[Author's Note: I know these are really getting posted in late increments, but I've been working on something else to get myself out of the monetary GRAVE I'm gonna be buried in soon if I don't do something about it. I promise I'm still working on these, they're actually a relief to get a chance to work on and leave the other stuff behind, but that's the problem: I can't leave the other stuff behind and out of my mind. I'll try to speed it up on getting these done, though. Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a cupcake in my eye.]
Nurse Redheart had seen many injuries in her time. Broken legs, torn muscles from over-exertion on more than one occasion with Big Macintosh and Caramel Apple, but for the most part Ponyville was such a peaceful, quiet rural town that she rarely wound up in the Surgery Room. Within moments, all of that changed, and by the time the patient had arrived in the hospital, what she'd heard ahead of time had her trembling. She wouldn't believe it until she saw it, but....a completely broken ribcage? Not just a rib or two but each rib, shattered?
Hours went by, a large portion of the hospital's Unicorn staff being called in within that time. She had stayed for all of it alongside Nurse Tenderheart, retrieving surgical tools as rapidly as she could when they were requested, each Unicorn doctor pouring all of their magic and their focus into the brutalized body before them. Needles were placed carefully into Strider's veins and sedative pumped into his bloodstream on a slow drip, keeping him thoroughly under for it all while several of the specialized surgeons guided the other Unicorn doctors assisting them. Shards of his skeleton were removed and traced, the larger parts removed while they cleared his shredded lungs of bone matter.
At the same time, another surgeon was on the other side of Strider's body, tending to his severed wing. It had been broken initially, but the harsh, high-velocity tumble he'd taken tore the muscle, deep tissue and flesh that was keeping it connected. The Unicorn's magic held the wing steady, a red string being lifted up and brought over, the surgeon Unicorn carefully placing one end of the string between the broken part of the wing, and then he carefully wrapped it around the area in a tight spiral, until the entire break was covered by the thin strand. A surge of magic imbued the string with a more sturdy bracing, and almost seemed to solidify the string around the bone, acting as a cast beneath the skin. Satisfied with his work, he took a breath and brought the sutures over along with a healing gel, rubbing the entire area with it, and then getting to work on the muscles and skin.
The same process with the enchanted string was done for his ribs and his leg, though those two sections of his body took far, far longer to work on, especially his ribs. Several lines were led into his broken bones, both in his shattered ribcage and into the thicker, more sturdy bones of his leg, each break being dealt with in the same way that his wing was treated. As a final treatment over ten hours later, a line of a red-colored medication, the same as the strings used to wrap his bones internally, replaced the line of sedative that was keeping him under.
By the time surgery was finished, visitation hours were over. However, when he awoke, he found himself surrounded by familiar faces. Too many for it to be a hallucination. He briefly wondered if maybe he was dead and this was just some sort of afterlife and he'd earned some amount of happiness....but one attempt to move made it clear that he wasn't dead. No, he was very very much alive. Laying on his left side, he lifted his head with a weak, pained groan, his blurry vision clearing the more he woke up. He felt like he'd been drugged, and upon noticing the cast and splint wrapped around his left foreleg, he knew why.
The taste of copper plagued his tongue despite the oral rinsing he'd been given while he was out. By the time he'd managed to lift his head and look around, he saw three other ponies around him, all members of the Royal Guard....Luna's personal Royal Guard. He blinked his eyes to clear his vision better, his entire body feeling wracked with stiffness and soreness in equal amounts. He caught the Unicorn's attention first, the mare's voice ringing in his ears like sledgehammers being slammed through his skull.
"Hee....looks like he woke up!" Valkyre said with a smile, her cheery demeanor betrayed by the clear expression of worry and concern that adorned her.
"Uuuhh, not so loud...." Strider groaned out weakly, Valkyre's voice like a sledgehammer upside his head, accompanied by the tinier nails being pounded in that was each beep of the EKG machine keeping track of his heart rate.
The familiar face of his superiors filled the youthful warrior's vision, his eyes turning up, then down, sweeping over Commander Aolimnus, Lieutenant Colonel Aegis, and Major Valkyre, the three ponies in his life that came the closest to being his family.
Valkyre frowned and looked particularly concerned, prompting Strider to feel a pang of guilt for making his friend seem so concerned. "Hey....don't worry Valkyre. You should see the other pony."
