Teaser for an upcoming story · 6:43pm
“The left flank is buckling. Send the Stormwings to bolster.”
The courier by the commander's side bowed his head, then took wing to carry her orders. On the hill, the armored pegasus frowned down at the battlefield. Armored forms clashed and wheeled and crashed together again, steel-shod hooves flinging mud and blood alike into the air. Magic crackled and roared across the ranks, as mages flung up shields to shelter those soldiers they could. And above, the sky was full of slate-grey clouds and the snap of lightning, as the pegasi of each side bent weather itself to their will.
The commander sighed. It wasn't a battle she would have chosen. If she had her way, the fields currently being churned into swamps would have been bare long before, all that crops that the castle could hold safely behind the walls, all those that it could not burned to starve the enemy that much sooner. But her lady had ordered her to save the homes of her subjects and as much of their livelihoods as she could, and the commander was nothing if not loyal. The Barony of Brightvale would not fall on her watch.
But... it was a hard thing, watching so many of her soldiers fight and bleed and die when she knew they could be safe behind the walls of their lady's castle, settling in for a boring winter's siege. She had a great many friends in the ranks, and this battle would likely last several days—who knew how many she would still have when it was done? The shriek of a magical shield shattering like glass reached her, and the commander gritted her teeth. One such friend was the leader of the mage cadre, and she was always where the fighting was thickest. The commander's wings ached to take her into the sky, to throw herself into the fray and let battle burn all her doubts away.
But she shook that thought away. This was her task, given to her by of nobler birth than her. And if the wise baroness in her castle thought she could win battles more easily as a commander than as one of the Stormwings, then she would remain on this hill and close to her couriers, and command as best she could. She was nothing if not loyal.
On the field below, a particularly large fireball struck the enemy ranks, tossing soldiers into the air and searing armor to flesh.
“There! Weak point! Throw everything we have at--” But then the commander stopped, her mouth dropping open, as silence fell across the battlefield.
It did not fall like an axe, suddenly and all at once, nor like a wave, crashing down at first and then gliding easily over the remainder. Rather, it was like a fire, beginning with a singular spark that caught and spread and took more and more into itself until the entire field was consumed by utter stillness.
Hooves paused mid-trample. Wings ceased to beat, their owner drifting uncertainly towards the ground. Even the shimmering shields and flashes of war-magic fizzled out as the mages, sheepishly, released their holds.
Because they were here. And fighting in their presence was unimaginable.
They walked slowly from the edge of the battlefield, unhurried and unassuming. The soldiers of each side parted ways before them, bowing and muttering small prayers to themselves. When the six passed by, they raised their heads again, staring after them, eyes full of wonder. Because, holy deference or no, this was not a time for downcast gazes. Not when the six Graces were present.
There was Truth, solid and steadfast, in who's gaze all those that had known loss saw their pain echoed and shared.
There was Charity, genuine and pure, who blessed each timid pair of eyes that met her own with a smile.
There was Bliss, wonderful and free, who's very presence seemed to rejuvenate the tired and the broken.
There was Mercy, who murmured words of comfort to each she passed by, soothing their hurts with nothing more than her voice.
There was Faith, in sight of who's wings trembling limbs were steadied and quaking hearts comforted.
And there was Life, first and greatest of them all, under who's hooves the land was scoured clean of blood and violence.
The Graces walked together to the hill where the commander stood, frozen with shock. At the foot they paused, and all watched as they looked down at the body of an earth pony the surgeons had been unable to save, his throat opened and his coat stained brown and rusty. Life bent her head, and her horn glowed, for just an instant. Then, the blood that crusted his body and the ground beneath it began to liquify, to run in crimson rivulets back to the wound it had gushed from, and when the last drop had entered the gash closed without so much as a scar.
The gasp of the earth pony's breath was as loud as thunder in the silence.
And the Graces climbed the hill towards the commander, who bowed low stepped downhill, towards her army, allowing the six alone to stand upon the crest.
Truth said, “We grieve to see this.”
Faith said, “As does our Holy Mother. She does not wish her children to visit violence upon one another.”
Bliss said, “But do be afraid. Even this wrong may be set right.”
Charity said, “The quarrel that caused this shall be settled.”
Mercy said, “But for now, there are greater hurts to mend.”
Life said, “Today, we shall tend to the fallen. Tomorrow, to those that still stand. After that, we shall tend to the war.” And, for the first time since she stepped onto the field, she smiled. “Fear not, for grace is with you all.”
The six climbed down the hill and began their work. On the field, the silence finally broke as the soldiers began to gather the dead and wounded for their care. And Twilight, invisible and insubstantial, who had witnessed all of this, who had seen her own face and those of her friends on the six figures wrapped with divine power, who had heard the names muttered as benedictions by the ponies around her, stepped back to her own world, her own body, to find that she was shaking.