The EverFree forest has many, many secrets not even the wise princess of the Sun, Celestia knows... But amongst those ancient and forgotten legends, is one of true horror, where there is no hope of escape nor salvation from the Damned...
Once, in a thousand years, the dead WILL rise and feast on the living to expand their ranks. Poor Applebloom was the first to fall to the horde from the deepest Dark. Can the Element of Honesty, Applejack, and the king of Darkness, Link, silence the legends and undo Fate's Judgement?
Only their undying lust for Vengeance, and the will to survive the terror of the Bloody Hooves will see them safely to the other side and on the path to redeeming the lost soul of Applebloom. Both friends will need to rely on the might of the dark lord and the resilience and strength of Applejack, to reach the old castle of Thornador.
We wait in hiding, we lie in wait.
We are so many yet so few...
The work is started and never done,
Yet there's no yearning for the calm.
-Vader – We Wait
Knowledge not information grants transformative power.
There are as many left hand paths as their are us-stars.
The extension of existence to a further level of being.
By powers of the Set that releases from the thrall.
-Vader – Xeper
Ground is trembling, severe stench engulfs,
Fear possesses the weak being you are...
With convulsive tremble of darkness,
our legions move, we are the horde...
We are the horde!
Brutality unseen before.
Feeble human, on your knees to die!
We are the horde!
We bring the suffer.
We are the horde.
Yes, we are!
-Vader – We Are The Horde
"Applebloom! Applebloom! Where is that silly filly...?" A mare with a rancher's hat, blonde mane and orange colored body looked about. She bore a worried set of emerald eyes, searching about for the filly in question.
It was dark out, and dangerous to be outside at this time. Equestria was soon to be at war with nations beyond the seas in all four directions. Monsters have been rising from cursed earth, such as the EverFree Forest. Apple Jack walked along side this forest, cold winds and stenches fouler than any pig-pen kept her weary, but her younger sister was no where to be seen and she was not going home without her.
She could vaguely hear the monsters that already walked in the forest at night before this sudden change in the world stir. Manticores and Timberwolves would growl or howl in the distance every now and then as she tread quietly along the outskirts.
So many legends surrounded the everlasting mystery of the forest itself, legends and myths older than the dual rulers' legacy itself. Tales of zombified ponies haunting the lands once every hundred and one years, claiming any foolish enough to walk the forest floors in the dead of the night as their own to feast upon and enlist to their unknown ranks.
Then there was Ponylore of hidden villages seemingly a paradise, where no problems were had and all the ponies lived in total harmony, much like Ponyville has for the last millennium before this change. And His arrival.
Apple Jack felt uneasy about this all, war was coming and the princess had summoned some odd looking creature to help her fight it back. He commanded some thousands more like him, all willing to go to war for Equestria, and their rewards were unknown. The only ponies that know He is here in this world is herself, her five other friends, Applebloom, the royal house, and the Secret Order commanded by a suspiciously familiar blue unicorn. They were all sworn to secrecy of his presence at the request of the two princesses by his own condition, He didn't want the world to know He was here.
He kept his army hidden from the country as best as he could, concealing them in the Badlands to the West of Canterlot, the lands the Ancient Order called "Western Ra". Nopony lived out there in those scorched lands, riddled with deserts and molten landscapes. The sand was blacker than Luna's night skies, and it is said hideous devils banished to Tartarus would escape the Place of Sin and reside in those black expanses. No pony goes anywhere near that sector of Equestria's border, so she had to hand it to Him for being smart about where to put that big black army of his, but it put his forces at risk of attack from demonic beings. The only flaw of that plan, but one he had to accept.
Applebloom took a liking to Him when he first showed up, it made Apple Jack worry. That filly got it in her stubborn head that she could get a cutie mark by joining the royal army of Canterlot, it didn't help when He came by with his army on his way to that secluded part of the country. Applebloom tried to run off with him, but He dragged her back to Sweet Apple Acres.
Apple Jack feared her younger sibling had run off to chase her dreams of achieving a cutie mark, no matter what it was, before her time. She was so impatient about getting her own, it sometimes infuriated her and her older brother.
A distant moan that could only be described as demonic or otherworldly echoed beyond her sight into the deep shadows of the cursed wood. Apple Jack's hooves began to tremble in fear for her sister...what could of happened? She hoped to Celestia she had not gone into the forest.
'Gosh, Ah wish Link was here to help me with that filly...'
