• Published 19th Sep 2016
  • 13,461 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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A Knight to Remember

Cold.

The absence of heat sent an involuntary shudder through Midnight's aching body as she lay on the cool, wet ground. Cracking open an eye, she winced as dark shapes swam into focus; resolving themselves into tree trunks covered with a thick canopy that admitted little light within the forest clearing in which she had awoken. The dark coated mare idly wondered whether losing consciousness followed by coming to somewhere entirely different from where she began was going to become a habit considering what the day had bought so far.

Stumbling to her hooves, Midnight felt a small tinge of relief at the familiar weight and clanking of her battered armour as she struggled temporarily to find her balance. The sudden movement agitated the myriad of cuts and lacerations that had accumulated during her final battle, including the previously mortal spear wound gouged in to her flank; though a brief inspection over her withers gave Midnight pause at the sight of said wound now replaced with a mass of scar tissue, appearing as if it had been healing for days.

Taking a few moments to test her mobility and make sure that her prior injuries wouldn't impede her ability to fight, the war horse marvelled briefly at the increased flexibility that allowed her to manipulate her forelegs in an oddly human manner, before examining her surroundings with greater clarity in an effort to work out just where exactly she had ended up this time. This forest was certainly not the same dull monochrome one of Death's domain; it was far too... vibrant to be related in any manner, especially considering the rather simplistic colour palette compared to what she was used to on Earth.

A soft breeze rustled the leaves on the trees and the sprawling mass of dew encrusted grass glistened under hoof like a blanket of jewels; the clearing being lit solely by the stars and the full moon in an entirely cloudless night sky. Midnight closed her eyes and breathed in the scent of untarnished woodland with a small smile touching her lips, simply enjoying the elation of being among the living once more.

And then the screaming started.

Midnight's head snapped up with a start; muddy amber eyes snapping open and ears swivelling to triangulate the source of the cries even as a guttural roar proceeded to reverberate across the otherwise serene forest. The war charger automatically oriented herself towards the sounds emanating deep inside the dense woodland and was moving before her brain had properly evaluated the potential threat.

Being of breeding age, the dark coated mare had ingrained instincts that governed her behaviour; chief among them being the drive to protect foals from predators, and the cries of fear she was making best speed towards sounded terribly young. Finding a relatively clear stretch free of debris, Midnight sped up from a fast trot to a near gallop as the bestial roars became ever closer; almost indistinguishable from the cacophony of what would no doubt be a one sided battle against a great and terrible creature. Snapping several low lying branches off of the trees that encroached upon her path, the armoured equine spied her soon to be foe in a gap between the foliage; giving her pause as she took in the monstrous creature while its attention was diverted elsewhere.

The beast resembled an enormous muscular cat with burnished orange fur and a darker shaggy mane, with proportionally larger front paws sporting razor sharp claws. A pair of sleek bat-like wings sprouted from its back but didn't seem to be powerful enough to lift the creature's no doubt considerable body weight, while its tail appeared to be made of segmented carapace complete with a spiked barb on its bulbous tip that flicked back and forth in agitation. All in all, the monster would surely prove to be a fearsome opponent that even the experienced war charger would consider twice before engaging.

However, the sound of hooves pawing at the ground accompanied agitated snorts made the decision for her. No doubt the young ones, judging by the soft hoofbeats, were planning to mount a foolhardy frontal charge against their superior foe; a tactic that would surely result in an unacceptable loss of life. This could not stand, and so upon making sure she had a decent run up, Midnight bunched her considerable muscles and pushed off the damp sods of grass into a full gallop against the monster's flank.

In seconds the war charger had hit ramming speed, head lowered to decrease wind resistance as her thundering hooves ate up the ground and subsequently crashed through the last thicket between her opponent as if it were tissue paper while bellowing a war cry. Her foe would be formidable, but she would not falter in her duty as a protector. Death or glory awaited, and Midnight was determined to see that it was the latter that rung true this day.


{()}


For Twilight Sparkle, the day had just seemed to go from bad to worse. First there was her beloved mentor dismissing the warning of Nightmare Moon's return, followed by her trip to the small town of Ponyville; where everything and everypony seemed either determined to further ruin her day in some form or were just plain crazy! Then of course was the dire prediction come true; Princess Celestia missing without a trace and the dark alicorn of legend returning from her lunar prison to spread eternal night.

