• Published 6th May 2019
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Walk Where There Is No Path - theOwtcast



When everything you’ve ever known goes against everything you believe in, can leaving help you live with yourself?

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Prologue: An Unexpected Defeat

This day has been just perfect - the kind of day of which I’ve dreamed since long ago…” a victorious chant was carried on the wind as I hovered over the besieged city, unable to take my mind off a scene I’d observed just minutes before. Our attack had gone smoothly and well according to plans: as our Queen weakened the unsuspecting leader of the enemy’s defenses, my peers and I worked tirelessly to destroy the powerful shield holding us at bay. Then, once the shield collapsed leaving the city exposed for our taking, we rushed in like a tornado, a fearsome swarm bent on wreaking havoc at every step and stopping at nothing until every last soul on our path was defeated.

That is, my peers were so hungry for victory that they’d stop at nothing until they achieved it. I wasn’t so sure. I’d joined the invasion reluctantly, out of sense of obligation to follow the orders I’d been given rather than my own desire, and I did very little to assist my brethren in achieving their goal. I just hung around, pretending to try to be useful, all the while wondering why we were doing this, and wishing there could be a better way to gain what we needed - one that didn’t involve deception, violence, and hatred.

And just then, amidst the raging chaos, I saw six ponies: a seemingly unlikely group of two unicorns, two pegasi, and two earth ponies, running through the street - an action not surprising in itself, considering all that was going on around them, but something about them caught my interest. It took me little time to realize they were running not from danger, but toward it, not shying away from combat as they pressed on through hordes upon hordes of my peers trying to stop them, all the way to one of the royal towers - the Vault Tower if my memory of the briefing we’d received before the invasion served me properly. I did my best not to root for them too obviously lest I draw the wrath of my peers, and for a moment, it looked like whatever they were trying to do would work! I hadn’t remembered an ambush had been planned there to ward off attempts to reach a powerful artifact believed to be capable of defeating us momentarily until a minute later, when, to my horror, my six ponies were brought out of the tower under close guard of some of the ambushing soldiers and taken to the Ceremonial Hall, where the Queen had set up, and left there at her mercy.

I hadn’t known who these six ponies were, nor why they were so important that the Queen herself would be the one to deal with them, but I knew from the first moment why they’d mesmerized me: it was their friendship, their unity, and their spirit - one of wanting to do good, to help those in need, regardless of danger to themselves even, a desire to undo the pain and suffering brought onto the city and restore love and peace. Every bit of them had screamed that desire every step of the way, and even getting captured hadn’t quenched that fire; it was burning brighter and brighter every passing moment, ready to leap at the slightest chance to turn the tables back in their favor and not stop until their city was safe again! More amazingly than all else, I could see no malice in them, only concern and hope.

It was fascinating!

All my life I’d wanted to have someone like that: someone who would love me, care about my hopes and fears, accept me for who I was without judging me or trying to change me, someone I could call a friend. But even those closest to me had always shunned me and considered me failure! There was a norm among our kind for what we should be like, and anyone who didn’t fit in that box was ostracized and treated as an inferior. That was what had happened with me, and as much as I’d tried to hold on to my dream of having a friend, that dream had eventually been crushed, leaving my heart an empty shell, going through life mechanically like a mindless zombie. I hadn’t realized just how badly it hurt until now!

But was my dream crushed at all?

Suddenly, I felt a new hope budding in me. I’d never had friends, but obviously someone else did, so it had to be possible! I just had to try harder, or find a different strategy… it had to work!

Lost in thought, I hadn’t noticed that one of the ponies from the group of six had managed to sneak to one of the captured princesses and free her while the Queen was too distracted by savoring her soldiers’ overwhelming success and basking in her impending victory to pay attention to what was going on behind her. Now this princess was in my sight, having approached her husband-to-be, the leader of our enemy’s defenses, weakened and dazed by the Queen’s magic. She hugged him and shed a tear - a love-filled tear that brought him out of his trance upon making contact with his skin. He joined his beloved and tried to protect her from our Queen, who finally noticed something happening. It was in vain, though; he was too weak to do anything, and the Queen gloated over his predicament.

I was sorry for him. I was sorry for all the ponies. If only I could do something to help them! If only there was something I could attempt without the rest of the Queen’s troops turning on me and stopping me before I had the time to make a difference! But there were too many of them; what could I hope to achieve?

But not all hope had been lost for the ponies, for the princess had plenty of strength left, and with the power of their love combined, they were able to cast a powerful protection spell together, sending out a shockwave that purged all the changelings from Canterlot, launching us far into the distance in all directions, where we were left scattered and hurt and unable to strike them again for a long while.

We deserved it.

The Queen deserved it for instilling hatred in us, and my peers deserved it for not questioning her.

The Queen deserved it for leading an invasion into an innocent city, and my peers deserved it for obeying her.

And, whether or not I wanted to admit it, I deserved it for not trying hard enough to oppose the rotten system… regardless of consequences to myself.