"Go back to your sheets, and be safe where your older sister sleeps..."
"Zecora? What in the hay is wrong with your voice?"
"Leave this place, for a second chance will not be yours to take." A strange zebra warned in a dark tone, almost whispering the words. Her back was facing the filly, who stood there with a worried look on her face. The filly stepped closer, fearful for her friend. She reached out with one hoof and turned Zecora's head towards her.
Applebloom screamed at Zecora's eyes. They were black, with only a red dot to show where she was looking. The blackness of her orbs seemed to ooze out onto the zebra's face, adding to the horrifying image. Zecora's expression remained blank, and her voice continued to sound like it was caught within space time itself, giving off an echo of some kind.
Applebloom took a step back, quivering in fear. But a sudden surge of determination silenced her dying desire to take a shortcut through the wood. She had waited for too long to get her cutie mark, and her wish to be the first to set an example for her fellow crusaders gave her strength to steady her heart beat.
"Ah don't know what's going on here, Zecora, or if this is some kinda joke y'all are trying to play on me, but Ah ain't going to fall for it!"
Zecora's blank stare did not change, nor did the zebra move. Feeling uneasy again, Applebloom gulped in an attempt to swallow her growing fear.
"S-say...does the f-forest really have a s-shortcut to that d-desert place, 'W-Western Ra'?"
The more Zecora stayed quiet, the more Applebloom's resolve subsided. Finally, the corrupted zebra nodded slowly.
"Beware, little mare...The spirits of the forest haunt tonight wielding iron might. With lusts to taste...Anyponies face."
With her question answered, and that chilling warning, Applebloom started to trot around her friend who merely stared blankly at her as she approached the forest. Applebloom stopped before she put one hoof in, analyzing the warped trees and the dark, ominous design of the wood itself and how it seemed to barricade itself in endless pine and vine. A cold breeze repositioned the limbs of the trees, the whole forest in her sight moved under the force. Leaves bellowed about in the invisible waves, guiding her towards the road to which she desired to walk, almost as if the shadow of the forest itself beckoned her in.
With great hesitance, she stepped in. As she walked the path through the woodland, the outskirts disappeared from behind her as great oaks and dozens of poisoned vine appeared silently behind her. She had been sealed within the woods, there was no going back. Zecora continued to stare at the forest, on the outside, nothing had changed. Only Applebloom disappeared from her sight.
Fire lashed about wildly in the black desert, thousands of tents were situated around one larger than the others. Next to the enormous camp was a stone statue of an Alicorn bearing close resemblance to Celestia herself, it stood a few hundred feet tall, enough to dwarf a full-sized cathedral. The stone was old, very weathered and half buried beneath the dark sand. Another one stood in front of this one, bearing close resemblance to Nightmare Moon, it was just as old and sodded as the statue of Celestia. On the base where the sand did not cover, the story of the battle that took place an entire millennium ago was inscribed.
Soldiers marched to and fro on routes, obviously patrol squads. Torches were lit along side a ten foot wall to keep intruders out, archers stood at attention as their emerald eyes watched the horizons for any sign of movement. A large gate made of some wood the soldiers drug from afar allowed for entry and exit of the camp, but was guarded heavily by knights.
One large pole stood next to the larger tent, high atop the steel pipe was a great flag, black as the night with a golden triangle symbol stitched in the middle. It resembled three triangles put together to make a larger one, it was torn and had many holes in it, showing proof that it was a battle standard.
The hot desert wind played with the flag, licking it from side to side and smacking it against the rope that bound it to the pole. Below, in the large tent with knights guarding the entrance, a tall man dressed in the same black armor as his soldiers but with a long black hat that resembled a tail hanging off his head sat at a simple table, littered with dusty old books that seemed aged as much as the statues outside. The man read as many words from as many pages as he could, fascinated by the writings of their ancient world.
His menacingly ghostly white eyes scanned the images and texts, hungrily taking in the ancient knowledge. He read of the oldest tales long forgotten to these pages, all of which were sealed in the temple he and his men had investigated some days ago. This was their bounty, well, part of it. More important things had been found, but to the king, knowledge was more valuable than any other item.
He remained silent, listening to the steady and ominous march of his troops and the cackling of the fire lands ever aflame to the west of his camp. It was uncomfortably warm, driving him to remove his chest plate and upper tunic.
Times such as this made him wish he was as numb as his troops were, their nerves were totally dead. It's what made them the perfect fighting force, their formidable resistance to pain and total loyalty to his will.
