Bone Marrow noticed a few things after he'd recovered from his traumatic ordeal of being eaten alive over a dozen times. The first was that Toothpick was once again a pile of ash. He'd probably been re-absorbed the first time Bone Marrow died. The second was that Bone didn't need to breathe anymore. He didn't feel fatigue or hunger, his eyes were glowing more now than they ever had before, and that he felt like he had an unlimited amount of magic to draw on.
What concerned him was what he'd overlooked. In his hurry to die with a purpose and to kill the three hydras that he'd seen earlier in the Everfree, he didn't consider what would happen on the outside of the hydra's stomach while he was being digested. The hydra hadn't remained in one place to curl up with a bad tummy ache like he'd thought. It had gone on an agony-induced rampage through the Everfree, spreading death and corruption with every bite and stomp.
The desolate wasteland wasn't just the local swamp that he had been expecting to wake up at. It stretched for miles like a scar on the world. The skeletons that he'd sensed earlier were critters and monsters that had all perished in the hydra's wake. The beating hearts of the surviving wildlife were running away as fast as they could, and to top it all off, the place was completely silent.
Aside from the beating hearts, of course. If Bone Marrow was going to return to Ponyville, he would need to find some way to lessen the unending cacophony of noise that didn't involve feeding the void any more than he had already. Killing wasn't his goal, no matter how much the void begged him to make it his priority.
Already he could imagine the look on Celestia's face when she stepped out onto her balcony in the early morning to see that half her kingdom's forests had turned ashen and black. Bone already knew that Celestia and Princess Luna were aware he was back. Princess Luna had seen him 'in person' during one of his dreams and sent him a gift, after all. Would he have to deal with Princess Twilight Sparkle as well? Maybe Celestia would come after him with an army this time, and now with two other alicorns in tow to blast him with the Elements again. Or, more likely, they'd just toss him into a volcano and be done with it.
In any case, after what had happened, Bone Marrow knew he couldn't take the risk of explaining everything and hoping it would all turn out okay. He'd tried that once before and that's what got him into this mess. Celestia couldn't be trusted no matter what she did or what words came from her mouth. If Princess Luna was back, then that probably meant they were seeing eye-to-eye again. As for Princess Twilight, well, he never really trusted her to begin with. She was too friendly and too accommodating for what he was used to.
Still, Bone decided that he'd need someplace to get a hold of his powers. He'd need to figure out how to control the void if he was going to have any hope of leading a normal life and resurrecting his friend, and that meant that he couldn't be anywhere near Equestria or the countries that bordered it.
Though... Bone Marrow realized he'd never actually been to another country. Where would he even go?
The first thing he would need to do if he wanted to leave would be to get his cloak and Scenic's soul jar back. That was the top priority, but that meant he'd need to go back to Sweet Apple Acres.
That meant Heartbeats. That meant Alicorns. That also meant that he'd have to explain to everypony why so much of the Everfree was an ashen wasteland now. He'd have to do the thing that he really didn't want to do.
Bone shook his head. He was not looking forward to explaining all of this. What would he tell them? 'Oh hey everypony. Yeah, I thought it would be a swell idea to walk out into the Everfree to find a hydra to eat me. Silly me!'
The necromancer let out a sigh. He needed to get better at planning ahead, that was for sure.
Grass swished underneath his hooves for the first time in a while, bringing him out of his melancholy state. Well, at least not all of the forest had died, right? Looking around, Bone noted that there weren't any birds or other animals around. There were no chimeras or manticores or timber wolves and everything else he'd been warned about. Wasn't the Everfree supposed to be more dangerous than this?
His eyes widened. He'd seen this before but it slipped his mind. When Galloping Glades had been set on fire by bandits, all of the animals had run away from the area. They'd invaded the other areas of Equestria that weren't normally where they'd nest and ponies didn't have any idea how to handle the change in monsters for their area.
If he'd just caused half of the Everfree to be reduced to rot and ash, then that meant the monsters of the Everfree would be going for anywhere but this place.
Bone Marrow dipped into his magic reserves to speed himself along. He wasn't about to have another Galloping Glades. Not another town burned to ash. Not if he had anything to say about it. No messing around, no sparing anything that meant to harm ponies. No chances. If the monster wasn't supposed to be there, it was as good as dead.
