• Published 3rd Feb 2020
  • 2,635 Views, 71 Comments

The Howlite Howler - JNKing



A White Wolf must escape Equestria after killing an abusive pony

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Chapter 7: Lights in the Dark

For the next three days, Shiva alternated between drifting and swimming. Swimming and drifting. The river was alive with fish, though hunting them was far different from hunting on land. Shiva found herself cursing the aquatic creatures several times until she finally managed to snap up some sort of silver-scaled fish that got too close to her jaws. As the fish crunched in her teeth, Breaker briefly flashed before her mind with a pang of guilt, but hunger managed to shove emotion to the side. The river water was fresh as well, and allowed her to quench her thirst, and the trees that grew along the bank gave Shiva a place to rest when the cold became too much for her.

But as Shiva dealt with cold, hunger and thirst, the thought of her master clashed against the worry that the ponies were right. That Shiva had been fused to the human. That Shiva finding her was as likely as the armored horses she constantly saw cruising the sky to give her tea and crumpets if she let them find her.

No, she’s gotta be alive, Shiva thought desperately. I’ll find my way back to where I woke up, and I’ll find something. A trail! A sign! Maybe even her. She’s gotta be there.

Because I don’t know what I’ll do if she isn’t.

After three days of swimming, Shiva was forced from the river as she spotted ponies ahead of her combing the shorelines. Sneaking off into the forest gave her some cover from the pegasi, but she still had to be careful to cover her tracks, lest some of the earth-bound ponies tried to follow her.

It was daunting; Shiva barely slept. She hardly got anything to eat, and fear seemed to pulse in her gut to the point where she almost expected the forest to come alive with ponies every half second. But, her patience and determination won out. And five days after leaving the river, she was rewarded when she came across a familiar looking trail. There, Shiva picked up a scent. It was faint – at least a week old – but it was there.

Her scent. She had passed through here before being caught by Breaker.

Still careful to avoid attracting attention, Shiva raced after her trail. She kept a careful eye out for ponies; ducking into the brush every time she saw one of the pegasi overhead or heard the crunch of branches. But the lack of ponies was a small comfort. For eventually, Shiva followed the trail to its end. And there was nothing.

Shiva sniffed around where she had ended up. It was a simple forest clearing, but her scent – no matter how faint – was here. It led off back towards the trail, but as far as Shiva could tell, there was no alternate path away from the clearing. It was as if Shiva had just been dropped into existence at this very point.

Her ears flattening, Shiva tried to force her nose to find something. Anything that could indicate Master was alive. Something to show Shiva could find her and protect her. But the best she got was a microscopic scent of Master’s hair.

And even that was entwined tightly into Shiva’s own scent.

It’s not true! Shiva thought frantically, even as her nose grew numb from the tracking. She can’t be fused with me.

But with no other evidence, the truth slowly wormed its way into her head. Master was a part of her now. She had been fused into Shiva’s entire being. And from the looks of it, her personality, her soul… whatever had made her, well… her had been sacrificed in the process.

Shiva gripped at her head. “Master?” She thought. “Master, can you hear me? Please talk to me!”

But her Master’s voice didn’t come. Only the faint croaks and chirps of the forest registered to her mind.

Shiva slowly fell to her knees.

“They’re wrong,” she whispered. “You… I can’t let you die like this! I can’t…”

But Shiva didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t rip the arms from her body. She couldn’t rip her brain out and try to pick the Master out.

She fell to all fours, her body beginning to rock with sobs.

Master was gone. Her mind refused to block the realization anymore. Master is gone… I failed her.

Grief chased the fear of ponies from her mind. Shiva’s head reared back, but she didn’t howl. She screamed. Magic flared from her being, crackling across the forest and into the sky.

Master was gone. Shiva couldn’t save her. She was trapped on an alien world; where magic was a real and tangible force, and the dominant species on this planet wanted her either captured or dead.

Her head lowered, and her body rocked with sobs. Not even in the cages had she felt this alone and afraid. At least there, she had the goal of surviving or escaping. But now?

Now she had nothing. No idea what to do or where to go.

“Now what?” her mind asked. She had no answer.

The cracking of branches barely jarred Shiva out of her grief. She glanced up wearily as the familiar faces of timber wolves formed out of the foliage.

Shiva didn’t even care. She lowered her head to the ground and did nothing to stop their approach. As they surrounded and slowly circled her, she shut her eyes and waited for death. At least in death, she might have a chance of finding Master again.

Right?

But just before the timber wolves could lunge, an odd BONG-BONG-BONG sound emanated. The timber wolves flinched away, their leaf ears flattening in pain. The BONG-BONG-BONG sounded again, and the timber wolves gave up, racing away with cries into the foliage.

Barely caring, Shiva glanced up again as the noise maker appeared from the tree line. She sighed as she beheld another mare. Or, Shiva thought it was a mare. She was a dirty white with dark stripes crisscrossing over her back. A mane stuck straight up in a Mohawk. Gold rings encircled her neck, one of her front hooves, and even looped around one ear. Strong cyan eyes narrowed at the sight of Shiva.

