The beast stopped, one foot hovering in the air as it stood staring into the surrounding woods, still as a mountain. Black ears swiveled, listening; nostrils flared, seeking danger; red eyes rolled in their black container, searching. These were the only signs the beast was alive. You could not see him breathe, no muscles quivered beneath short black hair. Finally, the Whatever that had frozen the beast with wariness was gone. The beast was animated once more, stepping purposefully through the thick woods toward some hidden goal.

The colors of the forest would seem fantastical to Man; the beast payed them no heed. Aloof, he trod on faded pink and purple grass, grazing the occassional silver tree with his flank. Grey leaves with light pink veins rustled in the breeze, letting in a bit of the cold blue light. All was a twilight of blue and grey: bright blue sun glancing off silver trees, grass, and leaves. There were but five colors in this wood, all in their lightest shades: blue, pink, purple, silver, and grey (the brilliance of the trees' bark could in no way be compared to the dull pallor of the leaves and grass). Even the shadows were grey and blue. Only the beast did not conform to this standard. Soft black with silver hollows covered his form, blood red eyes glittering like rubies in his skull.

The grass stirred and gave way beneath heavy hooves, then sprang happily back into place. The beast ignored the cheerful blades and walked on, giving cold disregard to the subdued joy around him. The forest seeped contentment from every leaf, tree, and grass blade. It was happy to be alive, happy to be. It did not go well with the beast's disposition.

As another bush pleasantly slipped out of his way, the beast let himself wonder what exactly he was doing here. How had he come to be in this forest? He couldn't remember. Certainly this faerie-world of joy could not be his home... Could it?

His thoughts were put aside as he came to the edge of a small clearing. In the center of this clearing was a pool, reaching almost to the feet of the trees bordering the open space. Branches and leaves were still thick overhead, but just above the middle of the pool there was no clutter of grayish pinkery. Here was one of the few places, perhaps the only place, that afforded a clear view of the sky. The beast looked up at the uninhibited tapestry of blue, mind drifting once more to the question of origin.

He could not have come from this forest, he resolved firmly. Not only was he the only animal here (the quiet stillness of the forest was disturbed only by the sounds of his movement - and he was very quiet - and the playful gusts of wind through trees), but he was different from everything else in the forest, in both color and attitude. There was no night here, only gloomy blue and bright, piercing white-blue. The shadows were only darker shades of grey; no black troubled the hidden places. And there was no anger, no disgust, only joyfullness and contentment. It was overwhelmingly happy, to the point of naseau.

But, then, could he not be a balance? Was it he who kept the wood from collapsing in on itself with joy? With so much light, had there been a need for dark to counter it?

The beast shook his head, long black hair falling over his eyes. He would not think about this now. Walking forward, he bent his long neck to the silver water. He drank steadily, red eyes gazing impassively at the shimmering figure in the water. He finished his drink and looked across the pond, mind a blank slate of thought. Slowly, almost hesitantly - the beast's confidence cast doubt on this conclusion - he put one hoof into the water. Then another. He walked until the water came to his knees. Red eyes glanced about a moment, then he reared and came down with a terrific splash! Silver water exploded, flying into the air like a startled bird. He reared and plunged again, small ears flat to his skull. He lashed about such until sweat dotted his skin and his nostrils flared red with exertion. At last he stopped, standing quite still as he breathed deep the blue air. Water sparkled on him like so many diamonds, casting a soft aura about him. Silver water clung to silver horn, flashing brilliantly in the light of blue sun.

Suddenly, a Noise rustled the bushes. The beast swung his head toward the Noise, muscles tense and quivering, ready to fight or fly at a moment's call.

But the beast had no need to fear; the Noise was already retreating, swiftly following its course out of the woods, having obtained what it came seeking: a glimpse of the Black Guardian of the Forest - Unicorn Spirit, Shadow Incarnate.