Pony POV Series
Birth Of A Monster
By Alex Warlorn
Edited By Louis
"It is with considerable difficulty that I remember the original era of my being:" -Mareshelly's Frakenmare's Monster
"A baby? Let's look closer for the answer: a monster!"
They say my mother turned emotionless and detached during her pregnancy with me. She was still rational. Still aware of her surroundings. But I was told she'd apparently 'lost her heart' as I was near due, but regained her emotionality after I was born. Otherwise, it was a normal pregnancy, lasting twelve and a half months.
Like most everybody, I recall nothing of my in utero development. Though, bizarrely, I have nonsensical flashes of images and ideas from what I believe to have taken place before my conception. Perhaps we'll discuss this later.
Regardless, when the appointed hour came, all the villagers reported feeling emotional detachment from the world at large as my mother went into labor.
And I was exiled from the only home I had ever known. I knew not this new world. I knew not these striped creatures examining me. I knew not what I was. I knew not who I was. I knew not where I was. I loudly announced my arrival in this cold expansive world.
Yet, I still remember the words the doctor spoke, the first words I had heard in my life. Not that I comprehended spoken language at the time. Nor understood the walking stick with the heavy head the doctor picked up with his eyes on my skull. I felt confusing things I would learn were called 'emotions.' Fear and anger, in this case, from the striped thing above me. Wild magic surged, and base instinct controlled my magic, and I felt my body shift and change into something else. And I felt my magic reach out on its own, smothering the feeling that would do me harm.
I only grew more scared and confused of this strange new place I had come to against my will.
And now the doctor was confused what had possessed him to call the newborn zebra foal in front of him a monster. And now my mother was delighted by the sight of me. I looked like an newborn version of her, after all.
She would nurse me like any mother would, but it would be the love she felt towards me that would truly nourish my body.
At the time, of course, I did not think these thoughts quite so... articulately as I am currently conveying them. Psychologically, I was too immature and infantile.
All I knew was hunger. And I knew mother would protect me.
The name they gave me...I haven't thought about it in so long. Kifuko. That was it. My name when I was born was Kifuko.
Cattle are too egocentric to notice, but zebra stripes are all sublimely unique.
I wasn't like the others. My stripes were a perfect likeness of my mother's. An oddity, but I was never mistreated or alienated for it.
As I learned to speak, as I learned to move, as I learned my magic, all I knew was that what I was fed didn't help me. Grass, fruits, honey... anything that was meant to travel down the esophagus, did me no good. I could taste food. I had a tongue and palate; I could distinguish the appetizing from the inedible. But it didn't fill me. I might as well have been eating dust.
This made my parents feel concern and worry for me, and I ate that up too. I realized when my parents felt sorry for me, when they said they cared about me, when they hugged me, I felt stronger, not weaker. I didn't feel like I was wasting away to nothing.
Mother made masks. She taught me their many meanings, and the value and purpose of masks. The masks she made were more honest than the masks most cattle were born wearing.
Father was both protector and hunter. Whether I was filly or colt, I was his foal, so he agreed to take me with him, to help with his tasks outside our settlement.
"Remember Kifuko: stealth, patience, timing, picking the right target, ignoring the wrong ones, hitting your quarry where they are weak, and avoiding them where they are strong. Are all vital to any hunt."
My parents and Maua always told me I had eyes like a cat's.
The animals taught me much, too. Lions. Hyenas. Even the termites, though my stomach turned to ice at the sight of those bugs.
Leaders remains leaders only as long as they stay strong. It was the followers' duty to dispose of weak leaders.
It was never to be personal between hunter and prey.
The termites, blech, I didn't know why, but looking at them they were just 'right' enough that the wrong-wrong-wrong stood out more.
They taught me, in the end, there's room for only one at the top.
And both the animals and my family taught me hunger is a race without end.
A normal one of my kind could easily survive on the love of two cattle. My parents, alone, had love to spare. I have never been normal.
I had no clue why I was always got SO hungry. No matter how much I filled my belly, my body still felt weak and empty until my parents hugged me, nuzzled me.
I finally understood one night when I woke up to find a swarm of insects surrounding me, I screamed at the sight of the disgusting things. My parents swooped in and chased away the scurrying intruders. They asked me if I was okay and made sure I was alright and allowed me to sleep in their bed that night.
I fed well that night. And I understood.
Mother put up a new mask which spoke that insects were not welcome in our family's home. It made me feel safer.
Whenever I found an insect in my room again, I'd pull its legs off, and leave it in a spider's web, if one was around.
"And all of you remember, when you're hunting, your goal is to take down your prey. When you're defending your herd, your duty is to protect those you love. Proving your greatness as a warrior is NOT a vital part of either of these. In fact, to do so is to invite death. Any hunter, no matter how great, will fall to their prey if he insist on a direct confrontation," My father taught, from inside a collection of colts and fillies surrounding him in a semicircle.
"But teacher-Nondo," said one of the colts, "You'd never fall to a quarry!"
"Don't be so sure!" My father stood upon his hind legs and stretched out his chest. We all saw the scars. It looked like cracked ground. "When I was young and stupid I said to Tartarus with stealth and tried to face an animal head on...I was in bed healing for weeks, and for months I was rebuilding muscles and learning to use my body again. Remember this! As a hunter, you're not hunting for sport as some griffins or dragons might. You hunt for survival. A 'fair chance' to your prey is a fair chance for you to die or for your family to starve. Remember that."
I never forgot those scars, or that lesson.
Did they ever hunt for food? What are you... stupid? This was a tribe of ZEBRAS, not griffins. But that didn't mean there weren't plenty of creatures that didn't hunt THEM for food. And those beasts' parts made for great trade for when father and others went to swap-meets for everything from raw materials for leatherworkers to bone-tools and trinkets!
The most insane thing my father was ever asked to capture instead of kill were black mamba. I can't imagine anyling being insane enough to want one as a pet. Apparently, there are creatures who will trade for the venom or the snakes themselves. Don't ask me, only my father ever met with these lunatics.
Black mamba hunts were also the only hunts my father wouldn't take me on. He taught me with props and by example. Maua told me once she had survived an encounter with a snake (not a black mamba) by being as still as a flower until it passed.
