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Story Thread: To Banish the Darkness

Feanor

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Nonono! Don't get me wrong, I love it!! Gotta have some stakes, or peeps don't gets invested.
 

OCisbestungulate

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The story carries on.

Chapter 10
To Fight The Darkness
Part One
DIE!” the voice from Pop screamed as he threw another kick at her face. She easily knocked the attack to the side, leaving him wide open. She, however, did not strike. Nor would she. The ram lost his footing and tumbled into the ground, rolling and popping back up on his hooves. A sinister grin crossed his face, but his eyes remained vacant of any emotion. “What's the matter? Are you afraid? Afraid of hurting me?” The voice that spoke was not Pop's, nor were his movements. Granted, she didn't see him move much during her time with them, but the way he fought now was far too simple. There was no training, no practiced movement. Just clumsy strike after clumsy strike. While Pop may not have the experience that his wife had, he was still married to her, and there was no way in The Hold that she was gonna let him sit around and not learn how to defend himself. Indeed, it was not Pop that Tianhuo now fought, but a shell. “Are you,” the voice continued, “a coward?

Tianhuo gave him an appraising look. “This isn't you talking, is it, Pop?” she said calmly.

He shook his head. “Of course it is! I've just decided to start serving the winning side. That's all!” he nodded his head, but his eyes remained as blank as ever.

“Is that so? Then what is the name of your daughter?” Tianhuo asked, taking a step back as he crouched low, preparing for another lunge.

“Ha! That's easy! Her name is Pom!” the ram jumped headfirst at her. As she smoothly stepped to the side, she noticed that the ram was grinning. If she had to guess, she'd wager the voice was confident it was right.

“I don't know how you know that name, but you're wrong. She's not his daughter.” Tianhuo smiled as the ram landed, then turned to charge at her once more.

“Of course she is!” it shook his head. “I told her to go look for you! I even told her to take my dogs with her to find you!”

“That may be true, but let me ask you one more question. What's the name of Pom's dog?” she asked, raising an eyeridge.

Pop opened his mouth, but stopped as his eyes suddenly flashed with a brief glimpse of light; it quickly vanished. However, he stood there for several moments, silent. He shook his head, and looked back at her. “A pointless question!” the voice blurted out as the ram lunged at her again. She stepped to the side, grabbed one of his forelegs, and twisted him onto his back. She jumped back, and smiled at him as a small hunch hit her.

“Tell me about Pom.” Tianhuo said as one would say to an acquaintance on the street, rather than to an opponent in the middle of a fight, in the middle of a burning forest.

Pop paused again, another flash of light filling his eyes, this time it lasted for a brief moment. “DIE!” the voice screamed, flailing the ram's legs as it tried to right itself.

“When did you meet Pom? How long have you known Pom? Do you like Pom? Pom, Pom, Pom.” she asked her questions with a growing sense of confidence swelling in her chest, and nearly sang those last three words. It was not like her to act like this in combat, but this was hardly a fight.

His eyes began twitching and his head began shaking violently. It was clear that there was something going on in his mind. It was then that she got an idea. Lifting her head up, she let out a sharp whistle. She was unsure if it would work, but if it did…

“I-I,” the voice struggled to say, “I will...” Pop's whole body began shaking, and he stared at her with a terrible intensity. In his eyes she could be a powerful struggle unfolding. What exactly was happening she was unsure, but she guessed that whatever had taken control of Pop was losing.

Then his dogs came crashing into the clearing, with poor Pom in tow.

Pop's burning gaze shot behind him at the noise, then his whole body suddenly went very still.

“P-poppy?” Pom's terrified voice was barely audible, but it was audible enough.

Pop suddenly thew his head back and a terrible noise suddenly erupted from his mouth. His hooves flew to the sides of his head, and he began rolling and convulsing on the ground. “I. WILL. NOT-the voice screeched, then Pop let out a terrible scream as dark magic suddenly exploded from his body. It filled the whole clearing, blinding everyone inside, and filled the whole area with a deafening noise like the winds of a hurricane. It swirled around them, picking up loose ash and began rising up into the air. All around them, Tianhuo saw the flames that consumed the forest begin feeding into the swirling energy as the sky became darker and darker. She could hear screams of anger in the tempest, as well as words of wrath, but they were lost in the howling winds. She heard two voices, fighting, struggling with each other.

“PAPPY!” Pom cried, tears flowing freely from her face.

The darkness that surrounded them suddenly burst outward, filled the sky, and then vanished, taking the unnatural flames with it. Pop, who stood in the center of it all, swayed slightly, and then fell over.
 
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OCisbestungulate

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Chapter 10
To Fight The Darkness
Part Two
“PAP-” Pom shouted, running to his side, but stopped as Tianhuo caught him before he hit the ground.

“Pop?” she asked, looking down at him. His head was facing the ground, causing it to be out of sight.

“It was a trick question...” he coughed, “She doesn't have any dogs yet.” he lifted his head feebly and smiled at her.

“PAPPY!” Pom shouted, running to him and hugging his head.

“Easy Pom!” he winced as she wrapped her forelegs around his head, “I just finished being possessed! That sort of thing causes a huge headache, you know?”

“Sorry!” Pom said as she let go and sheepishly backed off.

“I didn't say stop.” he winked. Pom grinned and hugged him once more.

Tianhuo gently set him on the ground. “Let me guess, it wa-”

“Goat-boy. You guessed it.” Pop nodded.

Pom wiped at his face, and let out a startled shout as she revealed a dark mark on his face. “W-what's that?!”

“Is it still there? Huh. Oh well.” Pop shrugged.

“Are you not worried?” Tianhuo asked, slightly puzzled that he would be so casual about it. Granted, by this point she shouldn't be even slightly surprised, but given everything that just happened, she wasn't exactly thinking straight.

Pop shook his head. “Either it'll go away, or I might be able to ask an old friend of ours to see if she can get rid of it. Either way, I'm more worried about my wife than this.” he glanced around at the now still forest that surrounded the ruins of their home.

