My metallic boots pressed deeply into the moist earth. Were the guards to wisen up, they’d have a perfect trail that led right to me. I’d either need to find sufficiently dry dirt or a stream that I could lose both my footprints and scent. While I wasn’t expecting equines to be that familiar with dogs, I was still weary of the possibility that they could use them to track me. I had been found out, but by my estimates I had roughly an hour before the guards were going to start looking for me. Hostage or not, there wasn’t much time before Celestia herself started joining the chase. Ponyville was only a couple minutes away for a pegasus, the capital city supposedly less than a day from there.
The only way to survive the sure fire disaster that was heading my way was to treat it like it was, a disaster. I had taken a hostage and I had yet to actually find an easily defendable source of food and water to live off of. My mind went into ‘strategy game’ mode as I began pondering what my first actions should be. Sustenance was top priority of course, followed closely behind by shelter and some form of hygiene. Bathing, assuming I could find a relatively shallow river, would be simple. The idea of going a month without any kind of sanitation, soap or tooth paste was going to be a dark one. I’d live through it, hopefully, but I’d feel terrible by the time it was all over.
“This isn’t a vacation…” I muttered sourly under my breath. Remedy’s ears twitched in response, a vain attempt at hearing what I was saying. My immediate problem, aside from the lack of breakfast and most likely lunch and dinner, was the hostage situation. If I went too far, she’d probably die trying to find her way back to the castle. If I let her go within safe distance, I’d be left with no defence from getting attacked. Then again, there’d be a point when they’d attack me regardless and having to carry her for so long would be both tiring and slow.
Every couple minutes or so I’d pull a Crazy Ivan, that is turning around sharply and pressing the tip of my staff against Remedy’s throat. The first time I had done it, she had broken out into a quick scream. After the third, it seemed to just startle her more than anything else. She still cried, thankfully in relative silence, all the way though. I wondered if she actually had a daughter back in Canterlot. The inner cynic inside me briefly considered that she only brought up a daughter to trigger a sympathetic reaction from me, but I quickly pushed the thought aside. Truth or lie, she was still just as valuable. Besides, I had already taken her after the first mention of a daughter, I wasn’t sappy enough to let her go as I was approaching the clear zone.
As if to reflect my mood, clouds were gathering overhead. I would have called it clichéd, were it not welcoming. Water might wash away my footprints, as well as my scent, so I’d have an easier time getting away. The darkness would also decrease the line of sight, so if I was being followed it’d be a lot harder on the hunter. The only thing that bothered me about the prospect of rain would be if my costume would act as a lightning rod. I had figured yes, but reasoned that it’d most likely hit the giant trees above me before it’d actually me.
“Please…” Remedy croaked weakly, her voice strained from the crying, “I just want to see my daughter again. I won’t tell anypony about you, I’ll even quit the Royal Guard, but let me go…” My face contorted in anger, trying to keep hold of the survivalist instinct inside me. There was no way she was going to guilt me into letting her go. I’d walk for another fifteen minutes, then tell her to run back to the castle. Her ramblings continued on for a while though, slowly breaking my concentration. Everything she said started to sound like a droning whir.
“You’ll get out of this if everything goes according to plan,” I replied emotionlessly, getting her to finally break out of her melancholic state, “But,” I emphasized, “I want you to be quiet for the time being. You can scream as loud as you want after I let you go.” Remedy didn’t say anything after that, she just sat limply in my arms. Were it not for her rhythmic beating, I’d think she was dead. Then again, she probably did think she was dead if she annoyed me enough.
Her lack of crying allowed me to listen more closely to the forest around me. The sound of thunder had been approaching for the past twenty minutes, but at that moment it resounded like the beat of drums. It kept me focused and helped me keep pace in a metallic march. Birds and other beasts called out spontaneously, but none close enough to warrant attention. A murder of crows sprung forth from one of the trees, dispersing into the open air and leaving me perplexed. Birds, and practically anything with wings, would fly off at any sign of trouble. I wasn’t close enough to warrant them flying away and as I scanned the trees around me I couldn’t see a thing. The sound of powerful wing beats only came to my ears as my mind had realized that I should have looked up sooner.
I instinctively tried to duck, but instead got driven right into the ground. I had been launched a good ten feet before finally colliding with the dirt. Both my staff and Remedy went flying into the nearby trees as I felt four hooves press down onto my chest. On top of me was the pegasus from the night before, her magneta eyes looking more frenzied than girly. Her wings were still flapping as she tried keeping me pinned to the ground. While I didn’t have a hostage or weapon anymore, I’d be damned if a children’s mascot like her was going to be the one to bring me down. My gauntlet grasped her throat and ripped her to one side. The blue menace was off of me, but still just as determined.
“You’re going down!” she declared, dragging her right fore-hoof into the dirt. Under any normal circumstances I would’ve laughed in response, but the amount of power she must have put into that charge to knock me over scared me, if only slightly. I got back to my feet and planted my boots into the earth and twisted. My neck cracked as I rolled it back, the sound causing the pegasus’ ears to flinch back ever so slightly. Remedy, my staff in her magical grip, came sprinting back behind the pegasus and stood in shock horror at me.
“If violence is what you want, I will not back down,” I replied menacingly. Even with her wings, I still had the advantage. I was much taller and had the armor to take a couple hits. The speed and power she was able to pull off was impressive, and to a degree terrifying, but there wasn’t enough room in the forest for her to accelerate to such a speed. It was odd, to say the least, that I was about to have a throw down with a magical, blue pegasus that was only three feet tall, but my mind could only focus on how to best anticipate her movements.
