Letters from the Front

by Minalkra

First published

A series of letters found in a grandmother's trunk after the War.

A series of letters found in a grandmother's trunk after the War.

The Letters

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Pvt. Golden Harvest
Second Battalion
Camp Whinneapolis

My Dearest Apple,

It warms my heart to hear of our fellow Ponyville compatriots rising so readily to the challenge that this dark Scourge of the North represents. Mayhap you would think it ill of me for bringing up our parting so roughly but choosing to join our righteous cause so early in the struggle - though it mean we be parted for such an arduous time - strikes me even now as the right and proper course for any pony not desperately needed at home. Though our parting was one of pain and sorrow, I can be glad in that I walked into the Camp rather than be dragged.

The food here is tolerable, so let it set your mind at ease that we are fed and clothed against the harsh winter the Scourge even now sends against us. That it bears your Granny's face is a small comfort to me and a few of the ponies from our region. The bedding is awful, however, and the Sergeant holds no love for those willing to lie it's embrace overlong. Perhaps it was meant to inspire us to greater energy that we be denied such comforts.

The drills are maddening. It has been a few hours now that I was forced to put this letter aside and rush to meet my fellows for practice. Ever marching, ever drilling. Even the old Golds in their shiny armor seemed winded at the workout and we Volunteers are even in worse shape. Better the be tired and sore now than dea Ignore my thoughts, dearest. The Lieutenant and this other fellow I didn't know put some fear of the Scourge in us and it pushed us to match the old Gold's marching. Maybe they want to prove us Volunteers.

It's chow time, now, and so I must leave you. All of my love,

Harvest


Pvt. Golden Harvest
Second Battalion, 3rd Company
Camp Whinneapolis

My Dearest Apple,

You fret over my lazy hooves when you and your brother could tend the farm alone in my absence! Don't deny my now sore hooves their lack of energy in our time together, for you reminded me of it enough that I took it to heart. And though my Mark be one of a farm and family, is not all of Equestria my family as well? When family is threatened, ought not those with will and purpose defend it?

Please, dearest, let us not speak of our harsh words as I left on the north-bound train. What is done is the past and cannot be changed. I am here now and I hear some grumbling that General Call may be issued to deal with the Scourge that threatens us all. Better to be standing on my hooves than be dragged in off them.

We drill again but it's getting better now. My hooves are less sore than they were and my heritage shines through now. I find it easier to wake and easier to march - though fighting has ever been my lack. Some of the fellows here show a roughness about them that would have made me fear their presence in our town but need has made fellows of us all. I even shared some of the pie your Granny sent with some of my unit - a rougher lot you'd never find - and it was most enjoyed by all. I think you will appreciate the wakefulness when I return.

I meant a nice pegasi stallion by the name of Brushed Downs who has taken a shine to me. As a friend, dearest and only ever that. All the Ponyville Volunteers have been spread around and none seem to know why - and it's not just those from Ponyville. Brushed is from a small town out near Manehatten and is particularly upset that he's so far from home despite the front being closer nearer to his home. I wonder if any Ponyville folk were sent that way in his place? The mad logic of the New Army doesn't strike often, I wager.

Is your sister still struggling to find her mark? I hope she finds it soon. It would be a shame should she gain it while I am away. It's almost time for the monthly apple harvest and I wish so that this Scourge is beaten so that I may join you again in that. I miss you deeply.

Alas, I cannot make the post run faster or wire you a kiss over line. Nor can I steal time enough to make more letters for they run us ragged at all hours now. I fear it will be another two weeks or more until I find more time to lay quill to paper for you.

Forever yours,

Harvest


Pvt. Golden Harvest
Second Battalion, 3rd Company
Camp Whinneapolis

My Dearest Apple,

There was a group of Golds came through just a day or so ago, heading south of all places. It seems that the line has stabilized somewhere close to us though not close enough to get any sense of where things stand. The Golds were in rough shape but I have every faith they will stall the Scourge's advance long enough until more bodies can be brought to bear against him. If there is one thing the Scourge lacks, it is numbers for what can one city do against a multitude such as us?

And of, it would break your heart and heighten your spirits to see the Camp. It is situated a ways outside Whinneapolis - despite the name - and the farmer's fields we have set down on are now barren mud and dirt for all the tramping of hooves. But the numbers! By Celestia, the numbers! Rows of tents laid out in lines as far as one can see. And the pegasi say it is no different from the air. It stretches on for a mile or two by now, both directions, and the pegasi have fashioned a camp of clouds above so now it is two or three deep in places. With so many showing to do their part, I can't help but feel sorry for the Scourge by now. The Golds are good but lack our numbers, what can the Scourge do against us when we number so great?

