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Darkness and Voices My world is filled with light, it blinds me, it consumes me. Then it vanishes, leaving nothing but darkness. Darkness … and voices. I wait for a time, alone in the void. I wonder where I am. I wonder why every aspect of the world eludes me. I look but cannot see, I reach out, but cannot touch. I listen but hear nothing. There is no ground beneath my hooves, no cool touch of the wind upon my hide. No notion of up nor down. No sensation of any kind. Not even the beating of my own heart. My own thoughts seem distant. As if they are an echo of words spoken in a far away room by an unseen orator. There is nothing in my world, nothing but the voices. Cold realization hits me. The world remains unchanged, It is I that am no longer a part of it. I have no physical form. No body through which to experience it. The light stripped it away from me in a single blinding, burning, flash. Yet I still persist. Strangely, I find this knowledge comforting. For as the light stripped me of my flesh it also stripped me of its impurities. I have returned to my true form once more. I am purified. I listen to the voices, they are my whole world now. All that exists in the void that is the loss of self. I wonder briefly how I can hear them with no ears. Then I dismiss such a foolish thought. I am not alone in the void. I am the void. Ears have no meaning here because there is no sound, there is only me. I hear the voices simply because I exist. The first voice speaks. It is young, male, it quivers uncertainly. Its words suggest a statement, but its tone betrays them as a question. “It's over, mother? Nothing living could have survived that?”. There is a pause, and then a second voice. It is older, female. Calm flows through it like water through a deep river, but it is also tinged with sadness. “No, my child" The voice says. "We merely destroyed its body. The creature itself remains unhindered, unchanged. In time it will take on a new form. Once it does it will return, and the struggle will begin once-more.” “When will it return, mother” the first voice cries, “When will it return, will we have time enough to prepare?”. “I do not know, son of mine”, the female replies, “All that I know is that when it returns you must face it alone. My wounds were mortal, death has already claimed me. I am no longer of this world, but not yet of the next. Once my strength fades so shall I. No magic can change that. Not even my own”. There is another pause. I cannot tell if it is the merest fraction of a second, or the passing of a millennia. Time no longer has meaning for me, It was a facet of the body that I forged for myself, and which was stripped away by the light. I welcome this too. For an immortal being the passage of time is an alien thing, and is not unlike the sensation of falling. Falling endlessly. The voices return. The male speaks once more, its voice trembling. I imagine eyes filled with tears. Where this image comes from I cannot say, it may be a relic of the body that I once called my own. “M … Mother” it croaks, “What shall I do? I could not defeat the creature with you by my side, how can I hope to defeat it alone?” “Fear not” the female voice, the one addressed as mother, responds “For death lends me a clarity that I did not have in life. I now know the nature of the creature that we face, and I shall use the last of my strength to remake you in a form that may defeat it.” There is another pause, then the voice resumes. Its tone carries with it a sense of age and of wisdom. I chastise myself for recognizing either. “The creature is a being of pure logic: Pure order. Such a thing is death itself to those of us who live, who love, who dare to stand before the darkness and to reshape it into light. To defeat a nightmare such as this you must become its antithesis. Stand firm, my son, for the task that I give you will not be an easy one. You will be spurned by those that once loved you, that once called you prince of these lands, and you will be hated. Not merely by those that you seek to save, but by their children, and their children's children. For I shall remake you as a creature of pure chaos. Primal and untameable. They shall call you despair, discord, disharmony. They shall curse your name, and your image, down through the ages, for you will be as a plague upon them. You shall torment them even as you seek to save them from that which they think that they desire”. “And how will I know the creature when it returns” pleads the second voice “What form will it take”. “This I cannot answer” replies the mother, her voice becoming fainter as her strength wains. “But you shall know its new form as you knew its last, by the symbol of its true self: Two great stars, one consuming the other. One Star to represent the creature's false promises, and one star to represent its true nature. These stars shall be floating in a field of lesser stars, one for each of its heralds: Those who will stand beside it to bring ruination upon this land in the belief that they are saving it". There is silence, but also noise. Much is happening, but I am still weak, still disorientated. I know that a great change is taking place but I know not what form it takes. I strain against my own nothingness to perceive the world and those that remain in it. I feel the passing of the female, and then something else. Something ... abhorrent. I know not what it is, only what it represents, for it is a vileness which flows out into the world, a black cloud disrupting the order that I strove to build, seeking to undo that which I did, and for which I was slain. It is corruption and chaos given form, given flesh, given a name. It is an abomination. One voice returns. I hear the sound of sobbing, then laughter. Manic laughter that fills the world, piercing even my nothingness. Without warning light flows into the world, the darkness of the loss of self takes on a form. Colors becoming shapes. Shapes becoming object. Objects becoming … something familiar. I awaken with a start. I am lying on my bed. The sheets are tangled around my hind legs, my pillow is on the floor. My mouth is dry. I stumble out of bed and over to the mirror, using my magic to lift a glass of water off of my night stand as I go. I take a long slow drink before returning the glass to its rightful place, then I call to my assistant to see if he has prepared my scrolls for the day. My voice is horse, but he understands me, and I turn my head to hear his reply. As I do I catch sight of something in the mirror. For a moment I stand and stare in horror. I see a nightmarish figure, half dazed - or half crazed - a single bone like horn protrudes from its skull, and its unkempt mane flows over its eyes. Its tail flicks back and forth, as if swatting at unseen flies, and its hooves clatter on the ground as it stumbles unsteady. I feel its heart thumping in its chest. I hear the blood coursing through its veins. I recoil in revulsion at un-ordered thoughts wrapped in mortal flesh. Then the last of the darkness leave me and I find myself staring at my own reflection. I stand there for a moment, gazing at my Cutie Mark in the mirror as if I've never seen it before, though it has been there since I was a foal. Two stars: representing Myself and the Element of Magic, surrounded by five smaller stars: one for each of my fellow element bearers. I pause for a moment, my head still groggy and filled with sleep, and I wonder why my heart is racing, and why I had been tossing and turning during the night. I remember dreaming, but of what I cannot say. I shake off these thoughts. I leave my own inner monologue behind and turn my mind instead to the world that lies beyond the walls of my home. Its sun lifted by magic, its moon lowered by magic also. Its clouds moved to order so as to maintain balance. To maintain harmony. These things please me. For this land is well ordered, and I intend to step forth and make it more so. For order is perfection. The last remnants of my dream fade away. All I remember is that it contained darkness, darkness … and voices.