• Published 19th Sep 2016
  • 13,463 Views, 597 Comments

A Warhorse In Equestria - Revenant Reaper



A 14th century veteran war charger, having perished upon the field of battle, is given a second chance at life in a strange new world. But can a mare who knows nothing but conflict adapt to a land of peaceful pastel ponies, or will it prove too much?

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The Pale Horse

A sense of fuzziness fogged Midnight's mind as she slowly came to, though considering that the last thing she remembered was being at death's door then anything was an improvement.

Realisation jolted her awake as the memories surged back with a vengeance; the cavalry charge, the ensuing melee, and her final stand to protect her knight's very being at the cost of her own mortality. Looking around the dull grey landscape surrounding her, the war charger couldn't help but feel a sense of puzzlement at what seemed to be a monochrome, winterised forest encroaching on the narrow cobblestone path upon which she now lay, with flakes of snow silently drifting down around her slumped frame.

Was this Heaven then, or had she somehow ended up somewhere else altogether? She honestly didn't know; but seeing as simply lying here would get no answers, Midnight resolved to find out through her own means.

Rising steadily to her hooves, the dark-coated mare was thankful that she was still wearing her full set of barding, though the damage from her previous battle stood out clearly on her otherwise polished armour. On that note, she also found it curious that although her wounds were still apparent - most notably the deep rents of torn flesh upon her flank from where a spear had been thrust - there was no pain. In fact, Midnight physically felt little to nothing at all other than the crunching snow on cobbles under hoof as she set off down the narrow, twisting path in the hope that it would lead her someplace else.

Step after step, Midnight continued down the monotonous path with only her own thoughts for company as she took in her grey and dreary surroundings. The forest was unnatural, that much was clear, and perhaps the land in which she walked as well. Not a bird flew through the dull overcast sky, nor did a single tree rustle from the passing of an animal. Were it not for the flurries of snow continuing to blanket the ground and her own presence, then she would think her surroundings to be as lifeless as its colourless palette.

The cobblestone trail twisted and turned upon itself in a seemingly nonsensical pattern for what felt like hours, taxing Midnight's patience at the apparent lack of progress on her part as she broke first into a trot and then a canter; seeking to expedite her journey along the identical-looking tree-lined path. Just as she was considering picking up the pace again and plain running however, the forest began to peter out from a dense woodland into sporadic thickets until she rounded a bend on the path, only to pause at the sight before her.

With the overgrown vegetation receding, the cobblestone path had widened and the deep snow seemingly melted the closer it got to the edge of a sheer cliff, with a drop that seemed to go on for all eternity into the black void far below. A humpbacked stone bridge led over the sheer nothingness to an island that seemed to be floating without any visible means of support, upon which a picturesque thatched cottage sat within a well-kept garden; the entire entity encompassed within a translucent greenish-blue bubble that seemed to contain all the colour within this otherwise dark and strange place.

With increasing bewilderment, Midnight cautiously made her way over the plain stone bridge towards the oddly placed, cheerful looking home seeing as it was the only sign of life she had seen thus far. A house meant humans, and a human presence meant that she was not alone in this peculiar predicament. Crossing to the other side, the war charger stared warily at the greenish-blue spherical barrier covering the island for several long moments before gingerly giving it an experimental poke with a hoof, only to find that the appendage easily passed through with little more than a tingling sensation that sent a shiver down her spine.

Steadying her nerves against this clear demonstration of sorcery, Midnight nickered softly as she pawed at the ground briefly before slowly easing her way past the now rippling barrier and on to the island itself.

As soon as the mare had crossed the threshold, she noticed an immediate difference. The sky was now a brilliant blue wherever she looked and the world around her was a rich tapestry of colour that had been noticeably absent outside this seemingly idyllic sphere; a soft breeze blowing through the blades of grass on the lush green lawn and arranged flowerbeds flanking the cobbled path leading up to the thatched cottage's front door.

