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Prose Equus 2: The Fate of All Fools.

Mandroid Sep 1st, 2018 (edited) 177 Never
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  1. >In all your life you had never experienced falling forever, that was normally a sensation you let the pegusi keep to themselves, but the tunnel of violent rainbow light you tumbled through brought you as close to that feeling as you could imagine as you spun end over end and saw so many colors you thought you would go mad.
  2. >The flashing colors cease just as they begin to overwhelm you accompanied by a loud WHUMP and twin lances of pain as you land in a snow covered clearing on your feet. The impact pushes you to one knee lest you fall flat on your face.
  3. “I hope Asgard knows how to fix knees…” you say with a grimace.
  4. >You push the pain from your mind while you push yourself to your feet and check yourself. Your barrowed shield was still attached to your forearm and none of your armor had come undone, what little you still had when you left Valhalla.
  5. >The night sky hangs above you half illuminated by Luna’s ever-present eye on the world below, casting dark shadows from the crystal trees and jagged crags in its path.
  6. >You throw the moon a half smirk and a two-fingered salute and run off into the trees.
  7.  
  8. >Only a few strides into the woods and you felt your past years on Equestria come back to you. Your eyes flit from side to side checking for any local predators who might be interested in a midnight meal and you hunch yourself over to be able to drop as soon as you might need to.
  9. >The icy feeling on your skin drifts into your blood as the familiar surge of adrenaline pumps its way into your brain, letting you feel and hear and smell the forest around you.
  10. >Something odd catches your attention from the corner of your eye, fractured in the reflection of a crystal tree.
  11. >It was you, but different. The bags under your eyes had been pulled up a bit and there was much less grey in your hair, your face was less etched with lines and even some of your old scars had faded away.
  12. “Hah! Death does wonders…” you say, marveling at your added youth for a moment before the cawing of a bird grabs your attention.
  13.  
  14. >You stuff a handful of snow into your mouth and jog towards the direction of the sound, taking a knee behind a crystal fig near the forests edge to observe its source; a single raven sitting perched atop a rock near the base of a small mountain.
  15. >The bird looks in your direction for a solid ten seconds before it caws and takes off up the mountain with a single flap of its wings.
  16. >You found it difficult to take your eyes off the creature and before you could register it, your legs were moving you to the winding path up the side of the mountain.
  17. “What in-!? Alright, alright!”
  18. >You grumble as you resign yourself to climbing the peek, clearly something wanted you at the top.
  19. >The wind bites at your face as your come around to the north end of the peak and meet the historic Crystal Mountain Squalls head on. You raise your shield to your face and push your body forward step by step.
  20. >The hold whatever is pushing you up this path has on you abates for the briefest of moments as you spot a familiar sight. Over the farthest peak you see a crystal spire whose tip touches the sky and sends ripples through the night air, illuminated by the soft glow of the lights of life beneath it.
  21. >That would be the Crystal Palace and the city at the heart of the kingdom.
  22.  
  23. >You stand still on the path and look towards the old familiar place, remembering.
  24. >It did not seem like so many years ago that you had come to this kingdom of Equestria and befriended a small purple horse and her friends. They had helped you piece together some vestige of a life here, lacking the memories to craft one on your own as you did, and you couldn’t help feeling indebted to her.
  25. >You remember the many cold nights you and that purple horse’s brother had spent in the Crystal Kingdom, devising schemes and stratagems to push the vengeful Changeling horde back into the mountains where they could be crushed between you and the Yaks.
  26. >You remember the letter you had sent to them all when you’d sent out before you traveled to that spider’s cave where you died.
  27. >”Do they still think I’m dead?” you wonder. “AM I still dead?”
  28. >The constant motion since your time of death had left little time to consider the situation. Was your body still in that cave? If so, then what was your mind in now? How much time had passed since then? Should you let your old friends know?
  29. >Questions swirl in your head until the caw of the raven perched above you drew your attention.
  30. >You look up into its featureless eyes against the rich blues and blacks of the night sky behind it and chuckle.
  31. “Right. I have a job, and it’s not to think.”
  32. >You walk to the rocky wall of the mountain and grab ahold of the side.
  33. “It’s finding what’s at the top of this peak!”
  34. >You resume your climb.
  35.  
  36. Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnO21JeRbaM
  37. >The peak of the mountain is flat, as if some great force had sliced the natural peak away in times past, but it leaves ample rocks for you to pull yourself up with.