Even after tearing the town library apart in her search for answers, Twilight was still no closer to discovering how to defeat Nightmare Moon other than that it involved six ancient artefacts known as the Elements of Harmony, and that they were likely to be found in the old abandoned castle in the depths of the Everfree forest. Of course, rather than leaving the unicorn to her mission, the five mares she had run into at various points during her brief stay in Ponyville had not only tracked her down but were also insistent on accompanying Twilight on her quest.

Admittedly, now that she was actually traversing the dark and creepy overgrown forest, Twilight was rather glad of their company. Trying to do this alone would have been more than a little intimidating, and if it hadn't been for Applejack and subsequently Rainbow Dash with Fluttershy catching her then she could very easily have died right there when the cliffside collapsed beneath their hooves. And now, after having spent the last twenty minutes being regaled by the chromatic-maned pegasus on the event in an increasingly exaggerated fashion - despite already knowing thanks to actually being there - Twilight's reply was cut off by the untimely arrival of an angry manticore in the forested ravine they were travelling through.

What followed was an entirely one sided fight in spite of the group's best efforts. Rarity - the last pony Twilight would ever expect - not only dodged the first pounce by the chimera-like creature, but also delivered a solid buck to its nose; though the spittle-laced roar at point blank range soon sent the fashionista running while screaming about the state of her hair with the manticore in close pursuit.

Applejack had taken the opportunity to leap astride the much larger animal and proceeded to ride it like a bull at a rodeo; whooping and hollering until she was inevitably sent flying off of her bucking and jumping ride past an already hovering Rainbow Dash. The blue-coated speedster then darted straight at the manticore and proceeded to fly circles around it in an effort to confuse and disorientate, the rainbow coloured after trail left in her wake forming a cyclone wall. All of which merely annoyed the much larger creature, swatting her aside with the club of its tail to land in an undignified heap.

Anger at the manticore for jeopardising her companions lives clouded Twilight's mind, a hoof already pawing at the ground and a snort of condensation escaping her nostrils in the cool night air as the other mares formed a battle line beside her. Save for a distinctly fretful looking Fluttershy that is, who was still trying to call their attention. Ignorant of this fact, the five ponies steadily gathered speed as they charged in a loose wedge formation; the manticore tensing to pounce as the gap between the two warring parties rapidly dwindled. Drawing in a deep breath, Fluttershy prepared to shout for all she was worth in order to make herself heard and cease the confrontation, when she was interrupted by an unexpected source.

The thundering of heavy hoofsteps, far louder than anypony present had ever heard, proceeded the forest exploding outwards in a shower of snapped branches and leaves immediately to the manticore's left flank; a bellowed war cry proceeding a veritable behemoth of a pony that charged through the breach and slammed into the surprised hybrid animal like a runaway freight train. The six ponies could only stare in a mixture of awe and more than a little fear as the manticore was sent flying into the forest on the opposite side of the trail, flattening several bushes and saplings in the process, while the newcomer tore up the earth in coming to a skidding halt.

The pony in question was quite simply one of, if not the biggest Twilight had ever seen; easily as tall as Princess Celestia and with a similar elongated muzzle. But that was where the similarities ended, for while the ruler of Equestria had a lithe and slender appearance with a shining white coat, this pony was broad-framed and muscular in a manner that exceeded even Applejack's brother Big Macintosh. The massive equine had a coat that was as black as the darkest of nights along with a similarly coloured short cut tail; the severely muted palette only seeming to highlight the piercing, muddy amber eyes that were narrowed in contempt beneath a dulled silver shaffron covering a majority of the decidedly female-looking pony's face.

It was the armour combined with the imposing size that first made Twilight, along with the other mares, initially mistake the intervening pony for Nightmare Moon. However, the dark alicorn's sparse armour plates had seemed more for decoration than anything else, while the mare before them was wearing a set of barding that was clearly meant for battle; the intricately engraved, contoured armour plates covering almost every surface bar the powerful looking legs, giving her an intimidating air.

A single skirt-like piece covered the mare's entire hindquarters, leaving but a single hole for her tail to protrude through; a similar counterpart providing protection from shoulder to shoulder and halting just below her neck. The gap between the two largest pieces was occupied by a smaller, separate plate closer to the bottom of the 'skirt' while an armoured saddle sat curiously on the top. A segmented crinet covered the entirety of her mane from the withers to the top of her head, with a similar but smaller plate covering her throat to completely enclose the neck.