The feeling of emptiness she had experienced in the forest was now absent as well, the sensation of fresh greenery beneath her hooves exquisite in comparison to trudging through the numbingly cold snow... and reminding her stomach that it had been a long time since she had last eaten. With little more thought, Midnight lowered her head and began to graze upon the delightfully tender grass before her, not noticing the cottage door swinging open or its occupant stepping out shortly afterwards.

"YOU THERE, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?! GET OFF MY LAWN! GO ON, BUGGER OFF!"

Midnight almost jumped out of her skin with a frightened whinny. Not at the tone of words used, seeing as she was long used to the din of battle and shouted orders, but rather how each syllable seemed to claw at her soul with a most primal fear that froze the very blood in her veins, made the hairs of her coat stand on end, and invoked an urge to get as far away from the source as possible. Upon whipping her head around to face the source of the voice, the battle-scarred mare decided to make good on that last instinctual response as her muddy amber eyes widened in terror at the unworldly being now approaching her petrified form.

Contrary to what most people believe, the equines of Earth do have some semblance of culture and traditions kept alive by stories told by word of mouth; passed down by mother to foal for each generation. One such tale tells of a stallion as old as time itself; the one who comes to all equine kind when their time has come in order to reap their souls and allow passage to whatever afterlife there may be.

The Pale Horse

The bleached skeletal equine form certainly looked the part; a tattered black cloak covering a majority of his decidedly male form considering the deep voice, and a pair of glowing blue orbs in place of eyes casting a shadow over a majority of his skull that was covered by a hooded cowl. All in all, the decidedly supernatural creature was the epitomised image of death, and one Midnight wanted to be as far away from as possible as she bolted back the way she came; intending to gallop over the bridge only to slam into the now solidified energy sphere covering the island.

"OH NO YOU DON'T WAR, YOU CONNIVING GIT! LET YOUR DOGS SHIT ON MY LAWN WILL YOU? WELL NOT THIS TIME! TURN AROUND AND FACE ME LIKE A MAN!"

Staggering backwards while shaking her head, the shaken war charger reluctantly turned around to face her foe; only now noticing that the creature's terrifying visage was slightly ruined by the fluffy bunny slippers on each hoof and a spangling star-patterned mug of tea being towed along in his wake via a greenish-blue tinge of energy. The walking corpse paused in midstep momentarily with his head cocked before the sense of impending doom washed over Midnight's shivering form, leaving a feeling of calm in its stead; though she still eyed the stallion warily and with not a small amount of fear as he came to a halt but a few paces away.

"Terribly sorry about that, thought you were an old acquaintance of mine; what with all that barding and everything. It does however raise the question as to who you might be, and how you got here in the first place though. I'm afraid I don't tend to get many visitors to my domain, or at all actually, barring my colleagues."

Midnight blinked in bewilderment at both the conversational tone and the realisation that the skeletal horse spoke in the familiar human tongue known as English. Nickering in response to his question, the war charger could only watch as the Pale Horse planted a slipper clad hoof against his skull. "Horse, of course. Rather obvious you're not going to be able to hold a decent conversation, unless..."

Tendrils of greenish-blue ether briefly filtered over the confused mare's head, proceeding a full body shudder and rapid blinking on her part before she set eyes on the deathly stallion once more. "Wh-what was...?"

Midnight froze up at the English words coming from her own lips with a faint trace of rural Wiltshire accent, while the skeletal stallion clopped his forehooves together in satisfaction; neatly ignoring the usual effects of gravity such an action would incur. "Splendid! Now we can have a proper civilised conversation, might I have your name?"

The war charger shifted uncomfortably on her hooves for a few seconds before deigning an answer with but a slight quiver in her voice. "I was given the name Midnight, milord. Might I be so bold as to ask who you believed me to be?"

The Pale Horse meanwhile had somehow produced an aged scroll from underneath his cloak and had it unravelled in front of his face while pouring over its contents. "Bit of a faux pas I'm afraid. I mistook you for War; an old colleague of mine and one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, alongside Pestilence, Famine, and myself. He's a bit of a bullish sort who has a tendency of letting his bloody dogs take a dump on my front garden when he knows I'm not home."

