• Published 26th Feb 2014
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He Who Walks The Graves - The Zealot



When the ignorant find knowledge they are dangerous. One man understands this, and so seeks to educate the nation he once fought for, and to bring down it's tyrant ruler.

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Chapter 19: All Those You've Loved, All Those Who've Died...

He Who Walks The Graves
By: The Zealot
Chapter 19: All Those You’ve Loved, All Those Who’ve Died…

“Sir, are you sure this is a good idea?” Ember asked, fidgeting with her hooves in her chair.

“Whatever do you mean, my dear?” I asked, standing from my own chair. Or course, I could guess what she was worried about, but if she saw I was calm then hopefully she would calm down as well. Being a leader requires that one think of such reactions.

“Well, we’re inviting our greatest enemies to a secluded area, with neither of us being combat ready. Not that I don’t doubt your capabilities, but they are the Elements of Harmony, and the Princesses.” Valid points, to be sure, but she didn’t grasp the advantage we would in fact posses. The point of the dining area was that, if trouble were to arise, Ember and I could leave and the others would be stuck there to slowly die off. Hopefully it wouldn’t come to that, though.

I didn’t answer with that, though, instead I said something much simpler. “Enemy, singular.” As I said the words, I could see the confusion grown on her face, before she asked another question, completely forgetting her first. Ah, answer dodging, it’s fun when you’re the one doing it.

“Singu- Sir, there are eight of them!” She exclaimed, exasperated at my seeming lack of concern.

There was truth in her words, we would be outnumbered and the alicorns as well as the Element of Magic and Generosity were unicorns, they would be able to be combat ready at the drop of pin. But that wasn’t the point of what I said, Ember still didn’t understand who was the great manipulator, even after all she had been shown. So I decided to make it simple.

“There are eight ponies, this much is true, but only one enemy. Luna has paid penance enough to atone for her crimes, yet her sister remains in a seat of self-assured righteousness. As for the elements? They are simply misguided, following a symbol they don’t know the history behind.” It wasn’t completely honest, my reasons for fighting Celestia as far as Ember knew, but if there was one thing I learned as a commander in Celestia’s Royal Army, well, it was how to inspire faith in a cause.

“I… I understand sir, I apologize for questioning your judgment.” She looked down at her hooves then, seemingly embarrassed as her face flushed. This was the duality of commanding, to inspire faith in a cause, but to also promote free-will in your forces.

“Your mistake was not in questioning me, Knight Ember, it was in questioning before you though deeply. If there is ever something you wonder about, ask it, there is no such thing as a wasted question save for the one not asked.” I gave her a sage-like nod, perhaps emphasized by my scarred face and graying hair, perhaps not.

“I… yes sir. I apologize again, sir, such poor judgement is unbecoming of a Knight under your command.” She was no longer fiddling with her hooves, or looking down in embarrassment. Instead, a fire like the one I saw when she named herself once more burned in her eyes. I returned the sentiment with a small smile.

Our conversation done, I donned my suit jacket and sat upon my chair at the head of the table. The hour of truth approached.

[1014 A.B. 11:02pm]

*****

Was it late for a dinner? Yes. Did that stop everyone from showing up? Celestia wouldn’t let it happen for the world.

Ember and I sat at our seats, mine at the head of the table and her’s at my right. Make what you will of that. Minutes passed but then, in sparks of light as lanterns lit, ponies appeared in their seats. First was Celestia, of course, shortly followed by Luna. The both of them looked around the graves in confusion, then horror. Not even a hint of guilt or sorrow.

Not dwelling on that, the Elements started showing up moments later.

I stood from my chair as the last pony was before her plate, opening my arms in a gesture of welcoming. “Welcoming one, welcome all. Princess and Element alike. As you all know, I am Reaper and this,” I motioned a hand about our surroundings, “is the Graves of Heroes. Before we get on to business, allow us to eat. Before each of you is a plate and a chalice, simply wish for a meal and it shall appear.” My grand introduction done, I returned to my seat.

The ponies looked around, the Elements looking to their pseudo-leader, the Element of Magic, who simply shrugged before summoning a meal to her plate. Soon the rest followed, Princesses included. To my right, Ember had also joined in, summoning a dish she had described to me prior, some cultural food from her childhood. As for myself, I had a simple meal of soft bread, mashed potatoes, and a finely cooked steak.

Psychological warfare? Never heard of it.

