“The fanatic is incorruptible: if he kills for an idea, he can just as well get himself killed for one; in either case, tyrant or martyr, he is a monster.”
―Emile M. Cioran
Twilight wasn't sure what to think of this strange beast. It stood on two legs and had a short t tannish coat, though she couldn't locate any fur. It’s body and the lower half of it’s legs and arms were armored with shining silver plates. She observed that it’s extremities, which were just round flat bases with five separate fingers protruding from it. They were much more like Spike’s hands than actual hooves. A metal helmet of a sort covered it’s face, but she could see the deep green-blue eyes piercing through the shadows that were cast on it’s face. It’s jaw hung slightly open in a contorted position, releasing heavy, strained breaths. The monster had almost killed the diamond dogs, yet somehow she found a strange fascination with the creature. What was it? Where did it come from? There were so many questions surrounding it like a shroud of mysteries, endless questions needing answers, all in one single being. She would have to analyze it later, right now it pointed it’s blade directly at her, a threatening aura lingering around it. She met it’s eyes, fear and fascination like a bittersweet bar of chocolate. It’s eyes mapped out every intricate detail of it’s emotions, and suddenly a strange, unexpected shift occurred. At first there had been a primal fire, a rabid blood thirst ready to feed on anything and everything that it saw. Now it seemed to offer remorse, a kind of a realization, the world beginning to sink in around it. It’s hand shakily stroked a wide slice that Twilight had just noticed in it’s breast. The hand came up covered in warm, sticky blood. It stood in silence for a brief moment, realizing it’s injury before collapsing to it’s knees, looking up at her in excruciating pain. Two brief words escaped it’s parched lips, “Help me.”
Karth sat on a sturdy, cold, stone wall next to someone. A man. A friend.
“...and that’s about when you fell asleep at the tavern,” Karth laughed, nearly choking on the bread he ate.
His friend’s face was taken by a smile, “I don’t know Karth, what about that instance when you walked to Roseanne’s house...”
Karth’s face grew serious, though a sarcastic grin bit at his lips as he playfully threatened, “Anteus, don’t start with that story...”
Anteus giggled, drawing a dagger and started carving at a small piece of wood. He had been doing it for months and had started to resemble a horse mounted on a soldier. He carved out a few small details before looking back up at Karth, and holding out the small sculpture.
“Almost forgot, I made this for you, for your birthday.” Karth took the piece with bewilderment. His friend had worked on this for months, and how he gave it to him freely?
“It’s a horse, for now we are soldiers!” He held up his fist so that it faced the sky, a pledge of allegiance to his country.
“Thank you,” Karth said, no other words of gratitude could find their way into his excited mind. He was mesmerized by the gift he had been given
Anteus cleared his throat, a boast playing into his voice as he asked, “So are you ready to join the Legion in twelve days?”
Karth sobered instantly. Anteus beamed at his companion with patriotic glee practically firing out of his eyes.
“I suppose.” Karth said, suddenly seeming distant and glancing up at the moon. Anteus looked at him with a condemning disapproval.
“So you just aren't ready for it?” Anteus crafted his words gently, putting each together carefully to hide the obvious disappointment that flooded his voice. Karth sighed. His friend was loyal to his country, but almost too loyal. He didn’t want to offend his friend but he also couldn't bring himself to lie to a lifelong companion like this.
“I just- I can’t”
Anteus looked at him quizzically. “Can’t what?”
“I’m not going to join the army.”
Anteus simply laughed. “You know that it’s mandated for men of our age.” He said it with such unmatched confidence that Karth almost changed his mind right there, but then he remembered his plan.
“I’m leaving town, tonight in fact. I’ll go into the mountains and survive there. I can do it, there is no way that I will ever bring myself into battle!” Karth immediately regretted those words.
Anteus’ cockiness faded quickly. The two sat in silence, an invisible wall constructing itself between the two friends.
Anteus dropped himself down to the dirt road.
“See you soon Karth” He nearly whispered as he disappeared into the night. Karth’s eyes followed his every step as he left. Something wasn't right about the situation. He’s my friend. His mind attempted to make him feel better. I can trust him.
