• Published 10th Apr 2013
  • 1,733 Views, 174 Comments

Libera Mé - EZTP



Set just after the events of season 3, Twilight Sparkle and her friends must rise to a challenging beast the likes of which will test her not only as an alicorn, but as the Princess of Friendship.

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18 Before My Eyes

18

“Ohhhhhh we’re hunting down a monster! A monster so creepy!-

“PINKIE PIE!” Rarity and Applejack were at their wits end hearing it for the hundredth time. Pinkie, unshaken, smiled and cheerfully bounced ahead of them. They had been hiking for what felt like hours. Eventually they found a route down from the plateau, with Applejack noticing some familiar paw prints for a certain crystal wolf.

They had made their way down to meet Twilight and Fluttershy at the edge of the tree line, both looking very disturbed.

“Everything alright sugar cube?”

“Did you find them Twilight?”

Fluttershy swallowed, “Wolves...”

Rarity was horrified, imagining the torn body of the creature again, “Wh...what?”

“They were attacked by wolves.”

“Are they alright?” Rarity heard the distress in Applejacks voice.

Twilight spoke quietly, her eyes wide focussing on the ground, “There was no sign of the wolves, I think they scared them off with fire by burning some fallen trees.”

“Where are they then?”

Twilights eyes did not move from the ground.

Looking down Rarity nearly fainted. That familiar colour scattered about, the pattern of the shoes trekking a line away from the trees. Applejack slowly followed the marks to a tree, more of that familiar colour smearing it. She mumbled something to herself before facing the others, “This way everypony! Stop gawking!” They galloped after her to chase down the creature, all of them terrified what had happened to Rainbow. Four of them about what had happened to the creature. As Rarity galloped by the tree she noticed a triangular carving and underneath read a word scrolled out in the creatures blood; haven

*

“LUNA!” The monsters mournful cry woke Rainbow Dash to a searing pain in her side, she wailed and rolled but two claws grabbed and held her down.

“Do not move! Hang in there Blue.” She was laying on something soft, wrapped tightly in a cover of some kind. Rainbow could not understand it, but she was alive. The voice that spoke belonged to the monster. As her senses returned and her vision became more lucid, she could see the a familiar growth of trees bobbing up and down accompanying smell of marshland. The tough hide of the wolf, Crystal, as what she lay on, being carried on her back. Despite what Rainbow had seen the motions were smooth and elegant. The creature was draped over the side, trying to limp in pace with its bad leg suspended. She looked up and saw it was almost dark, much time had passed.

“Can you hear me Blue?”

She tried to glance at the creature, its speech was muffled as it spoke through its own claw. The smell of the rusted iron was still prevalent around her as flies irritatingly darted about. The creature tried to wave them off but nearly lost balance.

“We’re almost there girls, hold on.”

Rainbow could hear the heavy panting from Crystal and the complacent grunts from the creature. She wanted to ask what happened to the wolves but could not speak them. As they limped along the area grew darker and more humid, a mist along the ground. She thought she had been here before, the smells and sounds were very familiar, reminding her of somepony she knew.

The creature let out an exhausted shout to gain the attention of something in the distance. Crystal pushed further, her pace quickened and she lowered herself. There was a gasp as two hooves rested on her.

“Quick you must be and help me!” Hearing Zecoras voice was a great relief. She did not care how the creature knew her, she was happy to be somewhere safe. The arms wrapped around her and her cheek brushed against a pelt as she sagged. The fabric was gone, most likely torn away in the attack. The dark disappeared and she welcomed the embrace of Zecora’s warm, bright home. She felt weak, tired and nauseas. She hated it.

“Wolf attack, broken wing and wounds on the side.”

“She has been hurt, but it is your blood that spurts. Set her down in here my dear.”

Rainbow Dash could see the floor smoothly glide under her and felt a soft cushion as she was lowered to a comfy sofa. She closed her eyes and could only hear what they were saying.

“Can you help?”

“Of course I can young beast, your worrying can cease. I must insist you go first, lest death come satisfy his thirst.”

“I will be fine. Treat them first.”

“Crystal lies there licking her wounds, young Rainbow will be fine soon.”

“Blue?”

“Indeed. The one you call Blue is Rainbow Dash too.”

“Rainbow Dash...I will remember that.”

A clattering of pots sounded.

“Now drink this and hold still. Be warned, it will make you quite ill.”

She could hear the creature gag but it forced the drink down.

“That is the worst thing I have ever tasted.”

Zecora chuckled, “The strength it will give for you to live. Where are her friends? Were you running from them?”

“I took you advice, ambush, cliff, big snakes in the wall.”

“The explanation can wait, it is getting late.”

“Such a wonderful night, such a friendly lady, Rarity was her name. Look, new shoes.”

“Is that a smile I see or do my eyes deceive me? Came too close to your host.”

“Too close.”

“From your wounds I see the pack, how did you survive the attack?” The creature hesitated a moment but its answer made Rainbow Dash shudder.

“They burned.”

Rainbow remembered the flames that shot from its claws before she passed out, it was no dream or hallucination. At that moment she understood how far this thing would go to survive, and what it was capable of doing. She let sleep find her again, she was safe and would feel better when she woke up after a power nap.