"Cut the crap, Strider," Aolimnus said with a stern tone to his voice, Valkyre's smile fading as she stepped aside, the stoic and silent Aegis stepping aside with her to let Aolimnus stand before Strider to steal the injured pegasi's focus. "What were you thinking, you damn fool? What on Goddess's green Earth happened to screw your training mission up so bad that you wound up going hoof-to-hoof with the Nightmare?!" the Commander said quietly, but with a powerful intensity. The message was clear.
Strider swallowed hard and nodded his head to the older pegasus. He wasn't nervous or concerned, truth be told he knew that Aolimnus' rank would do little to actually cause him a problem because of the position they both shared, but he didn't like the thought of upsetting any of his friends like this, and Aolimnus looked TRULY upset about what happened to him. "....I apologize, sir."
Strider let a pained groan escape him as he slowly tried to sit up, but several modifications to his bed seemed to be almost completely restricting his movements. He couldn't even flap his wings, both of them splinted and forcibly extended out semi-fully, his shattered left foreleg wrapped in an enchanted cast internally and a normal cast and splint combination on the outside. He hated casts, they made him feel so disgusting when that cast finally came off in the future....his leg was going to smell so very, very RANK when that happened. It was an odd thing for him to be thinking about in his current condition, but pain did funny things to a pony's mind in high enough doses....that and he had quite a bit of morphine pumping through his veins.
While Strider took stock of his current situation, bound to his bed as he was and unlikely to be going anywhere anytime soon, Valkyre and Aegis stayed off to the side, not having much of anything to say....especially Aegis, given the fact that he rarely ever had anything to say no matter what the situation. Valkyre simply didn't want to get in Aolimnus' way at the moment, he could be genuinely scary when upset.
Upset was exactly what Aolimnus was becoming more and more of, as well. The longer it took for Strider to speak up, the more it pushed the older pegasi's buttons. "Strider, I would like a report right now?" he struggled to say as calmly as he could. Nothing about this encounter with the Nightmare called for being casual, and all of his years of experience told him that they needed to act fast and get done anything that needed to be done as soon as possible.
Strider's attention returned to Aolimnus, his smile missing as he began to piece his words together as best he could, his aching head making it remarkably hard to think. He reached up to rub at his head with a wince, every little move he made creating a fresh wave of throbbing inside of his skull. "Nnnn....sorry, sir. I found ample time to enter Everfree Forest and lure out the Wild Shadows populating the area. All went according to plan until Twilight Sparkle intercepted me on my way back....she saw something, no doubt about that," he explained, his eyes twitching, almost shutting for a moment from a heavy pounding pain that welled up in his head. "Ssshhhheee was asking far too many questions to simply be inquisitive about me as a guardspony."
Aolimnus spoke with a more authoratative tone now, befitting somepony in a position of command. His stern voice filled the room when he spoke. "Did she explicitly say that she saw what you were doing in the forest?"
Strider give a small shake of his head. "No, no she didn't. For whatever reason, she seemed intent on keeping me occupied just as I was leaving Everfree Forest. She seemed very suspicious of me. One other thing, sir...." he said, his eyes dulling a bit as a yawn left his lips. The medication was making him feel glazed over, and more than a little high at the moment, but he kept his mind in the present as best he could. "A Zebra named Zecora lives in Everfree Forest....given what's happened, we should evacuate her from her house in there. She knows about my Runic Magic, said she could feel the beacon I brought with me. I think she's a Druid."
"Oh, no....not a Druid," Valkyre grumbled, the young Unicorn hanging her head a bit. She rubbed the side of her head, an annoyed look upon her face. "You serious, Strider? That's gonna be a big issue. Druids don't take kindly to being 'evicted' from their forests."
Aegis let out a small huff of a sigh through his nose, but still he said nothing, his stoic demeanor holding fast compared to everypony else in the room.
"I know....and she didn't seem to like me at all after she found out what I had with me." Strider said, clenching his teeth as a fresh throb of pain echoed through his head and neck, then his chest, renewing his headache and the dulled ache from his ribs. "Nnf....it's stashed at Rainbow Dash's house with my armor, by the way. She knows where I keep my things."
Valkyre shrugged and sighed, looking to Aegis and Aolimnus for a moment before speaking up. "I would suggest that we go and get this 'Zecora' then....she can walk through the forest itself just fine, she is a Druid for that forest. But she cannot control Wild Shadows, and the longer she stays in there, the more likely she is to be found."