But it was the shaffron linked to the crinet that was perhaps the most intimidating element of the whole ensemble; covering a majority of the mare's face, from the armoured ear guards to the tip of her muzzle. A comparatively small decorative spike like a unicorn's horn jutted from the forehead, blood dripping freely from the faux metal horn and running down the engraved faceplate in rivulets that formed a truly frightening image for the young mares; who had up to this point been sheltered from anything more violent than a spat between friends.

Before anypony could say anything or otherwise act however, an angered roar announced the return of a thoroughly seething manticore now sporting a bloody gouge on its side. Upon seeing the returning lion-like creature, the armoured mare bellowed a challenge of her own.

"BEGONE FOUL BEAST! BACK TO THE PITS OF HELL WHENCE THOU CAME!"


{()}


Being the experienced war horse that she was, it didn't take Midnight more than a few yards to halt her charge once she had struck true and the demon spawn had been sent unceremoniously flying away from the little ones it had the gall to attack. Keeping her body oriented towards her soon to be recovering opponent, the dark-coated mare chanced a glance at the party she had saved only to feel a sense of bewilderment.

There were six of the strangest equines she had ever seen; each but a fraction of her size with minute muzzles and large, wide eyes staring on the front of their heads that gave their faces an oddly human-like degree of expression. The closest analogue she could compare them to would be ponies, but their shape and size were just plain wrong. Stranger still however was that each of the probable fillies, judging by their softer feminine features, were sporting a veritable rainbow of coat colours and oddly styled manes with matching tails; literally in the case of the blue-coated one with... wings?

On closer inspection, two of the little equines had feathery wings the same colour as their coats; the tense rainbow-haired one with the blue coat and another with a pale yellow coat hiding behind the curtains of her pink mane while giving a frightened 'eep' upon meeting the war charger's gaze. The predominantly purple one with the similarly coloured straight hair and gleaming white-coated filly with coiffured bluish curls for a mane had short stubby horns in the middle of their foreheads; both looking unnerved at her appearance, and more than a little afraid.

The last two were perhaps the most 'normal' looking of the group. The first an orange-coated filly wearing an unusual hat and a wary expression, with long blonde mane and tail both tied up in a pony tail fashion similar to that Midnight had seen used by other war horses to keep hair out of the way. While the other was almost entirely pink, from the colour of her coat to the messy gorse bush of a mane and tail, save the worried baby blue eyes.

Of peculiar interest was the small, colourful pictures displayed upon their posteriors, but before Midnight could attempt an introduction to the strange equines, the wretched beast had made itself known once more. A reverberating roar shook the very leaves from the trees as the large cat-like creature stalked back into the clearing with rivulets of blood trickling from the wound upon its side, its snarling features locked on to her own.

Tearing her gaze away from the children, the war charger focused all her attention on her wounded foe; feline pride no doubt demanding satisfaction for interrupting its hunt. Adrenaline spiking, Midnight noted the wings and prehensile spiked tail on the clearly demonic being; subtlety shifting her stance to prepare for the likely avenue of attack in the battle to come. baring her teeth in a snarl, the former knight's steed snorted in anger before responding to the challenge with one of her own.

"BEGONE FOUL BEAST! BACK TO THE PITS OF HELL WHENCE THOU CAME!"

Clearly the manticore didn't expect such an aggressive response from a prey species, neither did it anticipate the sudden charge as the war horse sprinted forth in an attempt to gore her foe once again. Recovering quickly from its shock, the manticore dodged to one side and swiped a massive paw that raked sharp gouges into the mare's armour-plated flank as she blew past; skidding to a halt thirty or so yards away and pawing at the ground with flared nostrils, before galloping straight back at the slightly larger predator once more.

Anticipating the charge, the manticore braced its hind legs for the coming impact with claws raised and bared only for Midnight to veer to the right at the last second; ramming her spiked faceplate into the beast's side and drawing it through the exposed flesh as she ran past. Roaring in pain and frustration, the manticore's scorpion tail lashed out wildly to strike the galloping mare as she passed by; smashing into her flank and sending her sprawling with a massive dent the size of a cannonball punched into her rear most armour plate.

