• Published 9th Jul 2019
  • 3,209 Views, 570 Comments

Scarlet - Skijarama

Forced to leave her peaceful hometown and flee for her life alongside a mysterious orphan filly named Primrose, New Equestrian war-veteran Scarlet Frost will have to use every resource at her disposal just to stay alive.

  • ...


The rain never stopped.

Scarlet’s eyes bored into the wall of her bedroom, an exhausted and bitter scowl on her face. The blankets covering her body felt tight and constricting, her pillow felt cold and uninviting, and her head felt heavy but oh so alive. It was like sleep itself was refusing her at the door, driving her away with pitchforks, torches, and angry curses.

She growled in frustration when thunder boomed outside again, and capitalized on the deafening sound to sit up and drive her hoof into the pillow below her several times to vent her frustrations. As the rumbling died down, so too did her efforts, and she collapsed uselessly onto the brutalized cushion again.

“Just let me sleep,” she thought desperately, screwing her eyes shut. “Please, for the love of all that’s good and right, just let me sleep well tonight!”

Her silent prayer was met in kind, leaving her all alone with nothing but her tumultuous thoughts for company. She grimaced and tried not to think about anything, to force herself to relax. The sooner she could do that and get some sleep, the sooner that foal would be out of her home and the sooner she could go back to work.

But how could she sleep? How could she close her eyes and rest peacefully when there was a little foal sleeping where they did not belong in the room right next to hers? How could she hope to ease herself and dream of anything but the worst nightmares when that room was in use when it should be as silent and empty as a lifeless corpse?

The comparison made her shudder, her chest clenching involuntarily as a flurry of unwanted memories began to bubble to the surface of her mind. Whether she liked it or not, they rose up like hot air in a pot of boiling water, and she was the frog that let itself get caught in it.

Thunder boomed outside again.

Scarlet’s eyes snapped wide open. Just barely withholding a scream of anger, she enveloped her pillow in her magic and hurled it across the room with as much force as she could muster. It struck the top of her dresser with enough energy to make it wobble, and something heavy and metallic slid off to clank onto the floor below.

Scarlet held still, taking several deep breaths to calm herself down. As the roar of the thunder faded away into the distance, she slid out of bed and drowsily made her way for her dresser, her horn lighting up to guide her path.

On the floor, sitting beside her pillow, was a slender, silver-colored yoke with a thick, dark blue cloak hanging off of it. Scarlet’s eyes locked onto the piece of apparel, and her heart twisted with guilt in her chest. “...Stupid,” she grumbled to herself before using her magic to pick it back up and neatly replace it on the dresser. She studied it for several seconds, her mind going blank save for one thought.

“I may have to use this, soon…”

It was thick and designed to shelter whoever wore it from the elements. While the fabric offered no protection for the head, the rest of the body would enjoy near-total coverage, and thanks to the density of the material, it could serve very well as a blanket if one were traveling.

That had been the point, after all.

“I don’t want to.”

She eyed it for a few long minutes, her ears drooping. “...Why do I still have this?” she asked herself in barely even a whisper.

No answers came, only more silence, and the unfortunate sensation of being wide awake and unbearably exhausted at the same time. Scarlet heaved a full-bodied sigh and finally relented herself to the fact she would not be sleeping tonight. Not without some serious help, at any rate.

So, making sure to be quiet about it, she turned on her hooves and slipped out of her room. She needed a drink.

A short time later, Scarlet was sitting in her study again, a glass of wine on the desk next to an open book. It was a history book, one she was still steadily working her way through. Her eyes scanned the pages intently, trying to use a combination of the fascinating subject matter and the wine in her system to drive out her unwanted thoughts. She took a sip of her wine and turned the page.

She grimaced when she saw the header for the next chapter.

“Chapter XIV, The War of Retribution.”

“Of course,” Scarlet mumbled under her breath, her eyes slowly starting to skim through the words. Her mind didn’t absorb any of them, though. She didn’t have to, after all. She had been there. She had lived it.