Aegis just nodding and heading for the door, the powerful-looking stallion followed by Valkyre rather quickly. "The Princess will be here later for a full debriefing, I'm sure you know why," Aolimnus said, following suit and heading for the door.
Strider just grinned. "Hey Aegis!" he struggled to half-shout, causing some burning pain in his chest.
The big Earth Pony turned his head and peeked his head into the room, his expression remaining, save for a more curious look in his eyes.
"Your Paring Shield sucks a gigantic one. HARD."
"WHY was he in the Everfree Forest?!" Twilight shouted, rubbing the sides of her head in frustration.
Princess Celestia sighed and facehoofed, shaking her head in slight frustration. "Twilight, please, calm down." Celestia demanded in a firmer voice.
Her soothing tones did nothing to make the lavender Unicorn back down. "No! You know something, he knows something, and I want to know why that....THING was chasing me!" she shouted at her teacher, anger and frustration in equally large amounts all too apparent in Twilight's voice and even her body language.
All of her friends save for one were sitting outside of the library, having been instructed by Celestia to give her some time with Twilight. Pinkie still seemed rather shaken from the whole experience, a single gaze into the dark creature's eyes bringing back memories of horror and sadness that she had buried for such a long time....she wasn't prepared to deal with them. The only pony not there was Applejack, who had been sent home by Rarity and Rainbow Dash, both of them easily able to tell the fact that their friend was utterly exhausted, and didn't need to deal with this sort of issue; they had it under control, as close as one could come to control given the circumstances, anyways.
Celestia's jaw tightened within her closed mouth, looking to Twilight with no small amount of uncertainty. Twilight and Rainbow Dash had told her everything, and to say that she was concerned was putting it lightly. Twilight, however, looked like she was ready to snap and break a few legs to get a straight answer out of somepony.
Celestia sighed and relaxed, nodding her head. "....Wind Strider is one of four personal guards protecting my little sister, Luna," she said, looking directly at Twilight while she spoke, her large and regal form being displayed in her usual standing pose she always seemed to strike, as if it were a natural way for her to stand. "He is also a practitioner of a very old, very strong and very dangerous form of magic. Many Royal Guards, including the other three protecting my sister are trained extensively in its safe use, and great measures are taken to make sure the civilian populace doesn't learn of its existence."
Twilight only nodded to Celestia, just trying to take it all in, recalling the events from earlier. It was a shocker to everypony there, what occured when Strider decided to take action, much to his consequence. True, she only nodded, but inside a maelstrom of emotions and questions began to surface. She was unsure what to start with, but she knew herself well enough by now to know that if she allowed herself to dwell on the emotions, she'd only get angry, and that would get her nowhere. She wanted answers now, she wanted information, she wanted to KNOW for the first time in months!
"....He used magic that consumes the caster's soul. I could feel that, it was like a part of him was being manipulated, and when his shield disappeared, that part of him stopped existing," Twilight muttered, staring at the floor and shifting her gaze this way and that, as if looking at some kind of invisible graph or chart. "How could I have missed the use of such magic all around me? How long has this been going on, Princess, why did you never-"
"Because it wasn't something I wished to impose upon you, Twilight. You have always had enough to focus on with your extensive studies, I felt you didn't need to know about such a thing." Celestia stated calmly, but firmly, sensing that her precious student was still upset about what had happened back in Canterlot.
It was her eyes. They once again held the spark, the THIRST for knowledge that drew her to the intelligent, powerful young filly in the first place. If she hadn't caused Spike to spontaneously transform along with everypony else in that examination room, she likely would have continued on her walk through the castle. Celestia's only question now was....why did she have such a drive back?
Twilight furrowed her brow, staring into Celestia's gaze for a long moment, causing the Sun Goddess to become somewhat unsettled. "That's a lie....you didn't tell me about this for another reason. It has something to do with that mare that chased me. Doesn't it?" she asked in an elevated tone, standing up and taking a tentative step towards her teacher.
Celestia's heart sank almost instantly when Twilight put two and two together so quickly. She kept her expression as straight as she could manage, given how surprised she'd been by her student's revelation. She shouldn't have been surprised to begin with, Twilight was HER student and a very smart pony to begin with, but the potential consequences Twilight might suffer if she knew....no. "Twilight, knowing this would only harm you. Please....let it go."