Zecora was silent and could not reply to what she had heard. A great sadness was brought by the news. The pack was no more. She understood the necessity of the creatures actions, but it did not make its actions any less heartbreaking. Judging from what she could see though, it barely made it here.

“Your wounds are severe, to death you were very near.”

“Could you skip the cryptic rhyming please, I’m not a tourist.”

“I speak this way to keep your mind at play. Your concentration will help your determination.” She held up a paste to the creatures head, It was seated on a chair having great difficulty holding itself up. She set the head back and removed the claw from the face it held against. The coagulated fluids were causing the torn cheek to stick to it. She suspended the bowl above its face trying to hold the wound shut. As the liquid poured it sizzled but the creature did not react. Many of the deeper cuts and burns held the same reaction. She wanted to cause pain, to give it that fighting drive. Zecora was now scared and searched her memory for something to help. Its lack of reaction to the pain was not a good sign.

“Now her.” It pointed to Rainbow who lay wrapped in the torn remains of its vestment.

“Fine. I will help her monster.”

Zecora slowly turned Rainbow Dash over minding her side. The wrappings were tight and she was having difficulty trying to ease them out. Rainbow Dash herself had passed out again and was breathing lightly, the movements not disturbing her. Zecora was given a shock, but felt relieved when the creature moved past her and unwrapped its tight coverings, quickly exposing Rainbow. Zecora was relieved to see it fighting to help and she knew this was the way to keep it going. Fortunately she had managed to store a small surplus supply of its blood in cold storage, thanks to a little research. She fetched a cloth and soaked it in a hot liquid designed relieving a pony’s pain. A similar but watered down concoction to the one she had prepared for the creature earlier that week. She placed it in the creatures claw and gestured to the open cuts on Rainbow. “Clean the wound, I’ll return soon. Her life is in your claws so pluck her from deaths icy jaws.” The creature kneeled beside Rainbow Dash biting through pain and set about tending to her. Zecora went to fetch a powerful chemical she made that would help heal the pegasus, it was considerably easier to treat her than the creature. In truth she was no longer in danger but Zecora was using Rainbow Dash to force the creature to fight on. The side was swelling but the blood had stopped flowing a long time ago, pegasus ponies were remarkable healers. She picked up a pack of the creatures blood taking the tools she had acquired only three days ago. Bringing them over, she held its arm steady trying to find the vessel she needed to prick. Fortunately the creatures hide did not complicate finding it, the line clearly visible. She neatly stuck the needle in, taping it securely. She watched feeling proud of her work as the bag began to drain, paying close attention to the creatures breathing and feeling its neck for the heart rate. It raised its jaw to let her hoof ind its mark, slow but steady. She had done all she could, the rest was to close the remaining cuts and wait.

The creature was being very tender with Rainbow Dash, expending great effort to avoid causing her any more pain. As she applied the last of her trauma adhesive solution to the back of it, she turned now to Rainbow. Zecora did not have any pegasus blood, so every drop counted. Rainbow managed to glimpse the creature through strained vision. It was very attentive, holding her hoof tight between its claws, hunched over by her side while zecora applied her solutions over the wing and body.

“Luck was on her side, it barely pierced her hide. A broken bone in her wing or two, a brace and bandage is all I can do. You saved her from the pack? Courage you do not lack.” The creature did not answer and she had to nudge it. It was shivering from the cold blood but it meant it could still feel something. “I ask and you answer monster.”

“She saved me, refused to abandon me.” It inhaled deep and slow, “I told her to run but she did not, remarkable. Stood between me and the alpha, never blinking. Saw I was afraid and charged them herself. I would not be here had she listened to me.”

“A brave one she is my dear, with her on your side you have nothing to fear.”

The shivering became more severe, Zecora grabbed a thick blanket throwing it over the shoulders as best she could without disturbing the line. “She was prepared to expire with me, even though she had no reason to, she stood with me. It is different for her, unlike me the option to run was always there. She never took it.”

“As stubborn as you this Blue. She is loyal to the end, a truly great friend. What happened to you I do not know, but between you two a bond has grown.”

“Thank you Zecora. It looks like I owe you another one.”

Zecora smiled, “Ah, my name you have found, what a lovely sound. My job is not done young one, till you walk free you have full disposal of me.”

The creatures claws were loosening but it quickly regained its grip when Rainbow moaned back to life.

“Zecora?” her voice was strained but her senses were returning. Zecora raised a bowl to her lips, it contained the same foul liquid the creature had.

“Drink this for strength and you will feel better, beware the taste, it will last forever.” She tried to sit up but the pain of her side quickly made itself known.

“Easy Miss Dash...come.” The creatures voice was very gentle as its claws slid behind and brought the body upright. She drank deeply despite the bad taste, the warm liquid filling her nostrils and overpowering her lungs as it burned its way to her stomach. She coughed trying to get the smell out but it remained stubbornly hanging in her nostrils. “Tastes horrible, I think she does it on purpose.” Rainbow smiled, Zecora took the bowl and began applying a compound to her wing, it reduced the pain, she was too tired to worry about her personal space now.

“Do the friends of Blue follow you?”

“I left quite a trail, Miss Applejack will find us eventually.”

Rainbow was suddenly faced an uneasy thought, “What will you do?”

