No Hero

by CptBrony

No Rest

Princess Luna walked through a thick, muggy fog, her hooves sloshing in the mud beneath. When she looked down, the mud wasn’t moving at all, yet somehow it tugged on her like it wanted to her stay there forever. It was something she was all too familiar with at this point.

The fog obscured her vision from being of any use beyond a few yards, but she didn’t use her eyes to guide her here. Sight was nothing in this place, the same with smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Nothing had physical form here, therefore there could be no sound or interactions with them in any worldly sense.

Luna hadn’t expected to come here tonight. It was supposed to be a happy occasion, a time for everypony to celebrate. She didn’t keep any kind of schedule or anything, no one was set to die at a certain time. But she used her magic to make sure this didn’t happen to anypony on special occasions. That it did meant that something happened to nullify her efforts, something that may not have been an accident. Or it could have been a tragic accident.

The fog tried to latch onto her ethereal form, pulling at her like two fillies at a doll. Her magic was powerful enough to keep her safe, and anypony she had with her. She had to learn the spells early, before she took on the duty.

Princess Luna took this duty with pride, but it was bittersweet. She was always happy to see a pony go on to where he or she was meant to be, but it saddened her to see her subjects, friends, and loved ones leave her. Immortality is as much a curse as a blessing. Though those who go through it eventually come to terms with its unpleasantries.

Celestia had been forced to take on this duty while Luna was locked away on the moon. The first thing her sister told her when she came back was that she loved her very much. The second was how much of a relief it would be to not take this duty on any more. Celestia had nearly broken down when Luna asked her about her time doing the duty.

It takes a special kind of pony to see others to the end of their roads, to guide them to where they are ultimately meant to be. Some ponies in history have been less than deserving of a guide; Sombra was a good example. She told him where to go, and as far as she knew, he went there. She never bothered to ask her contacts down there about him.

Other ponies, she desperately wanted to bring back home with her. When Starswirl came through here, he had to convince her not to try to take him back. It killed her inside to see him leave her forever, to go to a place she may never be lucky enough to go and see him again. She was happy for him, but the world for her was never the same.

Now, she was here to do it again. She did everything she could to make sure it never became just another chore, another bit of dust in the wind to sweep into the pan and toss aside. She personalized everypony’s journey, made them know that they were important to Equestria. And this time, she couldn’t emphasize that point enough.

So she trudged onward. She knew not who it was who was here, but as she walked, she saw magical echoes of their past, and began to understand what this pony had contributed to society. It was a stallion, who had a loving wife and two foals, and they had worked hard to acquire the home they lived in. He wasn’t home often, but when he was, he left work at the door and gave all his love to his family. He was a staple in the community, and it was a shame to lose him.

Luna didn’t want to rush it, but she hoped she would be able to get back in time for the ceremony. She had an award to give out to a very great pony, and she didn’t want her sister to give it in her place.

She could sense the stallion of her search nearby, and reached out to him.

“Dear stallion, I have come for thee,” she said. There was no answer, so she kept on walking. “You have nothing to fear. I am here to guide you the rest of your way.”

The fog started to ease on her, and she could see a form up ahead. A naked stallion, standing up, looking around slowly, yet with a clear anxiety and urgency. Luna understood, and she approached him to comfort him.

“Dear stallion, you have nothing to fear,” she said.

The stallion turned around. She didn’t know this stallion’s face, but in that face she saw something different from what she typically witnessed in her charges. He was looking for something, or someone, but that didn’t make sense. Did he expect to come here with somepony.

“Dear stallion-”

“Where is he?” the stallion asked abruptly.

Luna would have blinked. “Who?” she asked.

“The zebra,” the stallion answered.

Luna’s eyes drooped sadly. “I am sorry, dear stallion. There are no zebras here.”

“Why not?” the stallion asked. “Zebra? Where are you?”

“My duty is to show you and other ponies the way to your home,” Luna explained gently. “I only guide ponies. I know not what happens to the zebras.”

