Chapter 11: Fear is the Mind Killer
The run wasn't entirely too difficult, even for me. David’s flight level wasn’t high enough to go too fast and his stamina made it so he had to keep running speed with us. We slowed slightly whenever one of us needed a slight rest to get our stamina back, no one spoke during the run. The three of us were focused on getting to the village before too much damage could happen, along the way I summoned my wisp back and it was easily able to keep up with us.
“I can see the village up ahead!” I didn’t need the ability to fly to know where the village was, rising in the distance was a slowly growing plume of smoke which didn’t bode well for the villagers. I had to crush my rising urgency back down before I tired myself out before our battle began. I was already at less than half stamina so I slowed slightly to let it start recovering, as we crested the last hill we saw the sorry state of the village. I could tell at a mere once over that the village wasn’t large enough to have its own guard force, but judging from the few bleeding bodies on the ground they might have a militia. There’s five of them that I could see, two had just finished killing off the sixth militia pony and another two had started to chase the civilians into their homes while the last had cornered a mother and her two children. Suddenly I was very glad I wasn’t someone who would freeze up at a sign of danger, I knew time was of the essence so I acted immediately.
“David, The mother! Morgana, The houses! I got the other two!”
“Right!” And like that we split off to help, I knew Morgana would be at a disadvantage against her bandits so with a mental nudge I sent my wisp following after her. David sped off to the right at a breakneck speed, flapping his wings and running on the ground at the same time to try and save the mother and her children. I lost sight of Morgana when she split off and turned into a gap between two farmhouses with my wisp following close behind leaving me sprinting towards the two currently unaware bandits.
Now that I was closer I could tell that only one of them was an earth pony while the other was actually a griffon, that was going to be an issue. The Griffon was wielding an old looking cutlass or saber while the pony had a simple hatchet resting at their hooves, the fallen militia ponies’ weapons lied on the ground stewing in their cooling blood untouched. The two bandits were currently searching the bodies for anything valuable, what I am about to do cannot register on an emotional level. For the first time I felt [Perception] activate fully and suddenly I felt like I could plan out everything… so that's what I did.
Judging by the lack of armor on the Griffin but the higher quality weapon, they must rely on their agility to fight. First I would use [Fire Magic Control] and imbue my first few shots with fire magic to set the griffon on fire. Then I would [Blink] onto a nearby rooftop and fire down at the earth pony and griffon. The griffon would be preoccupied with putting out his feathers and be unable to defend against my mana blasts. Judging from the lack of communication between them and the disgusted look on the Earth pony’s face there is not camaraderie between them so the likelihood of him staying to help the avian is unlikely. The pony will most likely seek cover after the initial shots and will willingly abandon the griffon, the only cover in the area are a few covered porches that surround the pseudo-square we’re all in and an upturned cart which is much closer. By then my mana would be less than half so the most optimal attack would be to use a majority of the remaining mana and [Blinking] across the square and landing behind the selected cover and landing a point blank shot using the rest of my mana which would at the very least kill him… execute.
Simply envisioning the whole fight took less than a second but left me with a headache, imbuing my magic with fire felt like holding my hand over a lot of steam. When I fired the first two shots I figured the beams would impact the griffon’s side and just set those areas on fire, but that isn’t what happened. The fire imbued magic beams looking like two identical fire balls flying through the air, looking like the tried and true spell [Fireball] that anyone interested in fantasy would recognize. So I almost lost my composure when I watched both shots crash into the griffon’s side and instead of bursting instead splashed onto his face and back like napalm, angrily burning the same silver color as the campfire last night. For a mere moment the Griffon wasn’t aware what was happening… then the screams started. The griffon’s feathers didn’t burn like I expected instead they started to melt and eat into the griffon’s tissue making it look like he was slowly melting into grey slime, the exposed muscle and sinew all taking on a silver hue as my flames ate away at him.
At this point my mind was divided into two, one side was drowning in the horror I had just inflicted which the other had gone into autopilot and had [Blinked] up onto a nearby overlooking rooftop. Both bandits were on the ground now for completely different reasons, Griffon’s legs had actually given way after the fire had eaten away most of his shoulders and thighs leaving him a writhing mass of silver burning flesh and bone. The earth pony had actually fallen to the ground out of fear which I used to my advantage, three not imbued shots were sent his way and only one missed. The first shot had nailed his right foreleg making him drop his already slack hatchet, the next shot followed the first and further mutilated his right foreleg leaving it a pulpy bloody mess leaving it barely hanging it one by a few strands of sinew and skin and the last shot struck the burning griffon putting him out of his misery while the last flew past the pony’s head alerting him of my position. The earth pony’s pain filled screams fell on deaf ears and I watched him half drag himself half run towards the upturned wagon like I predicted. I had just enough mana left over to [Blink] down and past the wagon behind the trembling bandit, I primed my last shot.
