• Published 6th May 2019
  • 3,088 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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A Way Out

I’d lost track of time since retreating into my lonely cave upon realization I’d been noticed. It had to have been weeks, maybe even months, of hiding away in the uneasy silence that was broken every so often by the echoes of marching hooves and commanding voices, undoubtedly the Royal Guards hunting for me and any other changelings they feared were hiding somewhere in the icy outskirts of the Crystal Empire. For almost as long as I’d been here, their voices and hoofsteps were muffled by the snow I’d piled up to block the passage leading from the main chamber of the cave into a deeper one where I’d taken refuge. I’d hoped that the snow would hide this extension of the cave from any guards that might decide to take a look inside, and so far, judging by the closeness of their sounds, it had done just that on more than one occasion!

But another, arguably more desperate, reason for blocking the entrance - or exit, to be more accurate - had been my hunger, having intensified to the point where the urge to run out and start feeding on ponies would torment me even more and more often than ever before! I was still managing to keep it in check somehow, but only just barely, so barely that eventually I resorted to piling up all the loose rocks I could find onto the already-blocked-off exit as well, and some time later, digging up most of the luminescent crystals and adding them to the pile, just to make it harder for myself to get out should I finally lose control. Maybe such a barricade would be enough to stop me if I lost control over myself eventually, or maybe it wouldn't; at the very least, I hoped it would slow me down on my way out of this quarantine, and if I was lucky, that might buy me some time to pull myself together again and bring myself to stay away from ponies... until the next episode of madness. How many would there be? I didn’t want to know!

The aura of love had diminished slightly since that fateful night, possibly due to all the fear the warning notices must have awakened in the crystal ponies, but though it was still fairly strong, so far I’d managed to leave it alone despite it tempting to throw all my ideals in the wind and leave me to once again succumb to the darkest instincts I’d suppressed for so long; and as time was passing, I slowly began to realize that, if I would allow myself even a tiniest sip of that love, even for the sole purpose of self-preservation, all my inhibitions would break down again and no force in the world would stop me from breaking out of my self-imposed prison and unleashing horror on the helpless crystal ponies!

I didn’t know which of the two fates I feared more: getting captured, or proving to the crystal ponies that they were right to want to capture me.

But even as I was still actively putting every desperate effort into maintaining control over myself, as of recently I could feel that control slipping away: I would randomly flick my forked tongue out and hiss in preparation to commence feeding, only to pull myself back together at the last moment! There didn’t seem to be any specific trigger for this behavior: sometimes I would hiss at the surrounding boulders and stalagmites, sometimes at my own reflection in the icy walls, sometimes even at thin air. If I’d noticed a pattern to it, I would have attempted to avoid whatever happened to be near me when I hissed just in case that was causing me to lose control, but there seemed to be no pattern at all, not unless my attempts to focus on behaving myself were the very things that would push me over the edge!

I hated myself for it. Oh, how much I hated myself for it!

Even worse was the fact that my stomach had started growling a presumed day or two ago. In all my life, that had never happened before, no matter how hungry I’d been! At first I was merely concerned that a guard might get close at the wrong moment and hear me; but as time went on and the growling intensified and became more frequent, I remembered I’d witnessed such a phenomenon before, a long time ago: my brother Mandible’s stomach had growled the last time I’d seen him alive, just hours before he’d succumbed to starvation. I’d heard of other changelings having suffered the same fate over the years, but had never actually witnessed it except for that one time! Was this my body’s desperate cry for help, a final warning my time was running out? In a way, it would be a blessing: I would finally be able to stop running, I could stop fearing retribution from both ponies and changelings; I would never feel hungry again!

I would regret only one thing: my quest for friendship would fail; my one lifelong wish would never be fulfilled.

Did it matter? To the rest of the world as it was now, probably not. It would continue going about regardless, unaware of one sad and troubled life that had faded away to nothingness, unaffected by its futile struggle. But to me, even one minute spent with a friend would have meant the whole world; even one second with a friend would have been worth any price I’d have to pay!

Recently, I often found myself standing at the edge of a deep crevice in the cavern’s floor, staring into the dark and seemingly bottomless abyss, feeling my physical stance mirror the emotional and psychological state I’d driven myself to. The abyss was calling to me, beckoning to embrace the way out it would provide, reminding me that all my suffering could end quickly if only I would allow it. So far I had resisted... but I wasn’t sure how much longer I’d be able to keep it up!

I feared the moment was fast approaching when I no longer could.