I hope the Summer does us well. I know the Crown pays for supplies but with so many in the brown of the Volunteers and so many mouths to feed, I worry about the Purse. Equestria runs on trade and this war disrupts us all. Brushed was almost whining about his family business and how deeply this war has cut into his father's pocketbook. I bore it stoically and reminded that it harms us all. That took the bluster out of his sail and calmed him down enough to speak of more pleasant things.

I meant to get to happier times with the last but I can't help but feel apprehension. Our training is nearly done and we will be shipped north soon. The Golds have gotten the first few Volunteers by now and I am told we've given a good showing of ourselves. Even the Princess speaks good of our work and that means much to the men.

I must run. Be safe, dearest,

Harvest


Pvt. Golden Harvest
Second Battalion, 3rd Company
Camp __________

My Dearest Apple,

The hullabaloo that came with shipping so many ponies was astonishing! When the order came down from the Lieutenant that we would be shipping forward, it was a mad scramble to pack everything. Spears, uniforms, medical supplies, tents and food - all the things that make life livable in a camp had to be rounded up and rolled into one long train. And the ponies were loaded first so of course the trip was sitting under and around stacks and crate that only an hour ago had been laid out all nice and neat in rows of goods. Still, it's a sight better than what the Golds were saying they had been shipped with.

I had thought the trip would have been a lovely one with sights to see out windows and nice cushions to sit upon but the train was all but boarded up and the seats had no padding - I was on a crate of spears while Brushed Downs was perched atop the train as we had no seats for those that could bear the wind better. You would have boxed his ears to hear the words out of his mouth but I just laughed them off. Perhaps the training has done a bit to roughen me more than I would have liked. The Sergeant's mouth wouldn't be appreciated at the table any more than Brushed's I'm afraid.

But now we have settled in a camp quite close to the front and for all the training, I have to admit that it chills me more than the unnatural winter. I can hear the thud of artillery and every so often we can see high-flying formations of pegasi in the blues and greys of Wonderbolts and Volunteers fly above. I have yet to see any fly south but it may be that they take another route. I hope that is the case.

I must run. There's a speech to be heard by the Colonel and I hope to hear what she says.

Ever faithful and loving,

Harvest


Pvt. Golden Harvest
Second Battalion, 3rd Company
Camp _______

My Dearest Apple,

. .. .
I have set quill to paper for times now and still cannot think of what words to write.

Yesterday, we finally shipped to the front. The line is very long, about from ___________ to the _____________ and it is as awful a place as could ever be. The fighting is fierce but it's stalled as you no doubt know from the reports and we've managed to hold the Scourge off at __________. But the _______________________________. The artillery has dug in on both sides about ___________ and the pounding is just awful. Because of the ____________________ the Scourge has, we've dug trenches along the entire line - a few Golds from the earliest times are here and they said it's better to be in a ditch barely tall enough to see a pony's ears than to be a walking ______. And the first ones we can see forward of our lines, in the torn earth. These newer ones are deeper and they __________ for a reason none seem to know.

Brushed and I are getting along as best we can. They have him as a scout and it's a terrible thing to see him don his greys and fly off in the morning. He comes back with a haunted look about him and refuses to speak of what has been seen. He claims it is sensitive but he was a bluster about things he would do in the north during training. To see him keep so silent is hard.

I am issued a new _____ that the Sergeant says will turn the tide against the Scourge. I'm not sure if these new devices will work for they are bulky and hard to use but against the ________________ we have little choice. The inventors - the Flim and Flam brothers - are in camp tinkering all the time but flee when the pounding gets too close. They seem cowards but a set of desperate cowards that will work to keep the Scourge from their backs. And I see little reason to keep them after the Scourge has been dealt with. Spears work well enough to defend Equestria once he falls.

It's cold, dearest, and the cold steel of this weapon does little to warm my heart. I yearn for your hoof, your lips. I must cease lest I make this letter too revealing.

Yours in life and love,

Harvest


Cpl. Golden Harvest
Second Battalion, 3rd Company
Line Three, Second Front

My Dearest Apple,

I wish this war was over, Apple. I've heard from others the letters are being censored and I can't fault them for it. But it pains me to think of how much we've lost in such a short time. We had a class after my last letter and it was sorely needed - now we have a clearer picture of what we cannot write about lest the Scourge finds a way to get his black hooves on our letters.