“What happened here?” Tianhuo asked.

Pop let out a sigh. “Pom, help me up, would ya?” he asked, reaching out a hoof to her. Pom grabbed his hoof and tried to lift him, but she was simply too small to do so. Pop smiled as she fell back and landed on her rear. “Don't worry about it. Can you help?” he asked as he looked up at Tianhuo. She nodded, and lifted him to his hooves.

He promptly collapsed.

“Careful!” Tianhuo shouted, catching him.

His eyes nearly rolled into his head for a moment and his vision became distant for a second. “Oh … oh wow. I … I can't stand.” he said. “I feel, so weak.” he said as his breathing began to become heavy and labored.

“Easy Pop.” Tianhuo said, laying him on the ground. “Just take it easy. Can you talk?”

Once prone, his breathing became more steady, though it was still heavy and labored. “Yeah, just … just leave me here for the moment.” he let out another sigh. “Wow. Apparently being possessed takes a lot out of ya.” he took a deep breath as he continued, “Okay, so, I don't really remember too well what happened, but it went something like this: I was lying on the ground in our home thinking about what color to paint the walls, when all of a sudden the door flew open and my house was suddenly filled with longma, my unconscious wife, Pom, and my two dogs. I was gonna ask what happened to her, but after I got one look at her...” he said, casting a glance up at Tianhuo, who turned her head in shame. He closed his eyes for a second, then continued, “Well, I guess I was right. Anyway,” he opened them again, “they put her next to me and started asking me what to do. I wasn't too sure, on account of having never had to deal with wounds like that before. I mean, sure, I've dragged her unconscious body back home more than once, and sure I've treated everything from deep cuts to broken bones, but never serious burns or anything. But that's not the point. You see, just as I was figuring out what to do to get her up again, the door suddenly exploded, and the whole room suddenly got really dark. I shouted at Pom to take my dogs and go find you, and she got outta there faster than a bat on fire. Anyway, next thing I know, there's like, twice as many longma in the house. There was fire everywhere and the walls exploded; there was smoke everywhere! And then I saw this giant shadowy door thing open up at the edge of what used to be our home. I saw all of these dark chains fly out of it and start wrapping around just about anything that moved, an' started draggin' them into it. It was somehin' else I tell you! Never seen anything like that before. Then again, can't say I'd seen a bunch of longma with a big ol' black mark on their faces before either.”

“Wait,” Tianhuo held up a hoof to interrupt him. “You said you saw Longma that bore black marks?”

Pop gave a weak nod. “Yep. 'bout half-a-dozen of them I think.”

Tianhuo felt a surge of hate fill her, but she simply turned her head and spat on the ground. She needed to stay in control. “I see. What happened next?” she asked, looking down at him again.

“Well, after about half the longma got drug into that door, goat-boy suddenly walked out of it. I saw him take a look around, then walked right up to my wife.” he said sadly.

“Did you stop him?” Tianhuo asked.
Pop shook his head. “I wanted to. But when the walls blew out, the ceiling caved down and pinned me. So all I could do was watch as he walked up to her, and dragged her over to the door. Well, he sure tried. Scrawny as he is, he had a tough time of it.” he chuckled. “But her got her to that door all the same...” his voice had suddenly become heavy. “And, well, he shoved her into it.” he paused for several moments, then continued. “I shouted, I did. Shouted 'No!' and all of that. It was then he walked up to me and said, 'I don't know who you are, but I know we could use a new ram to go alongside of our soon-to-be new sheep in our ranks.' He said it with a smile too. Once he got close, I saw that he had this necklace thing on that glowing nice and bright, as well as his really ugly face. But that's pretty much the last thing I remember.” he shrugged, slightly.

Tianhuo tilted her head curiously. “What happened?”

“Well,” Pop touched his face lightly, “I'm guessing it has to do with this. I'm not too sure, but I think I remember hearing him say something, then he put a hoof on my face. I remember a lot of pain, som-” his eyes suddenly went wide and what what little color remained on his face drained. “I-I, No! No! NO!!” he shouted, his voice nearly hysterical.

“Pop!” Tianhuo cried, and grabbed his head with her hooves. “Calm down, look at me! You're safe now! Pop!”

His eyes shot about madly, and when they finally rested on her, they trembled and she could see panic in his eyes. “I-I don't want to remember!” he said, yanking his head out of her hooves and shaking it.

“What happened to you? What did he do to you?!” she asked, trying to grab his head once more.

“Leave Pappy alone!” Pom's tiny, desperate voice shrieked. Tianhuo froze, mid-movement. She turned her head to look at the tiny ewe, who looked as though she had just done something she deeply regretted.

“I'm...” she paused, her pride and her heart suddenly battling for control over what to say next. Her heart finally won. “I'm, sorry. I didn't mean to do this. I didn't mean to do any of this. I'm so sorry...” she hung her head in deep shame, and turned away from the two of them. “You did so much for me and my troops, and then this happened. It's all my fault, all of it.”

“Don't give yourself too much credit.” Pop said. “Besides, there's one thing you can do to fix it all.” She turned back to look at him. He was smiling at her. “Go find my wife.”

“You're right.” Tianhuo nodded. “Blaming myself will do nothing. I've got to fix what I can. But where do I even begin?” her gaze became distant as she milled over everything in her head.

“Did goat-boy leave any clues? Did he say anything? I wouldn't be surprised if he said something that was supposed to be evil sounding.” Pop shook his head disapprovingly.

“He did say something. Something about 'Lava burning' and a dragon feasting.” she said, putting a hoof to her chin.

“Lava burning? A dragon? What in the name of the proph-” Pop began to say as Tianhuo's eyes suddenly shot open.

“They're attacking Houshan! And they're going to do it tonight!” she shouted.

“Huh? How do you figure that?” Pop asked.

“Houshan is in a volcano, and we Longma are half dragon! So it must be Houshan they're talking about!
“What about Houshan?” The private asked, finally arriving to the scene and landing next to her commander.

