• Published 1st Nov 2021
  • 1,741 Views, 64 Comments

And I Hope You Die - Aquaman

“I’m not making you do anything, Flurry," Cozy murmured. “I’m giving you a choice. Me or your empire. And we both know what the right call is.”

  • ...

Our Few Remaining Friends

The Crystal Empire looked like a picture on a postcard: glossy, colorful, and perfectly still. There were no sounds of a bustling modern metropolis, no shouts from cart drivers or clatters of hooves on cobblestones. There was just silence, and shimmering crystal, and a brilliant arcane glow emanating from the castle at the city’s center, casting long shadows over the silent streets and drawing tracks of tears from the eyes of ponies who—open-mouthed, breathless, frozen perfectly in place—could neither blink nor turn away from its blinding glare.

From a thousand feet above her castle’s central spire, Princess Flurry Heart surveyed her kingdom and home. Fortunately, the unequine magical blast had done little in the way of structural damage. There had been no shockwave or displacement of air as it spread across the city—if anything, the exact opposite. Even this far off the ground, she had to push hard to force her wings through the stationary molecules that normally would have been imperceptible, and she could feel them parting languidly around her as she made her way downwards. It felt like swimming inside a dream—like her brain remembered the concept of water, but none of its properties.

It felt like a nightmare she couldn’t wake up from.

When she touched down in the courtyard encircling the castle’s main pillars, the sound of her hooves on the ice-cold crystal rang in her ears like a cannonshot. The area was still packed with bodies—guards and dignitaries, tourists and locals on breaks from work, all in the same places and positions now as they’d been an hour ago. A few had been caught in mid-stumble. Some weren’t touching the ground at all. All of them looked afraid—terrified of whatever they’d seen before the spell went off.

But of course, Flurry already knew what they had seen—who they were running from. And she knew what she would have to do when she confronted her in a few moments.

Auntie Twilight had never told her about this part of being a princess. Neither had her mother. Neither had anyone else. She had never been taught what it felt like to be helpless—to have all the power in the world, and no way of wielding it in a way that mattered. She’d had to figure that out for herself, through schoolyard fights and poor test grades, in headaches after nights out and bruises in places she couldn’t reach. There were limits to magic—to friendship—to love. She had learned a lot of them as she was growing up. She was learning another one now.

She stepped forward, and a shape to her right caught her eye. A mare was crouched over a cowering foal, eyes shut and teeth braced as if bracing for an unseen blow. Beneath her barrel, the foal—her spitting image, down to the rounded shape of her snout and the cerulean stripe in her pastel pink mane—had her cheek pressed to the ground, and her forehooves wrapped around a scrape on her knee. She must have tripped while trying to run. The wound had formed a puddle on the ground beneath her—unable to clot, still able to bleed.

Flurry could try to help her. She could tear off part of a guard’s tunic and wrap the cloth around the child’s cut, cast a spell that would keep her alive for as long as it took to get her to a doctor. But even if she did all that, the wound would keep bleeding. Her body wouldn’t heal. The foal would stay frozen, and time would keep flowing around her. That was the nature of this kind of magic. That was what Flurry knew would happen until she stopped this.

She should have felt hatred, disgust, even a pang of regret or guilt. Instead, she felt annoyed—exasperated at how pointless this all was. The pony who’d done this knew it would accomplish nothing. There was no way this was ever going to work, no possible scenario that ended with anything other than miserable defeat. She knew that. So why do it anyway? Why cause all this pain, all this needless suffering? For its own sake? For her own sake?

It didn’t matter. She had gone too far. This was beyond the capacity of any pony—any princess—to forgive. She had to have known that too. She’d done it anyway.

Flurry Heart sighed—the air thawed as it entered her lungs, overwhelmed by her untainted magic—and resumed her approach of the castle’s front door. She left the foal and her mother where they were. If she did this quickly, they might still have a chance of surviving.