“I will stay for as long as possible Miss Dash, but I will not return to that cell.”

“But...your hurt.”

“I stand a greater chance out there.”

“No you don’t. I’ll...tell them what you did. We can help you.”

“Easy Miss,” it spoke softly, “Lay back and try to sleep, your friends will be here soon enough.”

Releasing her hoof the creature turned itself to sit on the floor, taking a bandage from Zecora and wrapping its knee, now badly swollen.

“The wolves...did you really...?”

The creature finished the bandaging grunting in pain as it tightened them. “I am sorry you had to see that Miss, that is a part of me I am not proud of.” It hung it’s head at the thought, great sadness on its expression.

“Did you loose control of your soul?”

“Not this time Zee, that was only me.”

She wanted to say something to the creature, to let it know it had no reason to be sad, “Why?”

The monster spoke gently to her, “Why...because now an entire pack of animals from this forest is gone. Think about it...an entire pack, all of them. They were attacking me, an intruder in their home. Then they all were gone. Horribly. I hate that, I hate how easy it was, how I revelled in their howls. Didn’t leave even one survivor. I hate myself for doing that.” Crystal came up and pushed herself under its free arm whining and resting her large head in its lap. “Thank you my friend, I’m so sorry I had to do that,” its words became more muffled and congested as it stroked her ears and brushed down the body with a fresh cloth, “Sorry.” Rainbow dash did not know what to say. Zecora stood by providing more potions and mixtures she could not understand. It was the way Zecora looked at this monster that was strange, she looked sad.

The creature inhaled deep and long, “You wanted to know what happened that first night I joined this nightmare? I do not know if you will believe me, maybe if you hear it, maybe you can understand. Then listen, I can only say it once.” The creature bowed its head to its knees, but it spoke clearly, “In my shop I had a late night, a little tired I return to my bed. It is a difficult week, there has been a great loss in my life. Now every day I wake up and I see her sitting there with a happy smile, she is not there anymore. No matter how many times I tell myself she is not there I can still see her. I still think I will turn around and see her. Before I could rest my head I felt sick, such a sickness I have never felt. The last thing I see is my own blood running from my eyes, then darkness. I wake then to an horrific scream of something under me. It squirmed and something spurts on my face. The smell and taste are instantly recognisable. My vision returns and I see more of you things clad in armour, staring at me in shock. I look to my...and they are holding severed wings, the source of the scream becomes obvious. There is much shaking from the limbs. I drop them and fall back with that shock. Her allies charge in and attack me, I cannot speak, not say a word. They are efficient, key areas being targeted as they try to beat me to submission. They speak words I know, monster, animal, you will pay for this. Then something snaps in me, an anger that says stand or you will die here. I no longer hold my sanity, facing these things with everything I thought I knew. The first I break the neck. The second I break two of the legs and send the head into the solid stone ground, but more come at me. It is a blur, grab, bite, tear at anything, nothing is my friend here, protect yourself, survive. Then a midnight blue flyer hits me with such force. I fly back to be pinned by her. She pulls away and throws black light at me, it burns but it does not burn me, my flesh does not burn but my head does. She tries again but now I am ready. A quick shot to the stomach, pull the black crown off, the source of the power, now it is powerless, no it’s not. Still it uses more light against me, It burns so much-”

“I don’t want to-”

“Hush Rainbow, the truth you must know. Listen well to the tale it tells. Every word is the truth you hear, listen well, please my dear.”

