• 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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A New Dawn

Through the darkness and fog that clouded her mind, a most peculiar sound reached Midnight's ears; sounding as if miles away at first only to gradually draw nearer with each passing second. Though grating in its incessant, rhythmical pulsing and unchanging tempo, the war horse found her thoughts becoming much clearer the longer she focused upon the noise; as if it were an anchor between her earthly body and mortal soul.

Now that her mental faculties were returning however, Midnight couldn't help but wonder just how that could be. Was she not upon death's door once more? Had she not been graced with a vision of Epona herself, come for this humble warrior's soul? But if that were so, why then was she able feel life slowly return to limbs that felt as if they had not moved in an age? The steady beat of her heart, a strange sterile scent within the air?

There was but one way to ascertain the truth; and so with a gruelling effort that felt as if she were lifting a mountain upon her back, Midnight managed to crack open a heavy eyelid and gain a glimpse of the world beyond. Although considering the frightening visage mere inches from her face, she almost wished she hadn't.

Midnight's gaze swam into focus upon a grinning skull cast in the shadow of a ragged, hooded cloak of black sheath; baleful eyes of glowing blue ether burning like the pits of hell and staring directly into her very soul. The mare's thundering heart matched the rapidly rising, pulsing noise of a strange metal box beside her head, and the accompanying horrified whinny wasn't exactly surprising as she tried to shrink away from the terrifying spectre looming above; her progress halted by a rumpled sheet and something oddly soft pressing into her unarmoured body.

Although now that the other had recoiled away slightly from a flailing hoof and she was able to see more clearly, Midnight stilled upon seeing just who exactly was watching over her so closely. "Lord... Death?"

"And a fine good morning to you too, my dear!" the currently equine keeper of souls replied all too cheerfully. "Almost didn't expect you to wake up at all really given what happened. I don't suppose you're feeling a bit dead, by any chance?"

Her wide-eyed, bewildered stare said otherwise.

" ...Not even a little?"

The black-coated mare merely gave a hesitant shake of her head, not daring to move otherwise.

"Bugger," he sighed with audible disappointment before brightening up considerably. "Still, can't be helped I suppose. And with the way you go galloping off into danger, I'm sure it'll only be a matter of time."

Blinking in confusion and more than a little worry, Midnight finally managed to vocalise her thoughts while scrutinising the strange stable in which she now lay. "I... I do not understand, my lord. If I still live, then why art thou here? Did I not fall once more in battle against the demon spawn?"

"In a manner of speaking, I suppose you were rather close to the edge for quite some time," the Grim Reaper mused as he leaned back in his commandeered bedside visitor's chair with a thoughtful look. "Although those midget ponies and their white nag of a leader brought you here for treatment before it was too late. As to why I am here, well... you did have a near death experience; taking a condensed ball of dark magic to the chest and everything."

"It would most certainly not be the first such occasion," the scarred veteran replied before hesitating. "How... close was...?"

Death raised his skeletal forehooves and held them apart, humming in apparent indecision. "Oh, I'd say... about three, maybe four feet at best."

...

"...That was a joke," he sighed wearily. "Honestly, why does everybody take dying so seriously these days?"

Midnight… honestly didn't have an answer to that, although anything else she may have conceived of was rendered moot by Death's next words as he ploughed on with a dismissive wave of his hoof. "But in any case, aside from checking up upon you, I thought I might stick around for a while as a holiday of sorts. See the sights, get a tan, collect the souls of any unfortunate buggers you happen to off along the way, that sort of thing. I understand the Unicornian coast has some wonderful beaches this time of year, though I'm not adverse to Zebrica either."

"I- But, milord," the increasingly bewildered war horse protested; watching as a whirl of blue-green energy briefly engulfed the Grim Reaper's form, before leaving him stood in Bermuda trunks, Hawaiian shirt, and a pair of mirrored shades perched upon his bony skull. "What is to become of me now?"

"Whatever you wish my dear, for this new life is whatever you make of it," Death replied with a toothy grin; standing up and stretching out before slowly making his way to the door. "But for now I would simply concentrate on resting and regaining your strength for what lies ahead. Farewell for now young Midnight; I'm sure we'll be seeing each other again all too soon."

With that, the brightly attired avatar of death retreated through the doorway and disappeared from sight once more; leaving Midnight staring after him in thought as a much smaller equine stepped through moments later while throwing a narrow-eyed look over her withers. Though she was still lying down upon the curiously soft bedding beneath her, the war horse couldn't help but notice just how short the newcomer was; sharing a similarly diminutive frame to that of Lady Sparkle and her retinue, albeit appearing much more mature somehow.

