"Alright every pony," Bone Marrow announced while standing atop the steps leading to the town hall, "We all have to work together and make sure not to scare any pony else with all of the... bone-ness you have."
Scratching his chin, Bone Marrow thought of ways that he would be able to explain all of this to his parents. He could just say it was normal because of his cutie mark, but at the same time Bone Marrow knew of nopony else that actually had a talent anywhere similar to his. Perhaps it was more of a rare occupation; an even fancier cutie mark than normal?
Sighing after a deep breath, Bone looked to the silent audience of skeletons that stood around him. If he could bring anypony or anything back from the dead as a bunch of bones... did that mean they didn't have to eat anymore? Bone certainly hoped not. He couldn't afford to get sandwiches for all of these skeletons! If that's even what skeletons liked, that is. Maybe they liked strange things, like salami?
"Well," Bone blinked in thought, "Maybe I should find some clothes for all of you? I don't think that skeletons get cold or anything, but it would look really neat if you all had hooded capes and stuff."
Taking a moment to imagine the implications of ponies he knew seeing a dark hooded army of skeletons approaching them, Bone had second thoughts.
"Never mind. Let's just figure out how I can get you to move around places, okay?" Bone stated aloud. Making his way down the steps to stand in front of the mob, Bone Marrow attempted to stand tall enough that the griffons and Diamond Dog skeletons in the back were able to see him.
"Listen up!" Bone shouted in his shrill foal voice, "My parents are in the mines of Scoria, the town that you're all in." Pointing awkwardly with his front hoof towards the general direction of the mines, the skeletons followed his hoof. "I need your help in getting all the living ponies out of the mines and getting rid of all the bandits and bad creatures that are holding my parents and friends, and doing mean things to them!"
Nearly falling on his backside, Bone Marrow righted himself to all fours. A small cloud of dust whisked away with the wind on his landing, drawing attention to the town itself. Creaking and broken, empty of life aside from Bone Marrow himself.
"Will you all help me?" Bone loudly asked the group of skeletons, and their attention was drawn to him once more. The foal looked between the rows of skeletons, all silently staring back at him. Scrunching his lips and becoming annoyed, Bone thought hard on what would allow him to convince all these skeletons to listen to him.
He had wrapped his father's pocket watch in magic when the raven had resurrected, and he had also used the pocket watch to make all of these skeletons. Did he simply have to use magic, or was it all the pocket watch's doing?
Closing his eyes and biting his lips in concentration, Bone Marrow's horn began to glow a bright blue. Trying to feel for where the skeletons were, Bone felt multiple bodies in his way. Opening his eyes to see what was the matter, he noticed that a few skeletons aglow with his magic, their eyes lighting up in blue color. Squinting at the skeletons, he noticed that they seemed far more animated than before. A griffon was examining it's claws and wings, two ponies were looking at each other with what seemed to be inexpressive surprise, their mouths clattering and clacking as jaws snapped shut.
Putting more effort into his magic, Bone Marrow closed his eyes and strained to find more bodies to bar the path of his magics. Like an ever expanding circle, more and more skeletons came to life and clattered, bumping into another and looking around aimlessly. With a sharp exhale, Bone Marrow opened his eyes to the full group of skeletons being fully animated. The first few that he had given magic seemed to notice him for the first time, walking closer to him cautiously.
"Whoa! Stay back a bit." Bone Marrow quickly pleaded, taking a step backward of his own. The skeletons performed the same, keeping their distance and giving him sideways stares. "Just, help me figure all of this out, okay?"
The skeletons seemed confused from what the foal could understand. Some were walking around the blood stained dirt piles of equipment that now lay strewn about with ash. To his surprise, the skeletons began arming themselves.
"Does this mean you're gonna help me?" Bone Marrow asked while full of hope. "If you are, that means we can save my parents!"
The skeletons stopped in their tracks in order to look at the white foal with big blue eyes smiling at them. Looking between themselves, the skeletons continued equipping themselves with not only weapons, but also the old damaged armoring that they had previously died in. When all was accomplished and the skeletons were re-assembled, Bone Marrow now stood in front of a small garrison of skeletons armed to the bone with maces, swords and bows.