“I see the flyer right there, so I reach down and grab its throat, still it burns, the light stops but the burning in my head will not go away. It calls out something I do not recognise, it is a she. She’s there, she’s causing this pain, so I strike. I never let her fall, her body slumps, she tries to call out but I cannot stop. If she goes so will the pain. Then a white one like her flies in and throws white light to me, this time it feels like my head will explode. Release my sister now beast, I will not, she can help me be free. I scream out with the pain, it turns to a roar and I meet my attacker, treating her sister as I would a shield. She is furious now and holds her ground. I can feel the heartbeat, it is weak now. She tries to speak but nothing. I order for them to stand down and let me go for her sisters life. It did not work, she tries again and the pain feels as though it will kill me. So then I want it to, I want it to stop. The lights fade and I no longer see them, but I am in a circular room with the white one facing me. I try to hurt her, the one that has done this to me but I am too weak, exhausted in moments. Then she calls for some maid to bring me water. The white one is playing with me so I play with her maid. I hold her as I did her sister, this time the grip is tighter, I will not let her win. She slowly turns around, and all is dark once more. Then I wake to being in chains. They interrogate me but I will tell them nothing, I pull against them but they use more lights to hold me, the lights no longer burn but the room is so cold, I cannot breathe it is so cold. There is a princess of pink, she tells me lies of freedom and love, her power is not match, she fights until her lights fade. The captain is her lover, no, husband. He cares for her. Next some abomination of mangled animals comes in. He is powerful, he tries to break my sanity but I am already insane. He sees horrors that bend his will, provoke his ire. He fails and leaves. The food might be poisoned, do not eat, do not drink, do not let their kind faces deceive you. I pass out again, I wake then to see they have changed my keepers, much is spoken around me, I can learn I can listen. After time I no longer want to carry on, they try to force me but I will not drink, I will not eat, it might be poisoned and I will go out on my own terms, not on theirs. I will not tell them anything, nothing about me. They will use it against more like me, they will abuse the knowledge. I am at my end, not much longer now, one more outside the chamber, it is the new princess I hear so much about. My next interrogator. She speaks with me then leaves, only to return with more of them, so many colours. There is a blue, I feel the wind on my back, she is close, I can use her, it is my last chance. I reach up and feel her, pulling her to me. This is my last stand. I hold her close and threaten the worst if not freed. They do not listen, they know I cannot do it. One approaches, white grey and I see the defiance in her eyes, she means to break me. She does, pulls my last chance free pretending to be friendly. She then toys with me, a sick game. Then she plays another, stand for me and I will not move. I do so and true to her word she does not. She is terrified but tries to hide it, her terror fuels me, these things are afraid of me. I see you little one, I smell you and your fear. What a symphony of terror you parade before me. How you all stare and watch, never seeing or knowing. How you try to cage what you fear. I long to be free, to do unto you all what you have unto me. I will be free some day. Libera Me. Then I see it in her, there is concern, she worries for me when she sees my wrists. She offers her help and I let her pink haired friend look, I exchange this for water. I do not know why but now I want to live, I want to see where this will go. I cannot let the lost one down, I made a promise. I drink and then I see the new princess, she lies to me, she wants to break me, I feel clarity with the water. I have heard the discussions of the midnight blue mare like her, she is afraid what will happen when she discovers the truth of her immortality, it will break her. I will break her now. She will break. She does, tries to harm me but the taste of my victory is too sweet to be soured by pain, I am left to my darkness, at long last I am alone again. The white one returns, she is furious and I feel such pain as she entraps me further in twisted steel and chains of white. I struggle but it is not enough. She wants to hurt me so I will not show her how much it does. She finishes and the agony is absolute. She leaves me again to my darkness, the captain tries to mock me. I will show him I can still hurt you, now his once proud helm is no more. He leaves with wounded pride and only the midnight blue mare remains. She is not hurt after my beating, why Is she not hurt? Now she begins to work on me, every time I shift I receive a blow, I move to show her I am not afraid. Each time is worse, I loose track of time and then the frightened pink hair enters the chamber. She is so afraid, I am broken now. Why did I drink the water. Now I must remain here longer, I want to leave, any way I can.”

“Fluttershy.”

“The pink hair hates me too, but she stops the blue mare from hurting. She pours a poison to burn my flesh but something happens. In my agony she comes to me, she wants me to stay alive, she feels such sadness watching me in pain. Her chest is so warm, her tears are so warm, such warmth from the cold. Do not leave. I see her in the pink hair, I see the one lost to me. Not a month has passed since she left me to her eternal rest.”

Rainbow dash was horrified seeing this, the monster kept the tone but its voice trembled and she could see tears flowing freely. This was becoming terrifying to listen to but she did not know why. It was reliving the past few days, winding them down. Zecora was as entranced by the story as she was.

“Then I see her, she is here in this little thing, she wants to bring me comfort. After everything I have done she is there for me. So I speak, not the beast I had become but me, I can speak again. She hears me and I will be there for her, we seek our safety in each other. She is done now and leaves me. The night blue mare no longer fears me, she has seen my weakness. I sleep. Now I wake to the sound of war, she is back, Fluttershy came back, but she is in trouble. I need her to free me so I can help. She gives me that freedom, she allows me to be free. So I take it, get behind me now, she is behind me now, not just Fluttershy, this is the one I lost. She is behind me, this time I can do something, I will not let them take her, this time I have the power to stop it. You will not have her today. So I break the bonds and dispatch the monsters. It pains to strike them but I do not care. They seem dazed by me presence, each shot becomes easier. Am I killing them? I have never killed before. I step out to release the chains. I step in, she is so afraid of me, my heart pains. Do not be afraid little one. Please. She takes me out, the night blue mare and her soldiers are hurt, I turn her over, she is alive and she smiles seeing me. Me, the one who nearly took her life, why does she smile? I go up, so many stairs. There is the one, the white grey who forced me to live. She is in trouble, I will destroy that thing hurting her, I no longer care why. Finally there is something to bear my anger down on. I no longer am tired, these things are brittle, they break too easily. I will see them turned to nothing. She is safe now, that look in her eyes is haunting, I have seen before, it not long ago. The entrance is free, run. Just run, but no, she is still there, they are here, if you run they will perish. Who cares. They are monsters, no you are the monster. Go and be the monster, she is still here, do not let her go this time, you promised her, you must be free. I charge in, they all fall beneath me now, the doors will not open, let me open them. The new princess towers over the white one. She cannot hold much longer. There are two more now, one with pointed teeth and some insect thing. The nearest is the toothed one. I enjoy his struggles, he goes down, he is no longer a threat. A green light washed over now, there is no pain now, it is powerless. He is here, I will break him like the others, break. The enemy has fled, and they want to hurt me. The whit one is under me now, the lying new princess too. It will be so easy to reach down and take my revenge. I cannot, Fluttershy made my me promise, why did it have to be her. They will chain me, the captain. You will be lucky if we chain you. I will not let them, I will stand until the lights fade, I will break them, they will be forced to end me.”