“Private?! Where have you been?!” Tianhuo shouted at her.

The young private's eyes shot open and she saluted. “I was attempting to find my way here, Sir! We were waiting outside of the forest, waiting to see if you were going to signal for us to come in, when suddenly the dogs bolted into the forest with the young ewe lamb still riding them. I tried to follow sir, but I lost them. Then there was this explosion or something of dark magic, then this bull attacked me. I only just now finished subduing him, Sir!”

Tianhuo nodded. “I understand. That said, I have reason to believe that an enemy force will be attacking Houshan tonight. I need to get back as fast as possible. Pop, how far are we from there?” she asked, turning to the ram in question.

Pop looked up, as though thinking. “Well, I'm not too sure, but if I had to guess, maybe a day or two of walking? Longer? Then again, that's if a sheep was walking, and somehow didn't stray. Oh, and knew how to get to your home. After all, it's not like there's a convenient road between our homelands.”

“Do you know how to get there?” the private asked him.

Pop shook his head. “Nope. Remember, until you guys showed up, Pam and I had never seen longma before. I'm just guessing based on how long you guys told me you'd been flying before you got ambushed. It was close to half a day from here where that happened. So...” he shrugged again.

“Then if I head out now, I might be able to make it by sundown!” Tianhuo shouted.

“In your condition? Didn't Pam lay the smackdown on you? I mean, I'm assuming that she did. No way she'd end up like that without dishing out some punishment herself. You sure you should do this?” Pop asked, raising a worried eyebrow.

“There is no question. Houshan, and her Empress, come before all. We are Houshan, and Houshan is us. Private!” she turned to her and saluted. “You will not be able to make it to the capital before nightfall. Therefore, you are to stay here with Pop and Pom and keep watch over them. With Pop like this, should the enemy come again, they well be defenseless. Therefore, I'm giving you a direct order: Hide them, and stay with them until either I, or someone else from the Empire comes to retrieve you.”

“But didn't you just say that protecting your home is first priority?” Pop said, glancing between the two of them.

“It is.” Tianhuo said.

“But she is right.” The private nodded. “By the time I would arrive, the battle would most likely be almost over. I mean, those two dogs run faster than I can fly. And right now, you two are defenseless. So, here I must stay.”

“Stay hidden. I'll be back with your wife!” Tianhuo gave Pop a salute, then launched herself into the air.

“It's a trap! You know that right?!” he shouted after her.

“Of course it is! But I have to help all the same!” she shouted back as the flames of her wings grew much larger, and she flew out of sight.
 
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OCisbestungulate

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Quad posting.
Anyway, here's Ch-

Chapter 11
To Know The Mind of Darkness

Ziege flew back and smashed into the wall behind him. He crumpled to the floor of the small stone chamber he was in, and put his hooves to his splitting head. His head was intact, but the sensation of being violently ejected from the mind of a host, and slamming hard into a stone wall, made it feel as though it might split all the same. He groaned in agony as his world became nothing but pain for several moments, then it was drowned out by a pain he never knew he could feel. His vision went black as night, then in the darkness he saw two great eyes stare at him.

Stand. Stand and do your duty!

The darkness vanished, and he found himself once more in the small room. Though it took what little strength he had, he forced himself onto his hooves. Their will must be done. He thought to himself, I must not let something like pain, or a mere sheep rejecting me, stop me…

He swayed over to the small door that was this dim room's only entrance. When he needed to take the mind of another, he preferred this small chamber. It was in a little used part of their lair, and it had the added bonus of it being his own personal quarters. Though there was nothing in here that would suggest as such, since the room was empty. His masters had told him that he was forbidden to have anything in it. Others were allowed their things, but he was forbidden. Though he knew not why, he was not one to question their will.

MOVE.

The command shot up his spine and slammed into the back of his skull. He nearly toppled over from the pain, but he refused to let his abused body be the master of him. He staggered up to the door, opened it, and limped into the hall. He needed to talk to Zhou. He needed to get the troops ready. He needed to ensure all was in readiness. If Zhou had removed the general from the equation, then it would be a simple matter indeed of causing the downfall of the longma homeland. After all, most of their troops were abroad, and it would take them all far too long to come back home before it was too late; Before they had taken their precious empress, and took her to the door.

He quivered in excitement. Simply getting one of those longma under the Masters control was thrilling enough, let alone a platoon and two commanders. But to seize control of the entire nation? One that was as powerful as theirs? Not only that, but to finally unleash the side of them that their weak and pathetic equine side held back…. He nearly drooled at the thought. An entire empire of fire-breathing half-dragons. The Masters would be pleased indeed!

He began laughing as he made his slow, yet painful, way into the Grand Chamber. After all, the thought of seeing all of those little prey running for their lives before their former friends was simply too funny to not laugh at. He was particularly fond of the idea of watching the sheep run in terror.

He approached the lip of the great pit and looked down. Where there was once something of disorganized chaos, there were now files and ranks of ungulates; all standing ready to serve the Masters. Their eyes all looked up at him, and followed him as he made his way to the high metal platform that overlooked the pit. He looked down at the floor of the platform and grinned. As per his command, the scroll that he had used to communicate with the general for so long lay on the ground. He placed a hoof upon its surface, and the symbol that dominated his face glowed brightly. He closed his eyes as his mind went into the scroll, and into the mind of the relic that lay at his hoof.

His mind drifted into a chamber in the vaguest sense of the word. Rather then walls, it was more like a small chamber of dim light trapped by walls of pitch black. Therein he found, as always, the mind of the scroll. It was shaped much like the animal that it was made from, but over time, its distinguishing features had been lost. It was now little more then a shadowy, and vague, feline shape.

It looked up at him with cold blue eyes that shined. “Hello ugly one. What is it you want? Want me to convey a message, or do you want to talk directly through one of my other bits of skin?”

Ziege had long ago grown callous to its small insults. “I implore you, oh mighty feline, I must speak to the one called General Tzao.”

