• 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?

  • ...
22
 597
 13,461

Friend or Foe?

Twilight Sparkle was beside herself with worry along with the other five mares in their group; even the normally hyperactive Pinkie was being uncharacteristically quiet in the face of what they had just witnessed. The giant armoured pony had not only taken on a manticore single-hoofed but beaten it in a most gruesome manner, before brutally snuffing out its life. Having never experienced such violence before, let alone seen death up close, it was a particularly disturbing scene that would likely be ingrained on the girls' psyche for quite some time; especially for the animal-loving Fluttershy, who was whimpering with brimming tears at the sight of the broken manticore corpse.

The issue right now however was that said black-coated mare was now approaching them at a leisurely pace. A mixture of manticore blood and her own were both plastered across her dirt-encrusted armour and dripped from multiple wounds, forming a gory image that reminded Twilight so much of one of Spike's trashy horror novels that he seemed to leave lying around back in Canterlot.

The six ponies edged back as one as she got closer; Applejack and Rainbow Dash standing protectively between the large mare and their friends despite feeling the same tension as the rest. Coming to a halt, the battle-scarred stranger smiled at the cowering mares while raising a hoof in greeting; seemingly not comprehending just how terrifying she looked to the much smaller ponies as she spoke an incredibly old fashioned dialect of Equestrian with a peculiar accent.

The rational part of Twilight's mind that wasn't gripped with fear was already buzzing with questions even as Applejack tried to warn the black-coated mare off. Who was this mysterious pony? Why did she intervene so violently to the extent that she could casually take a life? And how was she still standing so nonchalantly after suffering such grievous wounds that would cripple anypony else?

"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."

The armoured mare's response was in itself an excellent source of information should one know where to look. Her admission of not being from Equestria might partially explain the odd manner of speech, as well as the fighting skills that were far too brutal to be derived from the Royal Guard. But what did that leave, and more importantly, why was she here? Before Twilight could pluck up the courage to approach the mysterious mare, Rainbow Dash in her impulsive hotheadedness got right up in the newcomer's face to spout off at a pony who no doubt could snap her in half without even trying.

Twilight heard Rarity's breath hitch as she likely came to the same conclusion at the blatant confrontation happening right in front of them, while Applejack looked like she was preparing to drag the pegasus away by the tail. "Consarn it filly! Git away from her, she's dangerous!"

Thankfully the armoured giant remained calm as she turned her attention from the hovering pegasus to the wary earth pony mare, determination set in every feature. "Only to those that threaten the lives of my comrades and the innocent, such as that beast had. Upon my honour, this I solemnly swear."

A tense silence stretched out as Applejack's brilliant green eyes stared into the mare's own, seeming to communicate their intentions without words, until finally the farm pony spoke once more. "Ah believe you. For now."

Rainbow however was less convinced as she darted over to hover above her ground-bound friend. "Are you serious?! With that get up, how do know she isn't working for Nightmare Moon, huh?"

The Stetson-wearing mare gave a sideways glare at the pegasus hovering above her head. "Ah know when folks are lyin' RD, an' best ah can tell, this here mare is speakin' nothin' but the truth." Those same green eyes narrowed a little as they settled back on the massive pony before them, to whom her next words were aimed with all the subtlety of a flying house brick. “Ah jus’ hope it ain’t a trust misplaced.”

A chuckle drew both of their attention, a small smile gracing the subject in question's muzzle shortly thereafter as she moved to speak. "Thank you most kindly, though I would be troubled if thy minds did not have doubt of a strange mare's intent toward a herd of young fillies. Perhaps introductions are in order?"

The dark-coated mare bowed her head in a regal manner before standing proudly to attention. "I am Midnight, daughter of Willow, and proud member of the knights errant under the command of his Royal Highness Prince Edward of Wales. Might I have the pleasure of knowing thy names?"

Dash seemed to be thrown for a loop momentarily considering her wide-eyed expression before an appreciative grin lit up her muzzle. "So you're like a royal knight, huh? Well, I guess you really aren't with Nightmare Moon since you did save our hides from that manticore, though I totally could have taken him myself." The pegasus performed a short loop in the air followed by hovering high and proud with a smug look plastered across her face. "Name's Rainbow Dash, fastest flyer in all Equestria and captain of the weather team."

Though Midnight might not have known what a 'weather team' was, she did recognise the military rank when she heard it and acted accordingly; hooves clacking together audibly as her posture stiffened and her left foreleg clanged against her front plating in salute. "My greetings, Captain Dash. Truly it is a surprise to meet an officer so young."