Twilight's left eye twitched in a sudden burst of irritation, her feelings on this matter not dying down in the least. She stared at Celestia for what felt like a long time despite being only a few seconds, hoping that her teacher would simply tell her....but Celestia stared her down in return, forcing her hoof. "Will you PLEASE give me something to work with here?! Why was she so focused on me?"
Celestia could only shake her head to this. "No. I'm sorry, but this is simply too important."
"And WHY NOT?! I wanna know why! You've never kept a secret like this from me Princess, and even now after you've been caught, you won't tell me what's going on. What do you expect me to do, just drop it because YOU say I should?" Twilight half-shouted, her eyes slitted and staring her teacher down like daggers.
The Princess was shaken, but her resolve in this matter was unchanged. Still, Celestia could tell that she wasn't going to simply stop Twilight by asking her to....perhaps she could open up about the dangers of learning about this? "Twilight, if I tell you, I could be putting you in a lot of danger. As your....your teacher, I cannot bear the thought of being one of the reasons any harm comes to you or anypony else! I wish I could tell you and put you at ease but I can't, so please, stop asking about this and just...." she said with a certain amount of desperation in her tone....yet, she couldn't bring herself to ask Twilight to forget about this. That would only further her student's need to know.
She was no fool. She knew that no matter what she said, Twilight would never give up on finding an answer. She didn't bother looking up, the gaze that her beloved student was giving her was one of betrayal, anger, and even hate. Perhaps hate was a strong word for it, but Twilight certainly detested her at this very moment, that much she knew, as much as any of Twilight's friends likely knew, since they were listening in through an open window next to the front door. "....Twilight, please, just give me time. I can't tell you about this right now, it is too dangerous."
The lavender Unicorn felt little pity for Celestia's current emotional state. No, she didn't even notice it, but she was only concerned about herself, and given how much she'd had to deal with recently, she wasn't in the mood to just stand down and let Celestia walk away from this without giving her SOMETHING. "....She said she had answers, Princess."
Celestia's blood ran cold. The words hit her like a sack of bricks. "You wouldn't."
"Yes I would," Twilight said calmly, stoically even, as if the look of horror on Celestia's face didn't faze her in the least. "You of all ponies should know just how far I'm willing to go to get the answers I want."
Celestia's concerned gaze turned to one that very, very few ponies ever saw from her: rage. She stood and stalked up to Twilight, bringing herself nose-to-nose with her student. "After all I've done for you, night after night giving you counsel on your studies, watching over you, taking you in as my personal student, this is what I get in return?!"
Even Twilight felt the least bit intimidated, but she calmed herself knowing that Celestia was one of the most self-controlled ponies in Equestria. She wouldn't harm a fly unless it were absolutely necessary. "Yes, because you always taught me to strive to learn all that I can!"
Celestia ground her pristine teeth, leaning away from the lavender Unicorn and furrowing her brow. "I also taught you how to respect other ponies! You've trusted me your entire life, why won't you just trust me now?!"
Twilight clenched her teeth and stepped forward, glaring right into Celestia's eyes. "Because you're not giving me an answer!"
"I GAVE you an answer, I told you that it could doom you!"
"And it's not enough for me!! WHY would it doom me?!"
Pinkie Pie was the first to make herself known, the door to the library being shoved open and her rushing in-between the two arguing ponies. "Oh no! Wait, Twilight, y-you don't mean any of this, neither of you do!" she said, trying her best to shove herself between the Princess and one of her best friends. "We've always been friends here! The Princess must have a good reason for keeping it a secret, right?"
Celestia wasn't budging though, and Pinkie's words only served to make Twilight even more upset. "There's no reason good enough to hide this from me!" she hissed out from between tense lips. "Nothing's been the same ever since I came back....!"
Rarity and Fluttershy quickly entered, followed up by Rainbow Dash, who looked just as concerned as any of the others in the room as Twilight's expression turned from one of anger to one of desperation. "All I've been doing since I've come back is....is try to figure myself out again! I used to know myself so well, used to be confident and-and thoughtful, but now....!" Twilight tried her best to explain while her eyes watered and tears began to build, sitting down and staring down at her own forehooves.
Celestia's anger subsided as she listened, her concern returning as tears began to run down her faithful student's cheeks. "Twilight....?" she asked in a quiet, almost motherly tone, taking a step forward, Fluttershy stepping closer while Pinkie stepped a little to the side so Celestia could move in closer as well.