Maua? Ah, you would wish to know of her. I saw a zebra filly from class one day just laying on a grassy hill, looking up at the sky. I wondered what exactly she was looking at and looked up and saw nothing. So I laid on the ground next to her to get a better look. I still didn't see what she was looking at. I turned my head thinking maybe she was sleeping, but no, she was looking, but at what? There was nothing above us that I could see.
I couldn't take it anymore and finally asked, "What are you looking at?"
"Can't you see them in the clouds?"
"No. I can't!"
"Don't look so hard."
"That makes no sense!"
"Look softly...can't you see the wings?"
There was nothing but sky. "What? Are they invisible?"
"Don't be weird. There's no such thing as invisible dragons."
AGH! I wonder if she had eaten some bad mushroom. "There is nothing but clouds."
"Exactly. Can't you see them? The way the wind makes them move?"
"The clouds are the dragons," she said like she was a sage.
"No. They're just clouds."
"You really can't see them?"
"That's because there's nothing to see."
"Except the clouds, the way the wind makes them move, the way the sun shines off them, the silver lining, the way it billows like flames, the way the tendrils of cloud spread like wings..."
I snorted. "The winds and clouds are made by griffins, weather wyrms, and our own rain dances. What difference does it make that they're shaped like other things? They're just being sent wherever they need to go. They're not paintings."
"And that makes them less special? Even if you make a cloud look the same, it's not the same cloud. And it only stays a dragon if you look it from here, another way, it resembles something else. Isn't that special? The dragon roars as it moves if you look."
I looked more, and for moment, it wasn't a cloud I saw, I saw it roar, it wings flap, I caw its claw stretched out, its teeth... I closed my eyes and shuddered.
"Heh. You saw it didn't you?"
"O-of course not."
"You're a bad liar."
"I'll have to get better then. Thank you for telling me."
"You're welcome." She sat up and extended her hoof, and grinned, "My name is Maua."
"I'm Kifuko." I grinned back and pressed hard against her hoof with my own, and she replied back with equal force and moved our hooves up slightly, as was zebra tradition.
"Nice to meet you, Kifuko."
As it turned out, the zebra filly visit that grassy hill regularly. She asked if I'd be there again, and I said I would. Maua was a mystery to me, and I didn't like mysteries. Father had taught me that a good hunt could be overwhelmed by unknown factors.
One thing Maua told me, you couldn't just silently observe others, you had to interact with them, to get to know them. She was right.
It's strange, really. For some reason, I was never hungry around Maua.
Even stranger, I noticed she was part of the group classes I was in. Had she magically appeared? Was she some spirit or trickster? No. I realized, I had simply never noticed her, she had been just one of the other foals around me before.
One thing we'd never be able to agree on were bugs. Maua thought butterflies were beautiful, I couldn't see what she saw in the zillion-eyed monsters. Butterflies were only good when they fed spiders, which were only good because they ate other bugs.
Then came the day of my first solo kill. Don't look so shocked. My tribe has always prided itself on its survival skills. Plus: more kills means more material for barter.
As I came back with my prize on my back some of the older foals said, "Lucky amateur."
Huh? Lucky amateur? I did exactly what dad said to do, how is that luck? Others had tried to throw in their own style or skipped steps on what they had been taught to do and paid the price for it. How was following the rules lucky?
"Don't worry about it, Kifuko," Maua had said, as did my father. My parents were happy I had made a 'friend.' Friend? I hadn't even thought of that when I had gone to meet Maua again and again. But I reviewed all the criteria from all the zebra around me who called each other friend. I couldn't escape the conclusion that yes, we were friends.
I was not surprised when Maua also came back successful from her own first solo kill. She had sharp senses, and she knew how to listen to them. It would have been more confusing if she had failed. Nozebra called her a lucky amateur, and there was no reason they would have.
Maua could always tell when somezebra was bluffing. She could figure out the way a piece of wild weather would go, or the way plants would grow along a certain path. Maua warned another filly her plants were seeded too close together and would strangle each other. Which is just what happened. The faceless filly said Maua must have sabotaged her plants somehow, after all, what could Maua know of plants, idiot.
The faceless filly's friends told Maua not to make such 'predictions' anymore since she was clearly causing them to happen by saying them in the first place. Morons. "It's what I am, it's what I do, same way fire burns and water flows." Heh, I always knew she was a poet.
That little speech would gain Maua her cutie mark. It was, you guessed it, a beautiful cloud, I think only I, herself, and her parents understood its meaning and her special talent. Other zebras could read words, Maua could read everything else. She'd be apprentice to the same now aging zebra who was there when I was born.
Maua would introduce me to the other friends she made at her 'Cute-Ceañera' as you'd call it, but I could never remember their names, Maua would always remember for me.
My own cutie mark came when I wore one of my mother's masks for a community performance, and I sang. And it was like the zebras before me forgot they were watching a performance, and had become characters in the story themselves, as my song echoed through the air, reaching all of them. Like the mask was no longer a mask, but was my real face, and all the performance became more alive. I had become the dragon in the clouds.
The zebras raved about how good my performance was. I had taken off my mother's mask, and the rest of my costume. I didn't even realize anything had changed until my mother pointed at the new symbol on my flanks in the torch light. I was astounded and shocked in silence, I was always sure I was going to instinctively know when it happened. I didn't whoop or cheer. I merely continued to stare at it in awe as Mother led me home. I didn't think about it until later, but I couldn't remember feeling so strong as I did that night.
What WAS my cutie mark? Feel free to guess. Guess until you're blue in the face. I burned every rendition of it in existence.
The role I played in the performance? Oh, I was a princess.
Some of the foals-becoming-adults who heard of my performance but hadn't been there in zebra said, "Lucky amateur." Seeing them shut their muzzles when I showed them my mark and their sweet silence in its own way held more satisfaction than the cutie mark itself.
Given what my cutie mark was, Maua felt her own strong sense of satisfaction. I didn't blame her.
Then the most deadly weapon I could have ever asked for to arm myself with arrived in our settlement.
My town's name? Good luck even finding it on a map.
Goodness, you DO go off on tangents, don't you?
But back to the important matter. The weapons: The books.
They were given to us as a gift from a country I had never even heard of. 'Equestria.' I was told the winged creatures who brought them were called ponies. They were like zebra, but not like zebra. They didn't have stripes, their manes were limp and floppy, their cutie marks looked like they were STAMPED on, rather than naturally flowing out of the stripes they didn't have. They also seemed to come in three types, one had wings, others had horns, and those who were most like us had neither. And their colors, eep! It was like they were making up for their hides being devoid of patterns by being any and every color of the rainbow. Some were so brightly colored they hurt my eyes to look at.