“It’s alright. You don’t have to relive it, you can stop.”

“Young Rainbow, today you witness a great pain heal and a new being this shall reveal. Please listen carefully, lest it rest eternally.”

“Then Fluttershy comes here, she will not let me hurt them. The night blue mare stops them. They all part, it is time to run, run away. So one leg before the other it is time to run. It is a long journey, I must stay standing, the populace wants to hurt me. Again Fluttershy comes to protect me. I do not understand, leave little one, leave me to my rest. She walks with me until I run into the forest. I do not know how long I run for, the soldiers are after me, they will put me back there, I will not go back there. I cannot feel my legs, only the pain they hold. It is dark now, it is time to be at peace now. I collapse and I hear something, I cannot even lift my body, weakling. There are wolves so many wolves, here they are larger, more terrifying. I cannot fight them, I cannot fight anymore. This blue mare comes to me now, she does not know I know she is there, she scares away the monsters, she holds onto me and tries to help, her spell does nothing, and she is scared for me, why are you scared, why do you speak these things. Something joins her, a striped one, I cannot understand what she says. My lights fade then I wake up here exactly here, like this. She is a tough lady, she will not put up with my nonsense, within days she has rebuilt me. The brews she gives me restore my body, my blood. She takes some, why? I want there to be a reserve you see. I am stronger now. I have learned in these few days, make a knife from the toughest rock I find, it is very sharp. I know more about this place, I know I cannot return yet, she does not know how. There are none like me here, I am alone. I sleep that night and she sits with me...why?Then I learn I nearly took her life, the striped one, I went to sleep and woke with my new knife inches from her throat. I am loosing control of my body, the horrible screaming happened because I lost control, I am weak, pathetic. I leave her home, protect her. While fighting to survive I see the strange thing, it is a wolf, it hunts what I hunt, it wants to hunt me. I confront it, it is alone, the body is hard, my fists bleed. We are evenly matched.”

Rainbow glimpsed to Crystal, it was badly hurt and Zecora was doing her best patching up the wounds, by the door she saw scattered trail that shocked her, she did not realise she had lost that much.

“We befriend each other, share our hunt, spiders taste terrible but give so much energy. She lets me touch her, show her respect for her favour. I do and we are friends. Only days later an encounter leaves me transformed, I no longer am what I was. I do not know what I am. I help a pony who needs it. She is caught in my snare. Sorry, I did not mean it. Trust me or the wolves will get you. She does, I face the pack, they will not dare try it. She is grateful and very sweet, she hates me too. You tore the wings from her body, listen to theta, from her body...The words hurt me. The night blue mare comes in my dreams, help her, I beg of thee. I will, she shows me this ones pain, so much pain for one such as her to bear alone. The same pack that stalks me, responsible for taking her family away from her. The night blue mare asks me to take it away. She speaks strangely now, I will play along. You are strong, thou must bear it for her, lift it from her. I take it away and she sleeps in my arms, such a pain is now gone, I hold it for her. She cries it out, I cry with her. It feels good to cry at last, now I can cry for the one I lost. Her breath is warm, her body is warm against the cold night. The wolf feels so warm behind me. Do not sleep. You will regret it, do not loose control, do not hurt her. Morning comes, she smiles seeing me, that smile. We go home, I grow to enjoy her company, no, this is a trick. This is a trick, do not play into it. She will not out with me, I am this close to seeing you differently, don’t spoil it. Fine. I bring her home, she gives the wolf a name, Crystal. I don’t like it, but Crystal likes it, it is her choice. The future is bright now, but the pack has found me yet again. They attack, me and Crystal fight, but we must flee. I am hurt again, the wolves are strong, ruthless, they hunt me now and I must flee. The striped ones home is back through where they came from. I am tired and climb to a steamy spring. It is here I decide, here I will go to be at peace. I am so tired. Then I see the white grey mare again, she does not see me until ahem. She screams with the shock, I just want her to leave, she will not leave. Leave me alone to be in peace, at long last. She is that mare, concerned for me yet again. She comes close I threaten to choke her but she is not afraid she smiles at me, that smile, her touch is so tender, so gentle.”

The monster began to slump, the weight causing the thick couch to slide back slightly.

“She cares for me. You saved my life monster, no little one, the debt has just been repaid. She gives me reason to drive on, so I do, I want to see where this will go, I do not know where this strength to go on comes from anymore, but it is here. She takes me to her home, her little sister is sweet, she is kind and crystal loves her. The white grey is so intelligent, so wise. She repairs the damage the wolves have done, ten seconds, I cannot do it. I am here, you are safe. She allows me to take a bath. We share a drink and we talk. I am like her, a shop, a business of craft. Even...I am so much like her. She likes to watch me make my shoes, maybe you can make some for me? I would like that. She has shown me something, such a truth about where I am. The clothes she made me are marvellous, the texture is soft, weakling, she manages to hold everything together, hides my enormous hindquarters. We laugh together, I call her my friend, she smiles and nearly cries hearing this. I am honoured she holds such value in my friendship. We are friends. She wants me to stay the night, I do not want to. I warn her that I loose control. She knows it is dangerous, et offer still stands, somewhere safe to sleep, just for one night. I show her where to strike to protect herself, if I stay you must be ready. If Crystal growls you will strike. She will do it if she must, but she does not want to. Friend. She sleeps by me, she does not pry into my loss, she respects my privacy. It feels so good to be touched, to hold something so warm and velvety. Morning comes, the new princess has found me, she is angry she tries to chain me again, I will not let her. Do not let her know the white grey helped me, lie to protect her friendship with the princess. She nearly hit the child, her anger blinds her. I try to leave in peace, so many soldiers, they think they have me, Crystal.”