When the young necromancer was on the hills overlooking Sweet Apple Acres, he overheard animalistic screaming coming from the farm itself. He had to be sure that the Apples were safe. That he didn't end up killing Granny Smith or her descendants from not thinking ahead.
His view changed, switching from his own sight to that of the ancient grandmother. She was with Applebloom in their family's barn. Big Mac and Applejack were bracing the barn door with everything they could find while something tried to batter its way through.
No time to wait. He had to act now before anypony got hurt. He was responsible for this and he wasn't going to have more dead ponies on his mind.
The necromancer sped down the hill, his hooves leaving icy prints in the grass beneath his galloping tread. When he rounded the main home of the Apple Family, he saw a dozen wolves made of wood and grass that were gnawing and clawing their way through the barn door of the Apple's farm.
Twelve wisps of blue magic shot out from Bone Marrow's horn, striking each of the wolves in their chests. The grass and moss of their bodies blackened and withered, their timber limbs splintered and rotted, and they collapsed in a heap of decayed lumber.
Bone let out a sigh of relief and checked the rest of the area to make sure nothing else was lurking around. He found four more groups of timber wolves and dealt with them in similar fashion. He wasn't going to give the monsters a chance to fight or to harm him.
When he returned to the barn, he knocked on the large doors with his hoof. "Granny Smith? Applejack, Applebloom, Big Mac, are you alright?"
There were sounds of things being tossed around and shoved to the side for a minute before the door opened to Applejack's surprised expression. "Bone Marrow? Well I'll be, I didn't think I'd be seein' you again!"
"He's a necromancer, dearie." Granny Smith cheerfully called out from further in the barn. "Nothin' can kill that colt that I know of."
'Yeah, well there aren't any volcanoes around to huck me into, are there?' Bone mentally quipped.
"Did you get a little shorter, Bone Marrow?" Applebloom asked. "You look like you lost an inch or two..."
"I'm fine, Applebloom." Bone replied with a smirk. "What about my necklace and my cloak?"
Big Mac looked away for a moment before offering the items with a hoof and a nod. Bone Marrow used his magic to slip the pocket watch over his neck and fix the cloak and to finally have his hood over his head again.
Applebloom shivered. "You know, you look a lot scarier with that hood on. Your eyes are all glowy, too."
"Do you know if there's anything in Ponyville happening?" Bone asked Granny Smith. He didn't really have time for talking about the changes that death had given him at the moment.
"I heard some awful critter yellin' a few minutes before them timberwolves showed up. Maybe you could go over an' kill it?"
"Granny!" Applejack was aghast. "Don't you think we could just run the critters off instead of killing them?"
"Thanks, Granny Smith." Bone dipped his head before sprinting off, leaving ice in his wake once again.
Scenic was safe. That was what mattered to Bone Marrow the most right now. Well if he was being truly honest with himself he really didn't want anypony to be hurt or killed by his mistake. At least he wouldn't have to be eaten again, right? He had all the power he needed.
Bone Marrow slowed down a bit when he saw a pillar of smoke in the distance. Memories of Galloping Glades burning to the ground flooded his mind, along with screams of terror being cut short by a bandit's sword.
'Nope, that's not happening again if I have anything to say about it! Bone picked up his pace, pushing himself faster than before.
When he arrived to Ponyville, there was an explosion of lavender magic that originated from the town's square. A manticore was sent flying off to some distant land from the blast, having been catapulted by a pony's magic. Bone Marrow had a pretty good idea of which pony in this town was capable of doing something like that.
'This is going to end badly if I run into Twilight. She's probably going to think I did this on purpose!' Bone scowled, his distrust of others flaring up once again.
The scream of a filly brought him back to reality as a nearby door splintered out onto the streets nearby. The little pony came running out of her home with tears in her eyes and galloped right past Bone Marrow, too filled with fear to explain what was going on.
From the doorway of the filly's home stood a manticore that looked starved. Blood was on its claws and dripping from its mouth, probably from having just eaten somepony. The necromancer hissed through his teeth. "Die!"
The beast's eyes widened as a wisp of blue magic struck its chest, and a moment later a glob of blood came from its mouth and it fell forward onto the street, stone dead.