Once everyone finished eating it seemed none had noticed my meal, although I did see the Element of Kindness glance nervously at the blood remaining on the plate. The pleasantries concluded, it was time to get onto business, something Celestia was eager to do as she slammed a hoof upon the table as I was wiping off my mouth, getting whatever blood might be there off my beard.

“We have played your games long enough Reaper, what have you called us here for? What reason could you have for forcing us into this decrepit graveyard?” She seemed indignant, perhaps in that I could so easily provide a good meal, or that I could so easily have her cornered? Either way, I didn’t take kindly to her tone.

“I will have to advise you not to raise your voice in the resting place of those you damned. Though they are long past now, their spirits do not appreciate it,” I stood from my seat, refocusing the attention upon myself, rather than on Celestia, “as for a decrepit graveyard, can you not recognize the names upon the stones? The names of those who trusted you, and whom you used as pawns?” I motioned to some of the headstones about, drawing her gaze, I saw her eyes light in recognition but she made no move to continue talking.

Instead, her pupil, the Element of Magic asked a question instead. “Not that I don’t mind questions that your conversation with the Princess brings, but I am curious, why did you all invite us here?” She was quite polite, unlike her mentor. Although maybe it had something to do with my appearance, after all, I’m sure a scarred old man wasn’t what they were expecting under my helm.

“Yes, yes to business, shall we? It’s all very simple, I wish to show you the truth behind this false prophet you call a Princess.” I left it at that, waiting to see if there were questions before I continued.

It was at that moment that Luna slammed down a hoof upon the table, poor thing is going to have some dents. “Now wait right there Reaper! You dare to call my sister a false prophet when you move around in your shadows, acting as a mastermind to greater forces! How can you, who plagued my dreams for so long, claim to be the righteous one!” Perhaps I was wrong about Luna having earned her reprieve from sufferings.

“Because, dear Luna, I honored my promises, and my position. Girls, you Elements of Harmony, allow me to show you all the history of your country, of your Princess.”

[1014 A.B. 12:00pm]

*****

Flashback, 1222 Y.R.S.

The war was over. After decades of war, it was finally at an end. The Griffons, Germany, had been pushed back to their capital city. The Russian’s pushed, together with the British and, of course, Equestria. Together, the three countries overpowered what remained of the Griffon forces, pushing them into the Griffon King’s inner sanctum, far below the earth where he planned to hide out his judgement. We found him, after months of fighting over the city, his guts spilled across the floor, caked in dust and dried blood. He took a cowards way out, rather than face justice for his crimes.

That wasn’t what mattered though, what mattered was that there was peace once more. Sure, cities had to be rebuilt, people needed new jobs, and there were more orphans than there had been at the start, but now there was actually a chance to fix all those things.

So it was, with a heavy heart, I conducted the mission I was issued.

There were still some outlying countries who had been allied to the Griffons, and followed their thoughts, and they had to be dealt with. Obviously, for a mop up mission, I was the best answer. I could move faster than a squad, had more individual firepower than a platoon, and I was perhaps the single most experienced soldier who survived the war.

I was away from Equestria for two years. It seemed like forever, to be away from the land I called home, from the land I fought and died for. But it was my duty, and so I made sure that all who stood in my way faced the retribution of an Equestrian Royal Agent.

When I finally returned home, it was to celebration. Parades were held in my honor, I was a War Hero, a saviour of thousands. Now, perhaps all of that was exaggeration, but the public ate it up. Sadly, I didn’t get to see my squad in the months of my return, they too had important missions that needed to be handled for peace to be secure, and with me busy who else were better qualified?

So, I relaxed in the post-war peace for a time, drowning out the sorrows I still had over crimes committed long ago in drink that came about as part of parties to celebrate Equestria victory. It only occurred to me much later how much the war truly took out on my soul. In that time, however, I tended to Yggdrasil, and it taught me more than it had in the decades of war.

My times of learning were stopped months later, however, when I received a letter in the mail. That single letter has been the cause of all of this.

[1014 A.B. 1:45am]

Author's Note:

After over a year it's finally bloody done, the continuation of this damn story. Not that I don't love you guys, and not that I don't plan on continuing this, but goddamn it is hard to write something with as many bloody intricacies as I want.

Anyway, a taste at the truth in this chapter, couldn't do the full thing because of what has to happen next chapter. Don't worry guys, it's almost here, and then the real fun begins.

I hope you guys can forgive me for this, for how long it's taken, and I hope you enjoy.
~Your friendly neighborhood 5am author, Zealot