The monsters laughed, it was cruel.

“The fight is long, I flee but her talented flyer friend is too fast. We fight each other, she is tough, fast, an honour to fight her. I have her now but the princess burns me again. I have friends to help me too. I run to the forest as Crystal buys me time. The soldiers are captured by my traps, fools. The friends are smart, they follow me closely. Hide. The white grey sees me, she says nothing. The princess is sharp and sees me, go Crystal, I try to run but there is the cliff I hate. I see only one way now. I take it but that way endangers the flyer, she wants to catch me and does not see the danger. Her friends try but cannot help. Can I help if such power cannot. I hear the white grey scream teddy, she brands me with that now. No, not another flyer lost because of me. I will not see it happen again, I have control now. So I fall, the snake thing is strong, jump blue. I have her and we have stopped, I cannot hold in. This is going to be very bad. The pain of it is immeasurable. She is safe and we help each other but the pack has returned. I am finished, but she will not run away. Run away you fool, only one needs to go. I will not go, she fights to protect me, so I fight. There is no more pain, I will fight until she runs, until the lights fade. I weaken but Crystal comes, I must keep going. Must force the wolves to retreat. I will not break now, but she is hurt, not much time. Crystal is hurt, they will take us all now, this is about them, I will see these animals burn for what they did, for what they want to do. So they burn, I let the monster free again and I let them burn. Burn. They are gone now, I am a monster. The flyer under me needs help, I do not have the right to fail her now. I will not see another flyer lost. Crystal is still strong, not me girl, help her. I will carry myself for once. I call to the night mare, Luna, Luna. No answer, I cannot fade yet, Blue needs me. It is good to see the striped one again, she will look after her, I have succeeded. So here I will let my saga end, veterascet et cum lucernis, per tenebras venit, non timebo pro meus officium est. Libera me.”

Such a shock ran through the silence that followed. Rainbow Dash could see Zecora as stunned as her, she would not look away from the creature. Rainbow leaned over, the pain no longer as prevalent, trying to see the creatures face. It was hard to make out but it was badly wounded, the scratches on its shoulders dug deep into the hide, covered in the strange paste Zecora had rubbed on. It brushed its arm on its face, it was wet. The sniff confirmed it, it was crying. Her heart sank at the display. She could not believe this was the same monster that faced down the golems at the castle, fearlessly and ruthlessly dispatching the old king and sending the queen running. More than ever now she felt guilty for what had happened to it, for what it had been through. The sadness was crushing her. A single word could describe what this thing was, survivor. Its pain was more than physical and she wanted to show it there was no reason to feel regret for those animals that nearly ended her, for those monsters that nearly destroyed Equestria. As it sagged further her only thought was an action. Pulling herself closer she did the only thing she could, and wrapped her forelegs around its neck to hold it up. The weight only grew heavier.

“Zecora help.” She could barely speak. Zecora rushed to them, trying to hold it up. It did not move, did not respond. It merely sat there and she realised the wheezing noise had stopped, “No no no. Come on, not like this, not after that, you must be alright, please.” She squeezed gently and felt the creatures claw raise up to rest on her leg. She held to it and pressed her cheek to the back of its head. She could not let it go now. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered. “You tried to fight them, to force them to retreat. You would have rather tried something else than have to resort to that option, even if it meant loosing your life. If you hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t be here. You had to do it. Nopony could blame you.”

“I’m sorry I hurt your friends, It tears me up inside knowing you were all exposed to that part of me, that monster. I’m sorry I hurt you.” Rainbow could feel herself tearing up, the lights grew longer and blurred but she blinked hard forcing it back down. Maybe it was the medicine or the fatigue, maybe it was this tale she had heard, but she could not see a monster sitting there anymore. She looked to Zecora for an answer.

“Speak from your heart, if from it you do not wish to part.”

As she held on something was beginning to frighten her, the heartbeat was growing weak. She did not understand why this much fear existed for the brute but she would not let it go. Rainbow pushed herself up and playfully knocked it on the bad shoulder, the pain forcing a response. With the grunt she saw Zecora smile, this was the way to go, “Stop apologising you wimp!”

“Wimp?”

“Yeah, after all that talk you’re no more dangerous than one of Fluttershy’s bunnies!” Except angel she thought, “What in the name of Celestia happened to the tough monster that would sooner tear me apart and feed me to the wolves? I miss that thing, I don’t want to see this weakling in front of me!”

“Weakling,” it growled.

“Yeah, weakling! Pathetic little scared crying weakling!”

“Not weak.”

“I’m sorry? I couldn’t hear you through all that self pity!”

“Not...weak!”