It looked like she was the only one, but the only emotion her appearance brought forth was despair. No matter what Shiva did, she couldn’t get away from these equines. Shiva turned away, her sobs bubbling back up her throat again. She waited for the horse to scream or attack her or do whatever.

But instead, the mare spoke.

“What a strange creature you are, and how sad,” she said in a deep, African voice (Master must have known an Africa; it was the first thing to pop up in Shiva’s mind). “What has happened to you, that has gone so bad?”

Shiva glanced up at her, but the mare tilted her head, pity flashing in her eyes. Shiva looked back down.

“M-My Master’s dead,” she whispered. She flinched; getting stabbed with a rusty dagger would hurt far less than having to say the horrible truth. “Ponies hate me… and I don’t know what to do.” She shivered with sobs as her eyes shut. “I-I don’t know what to do…”

The mare tried to hush her, but when she heard her get closer, Shiva jumped away, keeping her back away from the mare.

“Don’t!” Shiva barked, flinching at the look of shock on the mare’s face. “Don’t... please don’t hurt me.”

The mare’s eyes flicked to the scars on Shiva’s back, and her hoof lowered, understanding dawning on her face. She sighed.

“Much pain, you have endured?” she guessed. She raised her hooves. “I will not add to it, please be assured.”

Shiva shook her head. “What’s the point,” she whimpered. “I-I don’t know what to do.” She lowered her head. “I’m stuck in this place… and ponies want to hurt me.”

The mare winced.

“They fear you,” she guessed with a sigh. “A cruel passage I have been through too.”

Shiva looked up. “They… fear you?” she asked.

“Ponies fear what they do not understand,” she said. “Because I live in a forest, from town many want me banned.”

Shiva rubbed at one of the scars on her arm. “Well,” she said darkly. “Have they ever dragged you from your home and whipped you for it?”

The mare covered her mouth, her eyes wide, but Shiva didn’t break her gaze. The mare was the first to turn away.

“Then, when I tried to defend myself,” Shiva whispered, looking down at her arms again. “I took it too far, and just got in more trouble.” She clenched her claws. “I haven't slept... barely ate..." Her head bowed. "I'm so tired of fighting."

Her eyes shot open when she heard the mare approach again, but the mare raised her hoof to show she meant no harm.

“If you are willing to trust,” she said. “I have stew that is simply a must.”

Shiva slumped down. On the one hand, she didn’t want to trust another equine again. But, on the other hand, she was going to get found by something out here.

And it wasn’t like she could do anything else.

She rose. “Sure,” she mumbled. And she followed the striped mare into the forest.

“My name is Zecora; if it matters to you,” she added. “If you don’t mind me asking; who are you?”

Shiva sighed.

“Shiva,” she replied. “If you don’t mind me asking… why are you rhyming?”

Zecora touched at her throat, but chuckled softly.

“Forgive my nursery rhymes,” she said. “The only words I know are of olden times.”

“Huh,” Shiva noted. “Okay.”

#

Shiva wasn’t sure how her Master had known about Africa, but the hut Zecora led Shiva to seemed to just scream the word at her. It was built into a gnarled old tree, and inside were several different masks hanging alongside what looked like potion bottles. In the center of the tree, a fire pit sat with a cauldron bubbling away.

Shiva couldn’t smell anything poisonous in it, and when Zecora offered her a bowl, it turned out to be the first thing Shiva had that wasn’t tainted with humiliation or stuffed with sugar.

As they ate, Shiva told Zecora her story. The ‘zebra’ - as she was actually revealed to be – gasped at Shiva’s mention of Breaker, and her eyes grew conflicted when Shiva mentioned how she had gone overboard in protecting Spike.

“I-I just couldn’t stop myself,” Shiva tried to insist. “He had hurt me for so long, and I didn’t know what to…”

Zecora just raised a hoof. “A difficult situation, I won’t argue there,” she assured her.

With those simple words, Shiva felt a huge surge of gratitude towards the zebra. Instead of getting angry at her, she just understood. Shiva had to resist the temptation to hug the zebra.

“Please continue,” Zecora continued. “Fluttershy used her Stare?”

Shiva’s ears perked, but Zecora chuckled.

“The ponies had come through, searching for Spike,” she explained. “I assume they would arrive; the dragon they seem to like.”

“Well… yeah,” Shiva admitted. “I guess they did.”

From there, Shiva explained about Luna’s interrogation, and her denial about her Master’s fate. She described her heart-racing chase through Canterlot, and her dive off the waterfall.

“But… it was all for nothing,” Shiva concluded. “I made it back to where I arrived… and that’s where you found me.” Her head bowed. “Looking for a Master that was already gone.”