The majority of the books were in our language, but a few were in what they called 'High' and 'Low Equestrian.'
"Sorry, these were shipped by accident, we'll be getting replacements soon," said a winged one in gold armor.
"No," I asked, "Please, let us keep them, I really want to learn from them too!"
I was closing in fast on that age that cute innocent eyes would no longer be a effective means of influence (oh, don't look at me like that, Maua taught it TO ME), but I was going to milk it for all it was worth while I still had it!
"Uh...alright dear, if it means that much to you."
"Thank you!" I cheered as I had seen others do.
It was a mystery what was in those books. And I dislike mysteries. By luck, a book on learning the language was included, along with how to read both forms of the written language. It took time. A lot of time, but I eventually taught myself Equestrian. Some of my peers said I was neglecting my skills as a hunter and a performer. No matter, I'd have to catch up later. I wouldn't have the mystery of these books mocking me with their secrets!
Learning to read two versions of another language with nozebra to teach it to me took time, lots of it, and it frustrated me I couldn't learn faster, but the mountains don't give back what they take, and I had already started climbing.
I read the other books too, of course. I learned of the nature of the world outside our settlement, of other lands, or other nations, and all they held. The basic sciences, the games of the politicians and how they were won or lost, on the beasts I had never seen before. And the ocean! I had heard of it before, but never in such vivid detail and such beauteous images!
There was also some random horror story collection. Don't ask me how those books got in there. I was disgusted at the monsters they described, creatures who killed for no apparent reason, no purpose or goals than mindless slaughter (never mind many were supposed to be intelligent as part of the 'fear.') Made me wonder what these monsters did when they had no victims around... roll dice? Play Go-Fish? Maua read over my shoulder one time, she turned green and had nightmares that night, talking about the ways the monsters tore apart the characters. ... I hadn't even thought about that part.
No one complained when I threw that book in the garbage.
There was one story I'd never forget. A scorpion who needed to cross a river asked a fox to let it ride on its head. The scorpion promised not to sting him since it would drown them both anyway. The scorpion did so anyway halfway across the river, the fox asked 'Why? We'll drown', and the scorpion responded, 'I couldn't help it, it's my nature.'
Many of the other books in low Equestrian were on gardening, farming, herding, baking, mechanics...There were two books that did catch my interested: The Snarks Of War, and The Artistry Of War. I had never felt so enlightened after reading them. Maua admitted she found it interesting too when I explained what it said.
The books in High Equestrian. Ohhhhh, they were something else entirely. They taught me about magic of all sorts. When I read them, I learned a word I'd come to know quite well.
I read about Princess Celestia, the ponies who loved her unconditionally, that it was her divine power that raised and lowered the sun each day, and her power that raised and lowered the moon as well. She had ruled Equestria for as far back as any of the history books went, and she was apparently centuries old, if not older. I'll admit, I came to admire her a little. There was something poetic about being in full control of both night and day. Total control, security, and order. Comforting thoughts.
And she had the wings and horn of a 'pegasus' and 'unicorn' and had the strength of an 'Earth Pony.' 'Earth Pony?' The two other kinds of pony have unique names, but the ones without horns or wings are simply called 'Earth Ponies?' Why not call Pegasi 'Sky Ponies' then? I wonder if that had to do with their history centuries ago as slave labor...(by any other name).
In a sickening way, ponies remind me of termites, specialized into different breeds, unlike Zebra who had one 'caste' like mammals normally do.
But still, the idea stayed in my head for days. Beautiful, magnificent, divine Princess Celestia. But...why wasn't she Queen? She literally held the world in her hooves. She could have demanded all the world to be hers, and all the armies in the world would mean nothing since they couldn't force her to raise the sun and properly move the tides. No amount of military bullying by all the nations put together could bend her to their will. No amount of magic or violence could force her. Which actually made sense, after all. You couldn't command the sun. You couldn't dictate terms to the tides. Zebra, for all time, had to build their lives around the sun, not the other way around.
There was even a creation myth that she had banished her own sister to the moon when the other tried to grab full power for herself.
Such power, such prestige, none questioned her, none challenged her, they only acknowledged her as their ruler. So why didn't she call herself Queen? Who could stop her if she chose to? If you're in charge, make sure others know you're in charge. You don't make yourself out to be something that can be pulled down and replaced. Was she scared? I wouldn't be.
I actually took the book in High Equestrian to bed with me several times. The books were for the community after all, and I was part of the community, and nozebra else had bothered to learn High Equestrian anyway, so it only had value to me.
I trotted down the plush red carpet. Servants holding up my royal cloak behind me.
I sat in the giant golden throne, and the beautiful golden crown was place on my head.
"All hail the queen!" Cheered the crowd of ponies and zebra. "All love Queen Kifuko! All Equestria bows before her!"
I spread out my wings and lit up my horn. They all loved me, I felt no hunger. My royal subjects praised and adored me, no foraging, no struggles, no bartering, no submitting to others, I was queen.
I looked over my kingdom, all of Equestria, every pony I controlled, every stallion, mare, and foal. I was a girl who truly had it all.
I awoke in the morning clutching the book like a teddy bear. That wasn't the last time I'd have that dream.
My first royal decree was always the banishment of all bugs from my kingdom.
What happened to Celestia in those dreams? I don't know, and I didn't care.
I shared them with Maua. She didn't appear in my dreams, I lied to her and told her she was my First Minister or something.
"You don't need to lie to me, Kifuko."
"I'm sorry. I thought it would make you happy."
No matter how good a performance I gave, she could always see through it.
We had to cut our regularly scheduled cloud watching short when it began to rain, and rain a lot! The worst part was the insects that tried to find refuge in our nice warm comfy home as it drenched the world outside. Mom made it clear they were not welcome here!
Turns out three groups of rain-dancers had gotten their wires crossed and performed a rain-dance a day ahead on the same day! At least mom and dad figured out where the hole in the roof was that was letting in pests lately was at last.
It was a short while after the rains that Maua and I were at our normal spot, then Maua got bored and had us check out the woods that were near the edge of our grasslands.
"You're so cute! Hey Ki'! Look look what I found! Isn't she adorable?"
