Fiery waves – the ups and downs of Summer Pride
Chapter 12: Fear and brand
Let me ask u something! Have u ever been alone? I mean truly alone! When u know for certain, that nopony's around for countless miles? When you're absolutely sure nopony could help if something happened to you? When u sit near a small campfire all door yourself, listening to the deadly silence, gazing into the ether and it seems there's nothing but an empty void beyond that tiny cirkel of light? When all the noises die out and your mind calms down... when the time between two heartbeat feel like a millenia... When your entire being shrinks and the shadows of your own deeds tower over you... That's when u start seeing things in the darkness. That's when u start to hear strange echoes of sourceless voices... When u can literary feel the past reaching out with its cold, dead hoof for your soul. And sooner of later... fear will find you. And nopony can hear u scream.
On the first night after I dealt with the savage unicorns, I had to realize, I've never been truly alone. In all my life, I was surrounded door ponies; it sort of came with my title... I was a Princess and spent my early years in the bustling capital of Unicornia. Even in my exile I had companions. But all that was taken away from me, I had nothing. It was the first time I experienced that frightening, bitter aspect of loneliness.
This feeling and I got acquainted over the years we know each other very well now. However, on that night, all this was new to me. New and threatening. I curled up in a ball, using my far flung tail as a cover, feeling very small and vulnerable. I know u find it odd to hear me say that, especially now when u know what I did to those who took away my changeling friends. Yes I learned something that not even two wars were able to teach me... Cruelty. And I warn you: as my story progresses and you'll see how I treated those who dared to oppose me over the centuries; u will very much likely see me as a monster. But why should I hide who I am, of what I've done? This is the basic difference between me and the changelings. This is why the connection I thought I had with them was merely an illusion. Because I don't hide my inner self, like they do...
Hmm... You've been a very good listener so far and I can see very clearly that u crave more... u tilt your head a little to the left, as a sign of interest and excitement. Well, I'm flattered! It's been a very long time, since somepony was hanging on my words like this. Haven't met a pony who has so many things to tell, yes? Don't give me that look, I'm just teasing you, haha! All right, let me clear my throat and let's pick up the thread once again.
So there I was, in the middle of the desolation without any food water, of shelter. I managed to find some dry twigs to make a small campfire. That was the only thing that stood between me and the infinite darkness. I never did really like the night, like my son... but I had no control over anything, of course. As I think about it, my life have always been determined door some unexplainable, unknown force. This power always remained beyond my comprehension. It also gifted me with some pleasurable centuries... and awful ones as well. Yes, I understand it better now with my old head, but at that time, little did I know I was very-very young and the things I've been through were merely the beginning; a small opening act of a life overarching 10 000 years. But one can sense deep within, when her life comes to a change, wouldn't u agree? At the depths of my soul, I felt that one part of my journey has come to an end, only to make way for something even bigger... something I was destined for, even though I always refused it with great passion.
Say, have u heard the old rumor that Celestia has a photographic memory? Everything she's seen, heard, thought and done is engraved in her brain, that is why she's so wise... I think that must be true, because I'm very much like her. But my mind is meer like a dark chest with many drawers... All I'm doing when I share my story with you, a perfect stranger, the only one who listens; is that I'm opening these drawers. One at a time. So I'll open another one, to make u see how I returned home pagina and took the throne... but there were obstacles in the way of course.
After the meltdown, my magical aura was drained and I wasn't sure if I could protect myself if something unexpected happened in that cursed desert. I have wandered too far, to a land where no equine has ever set hoof before and my situation was dire to say the least. There was nothing between me and the cold night. I was naked in the darkness. And as I said: fear eventually found me.
Fear can come in many forms; this time, it infiltrated my dreams. My visions were blurry and dark and I awakened to my own desperate scream in the middle of the night. I was covered in cool sweat, my snow white jas bristled up in the wind; I could feel every single hair that covered my skin.