I haven't received a reply to my last letter and I hope it finds you well. If not, I'm glad the censor burned out what I had said.

The war goes as it goes, I'm afraid. I've been in a few fights but nothing as bad as one particular one. I can't say what happened or how we beat back the waves that broke against us. I can't say where even this mad stallion managed to drum up enough troops for such a push - and it was all up and down the line from the whispers I hear. There are rumors flowing around about dark things but I do my best to stamp it out. We can't let our will falter here, we can't let fear rule us when resolve must forever tighten our grip and steel our hearts to our duty.

After that last push, the Sergeant handed me my second stripe - the pink one to match the blue. I think if it hadn't been so soon after the push, I would have celebrated but I was bone tired from all the work that went into that fight and had to rest. By the time I was awake enough to care, it was time for more work and left little time to relax with a new stripe.

Brushed comes by a few times a week now, when he's not out flying the Scourge's lines. We talk of training mostly and of our homes. I share mush of the letters you send me with him, I hope you don't mind. He sorely misses his family and gets little mail now that Manehatten has fallen and his family is in the refugee camps. I think I understand now why he was so haunted and so tight lipped those other times. It's hard to speak of.

I heard that your brother now has a marefriend, good for him! I always pushed that quiet stallion into dating and am glad that life is going on with all the interruption. We will all carry our load and when this enemy is finally done with, we will go back to the quiet farmers we were meant to be. We will have to look-up Brushed in Manehatten when this is over with and help him rebuild his family's business. Who knows what the Scourge is doing to that great city now that it's under his hoof?

All my love,

Harvest


Sgt. Harvest

My Dearest Apple,

I have little time to write. The line was pushed to the sixth line and we lost too many. Brushed and I managed to get out but I lost him in the fighting. I hope he made it away. We are holding at the sixth but I hope by the time this letter reaches you that we will have pushed back and retaken what was ours.

I'm acting SGT and the LT says says that it may be my new role. It seems my stamping out of rumors caught an eye above. I hope that things will have calmed enough to have a good letter to you but not today.

All of my love,

Harvest


Sgt. Harvest
Third Battalion, 2nd Company
Line One, Second Front

My Dearest Apple,

We found Brushed, in the fields. He flies where I cannot follow now. So many dead and wounded I have seen and damn any censor that steals these lines from me. I have seen the green eyes of those poor possessed souls behind the grey armor of the Scourge, so filled with fear even as they try to strangle the life out of you. I have heard the crack of artillery and the screaming terror that comes with it, then the thump and the screams of those it left barely alive. I have seen the crystals arc through the air and smelled the burning firepowder that answers.

I still believe, love. I still believe that this is the right things to do but it's not right. None of it is. I want to be home, with you pushing me out of bed before the sun kisses the tree tops instead of waking up in terror as another barrage hits. I want to be sitting on the porch instead of in waist deep mud. I want peace.

But the call went out and we all had to answer in our own way. You and your kin can manage the farm, I must hold this steel tube and cut short innocent lives en-scrolled to kill. If not me, then who? If we all asked that and left, who would man these emplacements? Who would hold back the dark tide? I'm afraid every day now, afraid it will be my last without having seen your face one last time. Afraid that I will end up like Brushed, torn apart by shards of crystal.

I love you, dear one. I love you and always will. Be strong.

Harvest


FORWARDED FROM:
1 High Street, Canterlot
Volunteer Army Headquarters

Dame Applejack,

It is with deepest sympathy that we are forced to inform you that Sergeant Golden Harvest was killed in action on the 14th of Eventide, 1005 RE. She fell while leading the counter attack against King Sombra's lines and due to her bravery, Equestria has gained a valuable foothold in the fight against the Scourge.

She survived a retreat that decimated her unit and managed to hold the survivors together long enough to make it to friendly lines. She personally carried a mortally wounded pony across hostile frozen terrain in an attempt to resuscitate him. She rose to the challenge of being promoted to Sergeant, held our spirits high in these dark times and volunteered to be a part of an attack that was deemed of utmost importance. I knew the young mare personally, as I was her commanding officer and we worked in direct conjunction for a time after her promotion. She was as solid a pony as anyone could ever hope for and worked tirelessly to ensure her troops were well cared for and that their spirits kept high. She was a good mare and a good soldier. Her loss will affect her unit and all who knew her deeply.

I wish there was more I could say but you of all ponies will feel her loss greater than any here could. Know that she fought and perished a true Equestrian and she will be missed.

Yours truly,

Lieutenant Sparkleshine,
Third Battalion, 2nd Company
Volunteer Army