I saw, my eyes widened as I took a step back. "Oh no."
"Ki', I know you don't like bugs, but she isn't that bad." She nuzzled the thing as it gave a soft purr.
I took the thing from her and stomped it flat with my hoof.
"Kifuko! How could you?!"
I was about to explain when I saw behind her, I whispered, "Don't worry, there's plenty more where that came from."
She read the fear in my voice and glanced behind me. "Oh! So many colors! Don't worry so much Kifuko, they're friendly and..." She finally read them, their look, their position, their formation, "And hungry..."
Maua screamed when they swarmed her mane, eating the flowers she had there along with some of her hair. I battered them away, took her by the hoof, and RAN.
I knew what they were. I had read about them. Our parents had told horror stories about them but we had never actually seen one. I had seen pictures in books. And I knew everything within miles was in deep deep trouble.
"Trouble's come along!
We can kiss everything green so long!
They don't look mean,
but they'll eat the farms clean!
Here comes troubles!
Gardens won't even have stubbles!
Look out, they're almost on the scene!
Eating everything is their routine!"
I explained to Maua as we ran what they were, what they did, and that they'd never, ever, stop.
We didn't stop running until we got back to town. Maua could read it in the wind, "They're coming."
And why shouldn't they? We had the biggest stockpiles of food for miles. Maybe they could smell it... the book I had read had barely touched on that subject.
We warned everyzebra of course, who believed us at once. The musicians gathered, hastily tuning their instruments, and it wasn't long after that the rainbow colored swarm approached. All of them smiling, all of them looking at everything with hungry eyes.
The musicians started to play, and the swarm became docile. Sadly this was only a delaying tactic.
What were we supposed to do with them? Just lead them back to the forest? That only works if you have some mountain-sized monster living there that used them as a food source. And attacking them would just break the 'trance' the swarm was under.
Our options were to evacuate, or store as much of our crops and grazing in containers that the parasprites wouldn't simply eat through.
The foals could hardly believe something that looked so adorable could be so dangerous, but the path of devastation behind the swarm was enough to snap these idiots to reality.
The musicians couldn't keep playing forever. And amateur music-making would only provoke the swarm.
It's funny, I can't remember where I heard it before, maybe it was my mother or the other performers, or I read it, but seeing the little monsters sway in the air to the music, like my audience had during my performance, I realized:
'The oldest musical instrument is the equine voice.'
I didn't ask for approval or permission, I simply trotted as close to the swarm as I could as the musicians were on their last legs.
"Ki'?" Maua saw what I was doing.
"Honey, get away!" My parents shouted.
The parasprite stopped swaying. They froze hovering perfectly still save their wings. They began to shake. Maybe I was scared. They began to gravitate towards me. I didn't let my voice quiver. No words, they wouldn't have understood them anyway. I closed my eyes and kept singing. I could feel the wind from their wings. Their eyes on me. I kept my voice steady. see what you want to see. Wait. They were bugs. They didn't 'want' anything, their instincts told them what to do. I didn't skip a note. I focused. I had nowhere to retreat to. They were all around me. Maua, mom, dad, I could feel their love for me. I grew stronger. And my song fuddled with the nonexistent brains of these disgusting things!
And the swarm ate itself.
It was an implosion. Parasprites ate each other up before they could spawn more, some bursting they were eating each other up so fast; the invincible plague shrank down and down, and down. The last one, bloated and heavy landed on the ground at my hooves, I stepped on it, you have no idea how satisfying that was. I stopped singing.
The rest of my settlement saw what I had done. They were terrified of me, they called me a monster, they threw rocks at me and banished me from the settlement, and I, a poor lonely pariah with nozebra in the world...
...oh I can't say it with a straight face! Haha!
They loved for me it! They called me a hero! Maua actually put flower pedals in my path as I trotted back into town, everyzebra cheering my name!
"Kipepeo," My mother was told, "You gave birth to a miracle!"
I was something special, and far more important, I had saved us all from starvation. Some of us might have died from hunger if I had done nothing!
More love than I could remember. I had never felt so strong. I felt like I could fight a dragon and win. I had surpassed the dragon. All that love, it was transcendent. I was prancing on air!
But it didn't last.
Zebra have to get back to their lives sooner or later.
And that tidal wave of love I had felt slowly dwindled, like a fire as the wood was burned up. The level I felt was still greater than it had been before, but it had sank much longer than it had been at that initial high.
I wished we'd actually get visitors for once just so they could stir up more of that love as my heroics were told.
Maua, she didn't like what had happened, even if she knew the bugs were just bad news, but she told me, that she understood I had saved her along with the rest of the herd maybe. Then again, it had always felt natural having her nearby.
I ate food, but the hunger pangs didn't go away.
I felt exhausted as I went to bed one night, thinking.
My parents noticed, when they expressed their concern for me I felt the edge go off my need. Maua would visit, but she had to leave eventually. And I felt empty inside. I remembered Maua once telling me how she had eaten too much candy one day before meeting me, how she had sweated and tossed and turned in her bed. I wonder if this was how she felt.
I had this horrible feeling of becoming smaller, becoming less. Was I going to vanish?
My parents let me sleep in their bed with them, and I felt my insides stop shrinking.
I refused to show weakness. But inside I was scared of not being near my parents or Maua. I felt myself beginning to lessen a tiny bit whenever they weren't nearby. I began to sense the feel flowing off of other zebra as well, I felt it flow from them to those they cared about. It was the same stuff that came to me from Maua and my parents. Was it warmth? No it was more than that. It didn't exist physically, but I could sense it all the same! It didn't make sense! It was... it was.. love?
Did I have enough love to last me through a day with the performance group? Or out on a hunt? Did I have enough to last me through the night when I fell asleep?!
I didn't care there was something different about me from others, diversity were part of survival, but, what if they cared? Love was formed with things that were familiar. If I became unfamiliar, would the love cease? And would I cease with it? So many unknowns! Too many unknowns! It made my head spin. How could I make a choice when I wasn't even sure what the question was?! I had never felt control over my life slip away like this! Well, buck that, I wouldn't let it!
Why didn't I just try to make friends with the ponies around me? It didn't occur to me. Okay, I did try. But Maua told me I had been...too aggressive. She said I was 'trying too hard' and, how did she put it? I 'weirded' them out.
