The dead stretched on the wood
Infecting groans and tears
Promise of a dead-land
Lies that burn all hope now
"I send my pain among you all
Now feel the thorns in your souls
I meet you all in promised land
Just leave your flesh and bones"
A man became a god,
Spreading words and lines...
Washing brains of sick believers.
Mortal burden like disease
Roots in hearts with the lies
Blinded crowd with no volition
Highway to the grave
Lord of thorns
Cult of the dead
Master of illusions
A path to the dead end
Lord of thorns
Flesh, blood and pain
Lord of thorns
Your slavery and shame
-Vader – Lord of Thorns
Her breath left quickly, her legs weary from the long run. Her hat hung awkwardly to the side, her tired body giving a shiver, a sign of near total depletion. High and low, she searched Ponyville for her dear sister, to no avail. Nopony had seen Applebloom after the sun had set, there was no idea that could be given to help her quest.
The worry was thick, almost sickening to the point of tears with a flow of no end.
There was only one place left, that Applejack had not checked. Twilight Sparkle's library dorm. Making quick effort to reach the great oak living quarters, Applejack painfully pushed open the door, not having any care left to knock.
Who could blame the work horse? Her sister was missing and nopony had a clue where she was. Etiquette and manners were the least of Applejack's problems, now.
"Twilight! Twilight, wake up, Ah need your help!"
Applejack galloped up the stairway to Twilight's room, shaking the lavender mare to consciousness. With a groan, Twilight came to life, wiping her eyes with a fuzzy hoof in confusion. Sighing, she looked up with a squint, meeting the gaze of an eager and frustrated Applejack. Sitting up, and looking at the clock, she held up a hoof in gesture of silence, nodding her head to a dozing Spike who slept nearby in his basket.
"AJ? What-" She yawned, "-ugh...what's the matter?"
"It's Applebloom. Ah can't find her anywhere, and Ah'm worried sick to the bones..." Applejack's voice had cracked, it was obvious to her that Applebloom was not at the library either. The only thing she could think of now was Zecora's words of a deathly and lethal evil force haunting the woods tonight, a force that would kill her if she stepped hoof inside EverFree.
Shaking her purple mane a little, and pushing her sheets to the side, Twilight stood up and quietly made her way down stairs, so as to avoid waking her number one assistant who was terribly tired from the previous day. Using her magic, Twilight proceeded to pour herself a cup of tea to help shake the effects of her sleep, taking a sip before speaking.
"Have you checked Rarity's to make sure she wasn't sleep-"
"What about the club house where Scoota-"
"Ah've been there, too..."
This was more serious than Twilight had expected it to be. She put her bowl of tea down, her eyes beginning to show worry as the more she realized the look in Applejack's own eyes were that of total terror.
"Twi, Ah saw Zecora by the EverFree forest, she warned me not to go in, said something about an old evil walking around in there and that it wasn't fit for travel! She said that the critters forced her to leave the hut!"
"You think Applebloom went into the woods?"
"Ah'm afraid so...nopony in Ponyville knows anything about her...It's worrying me sick."
"Has Zecora seen her?"
"No, she said she hadn't seen that lil' filly in a week, and that she was going into the woods to look around, see if she could find something... Twi, I don't know what to do!"
Twilight shifted her gaze to the woods. An ominous storm had covered those cursed lands with sickly, purple clouds. Lightning struck about, but it seemed the storm was frozen in place over EverFree. It was so strange, the longer she looked, the more her heartbeat began to rise in pace. There was definitely something off about it...
The Timberwolves howled in the distance, sharing their sorrows with his own. But he paid them no mind, the world around him had blacked out. All he saw, was an endless blackness that covered the ground as he sat on his knees, hands on the hilt of his sword which still remained embedded in the earth, and his head hanging down; leaning against the hilt of the Master Sword in sadness.
He had not moved since he came across her corpse, such a terrible thing that could happen to such a beautiful creature of life. What, in the name of Hell, could possible be so vile as to take the life of a child such as her?
Villainous, insidious, despicable, bastardized incarnates of devilish desire...Damn them...Damn them, and whatever could of possibly have made them do this, this...utmost treason to nature!
