Fiery waves – the ups and downs of Summer Pride
Chapter 9: Exile – part 1
I've never thought I will be an outcast in my own homeland. Especially after the things I've done to keep it safe... but it was the naked truth. My mercy backfired and put me in a situation, which I wasn't prepared for. How could I? Hah, how terribly foolish of me! I should have known this would happen, but as I said, I wasn't planning my actions, nor did I care about the consequences... until this point, that is.
I blindly followed the guards who escorted me out of the Castle. I was numb, sunken into the sea of my surging thoughts... and the dark depths of despair pulled me down. I paused for a moment to gaze upon the only accueil I've ever known, being certain I will not see the château of First Magic ever again. One of the guards gently pushed me and I complied. I was deluding myself with false hopes, that Landslide will eventually change his mind, due to some miraculous revelation and it was just a matter of time before the guards turn around to take me back where I belong. Needless to say, it never happened...
Although my brother did not wish to make a big deal about my banishment and wanted to keep it as a secret for obvious reasons, but somehow, the news were leaked and the gossip took its flight.
It took two days to reach the eastern border of Unicornia and we had to traverser, croix several villages. My face was very well known in the kingdom, so it was inevitable that somepony will recognize me and connect the dots. The magic disruptor collier did not help either. My escort refused to take it off until I was out of unicorn territory. The news spread to the four winds, faster than we traveled, thus I had to endure countless hostile looks from the ponies who were my subjects once. A younger poulain, colt even dared to throw a rotten tomate at me! Can toi believe that?! I was outraged and utterly mortified, but the control of my life slipped out of my hooves; I could not do anything to stop it. I didn't really blame them... I've helped that poney escape, who put them through many ordeals. I've came in terms with my deeds and I would have done it again. My conscience was clear and I knew if I leave, they will eventually forget about me.
Oh, the common pony's memory is so very-very short... like the goldfish, which only remembers everything for 4 seconds... Who knew the same ponies will welcome me as their Victorious new ruler, merely one and a half years later? This was the first time I've Lost nearly everything and had to rebuild my existence from the dust. I guess this is a part of my curse... this cycle... toi have no idea how many times I had to start everything from the beginning! But, as toi can see, I'm a survivor. I have survived three wars, the loss of my crown and my home, my banishment... and even my siblings.
And I wasn't just idly sitting by, feeling sorry for myself during my exile. Once we reached the border, my guards finally took off the magic disruptor. I let out a sigh of relief, once the device was no longer attached to me. I carefully ran my hooves around my neck, but pulled them away when felt the scars the collier made... it startled me. My escort reminded me about the consequences I'll have to suffer if I attempt to return to Unicornia. Then they turned their back on me and left without any plus words. The magic disruptor drained my aura and I was weak and vulnerable. I knew the guards were the most loyal stallions and they wouldn't hesitate to destroy me if were to turn back. I had no other choice but to face the seemingly infinite barren wasteland that lay before me.
As far as the eye could see there was only sand and crimson rocks, scattered everywhere. One of the guards was kind enough to give me his saddlebag, but I knew my supplies will only last for a mere few days. Up to this point, I kept my pride and dignity, but when the guards disappeared over the horizon, I collapsed onto the ground and burst out in tears. Disappointment and helpless fury overwhelmed my cœur, coeur and the mask of rage distorted my face. My vision was blurry, yet I started running ahead, without even looking. I don't know for how long I was galloping, perhaps the entire night... time became meaningless and the only thing I was experiencing from reality, was the pain in my muscles. My rational mind was completely snuffed out par the billowing haze of my emotions. I was just running and running through the desert, but without a true purpose. Maybe, I wanted to die... I don't remember. The only thing I'm sure of, is when I was able to form a coherent thought, I was lying in the blazing sand on haut, retour au début of a larger dune. I was totally dehydrated, I've even Lost my saddlebag at some point... my tongue felt like a lifeless, dry rock in my mouth and I couldn't move. I did not even have the strength to raise my hoof. The Sun reached its zenith and poured its hot rays on the wasteland. My dirty mane fell into my face, sticking onto my coat, like a slimy seaweed. I felt the black flame of rage that was fueling me up to this point dying out and I was certain of my own fate as well. What a derogatory way to go...
I randomly thought. Despite being the black mouton, moutons of the family, I was always pride of my royal blood and I could have accepted if I was fallen on the battlefield, protecting my kingdom, but not this... Nopony will ever know where I am and my name will be associated with treachery in the chronicles, until it eventually disappears in the dust of time...
However, it seemed that certain dark mare with the scythe was avoiding me like the plague. Before my eyes closed and my mind drifted into nothingness, I saw a tall shadow towering over me, blocking out the blinding sunlight. I also heard voices, but could not understand the words; for the mysterious figures were speaking on a strange, foreign language. Then my consciousness finally gave in to the exhaustion and I fainted.
My dreams were dark and somber... I saw my brother Landslide, arguing with Whirling Abyss, but their voices were muffled so I was unable to hear the reason of the quarrel. I saw Landslide with a white mane and a crinkly face, as he gave in to the decay of time. I saw him pass away, then the château was burning... there was a familiar silhouette, illuminated par the light of the flames... the figure grabbed a sword and pierced my sister's cœur, coeur with it. I was running toward them to intervene, but my every motion was very slow, like if I was stuck in the mud... Then the vision turned even plus horrifying. The silhouette suddenly turned around and I could see its face. I recoiled in terror as I laid eyes upon the menacing mare... it was non other than I...
I felt a sudden coldness overwhelm me and the nightmare dissolved. I woke up to my own ghoulish scream and instinctively snatched the hoof above my face.
“Whoa, relax, sugar!” a masculine voice called out with a thick accent.
It was a stallion, with manteau black as night. He was placing a cold, wet sheet on my forehead, that's where the icy feeling originated from in my dream. I narrowed my eyes and waited for a few secondes until they adjusted to the dark. I've spotted three other stallions along the one beside me; they were all sitting around a small camp fire, warming their hooves. The sight of the flames calmed me down and my breathing decelerated a little. Until I looked at their faces...
“Easy, there...” the stallion a dit on a soothing voice, but I could not help to wince when he touched my forehead to remove the sheet.
“Who are you?!” I exclaimed as I stared him down. “What are you?”
At first, I thought they were ponies like me, but when I took a closer look, I realized: I've never seen such creatures before. Based on their body structure, they were equines at least, yet their appearance was utterly different. Their body was skinny, yet sturdy with a dark black coat. They had a short, but sharp, pointy horn and a pair of transparent, green wings. Their eyes were covered par some sort of sky-blue membrane, causing the iris to remain invisible. They had beetle brows; a sharp ledge above their eyes, while two white fangs were sticking out from their upper jaw, but the most interesting part was their hooves: they were full of circular holes of different sizes.
“Well, first of all, we're the ones who saved your life!” the strange stallion replied with an offended look. "You're very welcome!"
Yet it was quite difficult to read from their expressions, they always seemed apathetic and that blue membrane gave their eyes a glassy, lifeless look. And that accent... I have an ear for languages and I speak several, including ancient ones, that nopony speaks anymore, but I've never heard anything like that accent before.
“I meant no disrespect...” I a dit on a weak voice. “I apologize... but I've never encountered such ponies like you...”
“We're not ponies!” my savior declared resolutely. “We are the Equus Insecta! But we prefer the name some ponies call us: The Changelings.”
Equus Insecta, the race otherwise known as the Changelings