She shuddered, unable to prevent herself from recalling the details. A new king in Talonreach to the east began to oppress and violate anything that wasn’t a Griffin within his territory, disregarding all sense of morality and restraint. Ponies were ostracized en masse, accused of being witches and warlocks, one and all, and any who dared to speak in protest were either publically shamed and humiliated, or outright disappeared. It didn’t matter if they were Griffins, either, no creature was safe from that tyrant.

Eventually, things had come to a boiling point when Violsta, another, smaller pony nation that had long been a protectorate under Talonreach, was all but sacked by order of the King. They had only just been able to repel the force, and finally, that was the last straw. New Equestria had declared war to come to the aid of their kin, a few of Talonreach’s larger cities broke away in open rebellion, and the Hippogriffs from Eris sent forces of their own to help put down the madman that had assumed the Griffin throne.

And Scarlet had been foolish enough to get involved. Her grimace deepened into an openly bitter scowl, a low growl sounding in her throat. Without thinking about it, she suddenly slammed the book closed, taking several deep breaths to calm her mind and force the phantasmal screams of past battles back to where they belonged.

Suddenly, a series of sharp knocks reverberated throughout the home, making her jump in her skin. Scarlet’s ears swiveled to face the noise, and her brow furrowed in confusion. Who in the world could be knocking on her door at this hour?

Still bitter from the reminders of her past, and bemused by her new visitor, she rose from her desk and dragged her tired body out of the study and into the entrance hall. With a less than dignified growl, she enveloped the door in her magic and pulled it open, her horn lighting up so she could see who it was.

Before she saw their face, though, she was already speaking in an impatient snarl. “It is the middle of the night. What the hell do you want?!”

“That’s certainly an interesting way to say hello to an old friend, don’t you think?” a smooth, calm stallion’s voice answered her aggressive words in a far more cordial fashion.

Scarlet blinked and took a moment to actually look at the pony in front of her. He was taller than her by a good few inches, and his body was covered in the form-fitting black and blue leathers, the signature armor of a Nightblade, elite spies and assassins in service to the New Equestrian Lunar Council. His coat was a muddy gray color, while his swept-back mane was a dull and unappealing shade of blue. His eyes were yellow, and feathered wings partially encased in more armor twitched at his sides.

After a second, recognition ignited in Scarlet’s eyes. “Silent?” she asked in disbelief, leaning forward and squinting through the rain. “Is that you?”

“Would any other Nightblade knock on your door?” he asked with a roll of his eyes.

Lightning exploded across the sky behind him, and there was no gap between the flash and the deafening blast of thunder, leaving a subtle ringing in their ears. Scarlet winced from the noise. “I suppose you make a point…” she said once the rumble had died down enough so she could speak. “Do you want to come in?”

“If it’s permissible,” Silent nodded his head low as he spoke.

Without another word, Scarlet withdrew into her home, leaving the door open. Silent followed her in, closing the door behind him with barely even a sound. He turned from there and looked around, squinting through the darkness. He opened his mouth to speak when a spark of purple magic flickered across the room, and the unlit candles sprang into life. Scarlet was in the middle of it all, smiling at him.

He smiled in turn before shaking himself to dry. “Thank you, Scarlet. That rain has been pouring for hours. Doubtless, I look like an albino raisin under all this fur.”

Scarlet scoffed. “That is truly a charming mental image. I wonder, if I had somepony paint it, would the fillies and colts run and scream in terror?”

Silent chuckled at that. “Ha! Ah, I am glad to see that the years have done little and less to hinder your snark.”

Scarlet managed to smile herself. It didn’t last and was soon replaced with an uneasy frown. “Silent… as pleasant as it is to see you again, I’m afraid I still do not know why you are here. You were never the sort to make social calls, especially at this sort of hour.”

She studied his reaction carefully, taking note of every little thing. He hesitated for a moment, his expression contorting. He then took a breath and nodded his head in confirmation. “Yes, you have the right of it, Frost. I am here on business, but it can wait for a time. I haven’t seen you in… how long has it been? Seven years?”