His sweat dripped on the table as he flipped to another page.
'The Legend of the Bloody Hooves...'
"Bloody Hooves, Bloody Hooves; bear you ill, trapping all who walk their grill. Creatures of the forest rising to admonish, to dethrone the undead that stalk those who fear. Living wonders that must be plundered, fall to sin of the greedy grins, for the Bloody Hooves shall eat living meat to sate unquenchable means..."
The paragraph was most intriguing, and the picture of a pony being ripped limb from limb by two shadows with hungry evil eyes.
"Victims of this death will rise with a new breath. Snatch and sneer all that revere the fallen, to corrupt and mutate to a new being."
A gust of wind and a low moan suddenly attacked the tent with a fury not seen in the natural world. The knights patrolling the site became alert to the evil winds, the king's tent shook from the force of it. As the men became alert, the king ignored the phenomenon whirling about him. But as quickly as it came, it vanished.
A female soldier, dressed in heavy armor bearing the symbol rank of General stepped into the tent. Her hair was golden, kept in a pony tail much like her sisters in the class, but a long tattoo of a dragon starting above her right eyebrow and disappearing below her neck stood out. Her armor, very similar to the standard which resembled the king's had a slicker shape and her shoulder blades bore the form of black fire. Her sword with ruby embeddings, resting on her left shoulder much like her brothers and sisters would, glinted in the torch-light. The king did not notice her, he continued to read out loud.
"Manifested through the blood of the damned, the Bloody Hooves rise to the one hundredth first year of Moon Mare's Judgment. No root of eternal curse to sever, unholy ground the force behind their waver. Unveiled by the rise of Evil from yore, revelation of the coming End of the world. Bound by holy seraphs, gods of old, yield no mercy for flanks marked triumphantly of gold. Sick heterosis, taste unfortunate flesh to sustain history in blood..."
The general had been listening to the king's readings, waiting patiently for his acknowledgment of her presence. He raised a hand to her, giving her the signal.
"My lord, the healers have sensed a great evil presence emanating from your tent, this has been confirmed by the unholy gust just moments ago."
"Additionally, I've come to inquire about new orders."
"Change the troop shift, refresh the line, and send a patrol towards the east and make sure none of the ponies are getting too curious."
"What of that green, lime colored pony, Ms. Lyra Heartstrings, who seemed so fascinated by our anatomy?"
The king stopped reading for a moment, looking up at his tent wall in a disturbed fashion. He slowly turned his head towards his general, a serious stare meeting her own cold military glare. It was still a shock that one pony had somehow tracked his entire army beyond the boundaries of the Pony Kingdom. If they hadn't captured her, she could have been killed by something lurking in the hot sands, if the desert didn't end her first.
"Keep a tight watch on her, and do not let the guards leave her alone. Make sure the brig she is locked in is tight and the keys kept on your person at all times!" He commanded with sharp pointing gestures of his index finger.
As the king went back to reading, the general remained. She hesitated, standing still and shifting uncomfortably. The king glanced up at her briefly before returning his silver gaze to the book.
"What is it, Valkyrie?" He stated, rather than asked.
"...Sire, if I may be so bold, should not we be marching a legion of troops towards Forbidden Peek?"
The king grunted in thought.
"Not quite yet. I'm in the middle of a search for something important."
"Exactly what is it you seek in these old books, sire?"
"Knowledge, of this so called 'Ancient Tribe of Saporia'."
"And you believe this 'ancient tribe' is the source of the Equestrian's problems and the cause of disharmony in this world?"
"Yes. All of the legends that speak of monsters and the deepest evils of Tartarus revolve around the influence of the Saporians. Take this legend for example; the Bloody Hooves." The general stepped closer and looked into the book, reading some of the legend and analyzing the pictures as she listened to her king.
"They were created by a banished family that drowned in the deepest gorge of blood, the family desired nothing more than bringing horrors to reality and eclipsing this world in a drape of shadow. Their pure malice and destructive hate gave them the will to return from death and set events into motion that could not be stopped once started. Eventually, their power had consumed the entire tribe, turning the race into an armada of necromancers and sorcerers that used their power to bestow curses across the lands and raise the most unspeakable of terrors. All for the sake of bringing Hell into this world of Life."
"They obviously failed." The general noted. The king nodded, opening another book and flipping to a page lying somewhere in the middle of the many pages.