My mind reeled for a solution, any solution. Maua taught me many things about zebras. But I came to the horrible realization that my survival was in their hooves. Not mine. My destiny was no longer my own! Everything Maua taught me and every book I read agreed on the same thing. You can't MAKE somezebra fall in love. It was up to them. Whether I lived or died up was up them! No, my life wouldn't continue or fade by the whims of others! I wouldn't let it! I'd command my own fate!
Yet for all I raged... if my parents or Maua were drifted away from me, I'd be gone, my life was shackled to theirs! I'm like a shadow that needs a light to be cast. I kept up a loving demeanor around my parents, for my own survival, but it made me ill somehow too. Maua? She kept asking what was wrong, but she couldn't help. Only I could help me. I thought of that as I curled in bed, praying to our ancestors that I'd wake up in the morning. Wondering if I'd have the nightmare of drying up like a reed and blowing away tonight or crumbling into dust. Who was loved by all? Who was loved always?
She was always loved.
She was always admired.
Ponies never stopped loving her. She was always loved. She was described as 'beloved' in every other sentence. She had to be. She...she was never in any shortage of love. For all the good it did ME! But maybe, just maybe, if I could be more like her somehow, some way. Bah! I was thinking in fantasies! And fantasies were Maua's department. I just presented them to audiences who wanted to be fooled.
That night, I dreamed again I was the Queen of All Equestria, loved by everyzebra, I understood all, everything made sense, the one in full control of my fate was me and not those around me, and I was never ever, empty.
Yes, that is how I should be!
I woke up and thought I was still dreaming. I didn't have the faintest idea of how it happened. Maybe creation itself had granted my wish. I had no idea, and I barely cared.
This was it, my new beginning!
I am an Alicorn. Who said ponies were the only ones who could be a, blech, heh, queen bee?
My mother looked at me in awe more than anyzebra else. Why shouldn't she? I had always been her spitting image. Now I showed her how she'd look as a teenage goddess. I flattered her just by being.
Now I really wish we had some visitors in town. I wanted everyzebra to see me as I was now. And they did!
All their eyes were on me. It was beautiful. I felt the stallions desire me. I felt foals be in awe of me. I felt the adults feel like they were before something greater than themselves. Some wondered if I was really Kifuko.
Some were scared, some were happy, many were confused, many loved me: but barely anymore than before!
I was like Princess Celestia now! I was a goddess now! Why weren't they giving me every drop of love they had? It wasn't fair! It's not fair! Not fair! Who did this to me?! Was this their idea of a joke!? It wasn't funny!!!
The new love I felt, it was like watered-down soup, shallow, barely any substance to it. It was like the food I chewed in my teeth; no matter how much I took in, I remained empty.
I had enough. I'm sick of these games. I want my real body back if I'm just going to be jerked around like this!...
"Love is getting to know another soul," Maua had said, during one of our long talks.
Is Celestia loved after all? Or is she just feared? Is she so unknown that she can't be loved?
I don't know! I hate not knowing! You can't plan for what you don't know!
"Ki'?" She noticed.
I folded my new wings around her. I wish I knew how to fly. Or do magic with my new horn. I had read about it. But I had never had to put into practice before.
I remembered how my feats had inspired love before, maybe I could use this joke to my advantage after all.
I skimmed the now dusty books, and now unicorns moved things with their horns, and how pegasi flew. I didn't let anyone see me. I crashed only a few times. I didn't count how many times my horn lost its grip. But I have always been a fast study.
I chose to give Maua a private show to test myself out.
She loved it, watching me fly in the sky. Why stop there?
I used my horn magic to lift objects up around, then I grabbed Maua and planted her on my back.
"Just hold on, on second thought, I'll hold on with you!" I flew with her extra weight and holding Maua with my magic all at the same time! What a rush! I felt invincible! This was going to be perfect!
Then it was like a hole was opened in my underside and everything just drained out. I crashed, Maua's fall being broken by me. It was like everything had flooded out of me. No, everything had been flooding out of me, and now I had run myself dry.
"Ki' are you okay?!"
"No I am not."
"Let's get to the doctor!"
"NO! No doctor!" I snapped.
"Ki' you need help."
"There is no help they can give me!"
"You don't know that."
"YES I DO!"
"I JUST DO!"
"Then what I am supposed to do?!"
"Please...please stay with me."
"...Alright Ki', I'll stay with you."
She did as I asked. Then it began to get dark. I used her as a crutch as she took me back home. My parents were dismayed at the sight of me, and I had to again fend off any chances for doctors. They couldn't help me. I asked Maua to stay with me. She did. Eventually her parents and mentor called for her, but she stayed with me. My bed was now a little bit too small for me.
I felt zebra wondering about me, some worried about me as part of the herd, but, none others were giving enough of what I needed now. In this shape I was trapped in that wasn't my own. Maybe this was the last part of the joke.
Maua's parents were worried I had some sickness and eventually forced her to leave me be least she be infected as well.
I wondered. Was I like a bonfire? Had I grown so large that the wood given to me now could never sustain me? Was my fate really just to burn out? It couldn't be. I wouldn't let it.
My parents. My lifeline. But it was pouring water down an endless pit. It wasn't enough. I couldn't stay like this. I wouldn't stay like this! I needed more!
As I lay there, I paid more attention to my 'feeling sense.' Becoming more attuned to it, like a shark with blood in the water.
The feeling, the flow coming from my parents into me. It felt like magic, it didn't seem like any of the magic I had read about. And magic, mana, could be manipulated by will and mind, the invisible threads that were everywhere.
When my parents were both near me, I became aware I could pull it, tug at it, maybe even make it come faster! Without a moment's hesitation I did.
It was a torrent, more concentrated and intense than those even at my debut performance or destroying the swarm. I wasn't aware of anything else. Only that I felt so much come into me, love, happiness, endearment, tenderness, the fire of emotion.
And I felt full again. I felt alive again! I giggled and laughed! More! More!
But suddenly it all stopped. Everything I was feeling flowing from them to me suddenly just, stopped.
I got up. No trace of weakness or emptiness remained.
I looked at my parents confused, and saw them looking at me like dolls. Not a feeling in them. Like a fire had gone out.
I was confused, and I felt bit afraid. I had never seen such, emptiness from even animals before.
"Yes daughter?" "Yes Kifuko?" They said separately but equally indifferently.
"H-how do you feel?"
"...nothing really." "Not much of anything."
