• Published 1st Jun 2023
  • 256 Views, 14 Comments

Guardian of the Bridge Between Nothing and Nowhere - Orderly Disassembly

Between a place without location and a location without a place, a dragon stands guard. However, each time the ponies attack, he loses a little more. How long will he last?

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Ch 1: Day X

A bank of fog rolled over the stony bridge before me like a slow avalanche of mist, highlighting the blank void beyond the sides of the bridge. I've tossed things over the sides before, and I’ve yet to hear them hit the bottom. I wonder what exactly it is? Oblivion already exists beyond the pit at the other end, and the concept of Nowhere is made physical behind me. What is left? What connects these two things? It is a void, so maybe it’s nothing at all.

I sighed as I began to mentally brace for the work ahead. My job isn't grueling or horrifying. Hell, it isn't even all that hard. It's just tedious because nothing ever changes.

I leaned on my war hammer, resting my elbow on its head. I felt its weight, the press of stone upon my taloned feet, and took deep breaths to feel the crisp chill of the mist that began to pass me.

These things were real, tangible. Everything that wasn't had left my head a long while ago. The symbol of a twisted star upon my hammer? Meaningless. My reason for being here? Gone. My name? Lost.

All I had left was this bridge, my hammer, and my enemy. He’s coming, he might take a bit, but he always gets here eventually. I wonder what it looks like beyond that pit?

I sighed as I hefted my hammer into my claws and caressed the steel haft. Winding patterns were engraved upon it, shouting a silent message to any who could understand. But nobody could. It almost made me remember something, a set of words, a creed, but the thought slipped through my fingers like loose sand.

I grunted while spreading my feet in a fighting stance. I stared into the fog ahead of me, waiting patiently for him to arrive. I shifted from side to side, trying to keep my wits about me as time ticked by. After a minute or so, my search was rewarded with a silhouette. It was a pony, it barely reached my waist on all fours, but was dangerous nonetheless for one simple reason.

They only needed to win once.

The plain earthpony kept a slow and steady gait. The empty outline gradually filled out with a tan coat and sandy-colored mane. A broken hourglass stamped his flank, and his green eyes locked onto me with a wary gaze.

I smiled at him as I adjusted my stance, angling one shoulder towards him while letting my hammer’s head rest on the other. The pony came to a stop a few paces away from me, just outside the reach of my weapon.

His voice rasped with exhaustion that I also felt, but faint traces of conviction remained.

“How many times?”

I puzzled at the question. How many times have we done this? How many more? I shrugged before muttering my answer.

“However many are necessary.”

He stared at me for a while with eyes full of lines that rarely blinked, as if he were waiting for more. But what more was there to say? It didn’t matter how many times we’d done this dance. It didn’t matter how many more times he would fruitlessly try again. All that did matter is that I would stand, the fog would leave, and he would die again.

Just like always.

He seemed to take the hint, narrowing his eyes as a pair of knives slid from the sheathes hidden in his mane with a metallic whisper. They were simple steel affairs, bound to leather straps that he would use to attach them to his forelegs. I let him don his weapons, idly rubbing the patterns on my weapon while I waited.

With or without knives, he always failed, so why not let him wear them? It made things at least a little interesting.

He straightened after tying on the second knife and took a deep breath.

I lifted my hammer from my shoulder and braced.

The swirling mist around us froze, the ambient toneless hum of the void went totally silent, and time itself seemed to slow to an agonizing crawl. In that stretched moment, the pony’s eyes widened, and his nostrils flared as he threw himself forward.

I brought my hammer down in a noncommittal diagonal strike.

He aborted his charge by kicking off the stones and diving into a roll, leaving him standing a couple paces to my left.

I snorted at the obvious faint and turned towards him again, leveling the bare haft of my weapon towards him.

Either he would charge in quick and get violently stuffed, or he’d faint a strike and risk me simply pivoting with my hammer. Which let me crush every bone in his chest if he tried to follow up on whatever opening he made.

Of course, he did neither, simply dancing in and out of my striking range, trying to goad me into committing.

A jab here, a spinning buck there, he was a sandy blur wherever he struck, but it didn’t matter as he always stayed too far away to hit me. He needed to come to me to win this fight. I can’t remember why exactly, but as long as I stood my ground, he would never run past me and through the gate or back into the fog.

My guess is that he wanted something from me.

I wonder what he’s after?

The pony did another spinning buck, and I countered it by batting his legs down with the shaft of my hammer, but instead of kicking off to retreat, he shuffled towards me like some sort of equine crab!

I couldn’t bring my weapon up in time, but I managed to soften the blow by stepping back with his kick.

I was still sent sprawling, but a bruised chest was far preferable to cracked or broken ribs.

I rolled to my feet, yanking my weapon into an upward arc, sending the heavy block of metal crashing into my lunging opponent’s jaw.

He tried to press his advantage, just as he always had before. Does he forget his failures between attempts?

Before he could recover, I let my hammer fall, crushing his neck like a twig. I’d aimed for the head, but fatigue had dulled my accuracy.

The pony spasmed on the ground but quickly went still. The toneless hum of the void returned, broken only by our heavy breathing. His were far more ragged than mine.

The fog receded as the pony’s time began to dwindle. I could almost pity him, but it was always his choice to do this. I’ve long forgotten why he kept returning, but maybe I’ll remember soon…

He shot me one last glance, mouth open, likely to ask another inane question, but I cut him off with a swift swing of my hammer. Metal met flesh, bone, then stone in a single clean arc, separating his head from his shoulders.

Duty done, I sat down and smiled. The sky may be black, the gate behind me might be white, and the pit ahead was certainly gray. However, with just a little work, I’d added a small streak of color to the scenery. A little bit here, a little bit there, but not too much. No reason to overdo a good thing.

And who doesn’t like a little bit of red in their lives?

I smiled a toothy smile as I ran a hand over the blue scales of my arm. They felt so smooth and hard, like the rock beneath me. Sometimes it made me wonder if I was once part of the bridge. Maybe I should ask the pony if I climbed out of a wall the first time we fought.

Perhaps it’ll make him hesitate.

Hours passed as I let my mind wander from topic to topic before settling on a calm buzz. However, just like it always had before, the fog returned.

I stood with a sigh, preparing to do my duty once more.

I wonder what color my bridge would be if he won?

Author's Note:

Long time no see to those who've read my other stuff. To those who just found me, welcome! Feel free to leave critiques and ideas in the comments!