Bone Marrow rushed into the house and past the manticore's corpse. There was a colt, a stallion and a mare inside, each of them with a limb or two missing and with bite and claw marks all over their bodies. Bone was frozen for a moment as his mind brought back similarities between this and Galloping Glades.
He shut his eyes with a grimace. Now wasn't the time to panic, he'd seen worse during the assault on Canterlot, after all. "Please be alive," Bone asked the bodies. "At least one of you be alive!"
The colt with a missing front leg gasped as magic glowed around his entire body. His eyes widened in panic when he saw that his limb was missing, but that quickly became confusion as he saw it grow back right in front of him. The two parents, however, weren't so lucky.
Bone Marrow didn't have time to sooth the colt's fears. If this had already happened to one home, then more were just as likely to be as dead as this colt's parents.
"Good luck." Bone wished to the orphan. He was willfully deaf to the colt's pleas for help when he sprinted out of the destroyed home, leaving the young pony with nothing but his life.
Beast after beast, Bone Marrow kept killing. One after the other, the Void grew stronger yet again. It was like the void fed off of misery and destruction, and although Bone Marrow was doing his best to help, bit by bit he felt himself becoming more detached from what was going on. He saved who he could, he killed everything causing destruction, and then he went to the next street or house to do it all over again.
In was like he was back in Canterlot, but without skeletons to back him up. With Twilight around, he didn't want to give any hint that he was in Ponyville. Turning the things he'd killed into his minions would tip her off and cause her to come searching for him. Not to mention the fact that he didn't know if this was a large enough emergency for Celestia and Princess Luna to be called down, or at least the Royal Guard.
"Hey!" Bone Marrow heard the familiar voice of Rainbow Dash yell at him. "Where do you think you're going?!"
She was keeping pace alongside him fairly easily with her wings despite how fast he was travelling.
"I'm helping ponies here, and then I'm leaving." Bone coldly explained. He needed to save Ponyville and leave as soon as possible. He needed to get away if he was going to have any chance of being in control of the Void inside of him.
"You're leaving!?" Rainbow Dash seemed offended. "You're the one who caused all of this mess in the first place!"
"I know that!" Bone shouted at the pegasus. The one who looked eerily similar to Scenic Sights. "I'm fixing it, then I'm leaving!"
"You need to speak with Twilight first! She's in the town center." Rainbow Dash flipped around to speak with Bone Marrow on his other side. "If you try running, then I'll just follow you, got it?"
Bone vented cold fog in a huff. "Fine. When I'm done killing all these monsters, I'll be there."
He didn't want another pony getting dragged into his mess. If Rainbow Dash was just going to follow him, then he wouldn't be able to work things out on his own. Even worse, Rainbow Dash's stubbornness was reminding him of Scenic.
Rainbow gave the hoof motion that signaled that she'd be watching Bone with a close eye before veering off into the sky to rejoin her friends at the town's center.
It was another thirty minutes before the creatures attacking Ponyville had either been catapulted by magic, beaten into submission, or killed by Bone Marrow. Rainbow Dash had watched him like a hawk, reappearing every few minutes to check on where he was before she rejoined her friends.
Now was coming the part that Bone was dreading the most. Speaking with a Princess about his necromancy. Worse yet were the casualties. Could he explain what had happened? Yes. Should he lie about the cause of everything? Well... he might just have to. He wasn't going to spend another thousand years in stone or die again, that was for certain.
Bone Marrow had managed to save around twenty ponies from death, but a quarter of the village had been killed. He passed by weeping ponies as they mourned the losses of their loved ones. Overall, Bone had to admit that the outcome was better than Galloping Glades.
He healed who he could, and he consumed the corpses of the monsters that were left out rather than let them rot or be buried pointlessly. Bone thought of it as sparing the survivors any more work than they'd already have. The ponies of Ponyville would need to rebuild and continue on with their lives after everything that had happened.
When Bone arrived at the town's center, he bore witness to a sleeping giant. It had collapsed backwards onto a building and reduced it to splinters, but the giant seemed no worse for the experience. He decided that stepping around the thing and giving it a wide berth would be the best choice at the moment.