“Well it looks like you are! Some puppies play with you and you can’t even take that. You know what, you are really sad, I mean just look at you!”

The voice and body trembled as it spoke, “Not a weakling.”

“Then prove it, stop your crying and fight. You think I would let some wolves get the better of me like this? You won and they are still hurting you. Get over it! It’s sad that it happened but they left you no choice.” She pushed herself forward and tilted the monsters jaw to look on her. “You see this? This is still here because of you. I am still here because you never gave in. I don’t care what darkness you hide from or whatever, be one with it. That is what saved us!”

“Miss Dash...”

She felt her eyes burn but she kept going, it needed the fight, “I saw something awesome today, yesterday, whatever! Nothing could bring you down, you stayed on your...umm...paws? Never mind. I want you to keep fighting now soldier. No weakness, no cowardice, no pity party with frilly dresses. PONY UP, NOW!” The final word seemed to echo around the room. She saw it then in its tired eyes, that glint, the fire with which it drove itself. It will live.

A claw came up with a clean cloth and wiped at her face, she released the jaw as it dried her tears. Rainbow Dash had scares in her life, but that was too close. She fell back to the sofa embracing the dull sting. A sniffle from Zecora and she saw the zebra blowing her nose into a tissue, laughing.

A chuckle from the creature followed, she felt herself snigger. Their laughter grew, even the sting could not hold it back. It was a relief for her to see in throw its head back against her chest and release all that tension it held. The laugh was neither deep nor booming as she had expected. It rang out happily.

“Oh! Miss Dash you could give Miss Rarity a run for her money!” the life had returned to its voice and Rainbow was stunned at the difference. This creature kept surprising her, truly a new being.

Taking a few breaths to recover she felt the fatigue settle in again. Zecora handed her more of the foul tasting brew, she drank deeply letting it burn down again. “What do mean a run for her money?”

“As a thespian, as far as performances go that was astounding!”

Her cheeks began to blush, “Well it helped didn't it?”

“More than you realise my friend.”

“Hey! Let’s not get all buddy buddy here.”

“Oh really? Only a true friend would be that brutally honest.”

“It is true what it says, you are one who truly cares!”

“No I...don’t...”

“That’s just adorable!” it laughed.

“Come on! Adorable? Really?”

The monster eased and exhaled a long deep breath, “Thank you Blue, thank you Zee, for putting up with this fool.”

“It is our pleasure, your friendship we do treasure.”

“Well friendship is stretching it a little,” Rainbow commented.

“How about...not enemies?”

Rainbow smiled and let her head lay back. “You know you remind me of myself back before I became the best flyer in Equestria.”

The creature sniffed clearing its sinus, “A blue flying horse?”

“No!” she laughed, there was no need to hide anything for the monster. She had a story that could help it, “I used to be afraid to go fast. Imagine a pegasus afraid to go fast! The idea of loosing control at high speeds terrified me.”

“So how did you deal with that?”

“I didn’t. I just accepted it. The thing about fears is that they control you. You can’t hide from whats inside. If you make peace with your fears then you can control them. It’s not always a bad thing to be afraid.”

The creature chuckled, “Wise advice from a careless flyer.”

“Careless?!”

“I could smell those things for miles! How could you just dive after like that?”

“So I was supposed to let you fall?”

“You do care!”

“I...uh...well-”

“Thank you Miss Dash. Your words are appreciated. I must insist now you rest.”

She looked at Zecora replacing another blood pack.

“Is this all yours?”

“There is a a herb I can use in one of my multilayer brews, all it takes is but a drop and the concoction cannot stop. Its blood grows quickly when it drinks this brew so sweet and sickly.”

“Why did you help it?”

“I do not know Rainbow. I was asked as I passed and I chose to help it grow. A monster must be caged, but in choosing to do so, a monster you all made. We are never born with the beast inflated, it is something that can only be created.”

Rainbow took a deep breath and felt herself melt into the seater, the creatures warm head still resting on her belly. “Now grab your rest Blue.”

“I don’t...want to.”

“Miss Dash, I am fine. Please do not worry alright? I give you my word I am fine.”

She eased to rest against her will. At least she did something to help it. The weariness began to encapsulate her. She felt embarrassed for the creature and herself, such an outward expression of emotions was so uncool. She could take solace in the fact that her friends would be here soon, so she slept again.

*

Rainbow Dash was running from a beast she could not see, it moved fast enough to trump her speed. She tried to fly but her wings were gone, stumps in their place. She darted through a forest towards what in her mind was ponyville. As she pushed through the dense branches scratching her. She darted to a Fluttershy’s home but upon arrival to her horror is burned to the ground, the mysterious beast emerging from the ashes. She could see it better now, it was very large and every instinct told her to run. She headed for Twilight’s only to see the same fate had befallen it. All the buildings had fallen to dust before her. The beast growing larger with each that fell. The face was obscured, the body cornered by a black cloud silhouetted against the blood red sky. She tried to run but her hooves were sunken into the earth. Her heart beat faster as the monster turned to her, it had the same red eyes the wolves did, burning, a deep hunger in them. She could feel the darkness closing on her, shaking her.

“Rainbow Dash!”

