decided to find her way out of the canyon and then worry about the rock. So, slowly she headed away from the canyon wall deeper into the canyon.

When the sun began to set Starlight still had not found a way out of the canyon. Starlight was hungry, tired, and she ached all over. She found a small patch of grass, gobbled up the grass that was there, lay down, and fell asleep.

She awoke around noon the next the day and felt refreshed. Starlight headed out at a gallop. In about an hour she reached an almost perfectly flat path out of the canyon. She hurried up it and was pleased to find herself directly in front of the rock shaped like an eagle. Now she was unsure, she looked around and did not see any unicorns. She trotted over to the rock and examined it. At the foot of the rock she found a small lizard. She inquired about the path to take to find the unicorns. The lizard thought for a moment then told her to cross the Great Meadow. She would reach a forest on the other side and must travel into it until she reached a large river like lake. It was not very wide but long and slender. It was also very deep. Starlight thanked the lizard and hurried on into the Great Meadow, which was only a few feet away. Here she passed several deer and other animals grazing happily. Starlight crossed the meadow with ease, but then found another obstacle waiting for her in a small group of trees. As she passed by, six wolves appeared that planned to have her as a meal. Starlight quickly turned to go back, but found that three more wolves had appeared behind her. She was now trapped in a circle. Starlight saw that the smallest wolf was directly in front of her. She decided to try to jump over the wolf. She backed up as far as she could then trotted up, thrust her front legs forward, pulled up her hind legs and cleared the wolf and a few feet of land. The minute she hit the ground she was off at a gallop to a forest that was about one hundred feet in front of her.

The wolves were so shocked at the stunt the unicorn had pulled that they did not start running after the unicorn for several minutes. When they did start running they quickly gave up the chase because they knew it would be too difficult to catch the unicorn now.

When Starlight reached the forest she stopped, panting for breath, and looked back. To her relief the wolves had not given chase. She walked over to a tree and began munching on its leaves. Some time later she was following a small stream through the forest when she ran into the odd river like lake the lizard had told her about. It seemed to go on forever. It could take days to try go around and she knew she could run into several more dangers on the way around. It would be safer to cross the lake and it would take less time. The only problem was she did not know how. Even though the lizard had said it was not that wide she could hardly see the largest trees on the opposite bank. The lizard had said it was very deep. Just to check Starlight put a hoof in and reached for ground with it, she stuck her whole leg in and still did not touch ground. It was much to deep to wade through it. The current was too strong to swim against; she would be pulled under. Starlight looked about for a solution and spotted a hollow tree that had fallen, it would make a perfect boat. It was just heavy enough not to be pulled along by the current and just light enough not to sink to the bottom. Starlight yanked some branches covered with leaves from trees and dropped them into the tree for a food source. Because the tree was hollow it was extremely light she could shove the tree to the water's edge with ease. Starlight hopped in, her weight caused the tree to push off from the shore. Starlight was on her way across! After Starlight had pushed off from shore she realized a very bad mistake she had made, how would she propel the boat to the other side? The momentum from pushing off the shore would soon die away.

Thirty minutes later she was surprised to feel her boat hit shore. Starlight quickly realized the lake was not half as wide as she had thought. Starlight leaped out of her boat onto land. However Starlight had not looked before she leaped and realized all to late that the ground she had landed on sloped steeply downhill. When she hit the ground she lost her balance and went tumbling down the hill. She landed at the foot of the slope in a heap. She picked herself up and shook herself off, then feeling foolish, looked around to see if anyone had seen her thoughtless jump. She saw no one around and felt relieved. Just as quickly as she had felt relieved she felt foolish again when she heard loud laughing from some bushes. A large bear stumbled out, looked straight at her and started laughing again. Starlight knew he had seen her fall. Trying to act like it was nothing she questioned the bear about where he might find other unicorns. He pointed to a path and told her to follow it until it stopped at rock overhang on a slope. There she would find a large valley. He told her that she would find her unicorns there, but to be extremely careful. Starlight asked why she would need to be careful, but before the bear could tell her, another bear let out a roar calling him to come in. the bear quickly hurried off.