Still a little wary but not wanting Rainbow's ego stroking to get worse any time soon, Applejack stepped forward to gain the larger mare's attention before tipping her Stetson in greeting. "Ah'm Applejack. Me an' mah family work the orchards up on Sweet Apple Acres growin' the best darn apples ya ever had. If ya an honest sort like ah think ya are, then we'll get along jus' fine."

Midnight, as the armoured mare had introduced herself, perked up in interest at the farm filly's statement; eyes lighting up with a sense of nostalgia. "Before I found my calling, I too used to till the land; though it has been long since I last touched a plough. If thou would'st allow it, I would not mind experiencing it again."

That got the earth pony's attention. A warrior who knew what it was like to do a honest day's work on the farm? Now that was a pony that she wouldn't mind getting to know. "Ah'd like that, sugar cube."

Suddenly Midnight's vision was filled with pink. Well, mostly pink, save for the baby blue eyes staring upside down into her own from mere inches away. "Hi! I'm Pinkie Pie, and I know every pony in Ponyville!"

The war horse whinnied in shock as she recoiled from the sudden invasion of personal space, though her unwelcome passenger continued to spout nonsense without batting an eyelid. Or apparently needing to breathe.

"IlikemeetingnewponiesandI'venevermetyoubeforesoyoumustnewandifyou'renewthenIgettothrowyouawelcometoPonyvillepartywherewegettohavecakeandplaygamesandhavesomuchfunbecauseweloveseeingnewponiesinPonyvilleandIlovetothrowparties,doyoulikeparties?"

Having ceased her attempts to throw off the pink menace, Midnight narrowed her eyes at the pony-shaped limpet before responding with exceptional restraint. "If thou must speak in tongues child, then at least do it some place else. And what, pray tell, is a 'party'?"

There was a period of awkward silence as the poofy-maned earth pony blankly stared back at the much larger mare, followed by somersaulting off to gasp dramatically with a loud inhalation of air. "YOU'VE NEVER HAD A PARTY?!"

Pinkie remained upside down throughout the shocked declaration; In midair, for several seconds, before flipping round the right way and landing on all four hooves with cat like grace. "A party is only the most splendiferous thing ever!" In the blink of an eye, the physics defying pony had somehow migrated from several feet in front of Midnight to glomping her foreleg with a teary-eyed expression. "Don't you worry, you sad, sad pony. Auntie Pinkie's going to make sure that you get the bestest party ever! Then we'll have a party for every birthday you've missed, and then-"

Midnight turned a pleading look towards the other mares present to save her from the pink abomination to nature, only to find Applejack hiding her amusement behind her hat and Rainbow Dash cackling with glee even as she fell to the forest floor while clutching her sides. Could they not see that some form of witchcraft was at play? How else could one explain the filly's unnatural abilities?

Taking pity on the bewildered-looking mare, Rarity cleared her throat before speaking. "Pinkie Pie, you're overwhelming the poor dear. Perhaps you could plan your party later once we are out of this ghastly forest?"

"Okie dokie lokie!"

Seeing the relief in the imposing knight's eyes once Pinkie had bounced off, Rarity put on her most disarming smile and flicked an imaginary strand of hair away from her face as she turned on the charm. "Salutations darling, and might I say what a fabulous ensemble you have. Though it could do with a... bit of a spruce up. "

Now that she wasn't gibbering in terror, the fashion conscious pony could appreciate the intricate design of Midnight's armour, in spite of the caked blood and dirt that made her feel a bit nauseous just looking at it. The carvings were so precise and minute that she doubted even the best pony artisan could easily replicate the pattern; a shame then that the once no doubt beautifully gleaming armour was now ruined by exposure to such barbaric violence. The design however, especially the 'skirts', gave the fashionista so many ideas for new dresses that she didn't know where to begin.

Though the accent might be slightly odd to her ears, Midnight recognised the undertone of nobility and reacted accordingly with a bow of the head. "Thank you, my Lady. Though might I be so bold as to ask for thy name?"

The white unicorn barely suppressed a squee of delight at being addressed as a 'Lady', though she felt a little sheepish at forgetting to properly introduce herself. "How dreadfully rude of me! I... am Rarity, and this is my good friend Fluttershy." Peeking around the prim and proper mare, the pale yellow pegasus from before gave Midnight a fearful look before ducking back out of sight behind her equine shield with an 'eep' of terror. Rarity gave the imposing mare a sheepish smile along with a nervous laugh. "She's... not very good with strangers. But once you get to know her, she is the sweetest pony you could possibly hope to meet.