Tumbling several yards, Midnight shook her head to dislodge the cobwebs in her mind as she forced her pain-racked body to stand once more. Clearly normal cavalry tactics would not suffice on a creature of such size, and since she was incapable of attacking from range such as an archer would, then there was but only one other option at hoof.

Feeling the flow of blood from her no doubt reopened leg wound, the war horse gave a guttural cry of anguish before leaping straight at her approaching foe in order to engage up close. Ducking under one swipe then the other of enlarged feline claws that raked her withers, Midnight used her forward momentum and increased flexibility to pivot on the spot once she was inside the manticore's guard and unleashed a vicious double buck to the face.

With a sickening crunch of bone, the beast clutched its clearly broken jaw with a howl of agony; causing it to rear up and involuntarily expose its soft under belly. Having reoriented herself, Midnight ruthlessly exploited this weakness by ramming her faux horn into the furry pelt before her again and again; tearing the metal spike in multiple directions to inflict the maximum amount of damage and end this fight as quickly as possible.

Unbalanced by the sheer viciousness of the continued attacks, the manticore backpedalled while batting at the black-coated mare in an attempt to stave off the assault, only to topple backwards and land in a pained heap. Sensing victory, Midnight trotted around to the head of the bloodied beast that was now mewling weakly in an agonised stupor on the forest floor; the sight of its stubborn opponent forcing an angered growl and a slowly raised paw with claws bared. Staring at the wounded animal dispassionately, the war charger simply raised a heavy forehoof before slamming it down on the manticore's skull. Once, twice, three times, before the chimera-like creature finally lay still; its head a pulpy mess of blood, bone, and grey matter.

With the manticore no longer a threat, Midnight turned her attention to the six horrified fillies looking back at her with no small amount of terror before slowly making her approach. Now that there was no longer any danger, she hoped to find out more about this strange new land in which would dwell; but to do that, she would first have to attempt communication with these locals and hope that their native tongue was similar enough to understand.

Unfortunately the fillies appeared to be far more afraid of the war horse than of the manticore that sought to do them harm considering the way they drew back with each step closer she took. Halting a dozen or so yards away, Midnight mustered a friendly smile as she held up a hoof in greeting. "Fear not little ones, for the beast is slain."

The armour clad mare felt more than a little crest fallen at their... less than grateful reactions. The two horned fillies along with the poofy pink-maned one were still huddled together while staring at her as if she were a great and terrible monster; the pale yellow-winged pony hiding behind them as well as her long mane, seemingly petrified with wide-eyed fear. In contrast, the orange hat-wearing one - though clearly afraid - had taken a wide stance just in front and to the side of the clustered ponies in anticipation of attack, while the chromatic-maned winged filly took flight and hovered protectively in front of the herd with false bravado; her barrel puffed out to make herself look bigger.

"Don't ya come any closer now, y'hear? We don't want no trouble."

The orange-coated filly's unusual accent gave Midnight pause as she considered her next words carefully. Though the words themselves were strange, at least this one seemed to speak a form of English that she could understand. Of more immediate concern however was the underlying tone of the small equine's spoken words. Did they think her a threat? After all she had done to prevent their no doubt grisly demise? Considering their apprehensive looks, that appeared to be more than certain. Clearly she would have to gain their trust before any meaningful exchange could be had.

"Peace young filly, I mean you no harm. I am but a mare in a foreign land who happened upon your battle with the vile creature and wished to lend my aid."

It was at that moment the hovering blue pony zipped over to the war charger to get up in her face; crimson eyes narrowed in suspicion as she glared at the much larger mare. "Oh yeah? Well I don't trust you!"

Author's Note:

To save confusion and avoid having to look things up, here's a bit of reference terminology for medieval horse barding (armour):

http://medieval.stormthecastle.com/images/medieval-horse-armor.jpg

- Bard: The complete set of armour (i.e.; barding)

- Crinet: Segmented plate covering neck and mane.

- Crupper: Large piece of armour covering hindquarters with a hole for the tail to poke out.

- Flanchard: Piece of plate armour attached to the saddle, covering the flanks.

- Shaffron (or Chaffron) - single plate that covers the head and face.

- Peytral - Piece designed to protect the chest/barrel area.