Starlight glanced at the bushes where the bear had disappeared, and then at the path he had pointed out to her. Starlight was afraid because of his warning about being careful, what could be lurking in that valley? Starlight decided she had to find her friends, what if they were in trouble? She trotted down the path looking about every few seconds expecting something to jump out at her. Finally, after what seemed like forever, she reached the end of the path. She saw the rocks jutting out from a slope. They were exactly like the bear had described them. The sun had begun to set and Starlight decided to end her travels for the day. She ate grass and berries until she was full. Then lay down under the rock over hang that jutted out from the slope and fell asleep.

Starlight awoke early the next morning to the rumble of thunder and the crack of lightning. A storm had moved in overnight. Since it had not yet begun to rain Starlight decided to eat breakfast later and travel as far as she could before it started to rain. Starlight got up and looked around, straight in front of her, the land extended out and then dropped straight down as if there were a valley below. Starlight trotted over to the edge, she looked down and saw that it was indeed a valley. Could it be the valley the bear had told her about? Before Starlight could explore the valley further, the rain came down. At first it fell lightly and then it came in torrents. Starlight hurriedly looked for shelter, she was becoming wetter by the moment, and finally she spotted a small opening in a group of rocks that she could fit into. She hurried over to the opening, trotted inside and shook herself off. Patches of grass grew inside the opening in the rocks; Starlight sat down and ate a patch of the grass. Then she shut her eyes and relaxed for awhile. Starlight had not planned to fall asleep, but when she woke up it was still pouring out. She ate another patch of grass, then just sat and watched the rain. Starlight started thinking about which way she should go, should she go around the valley and see what was in it or should she just head down the sloping sides of the surrounding mountains into the valley. Starlight decided it would take more time then she wanted to waste going around the valley, so she decided to just head straight down into the valley. It continued to rain all day. In the late afternoon Starlight got out of the cave and stretched she trotted around and soaked herself in the rain. Then she went back to the rock opening and slept until late the next morning. When she awoke it was still pouring in torrents. She decided to see if the rain might let up today. It did not stop raining all day, so Starlight spent another day crammed in the little opening.

The next day it was still raining, but Starlight could wait no longer. She was going to travel in the rain. Her hopes of it clearing had vanished. She headed back to the hillside that slanted downward into the valley. She looked down it but could hardly see anything, the rain pouring down and the strange mist it brought hid the land from view. Starlight could only see about three feet in front of her. She headed slowly down the hillside. It was tough going down, for one the hillside was extremely steep, the several days of rain had turned the ground into a thick mud that sucked Starlight's hooves to the ground. She kept getting stuck and had to wait for the rain to wash the mud off her hooves before she could move on. The rain, thunder, and lightning made all of this worse. There were not any trees or bushes around. The hillside was empty until you reached the tree line, which was several hundred feet below Starlight.

When Starlight had just about reached the tree line on the hillside when the rain stopped. As Starlight approached this forest she was extremely thankful the rain had stopped. You could hardly see through all the trees, vines, bramble, bushes, and most of all briar bushes. The briar bushes were bigger than any Starlight had ever seen. Their thorns looked large and sharp, it would be hard to avoid all those bushes. Starlight found an opening in the trees and headed into the gloomy forest. She had walked only a few steps down the path when she ran into a tangle of branches and bushes. Carefully she pushed her way through. Overhanging branches pulled at her mane. The bushes scratched her small legs. She forced herself through the bushes, branches, and trees.