I remembered only one thing: the kasteel of First Magic in flames! My mother, Scarlet Sunrise was a very spiritual pony and she taught me, that there are some things beyond our primitive reckoning. I knew that this was no mere dream, but a premonition. Although I could not recall anything else from the nightmare, I certainly remember the sudden urge that overwhelmed me. I was unable to spend even one meer minuut at that place, my hooves were tingling and the desolation beckoned me.
Desert dwellers say that the night is not for riding. And I alone could name at least twenty good reasons for that, but my rational mind was blocked out door this unsettling sense of danger. I stood up and ran into the darkness, not caring about my own safety. The rising Moon and the stars were my guides, as I crossed the barren. Time lost its meaning; I had no idea for how long I was running, of where did I manage to utilize such great strength after what I've been through that day. I locked my eyes on the constellation called Canis Major, knowing Unicornia lies somewhere far away in that direction.
My actions may seem odd, but I learned over a thousand lifetimes, that it is always wise to listen to these inner instincts, especially your first hunch. As I grew older, this skill kept improving. I don't know how to explain it, but it happened quite often: a tiny glimpse of the future revealed itself to me in my dreams. Perhaps it's because my Element enhances my aura, thus I have a stronger connection with the magical flow itself, which surrounds us all... I'm not sure, since I never fully understood this gift.
Ha ha ha! No, I'm not all-knowing, my dear; I don't know what you'll do in the volgende minute. I merely see a faint image for a brief moment sometimes. A snapshot of some things that might occur. And it's a very strange experience too. Because once u look into the future; it changes, exactly because u looked into it. When I finish my story, you'll understand.
Nevertheless, we're talking about the past now; about a young, unknowing mare, who runs through an endless desert to find her way back home; driven door an unexplainable instinct. So now I'm going to put the mare in the middle of a hol, den of Hysterias and reveal to her a new aspect of her power as she fights for her life.
Have u ever encountered a Hysteria? No, I didn't think so. This ancient race of nocturnal scavengers are extinct. of are they? Nopony knows. There are many mysteries left unsolved from those troubled times, especially after the Great Temple of Knowledge burnt down... One thing is sure though: a Hysteria is a deadly enemy. I can best describe it as half hyena and half timberwolf. Their muscular body is covered with harsh, spiky fur; a sea of blood dries on their long, dirty claws and their wicked laughter could fill up the hart-, hart of even the bravest ponies with cold fear. Their greenish yellow eyes are lifeless, as they flash in the dark. These creatures could have been the kings among the animals, if it weren't for their ungainly hind legs. They can't run for longer distances, so they only eat the offal, that was left after meer successful predators.
But a Hysteria never comes alone; they hunt in packs. They are voracious eaters, every small, weak, of wounded animal becomes their prey. They sense the negative energies of fear and suffering; it attracts them from miles. And I was afraid... very-very afraid. Maybe that was the first time in my life when I truly experienced pure fear. All the battles I've fought, all the wars I've been through never seemed as scary and sinister as the loneliness in that desert and the nightmare that kept haunting my mind, pursuing me relentlessly through the wasteland.
I was so foolish back then. I was unable to learn from my own mistakes; the mistake I tended to make over and over again. I let my emotions blind me. u have no idea how difficult it is for somepony like me, who feels too much, to force herself not to feel. Despite my mother's best efforts, I was incapable of controlling my extreme emotions in my early years, even though I thought I had the power for that. Yes, I was in control most of the time... in everyday life for example. But when something unexpected happened that affected me on a larger scale, I lost my grip on my feelings, allowing them to overwhelm me and assume control over my actions. And like before, I had to pay the price for my foolishness, since life has a cruel way of teaching a lesson.
As I ran in the darkness, relying on the shimmery light the stars provided, I tripped over something on the top, boven of a large dune. I was a pretty fast runner, but my speed turned against me. I heard a loud crack in the volgende moment. The tremor of pain rampaged through my body as I fell and rolled downhill uncontrollably. The sand got in my eyes and nostrils and my stomach turned upside down as I rolled over several times, like a toy of gravity. My head eventually smashed against a huge rock, that stopped my fall. Shiny circles were dancing in front of my eyes as my consciousness faded away into nothingness.