“Wai-!” I didn’t give him a chance, I fired my mana beam the moment he turned to face me so I had an up close shot of the effects that would haunt me for a long time. It was almost like it happened in slow motion, my mana beam slowly flew from my horn and traveled through the air for less than half a second. Acting like a true laser it entered through his left eye burning an ugly charcoal black tunnel through the large expressive organ, it wasn’t even all the way into his head before the beam burst fully. Part ways into the earth pony's head the beam finally detonated transforming their brain into mush and sending the other eyeball flying out of their head along with a spray of greymatter that stained the ground… huh, pony eyeballs are actually disks, not orbs. I got all of three steps away before throwing up, as much as I wanted to run off and find my friends I needed a moment to regenerate my mana… I hope they're okay.
(PoV Change: David)
I couldn’t understand how calm Marcus was during all of this, seeing what the ponies were doing to their own people was sickening, but instead of freezing up in horror like me Marcus quickly issued orders that took our strengths into account. Shaking myself out of my fear induced stun Morgana and I answered in kind.
“Right!” In relation to the entrance of the village we were coming from its left side so we could see where each of our targets went. I had to take to the sky for a moment to see where the mother and children were, the brown coated mare was cut and nicked in a few places but wasn’t in any worse condition. The two foals she hid behind her were crying and the advancing unicorn bandit was loving every second of it, I didn’t even hesitate. I moved as fast as I could using both my wings and hooves minus one which was used to hold my now unsheathed sword, my approach wasn’t exactly stealthy. The unicorn must have heard me coming as he whipped around and brought the sword I didn’t see before to bare defending against my first slash. Pushing off of him and circling around him in the air, I landed between him and the family. Even though I just essentially cornered myself I didn’t think about it, I am certain I could beat this guy but so sure I could do that and defend the family at the same time. I needed to get them out of here, not wasting any time I lunged forward with a stab to try and get some space. The Unicorn using the near infinite dexterity of levitation twirled his blade around to bat mine away and get closer. I had to use my wings to stop myself from over extending and leaving myself open, his slashed had much more strength that I was expecting so block his attacks actually hurt a bit and I was actually worried that my sword was about to break… it wasn’t in the best condition.
“What’s wrong!?” I was on the back foot, him using levitation meant he could pretty much attack from every direction and from any position while I couldn’t really advance without leaving the family vulnerable. I could hear the mother and her children crying behind me, I couldn’t lose here. A sharp crack sounded out after I blocked a stronger than usual overhead slash and my blood ran cold, my sword is breaking and I need to end this fight now! I deflected the next attack into the wall instead of blocking it, the unicorn had to actually stop moving and concentrate on removing the sword from the wooden wall instead of advancing. I have a plan, I took a glance at the ground and found what I was looking for. By now the unicorn had gotten his sword unstuck and had returned to slowly advancing with a gleeful smile on his face, I waited until he was close enough to enact my plan and when he was about to lunge at me again I started my trap.
With a quick and hard flap of my wings I sent the sandy gravel up and into his eyes, blinding him and at the same time sending me up and over him. I never even gave him the chance to start flailing around, with a quick aerial flip I swung my damaged blade around and two things shattered, my sword… and his horn. I landed behind him holding my sword's empty handle while he was sent to the ground holding the bloody stump where his horn used to be, I didn’t even need to turn and say anything to the mother as she had already turned and ran for safety. The loss of my sword was kinda sad, but it wasn't the best weapon in the first place so it was bound to happen sooner or later. I would take the unicorn’s sword but it actually had no handle, it’s like it was made to be used by a unicorn’s levitation. A quick kick to the head sent the screaming unicorn to sleep and left me with an 80 pound unconscious bandit to drag… ugh I wish I had magic, I wonder how the others are doing.
(PoV Change: Morgana)
I’m starting to get worried about Marcus, it can’t be healthy to keep forcing himself like this. I could tell just like last time when we fought the lion he had pushed his emotions away and didn’t even acknowledge them, though I can’t say i’m any better. As awful as it is to say, I'm kinda excited to go and fight. Just the idea of three heroes of light going to save the innocent from the evil bandits just tickled me! Here I could act just like any fantasy hero I wanted, I didn’t have to be the meek quiet little girl who only spoke when spoken to. Here I can be the main character I always wanted to be. I heard Marcus tell out our jobs and was actually happy he gave me the larger job of getting the bandits out of the houses, I tried and maybe failed at stopping my enthusiasm from leaking into my voice as David and I responded.
