War had never felt colder. She had seen ponies die on a daily basis, and sometimes in more painful ways than this pegasus just did, but this...
It had rocked her to the core. It wasn’t the pony, and it wasn’t the fact that Death had not shown any sign of enjoyment or remorse when she had killed.
It was the place.
Spark knew this place. She remembered things about it. She remembered ponies going about their business and having fun. She had remembered fillies playing and getting into trouble. She had been one of those fillies. Now, the only memory this place evoked was bloodshed. Now, she could only see suffering in a place of happiness.
Why had it taken her this long to realize it?
Because before, they were just faces. Spark quickly answered the question for herself.
Damn. Why was remembering a name so hard?
The silence was echoing. The even the pink pony, who had been bawling, had stopped.
After a few moments, Twilight stood and turned, facing the heralds. Her face was speckled with blood and lacked the anger that had once filled it to the brim. Her eyes were now lifeless. Her shoulders sagged. She walked as if she carried a boulder on her shoulders, every step taking more effort than it should’ve. War was familiar with this kind of look. It was a look of defeat. War knew it was what Death had been waiting for.
Twilight spoke, her voice raspy and speckled with sorrow and desperation.
“I give up...take me...please, just don’t...”
Her voice was barely audible.
“Don’t hurt anyone else...please...”
Twilight looked back. The rainbow colored pegasus stood, her face still brimming with anger.
“Rainbow Dash, we have no other-” Twilight began.
“NO! I won’t let anypony else die!” she replied.
The pegasus named Rainbow Dash flew in front of Twilight, trying to block her from the heralds.
She’s going to get herself killed...War didn’t want anyone else to die. At least, not while she was watching.
Rainbow Dash stood her ground.
Then, the pegasus paused.. Rainbow Dash, stood for a moment, then came a look of deep thought on her face. She was clearly up to something. War looked at Death, and saw that she knew the pegasus was up to something, as well. Rainbow Dash then suddenly flew away into the air. She quickly flew straight up, until she was far out of sight from everypony. Death took quick note of this.
“Smart decision.” she uttered, though War knew that Death didn’t just think it was a coincidence. Rainbow Dash was planning something. Death motioned to Famine to keep her eye out.
Death turned back to the remaining ponies. The body of the dead one, Fluttershy, was draped on the back of the orange pony. All of the ponies had tears in their eyes.
Death turned her gaze towards Twilight Sparkle.
War still didn’t know what to do or what to think.
Death began anyways.
“How noble of you to sacrifice yourself to save your friends.” Her gaze went back to the other ponies.
“Your death will not be in vain. In fact, your death will change all of Equestria forever.”
War wished she knew what Twilight was thinking. What was going on in her head?
Death took a step forward.
Death halted, looking around for the sound. Pestilence was equally curious.
“What is that pegasus doing?” she asked in her monotone.
The heralds looked up, and saw a wave of color. The only way to describe it was a shock wave made entirely out of rainbows. Suddenly, a bright rainbow came flying out of the sky. Just before hitting the ground, this rainbow curved and flew towards Twilight and her friends. Famine was urging Death to run forward and try to kill Twilight before they escaped in the blur of color.. Death ran into the rainbow trail that was left behind.
The other heralds waited for what felt like hours. The colors finally began to clear, revealing only Death standing where a bloodbath had occurred. The other ponies were gone.
Twilight felt numb. It barely registered to her that she was riding of Rainbow Dash’s Sonic Rainboom. She looked at Dash, who was fighting back tears. The others were mostly hanging on. Pinkie wasn’t hanging so much as she was being pushed forwards by Rainbow Dash. Rarity was holding on to Dash’s right hoof, and holding on to Twilight at the same time. Seeing the strain on Rarity’s face, Twilight began grabbing on to Dash, giving Rarity at least some comfort. Meanwhile, Applejack was holding on to Dash’s other hoof, and held Fluttershy’s body at the same time.
Twilight made the mistake of looking at her body. Her face was calm. It was almost as if she was asleep. Twilight had to look away to avoid breaking down.
Only one thought went through her mind.
This is my fault...
Twilight couldn’t deny it. The heralds had came for her, not Fluttershy or anypony else. If she had given herself up...