"It says here that the tribe was defeated by the uprising of the other races, namely the Pony Kingdoms wiped out the tribe's hordes and sent the odd creatures they became through their foul craft into the deep cores of the world. Sealed by the very power they held. Celestia's oldest ancestors led the revolt against the Saporian Hordes."
"...The Saporians seem...human." Her noting was confirmed by pictures of twisted humanoids leading an army of demons just about to clash with the pony infantry in the book.
"They are humans. The only human race that existed in this realm. Much like the nature of Humans, they were gifted power and misused it. Now they are rising again, and all the horrors their will has touched is answering their unholy call. Equestria did not know evil until the corruption of the Saporian Tribes began to spread like wildfire."
"Does the princess know about these old legends?"
"Likely not, otherwise she would have been less eager to enlist us. Either she doesn't know, or she prefers not to remember. That might explain Ms. Heartstring's knowledge of our kind. ... Bring her to my chambers, I wish to ask her a few questions."
Placing her right hand over her heart, and her left behind her back, she bowed. With a whirl of her decorative ranking cape, and a graceful twirl on her armored heel, she left pushing through the heavy drapes keeping the sand storms from drowning the inside of the tent in dust. Link looked up, his Triforce mark was glowing brightly, reacting to his senses. He knew he was meddling in things most dangerous to meddle in, but he needed to know what he was up against.
The king read along the lines, searching for anything he needed to know should the cause of this whole war be the Saporians. He squinted at the words, there was not much to read about, but what little he gathered made the Saporians seem to be the root of all evil lying dormant in the crust of this world.
"Blackest will, darkest hearts. No souls to burn, nor spirits to charm. Marinate in Forbidden Arts, written in bloody ink...The Ancient Evil awakens, that which wishes to feast."
From nowhere, a horrendous force struck the king's cranium, taking him by surprise and sending him aflight and through his tent. He landed outside, his head colliding with the pole and knocking him unconscious. Wooden crates and supply boxes fell on top of his lifeless body as his tent was suddenly flung skyward.
It was too quiet, there wasn't a noise made at all, except those of her hooves stepping on the gravel path to the desert world. Her heart was racing, she was so close to breaking wreck and running home, the fear was overwhelming. She felt watched, marked by something unspeakable, her worst nightmares would not match the horror she felt.
Tears had stained her face, but her resolve remained as her exterior broke under the might of intimidation. The forest was pitch black, the only light coming from the moon which was surrounded in clouds, purple and sickly.
There were no howls from the Timberwolves, nor the Manticores, they had disappeared so suddenly... Something must be wrong to drive them off in such a hurry. Something truly more terrifying than they were. It took allot to drive the EverFree forest into total silence, whatever walked these woods tonight was obviously something worth being afraid of.
Applebloom really regretted this all, the fear she felt was growing so strong, she was almost numb and her strength seemed to drop as her steps grew more shallow. If only she had known the forest was being haunted by something worth avoiding, she would of gone home. But Zecora's cryptic rhymes confused her greatly, the only thing that made much sense was the final warning, but she was too stubborn to give up on her quest for a cutie mark.
Something told her she would regret this. Very soon.
It reeked here, something awful that turned her stomach upside down was rotting somewhere close by. That smell had been pervading since she stepped hoof into this woodland. As if the dead were following her, watching her every move as that heavy feeling of her being stalked had. She wanted to look behind her, to see if anything was there, but her fear kept her from giving in. She didn't want to see what was hiding in the trees.
The wind had picked up, lifting the dead leaves up and pushing her onward... The moon was almost overshadowed by those unnatural clouds overhead. The trees grew menacing, seemingly growing faces of their own, horrifying expressions and malformed shapes. Everywhere she looked, a tree was staring lifelessly back at her. She had become the center of attention now.
The wind began to whirl around her, wrapping its cold grasp around her small form. She shuddered, but sweat from the excess adrenaline pervaded, making her colder against the coming cool. It had dropped in temperature across the woods. Shadows seemed to move in the darkness, shapes she was not familiar with shifted back and forth, in and out of sight, just barely avoiding the little moonlight.
Applebloom whimpered, she wanted Apple Jack right now, her older sister knew how to reassure her and calm her fears. Or Big Mac, he could protect her against anything that wanted to hurt her.
But they weren't here, and they probably wont come.