Zecora’s eyebrows knit in sympathy, and she pat Shiva’s shoulder. Shiva tensed at the touch, but Zecora’s touch was comforting, and her voice soothing.

“You poor child,” she whispered. “What was done to you must be reviled.”

Shiva looked up at her. “But now the ponies are hunting me, and I don’t know where to go.”

Zecora rubbed her hoof, looking down at Shiva’s body.

"And you don't believe it wise," she offered. "To return to Canterlot; I only advise," she added quickly, seeing Shiva's back fur flared.

Shiva turned away. "Please don't make me go back there," she whispered. "I can't."

Zecora sighed.

“Foreign you might be,” she replied. “But like a Diamond Dog, many will think. If ponies are too much, maybe Diamond Dogs won't push you to the brink.”

“Diamond Dog?” Shiva asked. “Wait…”

She looked out the window. Luke had been called a Diamond Dog.

Above the trees, Shiva spotted a familiar looking mountain. With a start, she recognized it as the mountain where she had been held. The cave looked familiar…

Shiva gasped. That’s where we had been held!

She had lost sight of Luke when the ponies grabbed her. But he knew what she had suffered. Maybe he’d be willing to help her.

As if fate was answering her, a long, hopeful howl broke the small silence. Shiva and Zecora rose, eyes widening in shock.

“Luke?” she whispered.

Zecora’s hoof brushed Shiva’s shoulder. “Go, child,” she said. “Be at peace in the wild.”

Shiva smiled, and gratefully nuzzled the zebra.

"Thank you," she said.

With the zebra waving her off, Shiva shot from her hut and raced towards the sound. She let out a howl of her own.

“LUKE!” she howled.

“White Wolf?” his howl answered back. “WHITE WOLF!”

Her spirits lifted, along with her tail and ears. Shiva shot deep into the forest, hoping against hope.

HERE!” he howled again.

“HERE!” Shiva echoed back.

In mere seconds, she shot over a bush, dove under a fallen log… and nearly collided with him.

For a moment, the two jumped back, staring at each other. It was him, Shiva could confirm with a wagging tail. It was Luke! The whip scars were still prominent against his dark fur, but he looked fuller than he had been in the cage. And the scared, broken light that had pervaded his silver eyes was gone, replaced only with relief and admiration.

Shiva couldn’t contain herself. Her fur exploded with light as she gave a cry of sheer happiness. To his credit, Luke tried to repeat her howl… only to get cut off when she cannonballed into him and pulled him into a rib cracking hug.

She didn’t care that she knew next to nothing about him. She didn’t ponder how he had managed to get here. All that mattered was that he was there. There was still hope in this world; someone that she could trust. Someone that had treated her with kindness, or at least had stood against adversity alongside her. It wasn’t much, but for the white wolf, it was enough.

Shiva and Luke barely got the chance to calm themselves from their romp in the trees, before a small ‘Aw…’ cooed behind her.

Shiva whirled around, her eyes gaining a haunted light. Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy were watching with big, doe-like eyes. But further behind them, Twilight and Rainbow Dash, along with two mares Shiva didn’t recognize, were rapidly approaching.

“Fluttershy!” Twilight called. “Don’t let her get away!”

Shiva gasped and backed up. Anger fought against fear. Yet… Fluttershy and Pinkie didn’t approach. Fluttershy’s happy look faded. She briefly glanced back at her friend, before giving Shiva a sad look. The look, however, soon changed to fear.

Shiva’s haunted look changed to a glower. Her fur pulsed with light. A small part of her pleaded for her to bolt.

But this time, Shiva didn’t see the reason why.

Luke stood next to her, silver eyes narrowed in hatred at the ponies. As the mares backed up, a white, rope-like tendril wound itself around his neck and shoulders. And with odd electric pulses forcing their way into his body, his fur began to glow a strange midnight blue.

Shiva felt power coursing through her. More than the fleeting bits that had guided her from the pits and from Canterlot. This was a constant, soothing pulse of strength and willpower, straightening her stance, and sharpening her senses.

She could see the ponies beginning to tremble. She could see Rainbow Dash hiding her fear as she pawed the ground, striding forward.

These ponies had captured her. Humiliated her and tortured her. Up until now, Shiva had been alone. But now, with the diamond dog by her side, Shiva realized that these ponies had never been in power.

All this time, they had been afraid of her. Afraid of what she could do.

And after what they’ve put me through, Shiva thought as she began to advance on them. They SHOULD fear me.

So why don’t we show them?

Author's Note:

Made a slight revision here; now the final battle is about to begin. :rainbowdetermined2:

Thanks again for reading everyone. If I may ask; did I get Zecora right? Writing her dialogue has always been a challenge for me, and I'm also not sure if she would have been kept up to date on what Shiva was. :applejackunsure:

Please let me know if I missed something about her, as she's meant to show Shiva that not all ponies are like Beast Breaker and his thugs, and keep her from becoming a complete monster.

Thanks again for reading. :twilightsmile: