"The Court finds you guilty of High Crimes against the Council. You are hereby Exiled from the Community."
The white colt gulped. He hadn't expected this. Yes, he knew the risks of going against the Council. Yes, he fully expected he would be caught. Yes, he knew that, once he was caught, he would be found guilty of whatever crimes they could find. But exile? No, he was not prepared for that. Judging from the sudden outcry in the courtroom, neither was anyone else.
Society revolved around twelve loosely defined rules: the Three Laws and the Corrections. If a pony broke any of the Corrections, he was imprisoned, placed in the stocks for any number of days. If a pony broke any of the Laws, he was sentenced to death. There was no debate. The Community viewed those as the only merciful punishments. They were swift and painless. In the two hundred years since its founding, the Community only sentenced three ponies to exile.
The first was one of the Community's founding members. He was the one who convinced others to follow and established the Three Laws. He wanted a society where everyone was bound to the same rules. Except for him, of course. The founding Council member believed he was above the Laws. When the others found out his blatant disrespect for the Community, they set out to have him killed. But nopony had the heart to deliver the sentence. Instead, they exiled him, believing it the better option. After they found his body, they realized their mistake. Death was more merciful. On the day he was buried, the first Correction was added.
You shall act an equal.
The second pony sentenced to exile was, perhaps, the only one to truly deserve it. She, like most mares in the Community, was a breeder. She was raised to sustain the Community's population. But she cared little for the foals she produced. As the years went on, and as she slipped into madness, she turned to a darkness beyond words. She broke the first two Laws, and, by extension, the third. When they caught her, on her third dead foal, the Court gave her the punishment she deserved. Death was far too kind. They made no attempt to look for her body. After she left the Community, the fifth Correction was added.
You shall be aware of madness.
The third pony to be exiled deserved nothing but an official pardon. She was merely a child. She had done nothing wrong, except make enemies. She'd gotten on the wrong side of a few influential ponies. They accused her of crimes beyond her abilities, crimes that never occurred at all. She was clearly innocent, but she had no support in the Court. The judge tried to reason with the crowd. In that time, however, he was forced to listen to the jury. They overruled his decision. The filly was exiled. Her body was never found. A few days after she was forced to leave, the seventh Correction was added.
You shall obey the Court and its decisions.
The judge slammed his hoof against the mahogany desk. Immediately, the room fell silent. Everypony turned his attention back to the floor, awaiting for the final statement.
"Do you accept and understand this sentence?"
That line was simply a formality. Even if the unicorn said no, he would still receive the same sentence. At best, he could delay his punishment for another twenty minutes while the Court reread his crimes and repeated his sentence. At worst, he would lose what little power he had left. He would go from martyrdom, hopefully, to cowardice.
The white stallion glared up at the judge. If he was going to suffer outside the Community, he would not let anypony forget his face. His sentence was passed, but he would make sure that the Community heard his message. He gave up everything for this moment. He cleared his throat to speak.
"I willingly accept." His voice was stolid. "I would rather suffer in the ice than live under traitors."
The pony turned. He trained his dark-blue eyes on the rest of the courtroom. The others watched him, completely silent.
"The Council has betrayed you all. They abused the Laws for personal gain. They—"
The colt didn't get the chance to finish. He felt something hard hit his head, and the world faded to black.
Suddenly, he was very cold. And wet.
The unicorn opened his eyes in surprise. he jumped to his feet, orientating himself. He was in a small chamber, no larger than his bedroom. The walls lacked the familiar smooth carving of those within the Community's confines. The floor was rough, threatening to cut through his hooves. He was now outside the Community. At least they hadn't thrown him into the snow while he was out. Thank the Godesses for small favors.
A dark brown stallion sat in front of him. The earth pony dropped the bucket and passed a towel to the white unicorn.
"Dry yourself off. You don't want to go out with a wet mane."
The two stood in silence while the unicorn patted himself down. He could already feel the crystals forming on his sky blue mane. He shook the last couple drops away from his forelock and passed the towel back to the earth pony. The stallion took it, keeping his gaze locked on the younger colt. With any other pony, the unicorn would return the stare. But he couldn't. He just stared at the other pony's hooves.