“Right!” The silver glow of Marcus’s familiar caught my attention as I ran off, a glance behind me showed me that he had it follow me… which was nice of him. I took a shortcut between a few houses to get closer to the bandits chasing one of the various families, it looks like most of the village had enough time to barricade themselves inside their homes unlike these unlucky few.
“Okay… deep breath, c’mon wisp!” The deep breath helped a bit, but it was mostly to help me get into character. First impressions are important, and I know just the persona to imitate. The three bandits managed to pry open one of the barricaded houses and rushed inside so I quickly figured out what to do next… this was going to be fun. The house was a normal one story thatched house with windows and everything so I didn’t give it more than a cursory glance, affixing a cocky grin to my face I entered the building making sure my hoof steps could be heard… and they were heard alright
“Heellloo La-Mares, Do any of you want to play a game?” My entrance seemed to have genuinely confused them, one bandit had froze during what looked like a fight with a pretty bruised older stallion, another seems to have been in the middle of stealing food, while the last was standing over who I assume is the older stallion’s wife. I was hoping for some pre-fight banter, maybe a few jabs back and forth but I guess the one stealing food wanted this to be over with. Pulling his hand-er hoof axe out and changing me with it wasn’t his smartest idea, Marcus’s wisp shot a blast straight into his face blinding him and giving me plenty time to simply step to the right as his charge carried him past me and with a quick wind up I bucked him in the side send him flying out the open door. Turning back to the now gobsmacked bandits I said two words while keeping my cocky grin.
“Two points” The other bandits seemed to take this as a sign that going to fight the little girl who sent one of their teammates flying is a good idea. Again Marcus’s wisp took it upon itself to go and distract the one who was over the mare while the other charged me with a sword in hoof. I was pretty sure the same move wasn’t going twice on these guys so instead I grabbed the closest thing to me and swung it around. Now I will admit, i’m still getting used to the whole ‘super earth pony strength’ thing so both the bandit and I were surprised when what I grabbed was apparently the leg of the dining room table which instead of breaking off brought the whole table around and crashed into the bandit. He was sent flying even faster than the last guy through the open door and guessing by the following two thuds he crashed into the first guy as well which made me chuckle a bit.
“Four points hehe” The last guy was still swinging at the wisp with his club and was missing horribly, Marcus’ wisp was flying circles around him and maybe even mocking him from how it stops for one moment only to speed off again once the bandit gets close. While it was really funny I needed to end this, so I dropped the slightly cracked table and approached the extremely annoyed bandit. Right when he was about to swing and inevitably miss again I grabbed his hoof with my own and before he was able to react I turned and pulled, I needed a few spins to get enough speed but soon I was spinning the bandit around with the ease of a bodybuilder. The spinning was making me really dizzy so when I released the bandit in the direction I thought the open door was, what I heard instead was the sound of glass shattering. Shaking the dizziness off I saw that instead of throwing him out of the house I had thrown him out of the window…
“Heh oops… fowl I guess” Quickly following the defenestrated bandits I saw that all of them had landed in roughly the same place, one of them was helping up the one I had thrown through the window who was covered in small cuts and nicks while the first one was standing and glaring in my direction.
“You’ll regret that you whorse!” Hey! That’s not fair! How come they can swear but we can’t! The first bandit’s words alerted the other two that I was there and they readied themselves to all charge at me… which is exactly what I want. A few of the houses had started to open up to watch our little confrontation, I hope they enjoy the show.
“She lines up for the pitch… “ A wordless battle cry rang from the three as they charged, but I tuned them out as I concentrated. I felt the deep hearty flow of my magic bubble up until it coated my hooves then I waited for them to get close enough, 50 feet, 35 feet, 20 feet, Now [Earth Manipulation]!
“And it’s a Homerun!” Rearing up onto my hind legs and quickly slamming them back down was all the motion I needed for my magic to know what I was doing, the moment my hooves impacted the ground a wall of stone shot up from the ground right underneath the three bandits sending them skyward, their battle cry petering out the higher they went. When they started to fall back down though did their battle cry turn to screams and when they landed in the nearby bushes unconscious did I know I had won.
“Yeah I know I’m awesome, don’t need to say it all at once” I certainly felt awesome.