Starlight stumbled along, exhausted. Just when she was ready to turn back, the darkness of the forest turned into sunshine and she found herself in a beautiful meadow carpeted with flowers. There, dancing and prancing sadly among the flowers, were all the other unicorns. She could hardly believe her eyes. The meadow was beautiful, Starlight guessed she was on the edge of the island because the hills opened out onto the beach where she could see the ocean's waves crashing against the shore. The unicorns gathered around Starlight and began pelting her with questions. How did you find us? What are you doing here? Before Starlight answered any of their questions she asked how they got there. A great silence settled over the group as frightened stares turned from Starlight to a cave high up on a hillside wall. One of Starlight's best friends, Merryweather, spoke up and announced that there was an evil dragon, as black as the night sky that had taken them from their home and brought them here. Each night the dragon flew to their home, grabbed a few unicorns and brought them here. The dragon had them under its power. The unicorns could not escape unless the dragon was defeated. This power did not affect Starlight because the dragon had not cast its power over her yet.

The unicorns led Starlight to group of trees where she could rest and hide from the dragon. Starlight munched on some grass, leaves, and berries. Then walked about a bit, lay down a fell asleep. She woke up at nightfall to loud roaring noises and that odd sound she had heard a long time ago sounded like the beating of wings. Of course she knew now that it was the dragons wings beating as it flew. She watched the dragon fly away through the trees and then emerged into the meadow. A unicorn named Melinda walked up to Starlight and told her that every night the dragon flew out and searched for Starlight who was the last unicorn. The dragon wanted all the unicorns. Starlight announced that she would try to defeat the dragon. This made all the unicorns frightened for her. Starlight did not think there was anything to lose. The dragon would not kill her for he wanted all the unicorns. If she defeated the dragon they could all go free, if the dragon defeated her at least she could live in this valley with the other unicorns.

Starlight stayed hidden in the group of trees for many days and only came out at night when the dragon was gone. She had learned a little more about the dragon's power, she now knew that he could not put anything under its power unless it was in the dragon's talons. After many days of hiding she had formed a plan. Starlight had learned that the dragon counted its unicorns every night. She planned to emerge from her hiding place when it finished counting and was just about to leave for its cave. She would whinny, buck, and jump, to get the dragons attention. Starlight decided she would try her plan tomorrow night.

That night all of the unicorns were very nervous, they were afraid for Starlight's safety. Starlight was confident that her plan would work. The unicorns waited quietly for the dragon to swoop down and count them carefully. Finally its roar and the beating of its wings could be heard as it landed on the ground. The dragon slowly and carefully counted each unicorn then growled with satisfaction that they were all there. Just as it was about to fly back to its cave, the dragon spotted Starlight running and jumping out of a group of trees. The dragon did not remember counting this unicorn. The dragon was sure it had not counted incorrectly, it had captured exactly five hundred ninety nine of the unicorns on Elysia, and it needed one more unicorn to have them all. It quickly counted again and found it had been correct the first time. The dragon soon realized this was the last unicorn, the one it had spent many nights searching for. The dragon beat its wings and rose into the air. It flew over to Starlight and reached its talons toward her, Starlight dodged just in time. Starlight turned and fled. Starlight galloped about the meadow with the dragon right behind her. She intended to lead it about until the sun rose so she could see easily and to tire it out. The sun had begun to rise when the dragon landed to count its unicorns and now it sat low in the sky giving off all the light Starlight would need. Starlight turned and headed for the beach where the waves crashed wildly. The dragon was right behind her. When Starlight reached the beach she turned to face the dragon and lowered her head, which put her in a perfect fighting position.