  38. “Not as easy as I remember…but easier than it should be…” you remark, catching your breath.
  39. >You push yourself to your feet as your ears detect the sound of gentle water coming from beyond a copse of crystal trees. The raven that guided you hear is nowhere in sight.
  40. >Swallowing your trepidation, you enter the small forest and keep your eyes open.
  41. >Another sound finds its way to your perception, the soft caress of music upon your ears. It was a language you couldn’t decipher, but it had an almost hypnotic quality to it.
  42. >Almost.
  43. >You press on to the center of the forest, beholding a small lake of water both as clear and as still as the crystal around you. In its center rests a foggy figure coalescing around a worn deer skull, its mouth open and letting the ethereal hum out onto the land.
  44. >It turns its green pupils towards you and sends a chill up your spine.
  45. >You raise your shield and drop to a low stance, it laughs with the blowing wind. “You have come…to my lake?” it asks.
  46. “I come to a lake, demon. There is a blade here that I would have as my own, and a beast here that I would slay. If you point me towards one, I’ll promise to make the other as quick as possible.”
  47. >Her chilly laughter rings among the trees. “You are mistaken…I am no beast.”
  48. “You could have fooled me.”
  49. >”I already have.” She says.
  50. >You hear the snapping of a twig to your right and wheel around just in time to get smacked with a tree.
  51.  
  52. >You roll end over end as you have many times before until you jam your shields edge into the ground, anchoring and righting you enough to let you see what the hell just hit you.
  53. >It’s verdant eyes watch you like will-o-whips among the shadows of the trees as it skulks in the shadows on limbs of wood, waiting for the slightest opening to attack.
  54. >You hold your shield in front of you and mirror its footwork. You’d killed Timber Wolves before, but never unarmed.
  55. >But that didn’t mean you didn’t have a plan.
  56. >As you position yourself, the spirit in the lake watches you from her relaxed position. “These guardians found their way to me after I called this place my home. Prove to me you may be a better guardian, and perhaps a prize shall I bequeath.”
  57. “I’m afraid I’ve already been scouted by another supernatural entity for something.” You say, keeping the wolf in your sights as it gets to the other side of the lake.
  58. >With your foot, you ply the ground beneath the snow with your foot searching for exactly what you would need.
  59. “So while I’m afraid I can’t guard your lake for you, I’ll be more than happy to kill your mutt and take your sword!”
  60. >The wolf opposite you howls and breaks from the trees. You had misjudged it in the shadows, but you can make it out clearly as it sails through the air and crosses the lake in a single bound. It was just a big bigger than your old cottage.
  61. >Great.
  62. >You spot it raising its paw in the air as it comes down and roll to the right, dodging its initial bite and deflecting its swipe of the claw off your shield.
  63. >No opening could be wasted here, so you throw a punch at the wolf. It’s wide, as you’d intended, which means the hard iron of your shield strikes the beasts shoulder and takes a chunk of it off.
  64. >The beast howls in pain and turns its head to you, just as your foot knocks against what you needed under the snow.
  65.  
  66. “Paydirt.”
  67. >You thrust your shield flat end out and smack the timber wolf in the face, buckling more wood under your muscles as the initial strike you made begins to reform through natural magics.
  68. >The moment your shield slam bought you is all you need to throw your hand into the snow and take hold of the fist sized rock by your foot.
  69. >You dive to your right as the wolf snaps its broken snout at you, it manages to just brush your foot as you get underneath its belly.
  70. >The Timber Wolf barks a challenge at a foe he can’t see, but he soon feels. You hold your shield above your head and thrust it upward as hard as you can, into the rich oak skin of the monster.
  71. >Metal strikes wood again and again while the wolf howls and shakes in pain until a head sized gash is caved into its skin, with a final mighty push you embed your shield into the wolfs body where the magics within it begin growing over your arm.
  72. >”Oh dear…” you hear the spirit say.
  73. >You can only laugh inside, she hadn’t caught on.
  74. >You decide to clue her in just a bit.
  75. “Just what I was waiting for!” you scream.
  76.  
  77. >You bring the rock in your hand up to the metal binding of the shields edge and scrape it along the side. Nothing happens, but you continue to drag the rock again and again in the same direction, up into the wolfs gut, as fast as your arm will let you.
