“I don’t get why you’re so mad about this?” Soul laid back in an apple tree as Applejack worked below, collecting apples from the other trees. They had been arguing since the adventure with Daring a day or two ago, both standing firm in their beliefs about what had gone on.
“You know why I’m mad!” Applejack shouted over her shoulder. “I told you I didn’t wanna kill the poor fella.”
“And you didn’t. I did. At least, depending on your definition of killing.”
“We flattened the place on Ahuizotl’s head!”
“He refused to leave when the place was clearly falling apart.”
“You ate his soul!”
“Because otherwise he would have continued to be a problem.”
“Why can’t you just lock ‘em away like other crooks?”
“Because the expense that would have to go into making sure something like that stays locked up is ridiculous.”
“How do you know that?”
“I…” Soul scratched her head. “Dunno. Guess it’s just another one of those lost memories.”
Applejack snorted. “‘Course it is. Well how ‘bout, instead of lazing ‘bout here, you go and get back some of them memories.”
Soul sighed. “Fine. This argument is stupid anyway.” She hopped out of the tree before walking toward Ponyville.
“You better turn into that pony form of yers before you get close to town!” Applejack called out. Soul just waved an arm dismissively in response as Applejack growled. “Fine. You wanna mob of scared ponies attacking ya, that’s fine by me.”
Good thing for Soul, today was not the day the ponies ran her out of town as Twilight had decided to come to her, the two meeting by the gate to the farm. “Oh, Soul. Were you going somewhere?”
“Ya, away from Applejack. Why?”
“I see.” She looked a little saddened by the fact they were still fighting. “Well, now that things have calmed down, I was hoping we could go by the castle in the Everfree and see if we can figure out more about you. Also, after the last memory, I sent a message to Princess Celestia about you and your situation, figuring she might know more about an alicorn named Sunny.”
Soul shrugged. “Sounds like a plan. Lead the way to the castle.” Twilight turned, heading toward the entrance to the forest as Soul trailed behind. “With that dragon of yours being an instant messaging service, how long do you think a reply will take?”
“Unfortunately, she and Princess Luna are both on a diplomatic mission and have asked I not use Spike to send messages unless it is an emergency, so it will take the normal mailing time to get a reply, and that’s assuming the messenger can catch up. They are going to several different countries after all.”
“Whatever you say princess.” She shrugged again. “I guess trying to get my memories back ain’t exactly a national emergency yet.”
“Yet?” Twilight cocked her head confused.
“I try to be ready for whatever might happen. Part of being a good weapon.”
“I see…” Twilight pondered for a few moments. “You do seem to take what you are seriously.”
“Well ya. You take being an alicorn seriously, don’t you?”
“Yes, that’s true. But I chose to become this.” She flapped her wings a bit. “These wings were not forced upon me like… well, like your condition.”
“You don’t need to talk about it like it’s cancer or something Twilight. I’m somewhere between three and four thousand years of being a sword. If I haven’t settled into what I am by now, I’d be more worried about that than offending.”
“But is that really something you are alright with?”
Soul opened her mouth before slowly closing it, blinking. “I… don’t get what you are saying.”
“Should you be so okay with losing what you were and adapting a new life that was forced upon you?”
Soul scratched her head. “Seriously, I don’t get it. Yeah, being not human sucks, but it’s not like I can do anything about it.”
Twilight sighed. “Have you even tried to find a way to turn back?”
“Eh, not really. My body kinda got dumped, remember? It ain’t a matter of turning back, it’s a matter of having nothing to go back to.”
“I see…” Things went quiet between the two for the remainder of the trip into the forest. When they reached the entrance to the Everfree Castle, Twilight stopped.
“So you just knew how to walk around this place despite not being able to really see it?”
“Think you could find a room for me than? As a test.”
“I… guess.” Soul put a hand to her forehead. “Though I’m getting a headache just trying to think of a map.”
“You don’t need to think of a map. Just do what you did before and let it come naturally.”
“So… just start walking?”
“Exactly. Now, let’s see if you can find the library. Remember, don’t think about it much. Just… imagine you’re going to get a book.” Soul deadpanned at Twilight. “Oh… right, can’t see. Sorry.”
Soul sighed, shaking her head before she started walking, wandering the halls of the castle. At the start it was rough as she bumped into a few corners and tripped over a stone or two, but she seemed to get the hang of it by the time they reached the library. “Alright, definitely a big pile of plant wavelengths compressed into small slates. Otherwise known as books.”
“Correct, this is the library. Now find the kitchens.” Soul grumbled before turning out of the room and heading down the hall once more. Along the way though, she suddenly stopped and turned toward the wall.
Twilight watched as Soul walked up to the wall. “Soul, what are you-” She pressed on a brick and the wall swung inward, leaving an entrance to a small, dark hallway. She didn’t stop to let Twilight gawk though as she quickly shifted into her pony form before stepping inside.
Twilight opened her mouth to speak before shaking her head. “No,” she muttered. “This is good. She’s starting to draw on the memories she lost.” She smiled. “Even if it isn’t consciously, it could lead to some conscious realizations.” She followed behind Soul, slipping through just as the secret door began to close.
* * *
Applejack continued kicking tree after tree, trying to work her anger out. Problem was, the more she stewed on it, the more angry she got.