Apple Jack lowered her head. Her search for her younger sister was all for not, not a single trace of Applebloom could be found. She shuffled on, barely containing her worry for the filly, praying to all holy in the world that she was safe and sound.
"Apple Jack! You must not lurk here, for tonight is the worst of Years!"
The workhorse stopped, looking around to see Zecora galloping towards her.
"Zecora! Have you seen Applebloom? Ah've been looking for that lil' filly for hours now!"
The Zebra came to halt next to the orange pony, shaking her head. She had been in a trance since nightfall, she remembered nothing of her encounter with the filly. Whatever had held her to its will had been disturbed and left her, going deeper into the woods. She felt horrible since she woke, her insides were moving while she had been possessed. Her first action was vomiting her supper into the bushes before the realization of what had happened struck home.
"I have not seen the Apple you seek, but heed my words for your safety is weak: This year, a great omen has come, bringing darkest whispers upon this listener. Ancient tales from oldest times have come to life, bearing the will of evils long buried by light. Nopony must linger here, for they will become prey of terrors near..."
Apple Jack snorted in anger.
"Ah don't care what's out there, Zecora. Ah ain't leaving without Applebloom! If y'all know anything about that filly, y'all best be tellin' me."
"I have not seen the filly you seek since Tuesday of last week. If she has entered the forest, her fate may be most goriest."
Apple Jack's determined face grew one of horror. She tried to gallop around Zecora, but the zebra held her back with both hooves.
"Ah can't just leave her in there! Let me go, Zecora!"
"No! You must not disturb these woods, you life will be lost if you would! I will search for Applebloom, but you must pray that she is not already doomed..."
With that, Zecora entered the forest in a full gallop, Apple Jack was about to follow her in anyway, but vines and tree limbs stretched before her and sealed the entrance off. There was no way she could enter now.
Tears of frustration fell, in fury, Apple Jack bucked at the oak that stood in her path. It barely affected it. Again, she struck the thickly bark, but to no avail.
Zecora was trapped in there. And possible Applebloom. There was nothing that could be done now.
*Go, Apple Jack, search Ponyville until I get back.* Zecora's voice called from no where.
Not seeing much of a choice, the distraught pony galloped off towards Ponyville in the hopes her sister was safe and sound in the confines of the town.
The whole camp was in an uproar, something invisible was attacking the troops. Soldiers swung about, trying to strike something while retaining their discipline. Nearby, the king's eyes shot open, with a growl, he lifted himself up off the sandy hill his tent stood on and looked about. He brought a hand up to his head where a nasty bump had formed.
The war cries of the soldiers caught his ears as he witnessed a horde of creatures with skin blacker than the abyss he crawled up from approached the gates. In the middle of the camp, a few battalions were fighting something his vision could not see.
It must have been a spirit summoned by the chants he read from the books. He did not know that by reading from the book would release a phenomenon so powerful. Nothing he could remember was strong enough to break through the invisible barrier his dark powers had formed around him, powers he still had not regained full control of since he was freed from his thousand year imprisonment. But he had strength enough to do what was needed.
Inhaling sharply, he arched his back as he reached down and summoned his shadow energy to enhance his senses. A roar ignited his magic as his body gave a quick jerk and tensed. His eyes grew brighter in their silver glow, and his face twisted to malice.
His vision grew shallow to the world. He looked to where that invisible force was attacking and foresaw a giant, nightmarish creature floating closely to the ground, it's head looked like a bison head, huge horns striking the sky with sharp tips, and a face more long than wide. The mouth was vertical, filed with many short, hideously malformed teeth.
'A Defunctoss. A demon spirit with the power of a necromancer...It must have escaped Tartarus, and raised a brigade of servants.'
The king drew his sword, and summoned his armor to him. His chest plate and tunic appeared in a flash, firmly locking on his chest. He dashed forward, towards the Defunctoss. Coming into range of what he had in mind, he stopped and raised his sword skyward. In the dark of night, a lightning bolt struck his black blade and a large energy ball began forming with a loud hum, growing larger and louder.
The troops held their ground, shields raised and spears laced forward towards the disturbance. They had no idea what they were fighting. At the gates, the rest of the massive army stood in a phalanx formation and waited for the demons rushing towards the gates to collide with their hardened lines. General Valkyrie raised her sword and the archers readied their bows, at a viscous chop, they unleashed fire arrows into the ranks of the undead. Hundreds fell, but hundreds more kept coming.
'They wont stop until the Defunctoss is vanquished.'