Curiously absent until now, Bone Marrow realized that his raven had been missing for his entire learning experience. His head was missing the avian companion and caused Bone to worry. "One second, every pony! I have to find my raven." he explained, turning around to head inside of the town hall.
Greeted by the familiar dusty interior, Bone noticed a single sunbeam of light coming from the ceiling to dramatically come to rest on a pile of bones. "Oh no!" Bone worried, running on his tiny hooves towards the remains of his avian friend. "Come on, we were getting along!"
Scooping the bones in his hooves, Bone realized that he might be able to bring it back. Maybe it fell apart because he didn't give it any magic? It was a possibility, but now he needed to test the theory. Closing his eyes and focusing his magic forward, Bone Marrow felt the tiny body in his hooves twitch. Opening his eyes, he was rewarded with his friend once again staring at him.
"Sorry about that!" Bone apologized with a nervous smile. "Here, have some of this." Bone added, sending a second wave of magic to the bird. Now the bird's eyes glowed blue, and it too became even more animated than before. Hopping along his body, the bird came to rest atop his head and nestled into his mane.
"You know what?" Bone declared, "I've got a name for you."
The bird's neck craned down to stare at Bone, tilting sideways in curiosity.
"From now on, you'll be known as Toothpick!" Bone excitedly announced, his smile wide.
True to name, Toothpick pecked Bone's tooth, causing him to yelp in surprise and cover his mouth. "Don't do that!"
Later in the day with the sun overhead, Bone stood alongside his newly befriended skeleton army of nearly sixty in total. Feeling safer from being surrounded by skeletons, Bone was able to venture further away from the town hall and came across more piles of dead, which he soon granted life anew as skeletons. To his relief, the older skeletons seemed to chatter and clink together in a way that brought the new skeletons up to speed with what was happening.
Bone Marrow had been waiting for what seemed like eternity to get a cutie mark, and now he was given the best one of all! The raven's skull didn't mean anything bad, on the contrary, it meant that his special talent was giving anypony a second chance at life. Re-dumb-shin or something similar. He was certain he had heard the word before, and it sounded important.
The sound of the skeletons behind him wasn't quite marching like it was with the royal guard, more of a hobbling mess that reminded him of the town when it was happier. Ponies walking around, going to places where they needed to be, except in this case all of the skeletons followed behind him in lines five deep and six across.
It wasn't the ability to throw fireballs, or to wield a sword, but Bone didn't have to do any of that now. He had as many friends as he could want, so long as they used to be bad. He had thought about bringing back his old cat but didn't feel fully comfortable with the idea.
Marching the group to the front of the mines, Bone Marrow was confronted by a grisly sight. A Diamond Dog sentry had been torn messily in half, strands of gore spattering the dusty ground while the torso still clutched onto a spear in a death grip. Being unsettled by the scene, Bone took a step back in order to take a deep breath.
"Okay, that's a mixed sign..." Bone said to himself, "On one hoof, one less diamond dog. On the other hoof, something must have killed him, right?"
Looking between his skeletons and the corpse, Bone gathered himself and shrugged. "Well, I guess one more wouldn't hurt, right?"
From the entrance of the mine and a few minutes past it, Bone marrow heard nothing but the steady advance of his skeletons in the echoing caverns. Pick axes lay scattered on the ground as if abandoned in a rush and thin gashes were cut into the wooden support beams overhead. The tunnels were only wide enough for three ponies across, and the skeletons had moved to accommodate the change. It was like they had tuned in to what Bone was feeling, as every unexpected noise caused the skeletons to halt when he did.
Rats, dripping water from overhead, noises that were difficult to make out coming from ahead, all served to unnerve Bone Marrow. He wasn't allowed in the mines, and he was becoming worried that he would get lost.
"I'm sure some pony will know the way out, right?" Bone unconvincingly assured himself. "They can't all just wander in here every day to get lost. That wouldn't work at all."