“Eight,” Scarlet clarified with a wince. “It’s eight years as of two weeks ago.”

“Ah, I see. Forgive me, but the dates from back them are all sort of muddled,” Silent apologized slowly, lowering his head. “And you left so suddenly. By the time I heard that you were gone, I was already swamped with new tasks. It all just… blurred together.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself, you were busy,” Scarlet dismissed, her gaze briefly darting back to her study. “Would you like to sit down in the kitchen? Maybe have a glass of wine? I have plenty to spare.”

“No, but thank you for the offer,” Silent declined politely. “I must keep my wits about me. On business, remember?”

She deflated somewhat but nodded. “Of course…”

“...How has civilian life been treating you?”

Scarlet let out a short, humorless laugh, turning in place slightly. “Well, I’m not killing creatures every week, so it’s a definite improvement from the battlefield,” she said, not even trying to hide the resentment and bitterness in her voice.

Silent’s eyes softened somewhat with sympathy. “...You always hated fighting, didn’t you?” he ventured, making Scarlet cringe.

“...I hate killing,” she stated matter of factly. “I never should have joined the army. Worst mistake of my life.”

Silent frowned in disapproval. “Scarlet, far be it from me to tell you how to live your own life, but need I remind you how many battles were won thanks to your magic? If you hadn’t been there, who knows how many more lives the griffins would have taken before we could stop them?”

“Griffins died in that war, too,” Scarlet was quick to remind him, her eyes blazing. “griffins who were no different from you or I, save for the banner they were born under. They were defending their home as sure as we were, and to them, we were a horde of warlocks and witches hell-bent on cursing and destroying their entire way of life.”

“Which was blatantly untrue,” Silent immediately pointed out, his tone remaining level and calm.

Scarlet growled in frustration before taking a long, deep breath. Once she was calmed, she nodded her head. “Yes, it was untrue… but it is equally untrue to claim that the Griffins we faced were villains worse than ourselves. Their king started the war, not them. They were fighting to defend their home, just the same as us.”

A heavy silence fell between the two of them. Scarlet took one more deep breath before turning away entirely with a shake of her head. She could feel Silent’s gaze boring into her back. “...Scarlet, are you quite alright? I remember you being fiery, but this…” he asked quietly, starting to trot across the floor towards her.

She sighed and closed her eyes. “Forgive me… the last few months have been… trying, to say the least. I would rather not speak further of it,” she said simply, her words short and clipped.

Silent came to a stop a few feet from her. The two were utterly silent for several moments before he sighed quietly and shifted back. “Very well, I shall not pry. I should be getting to my business anyway,” he relented.

Scarlet perked up somewhat and turned to face him. “Oh… shall I see you out, then?”

He shook his head. “No, not yet. My business actually involves you. Or, rather, it involves somepony you may have seen,” he explained simply, adjusting himself in his armor and twitching his wings. Scarlet’s eyes just caught the faintest glint of steel hidden between his feathers.

She frowned, confused. “I see… who?”

“A little filly, earth pony. She had teal fur and a purple mane and tail. She has saddlebags that are several times too small for her, and she has a peculiar lamp made of blue crystal. A few little birds told me that they saw her disappearing into your cellar. Is this true?” Silent described, and Scarlet’s eyes widened at once as the image of Primrose flashed through her mind.

Silent’s lip twitched just slightly, and the way his brow furrowed sent an uneasy feeling crawling down Scarlet’s spine, like a millipede working its way for her tail. She swallowed, a lump suddenly forming in her throat. What could Silent possibly want with Primrose? It didn’t make any sense… but, alas, after a moment, she nodded her head. “I may have seen her. Why? Who is she to you?”

Silent’s lips curled up into a smile, and the unease Scarlet felt only grew worse. “I have been tasked with returning her to the capital, Newcanter. She is very important to a few members of the Lunar Council, but she ran away from them, the foolish little thing. They would very much like to have her back, now.”

Scarlet eyed him carefully, sliding back a few inches instinctively. “...Important how?”