With this thought in mind, and with the Defunctoss now looking around to face the king with his men following suite, he lowered the sword and thrust it towards the demonic spirit. In his vision, the energy spell collided and sent the spirit spiraling out of control and into the high walls the troops built. The force of the collision caused the wall to give under the intense pressure of the assault.
The king stepped forward, now ahead of his troops.
"It's a Defunctoss! You know what to do! Kill it and the hordes beyond our brother's shields will loose their invincibility."
The troops regrouped behind him with heavy marches, the king made a quick head count and concluded he had a full battalion behind him, fifty troops.
"Spear-Head Assault formation!" He called, at his command, the troops raised their shields against the now stirring Defunctoss, they positioned their spears forward at an arc. The king waved his hand across the ranks and the spears of the troops glowed an otherworldly red, as their eyes also glowed, giving them the ability to see the phenomenon.
"Aim for its joints, your weapons can now hurt it. Give me an opening and we'll make quick work of this annoyance."
With an acknowledging roar from his troops, the king raised his sword and charged forward, followed by the thundering battalion.
She screamed as she galloped away, behind her, two shadows with hungry eyes chomped at her heels. They were inching closer since they ambushed her. The chase had been on, her life was in danger as was her soul.
No pony could hear her shrill screaming as she ran in panic. The creatures behind her, doubling in numbers and steadily picking up speed, howled their guttural voices. Death was calling into the abyss...
The moon had all but disappeared from her sight, the path was now shrouded in a veil of darkness and everywhere Applebloom turned, could have been her grave. One wrong hoofstep and she would never rest in peace.
"There is no escape..." the voices called from afar and near. "The fates have spoken, let this place be awoken. Kill... Bring her into our ranks, with the blood of millions filling the banks..."
More of them began appearing ahead of her, trying to cut her escape off. Surviving this would be futile for the filly, the forest had sealed her inside. The vines wrapped themselves overhead, creating a barrier so that nothing could escape.
She jumped to the side, avoiding unearthly long fangs about to rip through her ribs. Feeling something bite her hind hoof, she squealed at the sharp pain. Her vision saw the creatures begin a slow approach, savoring the kill. A fit of fury masked by her terror caused her to break wreck. She reeled up and kicked whatever held her in place, breaking free but at heavy price. Her hoof had been torn open.
The world seemed to slow as the blood flowed, mouths opened wide and firm bore teeth sickly and yearned.
"Leave me alone!" she heard her own voice screech at them. The one closest seemed to give a most frightful grin, before a swift move left her lifeless with its jaws wrapped around her neck. Her heart wrenching gurgles died out in the sounds of flesh being ripped and bones being snapped.
"Bring it down!" Link called as he stabbed his sword deep into the neck of the Defunctoss, which writhed and shook in a violent attempt to throw him off.
His soldiers rushed forward, jabbing their long spears into its chest and arms, binding it in place. It let out an inhuman moan as its red eyes flashed. The animated dead at the gates trying to push their way through the main lines began pushing ten times as hard, exerting extra pressure on the troops. General Valkyrie roared orders to her troops and called for the lines to hold firm.
The king could see the Defunctoss trying to gain aid from its servants. He pulled the sword free and hissed into the ruby jewel embedded at the base of his hilt, where it met with his blade, and the sword grew more demonic, giving off a fiery glimmer. He reared it high and brought it back down, this time, plunging the tip deep into the creature's skull.
All the ties that held it broke, the soldiers were pushed back and the phenomenon began thrashing about wildly, screeching as it compulsed with each new wave of demon-smiting radiation being released by the king's sword.
Finally, it threw the king from its back, his sword landing next to him. The damage was done. With one final roar, the Defunctoss exploded with a force so strong, the army it called had been pushed from its feet. Seeing the main threat now silenced, the king turned his head to the gates where his main force continued to struggle against the now mortal dead. The general had given the order to advance, the line moved out all the while spears and swords stabbed through rotten flesh and fragile bones.
A sudden surge of unholy scent pervaded the king's smell, he turned his head to the east. Far into the distance, the outskirts of the EverFree forest could be seen. What he smelled was not the same evil he was fighting now, this was far worse.
And from the taste it gave, it was currently consuming something from the living.
His eyes widened. The power within his sword sent him the signal, the Defunctoss was summoned to distract him while this other force did its will. The spirit in his sword made an image flash before his eyes.