No, she thought. She had seen the look on their faces. She knew that, no matter what, they would have destroyed Ponyville anyways, if not now, then later. That didn’t make things easier, though.
Through the blur, Twilight noticed that they had left Ponyville. Twilights thoughts then flashed back to the friend they had forgot.
Twilight had to scream to get Dash’s attention.
“Rainbow Dash, we have to go back!”
“Are you crazy? No!” Rainbow Dash answered quickly.
Twilight wouldn’t relent. “We forgot Spike! He doesn’t know that the heralds are there!”
Twilight knew Dash hated the idea, but not even Dash could argue it. Rainbow Dash quickly swerved, nearly dropped Pinkie, and made her way back. Soon, she began to slow, and eventually, they came to a stop in front of the library.
Twilight and the others got back on their feet, but Applejack refused to put Fluttershy down. Twilight had no reason to convince her otherwise, but just being near it stabbed at her heart. Not only had she failed to protect one of the Elements of Harmony, but she had failed to protect one of her friends.
What right did she have to be their leader now?
She tried to push the thought away for now. The ponies streamed into the library, nearly running into a very shocked Spike. Twilight didn’t wait to greet Spike. She ran past him, straight upstairs. She moved passed her bed and looked out the window. In the distance, she saw several buildings already engulfed in flames, and masses of ponies running in fear, some not even knowing where to go, except for away from the blaze. A building collapsed every now and then. Twilight could hear Spike reeling after hearing everything. She could vaguely make out someone, maybe Rarity, trying to get him to send Celestia a letter. Twilight could only watch as the fire and the chaos slowly inched closer to her library.
War wandered through the charred remains of a building. This had been one of the first places to come down. In the distance, the sounds of screaming and fire pervaded the background. The fire had made the air heavy with soot and ash. Death had told the heralds to disperse, making it more likely to find their target. She had also told them to destroy anything and anypony who gets in their way.
None of this is what War wanted.
Even charred beyond belief, she still recognized some of these places.
War didn’t know what to think anymore. Her head told her that it was too late, her heart told her that what she had to do something, and every time she opened her mouth, both tried to talk at the same time and it all came out as gibberish.
War stopped, and sat there, dejected. What should she do? What could she do?
War heard a moaning in the background. She sat up, and looked around. The moaning was coming from deeper in the charred building. War steadily made her way through the ruins. War took great care to squeeze through the ash and charred remains of what had once been a home. she found the source of the noise. War stopped dead in her tracks at the sight of it. It was a pony, burned, bloodied, and scarred. She was pinned under a large beam of wood. She had a gray hide and a blue mane, with bright blue eyes.
What struck War about her, though, was that, she knew this pony.
The name escaped her, but the face had not changed. Spark remembered her. She wasn’t particularly special. They hadn’t been the best of friends or the worst of enemies. They always saw each other, though. War remembered being scared with her on Nightmare Night, working with her on Winter Wrap Up, staring in awe at the pegasus’ bringing water up to Cloudsdale...
“What are you waiting for...?”
Spark was stunned by how raspy her voice was.
She looked at Spark with the strongest look of contempt she could muster.
“You’ve got what you wanted. Ponyville is in ruins...Twilight Sparkle is likely dead by now...you got what you came here for...why are you looking at me like that..?”
Spark was in disbelief. This was not what she had wanted. Once again, her mind and heart waged war on what to say.
“This...it’s not...I don’t...I...”
“Don’t give me that crap. If you four hadn’t come here, many ponies would still be alive...”
Spark finally found her voice.
“I didn’t want this to happen...”
“Then why did you come here..?”
Spark had no answer.
Why did she come here?
Why was she still here?
Her mind turned to the look on Death’s face as she killed that pegasus. No contempt. No joy. No emotion, not even a twitch.
Was this what she was after?
She had already achieved it anyways.
For a moment, she held the pony’s gaze. They spent what felt like an eternity staring into each other’s eyes. Spark found only anger. But then, she saw something else: confusion. Then, disbelief clouded her eyes.
“It can’t be...”
Understanding flooded her eyes, as well as tears.
“...Spark..? Is that you..?”
Spark’s heart sank. She remembered too.
Spark bowed her head in shame, but finally spoke.
