Chapter Seven: The Path Less Traveled
Apple jack proceeds forward, hearing her hoof-steps echo throughout the greatly large room. For the first time she's in a room of the castle that has light. The many torches and large chandelier would have provided enough light but also the room had very large windows that reached from one foot above the ground and continued up to what seems the be the endless ceiling having the moon light shine inside. For reasons she could not explain the eerie room provide her with a comfort she hasn't felt since she and Fluttershy where together. Then she begins to remember Fluttershy, still wandering around this living nightmare of a castle, a torn up and angry beast out for blood. With all that has happened she becomes less and less sure about the possibility that Twilight is even alive, everything else that has happened has proven her other suspicions wrong. Would this one be any different? Am I just going to come all this way to find nothing but the dismantled and unrecognizable remains of my dearest friend? Or will I be confronted with a living nightmare form of her? She takes a look back to the way she came, looking and thinking. Well it's for sure I am not going that way again, and besides that be pointless, I barely got out of there alive. She begins to look around the large room; it was designed with the most beautiful carvings that Apple Jack has ever seen. Even more luxurious then the castle in Canterlot. The carvings on the walls are amazing, the long vines with ivory leaves snaking their way down the pillars, they reach down and wrap around the edges of a large fountain, one much taller than her. The sound of the water gently running through it was calming; it reminded her of the water chutes back home. She spreads a smile as she slightly drifts to her memories of her family farm, the sun beams warming her face, the fresh air blowing gently through her hair. Home. That was her goal, if possible find Twilight and go home. There was nothing more she wanted in the entire world than to be out of that castle. She snaps out of her daze and continues to explore the room, to her this was the nicest part of the castle, but she knew that things were not over. She's just in the eye of the storm; it will soon be back on her, unleashing hell. She starts walking to one side of the room, towards a closed door. As she gets closer she sees that it's not fully closed. She peaks in and sees a hallway that is pretty well lit. Strange, has someone been here? Could it have been Twilight? She pushes the door open and walks into the lit hallway. She quickly notices the blood on the floor, confirming her suspicions. She has been through here! She leans down and places her hoof on the blood, its dry. "Darn, she was here at least this morning. But she's gone now." Looking around the hall, trying to see any other signs of Twilight, then she suddenly gets an un-easy feeling. Someone or something is watching her, she freezes in her place. Slowly she looks behind her, it's clear. Then she turns to look down the hallway. Her eyes widen in fear and shock. When she thought her fears and hardships where over, standing at the end of the hall was Fluttershy, her teeth bared blood and saliva dripping down in long wet strings from her crooked smile. She's starting to rot away, it's obvious. Her hair is nothing but a gray pinkish clump of what it used to be. Her fur is matted and covered in dirt and what Apple jack guesses is the remains of animals and other monsters. She slowly tilts her head to the side, not breaking her stare or her nightmarish smile. She lets out a small, bone chilling giggle as she starts to move toward Apple Jack. With each step Apple jack can see the struggle she has to make to continue forward. She's weak! I could get around her, or, if necessary, kill her without much effort. She thought as she gets up. As Fluttershy approaches closer Apple jack begins to conjure up some ideas. She sets down the lantern and prepares herself for a fight to the death against the twisted horror that was the remains of her friend. She takes one last look at her, looking at her now yellow-green fur, her few clumps of hair on her head, the empty sockets that once held her beautiful sky blue eyes. And with that thought of her eyes, Apple jack remembers her friend, sitting in a small meadow, singing with the animals. Not as the horrific nightmare she is now, but how she used to be. Apple jack sees that she's about to be attack and readies herself. She can still see her as she used to be, smiling with her animals, showing the world the un-known joys of pure kindness. Fluttershy jumps to attack her, she quickly turn around and kicks her with all her might. The moment her hooves impact her chest she feels the breaking and cracking of bone. She flies back a few feet and lands on her back. She lets out a scream of anger and pain, she quickly gets back up and grabs Apple jacks hind leg and lifts her off the ground and slams her against the wall. She lets out a loud gasp of pain as she impacts the wall, how can she be so strong? My ribs are surely broken to bits now. Apple jack kicks her face to make her release her from her grasp. Fluttershy stumbles back and bleeds more from her face, broken teeth fall and hit the floor, and Apple jack takes this moment to grab the lantern again and hit Fluttershy across the head, causing her to fall. With no remorse she begins to hit her more with the lantern on the head, it begins to dent and crack. Her face breaks open more with every blow, the lantern smashing her face and leaking oil on her. Her face now smashed and her body weakened, apple jack stands up and looks at Fluttershy below her. She starts to walk away when she hears Fluttershy moan and try to get up again. She looks back at her and lights her lantern, without another thought she throws the lantern at Fluttershy, the glass crack and releases the fire upon her oil covered face. Soon Fluttershy is engulfed in flames. The screams of her pierce her ears, the pure pain and agony of her death slowly brings Apple jack to tears. She hears the thud of her body o the floor and then silence. She glances over to her, now a charred and still carcass. She stares at her remains for a while. Her eyes full of tears and her heart filling heavy. She takes a deep breath, trying to gather her thoughts. Well, I guess that's it then. All that's left is me and Twilight, that is, if she's still alive. She turns away from the twisted remains looking down the hallway. "That must be where Twilight went. I'm going to get to the bottom of this. If she's alive or not." She says shakily to herself. She starts down the hall, trying to get further away from the deed she just committed. The last moments of her death keeps playing over in her head, from the scream to the last look on her face as the flames engulfed her. It causes Apple jack to be filled with more regret and sorrow. Why? Why did it have to be like this!? Why!? She collapses to her knees and her head sinks down in sorrow and pain, her tears hit the floor. Then she hears a faint sound piercing through her tears slightly. "Huh?" she stops sobbing and listens as she feels her tears slide down her cheeks. She hears it again, a little bit louder this time, a scream. And hears, "Some pony! Anypony! Help me!" she gasps in joy and quickly stands, and without thinking yells back "Twilight!"