“Stinkin’ no good hunk of rusted metal. What’s she thinkin’, going ‘round acting like she can just end somepony’s life like that?”
“Should go back to being a stick sittin’ in the Everfree Castle. Be better off with her-”
“AJ!” Applejack jumped, turning to see Big Mac standing there. “That tree’s empty… again. Only this time, you hit it any harder and there won’t be a tree.” She turned to look at her work, a set of hoofprints embedded in the trunk.
“Sorry. Guess I got worked up.”
“This about the sword lady again?”
Applejack sighed. “Yes. This time I ain’t worried ‘bout her though. I’m worried what she’s gonna do.”
“You seemed to be rather enjoyin’ yer time with her. What kinda disagreement would ruin that so quickly?”
“Big Mac. She killed someone. And I helped her.” She shook her head, a grimace on her face. “Sure, it was a creep who wanted to roast an entire basin with the sun, but that don’t mean he deserve death, right?”
Big Mac shrugged. “I ain’t ‘bout to try to put together a puzzle that I don’t got all the pieces for. You haven’t tried talking with her?”
“I did. She kept goin’ on about how his soul couldn’t be saved and whatnot.”
“And you weren’t listenin’?”
“Why should I?! She just went and ate someone’s soul like it was an apple! Why should I listen to her?”
“Cause you told me she was some sort of genius when it came to this soul stuff. I know it don’t exactly look good, but if your friends thought you were doing something strange that had to do with apples, don’t ya think they’d at least listen to ya?”
“Well… ah…” She grumbled, looking around as she thought. “Apples don’t hold a candle to murder!”
“Is it murder?”
“What are ya talkin’ about now Big Mac?”
“Are you sure that what you and Soul put down was still really livin’?”
“It talked. It walked. Certainly seemed alive.”
“I don’t mean it like that AJ. I meant, was what y’all took down really still all there? And if not, you think there was somethin’ worth saving in the shell that was left?” Applejack seemed stumped at this, unable to come up with words to respond. “I ain’t saying drop your morals AJ. I am saying get all yer apples in the same basket before you start carryin’ them to the barn.”
Applejack stood there, her mouth clamped shut for a good minute before she sighed and looked up at Big Mac. “I guess yer right. I should… go talk with her. At least try to get what she’s sayin’.” Big Mac nodded with a grin as she turned toward the Everfree and galloping off. “I’ll be back soon Big Mac!”
* * *
In the kitchens of the Everfree Castle, one of the counters along the walls suddenly slid into the floor, revealing a small entryway as two ponies stepped out. Soul shifted back into her normal form before putting a hand to her head. “Are we there? My head kind of hurts again.”
Twilight looked around. “Yep, this is it. You definitely have shown to know your way around the castle despite not remembering it.”
“Great. Are we done than?”
“Yes, though if you don’t mind, I’d like to try one more. If you aren’t up for it though, we can go home.”
Soul shook her head. “Let’s just get it over with. Where am I going now?”
“This one’s a bit more… vague. It also not might work so I really need you to just let your instincts take over for this one.”
“Alright, alright, I get it.” She took a deep breath before closing her eyes.
“Very well… Soul, find your room.”
For awhile, Soul didn’t seem to move. Twilight almost thought she had fallen asleep on her feet before suddenly she started walking out of the kitchen. “Ah!” Twilight rushed after her, keeping up with her oddly quick walking pace as she headed through the castle. They went on and on, going up flights of stairs and taking enough turns that even Twilight lost track after a while until they suddenly reached a dead end.
“Another secret passage?” Twilight muttered, Soul reaching forward to push the wall only for nothing to happen. This shook her from her state, causing her to groan as she gripped her head.
“Ugh… where did we go?” She looked up at the wall as she winced at her headache. “A wall? That’s really helpful.” Twilight walked up next to Soul, looking over the bricks.
“This seems… off somehow. Not like the secret passage though. It’s… newer. A different kind of brick from a later era than the rest of the castle.” Her horn lit up as the mortar between the bricks began to crumble, pulling the wall slowly apart before their eyes. As the dust cleared, a wooden door was revealed. “It was covered up… but why?”
Soul didn’t answer, her eyes locked on the door as she slowly stepped forward with her hand outstretched. Her head pounded as her heartbeat filled her ears, but despite this she pushed forward, opening the door.
Inside was a bedroom, covered in dust but in otherwise perfect condition. Twilight peeked around Soul before stepping inside. “What a strange room. No windows. And simple furnishings. Not what you would expect of a single room in the castle.” After a few moments of silence she turned to look at Soul. “Are you alright?”
Soul stood just inside the door, eyes wide as she seemed to take in the room using her own vision. Her hands trembled but otherwise she was frozen to the spot. “Soul?” She still didn’t respond to Twilight’s concern, her shaking only increasing as something black began to run from her nose until all of a sudden her eyes rolled back and she fell forward.
“Soul!” Twilight rushed over to her side, using her magic to turn her over. “Soul, say something! What’s wrong?!” No response came. “Oh no, what did I do?”
Unknown to Twilight, a malicious voice was giggling in Soul’s subconscious. ‘Oh my dear. You’ve done more than you could ever imagine.’