“Here I am, once a proud predator, now reduced to little more then a messaging service.” it shook its head. “Still, I shall do as you ask.” it stood up on its hind legs, spread its forelegs to the sides, and then it expanded until the feline had become a large, thin sheet of shadow. It stood many times the hight of Ziege. It had to, for he was not going to be the only one too see and hear what was about to transpire. Indeed, above his limp body in the physical world, an identical sheet of shadow would appear and show and tell all to those in the Grand Chamber. The sheet shimmered, wavered, and then became the grayed image of a simple room.

“Zhou!” he shouted, “Are you there? Were you successful?”

A silence filled the air, and a quick glimmer of fear filed his heart. Zhou had boasted that he alone could defeat her, and suddenly Ziege was afraid that he had fallen to their target.

“Everything is as the Masters wish. What is next?” his deep voice filled both the Grand Chamber, and the chamber of shadow as his greyish form came into view.

“Excellent! Now, go and prepare a place for us to arrive. There are many of us, so we will need a great space indeed!” his chest glowed with pride and perverse pleasure. Zhou had proven to be a mighty ally, and the idea of having an army of Zhous serving the Masters filled Ziege with a delight he did not know he could feel.

“It shall be as you command.” Zhou nodded his head once, then left the chamber.

The image went dark, and became a sheet of shadow once more. It shimmered and shined as it changed once again, much to Ziege's surprise. It showed a gray plateau. Upon it rested several alpaca, one of which was apart from the rest. The others looked at the one with fear, though it seemed rather unbothered by this. In fact, it seemed as though it was almost unaware of the world around it. Rather, its attention was focused on a small set of black beads. It poked one, rolled it around, then stared at it for a bit.

Wait, Ziege knew those beads! The Beads of the Black Heart! Whomever touched them, wore them, or ate them (hey, he was a goat, anything he could fit in his mouth could be a potential snack), the beads would fill their heart with naught but hatred and malice. Thus, it was with great confusion that Ziege watched the alpaca play with the beads as though they were toys. It was not possible! It should not be smiling, it should not be playing with nary a care in the world! Who, or what, was this creature?

“Oh great feline, do you show this to the others, and why do you show me this?” Ziege asked.

“It is only you who shall see this. The Beads of the Black Heart, which was sent to the Alpake of the Huacaya Mountains, was meant to turn them to hate. They were to cause them to war upon one another, thus removing one more obstacle from our path when we return.” The voice of the feline filled the chamber, and in it Ziege swore he could hear a hint of admiration. “The Alpake are a truly hardy folk. Surviving in conditions that would prove difficult for even us predators to survive. Thus, with them gone, they would be one less problem to deal with, for they would be troublesome indeed to subdue. But, as you can see, there is one among them who laughs at our power. One who mocks and plays with power far beyond what they should be able to handle. And yet, look, see how this one's eyes are filled with joy. See how this one's face is filled with mirth. I do not know what great power this one has to allow it to so easy resist our terrible power, but whatever it is, it is clear that we have underestimated the prey of this world. Ziege, I may have lost touch with my kin when they were banished, so I do not know their grand plan, but I fear that perhaps not all is as it seems.”

“What do you mean?” Zeige raised his head up, and looked at the burning blue eyes that stared at him from the top of darkness.

“I mean that I do not think that we know fully what we are dealing with. Our hubris lead to our defeat once, and it might do so again.” the eyes bore into Ziege, as though trying to drill into him the weight of its words.

“Oh great feline! Surely you do not fear prey? There is one here who has resisted the power of my Masters. Surely such Ungulates are far a few-”

“DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THEM.” the voice shook the entire chamber, and Ziege nearly lost his balance. “The Beads have failed, The Book is destroyed, The Poisoned Oats purified, and the Bell of Madness crushed! Ziege. You have shown me nothing but great reverence, and thus it is out of respect for that I say this: This Longma you say my kin want, it may be more then you expect it to be. Four great artifacts of our power have been destroyed. We underestimated them once before, do not make that same mistake.” The eyes glared at him as the image vanished, though not before Ziege saw one last thing: The alpaca had picked up the beads, and swallowed them them whole. Then, it smiled.

The sheet before him shrank into the nearly formless feline, which stared at him intensely. A silent moment passed between the two of them. Then Ziege smiled. “We, with the power of the Masters, will not fail you. We are one step from turning the entire empire of the longma into ruthless predators. And with them serving the Masters, it will be a simple matter of crushing the other races under the Masters' mighty hunger!” he laughed. “We have nothing to fear! NOTHING!” his laughter filled the chamber as it began to shrink around him. He was being pushed out, dismissed from the scroll. Common enough for it to do with him when it deemed that Ziege had nothing more to do or say.

He came to himself once more and he lifted his hoof from the parchment. A massive smile crossed his lips as he walked to the edge of the platform that looked down upon the pit. There, below him, proudly stood no less then three hundred ready ungulates. An army that they had spent years, perhaps even decades, assembling. It was small, but it would be enough. All of them bore the great mark of the Masters, and all had been given the power to brand that mark upon others. Indeed, once they were in Huoshan, their little army would explode in size and power!

He lifted his head high in the air, and spoke to them: “As you saw, Zhou has succeed! The General bars our way no more!” he screamed. “Get ready! When he sends the signal, I shall activate the last great gift of the Masters, and we shall go to Huoshan, and we shall turn the longma into the predators that they were always meant to be!” his voice crescendoed into a screech that was all but completely unintelligible. The ungulates below him let out a cry, and the entire chamber filled with the glowing light of their dark marks.

He left the platform and walked to the corridor that lead to The Door. He wanted to see if the four longma they had captured were ready to serve the Masters yet.“Hey,” a voice he knew well said from behind him, “What should we do with her?”

He turned around to look at the cow that addressed him. “Who?” he asked.