"Ah wanna come with y'all, and learn how to fight! Ah think it's the best way to earn myself a cutie mark!" The squeaky voice he remembered from before played in his mind.
"No..." He muttered.
"No. No! No!"
His troops began moving towards the gates to join the others in the fight against the zombified creatures, but the king stopped them. He pointed to their commander as he sheathed his sword on his back.
"You! Follow me, we move to the forest, now!"
And with that, he turned and began to push himself out through the gates. They followed him at a full charge, hacking down any dead that got in their way.
"Applebloom, hear me boom! Applebloom!" Zecora called, frantically searching for the filly in question.
The woods were disturbed, a powerful presence commanded air here, near, she could smell the scent of blood, but hear nothing but the wind of the Run. The path marked with hooves stained in blood known as Run had been freshly tread upon. Tracks most unusual to the forest dweller followed tracks of a filly.
Oh, most unfortunate. The devils she feared had risen this year in the hopes for a good feast to last another century had found a filly lost in the woods, likely Applebloom, which she hoped was not true.
"One of us..."
Zecora looked about, searching for the source to that hideous voice.
"One of usss..."
More voices, repeating the line. Chills ran through the zebra as she smelled the scent of the foreign presences that drove her from her home this night. One pair of crimson eyes peered at her through a bush before many more came.
Immediately, Zecora chanted a spell and a light-filled shield encased her. She knew they had come.
"One of us..." The voice spoke once more, black and red ponies with glowing red hooves stepped forth from the shadows, revealing their unholy forms. Their leader bore his fangs, stained with crimson liquid.
"What do you want, unholy rot?"
"Aaah, the door mare...why have you left your post?"
"I do not serve you, evil fool!"
"Now now, don't be harsh, little one. Tell us, what do you seek in these dark woods?"
"Applebloom, whose heart you shall not consume."
The creature chuckled deathly.
"...Too late, Zebra."
The devil lowered its head and grabbed something with its maw. When it lifted, Zecora felt herself shake as the lifeless eyes of Applebloom stared back. Zecora's vision grew wary, her strength seemed to fade. An invisible force was pushing her conscious away from the evils that stood before her. The last thing she could see before her mind was lost was the head of Applebloom reattaching itself to its body, and then grinning evilly.
As swift as lightning, the unholy form that had once been Applebloom shot forward and grabbed Zecora.
The blade sliced through the vines, knocking back the sinister curses keeping intruders from entering the forest. The king's fist pushed through, ripping what he could grab aside with terrifying force and speed. More swords began cutting through, and armored hands also clawed at the borders.
Link roared a blood curdling howl, answered by his troops as he resorted to blasting through the barrier to enter. With the path now cleared, he dashed in whilst his troops split up in groups of ten in a desperate attempt to find the king's target, guard her and take the filly to safety.
Passing more living vines, and slashing through limbs with might, the king heaved breath greedily to keep his body moving. He may have been immortal, but he had his limits. Unfortunately, he was all but spent due to the long run from Western Ra to EverFree. His legs ached and cramped, but he knew he couldn't rest now.
The stench of blood infested the ground, everywhere his heated boots stomped during his mad dash, a puddle of blood was sure to be waiting.
Before long, he reached the middle of the forest, the tree's had grown dark and menacing, twisted faces greeted his sight and nightmarish auras pervaded his senses. Dark forces moved all around him, either away or following. He didn't care about them, his only purpose at the moment was finding and saving Applebloom...but deep down he knew he was too late.
But be damned he would if he left these woods without the heads of those who dared to wish ill of her. He would have his vengeance. If he was left lost here, he will lay waste to these cursed lands. No deity alive but the Sheikan God of Darkness and War, Oni, knew the power he held dormant, nor what he was capable of if provoked too far.
He came to a stop. The sight before him, the very thing he feared. There, on the ground, lay what was once Applebloom. Her body tarnished, dissected into separate pieces. Eyes lost to the wild, her life destroyed mercilessly.
His right hand abruptly clasped his temple, a sharp pain struck him. He watched as the scenery changed before him; revealing all that transpired here. He watched as the filly being chased by...some kind of...shadow, gave a fight before being consumed by several creatures of Pony anatomy. His white eyes watched in painful sorrow as his powers showed him what he wished never came to be...
The death of Applebloom.
Dropping to his exhausted knees, and driving his sword into the dirt, the king's breathing grew chaotic. He moaned...he grunted. He growled,
And then he roared.