"The psychiatrist said that I'm depressed, but I shouldn't be so....s-so....!" she struggled to say once more, looking around herself, all of her friends save for the exhausted and currently resting Applejack surrounding her.
They were standing and sitting there, Celestia included, just waiting and listening, the lavender Unicorn able to see the calm reassurance in their eyes, a little sniffle heard as Rainbow Dash stepped around to her left and wrapped a foreleg around the back of her neck from the side.
She was silent for a moment, all of them were, but finally she spoke up, swallowing the sobs she just wanted to let herself wallow in on the floor. "E-every time somepony asks me to go out and do something, I try to smile and make sure that you all enjoy yourselves, but it's such a chore to do because I'm just not having fun anymore....!" she said, gritting her teeth and stamping her hoof against the floor. "I haven't picked up and genuinely enjoyed a single book in months, even!!"
Celestia just listened, the expression on her face almost unreadable, a steady gaze being trained on Twilight while she opened up to them all. "I hate going out, it's a conscious effort to get anything done-" she continued on, her voice breaking and a single sob leaving her while she hung her head. "-and all I can do is just lay around and hate everything and I don't know why....!"
Pinkie Pie was silently crying while wrapping her forelegs around Twilight's neck from the front and a little off to the side. Rainbow Dash, despite always being a bit hesitant with affection, couldn't stand to see the despair her friend was in. Fluttershy was already in tears, covering her own muzzle with her forehooves. Rarity was just....taking it all in, her glistening eyes betraying a surprisingly stoic outward expression. Inwardly, she wished there was something, anything she could do to take all of this pain away from one of her dearest friends.
"I can barely even stand being around anypony, I just keep having you all over because I keep trying to believe that it'll get better and this will all go away, but....it's been so long already, I just can't stand it!" she tried her best to say clearly through sudden bouts of sobbing, uncontrollable crying and the frustration that only made it all worse. "I just want to be me again!!!"
Celestia wanted to talk. She wanted to tell all, all of what she knew, what she assumed, and all of what she was already guessing at. She knew, though, that it would destroy her. She was NOT ready for this. Not yet.
With a heavy heart, Celestia retracted the hoof she'd unconsciously reached towards her student with, stood, and turned to walk towards the door, her head hung in anguish. "I....I-I'm SO sorry, Twilight...." she said, just barely audible over the sound of her student crying her eyes out.
Twilight's eyes snapped up and she reached out towards Celestia, her eyes wide with fear. "No, please! Please, you have to know what's happening to me, you have to tell me something!!" She was too late, however; Celestia was gone.
Twilight stared, that wide-eyed gaze turning into a sad, crushed expression while her outstretched foreleg faltered and slumped down to the floor. Just as suddenly though, she slammed her hoof at the ground in frustration and anger, three times, as hard as she possibly could. She wanted to strike something, and the grain of the wood beneath her hooves seemed as good a target as any. "DAMN IT!! Damn it, damn it, DAMN IT!!!" she screamed at the top of her lungs before her rage broke into sadness once more, the defeated Unicorn slumping down to the floor and letting the sobs, the tears, letting all of it flow freely. She had little choice....it was all she was able to do about her situation, as of late.
It wasn't just the fact that she still didn't have the answers she needed to be freed of her current condition. It wasn't just the fact that despite her friends being right there, wishing there were some way they could take her burden upon themselves, it made little difference to her and she felt nothing from such a show of care and affection. It was the fact that after all these years, all her time spent with Princess Celestia, when she truly needs her to be a beacon of hope....Celestia's flame had gone out for her, leaving her to fend for herself in her own darkness.
Celestia stepped away from the library, one of her personal guards instantly at her side, a pegasus with a lantern in his maw, leading her to her chariot. He looked up to Celestia, very concerned when he began to see tears running down her pristine face. He stayed quiet for now, however, following along as Celestia rushed for her chariot.
Spike, however, looked very upset, and very worried just the same. He was sitting on the back of the chariot, in the way of Celestia and her guard, the pegasus putting his lantern down on the chariot and looking between Spike and Celestia, bowing to them a moment later. "Might I assume I should leave you two alone, Your Majesty?"