“This sheep here.” The cow looked down, and Ziege followed her gaze. Lying on the ground was the body of a burnt, broken, but still alive, sheep. Not far from her lay three dogs who looked little better then she did. “I mean, I figured you wanted us to try and brand the dogs, but I don't know about this sheep here. I mean, they're kinda weak.” she shook her head.

“Take her, and her dogs...” he paused as the feeling of sweet revenge filled his mouth, “to The Door...”

So, my proof-reader is still rather busy, so please pardon any errors you see. I did dun tried me best (mostly), but I is only a pile of silly errors. :D
 

OCisbestungulate

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Chapter 12
The Siege of Huoshan
Part One
Tianhuo was not invincible. She did not have limitless endurance or strength. Thus, it was remarkable that she was able to maintain flying at the speed that she was. Not two hours ago she had just completed a rigorous training session with Pam (which usually left her feeling winded), and nearly killed her. Add to this that she had fled, returned, fought a young bull (which wasn't much of a fight), fought Pop, and was now heading back to Huoshan at top speed. As a result her muscles began to feel like they were on fire, more so then her wings, and she could feel her heart pounding against her ribs. Despite all of this, she found the willpower to keep going.

This, however, comes as no surprise. The Longma are a proud race. Proud, loyal, and strong. They have a deep love of their home, and in particular their Empress. Therefore, it was not just adrenalin that now fueled her, but a burning passion to protect her homeland, and her Empress. There was little she would not do for her, and she was not the only Longma who felt that way.

If whoever those ungulates were, were truly planning on attacking Huoshan, they would have to deal with the might of that loyalty! Indeed, they would have to deal with the most loyal, and powerful army in all of Foenum!

It was then that she remembered that the very same army of which she was so proud, was currently scattered across all of Foenum. In fact, when they left with the small detachment that they did, they left very few troops to guard the homeland. No one had dared to attack them in such a long time, and their position was so hard to get to, that they had felt that there was little to fear. However, against a foe that could simply vanish, then reappear elsewhere? That would be another matter all together.

The sudden thought that their defenses could suddenly be useless filled her with even greater haste. Across the sky she streaked, leaving a wake of fire. Through clouds she burned and across mountains she flew, her speed knowing no bounds, her body knowing no fatigue. Her mind was focused, and her purpose clear. She was going to get home at all costs.

She passed the tops of the mountains that marked the beginning of their borders, and climbed higher into the air. An old twinge of nervousness hit her as she entered the clouds that surrounded the base of the volcano they all called home. Being in the clouds reduced visibility, and thus the chance of hitting something unseen. However, she had long ago over come this, and she simply pushed it out of her mind. When she passed out of them, her heart nearly stopped.

The sky above her home was on fire.

It was filled with dozens, if not hundreds of Longma, all of them fighting one another. Great gouts of flame shot here and there, scorching the rock of the volcano they called home. As she shot up the side of the mountain to the volcano's maw, she watched as a Longma was knocked out of the air and crashed into the ground next to her. Casting a glance at it, she saw upon its unconscious brow glowed the same mark as that goat.

That was the final straw.

Her entire backside erupted in an inferno as she boosted over the edge of the crater. She cast her eyes into it to see what madness unfolded. Surrounding The Royal Palace were hundred of ungulates, all of whom were surrounded by a dark aura, and battling their way into the very home of their beloved Empress. She wondered briefly how they could possibly survive the heat, until she saw the dark, defiled color the lava lake that filled their home. Whatever they had done to the burning forest, they must have done to the lake.

She dove directly at the front lines of the palace. She landed with a massive impact, knocking several ungulates back. She cast a glance at a guard captain upon the steps, who was shouting orders at the other guards. She kicked a goat that lunged at her in the face, then ran to her.

“Captain! Report!” Tianhuo commanded.

The guard looked at her, and blinked in surprise. “Colonel Tianhuo?! Wha-Nevermind. The enemy suddenly appeared just under an hour ago. They appeared at the edge of the pool, then charged! We've been holding them, but we're losing ground.” She shouted over the battle. She snapped her head to the side to look at the chaos, and barked out a quick order.

“Wh-” Tianhuo began, but stopped as a large bolt of ice flew at her. She jumped, dodging it. “Why?”

“Because they've been turning our troops against us!” the captain shouted.

“How?” Tianhuo asked, her rage rising once more.

“I don't know. They knock one of us down, then they touch their head, shout something, then that mark you see shows up! Next thing you know they're on their hooves fighting for the enemy!” the captain spat, and turned once more to the battle to give orders.

“And what of The Empress?” Tianhuo asked.

“She is resting! And we're trying to keep it that way!” the captain shouted back.

“Good.” Tianhuo nodded. You see, their Empress was not a tyrant. She did not use her power to gain leisure, pleasure, or to oppress her subjects. She ruled them with wisdom, fairness, and kindness. She, however, rested little. So thin was her empire stretched, that many nights she did not sleep. Thus, when she was able to rest, her subjects guarded her sleep fervently. “I'll join the battle ab-” she began to say. Her words stopped as she saw two figures, cloaked in shadow, slip past the line and into the palace. “Captain! Some have made it past the line! I'm going after them!” she shouted as she bolted after them. She didn't hear the captain's response, but she figured that she really didn't need to.

The halls of The Royal Palace are, at once, both easy to navigate, and a maze. If one wanted to head directly to the main audience chamber, it was a simple walk down a long hall and a bend to the right. If one wanted to go anywhere else, it was a twisted labyrinth of corridors, doors, passageways, and even a few false walls. Tianhuo, having served directly under General Tzao, was well trained in how they twisted and turned on each other. Pity it was that she occasionally had trouble keeping them all straight.

Thus it was with great frustration that she sped through hallway after hallway trying to find the invaders. Occasionally she would catch sight of them, but either they or she would take a wrong turn, and sight would be lost. But still she pressed on. If there was one thing she could never allow, it was those filthy creatures getting to The Empr-

She rounded a corner, and nearly smashed head first into the Empress herself. Or rather, her bed. Tianhuo had opened a false wall, and on the other side was a turn that, much to her surprise, led directly to the private chamber of the Daughter of Heaven herself. Tianhuo skidded to a halt, and averted her head. The Empress did not need someone as lowly as she to watch her sleep.