  78. >The Crystal Kingdom and the roof of the world beyond it were harsh and bitter places, you’d learned in your time here. However, most were incorrect in assuming that it snowed year-round.
  79. >In truth, you rarely saw fresh snow in the Crystal Kingdom, almost all of it was just blown in from the mountains by the harsh winds.
  80. >The Crystal Kingdom was, in reality, a very dry climate.
  81. >Which means that the skin of this timber wolf was more than likely pretty parched.
  82. >You continue to strike the shield’s edge until the stone in your hand cuts into your flesh and sharpens to a razor point, producing a handful of sparks that fly up and take hold on the wolf’s bark skin.
  83. “Yes!”
  84.  
  85. >You blow as gently as you can on the embers within the wolf, stoking them into a flame that gnaws at it as it grows.
  86. >The wolf senses its weakness and forgets all about you, scraping at the ground and jumping around to try and free you from it so it can try to save itself.
  87. >It succeeds in tearing your shield from its body, and almost tears your arm from yours, but the flames feed on the dry wood and begin to consume it.
  88. >You had done all you needed to and roll back to your feet as the wolf runs through the trees in a panic, crashing into them to smother the flame.
  89. >A smirk crosses your face as you look to the lake spirit.
  90. “You looked cold up here! I hope this helps.”
  91. >The lake spirit wordlessly watches as her guardian crashes clean through a crystal tree and plunges itself into the lake beneath her to save itself, darkening it with wood flakes that its death spiral cleaves from its body.
  92. >You smirk again and walk to the edge of the shore, tired and a bit bruised, but that was nothing at your age.
  93. “That’s a shame, I worked hard on that fire.”
  94.  
  95. >She doesn’t turn her head, just like Sleipnir didn’t, and looks at you with one emerald eye. “Indeed…never have I seen a mortal kill a Timber Wolf…even less with a rock.”
  96. >You give her a thumb up.
  97. >”But it’s not dead, is it?”
  98. >It all happens in the span of two heartbeats.
  99. >Within the first, the remains of the Timber Wolf explode out of the lake and towers over you. It’s wooden fangs and claws descend on you from above while water flows like blood through the charred carcass of its torso and catches a sharp green light from inside.
  100. >Within the second, your hand clutches tight the sharpened rock within it and moves upward, jabbing forward with the focused precision decades of combat had honed in you and piercing the brittle shell of its rib cage, along with something soft inside.
  101. >The wolf freezes in place and its eyes go dark, then it falls to your side with the crash of a redwood and just as still.
  102. >You shake free the splinters in your armor and look back to the spirit.
  103. “Check again.”
  104.  
  105. >”How-“ the spirit begins.
  106. “I had friends in a town to the south of here, one bookish and learned and the other experienced from a life on a farm. From them I learned of the sap heart that exists in every Timber Wolf.”
  107. >You can see the lake spirit’s jaw clench as she floats her way over to you.
  108. “If you break that, you break the wolf. Simple.”
  109. >”Clever clever creature…” the spirit says.
  110. >You put your hands on your hips.
  111. “Flattery won’t get you out of my prize, I was promised a sword.”
  112. >The orbs of emerald fire that serve as her eyes shrink a bit in what you guess is anger. “Indeed…”. From a space behind her you didn’t see, the spirit retrieves a jagged block of ice encased around a longsword. The ice distorts, your vision but you can clearly see the smoothness of the steel and the leather grip. The guard of the blade was curved inward and the pommel the head of a ram.
  113. >You let yourself have a moment of pride as your right hand reach out to claim it. But that never happens.
  114. >What happens instead is the thin leather strap Sleipnir had placed upon you shoots out from your wrist with the snap of a whip and ensnares the hoof of the lake spirit as if she were corporeal.
  115. >”What trickery-!”
  116. “Damn!”
  117. >The sword clatters to the ground as the two of you struggle with the binding. “What is this, you-you-whatever you are!?” she cries.
  118. “How should I know?! I just wanted the sword!”
  119.  
  120. >The binding doesn’t give you even the width of an ants’ leg no matter how hard the two of you pull on it. To make matters worse, you hear something over your shoulder and look to the woods.
  121. >More yellow eyes, the same as the timber wolf you slew.
  122. “…Spirit, what is this.”
  123. >”Well I wasn’t about to just let someone walk away with a blade I worked so hard to steal…” she answers.
  124. “You dishonorable-!”