His mind burned with fury, no pain nor light greeted him anymore amongst the bloodiness of his thoughts. His hatred bled into his soul, piercing it with red hot stakes and spears. The hurt within his chest continued to pulse new waves of utter need for vendetta. Their deaths, whoever, they may be, would not sate his lust.
He could see it now, as he raised his weeping eyes to meet the lifeless and empty sockets where her eyes once were. Blood will be shed, bodies will be maimed, souls will be burned and their families will drown within the sheer force of his vengeful tsunami of infectious torture.
This forest will be doused by the vindictive that prevails within his mind now. His burning eyes will exhort all that had a part of this tragedy, the gaze of fury will force any enemy to their knees as he decapitates their heads and impales them upon the tree branches.
Until her death is avenged, no creature within the walls of EverFree can escape his tenacious, titan-like wrath. Nor will the Earth be subjected to peace whilst he rips it apart to find his query. Even now, his rage fueled his magic, evident by the gathering aura he felt whirling around him with a grace caught between the physical and nexus worlds. As if it combined the essence of an angel, and a demon.
The bones of his jaws were locked tight against each other, his teeth bared for all to see. With renewed purpose, and new found strength, the king unclasped his cape and laid it flat on the ground. Gingerly, he began to gather all that was tarnished, what could be regained from the scene, and placed it on the black, abyssal fabric.
He heard his men shouting nearby, on the approach. Their heavy boots crushing the woodland plants beneath their weight. He didn't need to look up at them to know they had broke formation and tossed discipline to the wind in their frantic and late attempt to find Applebloom. It wasn't their fault though, she was gone when they arrived to the outskirts, all evident by the dry blood on her rustled and ripped coat of once gorgeous gold.
His fury returned full force, unable to hold himself back any longer, Link stood with the sword of Evil's bane in his hand and using all he had, horizontally slashed straight through a nearby Oak's bark. With no hold over his anger any further, he slashed some more, tearing through the wood without mercy. Again and again, he cut down the trees around him, all the while his troops had taken a step back from him in caution. They plainly saw Applebloom's body placed on his cape where it lay on the ground next to a large puddle of dry blood.
They knew. They knew there was no chance to stop whatever mindless carnage had claimed her life.
In a show of respect, they reformed their lines. Decorative and perfect in form. As one, they beat the butts of their spears on the ground with force, and smacked their shields on their chest plates. With the thundering noise of their crescendo echoing across the woods, a sad rhythm in their beat –
– No one heard the king of Darkness, Link, cry out in fury and anguish as he ceased to destroy the woods. For now. Bottling his rage with intentions of using it to fuel his revenge.
The closer they came to the forest in their thundering gallop, the more a heavy feeling of sadness came over them, this feeling of dread and horror they never experienced before.
Twilight looked over Applejack's flailing tail, trying to catch the eyes of her frantic friend. She wondered if she felt it too; this dark, ominous emotional signal that plagued her heart and mind.
The wind was cold... If one listened closely, they could hear what would sound like an unearthly lament of desolation. Morbid thoughts coursed Twilight's mind, images of shadows with glowing eyes of crimson, matched by shark-like fangs in a sickly grin, so ravaging to the soul.
She felt a shiver cross her coat.
There was definitely something wrong with EverFree, not even it in all its oddness was ever this threatening. Further proving her thoughts, she sensed a will of a sadistic scale try to push its way into her mind, change and malform her essence to serve its wishes.
Shaking her self free of this feeling that her privacy was being invaded by an unseen, and unknown force from the dark, Twilight quickened her pace so she was almost right along side Applejack, whose worry seemed to push all other thoughts from her attention.
"AJ, don't you have this...odd feeling? Like we're galloping right into danger?"
The golden workhorse passed a frantic gaze towards the lavender unicorn, blinking momentarily in thought.
"To be honest, Twi', Ah don't really care about that right now... With the way Ah'm feeling, Ah could buck a Hydra in to next Tuesday."
Twilight's heart went out to her friend, Applebloom was always home in time for supper, she was never out late playing in the dark. Much less in the EverFree forest, not after the experience with the Cockatrice whilst under the care of Fluttershy.