Why? Why was I crying? I didn't understand.
They still went about things, doing their jobs, eating, sleeping, but with a empty indifference, a heartless demeanor. They dragged themselves about, like they didn't care even about themselves anymore.
="Betrayal" Silent Hill 2=
My parents acting indifferent and unmotivated even to their friends and our other family happening just when I recovered fully didn't go unnoticed by the rest of the herd.
Their eyes were all on me, their voices whispered.
A few days later I realized a new truth: I was hungry again. No. It was tiny, insignificant, like a grain of sand missing from a beach. But it was there, and growing.
I shivered when I thought of my parents, then like a light in the darkness, I remembered.
Maua, in one of her doomed attempts to teach me to appreciate arthropods, showed me the hatching of a nest of the kind I tolerated the most, spiders. I think we were both surprised at what happened next. The mother spider lay there motionless, was she already dead? Her own babies ate her.
Maua, I thank you. Parents provided for their foal. That was nature. Yes. If that's what it took for me to flourish, then I did only what came naturally. And every book, every text, every philosophy of Equestria, and even my own herd, held to that truth.
Do not be ashamed of yourself. Do not fear yourself. Do not hate yourself. What you are is exactly the way you were intended to be, and you should only be proud of that. Do not change who you are just to please others. You are you, and that is the best you can possibly be.
"Kifuko. What happened to your parents?" She asks me at our normal spot. This place, it's been a constant in our lives for so long.
"I don't know."
"Why do you always try to lie to me?" This was asked without a trace of hurtful feelings towards me.
"I have to see if I can get one past you sometimes."
"Good luck with that. What happened to your parents?"
"...I ate their feelings."
Her eyes widened. But she didn't seem as shocked as should have been. "H-how could you do that?"
"I'm not sure myself. I can taste and eat food, but I've only ever gotten full when others felt good feelings towards me...After I changed, it wasn't enough anymore. I had no idea what the end result would be until it was over. I didn't fully realize what I was doing until it was all over."
"You can't help them?"
"There's nothing inside them left to help."
"They're-they're dead inside?!"
"I wouldn't go that far. They're still alive right? They can still think right? Your mentor looked them over, right?"
"Yes...Doctor Dawa did. He said he couldn't find anything wrong with them."
"There you see? So how can you call them dead? And what was there isn't gone. It's just a part of me now. I think. I was dying, Maua, I didn't know what was going to happen, I just wanted to live. Can you hate me for that?"
"...No, I can't."
"Thank you, Maua."
"I could never hate you, Ki'."
"Do you promise?"
"I promise. Do you think they'll be back to normal soon?"
"I have no idea."
"Ki', what are you?"
"I don't know."
"And...how long have you been this way? Needing feelings to eat?"
"As long as I can remember. Before I met you. I didn't even realize it at first."
"Why didn't you ever tell me?"
"I wasn't sure myself. I didn't know what to say. So I didn't see a point in telling anyzebra."
"...were you scared?"
"I don't think so. Maybe?" I said honestly.
"Some zebra are thinking your parents made a deal with a spirit of black magic to heal you. Others think they died of whatever you had and you brought them back as zombies."
"They're scared of me."
"Only a few of them are. I'm not. And neither is Doctor Dawa. And some Zebra think you're just a victim of some trickster spirit that gave you three wishes, and they backfired."
"A lion isn't a victim of being hungry. It's just the way it is, Maua. It's just the way I am."
"Ki', let's talk to Doctor Dawa! Maybe his alchemy can cure you!"
"There's no cure for what I am. No more than a flower can be cured of being a flower." I stroked a flower in her mane for emphasis.
"But there has to be SOMETHING that can be done for you! You can't be happy like this!"
"Whether I'm happy or not isn't the point."
"Of course it's the point! The point of life is to be happy, isn't it?"
"The point of life IS life, remember what my father said?"
"But we're not just animals!"
"Of course we are."
"Ki, stop it right now!" She snapped at me. I actually recoiled back. She was angry. "Don't do this to yourself! Please! You're my best friend! You're not just some animal! I'M not just some animal, either! You're Kifuko! I'm Maua! So please stop saying that!"
"You don't understand."
"Then help me understand!"
"...I'm just going to get hungry again, Maua. There's no way around it, there's no way to stop, and if I want to go on living, then I need to do what I did again, the love from all the herd isn't enough."
"Now your parents can't feel?"
"Now that my parents can't feel."
"You said this all started when you changed, what if I just find a way to fix you?"
"How? Start where?"
"Maybe get help from Princess Celestia of Equestria?"
"Do you know how to get to Equestria? Do you know how long the journey would be?"
"Maua, it's okay, I'm not scared. Like the lions and the hyenas, I'll do what I need to do to live."
"Even if it means hurting other zebra?"
"I don't think my parents felt any pain actually, and my only other choice is to, burn out, die slowly, I don't want to die Maua!"
"I don't want you to die either Ki'!"
"Then please understand. I'm doing this to live!"
"I do understand Ki', I just know there has to be a better way!"
"You don't know that. You just want there to be."
"You don't know unless you try."
"Fish can't sing. Rocks can't live. Fire and water can't be friends. Dragons don't give. For them to even try is to already fail."
"Then please...let me help you."
And she did certainly did help me.
She became my partner in crime.
Maua had taught me before, but now she taught me with purpose. The fine art of what triggered what emotions. How to say just the right things to make somezebra trust a stranger, and how to turn a close group of friends on one of their own with just words. Words hold more power than anyzebra gives them credit for.
And I learned how to feed on zebra like never before.
I can't say I wasn't happy, just being with her. Even if it meant living day by day, zebra by zebra. I somehow felt whole with the two of us working together, stallions just our puppets.
Even the foals, now firmly becoming adults like I was, who had called me 'lucky amateur' and the ones who had called Maua 'weirdo' for her cloud-watching became putty in my hooves, they were particularly satisfying.
"Kifuko, I'm worried, is this us, just, getting back at them?"
"It's not revenge, Maua," I put a reassuring wing around her, "We're just doing what I need to do to live. Now they're doing something good with themselves. Isn't that better?"
Maua silently nodded at my logic. It made no sense, but sharing that time with Maua was when I felt the most alive in my life.
I gained a bit of a reputation of being a stallion's mare, and for stringing them along and dumping them leaving them in a empty state afterwards. I began wearing a cape or poncho to hide my wings. It got so hot at times. At least I was able to pass myself off as a hybrid 'virgacorn.'
