Bright Light stood off to one side, leaning against the wall as she observed the grieving family surrounding the bed. She wanted nothing more to comfort her sister and to be there for her, but that was for Needle Wings to do now. She felt like an intruder on the family sadness. She was gripped by the urge to leave the room, but she was also rivited to the spot by her love for them. In the end, her awkwardness won out and she silently opened the door with magic to slip away. In the hallway, she sat down on a bench, wrapping her hooves around herself for comfort as she observed the many nurses and doctors trot through the hallways on seemingly important errands. How can they bear to work here in this place so full of pain and death? She wondered to herself as she watched them pass by.
"Well my dear, that is a simple answer." A soft voice sounded out next to her. She jumped when she realized that she had spoken that thought aloud. The nurse sitting down on the bench sighed and rubbed at her eyes. "I take it you know the ponies in this room here?" She indicated Phoenix's room with a hoof. When Bright nodded, she got up and looked inside the room, curious as to who was actually inside. The nurse returned to the bench with a sad smile on her face. "Us hospital ponies share one reason as to why we work here." A small tear leaked out of the nurses eye. "We work here so that ponies like them," she pointed to the door with her hoof, letting it fall back down to her side afterwards, "bear less of the burden of a loved one that is dying. We give them the hope that they need to keep going, and then if need be the comfort to continue life after the patient passes." She watched a family walk by with a small pegasus in a wheelchair, rolling towards the exit. "We work here to see those smiles, but we also work here to bear part of the pain that the families feel. Does that make any sense?"
Bright nodded her head, and the nurse stood up and stretched. The nurse's voice dropped to a whisper, and Bright had to strain to hear. "Carico di una parte del dolore e rendono meno per gli altri." She patted one of Bright's hooves in farewell and continued down the hallway.
Bright looked down at her hoof where the nurse had touched her, deep in thought. Bear part of the pain and make it less for others... She stood slowly and opened the door with her magic to walk inside. She drew Cherish to her, embracing her sister with her hooves wrapped tightly around her. While she felt the pain of sadness settling in her heart, she felt something else emerge as well; a feeling of purpose.
He groaned as the teacher shook his head at the work on the board again. Phoenix picked up the dusty eraser with his magic and wiped the dust from the blackboard. Picking up the peice of chalk which was noticeably much smaller than when he had started, he set about working the problem again. After a few minutes, he stepped back from the board, his new answer scribbled in the white dust. The teacher looked over the problem for a few moment, and then turned to look out of the window. His head low, Phoenix picked up the eraser again and huffed another sigh.
"It is correct. You may go now." The teacher's barking voice made him jump in fright. He set the eraser back down and turned to leave. He felt a hoof touch his shoulder and looked into the teacher's smiling face. He almost recoiled from the teacher's smile, the cold smirk not reaching his eyes. "Be careful going home now." Phoenix nodded and walked through the now-empty and dark hallways of the building. It took all his willpower to not gallop away in fright. Each shadow held another imagined monster that wasn't there. He finally exited the building and let out a breath he hadn't known he had been holding.
The town was aglow with a half-light, the sun was making its way down one side of the horizon and the moon was climbing up to take its place among the stars. He hesitated momentarily before stepping down the school's front steps and onto the cobblestone streets. His slow steps echoed back at him from the buildings, making it sound as if there were hundreds of Phoenix's walking down the street. Suddenly a bright green light flared from behind him, striking the lamp post that was next to him and sending it crashing to the ground.
Blinded, he stumbled backward away from the crashing noise and into a hard object behind him. He leapt forward and galloped away, panting with absolute terror. Another flash of green light wrapped across his legs and pulled him to the ground. He started to scream as blobs of the shadows seemed to move towards him and another flash of green light slashed across his face to silence him. Tears dropped from his eyes as he watched the dark figures approach, and whimpers still escaped his throat. Green fire leapt out from the darkness, encircling him and holding him to the ground. He struggled against the bonds, but could do nothing but whimper as they tightened on his body.
The black figures all stepped into the eerie circle of light cast by the fire. Relief was the first emotion to replace fear, and then confusion replaced that. All of the ponies who had harrassed him that day were standing in the green light with grins on their faces, leering at him on the ground. His teacher was standing the closest to him, and he kicked a small amount of dirt into Phoenix's face. Their smiles were ice-cold and their eyes were like chips of green ice. He shivered in his position, barely able to move or even breathe. Shock shot through his mind as he watched them be engulfed by green flames. He tried to scream, but could only manage to make a tiny sound that nopony heard. The fire dissapated, and in the places of the ponies were six things that looked similar to his father, but with evil and hard faces. The former teacher pulled his head up with a hoof, not caring if the jagged edges cut at Phoenix's chin. After a moment of searching his eyes, the leader dropped Phoenix's head to the street and turned away.
"This is him. Remember our orders; keep him alive." With that, he jumped into the sky and vanished with a a flash of green.
The night seemed to darken as the remaining creatures moved closer to him, chuckling darkly as they reached for him with their hooves. That was when the pain started. His screams died against the gag of scalding fire as they worked. His entire body convulsed with the torture they were enacting on it and his eyes leaked tears onto the ground to mix with his blood. Suddenly the sharp stabs of pain stopped, and his body fell limp to the ground. The group of monsters talked amongst themselves for a moment, but only a few words made it through the haze of pain that shrouded Phoenix's body. Fire. Torch. Kill? What are they....talking about?
He felt himself being lifted into the air again. He floated there like a rag-doll, tossed this way and that with his head flopping limply side to side. The biggest one of the group leered into his face and lit his horn with fire. "Let's see how well you burn eh?" Pain lanced through his side and quickly spread away from the wound. He looked down at where the pain originated from. Green fire was licking up his body, the flames sputtering and flickering. He realized that he could move again, and he galloped blindly away from the laughing monsters. There! He dove into the lake, extinguishing the flames. Water rushed around him as he sank deeper. He saw another flash of green light slice through the water, hissing as it made its way towards him. He could do nothing as it grabbed him and pulled him out of the water.
The shadows loomed over him again, one of them lighting his horn and pointing it at Phoenix again. Another of them pushed the horn down, shaking his head. "This one is nearly dead. Remember our orders."
"Bah, I didn't get to have all my fun! Oh well. Let's go boys." Phoenix watched through his hazy eyes as they all dissapeared in collumns of fire. The one who stopped the others lingered until the rest had gone. Sighing, he turned to Phoenix with regret on his face. Shaking his head, he turned and leapt into the air to follow the others through the green flames. Phoenix lay on the damp grass, his eyes staring at nothing as blackness closed over his vision.
Bit of an author's note: If you have been confused, these parts in these last 3 chapters have been from Phoenix RELIVING what happened to him as he is in a coma. Just to clarify.