Her coat was as white as pure snow, with a flowing, light pink tail and mane tied up into a loose bun; an odd white, circular hat emblazoned with a red cross bordered on all sides by tiny pink hearts perched on top, matching the strange picture visible upon her hindquarters. But it was the firm voice and sharp, sapphire blue eyes that caught Midnight's attention as the little one's head swivelled back around while still berating the departed reaper of souls like a parent would to a difficult child; giving the impression of a matriarch rather than the filly she had expected given her size.

"I mean honestly, who does he think he is? Wandering in on a sick patient like that at all hours. I swear that colt needs to learn no means no, and to put some weight on that skinny- Oh my, you're awake!"

"She is?" came an excited and much more familiar voice from just beyond the doorway; Midnight feeling a slight twinge of pain in her side while attempting to rise as a predominantly purple unicorn trotted inside the room on the earth pony's heels.

"Lady Sparkle! Thou art unharmed!"

"Midnight, wait!" Twilight called out with a raised hoof, only to be beaten to the punch.

"Please dear, lie down before you do yourself any further harm." the other filly - or perhaps mare given how much older she seemed to act - called out as she raced towards Midnight's side, somehow managing to push her back down in spite of being several magnitudes smaller. "You've been immobile for two weeks and those wounds still haven't fully healed yet. Now hold still and let me take a look."

Surprised as she was, the war horse lay still as the white-coated pony scrutinised her heavily bandaged body and healed scar tissue with a practiced eye; gently prodding forehooves feeling for any reopened injuries and causing the occasional twinge of dulled pain. "No further lacerations, stitches seem to be holding well... You're lucky you didn't tear something sitting up that fast, young lady. What were you thinking?"

"I... Healed?" Midnight questioned with a frown; the dull throbbing in her mid-section seeming to feel much more acute as she inspected what had surely been a mortal wound, only to find it expertly dressed and almost entirely knitted back together. What looked like a pair of oddly thick bowstrings were attached to her barrel via some round pads too; leading back up to the peculiar beeping machine that had roused her earlier, but didn't otherwise appear to be causing any harm and thus were promptly ignored. "Thou art... a healer?"

"In a way, I suppose," the earth pony replied with an odd look at her choice of words. "I'm Nurse Redheart, one of the practicing nurses here at Ponyville General. Doctor Stable and his surgical team are the miracle workers that got you back on your hooves though, so to speak. Not that you'll be out of that bed until I'm satisfied you've fully recovered, given how badly injured you were when they brought you in. The amount of magic-"

"Sorcery?!" the larger mare hissed; body tensed and eyes narrowed in suspicion. "What manner of trickery-"

"Midnight, please calm down," Twilight interrupted with a forcefully calming tone, before trotting forth to her side so that they were directly facing one another. "You were in a really bad way when we got here, and with the amount of dark magic you'd absorbed interfering with any attempted transfusions..." She trailed off at the bewildered look Midnight was giving her before sheepishly rubbing at her neck. "Um, maybe I should start at the beginning..."


{()}


"Thank you for coming at such short notice, Miss Sparkle," Nurse Redheart apologised as she led Twilight past a duty station and further into Ponyville General's isolation wing. "But given the circumstances and your area of expertise, we didn't know where else to turn."

"That's alright, I was planning on visiting today anyway," Twilight replied with a reassuring smile while flipping through a series of medical notes held aloft via telekinesis in front of her face. "Besides, Midnight is my friend, and if there's anything I can do to help her I will."

It had been just over two weeks since the near disastrous summer solstice event and Midnight's admission to Ponyville General Hospital at its conclusion. But while the titanic mare was physically stable after a constant battle by the resident surgeons and medical staff to keep her alive, there was the much more pressing issue of the effect Nightmare Moon's final attack may have had upon both her body and mind.

Ignoring the fact that such appalling injuries would have long since killed anypony else due to their comparatively smaller size, immediate medical treatment through a multitude of healing spells would be the standard procedure for a critically wounded patient like Midnight, and likely have them good as new within a few days at worst. But for reasons that weren't understood at the time, any such treatment failed without any apparent reason; her body rejecting even the most basic of magic as if it were poison and deteriorating further still.

In the end, Doctor Stable and his surgical team were forced to resort to much more primitive, non-magical methods that hadn't seen much use since the three tribes era, or in isolated locales where trained medical professionals were at a premium; physically having to staunch the blood flow via cauterisation and stitching Midnight's wounds back together once it was safe to do so. It was certainly the first time in years that non-magically transmuted emergency blood packs had to be dug out of their specially cooled storage unit in order to replace that which the mare had lost, and a donation drive would likely be in the works sooner than not considering how many were drained in the process.

After the procedure however and subsequent investigation once she was resting up in an isolated recovery room, it was discovered that Midnight had no natural magical signature whatsoever; an impossibility that only served to confound the hospital staff further still and make them much more cautious with any follow up treatment. As a result, Midnight was largely left to heal on her own while sedated and alternate methods were discussed, or at least until a recent routine check up revealed a further complication that may have contributed to their initial problems with her surgery.

The presence of dark magic.

Though only in small quantities, combined with the mare's unusual appearance and the average Equestrian's natural aversion to outside influences, It had been enough to send ponies into a panic until much cooler heads had prevailed. It was fortunate then that Twilight Sparkle, personal student of Princess Celestia herself and one of the foremost magical experts of her generation, now lived in Ponyville by Royal decree and thus was available to help determine whether it was merely a lingering effect from Nightmare Moon's final attack or something more sinister.

Which was why she was here bright and early this morning with Nurse Redheart helpfully leading the way, even if Twilight could quite easily have found the room herself given how many times she and her friends had visited over the past fortnight. Not that she was complaining of course, especially since the older mare was not only a familiar face who had done so much for keeping everypony in the loop during Midnight's admission but was also one of her primary carers, and thus had the most up to date information on her condition. She was certainly proving to be a lot more knowledgeable than the short and clinical medical notes Twilight was sifting through as they walked at any rate, none of which held any new material.

"Well despite giving us a bit of a scare, Miss Midnight seems to be recovering rather nicely now," Nurse Redheart continued as they rounded another corner. "We've removed her IV drip since she doesn't need it anymore, but kept the ECG linked up just in case."

"What about the sedatives still in her system?" Twilight questioned while neatly tucking her borrowed notes away for further reference. "I assume they're non-magically based given how badly Midnight's reacted to prior treatment."

"Of course," Redheart replied with a bob of her head. "Just an upscaled anaesthetic really to account for her size. Given the dosage, It should be wearing off in the next few hours; plenty of time to do whatever you need before... Oh, now what is he up to?"

Twilight blinked with a start at the sudden change in tone and followed her temporary guide's glare towards the doorway to Midnight's room, where a pale-coated and strangely thin-looking earth pony had just exited at a casual pace. The fact he was wearing clothing more suited to a beachside vacation in the middle of a hospital was unusual enough, but what gave the studious mare pause was his eyes; a brief glimpse of almost ethereal blue orbs over the top of his mirrored sunglasses sending a sudden chill up her spine.

Then he smiled with a toothy grin and it was gone; the sensation disappearing just as quickly as the retreating pony's form as he briskly strolled down the corridor in the opposite direction, though that didn't abate Redheart's narrow-eyed glare in the slightest. "Back again, and at this time of morning? Just what is that boy up to?"

"You, uh... you know him?" the unicorn asked articulately as she shifted focus back on to the clearly annoyed nurse beside her.

"We met briefly last night, right when I was attending to Midnight before the end of my shift," Redheart huffed before taking a deep breath to calm herself down. "One minute I was alone and the next he was just... there; claiming to be an 'old friend' come to visit her. I might have told him to come back during visiting hours, but I didn't expect him to be this early or wearing something like that."

Listening to the nurse's recollections of the previous night's encounter, Twilight couldn't help but wonder who this strange pony was exactly and the nature of his relationship with Midnight. Could he be another resident from Midnight's mysterious homeland - wherever that was - given his familiarity, or perhaps something else altogether? Being able to suddenly appear and disappear like Nurse Redheart claimed certainly suggested that magic and teleportation spells in particular were at play, but that was an impossible feat for an earth pony to perform due to their lower affinity for magic. Not to mention the fact that teleporting was energy intensive and left behind a distinctive flash of thaumic energy that would have easily forewarned the nurse of his presence in an instant.

Unless of course he was already there, perhaps under the influence of a 'notice me not' charm or similar analogue, and simply reactivated it upon leaving. That still didn't explain the brief twinge of sudden terror she had experienced nor how just plain wrong his gaunt-looking body appeared. Twilight was just about to consider the possibility that the stallion might be a changeling in disguise, in spite of the fact none had been witnessed in Equestria for centuries, when she was drawn back to reality by their arrival at the door to Midnight's room; Nurse Redheart apparently not having ceased her venting in the least.

"I mean honestly, who does he think he is? Wandering in on a sick patient like that at all hours," the white-coated mare continued with a scowl. "I swear that colt needs to learn no means no, and to put some weight on that skinny- Oh my, you're awake!"


{()}


"...and of course, you already know the rest," Twilight finished with that same sheepish smile as Nurse Redheart finished her check up and removed the Electrocardiogram machine's pads from Midnight's chest, before jotting down a few additional notes for her expanding patient record.

"I see... Then the sorceress' taint still resides within me, even now," the scarred veteran murmured as she stared unseeingly at the sheet covering her lower half; her eyes slowly raising to meet those of the anxiously waiting young noble filly to whom she had sworn to protect, and who was now her only chance of salvation. "I must ask then, Twilight Sparkle, what is to become of me now?"