“Zebra?” the stallion called, seemingly ignoring the princess. “Where are we going, princess?”

“Come,” Luna said. She led the stallion away from where he began toward a less foggy area.

“Princess, where are the zebras and gryphons?” the stallion asked.

“I am not their guide, dear stallion,” Luna said. “They are the responsibility of another.”

“Will I ever see the zebra again?” the stallion asked.

“Is there something you must settle with this zebra?” Luna asked. She didn’t want to have to settle any dispute here; it was much more difficult than in Equestria.

“Our dispute was settled long ago. I just need to see him,” the stallion said.

“I am afraid I cannot do that,” Luna said.

The stallion let his head drop a little. “I see.”

“It matters not now. All the things of life are behind you,” Luna said soothingly. Though her soothing tone seemed not to work on this stallion. “I am bringing you to your place of rest.”

“I haven’t rested in a long time,” the stallion said.

“You have earned it,” Luna said. She knew that he had accomplished much.

“What will happen to Equestria?” the stallion asked.

“Equestria will go on, as it always had and always will,” Luna said. “You will not be forgotten. And I promise your family will be well cared for.”

“Thank you,” the stallion said. “Princess, why don’t you guide anyone other than ponies?”

“They are not my charge,” Luna said.

“Who does?” the stallion asked.

“I do not know,” Luna said. “I only concern myself with those whom I am able to assist.”

“What about gryphons and zebras and dragons in life?” the stallion asked.

“I assist them frequently,” Luna said. “When they pass, however they are no longer in my hooves.”

“Princess, why do we fight?” the stallion asked.

Luna would have blinked again. “I do not know. There are many things in life that can never be understood or known, as there are many things here we will never understand or know. The knowledge of each evades the world of the other. Those few of us who do both must acknowledge the truths that exist in each.”

“I do not understand,” the stallion said. He looked around again. “What if the zebra is out there somewhere, waiting for a guide?”

“I do not know what lay out there,” Luna said, looking to the distance. The fog was lighter now, and she could see farther into the empty white plain. “I do not venture there.”

“What if they need your help?” the stallion asked.

“I am afraid that if I do not know they are there, I cannot give them guidance,” Luna answered. “I am not able to wander freely here.”

They continued walking, now silent, until they reached a change in the landscape. Before them, a great, wide river with a single bridge, only a yard or so wide, that crossed all the way to the other side. It was here that Luna always left her charges. She knew not exactly what lay on the other side, but when she was given this duty, she was assured that the other side was the final place for her little ponies.

“This is where I must leave you,” Luna said. “I cannot cross to the other side, as there is no crossing back. On the other side is your resting place.”

The stallion stood stock still and looked out over the bridge. Luna expected him to say thank you and go on, but he just kept standing there. He didn’t say anything, he wasn’t even breathing, as he didn’t need to. It was as if he had been frozen there.

“You have to go back now, then,” he finally said.

“Yes,” Luna said.

“You can’t check for the zebra on the way?” he asked.

“That isn’t how it works, I’m afraid,” Luna said.

“Very well,” the stallion said. “Go on. I will continue my journey.”

Luna nodded. “Farewell, dear stallion,” she said.

“My name was Boulder,” the stallion said. But Luna was gone, and he wasn’t certain that she heard him.

Former Staff Sergeant Boulder looked out over the bridge. On the other side was his resting place, his final destination, where h could live in peace forever. But he hadn’t lived in peace for some time, and it never seemed to get to him. He felt fine, and he had always felt fine.

He looked back out into the fog. Somewhere, out there, was that zebra. Princess Luna never looked out there, but that was because she couldn’t. She wasn’t able to stay here. She didn’t know if they were out there.

Former Staff Sergeant Boulder looked back at the bridge once, then turned away and started walking into the fog, determined to find the zebra and figure out why he had to find it. His journey wasn’t over yet.

And it never would be.