Karth’s eyes shot open as he bolted upright in the stiff bed, his breathing deep and a cold sweat forming on his brow. It was just another flashback. He remembered all the times that he had shared with his former companion. The arrogant dreams of splendor and glory, the untameable laughs that they shared days at a time, all of their many adventures. He threw it away, memory pleaded, it was his fault, not ours! He put his hand to his forehead in order to attempt to find a frustrated thought of some sort. His hand pulled the sweat back into his coarse brown hair. Wait...was it...was it his hair? He felt again. It was definitely his own, but it was now smooth and silky, and his helmet was gone. Who had taken his helmet? He glanced down only to his armor was gone too. That’s when his second revelation rolled into his mind. The scar was gone. Where a gaping gash should have been left was not but smooth skin. He drew his finger over it, as though it might be a hallucination of a sort. It was not. His wound had completely healed. He slipped out of the thin sheet and plucked a shirt off of the desk beside him. As he put it on he turned to look at the other side and there in the chair was the purple pony, sleeping. He crawled over the bed and sat on the side, staring at the creature. After a few minutes of silence, a beam of light fell onto the mare’s eye and it drowsily awoke, drowsily attempting to shade it's face.
He looked at her as it drifted upward in the soft green chair.
“Thank you,” Karth muttered. The pony rubbed its eyes, most likely from it’s tired mind trying to comprehend her unfamiliar environment. After a beat, she realized what he had said.
“You’re welcome...” She practically snored it, but she still managed to deliver the phrase in such a way that almost asked him his name. He sat in shock for a moment as the pony rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. Less than 10 people in the universe knew his real name for it wasn't something that was given freely. Too many factors were in play here. She had saved his life, another feat that most could never accomplish.
“Karth.” He nearly whispered it. The pony left him no reaction time.
“Your welcome Karth!” She finished, “My name is Twilight Sparkle!” She proudly stated as she extended her hoof. Karth stared at it a moment. The gesture had become so foreign to him that he found himself stunned for a brief second. His name was one thing, but an offering of friendship freely? This was a fully separate matter indeed. He stole a quick glance down to his unsure hands quivering on the edge of the bed he sat on, then back up to the pony who still stood, eyes closed, hoof extended with a warm greeting. Against his own free will his hand swung around and met her hoof in the middle. What was he doing? The he could feel his heart’s defenses being breached and quickly pulled back. The two sat in silence for a few moments when Twilight broke into conversation.
“You were asleep for 2 days” She answered his silent question, “But, regardless, if you don’t mind my asking...what exactly are you?” She inquired. Karth laughed to himself. Not but a day ago the question would have sounded absurd to him, but now nothing seemed to be quite impossible.
“I’m a human” He said, his gruff voicing weaving in a twinge of a smile.
“A what?” Twilight inquired almost immediately.
“We’re a bit like a-” Karth’s mind raced for some way to describe the human race. Filth was the first word that came into his head, but that’s not exactly how he wanted these ponies to see him. “-Well...we’re humans.” Karth made a small gesture with his hands presenting himself as an example.
“How do you know Equestrian?”
“Our language, the language of Equestria.”
So that’s where he was. A land called Equestria. A place where purple ponies lived and spoke English.
“Well, where I come from we actually just refer to it as English” Karth admitted shyly.
“And where do you come from?” Twilight’s questions were beginning to feel like an interrogation.
Karth shrugged, “Well, Earth.”
“Then how did you get here?”
He paused. That very question had troubled Karth himself as well. How had he gotten here? Was he the only one? “I-I don’t know” Karth admitted
“Not a single clue?” Twilight’s head tipped curiously to the side.
“Nothing,” Karth’s mind hit a small mental block, cutting himself off abruptly. No one comes in. He nervously resumed conversation, “How did you get here?” He listlessly asked.