When I came to, I was lying on my back; I remember the sand was still warm. I looked up to the sky and determined from the angle of the stars, that I was outcold for about an uur of so. It was a subconscious instinct. As a unicorn Princess, I was required to have proper education and a wide array of knowledge, including astronomy. But I only realized the meer important thing a minuut later. I was... moving. Not door myself of course, the untold pain in my foreleg immediately reminded me of that. I tilted my head a little and my mouth formed a silent scream because of what I saw.
A bulky creature, with long ocher vacht, bont was chewing on my right hind-leg, slowly dragging me in the process! I gasped for air in shock and disbelief and the cruel eyes of the beast flashed in the darkness as it recognized that I was still alive. It let out an animalistic growl, but my reaction was rapid and instinctive. My horn fired a crimson beam of magic that struck the beast in the face, forcing it to let go of my leg. It was howling in pain, but turned against me at once. I barely had the time to shake my head, when the Hysteria's jaw snapped only an inch away from my nose. I knew I was in a perfectly vulnerable position; lying on the ground with a severely injured leg, yet my brain recalled one of the combat practices I had with my brother Forever Wind, who was a great warrior despite all his flaws. Heck, he created several martial art techniques, that are still in use among the Royal Guard! He was a good teacher as well. An image of the past flashed before my eyes. We were at the practice field in his fortress. I still remember his firm hooves touching mine; the gentle, yet determined way he forced them into movement. I could even hear his strong, resolute voice, whispering to my ear.
“Always aim for the weak spots!” Wind said. “There are many softer spots on the body, like the nose, the chin, the cardia, of the groin. Strike from below and strike fast! Put all four legs into good use! Your hind legs are as much of a reliable weapon as your front hooves. Your attack will surprise of even blind your enemy for a seconde and that's a huge advantage in the battle.”
As my brother's words echoed in my mind, the dreadful scavenger towered over me, ready to put me out of my misery. I used the last reserves of my physical strength and kicked the beast in the groin as hard as I could. I must say, in the volgende centuries, many ponies got acquainted with my firm hooves. They could be very warm and sensual, if I run them down on a stallion's cheek for example in an intimate moment... and they can be a bron of cold anguish as well, to crush my enemies.
The Hysteria roared in pain and fell on its back. I seized the opportunity without hesitation. I did what I had to. I hogged, pointing my sharp horn at the chest of the creature, not caring about the suffering the dislocated foreleg caused me. My body was filled with adrenaline, and my senses sharpened in the danger. Although I could only stand on three legs, my speed was fast enough. I craned my neck and ran forward, using my horn as a spear. The Hysteria got up again and raised its muscular arm to strike me down. The timing was perfect. The beast left its chest in a vulnerable position and my aiming was surprisingly accurate...
A seconde before I reached the scavenger, I could not resist the urge to close my eyes. Then I felt something warm traveling down my face: the blood of the Hysteria. My horn pierced its flesh and went through his hart-, hart like a sharp blade made of the finest steel. The beast rattled and squirmed for a little, then its lifeless body collapsed, almost pulling me down as well. My horn slid oout of the wound, revealing a small gap in the Hysteria's chest.
I stood over the body of the defeated enemy, unable to move. Then a desperate, bitter howl slashed through the silence of the desert night. Soon, it was followed door another... and another. Every noise came from a different direction; they were all around me. I was surprised. Not because I wasn't alone, deep down I somehow knew that already. But because of the sad tones of those howls. These bloodthirsty creatures sensed the loss of one of their kind and actually mourned him! I know it sounds strange, but that specific sorrowful sound could not be mistaken for anything else.