Midnight felt a little crestfallen at the shivering filly being so petrified of her very presence, and so, being mindful of her injuries, she gently eased herself down to lay on the ground in front of the two ponies with a gentle manner in both expression and tone of voice. "Little one, why do you fear me so? Whatever I have done to sow such distrust, I humbly apologise."

To her credit, Fluttershy peeked around Rarity's posterior and, with a little encouragement from the white-coated unicorn, managed to stand shakily beside her before the much larger mare. Sniffling a little, tears could be seen brimming in the pegasus' eyes behind the veil of pink mane that covered much of her face from view as she spoke softly. "Y-you killed him..."

The voice was barely a whisper, and one that Midnight wasn't entirely sure she had heard correctly. "Pardon?"

Teal orbs hardened in response as they glared at the war horse accusingly. "The manticore! He never meant to hurt anypony, and now he's gone! Oh, the poor little kitty..."

"Little?"

Dash's sentiment echoed Midnight's precisely, though she choose to remain silent and let the filly vent her grief while Applejack played the voice of reason. "No offence sugar cube, but that there manticore weren't nothin' like those little critters ya take care of. If Midnight here hadn't turned up, who knows what could've happened."

The ponies present collectively shuddered at the sight of the bloodied rents in the war charger's armour, not needing much imagination to picture what such powerful claws could have done to their much smaller bodies. Though for Fluttershy, it was like flipping a switch in her mind. "Oh my gosh! You're hurt!"

Gone was the righteous anger in favour of the frantic veterinarian that the introverted pegasus often played to her animal friends. Midnight craned her neck back over her withers to check her wounds, but saw nothing too debilitating; certainly nought that would keep her from combat anytime soon. "Calm, little one. 'Tis but a flesh wound. Truly I have suffered far worse before."

Fluttershy would have none of it though; zipping back and forth to the treeline with various plants and leaves in hoof at a speed that would rival even Rainbow Dash, before dumping the contents on the forest floor in a small pile and setting to work on a basic dressing for Midnight's reopened leg wound. Though the kindly pegasus was still experiencing a mixture of indignation and fear with regards to the much larger mare, she still felt an obligation to help. Slipping back into a medical role was both comforting and familiar; especially if she just thought of the scary blood-soaked pony as just a big animal that needed her care.

Tying off the dressing once she was sure the ad hoc salve was firmly applied, Fluttershy stepped back to regard her work with a faint smile as her patient rose steadily to their hooves and tested the affected limb for stiffness. "My thanks to you kind Fluttershy, you need not have aided me when it was I that caused you grief."

Face flushing at the praise, Fluttershy made small circles with a forehoof and a weak smile tugging at her lips. "Oh that's alright. I mean, I still don't like that you k-killed the manticore, but I know you only did it to protect us."

The pegasus squeaked in surprise as the war charger bent down to nuzzle her mane affectionately, but giggled unabashedly at the attention... Or at least until she remembered the other mares around her and retreated behind her pink mane once again with a flustered 'eep'.

Straightening back up, Midnight noticed that there was still one pony to which she had not been introduced; the predominantly purple one with curious lavender eyes and a small horn jutting from her forehead, who up to this point had been content to sit back and observe. Noticing that the much larger mare had her focus, the studious unicorn trotted forth to stand just in front of the equine knight before deigning to speak. "Um... Hello there, my name is Twilight Sparkle. As Princess Celestia's personal student, I just wanted to say-"

Whatever Twilight had planned to say however was cut off by a wide-eyed gasp from the armoured mare. Not only was the filly a scholar, no doubt of noble blood, but also with close ties to royalty?! Midnight reacted in the only way she knew how when faced with one of such a clearly higher station; by dropping to her knees and bowing her head in respect. "Forgive me for my lack of respect, Lady Sparkle. I had not known you were of such high birth."

Clearly flustered and confused at the display along with the other mares present, Twilight managed to stutter her reply with only a bare minimum of red tingeing her cheeks. "P-please Midnight, my family's not that well off. I'm just studying under the Princess' tutelage. Or at least I was, until what happened a few hours ago."

Midnight raised her head to the same level as the smaller unicorn in order to meet her gaze, though she still lay down on the forest floor. "Perchance, was this recent event the reason why you little ones are here alone at such a late hour?" A reluctant nod of confirmation only steeled the growing feeling in the war horse's stomach as she continued. "Might I ask then as to what has occurred that would lead thee to such a dark and dangerous place?"