Midnight blinked in confusion; a habit that was likely to grow considering her increasingly odd circumstances. "I do not understand... How canst thou be a horseman if thou art not human? Art thou not the Pale Horse of legend come to take mine soul to the beyond?"

The skeletal Stallion briefly lowered the parchment to give the equivalent of a frown at the armour clad mare. "I am the Death of all things; be they the greatest king or the lowliest blade of grass. Every species perceives me in their own particular way, and my physical form shifts to compensate." Skimming over the contents of the parchment once more, Death muttered aloud to himself as he got further down the list. "Mary... Mindora... Ah, here we are; Midnight..."

...

"Well that's peculiar; I wasn't supposed to see you until next Tuesday. I even had you pencilled in for an afternoon slot." He discarded the now rewrapped scroll which promptly disappeared in to the shadow of his cloak, before returning his attention back towards the dark-coated mare. "Quite simply put, you aren't supposed to be here. Perhaps if you were to recall the circumstances leading up to our meeting then I might be able to deduce the reasons as why this has occurred."

And so Midnight recounted the events leading up to their impromptu meeting. The battle upon French soil, her sacrifice and presumed death, awakening in the wintry forest of Death's domain, and the journey leading up to the bubble encapsulated island upon which they now stood.

"Well that's a bit of a pickle," The skeletal horse began with a hoof held thoughtfully under his chin. "Sounds like the sort of thing Epona would do. Bloody interfering nag of a Celtic deity always had a soft spot for equines, and now I've got to fix it. Just wonderful."

Death gave a dry sigh before briefly rummaging in his cloak once again, producing a contorted hourglass that seemed to ignore the laws of physics entirely. Sand that was pooled in the bottom was now slowly and inexplicably trickling upwards through a corkscrew pattern of tubing to the top half, and wouldn't alter course no matter how much the keeper of souls tried to shake it around.

While he continued to mutter dire threats at the supposed cause of this anomaly, Midnight tried to wrap her mind around the circumstances she now found herself in. Not only had she to come to terms with the fact that she truly was beyond the land of the living, but Epona, patron goddess of equines everywhere, had interfered in her passing to deliver the war charger directly to Death's door in the literal sense. But for what reason? Had she earned favour somehow for her prowess in battle, or was she being punished for some unknown sin? All Midnight knew was that these events had been but a footnote in no doubt strange and troubling times to come.

A sudden frustrated growl cut off Midnight's introspection and caused the hairs on her coat to bristle as Death turned his piercing, glowing blue eyes back towards her still form. "Well I don't know how she did it, but she's gone and messed up your allotted life time, and even I can't fix it! Believe me, we are going to have words once I find that insufferable woman!" His expression seemed to soften slightly as he looked over the armoured equine before him. "The question now is, what to do with you..."

Midnight wetted her suddenly dry lips and her heart quivered in a mixture of nervousness and possible hope as she spoke once more. "Lord Death, if there is still sand in my glass, does that not mean... that I might live again? Please, I beseech you milord, could I not return to the field of battle once more?"

The skeletal horse slowly shook his head. "I'm afraid not my eager friend. Once a soul has left the mortal plane of its world, it may not return. Unless you count reincarnation, and that's a bit of a grey area at the best of times."

Midnight felt her spirits lower along with her head at the disappointing news, even as Death began to pace back and forth while voicing his thoughts out loud. "You can't well stay here, seeing as I don't have the lodgings, and returning you to Earth is certainly out of the question. What to do... what to do-"

Death's pacing came to a sudden halt mid-stride as a metaphorical light bulb illuminated inside his skull; a worryingly creepy-looking grin briefly lighting up his bony face before he turned shining eyes back towards Midnight. How had he not seen it before? If he couldn't empty her hour glass through conventional means, then why not take a leaf out of the goddess' book and cheat? An idle thought sprung to mind that this might actually be playing directly into the deity's hands, but was ruthlessly squashed in favour of solving the issue at hand and getting back to his morning crossword and now probably stone cold tea.

"Midnight my dear, I believe I may have a solution." The scarred mare perked up slightly as she gave the approaching reaper of souls her full attention. "Though you might not be able to return to your own realm, the sands of time in your glass would allow you to start fresh in another altogether."

