I can see it standing there before me, it's sharp fangs dripping with saliva. I can see its hate-filled eyes glaring at me-- no, it feels more like it's glaring right through me, directly penetrating my soul. Every part of my filly body is shaking with fear.
But... I have to protect them.
Behind me, my mother, father, and newborn baby sister are huddled together, stricken with as much fear as I myself felt staring down this massive beast. All around us, infernos raged. We were the only ones left for it to kill, and it wasn't going to leave without making a meal out of us--just as it had with the other ponies of my tiny little hometown.
I couldn't let that happen. I wouldn't!
I swallowed and stood taller, flaring my little wings out as best I could in order to seem intimidating. I knew it wasn't going to work. I knew that. But... I had a mission.
The Manticore before me seemed to grin with amusement, its fangs parting as a growl built up in its throat. Then, it lifted one of its forepaws and slammed it onto the ground close to where I stood. The earth shook under my hooves and I wobbled, trying to keep myself rooted.
I had to be brave!
I slowly crouched after a moment, red eyes burning with determination. After a moment's hesitation, I acted. I bolted forward, screaming out at my parents behind me.
The Manticore let out a fierce roar as it saw me rapidly racing straight toward it. It crouched, trying to snap at me, but I dodged and leaped to the side and then dove under it, running behind it in order to distract it. The massive beast turned to chase me, swiping a paw at me. I jumped, but it wasn't high enough. Its paw crashed into me, sending me flying into a tree. The wind left my lungs for the briefest of seconds and I fell to the ground, shaken. I struggled to my hooves and glared at the oncoming creature, trembling.
I then spotted my parents out of the corner of my eye. They hadn't moved! Whether it was fear rooting them, or if they just hadn't heard me, I wasn't sure of. But it was a bad sign. I turned my attention back to the Manticore as it rushed forward, growling lowly. I crouched, flexing my wings and flapping them repeatedly, desperately.
"Come on... come on! Stupid wings, help me!"
The more flapping I did, the weaker I felt. I was still just a beginner in training to learn how to use my wings. This was a do or die situation, and I desperately needed these things to cooperate with me if I were to save my family. I didn't care about surviving. I just wanted them to.
Finally, just as the Manticore's head came crashing down at me, my wings finally listened. Just in the nick of time! I barely dodged the ferocious fangs, soaring into the night sky.
I couldn't believe it. I was flying! Flying! I was sure my parents were going to be so proud of me after this was all over and done with. My celebration was cut short, however. Without warning, something massive slammed into my side. I heard - and felt - a deep, sharp crack before I was sent hurtling into the ground, skidding and flipping several times before coming to a stop. I glanced over to my left foreleg, noticing it wasn't facing the right way. It was mangled, completely destroyed. The bone was shattered, sticking out of my flesh. I felt sick, petrified.
Before I could even think to try and stand, the ground shook below me. I turned my head, looking up at the giant looming over me. The Manticore's saliva fell from its fangs, dripping onto my small, bruised body. I couldn't move. I was beyond scared now. In less than a second later, I felt a sharp pain in my back as the beast took hold of and ripped away my precious wings that had only just given me a brief instance of what heaven was like for a Pegasus.
I screamed out, blinded by the sudden pain. Then, I felt myself being dragged from the ground up into the air. Was I...? No... I couldn't have been flying. I struggled to open my eyes, noticing that my head was in the creature's mouth.
This is it... I'm going to die... I'm... I'm sorry mom... dad... sis... I failed...
The pain that followed next was so much of a shock that I blacked out. The next time I woke, I thought I had died. I struggled to open both of my eyes, though my vision was so clouded. I could hear voices, see shapes. Familiar ones. One side of my vision was black, while the other was slowly clearing. When it was finally cleared, it had gone silent. Something was wrong. My body felt cold. My head throbbed.
I was bandaged, I found out when I looked down. My belly was wrapped, but... one thing I noticed was, I could no longer move my left hoof. I didn't have it anymore. It was... gone. There was wrapping there, but not even a stump remained.
"Come on, kid, let's get out of here before that stupid monster comes back!"
I look up, seeing a rainbow-colored mane. There, standing over me, was Rainbow Dash. I knew her name because I was inspired by her. I loved how fast and talented she was. How strong and brave. She was a true Pegasus. Before I could even protest, she picked me up onto her back and took off into the air.
Only then did I get a good look at what destruction we were leaving behind. Fires raged all over the blood-soaked ground. Bodies were strewn everywhere. Only three of them caught my eye. I recognized them. I could feel tears streaking down my face, but I couldn't feel them on one side. I brought my right hoof to my face, noticing my eye had been bandaged.
"Don't, kid. You don't want to know what's under that."
I hesitated, then frowned deeply. I knew now the damage the Manticore had done to me. I had lost my wings, my leg, and even my eye to that foul beast. I sobbed quietly while I rode on Rainbow's back.
She took me somewhere new. Somewhere I would grow up. Somewhere I would never want to leave. Somewhere... called Ponyville.