• Published 6th May 2019
  • 3,216 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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I spent the rest of that day and most of the following two roaming the streets, still no closer to finding a friend than I’d been before arriving here. I’d met plenty of ponies and interacted with them, but none seemed very interested in getting to know me better. At best, they’d stick around for a polite conversation before hurrying off to whatever duties or plans they might have had; at worst, they’d shoo me off or snap at me for having interrupted them in something or other... but as frustrating as it was, it never came even close to the mocking and bullying I’d endured in the hive, and none of them had seen through my disguise. For that, at least, I could be grateful.

At some point I started wondering why I was having such a hard time befriending anypony. It may have been simply that they were too busy, but what if something else was the problem? Was I being too dull, was I too uninteresting for them? Was I offensive? Was I not convincing enough... was there something off about me even if they couldn’t specify what? Was I about to have my cover blown again?

Or did they sense a malignant streak in me, one I wasn’t aware of displaying at the moment, but nevertheless one that must have existed; how else would I explain the dark side that had erupted not long ago in a moonlit alley of another city to wreak havoc with an innocent pony?

Was my cursed heritage about to show its face again, despite all my efforts to contain it?

Stuck in a loop of reassuring myself about my ability to adhere to my principles and reproaching myself for having failed the said principles in the past, I sought a secluded place where I could sort out my dilemma and calm my doubts without fear of being discovered. I found it on the near-outskirts of the city, in a deserted building that may have once been a warehouse or a factory. Now it was just a large, dilapidated structure filled with towering piles of all kinds of odds and ends. It would be easy to lose myself here!

I found an especially quiet corner and took the flower out of my mane. On the first day, upon noticing it was starting to wilt, I’d taken a moment while strolling through a park to discreetly build a small cocoon around its stem and fill it with water from a nearby fountain. Nopony had seen me do it - I was sure I’d know if they had - and I’d been concealing the cocoon in my mane ever since. Every once in a while, when nopony was around, I would take the flower in my hooves and observe it, sometimes to admire it, sometimes to check if it needed more water, sometimes to reflect on the pony who’d given it to me. Now, dejected and alone, I wanted it to guide me; it had become a symbol of everything I’d strived for, a reminder of everything good in me I was hoping to preserve, a sustenance of hope for a better future. Every time I’d look at it, I would calm down and my fears would slowly diminish, as if the flower were enchanted to ease the storm that troubled my heart and mind. For that, and for the profound love contained in it, I would keep it alive and safe as long as possible! I couldn’t imagine a more valuable possession!

I’d lost track of time while immersed in my flower; I stopped paying attention to reality while entranced with my thoughts, but a strange sensation slowly brought me out of it. I’d gradually become aware of an aura of love radiating from somewhere. At first I thought it was the flower, but eventually I was focused enough again to realize that, while the flower still contained its ample share of love, this new aura was coming from a separate source... but what that source was, I couldn’t determine. It couldn’t have been anything nearby, I was sure of that!

Curiosity prevailed over caution. I put the flower back in my mane, found an exit from the building, and spread my wings to track down this new source of love… whatever it was. Distance didn’t matter. I would let the powerful aura lead me to wherever I needed to go!

Days later, I was still flying, drawn by the mysterious aura of love. It had taken me further north, over the fields and railroads, over the hills and forests, into a snow-covered mountain range, into an area I’d learned nothing about back in the hive, not even a rumor to give me an idea of what to expect. I’d hardly stopped at all - only a couple of times to rest when I’d found a suitable shelter - but the journey was slow. I’d had no problems leaving the city, but over time, the weather had become harsh and uncooperative. The frigid winds slowed my progress and gusts had threatened to throw me off course at times, but I persisted. My flower must have been having it worse, but it meant a great deal to be able to hold on to it, and I was doing everything in my power to keep it safe!

With nothing else that demanded my immediate attention, I debated long and hard with myself whether or not to remain disguised. I would feel much better looking like myself; disguises still made me uncomfortable and doubtful of my sincerity in regard to the goal of my quest. However, a disguise would likely be an advantage when I finally arrived at my destination, but now knowing where or what it was, I couldn’t predict that that would indeed be the case. What if whatever lay out there didn’t like ponies? Would I find out before it was too late? Would they hurt me? Or would they simply send me back where I’d come from? The irony didn’t escape me: I’d started out with the same kind of concerns about the possibility of being recognized as a changeling! Actually, I still had those concerns; there was no telling whether or not a changeling would fare any better here than anywhere else! I’d just have to wait and see! For now, I would keep my disguise on; though no one was around to see me at the moment, there was no way to know when that might change, and besides, ponies were said to be better accepted than changelings in any land I knew about, so looking like one might help avoid instant hostility.

