• Published 6th May 2019
  • 3,076 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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It was dark under the dense canopy, and the eerie silence was broken every so often by one creepy noise or another carried on the cold breeze that sent shivers down my carapace. The damp, musty smell filled my nostrils, and I couldn’t help feeling a thousand eyes staring at me from the shadows.

Whether or not any real danger loomed near me, it was clear why Flam had been so reluctant to set hoof in this place. But supposing the two brothers had indeed met trouble here, what might it have been? Something only interested in ponies, or something less picky about whose day it would ruin? Was there a chance that I, being a changeling, might actually be safer than them from any of these unknown abominations? But how would I know? Would I even recognize a dangerous creature as such? Despite my limited knowledge of rare creatures of the wild, I knew appearances weren't always a trustworthy way to tell whether or not getting away was advisable. My own kind was a prime example of such fallacity, after all!

I had dropped my disguise some time after getting out of sight and earshot of the trickster unicorns. Now I was walking slowly through the forest, careful and vigilant for any sign of trouble, hoping to find none.

And yet, for some peculiar reason, part of me wished for something to happen. Ever since I’d gotten here I felt uneasy, my mind dancing like a rock on the edge of a cliff, still holding on but just waiting to get blown off into the abyss by the slightest of winds. My muscles were tense, constantly awaiting some fillip, some trigger to send me running like mad... but nothing came. The suspense was unbearable! If only something would happen... something to show me that the danger I sensed was real… that I wasn’t losing my mind!

Maybe that was just how the forest affected those who enter.

I walked on, the dreadful feeling of impending disaster still clenching my heart. And then, after what seemed like an eternity, a voice spoke behind me, clear as the sun shining on the skies above each day:

“Well, if it isn’t Thorax the traitor!”

With a growing dread, I turned around... and faced three changeling soldiers in full battle gear. How had I failed to notice them? Where had they been? Were they what my instincts had been warning me about all along?

“Oh, hey guys. Nice day, huh?” I gave a sheepish smile.

What was I trying to accomplish? No amount of rambling or idle chit-chat was going to save me from them!

“It’s nice for us… not so much for you,” one of them mocked me.

“You do realize Chrysalis isn’t very happy with you right now, don’t you?” smirked another.

“You didn’t really think we wouldn’t find you? That you could just walk away and go wherever you wanted and the hive would just shrug it off like betraying the Queen is no big deal?” hissed the third one.

I started to back off. They responded by moving forward and slightly to either side of me in order to surround me in a circle.

“I hope you’ve had fun, because it will be your last,” said the middle soldier grimly, pointing a spear at me.

The other two bared their fangs in enjoyment, grinning in expectation of victory and the praise the successful mission would bring them.

Then we heard growling from my right.

We all froze momentarily in place, looking for the source of the menacing sound.

And sure enough, two large, roaring timberwolves came out of the darkness, fixing their hungry eyes on us and rushing to catch their prey.

An image of Venom flashed before my eyes. According to reports, she’d met her fate at the jaws of one of these beasts. Was I about to join my sister?

The three changelings lost interest in me and turned to the timberwolves, rushing at them with bared fangs and spears at the ready.

I attempted a retreat while they were distracted.

One timberwolf clashed with two of the soldiers, who fought back with all their cunning and might, joined by the third in a second; but the other timberwolf missed his target, skidded on the damp ground beneath his paws, his flank colliding with me and sending me tumbling through the bushes and into a nearby ravine.

I lay there immobile, momentarily disoriented, my shoulder hurting from the fall. I expected the timberwolf to come running down the slope after me and finish me off, but there was no sign of him... not in the ravine, anyway. He must have forgotten about me in the heat of battle with my undestined captors, assuming he’d taken notice of me at all! And from the sound of it, it was quite a battle. Growling and hissing and battle cries went on seemingly forever!

Until, finally, there were startled yelps.

And then... silence.

I waited a few minutes to give the timberwolves time to go away. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t have to worry about the three changelings anymore. Their fate saddened me - somewhat to my surprise, considering what they were about to do - but this was neither time nor place for reflecting on the outcome of our encounter; the timberwolves might still be hungry! I had to get away! I was limping with pain, but didn’t dare to fly, lest the timberwolves hear the buzz of my wings.

I should have waited a little longer.

One timberwolf had gone, but the other was still there. He noticed me climb out of the ravine and swung a paw at me. I backed away, but he still managed to leave a nasty scratch on my side. There was no point in lingering; with the more immediate threat to deal with, I decided to ignore the possible risk of more groups of changelings in the area for the time being, buzzed my wings and flew high up, above the trees, where the timberwolf couldn’t reach me.

Eventually the excitement wore off, and the pain and exhaustion started to get to me. I decided to land and get some rest in a part of the forest where I could see no timberwolves close by. There was no way to be sure I wouldn’t run into something just as dangerous, if not more, but hopefully, this time, I would be left alone.