But the best playacting in the world isn't going to do you any good when the audience is unwilling to suspend their disbelief. Sadly, my reputation of what state I left stallions in afterwards began to proceed me. They didn't know that I fed, but they could see the end results, and inserted it into a neat clean idea they could recognize: I left stallions 'heartbroken.'
Evil? Is a fire evil? Or does it just do what it does?
If a fire was aware, would it change what it needed to do to continue? If an arrow was aware, would that change its purpose? If the ocean was given a voice, do you think you'd have the right to argue with it?
The well was running dry. I began to actually feel ill, I can't explain it, but the looks more of my herd began to give me, the families of the stallions I used to live, it felt like I was being slowly poisoned.
Maua, bless her, she tried to stem the tide, but no zebra can push back drifting continents.
I didn't know how long I'd last. I did my best to restrict my use of magic and flying, to make my reserves last long. But my reputation was now self-procreating, and it became harder and harder for Maua to steer them towards me, and the sickness was getting worse. It wasn't like when I had been starving to death, no, this was worse, it really was was like I was being poisoned from the inside! And it only got worse when I was around the families of the stallions I had used, so I began to avoid zebra except my parents and Maua.
And Maua, of course they'd begin to turn their dark eyes towards her too. The witch's familiar.
Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.
I was trapped. I lost track of how many days I stayed alone in my house, my parents no longer really company.
I weakly raised my head when the door opened. Had somezebra come for revenge? I wondered if my parents would protect me, not that they cared, but it was part of what they did. Instead it was,
"Maua?" I said relieved, "Did you find one?"
"How are you feeling?" I frustrated that she ignored my question with a question but answered.
"Awful. It feel like venom spreading through my veins. Maua it's worse every day. It's killing me."
"You can't even defend yourself like this can you?"
"Maybe, I'm not sure." My muscles began to tense.
"I think I've waited too long as it is. I really hoped there was a better way. I didn't want this. You've been my best friend since forever, Kifuko. I'm sorry."
Maua took off her jewelry and flowers. She took my horn in her hooves and placed it against her head.
"The buck!? Maua what are you doing?!"
She wrapped a blanket around us.
"I found one last one Kifuko. Please, take it, take everything, take me, my heart, my mind, my soul, my spirit, take all of it."
"ARE YOU CRAZY?!" I actually struggled against her. But I wasn't in any shape to fight back.
"One last gift to you, one last wish for you," she nuzzled me.
"Maua this isn't funny! Stop, you idiot!"
"I always told you I was good at picking up things others don't, even about themselves," she caressed my horn, "You're hungry, I'm right here, do it." She pressed against me, our body heat mixing. "You want it, you need it, you desire it." She whispered in my ear, "I desire it."
My body trembled. It was like not trying to breath. The scent was overpowering. Her scent. I did want it!
- 'Magi' Madoka Magica -
It was the release of all releases. My spirits pierced the atmosphere and flew to the moon, the world moved, and shrunk down until nothing existed except the two of us.
It was like the sun, moon, and stars dived into me, I never had nor would again feel anything so intense and powerful, it dwarfed even what my parents had given me, I didn't need to pull it in, it came into me becoming one with me, uniting with me, being me, I felt emotions of every type but none hurt, only adding to the potency, for a flash I saw memories, heard thoughts, filling every trace of myself, with her.
But all good things must come to an end, and the last whips of smoke became one with me. As I recovered from the pure ecstasy, I heard from within, or I thought heard, or maybe I was just hallucinating from the rush,
"I'll be with you forever now, Kifuko."
I shook my head.
"Always. In. You."
I looked at Maua, or rather what had been Maua's body.
It looked and saw nothing, it heard but didn't listen, it lived but it didn't think. It breathed but it didn't nothing. It lived, but it was not Maua. It had body heat, but it was not comforting. It wasn't like my parents. Not in the least. This thing. It was empty. A limp and abandoned vessel.
I untangled myself from it, unable to even look at it.
It was over. My parents and Maua were now both gone. How could I have been so wasteful?
You think I was ashamed? Scared? Disgusted? Why should I be? She had offered herself of her own free will. I had accepted.
Don't feel bad for Maua. Her essence will be a part of me forever!
I began to gather my belongings, those I could carry with me. I had spent my entire life in and near this town. I had no reason to linger any longer.
There would be only one logical conclusions the zebra would come to when they found Maua's body, or if she were not to be found at all. I was the only logical suspect. I considered trying pin it on the stallions who I had used to feed myself, but I realized it was a plan with too many holes, and I stood alone now.
If I left, they'd know I was the one, they'd look for me, they'd tell other towns about me, they'd never stop looking for me. I knew what I had to do.
I burned or otherwise destroyed every record of myself.
Then I worked carefully and systematically, careful not to miss any zebra. There could be no zebra who knew of Kifuko.
I worked from house to house, to carry out my task. There could be none to follow me.
Stallion, mare, foal, it made no difference, I would leave none.
Looking into the eyes of another, my song could make them see what they wanted to see. I took what I could get, waste not, want not. Leaving them as my parents had been, as I had turned them into.
I worked quietly through the night, missing none, like a ghost, leaving no trace, silent and unopposed.
I calmly noted how sharper my sense felt, how much easier it was to read everything.
My sharper senses and my telekinesis saved me form the poison blowdart.
I'll admit I might have made a mistake in the order of my task, maybe that one should have been first, and not last, but only Princess Celestia is perfect (for now).
"You think me a fool?
If you do not know, I will not tell yo'!"
All night long, only brief struggles, no alarms sounded, and now he was here?
"Maua, where is my student, you vile freak?
You make a mistake if you think me weak!"
I tapped against myself with my hoof. "She is with me forever."
"So the monster's true colors now show,
There shall be no mercy from my blows."
"SHE chose to give to ME! It was HER IDEA! NOT MINE!!!" I hissed, surprised at my own anger.
"You must think me mad,
If that was the best lie you had."
"Believe what you WANT to believe!" I snarled.
"It is time for the final dance.
I should have killed you when I had the chance!"
"Yes," I admitted, "You should have."
I felt the pitter patter of raindrop on my head. Like a stupid turkey I looked up, and saw the dark clouds blocking out the night sky. A rain-dance? All by himself?! Lightning flashed.