“You! Identify yourself!” A voice hissed. Tianhuo looked up and across the room. By the front entrance of the room stood two guards, and near the bed a third. The third glared at Tianhuo as though she was invading a sacred place.

“Colonel Tianhuo of the Miniscule yet Mighty Realm of Magnanimous Magma, Lava and Fire, Huoshan!” she saluted. Only those of the highest rank, or the most trusted, of the guard were allowed in this chamber. Thus it was no surprise that the guard's armor bore the rank of Senior Colonel.

“Tianhuo?” the guard hissed quietly. “What are you doing here? And how did you find that passage?”

“We're under attack, and two enemies slipped past the line and entered the palace. I chased after them, but lost track of them.” she reported, trying her best to not feel the shame of failure.

“I see. So you have no idea where they are.” the Senior Colonel narrowed her eyes.

“I think their goal is this chamber.” Tianhuo looked directly at the eyes of the Senior Colonel, and nothing else. She did not belong here, and she knew it, thus she looked at her eyes to avoid them wandering about.

“You said two of them? Then leave. We will keep The Empress saf-” the Senior Colonel commanded, until a sudden cry came from the front of the room. Both the Senior Colonel and Tianhuo looked, and saw the two guards at the door fall limp to the ground. Above them, stood two figures who placed their hooves on the guard's foreheads.

You are prey and we are hunters, and we command you to join the others!” both figures said, their voices filling the room and causing the light to nearly vanish.

Tianhuo jumped over the empress's bed and landed next to it. She struck a defensive pose as the two guards who had fallen stood once more, marks burning brightly upon their heads. “They've taken control of them! Hold them off!” Tianhuo shouted at the Senior Colonel.

The Senior Colonel, for her credit, only blinked once before she charged directly at them, slamming one into the wall. She rebounded, and slammed the other to the far wall. She turned to face the intruders, and was kicked in the chest, flying back into the guard whom she had just knocked away.
The two intruders turned to look at her, and the shroud of darkness that surrounded them fell away. One of them was that goat who had taunted her from before. The other…

“Zhou?!” Tianhuo exclaimed. His scales were black as obsidian, his eyes were small burning orbs of red, and upon his chest, cheek, and left leg was that black and red mark. However, there was no doubt about it. She would recognize that glare of hatred anywhere.

“That will be the last word you ever speak.”

And with that, he lunged at her.
 

OCisbestungulate

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Chapter 12
The Siege of Huoshan
Part Two

Pom had no idea what to do. Pop was still out of it, Pam was still missing, and she was just a little lamb. A little lamb who was terrified. After all, the first thing that had basically happened when she came to visit was some fire-snake-horse attacked and burnt Pam and her dogs! Then Pop got attacked, and then she had to run and get the very same monster that had attacked Pam to save Pop! And now their home was gone as was the woods that she loved to play in so much! And it was all because if that terrifying thing they called Tianhuo! As far as she was concerned, those snake-fire-horses should go away and never come back!

But the thing was, one of them was still here. She was so nice and even playful. Not at all like that scary one that had hurt Pam so much. So she was not sure what to do, for that one was sad that it couldn't help the other one that left. So what could she do? She wanted to help the nice one, but she was afraid that doing so would somehow take her to the scary one.

She looked over at Pop. Almost right after the scary one left, he'd fallen asleep. She tried to wake him up a bunch of times, but he wouldn't get up. The nice fire-snake-thing tried too, but she couldn't either. So what could they do?

“Say, didn't your friend there say something about a friend who knew a thing or two about magic?” the nice one said.

Pom looked up at her. “Huh?” she asked.

“That thing on his face. He said he might know someone who could get rid of it. Do you know who it is?” she asked gently.

Pom scrunched her face as she thought about it. Every nerve in her brain started working overtime to try and find the answer that the nice one wanted. A friend who knew magic? But who could that be? Who cou-Oh yeah! “I know!” Pom jumped up, then retreated, lowering her eyes and rubbing one leg with the other. “I-I mean, yes...” she said softy, almost whispering. The nice one suddenly put a hoof to her chest and a pained look crossed her face. “You okay?!” Pom asked, suddenly bringing her face very close to hers.

“Urk-” she said, closing her eyes and averting her head. “Y-yes! I'm fine! A-anyway, Do you know who it is?” she asked, casting a quick glance at Pom from the side of her eyes.

“Hum...” Pom's face scrunched up once more as the gears ticked, but shook her head and her mind drew a blank. “No, but I...” she took a step back and averted her gaze once more.

“Yes?” the nice one asked, leaning in slightly.

“I...” Pom's voice got even quieter, and she retreated even futher. She suddenly wished she had some thing to hide behind.

“It's arlight, I wanna help you. You can trust me.” she smiled.

“Really?” Pom asked, daring a glance at her eyes. They were like Pam's eyes when she smiled.

“Really. Not all of us Longma are mean. In fact, Col-Tianhuo there is actually pretty nice once you get to know her! She really cares a lot about other ungulates.” The nice one nodded.

Pom was silent for a moment. This snake-horse thing was nice. The other was was really scary. The other horse-snake things were scary too, but they helped Pam while she was hurt. Finally, she came to a decision.

“I know where she is.” she said meekly.

“Do you think you could lead me to her?” the nice one asked with a happy smile on her face.

“Uh huh.” Pom nodded slowly. “But why?” she tilted her head.

“Well, I was thinking I could carry your friend there, and that she might be able to make him all better. Sound good?” she smiled very sweetly.

Pom was not aware of just how big of a smile she suddenly made. Nor was she fully aware that she had begun to run around her new friend in excitement. Nor was she aware of the fact that her poor new friend's knees nearly gave way and she too nearly fell unconscious as her heart faltered. What she was aware of was the fact that she was very happy with this turn of events. “Yes! Can we go now? Can we? Can we? Canwecanwecanwe?”