  125. >”It was MINE!” she whines.
  126. >The wolves break from the treeline and dash to you. There was no way you could beat them all with just a shield and a bound arm, but you’d take down one or two before they killed you.
  127. “Well now you get to die for it!”
  128. >”Back! Back I command you!” shouts the spirit as the wolves close in.
  129. >In your last moments of life in the past day, you see a single star twinkle brighter than the others, and it unleashes the wrath of a God upon the mountain peak.
  130.  
  131. Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIBV85TInzs
  132. >A beam of white fury from the cosmos strikes the first wolf and reduces it to its composite atoms in its wake, slowly dragging across the snow like a painter’s brush and obliterating everything in its path. For the briefest flash, you see fear within the wolf’s eye before it disintegrates. The remaining wolves remaining intelligent enough flee, but only after their pack became one with the wind.
  133. >The mountain beneath your feat shakes as the ray of light descends from the whirling clouds above. Crystalline trees hundreds of years old shatter to dust as the vibration of the mountain and the sound of the heavens wrath resonates through the valley.
  134. >Shining Armor and Princess Cadence awake from their slumber and look out the window with mouths agape, each frantically trying to peace together what in Equestria could warrant such a thorough annihilation. You almost laugh at the idea of telling them its just some Timber Wolves.
  135. >The ray of almighty light traces itself along the mountain peak, systematically and coldly making its way to the hiding spot of every wolf that attempts to flee and carving perfectly smooth gouges into the mountain that quickly begin to drain the lake you stood at the shore of.
  136. >You relax in pure awe watching the display from above.
  137. “…Luna?”
  138. >”No…” the spirit says, her voice trembling. “This is He-“
  139. >The spirit gets cut off as the apocalyptic light ceases like a faucet one had simply turned off, replaced by a tunnel of rainbow that engulfs the two of you and whisks you away.
  140.  
  141.  >The tunnel pulls you faster than it threw you, and in a flash, you find yourself airborne above the well in the center of the Asgardian keep you departed from, suspended in momentary zero gravity. Your trained eyes and mind make note of the Spirit beside you, your limbs still bound. Heimdall watches you from one end of the well with a scowl on his face, on the other stands the God Queen Sleipni-
  142. >Why did She look so angry?
  143. >Both you and the spirit are encased in a silvery-blue glow before you’re torn apart. You are flung gently but firmly onto the ground next to Heimdall while the Spirit is flung over Sleipnir’s shoulder towards the door. The All-Mother turns and casually walks towards the spirit with a double-timed clip clop clip clop.
  144. >”You-“ The spirit starts.
  145. >”Silence.” Sleipnir finishes. With a flash of her eye, the spirits form breaks like glass struck with a stone and turns to a small green pelted pony with a ridiculous helmet on.
  146.  
  147. “What in the Hel-!”
  148. >”You used the Gleipnir on your own daughter!?”
  149. >”Aye.” Sleipnir answers.
  150. “Daughter?!”
  151. >”Princess Loki.” Heimdall says beside you with contained anger. “Youngest of the Queen’s family and last in line for the throne of Asgard.”
  152. >You remember the tales and legends Twilight Sparkle had told you in your time on Equestria.
  153. “I thought Loki was a male!?”
  154. >”She likes to go between.”
  155. >That explains the fact that she was a spirit two minutes ago.
  156. ”What was that light!? What happened to “Do not draw attention!”?”
  157. >”That rule was for you, not me.” Sleipnir says, once again without looking at you.
  158. >”The light you saw was Our Lady’s magic.” Heimdall answers. “She is one with Yggdrassil, the World Tree, and so through her does its power flow like sap through an oak. What you saw tonight? Well, that was a bit of show for our wayward princess, I would think.”
  159. >You blink twice.
  160. “What is Gleipnir.”
  161. >Heimdall answers again. “A binding, made of many things. The sound of a cats footfall, beard of a woman, roots of a mountain, sinews of a bear, breath of a fish, and spittle of a bird.”
  162. “None of those things are possible.”
  163. >”Because we used all of them to make the chain.”
  164. >You blink twice, Loki informs you more as she gets to her hooves. “It has only been used to bind the Dread Wolf in the past…” she says through clenched teeth.
  165. >”Aye.” Sleipnir says.
  166. >The Queen lowers her face and looks her daughter in the eye. “But today we used it to capture a bitch.”