The dragon was more frightening then Starlight had imagined, it was a huge monster as black as night, with huge leather like wings. Starlight tried to hide her fear. She charged straight at the dragon, which startled it and made it move backwards. The dragon angry at his fear of the tiny little unicorn came forward snarling and growling. Starlight was forced to move backwards. Starlight reared up and startled the dragon once again, which moved it back. She walked forward waving her head about moving the dragon back. The dragon would not so easily be forced back and slashed at Starlight, which gave her a painful blow. Starlight was knocked to the ground. Starlight lay unconscious, the dragon leaned over her and flicked its tail in happiness. Its tail was lying in the water and splashed a small wave of water onto Starlight. Starlight opened her eyes and lifted her head, she quickly remembered where she was and leapt to her feat, ready to fight again. The dragon quickly advanced forward and forced Starlight to move back toward the sea. Starlight then realized what the dragon intended to do. It planned to force Starlight as far back into the sea without drowning her as it could, then when she had nowhere else to go it would grab her in its talons and take her back to the meadow. Starlight made a daring jump forward hoping the dragon would move back. Luckily the dragon jumped back just far enough so the unicorn could land. Then it began roaring, growling, and slashing with its humongous talons. Starlight was startled by this sudden outburst and moved back quickly. The dragon continued forcing the unicorn back. Sometimes it would stretch out its neck and nip at the unicorn. The dragon forced Starlight back into the sea until she could feel the cool ocean water washing over her hooves. The dragon forced her further back and the cold water began to make Starlight shiver. As the dragon moved in Starlight realized she might not be able to escape. Then a plan came to her. Starlight stepped back into the sea making the dragon believe she had accepted defeat. The dragon flapped its wings and rose into the air so it could snatch Starlight easily off the ground. Just as the dragon rose high enough Starlight ran underneath the dragon to the dry beach. The dragon was Starlight by her sudden movement and dropped straight back to the earth with a fall that made the land vibrate. Then it whirled about to face Starlight only to find she had taken her battle stance again and was forcing the dragon back into the sea. The dragon could find no weak spot in the unicorn where he could dart in and start to force the unicorn into the sea. The dragon was about to fly into the air and try to swoop down on the unicorn but then realized the unicorn could dart away and take cover in some nearby bushes or trees. The dragon could not lose the last unicorn now, not when it was so close to victory over it. The dragon stayed in the fight growling and slashing its talons trying to scare the unicorn back. Its attacks failed, Starlight knew she had the dragon in a tight spot and was not about to give up. She would not give in to the complete terror that was screaming inside her.

Starlight reared, jumped, neighed, and swished her head slowly forcing the dragon into the sea. The dragon was forced further and further back until it was about to be swept off by the waves, then it opened its wings, stretched them out, and flapped into the air. The dragon had been defeated and would not fight anymore. It took one last look at Starlight, the unicorn that had taken away its victory, then flew off across the meadow taking one last look at its prized unicorns. Starlight watched it disappear over the hills, listening to its loud cries of defeat that rang out and echoed through the land.

Then a strange sparkling dust fell off the other unicorns onto the ground. Immediately Starlight knew the dragons curse had been broken and the unicorns could return to their home on Elysia. The unicorns gathered around Starlight and nuzzled her, danced about her, and talked to her. All of a sudden, the whinnying of unicorns could be heard, then around the corner of a tall hill thousands of unicorns came galloping out, all of them fleecy white, with golden tresses for a mane and tail, and a horn of the purest white. The unicorns galloped over to Starlight and the other unicorns of Elysia and told their story about being kidnapped from their homeland and brought to Elysia by the dragon. They asked if they could stay on the island of Elysia since they could not get home. Their request was quickly granted. All the unicorns now stood silently on the beach watching Starlight.

Starlight's soft sweet voice then rang out, "Let us now return to our home on Elysia, we have been away for a very long time." With Starlight in the lead the unicorns trotted off into the deep forest. This time Starlight fairly flew through the tangle of trees and bushes that had once tried to stop her way. This time, the forest seemed to be guiding her, helping her along. It seemed like only a moment before Starlight and the other unicorns found themselves back in their home on Elysia.

Here on Elysia the unicorns lived peacefully and happily for many years. The unicorns had never been disturbed until now, and hopefully never will be again. The unicorns only wish to live a happy, peaceful life as most animals do. Remember, just because we do not see the unicorns, that does not mean they are not there. The next time someone tells you unicorns do not exist, you do not have to reply, just remember the fleecy white unicorn named Starlight, who had one of them most exciting adventures a unicorn has ever had.