"Here it comes, the rain and thunder!
Trying to fly now would be a blunder."
The old shaman... alchemist... witch doctor... whatever Low Equestrian name you want to give him, threw a bag from his pouch. The green smoke spread quickly. I was ready for more poison. Instead, I felt my magic sense begin to fill with 'static.' The rain didn't seem to do anything to disperse it at all!
"My own special bend
This is the end.
It's no use.
Your magic sense my powder has obtruced."
WHY WAS I STANDING HERE LIKE AN IDIOT LETTING HIM TURN THE BATTLEFIELD TO HIS ADVANTAGE?!
He had caught me off guard, and had hit just the right buttons for me to just politely stand by as he turned the terrain to negate my advantages.
I caught them with my telekinesis and threw them right back at him! He blocked them with that old walking stick.
For some reason, just looking at the piece of wood made me feel small and vulnerable.
I tried to grab it with my magic, he pulled back, he's a lot stronger than he looks, then he stopped resisting and my own magic drew him in, and kicked my horn, causing me a splitting headache!
"Don't count on getting much use of that horn,
Now for to correct the mistake of you being born."
= 'Stains Of Time' - Metal Gear Rising -
I chose to remove the advantage of his blowgun by charging, I couldn't fly in this weather, but I could still use my wings to zigzag!
"You are no better than a cannibal,
You look out only for yourself, like an animal," he said, sidestepping my horn charge.
"And LIKE an animal I'll do what I have to to survive!" I turned and used a wing to tear off the blow gun necklace he was wearing.
"You think that justifies you in the least?
A lone wolf who abandons his pack is less than a beast."
He got his staff between my legs and twisted, causing me to tumble over.
Ugh! Had he been studying me my whole life? Or was he that good?
I kicked him back as he swung the staff down on my head, and I got to my hooves.
"Then I'll be a pack of one."
He retreated in the mass of green smoke that seemed to get bigger.
THAT NOISE! I had to dodge those the old fashioned way! He must have picked it up when he retreated! How many darts does he have?! I knocked one away with my wing, risky move.
"Do not waste frowns
and just lay down!
You're an actress, not a warrior
You might as well try to be a quarrier." His voice called. I'm not falling into a trap by going after it.
"And you're a doctor."
"That means I know where to hurt as well as heal
It'll be the last thing you feel," his voice came from a completely different direction.
"Isn't that violating your oath as a doctor?" Keep him talking. Think Kifuko think!
"In times of upheaval,
one must sacrifice towards the lesser evil." Different direction again!
"You forget, my father also taught me how to hunt," I hissed, "and my prey, now, is you!"
I fluttered my wings like mad, sending mud in every direction.
I listened to where the mud hit. And charged, first thing I did trample him, knocking the dart blow out of his mouth and smashing it this time. I managed to break some of his bones. Another bag of powder. This one exploded in my face, the white flash leaving me blind and bells ringing in my ears.
I covered my neck as he swung at it, I guessed where he stood and felt him block my attack, but I managed to push him back with superior strength. I felt his mass hit the ground. Or what I hoped was him.
I listened to my instincts, and charged.
By the time my senses recovered, I saw my horn had ran straight through him.
I breathed in deep, and let it out slowly, the green smoke was finally clearing. Of course. Naturally. Why wouldn't it? Head still hurt. Lots of bruises to boot. "Lucky amateur," I sighed.
By all rights he should have won.
But his green powder couldn't block my ability to feel others' emotions.
In other words, I got lucky.
"I win, I guess that makes me the better zebra."
"You are no zebra!
You're much closer to a hyena!"
He was still alive? I looked at him, still impaled on my horn, looking at me, his body limp.
"On that day your mother birthed you,
I saw the true you!
Your lie I saw through!"
"What are you talking about?!"
"A monster you were born
A thing of fang and horn!"
"There is nowhere in this world you belong,
die trying to prove me wrong."
That was the last time he spoke. I slid him off my horn.
"...you're wrong. I swear you're wrong. I...you are wrong. I...I...I'll make my own place. And you'll eat your words in the mud."
I charged up his storm with a rain-dance of my own, pushing it past any safe limits, my dance wild and violent. Savage and free. Rain and clouds from miles in the sky was pulled in. The storm became a torrential flood.
And it washed away my past.
What did you call me? Monster? Beast? I did what I had to to live! Same as any living creature.
= 'Man's Road' Last Unicorn =
I wandered away from my past. Not really having a direction. Only carrying my wet and muddy provisions, which amounted to some blankets, a pillow, and some minor items.
I had really overdone it on the rainstorm. At least all traces of Kifuko would be gone from the world. I'd have to move on. I would have to start over. It would very hard without Maua. It was supposed to be the two of us. As had become normal, insects gathered around me like a bad dream. I placed my mother's mask near me to keep them away. I wondered how I'd blend in wherever it was I was going. It would be very hard with a horn and wings. Attention was the last thing I needed.
My dreams were black and lifeless, a raining void over a blacker sea, a storm of ghostly wisps and empty places.
I awoke in the morning. I stretched my wings, only to realize they weren't there. I fully awake in a flash. I turned around, and yes, my wings were gone, I felt my head, and, my horn it was gone too!
My legs suddenly fell back asleep. I looked up at the gray sky I brought about.
Dammit. It was still raining. The rain drops wouldn't stop getting in my eyes.
Heh. All that time. After my need grew so big with them gone. And now they were. NOW they were gone. NOW whoever was pulling this prank on me chose to take them away! Now that the game was over they didn't see a need to keep them around!
"HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!" I laughed to high heaven. I fell on my back, and kept laugh. I banged my own head against the dirt, still laugh. HEHEHEHEH! HEHEHEH! HEEHEH! After all that! NOW they go bye bye? BYE-BYE! HA HA HA! I giggled. I rolled around in the dirt and grass. I randomly squashed bugs and giggled. I bit a mantis' head off. Guess that means we're married now? What does it matter when I'm no better than them?! BWAAHAHHAHAHAH! I curled up, and giggled some more. Squishing the bugs between my hooves. "THERE! All your worries are gone!" I said to one bug as I crushed it.
Maua. Mama. Papa. BAHAHAHAH!!! Now that there's no zebra to hide from? Now that there's nozebra to show them off to? Now that it's all gone, now my hunger returns to normal? NOW? NOW!? HA HA HA!