They came to a stop, a sight before them that caught both of their weary breath in their throats. Laying in the outskirts of the woods, was Zecora. The zebra seemed to be unharmed, but she was also obviously unconscious.
The two shared a look, making quick to close the distance between them and their forest dwelling friend who had been searching for Applebloom, prior.
Twilight reached Zecora first, her eyes searching intently for any injuries. By the grace of Celestia, there was none, much to both Elemental wielding mare's relief.
"Zecora, wake up!"
Applejack tried, pushing Zecora over so she rested on her side instead of her back. The two mares shook their friend's body, eagerly trying to wake her. Twilight lowered her head to Zecora's chest, detecting a heartbeat, clear indication that she was alive and well.
But why would she not awaken...?
The woods serenaded its own lament in her honor, making Link's ears twitch as he picked up the notes the wind carried through the dark tree bark. His cape had been replaced on his form, no longer in need as his servants carried a spare sack in case the need for concealing something arose.
Never was it more fitting, to his mind.
The wind, as it carried the song of the EverFree forest's spirits to his ears, pushed his cape against his back, sealing his side and front from view. He looked like a large black wall with the head of a brooding man. The Master Sword hummed in his left hand, pulsing its holy energy and repelling the evil aura that had consumed the grounds around him, and the gathering phenomenon that threatened to force his wrath free and limitless.
Had it not been for the cold, the soldiers would of seen his body shake slightly in fury, rather than his lack of warmth.
'Pain...All I feel – is pain...'
He raised the Master Sword's flat to his face, the emblem of the dragon and wolf staring back at him with its fierce eyes. Closing his eyes, he prayed there was hope for her sake. For Applejack's sake, if she knew the fate of her sister, Link doubted she could continue to live with the color she carried.
As if to answer him in its own way, the Master Sword's glow grew more bright, shining with its blue energy and shunning the surrounding darkness threatening to cover the king and his troops who waited in silence for an absolution of their avenger.
Shining a path before him, the sight of Canterlot castle in the far distance. Link opened his eyes, taking notice of his loyal blade's guiding light. So long it has been since the sword answered his call. Looking beyond the jewel and the emblem of his sword, he spotted the great white castle. Narrowing his eyes to thin slits, a look of death in his eyes, he took the first step.
Sheathing their swords, his troops silently followed their king. No questions were asked of their destination, no complaining was heard. Though they had no emotions of fear, pain or anger... The lord of Darkness' determination was mutual. Their blades hungered for revenge, as did they.
However, a nagging feeling that the woods has been corrupted more so than before by the very presence that killed this night, pestered the dark lord. It slowly overthrew his mind, this need to unleash a pulse of the Master Sword's purifying energy into the soil to break this presence's hold on EverFree, flooded his instincts.
Taking a look at the bag strapped to his shoulder, beneath his right arm, Link placed the tip of the Sword on the ground. Placing his right hand briefly on the spot where Applebloom's head rested in the sack, Link raised his sword high, the tip pointing directly down. The mark on his left hand appeared, growing brighter as it influenced the Master Sword and woke its power.
Bringing all his weight down on the hilt of his sword, Link stabbed the earth beneath his feet with malice unmatched. The eerie glow of his eyes as bright as his mark, watched the tendrils of the Master Sword's energy seep into the dirt like an antidote would a poisoned wound.
The scenery changed; the trees losing their faces bearing nightmarish expressions at the might of the holy sword's aura. The vile vines wrapping all around the woodlands retreated into the depths of the tree roots, disappearing from sight. The sickly clouds above began dispersing, melting to healthier blue shades with a hiss. The grass returned to its natural green as opposed to the charred black it bore before. And lastly, the dirt lost its gray shade and returned to a proper tone of tan.
But the wind did not change, for it was beyond the king's influential reach. So long as the curse of the presence remained within the wind, he was powerless to touch it. Lowering his head in a show of surrender, the king removed the Master Sword from the earth, wiping it clean and placing it back in the sheath beneath his cape.
Returning his eyes to Canterlot Castle, the group continued on their journey through the forest with their goal to seek the guidance of a friend. For as long as their was breath in their lungs, they would not rest until the dark and ominous bells of Hell welcomed the soul of Applebloom's killer.