• Published 6th May 2019
  • 3,211 Views, 268 Comments

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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Darkest Hour

With my hunger somewhat eased by the poor mare’s love, my common sense was restored, bringing the shock of the realization of my unforgivable act.

What have I done?!

On any other day, I would have stayed by the mare’s side and tried to help her regain her strength... but now, I failed at even that! An overwhelming wave of guilt, shame, and fear took control of my every action. Despite knowing better - despite wanting better - I flew away faster than I’d ever flown, not even bothering to disguise myself.

Part of me wanted to get out of there before anypony could see me.

But another part of me wanted to be seen... to be captured and punished in whatever way the ponies saw fit, no matter how cruel and painful. After what I’d done, I deserved no better!

If only I could get that part of me to take control of my actions.

Days later, I was still hiding away in a gorge I’d found after escaping the town where I’d violated the innocent mare. The initial fear had worn off to an extent, but my feeling of guilt was as strong as in that first moment, if not growing stronger.

How could I have been so weak, so selfish? Had my principles of friendship and love-sharing meant nothing to me? How could I have thrown them all away? The hunger was no excuse, no matter how unbearable! That mare had done me nothing wrong... she deserved better than what I’d given her! I could have tried… I should have tried to befriend her or at least to make a conversation! Maybe that would have been enough to share just a tiniest bit of love, just enough to last me till morning! And even if it wouldn’t have been enough, what right had I had to just walk up to her and take what I’d needed by force? Absolutely no right - not in a million years, no matter how badly I’d needed it! I’d always loathed my kind’s practice of stealing love, even before I’d realized there might be a better way to feed ourselves; after all, that had been one of the main reasons why I’d fled the hive in the first place, one of the reasons why I was now here, why I’d undertaken this journey, why I’d endured all the risks and setbacks... and what had I ended up doing? I’d betrayed it all! I may have succeeded - I may have proven to my kind and the rest of the world what there could be another way, that changelings didn’t have to resort to stealing love and waging war with other creatures, that we could all live together in peace and unity - but instead, I’d thrown it all away in a moment of weakness!

I despised myself. I was no better than those I’d run away from!

I’d been going through the same circle of remorse and self-accusations over and over and over again ever since I’d set hoof in the gorge. I’d barely slept, I’d given up looking for friendly ponies… all I could do was pace around and beat myself up over the atrocity I’d committed, or sit in the shadows and relive the terrible moments… take myself back in my mind to the sight of the mare’s immobile form beneath my hooves, her empty eyes as I’d drained the love out of her.

In the not-so-painfully-hopeless moments, I wondered what had become of the mare. Would she recover... could she recover? I’d stopped myself from draining her further the moment my deranged mind had snapped back into focus, but had I stopped in time? Would she be restored to her old self one day, or was she destined to remain a shadow of what she’d once been, an empty shell at the mercy of my fallen restraints?

There was no way to know. I’d fled blindly, without bothering to consider my path or direction; even if I thought I could still do anything to help her, I wouldn’t know where to go looking for her! I couldn’t even ease my worry by maybe, hopefully, learning that she was going to be fine!

On the other hoof, she might not be fine... she might not be fine ever again... and the thought of such a possibility would invariably trigger another wave of guilt and self-accusations.

I wanted punishment. I wanted it desperately - I deserved punishment! My whole being demanded to be punished! With no pony around to give me one and no other alternatives I could think of, I eventually started to consider exacting that punishment on myself.

Some time into planning how to best accomplish that task, a sudden realization struck me: proceeding with whatever I was about to do would do nothing to solve the situation. It wouldn’t undo the past, I understood that too well; but if I were to return to my original quest for friendship, I might eventually succeed in what I’d set out to do and prove what I’d set out to prove! I could still fulfill my dream of achieving harmony with my former enemies, if only just a few of them! It would still be worth it to at least prove it possible! To the best of my knowledge, I was the only one who had ever thought to try such a thing, and with me gone, would there ever be another like me, changeling or otherwise, who would care to end this mad, wretched way of life and bring forth friendship? The stakes were too high to risk counting on the off-chance of such an individual existing again in the foreseeable future, and unless friendship among changelings and between changelings and non-changelings was made possible, incidents like these would keep happening, and I couldn’t allow that... I just couldn’t! With that goal achieved, I could then admit my failures, confess the sins I’d committed on the path there! The ponies would then have the opportunity to act upon my confessions as they saw fit! If they decided to punish me - and I had no doubt they would - I was going to accept that punishment. It was the least I could do in the circumstances! Hopefully, my success would at least partially compensate for the horrors I’d committed, and my confession wouldn’t undo all the efforts I’d put in getting ponies to trust and befriend a changeling and undermine every chance of such a thing happening again in the future!

But could I trust myself not to make the same mistake again?

I would, of course, make every effort to keep myself from betraying my principles the second time and stay on the right path, and take every precaution possible... but, in the end, only time would tell.

It took several more days of building up the courage to leave the gorge and get back to looking for friendly cities... and when I finally did leave, it was not because I felt ready, but rather because my hunger was starting to grow stronger again. After everything that had happened, I wanted to meet a few ponies and share some love with them before I ended up so desperate that I’d risk losing control over myself again!

No margin for error this time.