She woke up to a relieved Fluttershy cradling her friend stroking her mane roundly to try calm her. Her sweating was profuse and breathing heavy. She could remember now what happened. It was only a crazy dream, that awful medicine must have been the cause. Never again. She smiled at Fluttershy as she was joined by her other friends. Pinkie Pie was hounding Zecora with questions about what had happened, in her detective hat, but stopped when she heard Rainbow Dash’s groans. Her pain had lessened and the sight of good friends made it bearable.

“Rainbow. Where is it?” What did it do to you?” Twilight was more abrasive and on edge now after her trek through the forest. Every step she had concerned herself with Rainbows well being and safety, trapped with the monster alone. The trail they followed to Zecoras had been frightening, red markings on the barks of trees ever fifty hooves or so apart. Applejack was able to follow then with ease, using sone strange carving on the trees to guide her to Zecoras.

Rainbow sat bolt upright, ignoring the sting and scanned the room. The creature and Crystal were gone.

“Shoot!” Her frustration was well founded for during her nap it had seized the opportunity to escape. The couch where its back rested was still warm, holding true to its word it left only at the last moment. She decided to leave it for now or risk the creature harming itself again, “I don’t know.”

“What did it do to you? Are you alright? I’m so sorry, next time it won’t be so lucky.”

“Silence!” Zecora stomped her hoof in rage at the young alicorn, “You know not that you speak lies, without that monster Rainbow wouldn’t have survived. Fought it did against wolves strong,” she threw the remains of its garments at Twilights hooves, “Its battle to survive was furious and long! You will not speak ill of your monsters will!” Rarity gasped and picked up the torn top examining the areas. She looked worried. “When your hoof steps it heard, left it did without another word.”

Her outburst had an effect and Twilight was noticeably stunned. Zecora looked at Rainbow Dash almost as if to encourage her to speak up. She took her cue, “We were ambushed by a group of wolves.”

“A pack?”

“Yes Twilight. It told me to run, I stayed and...fought with it.”

“It brought you here sugar cube?”

“Yeah. It was in pretty bad shape...”

“Then it couldn’t have gotten far. Spread out everypony! I want a full sweep of the area. Watch out for that dog its got with it and be careful, it may have the advantage but time is on our side.”

“Twilight! IT’S ENOUGH FOR ONE DAY!” Rainbow Dash had grown annoyed with the Alicorns obsession with the creature.

“Rainbow...”

“I’m tired and I want to go home. Leave it alone! Don’t you understand? It nearly died to keep me alive. I got scratched compared to what those monsters did to it!” Her friend stood back shocked but she didn’t care, they needed to hear this, “You didn’t see it, it fought with everything it had, it tried to protect me! If it hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here! That thing has been through enough, just leave it alone!” She returned to her blanket and could not face Twilight. She was ashamed for defending the creature that had hurt her friend but it had to be done. She could not ignore what it had done for her, what it had said.

“Well done young one.”

Twilight did not angry but what her friend had said, she was right. “Alright Rainbow...alright.” She sighed and turned to her friends. “Let’s get her home.”

“It looks like dinners off huh Fluttershy?”

“Oh please don’t apologise Rainbow, I’m sure we can meet another time.”

“Rainbow Dash recovery party!”

“Awesome Pinkie Pie, but let’s wait until I’m out of the hospital firs alright?”

“Oh okay...”

As they carried their friend out to the hospital, for what felt like the hundredth time, Rarity was noticeably quiet. She was still holding the torn top trying to understand what had happened. She made it with her strongest fabrics, her best materials, it had taken so much thought and planning, so much work and time. The creature had finally trusted her but it was all shattered, an entire night was shattered by Rainbow Dash’s vigilance. She was not upset with the pegasus, not anymore at least. It looked like she had come to respect the creature as Rarity did. It was clearly right to be concerned about the wolves. The tears were more like cuts, some of the threads were not even split the teeth and claws were that sharp. Zecora grabbed her as she followed after the makeshift stretcher, pulling her to the side whispering quickly. “It says to you Rarity, thank you for your charity.”

“What?”

“Keep you voice low and stay, if something to it you wish to say.”

“It’s here?” she whispered feeling anxious.

“It lies in the back with body weak, it cannot stand or properly speak.”

Hearing this news brought relief and fear to Rarity. She questioned why Zecora was telling her this, if Rainbow had lied to Twilight about not knowing its whereabouts, and what she could do to help it. She wanted to stay and see it through the injuries again, but doing so would be suspicious. She had to leave with them and come back later with a stronger outfit, something that could withstand a knifes cut. She remembered the special order hoof covers the grocer had asked for, that might do the trick.

“Will you answer, will you stay for your monster?”

“I will be back tomorrow morning.”

“This is good for these old ears, put at bay you have my fears.”

Rarity was too curious not to ask, “Why me?”

“In its state many things are spoken, upon hearing your voice, its eyes did open. It called your name with eyes so weary, for you it still trusts dearly.”

Rarity could feel nothing but joy hearing this, her work did not go to waste after all. As she darted after the others, who had not yet noticed her absence, she could only wonder what the creature did to change Rainbows view so quickly. She still had to talk to Twilight about what the creature and her discussed. With any luck it would help her to be at peace, hopefully so much as to let her forgive it.

Author's Note:

END OF ACT IV