This is my submission for the Writer’s Training Grounds’ week 9 theme: write about a pony getting his/her cutie mark.
Well, this was an idea inspired by the grimdark specific prompt, of all things (and my mind being my contrary mind, it… managed to come up with a non-grimdark story…). I just glanced at it, got an idea and had to write it down. Then it kind of just took off. Of course, this is still incomplete (yet another snippet, really), as I stopped when I ran out of steam. This is totally raw, as I didn’t edit it.
Writing in first person for the first time in forever and a day was interesting.
Gogo stylized lead-in:
I once promised a friend I would share her story. A story of a filly condemned for her cutie mark and the kindness at her core. I only regret that I couldn’t record this sooner.
I awoke to the soft crackling of what would undoubtedly a wood fire. I was laying on my side, on something soft, which I would later find out was hay. I quickly became aware of my soreness, particularly in my right hind leg.
I opened my eyes to find my tangled mane blocking my view. I blew my hair out of the way and found myself staring across the floor at my scarf and hair ribbon. They were neatly folded and laid carefully upon the worn planks.
Realizing I had no idea where I was, I sat up quickly, ready to climb to my hooves when I was told to stop. There is a certain kind of fear that comes from waking up in strange places that I had not quite gotten over yet. Add to that the unfamiliar mare’s voice and naturally I leaped straight to my hooves. Of course, my hind leg gave way and all I accomplished was toppling over again.
The face of a middle aged unicorn, coat a pleasing ivory, appeared over me. Raven locks fell over one eye while the other fixed a disconcerting stare on me. I shrunk back a little, feeling my back press up against the wooden wall.
“Oh, stop being such a filly, I’m not going to hurt you. Now stop squirming and before you make your leg worse. It’s just a little mangled, that’s all. A couple days’ rest and you should be able to walk on it again. And before you ask, you wings are fine, you silly pegasus.”
I’ll admit I coloured a bit when she said that, for she had caught me in the act. But I still didn’t trust her, so awkward as it was, I checked my right, then rolled onto my back so I could check my left. Turns out she was telling the truth.
I rolled back onto my left side. The strange mare sat a few feet away, in front of the fireplace. While she stoked the fire, I worked my eyes around the room. The place appeared to be a modest sized wooden cabin, the type I’ve seen many times during my travels. There were few decorations, but that was more than made up for by the multitude of bookcases lining each wall.
I looked back at the mare and after a few moments, worked up the courage for my question, “Where am I?”
“Why, in my cabin of course.”
I raised an eyebrow, “And where in Equestria is that? And for that matter, how did I get here?”
“My apologies,” the mare stopped and looked straight at me. “One of my sentries mistook you for a bandit and knocked you out.”
My mind flashed back to that horrible creature, a bird made of rotting flesh and stained bone. With a screech unlike anything a living being could produce, it had been upon me with alarming speed. As a flyer, I was no slouch, but at the same time, I was also, and still am, not any Rainbow Dash. At some point it managed to ram my flank and the last thing I remembered was the tree canopy.
“Wait, if that was yours, then you’re…”
“Yes, the villagers call me Necromancer.”
I shrunk back and collided with the wall. Again.
“Will you stop looking at me like that? I told you I wouldn’t hurt you,” the mare narrowed her eyes for a moment.
I continued to stare, wondering if I should try to make a break for it. After a painful silence, she sighed and turned to look at the fire.
“I never wanted anypony to fear me.”
“Excuse me?” I asked, having not quite registered how a necromancer wouldn’t want to be feared.
“I said, I don’t want anypony to fear me,” the necromancer looked back at me and chuckled. “Well, except for the bandits.”
Her gaze was softer now, a sort of gentle loneliness that was almost pleading me to believe her. My mind froze for a moment. Understand that the townsponies had given me certain preconceptions of their ‘horrible, murderous necromancer,’ as they put it. Now understand my confusion when I found her little stranger, command over the undead aside, than the townsponies.
“What happened then?” I asked.
“A curious one, aren’t you? You would listen to an old mare’s ramblings?”
I looked down at my leg, then back to the mare and smirked, “Not like I have anywhere to be.”
“Very well,” she said with a smile of her own. “Early in my fillyhood, I showed a stronger than usual affinity for magic. A common occurrence in Canterlot, but in a backwater village such as mine, everypony was excited.”
I nodded, “So you were a prodigy of sorts?”
“You could say that. I was given full access to the small cellar we called a library. The first thing that struck me was that there was a surprising amount of spellbooks in there. Turns out I had a knack for magical theory and the crafting of new spells. Everypony else was confused that that wasn’t my cutie mark, but I had a goal. One that would seal my fate. You see, in such a backwater village, day to day is a little rougher than the big cities. We had bandits, disease and all kinds of natural disasters. My simple mindedness saw death as the endpoint of all that. Therefore, the solution was to find a way to conquer death. After a few years, I cast my first successful raise dead spell and earned my cutie mark.”
She turned to show me her flank. The black silhouette of a pony climbing over a small brown mound contrasted sharply against her coat.
“At first everypony flocked to me. Please bring back my son or my sister or my mother or some other relative or another. They said. Pah,” the mare scowled. “When they realized what I could do only left them with empty shells, zombies that simply looked like their loved one, they turned on me. I was thrown out of town. Shunned. Called ‘monster.’ Not even my parents would stand up for me.”
“Were you mad at them?” I asked, realizing the stupidity of my question too late.
“Of course. Who wouldn’t be? I… I thought a lot about revenge. How easy it would be to go to the graveyard. To raise an army and raze the village to the ground.”
“No. No matter how angry I was I…. I never wanted to hurt anypony. I just wanted to help… even if nopony wanted it.”