"You are the dumbest pony I've ever met."
The white unicorn chewed his lip.
"And I've met a lot of dumb ponies. Why? What would possess you to go and do that?"
The white pony shook his head, his pale mane flopping back and forth. He suddenly felt years younger. He couldn't face the lecture with any courage. He could only sit and listen. The brown stallion sighed.
"I don't know if what they said was true, and I don't care. You brought this all on yourself. You should have just kept your mouth shut, let someone else take the fall. You could have lived your life in peace. You could have just moved on. Instead, you go and get yourself exiled. Good job. I'm real proud of you."
"I'm sorry, Father." The white unicorn glanced up at the imposing stallion, tears forming in his eyes. He didn't care that he was an adult. He just wanted to apologize and have everything go back to normal.
The brown pony shook his head. He turned away, opening a metal door. The door that lead back to the warmth of society.
"Don't forget your bags." The stallion stepped through the door, pulling is closed. A moment later, the two locks clicked.
The unicorn stared at the metal door. It was official. The Community was closed to him. His home, the only life he'd ever known, cast him out. And it was all his fault.
He tried to fight against the Council. He saw their blatant neglect for the Laws and he tried to correct them. He tried to inform others. He tried to make everypony else see the abuse. He tried. And he failed. He became the Council's scapegoat.
The Council had to admit that someone broke the Laws. The unicorn exposed three murders, one for each Council member. He was sure that there were countless others. But he didn’t plan anything through. He panicked. And he sought justice.
The Council, for obvious reasons, was well respected. They lead by example. Each member, supposedly, obeyed the rules perfectly. They took care of those under their care, making sure everyone was alright. Anypony who suggested something different was ludicrous. Possibly insane.
The Council could not deny the death of three young mares. But they could easily pass the blame. Featherweight, the eldest member, immediately reversed the blame. The others quickly followed his example. They claimed the white stallion had set the Council up. The unicorn was attempting to overthrow the Council and force the Community into anarchy. He'd murdered three innocent ponies and tried to pin the blame on Council members. He was attempting to incite riots. Perhaps start a rebellion.
Featherweight, Dusk, and Silversteed had made one mistake, though. They let him talk, and then they silenced him. They claimed he broke the second Law, but gave him a punishment considered far too severe. A majority of the ponies would think nothing of it. They'd assume the white colt was simply insane. Someone would put two and two together, though. Somepony would realize he was not crazy. That somepony would pick up where the unicorn left off. Hopefully, that pony wouldn't fail.
The unicorn sighed, turning toward the saddlebags. There was no use to pining after his home. He couldn't just unlock the door and walk back in. His work was done. Whatever he had started would run its course without him. He might as well move on.
The bags were generic, not that he expected anything more. Even if his father was the Court's executioner, he didn't expect any special treatment. As far as anypony was concerned, the white colt was a traitor.
He checked the saddlebags to see what supplies he'd been allowed. He stared at them confused. He hadn't expected so much. In all honesty, he hadn't expected anything. The bags held three days supply of food, a heavy cloak, and a basic fire starting kit. With these materials, the unicorn could easily survive a couple days before he froze to death. If he was lucky, he wouldn't live past one.
The white pony wrapped the cloak around himself, mentally preparing for his journey. For a moment, he debated staying outside the Community until he starved. With the food he was given, he could survive a week before he starved. In that time, they'd send out a party to look for his body. He could lie in wait, and take the ponies by surprise. He could force his way back into the Community.
But to what purpose? The unicorn was lucky if they wouldn't all think he was insane. Starving himself for the chance of reentry wouldn't help his case.
He kicked the wooden door open. Immediately, he was greeted with a gust of icy air. Even through the heavy cloak, he could feel the sting of the frost. The unicorn gave one last, longing stare at the locked metal door. Finally, after another farewell, he decided he could not delay any longer.
White Leaf stepped out into the cold.