The war charger felt her heart skip in anticipation as she framed her question. "Would I be as I am now milord, or but a young filly once more?"

Death shook his head slightly before replying. "You would be exactly as you are now; a grown mare fresh from battle. The realm I have in mind has many equines that speak in human tongues just like you do now, and has seen its fair share of conflicts in the past. I'm sure you'd get along there just fine."

If Midnight hadn't been sold before, she certainly was now; with the image in her mind of glorious battle alongside horses like herself. Bowing her head in supplication, the dark-coated mare voiced the words that would seal her fate for better or for worse. "I accept, my lord. For granting me this boon, I shall forever be in your debt."

Death nodded in a solemn manner that was a world removed from his previously jovialness; his scythe materialising from the ether beside his muzzle and glowing blue eyes flickering as he scryed for the world to which he would send this wayward soul. "Very well, young mare. Keep still and focus upon the name of the realm; Equis."

Midnight did as he asked; closing her eyes and evening out her breathing while mentally repeating the name of her new home as if it were her own personal mantra. Static discharge in the air prickled the hairs upon the war charger's coat and a faint breeze began to pick up as the Pale Horse gathered his considerable power into his traditional instrument of reaping; bluish-green energy crackling along the ebony handle and condensing towards the tip, while a growing hum began to permeate the enclosed area. Finding the intended realm, Death mentally locked in the coordinates and, with a gratuitous sweep of his scythe, tore a rent in the fabric of reality barely large enough to accommodate a small family car.

"Now, Midnight! The bridge will not last long!"

The armour clad mare snapped her eyes open to see a blank white tear in the space-time continuum before her; looking for all the world like someone had merely ripped through a piece of cloth, only this particular phenomenon was rapidly closing by the second. Wasting no more time, Midnight trotted forth to stand before it; shooting one last look at the virtually godlike being concentrating his considerable power behind her. "Fear not my lord, for I shall not squander this chance. Thank you... and farewell."

With those parting words, she passed through the closing breach and was gone with a flash of light. Letting the hole collapse upon itself now that she was gone, Death began to chuckle aloud. "Don't worry my dear. With the way you act, I'm sure we'll be reacquainting ourselves all too soon."

With a shifting of blue-green ethereal power, the Grim Reaper stood once more in his preferred human skeletal form; flexing his bony digits and retrieving the mug he had dropped earlier, before draining the dregs of tea on to the lawn and making his way back up the path towards his quaint cottage retreat in order to finish a rudely interrupted breakfast. Crossing the threshold, Death couldn't help an almost sinister chuckle escaping his tooth laden jaws at the thought of what he had done. After all, he'd barely divulged anything about where he was sending the overeager mare; especially about the dominant species and their largely pacifistic ways.

He was almost tempted to dig out the old scrying crystal gathering dust in a drawer somewhere in order to observe the potential mayhem up close, but before that trail of thought could go any further, an odd noise disturbed his thoughts. Moving to the window of his kitchen area, Death poked his head out only to seethe with rage at what he saw.

"WAR, YOU UTTER BASTARD! HOW DARE YOU LET YOUR DOGS SHIT ON MY LAWN! AGAIN!"

The enraged horseman of the apocalypse bolted out the front door in pursuit of the tank-like mass of bearded muscle and armour that was the humanised representation of war; bullishly laughing as he took off with a pair of extremely buff Chihuahuas close on his heels that were at least ten feet tall at the shoulder and wearing spiked collars. Death neatly skirted around the massive piles of poop that would put a T-Rex to shame as he sent shockwaves of blue-green energy at the retreating trio, screaming dire threats all the while and getting more frustrated by the minute.

Why War's wife - sweet Valkyrie that she was - would get her husband puppies for his birthday and not expect him to turn them in to some form of weapon was anyone's guess; especially now that the tiny, yapping lap dogs were currently towering instruments of mass destruction. Death gritted his teeth as his colleague continued to mock him from afar, an idle part of his vast mind wondering which deity he had annoyed in order to get such a terrible morning.

"Why me?"