• Published 20th Dec 2014
  • 17,692 Views, 1,494 Comments

Tears of a Foal - Rocinante



In the winter snow, a lost foal cries.

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Alone

Celestia sighed, the day had exploded on her. One thing after the next had kept her from checking in on the foal. Thankfully Luna had seen to him in her stead. Walking down the hall towards the room, she spotted the guard from that morning still there.

“I am sorry to keep you on such a long shift. I had thought the parents would have shown up by lunch. Any word of where he came from?”

“No, your majesty. There’s no missing foal reports. We’ve checked the hospitals to see if maybe they’d been in an accident. The captain has four guards actively asking around the city.”

“You have been very diligent, Green Bean.” Letting her posture slip a bit, Celestia sat on her haunches. “How’s he doing?”

“Very quiet.” Turning his head, he glanced at the door behind him. “We gave him some food earlier, but I haven’t checked to see if he ate it. I’m afraid I’ll scare him.”

Easing herself back up, Celestia placed a hoof on the door. “I’ll watch him for the night. You go home to your family.”

The guard gave her a smile and a salute, before cantering off. Looking back at the door, she eased it open, carefull to not let the hinges creek. Pressing her face to the cracked door, she looked around for the foal.

He was easy enough to see. Standing in the center of the bed, he held himself as rigid as a guard. With his eyes shut, he took long even breaths. Periodically, he would extend a leg, thoughtfully moving it through its full range of motion.

‘He’s meditating?’ An occasional dim flicker of his horn confirmed her question.

Slipping into the room, Celestia closed the door behind her. The colt didn’t seem to notice her taking a seat to watch him. His mind-body exercise continued till his eyes opened and he spotted her. He froze for a moment, then relaxed, seeming to recognize her.

“Sorry,” Celestia said. “I didn’t want to interrupt. Feeling better?”

The foal prattled out in his chirping gibberish. It had the rhythm of language, but was like nothing she had ever heard. Looking to the lunch tray, she was happy to see it picked mostly clean, if not a little crudely. Bits of food scattered about gave the appearance he had forgone the fork and spoon, and plunged his muzzle directly into the bowls. The glass was still full though; the ice long melted, but bits of lemon, lime and orange still floated about.

Giving up on words, Celestia used her magic to pick up the stray bits of food that had fallen off the tray. With the bedside tidied, she took the glass in her magic, and turned to offer it to the foal—who was looking at her like she’d just casually picked the whole castle up, and sat it back down. She wouldn’t call it fear though, just raw astonishment: that was some improvement. Smiling, she offered the glass up to the foal to drink.

The colt retreated a half step as the glass neared him, but his eyes fixed with longing to the water inside. A smacking of dry lips against dry tongue told her he was painfully thirsty. ‘Why did he not drink it earlier?’

Tilting the glass towards his lips, she offered him the water. She could see the fight of fear versus need in his head, but finally the need won out. Screwing up his courage, the foal inched forward till his lips were to the cup. She expected him to take it in his hooves, she wouldn't have been surprised if he had used his magic, but instead he just sat there waiting for her to feed him.

What have they done to you?

Slowly she tilted the glass, letting the colt drink deeply. She watched his eyes for any sign of when she should stop, but the glass emptied first, a little wedge of orange tumbling down and hitting his nose. Looking cross-eyed at the offending fruit, he sucked it into his mouth, then spit out the rind before backing away from the cup. She couldn’t help but grin at the foal’s contented smile.

“Better?”

The foal chirped something, then gave her a little bow. The words were lost to her, but she understood a “Thank you,” nonetheless.

They sat again in silence for a moment. The foal no longer wilting under her stare, she took the opportunity to get a proper look at him. Her first guess of age had been a bit young, but not by much. Healthy and well proportioned, the olive and brown colt would grow into a handsome stallion. His eyes, now free of fear, were bright and inquisitive, examining her as intently as she was him. When his gaze fixed on her horn, it lingered there longer than it had the rest of her. The tilt in his head made his curiosity almost comical.

Leaning towards the bed, she lowered her head, till her horn was next to him. He seemed almost reverent towards her horn. She had expected him to touch it, but he only studied it with his eyes. After a moment, he backed away. Pointing a hoof to her horn, he made a little gesture, then reached up and touched his own horn. It was a question, “Am I the same?”

Dumbfounded, Celestia sat back upright. She swallowed a lump in her throat, and nodded. ‘He has never seen another unicorn? What kind of life has he had, to not know his own tribe? He must have thought himself strange.’ There was some relief in seeing that he understood her nod as a yes, but it did little to slow her mind in imagining what kind of neglect the foal must have endured.

She needed to take him down to the clinic. He looked healthy, but she wanted a professional to confirm it. If they found signs of long term abuse; she would personally flip Canterlot upside down to find the monster that had done it.

Holding her forehooves out, she beckoned for the foal to let her pick him up. “Let’s go for a walk. You probably want to run around a bit anyway.”

The foal gave her an apprehensive glance. He hadn’t understood her words, but the body language was clear. Celestia feared he would slip back into his catatonic state, but whatever trust she had built with him let him step into her forelegs.

With a gentle motion, she lifted him off the bed, and set him on the floor. His legs wobbled a bit before firming up beneath him. Looking up at the world around him, his eyes went wide and his breath quickened. Celestia knew a panic attack when she saw one: Twilight had given her all the education she needed there. Giving the foal space, she sat down, making herself as still and calm as possible.

He had been comfortable up on the bed, but as soon as he was on the floor, he panicked.’ Celestia chewed over what that could mean, while the colt regained himself. Soon enough, he looked up at her, and chirped out something. Striding over to the door, she opened it, and motioned for him to follow.

The colt sighed, giving the door a steely look. One step, then another: he had neither rhythm nor grace in his gait. Slowly, he made his way past her, and out into the hall.

Again Celestia’s mind swam. ‘Did they lock him in a box all his life?’ Taking a knee, she motioned for him to climb on her back, but a shake of his head told her he wanted to walk himself. ‘Yes, I suppose he would rather walk.’