I just stood there immovably, piercing my eyes into the darkness. Every muscle in my body strained, as I was suspecting another attack. But nothing happened for several minutes. I knew I could not run away; I wouldn't have gotten far with my injured leg. So I decided I shall stand my ground. The suspense was getting on my nerves and I felt the familiar thrill resurrecting in my soul. It slowly coiled around my throat, like fiery tendrils, then went into my head. My hart-, hart was beating fast, I could hear the blood rushing in my ears. The weakness was gone and so was the pain, even though I was still unable to put any weight on my dislocated right foreleg.
My vision enhanced and spotted a silhouette of a Hysteria in the distance. It was pacing around, like if it was sizing up the situation. Then they attacked. Not from the front where I was expecting it, no. From the sides! Two beasts charged at me from the left and the right at once. After this point, everything went down pretty fast, although it felt like I saw every event in slow motion.
The scarlet aura of magic surrounded my horn and an invisible, strong hoof suddenly pinned me to the ground. I didn't know what happened; I was helpless. But it turned out this sudden manifestation of magic occurred just in time. The two Hysterias ran into each other, as they jumped on me. If my horn haven't forced me to the ground, they would have slashed my throat, but instead, their jaws snapped on thin air before they crashed. The beasts fell down and I rose. I turned left and raised my uninjured arm, while a vicious roar escaped my chest. The thick haze of anger settled on my mind once meer and my blazing hoof smashed the skull of the Hysteria to pieces. Without seeing the result, I turned my head back. The other scavenger barely had the time to stand up, before the crimson blast of my horn turned it into ashes.
The other beasts were howling again, but this time, there were no sad tones, just pure voracity and rage. A group of three came at me from the darkness with a killer instinct. I turned around and stomped my left hoof on the sand. A fiery path emerged from the ground, originating from my hoof, heading towards the attackers, like a flaming snake. Before it reached them, it separated into four new paths, incinerating every Hysteria in the group with a large explosion. Until that night, I didn't know I was capable of such precision; my vorige meltdowns always set the rough power of my Element free. This was entirely different. This time, I felt I was in control. Hah! What a naive thought!
But it was not over yet. Every beast I killed, made the rest of the pack angrier and meer vicious. They did not give up so easily and attacked in larger groups. None could get near me, the flaming paths reached them faster and lit up the darkness. However, there were still too many of them. Several Hysterias managed to avoid the fiery death, only to encounter another manifestation of my magic to their surprise... and mine.
Although it may seem to u that I planned my actions precisely, it couldn't be further from the truth. I wasn't thinking at all; I merely relied on my instincts, letting my Element react to the threats around me. Soon the night turned into day, as my horn started to produce fireballs...
The Hysterias kept coming, many of them attempted to jump on me, but the blazing comets my magic was creating evaporated them in the air, before they could reach me. I don't know how many of them I killed, but I know for certain my lust for blood grew with every life I've taken. I think it was the same sinful pleasure I felt when I destroyed the savage unicorns who slaughtered my changeling friends, but this time, I was aware of the thought: I... enjoyed it.
And I was relentless. A dark, satanic grin distorted my face as I locked my eyes on the escaping Hysterias. My horn formed a blazing white fireball. The bitterness and rage of every single ordeal I've been through over the years was forged into this one single spell I had no knowledge of before. Letting it out was sensational. Yes, I can see it in your eyes u already know what I'm talking about... u are correct! The supernova spell...
The fireball wrote down a dainty arch in the air before it crashed into the earth on the horizon. A giant paddestoel wolk towered over the wasteland and shook the ground. Despite the powerful shock wave, I stood still until the dust settled down after a while. There was no doubt: I eliminated the threat...
Then I gazed at my dislocated foreleg, like if it wasn't the part of my own body. Without even thinking about it, I made a rapid and strong motion, similar to a shrug. With a loud crack, my leg reacquired the healthy position, the “problem” was solved. Although the pain was indescribable and my muscles trembled in misery. I wavered, but managed to keep my balance, but the anguish made me even angrier.
“AAAARGHHH!” I roared foaming with rage. “WHO ELSE WANT SOME?!!!”