  167. >You grimace, Loki looks offended, Heimdall cracks a smile.
  168.  
  169. >”Mother I-! How dar-!”
  170. >”How many?” Sleipnir interrupts. Perhaps that was not the right word, perhaps it was simply always Sleipnir’s turn to speak. She keeps her head low and stars through Loki, trotting towards her slowly in a way that reminded you of the wolves who just died. “How many lives did you plan to ruin and end with your little scheme?
  171. >Loki looks up at her mother, looking strong, but you see her ankles shake ever so slightly. “If any mortal foolish enough to walk into so obvious a trap wishes to throw away their lives, I say let them.”
  172. >Sleipnir doesn’t move, Loki does. The princess is flung back over the rainbow well so quickly that her helmet falls off. The Queen keeps her floating there without looking.
  173. >”Perhaps little godlings so foolish to pervert their purpose ought to suffer the fate of their sister, and can face the judgement of the mortals they look down on so.”
  174. >Heimdall chuckles again as Loki screams in fright during a momentary freefall before she’s stopped inches beyond the well’s event horizon.
  175. >”Allow me to be clear, DAUGHTER-“ Sleinpir begins with checked rage.
  176. >But she doesn’t get farther.
  177. “Hey.”
  178. >You take four steps forward and look at the All-Mother from the side of the well.
  179. “Put her down.”
  180.  
  181. >Sleipnir actually turns her head to look at you this time, her pupils shrink and look like the star that obliterated those wolves. Still, you can’t let yourself back down.
  182. >”You would DARE speak over-“
  183. “Put her down. Right now.” You repeat.
  184. >Sleipnir’s eye seems to bore into you. “My daughter had all intention of causing harm to our flock, she is to be PUNISHED for it.”
  185. “Maybe she intended that, but it didn’t happen, I stopped her.”
  186. >Sleipnir doesn’t speak, but her eye glances to Loki, then back to you.
  187. “The only one at risk was me, and I’m fine. Put her down.”
  188. >”You would let her FREE?” Sleipnir demands.
  189. “Of course not, but harm has not been caused, All-Mother! I don’t see a criminal here, just a fool child who made the mistake of seeing where she fits into the world in the wrong way!”
  190. >The keep, clear of warriors, hangs in a heavy silence.
  191. “She will learn that fire is hot just the same as everyone else does but punish her in accordance with the damage done. She shouldn’t lose her limb if the only one at risk was herself.”
  192. >Sleipnir’s eyelid narrows and she locks eyes with you for what feels like your entire life. You feel a presence at the boarders of your heart, attempting to reach in. You try to resist only to find will undone in but a single moment. As the feeling of vertigo passes, Loki is whisked in front of her Mother’s face by a magical grasp she could never hope to break. “You are grounded. Confined to your chambers until I decide you may leave them. There will be no lessons from Amoran or your father during this time.”
  193. >”That’s not fai-“ Loki begins before being squeezed and making a sound like a duck’s quack. “Yes Mother.” She gets out.
  194. >Sleipnir drops the Princess to the floor and turns on her heels, walking to the doors that get flung open by gale force winds. “Show No-Name to an empty room and then go to yours. Do not let me catch you dallying.” She says.
  195. >”In the palace?” Loki asks.
  196. >”I would keep my eye on him.” Is the last thing Sleipnir says before she continues along the bridge.
  197.  
  198. >You look down at your feet and spot the sword you had won, the ice keeping it shattered by your arrival.
  199. “Hey, what about-“
  200. >”Keep it.” You hear.
  201. >Heimdall returns to his post behind you with a small smile on his face. “It is not wise to bother the Queen now after her quarrel. Keep the blade, it is yours by right for defeating this ones challenge.” He nods his head to Loki.
  202. >Heimdall chuckles sincerely. “Defeating a Timber Alpha with naught but a rock and some fire…even I have never seen that before.”
  203. >With that his eyes return to the swirling pool of colors and his face falls to a neutral one.
  204. >”And there he goes…uhg.” Loki says beside you. “Come, No-Name. Pick up your trinket and come with me, let’s make haste before I’m killed, hm?”
  205. >Loki walks away from you and retrieves her helmet along the way, slipping it onto her head and continuing down the same path to the palace her Mother took, albeit some distance back.
  206. >You nod and grab your sword, taking your place behind the shadow of the Littlest Diety.
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