And so she listened intently as the noble filly recounted what had happened less than a day since; of a dark and terrible sorceress having returned from ten centuries of banishment to enact her fiendish revenge, stealing away the beloved rightful ruler and spreading eternal night across the land. Though she might not have been the most intelligent of equines, Midnight was once a humble farm workhorse and knew what a lack of sunlight could do to a village's harvest. Imagining the sheer magnitude of failed crops and mass starvation to follow, not to mention the drop in temperature, caused her to shudder in revulsion at such a cruel and drawn out genocidal scheme.

However, there was but a glimmer of hope to this tale. For Lady Sparkle and her herd of like-minded ponies had learned of six ancient artefacts said to have been used to bound the evil maleficar to her otherworldly prison before, and believed to reside in the ruins of an ancient castle deep within these perilous woods.

With such high stakes at hoof, it would be almost certain that this 'Nightmare Moon' would seek to impede their progress if not silence them altogether in order to prevent the sun from ever rising again. Seeing as the little ones lacked any weapons or protection and seemed bereft of combat experience that would be needed to face such a foe, Midnight knew where her sense of duty would lie for the hours to come. For in her eyes, there was but one course of action open to her now.

"Lady Sparkle, the peril you must face will surely be beyond that which thou have encountered before. If thou would'st allow it, I wish to accompany thee and thy retinue on your most noble quest."

Twilight blinked in stupefaction, not entirely sure what to say for a moment as her analytical mind shifted gear. Having an extra set of hooves to spare would be useful, especially since the armoured giant was more than capable of seeing off any wildlife that might try their luck at their group. That said, Midnight was still mostly an unknown factor with little to no hesitation when it came to violence and even killing anything that stood in her path. What to do... What to say...

Feeling a hoof on her shoulder bought Twilight out of her mental funk, turning her head to see that said appendage was attached to a confident looking Applejack. "Ya trusted me once before sugar cube, and ahm askin' ya to the same again. That girl is as honest as they come."

Skimming around to Twilight's other side but still hovering a good six inches off the ground, Rainbow Dash decided to voice her own opinion. "Well if AJ trusts her, then I say we give her a chance. Hay, if Nightmare Moon shows up, I'll bet she can buck her straight back to the moon!"

Rarity with Fluttershy in tow stepped forth to concede their own opinions. "You can't have too much of a good thing dear Twilight, and having a dashing knight by our side can only make our journey safer."

The pale yellow pegasus stood beside her nodded timidly in agreement. "She's still kind of scary, but, um... sort of... nice?"

Everypony turned to look at the impossibly wide grin spread across Pinkie's face as she quite literally vibrated across the ground in excitement before bursting into a torrent of words that no sane creature could ever understand, though the gist was unsurprisingly positive.

Twilight returned her attention to the patiently waiting armoured mare with a tired smile. "Well since I'm outvoted either way, I guess that means you're coming with us too."

Midnight steadily rose to her hooves, reminding the six ponies of just how big the armoured giant was in comparison as conviction radiated from her every feature. "Then so shall it be. By my honour bound, I am thy shield and thy retribution; a weapon to smite any foe who seeks to cross thy path. Until the forces of darkness lay crushed and the light of righteousness shines once more, this I do solemnly swear."

The surrounding mares couldn't help but feel more than a little awe at the war horse's vow as she stood tall and proud like some heroic character from a historical or fantasy novel. But although she had appointed herself their guardian, Twilight couldn't help but be more than a little worried over her... choice of words. "Uh... Maybe you could do a little less 'smiting' and just scare away anything that tries to attack us."

Midnight considered the fillies' previous horrified reactions to her slaying the manticore before reluctantly nodding in agreement. "Very well, Lady Sparkle, I shall do as you ask. However, should any creature directly threaten your lives, then I shall act accordingly."

Twilight sighed in resignation, seeing as this was probably the best compromise given the situation; speaking of which...

The studious unicorn's eyes widened in alarm as realisation dawned. "Oh my gosh! All this time we've been talking and Nightmare Moon is still out there! Every second we waste gives her more time to get stronger, and the castle ruins are supposed to be deep in the Everfree! What if she finds them first?!"

Midnight drew herself up in the face of Twilight's words, the thought of such a dark and twisted creature possessing such undoubtedly holy relics unthinkable. "Come then, we must make haste!"

Nodding in agreement, Twilight broke into a fast trot with the rest of the expanded herd close on her heels. "Come on girls, let's go! We need to make up for lost time."

Midnight took position near the centre of the formation, ready to respond to any incoming threats. The battlefield may have changed, but the nature of war had not. She had comrades to protect, an unrelenting foe, and a clear objective before her.

What more could a mare reborn in the fires of conflict want?