“I had no choice...no hope. I couldn’t come back after...”
Spark paused. It hurt to think about.
“...after what I did...”
The pony’s tears streamed as Spark talked.
“How did you remember me? We never really talked when I was here. Not really.”
“When the...incident happened” the pony said, deliberately stepping around the incident, “everyone knew who you were. You were the talk of the town, I guess. Even more so when you disappeared.”
Spark looked away, fighting back tears.
“I couldn’t handle the stares. The way they looked at me...their eyes blamed me...even if their words didn’t...”
Spark couldn’t go on. She looked back, and only then noticed that the beam the pony was pinned under was stained bright red with blood.
As Spark noticed it, the pony noticed it too. She was only barely able to tilt her head to see the blood. She let her head flop back to Spark, and spoke.
“I can’t take this anymore. I only have one favor to ask, Spark...end it...please...”
Spark gasped, and stepped back, shocked at what she was implying. It wasn’t the deed that was horrifying. It was how easy it seemed for Spark to do.
“I...I can’t...please...don’t make me do this..”
Tears began welling up behind her eyes. Spark was doing her best to hold them back.
The pony’s eyes were pleading to her.
“Please...just end it for me...I won’t blame you...I promise...”
It was like a child’s promise, and it stung.
“Please, if you have any remnant of the pony I once knew in you...do me this kindness...don’t let me suffer...”
Spark couldn’t bear to kill her, but she couldn’t bear to ignore her either. It took her full force to do it, but Spark reluctantly reached for her sword. It took more force than she had ever felt in her life, but her teeth eventually clenched the sword. She unsheathed it, and looked at the pony. Spark failed to keep the tears at bay, and they streamed freely.
Spark aimed the blade at her side. She knew it would be an instant kill there, yet she stalled. Spark strained to inch it forward. The pony’s eyes were pleading for her to end her suffering. In the distance, another building collapsed.
As Spark inched closer, she uttered a quick, simple sentence. It meant the world to Spark.
Then, it was over.
All Spark heard was the silent sound of a sword hitting flesh and ending a life.
Spark fell to her stomach, and pounded her hooves against her head. It was all she could do to keep her from openly sobbing. Tears streamed like a river.
What have I done..? she thought.
She lay there for what left like hours. It may have been, for all she knew. It may have been few moments, or even a few days, for all she knew.
Spark’s mind seemed to be in standby. Not dead, but not really functioning. It took a few moments to register that she had stood up. She was shaky, but found her footing. She looked at the pony. Tears blurred her vision, but she could still see her. She was peaceful looking, like she was asleep. Spark looked away.
“I’m so sorry...I never wanted anypony to suffer...I wanted to give people a second chance, not take their only chance away! Please, somepony tell me what to do!!!”
Spark screamed at the top of her lungs.
The only answer was the sound of another building collapsing.
Spark looked back, and noticed something she hadn’t seen before. It was a small flame, burning on the remnant of a piece of wood. It was small, no more than an ember. Spark knew that she was looking at herself. Here was a fire with no purpose. It had no reason to burn. It had already destroyed and there was no change for it to give life. It burned with no drive, except for the quickly charring wood it sat on. It burned for the sake of burning.
Is this what Spark wanted to be?
No. Not anymore...
Spark knew now, as she stood over the body of her dead neighbor, that she had had enough. She refused to burn for no purpose. Spark quickly wiped away the tears.
A few things were clear to her now.
She had to leave. She had to abandon the heralds. There was no question in her mind.
The other thing she knew is that doing so would be her signing her own death certificate.
Was she really going to risk her life like this?
Her answer came quick. For the first time in years, it felt like her head and heart were in harmony.
Getting away alive would be the hard part, though.
Shrugging off the thought for the moment, Spark turned her back to the flame. She didn’t only turn her back on the flame, though. She turned her back on the idea. She turned her back on the idea of burning without purpose. Silently, Spark vowed that she would burn for a purpose.
As she walked away from the flame and the pony, she silently uttered something.
“Never again. I will never live solely to destroy, nor to simply exist. Never again.”
Suddenly, she knew what to do next. Of all ponies, she knew the one who needed her help the most right now.
Spark then ran off with one goal in mind.
She had to find Twilight Sparkle.