The aura had over time become much stronger than when I’d felt it first, and not just owing to the closer proximity of the source, I was sure of that; it had actually grown in strength exponentially! I had a vague feeling I was getting close, but still couldn’t see where it was coming from. A violent storm loomed on the horizon, and though I hoped I wouldn’t have to go through it, something told me my destination lay in the heart of the ominous clouds.

What could be so powerful to survive in such dire conditions? What could possibly thrive in this frozen wasteland? Thrive it certainly did; how else would it generate so much love to be sensed from so many miles away? What creatures were so magnificent to harbor all that love? I’d thought I’d known love, but this… this was on a whole new level! Nowhere in Equestria had I found such immeasurable love; even in my wildest dreams I couldn’t have hoped it possible! And yet it was here, all too real, stronger than any love I’d ever witnessed! Up until now, the newest princess of Equestria and her friends had possessed the strongest, purest love I could imagine, but even they couldn’t measure up to the strength and volume of this new love! It was hard to imagine that such an abundance of love might be denied to anyone… even to a changeling like me!

As wonderful as such a possibility was, part of me didn’t want to count on it. I couldn’t blame it; even the friendliest ponies I’d encountered had turned hostile upon discovering my true nature! What promise did I have that it wouldn’t happen again here? Even my six ponies had fought the changelings fiercely and passionately during the Canterlot invasion in spite of their unbridled love! Even the Princess of Love herself had suppressed her desire to spread love momentarily so she could purge us from the city! Whatever these creatures were, how did I know they wouldn’t abandon their love at the sight of me too? What if their hate was as strong as their love, if not stronger?

And where were the other changelings? Surely they would have sensed love of this magnitude too, at least the infiltrators in Equestria if not the drones currently in the hive! It might as well have been enough to feed the entire hive for months, years even; no way would they ignore such a plentiful source of food! Maybe they just hadn’t had enough time to come? I had started out much closer than the rest of them, after all. Unless… unless the new mission of those groups of hunters I’d overheard was to steal this love and carry it to the hive? It seemed impractical, but if Chrysalis had figured out a way for drones to channel stolen love long-distance, that would eliminate the need for a large-scale invasion: only a few changelings would be required, and a small group would be safer from discovery than a large one. I’d better watch out for them!

The thundering snowstorm had grown in both size and strength - it was now on the verge of becoming a tornado - and before I knew it, I was on the very edge of it! I tried retreating to a safe distance, but couldn’t - the storm wouldn’t let me. Whether I liked it or not, I was going in!

I reached into my mane and took the flower out. In this weather, I would surely lose it if it stayed there! I clutched it firmly onto my chest.

The storm was more chaotic than I’d imagined! It tumbled me all over; I could no longer control my trajectory, not even to attempt an emergency landing! I would have to wait for it to subside before trying to proceed any further! Hopefully I wouldn't get injured before then!

For a split second, I noticed ground below me... or rather, to the side of me. Patches of green grass poked through piles of snow, crystal-like formations were scattered about, and between them, a stretch of smooth, polished road ran and intersected with another.

I must be in another city!

A solid object, carried on the wind much like I was, collided with me, launching me deeper into the storm. It hadn’t knocked me out, but it had stunned me enough to revert me to my natural form. No one was around to see it - even if there was, I doubted they’d care much in this weather - but I lost the grip on my flower and it was carried away from me.

I was stuck between two layers of wind currents, stable enough to remain in place for the moment, but still unable to move. I tried to catch the flower, but it was already out of my reach. All I could do was watch it get tossed about and eventually land onto a road.

Something happened over the next few seconds, but try as I might, I couldn’t come up with an explanation for it. The love from my flower poured out and was absorbed into the road below, which lit up, first around the flower, and then the light began to spread further out along the road, and at the same time, I could swear I caught a glimpse of a giant snowflake on the ground, shining faintly through the thick wall of clouds. Then, strange vibrations shook the air, almost as if an avalanche was approaching… followed by a bright light coming from the center of the snowflake now clearly visible through the clouds.

A rippling stream of rainbow rays reaching for the sky was the last thing I saw before the shockwave launched me into the distance and rendered me unconscious.