She softly slammed into an outstretched hoof. “We sure can.” her friend grinned at her. “Let me just pick him up, and we can be on our way, okay?” Pom nodded. “Great!” the nice one smiled and walked over to Pop. She dropped to her knees, shoved her muzzle under him, rolled him onto her neck, and then onto her back. All with minimal protest from his dogs. “All set! Lead the way!” she said.

Pom grinned again as she happily trotted off, with everyone else behind her. It would take a little bit, but they would be there in no time at all. And when they did, everything would be better!

Right?

~

Zhou slammed into her, knocking her through another false wall and onto a patio in a small garden. Their fight had taken them through several halls and more then a few walls. But always she kept bringing it back to the empress's chambers. That goat clearly wanted nothing more then to lay his hooves on her, and Tianhuo was never going to let that happen. She spun and landed on her hooves, then launched herself at Zhou. He ducked, but was too slow to avoid taking a knee to his face. Knocked off balance, Tianhuo swept at his legs, and brought him to the ground. She jetted back to the bedchamber once more, just in time to strike the other invader and knock him back. Between her and the other guard, they'd managed to keep him away from her, but with Zhou pulling Tianhuo out of the chamber continuously, and the Senior Colonel having to deal with two guards by herself, it was no easy task.

Yet, remarkably, despite it all, the empress still slumbered.

“You will not-” Tianhuo began as Zhou jumped at her back. She side-stepped it, but was caught off guard by the blast of green fire he shot at her. She stumbled, and was unable to block the blow to her side. She hit the wall and fell to the ground. A combination of instinct and training kicked in and she rolled to the side as Zhou landed where she had been. She sprung to her hooves, uppercutting him while doing so. “Zhou!” she screamed, “Think about what you're doing! You're betraying our Empress!” she shouted as she dove for the goat once more.

“I betrayed her long ago.” he said as he recovered from the blow. “Now I get to kill you while I'm at it...” he took a deep breath, and the three marks on his body suddenly glowed brightly. Tianhuo, thinking quickly, slammed him into the wall, breaking it and causing part of the roof to collapse upon him. She jumped back, landing between the empress's bed, and the goat.

The goat smiled at her. “Do you think that will be enough? Do you think that a bit of rubble will be enough to stop a monster like him? Or, should I say … a predator?”

Tianhuo threw a glance over at where Zhou was buried, and saw light erupting from the pile, as though it was about to blow. She threw herself upon the empress, just as the pile exploded in crimson flame, sending shrapnel everywhere. The blast sent Tianhuo, the goat, and the three guards who still battled into the far walls, and through them.

Tianhuo's world was a blur of pain as her senses faded out for a moment, but came back just in time to avoid a blast of fire. She shook her head and climbed to her hooves. She was in the small garden once more, but rather then green and peaceful, it was now scorched and on fire. And there, in the center of it, was a monster she had never seen before.

Zhou was no longer a Longma. A scaled tail now grew from his backside. His legs now ended in talons, rather then hooves. His body had gotten slightly larger, and his neck somewhat longer. His scales, which had shined like obsidian, now devoured the very light that touched him, making him a void of darkness in the light. His flesh wings now burned with the color of blood, and his mane was no longer flame, but large spikes that jutted from his skull. His face had widened, and his eyes now stared at her with an unholy hunger. Zhou was no longer a Longma…

He was a dragon.

“Ziege, take the empress. I will follow soon after.” Zhou's voice was deep, and it chilled Tianhuo to the bone.

Though she could not see it, she could almost feel the other one grin. “Don't be long Zhou, there is much to do!”

“YOU WILL NOT TOUCH HER!” Tianhuo cried as she attempted to lunge past the dragon that barred her path.

“Agreed.” Zhou said, as he easily rammed her, knocking her back. “You shall not.”

Behind the dragon she saw a flash of light fill the Royal Chambers, and then nothing. She flew higher to get a better look. The fighting had caused most of the roof of Royal Chambers to collapse, thus allowing her an almost unobstructed view of them.

The Empress, and the goat, were gone.

“NO!” she cried as unbridled rage filled her. The world turned completely red, and she looked down upon the thing that stood in her way. She had never ended the life of anything before, but now that was going to change...

I wanted to publicly thank Feanor for assistance with this chapter. I had a few misgivings, but due to Feanor's feebdack, they were either fixed, or not worried about too much. Therefore: Thanks.

You see, I realized I totally could have called it: The Ziege of Huoshan, since, you know, Ziege and Siege are almost spelled the same way. But, they don't sound the same at all, and that title would have made it sound like he was from Huoshan or something like that, and that would be just plain wierd. I mean, a goat from a nation of fire-horses? Who would think of such a thing!
 
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0Zero100

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One quick fix in Part 2


-She herself upon the empress, just as the pile exploded in crimson flame, sending shrapnel everywhere.
-"She //THREW\\ herself upon...
 
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OCisbestungulate

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It is raw, unproof-read, and needs some touching up, but here is the final chapter:

Has been fix'd. If it please you, do enjoy :D

Chapter 13
To Banish The Darkness
Part One
“Tianhuo...” a distant voice spoke to her. She did not, could not, hear it. And if she had, she would have ignored it. Her fury had taken complete control, and it was without thought or reason that she now fought. She had been raked, pummeled, tossed, burned, and even crushed, but still she kept getting up. Still she kept throwing herself at the monster that barred her path. She gave no thought as to what she could hope to accomplish should she defeat Zhou, but that mattered little at the moment. Rather, in her mind, The Empress was in danger, and he was what stood in Tianhuo's way.

Nor did she give heed to the fact that he was simply toying with her. Everything she did, he easily countered. Everything her enraged mind could think of to do, he simply laughed at. She did not know it, but she was no match for him. Had she been able to think clearly, she would have heard him laughing.