The dark halls were once lit by torches and lanterns, though most of those devices were broken or snapped on the ground. The glowing blue of the skeletons behind Bone made it far easier to see in what would have been pure darkness. The foal debated internally if it would be a good idea to shout for his parents or friends so they could find him, yet at the same time that might put them in danger. He really had no idea what was going on with the Diamond Dogs or anypony else for that matter.
Twisting tunnels and smelly earth were all that Bone Marrow could sense for what seemed to be hours in his steady advance through the mines of Scoria. He was beginning to lose hope that anything was left in the mines, or that perhaps he had been forgotten and the Diamond Dogs had taken his parents to some far away place when they were finished mining.
Walking into a large circular room with a wooden crane in the center, Bone decided to take a break. "All this walking and nopony around. Either we've been going in circles or there's nopony here." Bone pouted.
Looking down into the pit, Bone thought he saw something sparkling. Squinting and looking closer, he realized that a necklace of some kind was reflecting the blue glow of the skeletons behind him. Reaching out with his magic, Bone Marrow levitated the necklace into his outstretched hooves. A small silver heart was in the center of the chain with a small button on the side. Clicking the heart open, a name was engraved within.
Unfamiliar with the name, Bone Marrow carefully hopped into the pit to look for other clues. Unfortunately he found far more than he had hoped. His landing was softened by the wet crunch of a skull caving in. Reeling back immediately and stumbling over another body, Bone Marrow soon found himself face to face with a pony he was familiar with. The Town Mayor.
"Aaah!" Bone Marrow shrieked, fumbling as quickly as he could away from the bleeding corpse. With his fear grew the blue glow, his horn reacting instinctively to light the surrounding bodies. The baker, the mailpony, the town toolmaker, the list went on and on. He had stumbled into a mass grave of everypony he had ever known in this pit, and he wanted nothing more than to get out of it.
"Get me out!" Bone Marrow yelled, no sooner had the words left his lips did a boned griffon claw reach down to pluck him out and set him down next to the edge. Part of him wanted to shut his eyes against what he was seeing, and the other desperately searched to either find his parents, or make certain they hadn't been in the pile. Eyes darting all around, they eventually locked on a familiar face.
A set of familiar faces, actually. His father and mother. Bone Marrow stood in shock, his body feeling cold. His eyes welled with tears as his mind tried to make sense of what he was seeing in front of him. Did the bandits not want them anymore? Did they do something wrong, or were they bored?
His eyes widening further, Bone Marrow came to a different conclusion. Perhaps they were dead because he wished for the Diamond Dogs to leave? They were certainly no longer around, and nothing remained here to cause them to return.
"Captain, I think I see something up ahead!" A voice called out, echoing through the tunnels to Bone Marrow's ear. Thank Celestia, Bone Marrow thought, It sounded like the royal guard! He would be able to explain everything to them and they would make everything better. They were the guard, Princess Celestia's finest!
The sound of clanking plate armor and uniform marching drew closer with Bone Marrow rushing to greet them. All other concerns had vanished from his mind at this point. If he could speak with the guard, he might somehow get his parents back. Not as skeletons, but really alive. Flesh and blood! They fixed his injuries when he scraped a knee with their magic, and he had seen really bad training injuries, so why wouldn't they be able to fix this? It all seemed perfectly reasonable to the foal, and he eagerly awaited his meeting with the captain.
"By the grace of Celestia!" A guard sputtered, drawing his sword. "Skeletons!"
Skidding to a stop, Bone Marrow's eyes went wide. He had completely forgotten about the skeletons and how the guard would react to them. "Wait!" The foal cried out, "They're nice!"
The guard looked down at Bone Marrow, and then up to the wall of death steadily advancing towards him, armed with maces, swords and bows.
"Fall back! Necromancer!"
"Necromancer!" Additional shouts rang out, from the first guard all the way to the back of the line from beyond Bone Marrow's sight. "Surround it!"
"The Shining Crown shields us from evil!" The guards loudly replied in union, the sound of swords unsheathing and spells being spoken overwhelming Bone Marrow's senses. Everything was going wrong! They guard were supposed to help, couldn't he just explain this?
"Wait! Don't hurt them!" Bone Marrow shouted as his skeletons rushed past. Certainly Bone Marrow had felt threatened, and unbeknownst to the foal, the skeletons under his command sought to correct that feeling by removing anything that was causing the threat.