“Well, I was born here...” Twilight giggled. Karth let out a small fake laugh, but he also questioned his own sheer ignorance. Of course she had! He was probably the only foreigner that this land had ever seen or ever will see. He sighed and thought about this new world. The question came back and haunted him. How did I get here? His gaze pitifully dropped to the floor
“Do you think I’ll ever leave here?” Karth asked, a lump of sorrow leaving his words strained.
“Oh, actually I think that you can leave the hospital right now if you really want to...”
“No no no”, He interrupted, frustrated with the idea, “I mean here, as in Equestria.” The question made the planet stand still.
“I-I don’t know.” Twilight shakily responded. Karth was disappointed, though this was the answer he had expected. The two sat in silence for a beat, the weight of realization holding the two perfectly still.
Karth broke the delicate silence, “Alright, well I suppose that leaves me the task of finding someplace to stay in town” He said as he began to stand.
“You can stay with Spike and I!” Twilight quickly interjected. Karth found himself once again stunned by surprise. Was this pony, whom only two days ago was a complete stranger, that he had only ever talked to once offering him a shelter? He turned to face her.
“Thank you.” A genuine tone ran through his gruff voice, smoothing it out. Twilight smiled at him. Karth turned back to face the door just as a pink pony burst through the door and shouted, “SURPRISE!”
The pony had succeeded. Karth instinctively reached for his sword only to remember that it had been removed with his armor. Then something tickled his head and he looked up to see small pieces of colored paper falling from the ceiling. I think we have something like this back home, he realized. What was it called...confetti? Frightened, he looked back to the pink pony, whom now seemed to be smiling wider than what should have been physically possible.
“Twilight carried you here the other day and I've never seen anything like you and I then I thought ‘Maybe it’s lonely’ and I couldn't stand the thought of you being lonely even though Twilight was with you so I got a bunch of ponies together and now we’re throwing you a PARTY!” The pony spouted the words at a million miles an hour and Karth’s full attention was hardly able to comprehend anything the pony said. He fumblingly pulled himself off of the floor where he had fallen when the pony had scared him and was beginning to realize that this pony was quite possibly the most abstract creature that he had ever seen. Almost immediately, a horde of these brightly colored ponies flooded into the hospital room. He maintained his composure, though the animal fought the steely cage bars of his mind. These animals are innocent he reminded himself. There is no need here, at least not right now.
Twilight analyzed Karth as the party ensued in the hospital room. There was something about him that was he held back, an internal struggle almost. She wasn’t sure if anyone else had seen it, she was hardly even sure if she had read it correctly when she noticed it, but she had no doubt in her mind that there was something wrong. The way he held back whenever asked about himself. There was almost a type of shock in his eyes when she spoke to him. There were things that he had muttered in his sleep, dark things, gruesome things, battles with others, even a seeming hatred for himself. She would have to find a book and look into it later. Now she simply found herself staring at him. He seemed to be uncomfortable in this crowd. His hands were clenched into tight fists and sweat was forming on his forehead. He didn't look like he wanted to run, there was something...deeper. Luckily she could study him further as he would be staying at the library. There was still something about him that she found unsettling. A kind of aura that screamed for help yet also urged everypony to step away. Whatever the case, she had no time for it now. She walked into the crowd forming around him hopefully to give him some comfort and a sense of familiarity, because though in one hoof she saw him as some sort of strange specimen, she also saw him as a friend. A little different than most, taller, darker, possibly deadly, but a friend nonetheless.
Chrysalis paced the forest, attempting to locate and pockets of surviving changelings. So far she had only found a small handful of troops that could fight by her side, but that wouldn't matter once she finally executed her plan. She smiled cruelly at the thought. This time I will not fail she thought to herself as she began trotting back to her small makeshift military camp, her hooves leaving hole dusted hoof prints as she went. She emerged from the woods, and walked through the aisle of a dozen soldiers she had located as they saluted her. She approached her tent and looked down at the wooden table. Her frown intensified as the lifted a dagger and drove it into the picture of Twilight Sparkle.
P.S. Hey guys, sorry about the wait and probably about the lower quality of this chapter. I've just been busy with school and work and everything. Thanks for reading!
- Midnight Ride