Celestia nodded, sniffling and wiping one of her eyes to clear her vision once more. "Yes Honorius....thank you," she said as he turned and walked away, towards the library once more, but he only stayed out of earshot, not wanting to eavesdrop....or at least, not seem like he was eavesdropping. Celestia turned her more clear and slightly more calm gaze to Spike, who looked very pensive. "What is it, Spike?"
The little dragon's eyes were glistening as he looked up to the Princess, hopping down from the end of the chariot. "Is there anything I can do, Princess? I've watched her these past couple months, and she's at her wit's end. She doesn't want to admit it but she is!" he said, his little arms trembling with a mix of anger, and his struggle to hold his own feelings back.
All these years Twilight was there for him, tending to his needs while he grew up, being fed, taught and all of it made him feel like he had a big sister, possibly even a Mother, despite him being a dragon. Now, when she needs help the most....he was just as lost as she was.
His eyes were giving the Sun Goddess a silent plea for help, and that only made the turmoil within Celestia's heart wrench at her more. "I can't tell you anything, Spike....this is something that only time can be the salve for. If there were a way for me to help I would do it in a heartbeat, but I just....!" she said, her eyes darting left and right, struggling to find a way to put it that would make sense, but she could think of nothing. "....I just can't!"
Spike stood there for a moment or two, just staring up at her, some part of him wishing that she would cave at least a little bit....but, he got nothing. He rubbed at his eyes and sniffled once, stepping past her. "Th-then I have to go, Princess....Twilight needs me just as much as she needs all of her friends."
That single sentence hit her hard, and her entire body trembled under the weight of her own sadness. Could she still consider herself somepony that actually mattered to Twilight? Was she still a friend, a teacher, a damn near surrogate Mother? She felt like none of these things at the moment....all she felt like was somepony that refused to help a friend in dire need. As Honorius approached, she stepped up onto the chariot, facing away from him.
"Are you ready to go back now, Your Ma-" Honorius began to ask, but he was cut off when Celestia held up a hoof.
She didn't want to look at him, but he knew what a simple gesture like that meant, the same gesture when asking crowds to be silent so she could speak. "Strider is your friend, is he not? You should stay and visit him."
"But Your Majesty, it is late and I should-"
"Honorius! Please...." she said, her entire body visibly trembling before his eyes. His step faltered as he made for the right side of the chariot, taking a step back. "I will be fine....just go visit your friend. I'm sure you know what happened."
He stood there for a moment, the pegasus surprised at just how distraught Celestia seemed to be. But he would respect her wishes, giving her an unnecessary, formal bow, one she couldn't even see. "As you wish, Your Majesty....be safe."
With that, Celestia firmly stamped her hoof at the floor of the chariot, and the pegasi pulling it took off, sailing through Luna's night sky, using the stars and the memory of the trails they had flown countless times in the past to find their way back to Canterlot through the darkness. The ride for Celestia, however, was an inner battle. With every passing second, she had to fight the urge to break down and begin crying her heart out within full view of her loyal subjects, despite it only being two of them.
She stayed almost stock-still the entire ride back to the castle, barely acknowledging the landing until one of the pegasi notified her that they had arrived. She was lost in thought, her lungs stiff and barely allowing her to draw breath, fearing that allowing herself to take a full breath would bring with it a torrent of sobs that many in the castle would hear.
She made her was briskly down the halls, thankful that it was nighttime and that very few ponies were up and about at this time, save for some of Luna's division of the Royal Guard. Finally, her room was in sight, her waving off the awaiting ponies that wished to have some last-minute guidance from her on some legal and political issues that were so far gone from her mind at the moment, she couldn't even remember half of what had been brought to her attention earlier that day.
With her room secure, the doors locked, the guards sent away and her privacy secured, her horn lit up and her magic ripped the crown off of her head, the jewel-encrusted accessory clattering across the floor with the rest of her more ornate accessories, Celestia's fury releasing itself at her whim. She could only think of how helpless she was....a Sun Goddess with no light to shine the way for her now-errant student.
Her crying eventually lulled her to a fitful sleep, constantly broken by nightmares of what could be, or what she might have caused had she said anything. This wass merely another lesson in her eternal life, one that she hated most of all: sometimes the correct choice, the choice that will save the lives of many a good pony, is the most difficult and, at the time, the most painful choice to make. One thought continued to make her feel worse and worse about her decision, however.
"....Th-there's nothing I can do to stop any of this....!"