The necromancer became nervous when he saw the face of a Princess glaring at him from the town hall. It was Princess Twilight, so not all hope was lost, but she had a magical barrier around herself and her friends. No matter what Bone tried, his magic wouldn't be able to go through a barrier of any kind, nor was crystal affected by it.
Then again, Twilight wouldn't be able to kill Bone Marrow without risking the void spreading out to consume the nearby ponies to revive him, so they were at a draw.
"What happened?" Twilight asked, her tone sharp and bitter. "I noticed you were gone one day without telling anypony, then Rainbow saw that the Everfree was dying, and now this?" She gestured to the scorched and ruined buildings around the town hall. "What did you do?"
This was bad. Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Spike and Starlight were all in a line facing him. From Bone's perspective, they all looked ready to tear him apart if he said the wrong word.
'What should I say?' Bone bit his tongue and looked down at the cobblestone street beneath him. His eyes caused the stone to faintly glow with blue light while he thought. 'I'm terrible at lying and I can only imagine what will happen if they find out that I wasn't telling the truth.'
"I killed myself."
Anger was replaced with shock almost in an instant. Ears folded back and confusion set in, so Bone Marrow spoke up before the group could claim that he was lying. He was standing right in front of them, after all.
"I went to the Everfree forest to find the Hydra that we had run from earlier, and I let it eat me." Bone remained where he was and stood as still as possible, not wanting his movements to cause a fight if they interpreted him wrong. "I died, I came back, and I died again and again until the Hydra couldn't regenerate. I don't know how long it took, but I woke up in a wasteland of ash and rotten wood."
"Y-you... came back?" Fluttershy asked in confusion.
"He's a Necromancer," Starlight explained. "From what I've read, the only way they stay dead is if you use Lava."
Bone sighed. 'Thank you for giving everypony the idea, Starlight. You're ever so helpful.'
"Listen," The necromancer colt spoke up,"I didn't mean for any of this to happen. If I had known it would cause this much destruction, then I would've found some other way to die."
"Why kill yourself to begin with?" Spike questioned. "You could've talked with us if it was that bad!"
Bone shook his head. "That wasn't why I killed myself, Spike. I need to bring my friend back from the dead, and the only way to do that is if I had enough power. I get more powerful each time I die, so..."
Twilight put a hoof to her face. "Why didn't I see something like this coming?" She then pointed to Bone Marrow. "That Pocket watch around your neck. That's a Soul Jar, isn't it?"
Bone couldn't remember if he'd already told Twilight about the soul jar, but she'd guessed correctly. He nodded in reply.
"Look, all this is great and everything, but that doesn't get rid of the fact that ponies died today!" Rainbow Dash was livid. "The flower ponies, The Cakes, Bon Bon--"
The mention of the cakes dying brought Pinkie Pie to tears and she fell to the floor, sobbing.
Rainbow growled. "This isn't some small mess up! This guy is worse than Tirek!"
The other ponies shied away at that remark. She was right. While Tirek had sucked out the souls of nearly every pony in Equestria, when he was sealed away again, all their souls were returned. Nopony died because of Tirek, but because of Bone Marrow?
"So what do we do, Rainbow?" Twilight asked her friend. "Do we throw him in a volcano for it? Do we seal him away in stone?"
Rainbow's ears flattened. She didn't really know what the best thing to do would be. She also didn't want to stoop down to Bone Marrow's level and kill him either. Rainbow didn't know if she was capable of even doing something like that.
"I'm leaving." Bone Marrow spoke up. "I'm never coming back to Equestria."
"Then won't stuff like this happen in other places?" Spike countered. "Just because you want to leave doesn't mean that you won't cause all of this to happen to somepony else!"
"I'm not going to anyplace with a pony. No people of any kind." Bone explained. He was feeling very cold inside at the moment and he chalked it up to past experiences making him numb to death in general. "I need to get control of myself and I can't do that around anything that has a heartbeat. I can't kill the sand or rocks, Spike."
"So where are you going to go?" Rarity asked. Bone noted that she didn't call him 'dear' this time, but that was understandable.
"Do you have any suggestions, or maybe a map?" The necromancer questioned.
"I think I know of a place..." Starlight ominously replied.