After giving her best Braveheart scream, rainbow hair was flying towards me. I rose my hands up in a defensive pose before quickly ducking to the side. She didn’t expect me to dodge though, as her left wing didn’t move out of the way fast enough to escape capture. With one wing still desperately trying to flap, she was beginning to spin both herself and I around like some sadistic top. I let go of her, only to see the pegasus go flying off into a tree. She didn’t look that injured, but it was obvious she wasn’t going to be fighting anytime soon.
Despite the seriousness of the whole thing, I couldn’t help but saying “Fatality” out loud. My brief distraction was my hubris, as I was struck in the back of the head by my very own staff. My eyes were alight as I turned to face Remedy, her face in such a look of terror and fear that she actually wet herself. A low growl escaped my throat as I snatched my staff back from her magical grasp, my vision blurring slightly as I did. Remedy stuttered as I stepped towards her with murderous intent. I raised my staff in the air to pound her horn in as I staggered slightly from my newfound headache.
“Rainbow!” came a southern accented yell. There was barely enough turn and get a look at my orange attacker before getting hit by her. I wasn’t knocked over, but I could practically feel my stomach and lungs crash into each other as I got kicked in the chest by a regular. Another regular, as pink as the grass was green, soon followed with what looked to be a purple pegasus / unicorn hybrid. Based off of the status of the blue one from last night, I had to guess that the one before me was the recently coronated “Princess Twilight Sparkle”.
A sharp exhale left my mouth before I looked back up to my hat wearing opponent. I gave her a quick, iron slap across the face before pointing my staff at ‘Twilight’. Before I could even blink however, I found myself being lifted into the air by a lavender glow, the same hue as the glow coming from the pegacorn. My body was suspended about ten feet above the ground. While I was freaking out, I couldn’t help but grin at the amount of effort that she was taking to keep me immobile. While I was no scholar in the field of magic, the amount of sparks coming off of her horn and the fluctuating lights definitely couldn’t have been healthy.
The pink one moved to check on Remedy, while cowgirl was sprinting over to see if rainbow hair was alright. In the background however, I could see a yellow pegasus helping Rarity towards us. Rarity was looking terrible, though I already knew the answer why. A large black eye was on the left side of her face, with a small patch of lost fur just beneath it. My attack on her was much more painful than I had originally thought. Aside from the blunt force of hitting her, a small cut had also developed into an infection just beneath the eye. The fact that Rarity was able to move at all, was incredibly. Had I known what would have happened in the aftermath I would have kicked her instead. Though as I have already realized, hindsight is a cruel, cruel thing. The cut probably got infected because she couldn’t stay still enough to treat it with it being so close to her swollen eye. Guilty conscious aside, I was about to get my ass sliced off and handed back to me.
“Elements,” Twilight struggled, “use the Elements…” Rainbow hair limped back with cowgirl, yellow and Rarity stepped forward beside Twilight with pink regretfully abandoned Remedy to stand next to her comrades. It was then that I noticed the jewellery pieces that they were all wearing. They all bore a golden necklace with a unique symbol, the only exception being Twilight with a similarly designed tiara. Upon further inspection, I had noticed that the symbols on each of the pieces matched up with the marks that they had on their flanks. Since Rarity did not have her necklace on the night prior, I could only assume the Elements were the jewellery pieces themselves. What they did however, I had no clue.
Seeing as how Twilight was waiting for them to be used, I had to guess that they were some kind of weapon or containment device. The Elements were probably going to be used to contain me so that I couldn’t just run away and escape again. Something that would keep me contained until I could be brought back to Canterlot. Something that would stop me dead in my tracks... Something that could keep me imprisoned indefinitely…
“Oh God, have mercy!” I cried out as I realized what the Elements were supposed to do. My voice fell on deaf ears, or was blocked out completely, as the six of them didn’t react to my plea. Celestia wasn’t going to fight me herself, the weapons needed to turn me to stone were already close. Stephen or Discord never mentioned the Elements, if they had I would have hauled ass at the first sight of a pony.
Their eyes shone a bright white as a rainbow coloured bow encompassed each of them. I shielded my eyes from it, how bright and devastating the display was. Time slowed to a halt, my mind and heart going so far into overdrive I couldn’t even react properly. The light grew more intense as it weaved towards me, slithering like a snake in the air, closing around me as it absorbed everything. It went through my armor and cloak as though they never existed and enclosed upon me. The sea of colours and mystery was as beautiful as it was terrifying. It spun wildly and chaotically, disorienting me to the point of nausea. Even with my eyes closed, it still shone through without relent. When the light touched my skin, I screamed out for God and forgiveness. It burned like balefire and liquid sulphur. It was having salt poured into your eyes, ants crawling through your veins, your head being held in ice water.
It only touched me for a brief second, but that was all it took. I felt its wrathful presence leave me as the blinding light and colour disappear. My senses rebooted just in time to catch the latter half of an earth shattering roar rock the ground beneath us. I could see the ponies under me panic at the sound. The pink one was sprinting back through the trees with Remedy in tow, while Rarity and the yellow one began swivelling in every direction. I could actually see the ground tremble as the titan approached, hear the sound as trees snapped beneath it. The behemoth, whatever it was, growled as loud as a jet engine would scream. Cowgirl and rainbow hair, along with yellow and Rarity, dashed into the trees. Twilight, using her last remaining ounces of magic, tossed me in the direction of whatever was coming.
The last thing I saw was an overwhelming view of blue.