Though she remained stoic on the outside, Midnight's stomach roiled with uncharacteristic fear. Magic was dangerous enough as is from what she had witnessed previously, but to be told that a portion of that monstrous creature's dark power still remained within her flesh and perhaps soul as well... Would the taint attempt to consume her very being then, as it had no doubt that demon masquerading as a self-proclaimed 'goddess'? To twist her faith towards a path of damnable evil that would see her destroy all she had sought to protect? Midnight did not know, but if it came to a choice between tainted life and an honourable death, the equine knight knew which she would prefer.

Perhaps sensing her internal struggle or merely seeking to reassure, Midnight's internal turmoil was interrupted by a purple hoof being laid upon her own; the unicorn's gentle smile and understanding look in her eyes quelling any such thoughts as she spoke with conviction. "Midnight, you're going to be fine, I promise. I just need to scan you and see if there are any lingering effects from that disintegration spell, and fix them if I can."

"Miss Sparkle is one of the foremost authorities in the area on magic," Nurse Redheart added as she stored away her patient notes and stepped forth to supervise. "If anypony can get to the bottom of this problem, it's her."

Having previously witnessed the young noble's considerable power for herself, Midnight could not help but agree; her lips tugging into a faint smile at the bashful look upon Twilight's face at such praise. "I accept then, my Lady… and healer."

As it was, Twilight's magical scan took but mere moments to complete and left little more than a slight tingling sensation across the larger mare's fine-haired coat; passing over her wounded midsection a half dozen times before finally ceasing altogether. That however didn't stop the unicorn's sudden burst of excitement and scribbling of notes upon a conjured scroll, leaving Redheart to ask the question which Midnight almost dared not ask herself. "Um, Miss Sparkle? The result?"

"Hmm?" Twilight replied distractedly, before suddenly remembering her audience with an embarrassed cough. "Sorry, but this is just so... fascinating! Midnight, your body somehow neutralised the effects of dark magic on its own without any obvious external stimuli. Do you have any idea what this could mean?"

"I am... cured?" the dark-coated mare enquired hesitantly, only to gain a positively giddy look from Twilight and an accompanying explanation that went straight over her head. Or at least until Nurse Redheart put a stop to it at any rate.

"Fascinating as this is, I'm sure Miss Midnight is eager to get moving again after being cooped up for so long," the earth pony chided gently; a sentiment to which Midnight herself agreed wholeheartedly. "I understand the princess - sorry, princesses - have left her in your care for the time being?"

Of course wishing to move and doing so were two entirely different things altogether, and so it was perhaps little surprise that Midnight's movements upon finally being free from the unfamiliarly soft confines of her hospital bed were as graceful as a newborn foal. Muscles ached with disuse and bones creaked worrying as the war charger went through an abbreviated stretching routine at Nurse Redheart's direction that actively avoided putting stress upon her wounds; getting the blood flowing to stiff limbs and surprising both ponies with just how quickly she had regained motion.

Barely twenty minutes later and Midnight was about as mobile as she could be given her state of health and the fairly cramped room; Nurse Redheart giving a final nod of approval as she checked over Midnight's considerable frame with a critical eye. "Well there don't appear to be any lasting issues and you're about as healthy as can be given what you've been through, so physiotherapy won't be necessary. Just remember to keep those dressings clean and not perform any strenuous activity for at least 48 hours."

"I shall endeavour to do so, Nurse Redheart," Midnight replied with a respectful bow of her head. "Thyself and the healers here have mine eternal gratitude."

"You're welcome, dear," the earth pony returned with a warm smile before leading them out of the isolated room, with Midnight having to duck her entire head in order to fit through the doorframe. "Now, why don't we see about getting you discharged? I'm sure some fresh air would do you some good after being stuck in here for so long."

On that they both agreed, to the extent that Midnight was practically itching to see the sky above and feel the sun on her coat rather than strange mage lights suspended from an artificial ceiling.

Being inside such confined corridors was as novel as it was claustrophobic for a war charger who was far more used to open fields and stables, but Twilight's presence made it that bit more bearable; happily explaining some of the more arcane-looking devices they passed along the way and generally lightening the mood in spite of the stares she received along the way. Such attention continued as they finally reached the much more spacious front lobby after several twists and turns of labyrinth-like corridors; the front desk's receptionist in particular looking at Midnight with wide eyes for unfathomable reasons. Had none of these ponies ever seen a horse before, or was it her litany of battle scars that drew so much attention?

Any further such musing was cut short however as Twilight returned to her side with a polite clearing of her throat, having completed the necessary paperwork for the mare's discharge while Nurse Redheart bid farewell and returned to her duties. "Well, I guess that's it. Ready to get going?"

Midnight nodded with a faint smile. "By all means, La- Twilight," she corrected at the slight twinge of irritation on the unicorn's face. "Please, lead on."