Bone Marrow backed away from the wall of guards and skeletons advancing on one another, finding himself next to the mass grave of his loved ones as blue eyed skeletons fought the shining gold of the royal guard on all sides. No room for maneuvering, no space for tactics. It was a straight brawl, and to his dismay, more than a few cries of pain and anguish sounded around him from a guard being injured or killed in the few seconds of engagement.
"Stop fighting!" Bone Marrow shouted. Only his skeletons obeyed, and one by one they were hastily cut down and scattered to the floor as they fell apart. Surrounded on all sides, Bone Marrow was cornered at the edge of the mass grave.
"Vile Necromancer!" The guard captain announced. "It must have been you that killed these towns folk, no matter your young age. These are dark magics, banned by the Shining Crown!"
"But I didn't kill anypony!" Bone Marrow protested, making an advance toward the captain with tears in his eyes from all that had happened now overwhelming him. "I didn't do it!"
"No lies, Necromancer! It is time for your end!" The Captain shouted. "Glory to the Shining Crown!"
Bone Marrow saw blades raise all around him, the points that he once thought impressive now terrified him. He had seen how the blades cleaved through bone just moments ago, and he had no hope for his ability to survive what was coming.
Time seemed to slow as the blades descended on him, the captain's blade going straight for the center of his face. Guards on the side aimed for his lungs, and a pole-axe descended on his spine.
"You fools!" A voice called out before the moment of impact. Lances of pain shot through Bone Marrow's small body as he felt parts of him separate. His eyes were split by the golden blade of the captain through the center of his head, his ribs shattered and splintered by the guards next to him. He felt his spine crumple as his body dropped to the floor, gore spilling from his belly as the blade of the axe exited the other side of him.
"Don't kill the necromancer!" The voice shouted as a blurred figure rounded the corner. Bone Marrow's vision began to shift into a bright blue, and he couldn't make out a single shape or figure individually.
"Get out!" The voice hissed, shoving a nearby guard. "Get out, get out, get out!"
Everything flashed blue, and Bone Marrow was dead.
Then, to his surprise, he was no longer dead. The weapons that had killed him lay around his body, and he was covered in blood. Touching his face, Bone marrow noticed that it was fully intact. His sides were fine, and his organs were exactly where they should have been. Looking around, the foal noticed that all of the guards had vanished. The bones of his old skeletons were missing. His attention flipped to the bottom of the pit, and he noticed that nothing aside from ash remained. Bone Marrow was beyond confused, though his swirling mind was interrupted by a familiar voice.
The shaking foal swiveled around quickly to face the most golden royal guard he had ever seen. Looking up at the stallion's cautious expression, Bone was greeted by a seemingly kind face with green eyes. A blonde mane complemented the copper colored body of the guard, but the foal was not convinced of any well wishes from him.
"Stay away from me!" Bone shouted, backing around the lip of the once filled mass grave.
"Be still!" The guard loudly commanded, and Bone Marrow found his legs would no longer obey him. "I will not harm you, Necromancer. Listen to me."
Bone tried to speak but any attempt only came out as gibberish or mumbles. Now he was even more confused.
"The Royal Guard here obey my command. I was not expecting to find a pony like you in this town, and did not lead the investigation into the mines. Reports of smoke called our attention away from the capitol, only to find it in ruin. Is this your doing? Speak truthfully."
"No!" Bone blurted. "It was the Diamond Dogs!"
The stallion grumbled. "Leave the dead where they lay, Necromancer, and follow me."
"Your guards are just going to kill me again! Wait, how am I even alive? I felt a sword go through my face!" Bone both protested and realized. "I shouldn't be alive! I felt myself die!"
"You are a necromancer, foal. You cannot die." Was the guard's ominous reply.
"Wait, how do you know that? Does some pony else have my special talent?" Bone wondered aloud.
"I am a Knight of Celestia, a crusader of all that is right in this world. It is my charge to know all about the evils I face in my defense of Equestria, your existence is prime among them." The Crusader replied.
"What's your name?" Bone asked.