Silent gave a few quiet ‘tsks’ and shook his head. “Unfortunately, Scarlet, I can say no more on the matter. As it is, I have already said more than you are legally allowed to know, but I trust you to be quiet about it. Now, do you know where she is or not?” he asked, his voice growing noticeably more impatient as he went on. His wings unfolded just slightly, allowing Scarlet to see the blades he kept hidden within.

She swallowed heavily, a brief battle waging within her mind. She couldn’t wrap her mind around why Silent wanted Primrose… maybe it had something to do with the lamp? It was quite odd, after all, and not something she would expect to see in the possession of an orphaned filly. Did she steal it? She had said it was a family heirloom, but foals were more than capable of some pretty elaborate lies, she knew that firsthoof.

Slowly, however, she began to relax, her mental battle dying away in favor of just going along with this. She didn’t want Primrose here anyway, so she may as well just let Silent have her. Besides, it wasn’t like she had anything to gain from lying to him, aside from perhaps a criminal record.

So, finally, she straightened her posture and nodded. “Yes, I know where she is. She’s sleeping just upstairs. I let her use my guest room until the storm passed. I was planning on taking her to the orphanage come the dawn, but I don’t suppose that will be necessary now, will it?”

Silent, too, relaxed, his expression softening considerably. “It won’t. Please, take me to her.”

Scarlet, shaking off the feeling of bugs crawling on her spine, smiled, and turned to lead him up the stairs. Thunder boomed outside as they went, and Scarlet couldn’t help but wince. Silent followed close behind her, a persistent smile on his face.

They came to the door in question. Scarlet lifted a hoof for the knob when suddenly Silent’s reached out and took hers in a vice grip. She gasped from the force of it and looked up at him in surprise. He was glaring back at her intently, his eyes narrowed. “Allow me,” he whispered, his breath tickling the hairs on her face and flooding her nostrils with a bitter stench.

Shaken, Scarlet nodded and backed away from the door. Silent eyed her for several seconds until she was a good five feet away. Then, as silent as the night he served, he reached out and pushed open the bedroom door. It was pitch dark inside, of course. Something immediately stood out as odd to Scarlet, however.

She could hear the rain far, far too clearly.

Silent ducked inside, and Scarlet heard him swearing under his breath. Curious, she strode forward and peered inside, her horn glowing brighter to illuminate the room. Her eyes widened when she saw the window across from the door standing all the way open, the curtains billowing in the stormy wind.

Silent approached the window and glared out into the rain, a growl of irritation coming from somewhere deep in his throat. “The stupid child must have heard us and ran,” he spat before turning to Scarlet and giving her a friendly smile. Somehow, it made her blood run cold. “Do me and yourself a favor, Scarlet. Stay right where you are and say nothing of this to anypony you meet. For your own safety, yes?”

Before Scarlet could go to utter any kind of response, Silent turned and dove out the window, his wings snapping open and carrying him down to the street below, leaving Scarlet once again all alone in her home. Bewildered, she cantered up to the window and looked down at him. He touched down and broke into a sprint down the lamplit street, and Scarlet could just make out a few other shadows following him. Other Nightblades.

Something was wrong, she could feel it. With the adrenaline caused by the sudden shift in the situation, her mind went into full swing, allowing her to pick out flaws in her earlier reasoning she had missed.

Silent Edge was a Nightblade. That meant that he was a spy, an assassin, and a trained killer. He wasn’t one to go around and pick up stray foals, not unless they were of extreme importance, and even then that didn’t add up for him. If he had come alone, then maybe Scarlet could dismiss it as an oddity in his orders. But he didn’t come alone. He had brought a whole team of Nightblades, and each one of them we likely just as dangerous as he was.

And all of them were following Primrose.

A memory of blood on her hooves and dead eyes staring into hers passed through Scarlet’s mind. Her blood cooled to match her last name, and she inhaled quietly. Before she even knew what she was doing, she was sprinting back into her room and retrieving the cloak that she had previously sent falling to the floor.