“Tianhuo...” the distant voice called to her again, but still it was unheeded. She was swiped to the side, grabbed, smashed into a pillar, thrown onto the ground, stomped on, covered in unholy fire, then thrown into a stone wall. Her mind did not feel the pain, but even her rage could not ignore the impact from the dragon as it rammed her. She had not even fallen to the ground before he had pinned her to the wall. He peeled her off of it, her skull in his claw, and smashed her against the wall once more.

“Tianhuo!” the voice cried. Tianhuo's world went dark as the dragon clenched its fists together, and smashed them directly onto her head. “Tianhuo, blessed daughter, please, hear me...”

The dark void that surrounded Tianhuo parted as an old, familiar figure formed in it. Shimmering with light blue light, translucent, and proud, stood Honored Father.

“Wha...” Tianhuo tried to say, but found that she could not speak, for it hurt too much.

“Rest child.” he smiled. He walked over to her, and knelt down. Tianhuo had not realized that she was laying down, but was glad, for she was becoming aware of a world of nothing but pain. “You have endured much, and yet there is still just a little more you must endure.”

“Why...” she struggled to say.

“You are beaten dear child. At the pinnacle of your fury, you have been struck down, and your foe did it with great ease. And it is because you cannot beat Honored Mother with her power alone.” he said gently, as a kind parent would say to a child. “Do you remember what I told you all those years ago? Do you remember where I told you where to find strength?”

“The herd...”

“And from what comes power?”

“Love...” she breathed.

“Your foe has given into nothing but hate, and stands alone. He has rejected me, and the herd he once loved. He listens to Honored Mother alone, and channels her fury. But he is weak, child. He has forgotten the power that comes from the herd, from protecting it. He has forgotten the power that comes from love. Stand child. You cannot win alone. You cannot beat him, or Honored Mother with your own strength. But you have those you love, those who you want to protect and save. You cannot win alone, but you can win with them. Stand, and with the power of Honored Mother stand against your foe, and with the love of your herd in your heart, defeat him!” he shouted. His form burst into ribbons of light that wrapped around Tianhuo, sapping away the terrible pain that filled her. In her mind she saw the faces of all those whom she loved flash before her. She saw her mentors, her troops, the sheepfolk, The Empress…

Tianhuo's body erupted with flame and Zhou was blown back as she suddenly lifted into the air. Honored Father was right. She could not beat him with rage alone. However, she was more than just rage, more than just half-dragon. She was both predator, and prey! She turned around and dove back at the ground, her mind filled with perfect clarity. Zhou, for all of his ferocity, was suddenly sluggish and easy to predict. She could see and read everything he did. He clawed at her, but hit nothing but air. Fire exploded from his mouth, but hit nothing. He took flight, hoping that perhaps he might out maneuver her in the air, but he was very wrong.

She darted around him, landing near continuous blows to him. He roared in fury as he tried in vain to strike back, but it was impossible. She struck him in his chest, knocking the wind out of him. She struck him in the throat, causing his vision to darken. She struck his wing joints, causing his spine and wings to fill with pain. Finally, she gave a mighty blow to his head, knocking him clean out of the air, and sending him barreling towards the ground.

He smashed into it with terrible force, and then was still.

Tianhuo hovered over him for several moments, then spoke: “Zhou?” She fought the urge to land next to him and nudge him. Feigning death was a tactic she had been well-trained to deal with. “Zhou, you know I will not fall for this. Stand, and face me.”

“How...” came his low, rumbling voice, “How can I be beaten so easily? You...” his limp form shifted slightly, “I toyed with you. I beat you, broke you over and over, and yet … yet you took me down with such ease. How?”

“Zhou. Stand up. You cannot fool me.” Tianhuo said as she slowly drifted over to his face. She wanted to see his expression, to see if he really was beaten so quickly. There, in the small red beads of his eyes, she saw the emptiness of defeat. Stunned, and suddenly hallow, she descended to the ground. “Y-you're really beaten. Surely whatever power you had didn't abandon you so quickly!”

His eyes drifted to her, but she could see that his gaze was distant. “I … I was afraid. You … when you came to, and blew me back, you started glowing. I saw … I saw Them. I saw around you, and in your eyes, I saw Them. And I, I was afraid.” the color of his eyes began to slowly fade.

“Them? Who are you talking about?” Tianhuo narrowed her eyes, then they shot open as a thought came to her. “You mea-”

“I saw Honored Mother, and Honored Father. Not only that, I saw so many others. Around you, through you, I saw them. They surrounded me, and … and I felt afraid.” his jaw slacked somewhat and his eyes began to shift about. “And that, that was when I was betrayed.”

“Betrayed? By whom?” Tianhuo took a step closer. She kept her guard up, ready for a sudden lash, or swipe of the claw, but she began to doubt that would come.

“The … masters.” he breathed out. “The ones you face, they call themselves The Hunters, and they willingly serve forces beyond evil. They serve, the predators. Their wish, is to free them, and watch them devour us all.” his shape, once large and strong, begun to shrink, and the ferocity that once swirled around him began to fade.

“That's insane!” Tianhuo took a step back. “Do they wish to die?!”

“I think some of them do. But for their insanity, their masters give them power. But, if they should feel fear, if they should ever be afraid...” his body twitched once, and he struggled to keep his eyes open.

“They take their power from them.” Tianhuo finished.

“And devour them from within...” he choked.

“You're kidding!” she shouted. But, as she watched, his body began withering away. Almost as though he was being sucked dry. “Zhou, you may have betrayed us all, but you can't die like this! You know so much about them! Come back to us, you can help us battle them! Embrace Honored Father and Honored Mother! Embrace the herd! Give your heart back to The Empire! Honored Father healed me, perhaps he can do the same to you!”

“Perhaps. Perhaps not. But there is one thing I can do.” he took a heavy breath, and closed his eyes. “Ziege, or rather his masters, gave me the power to head back to the place where he took The Empress. It is a one-way trip, but...”

“You can send me.” Tianhuo guessed.

“Yes. Please, I know I'm no longer worthy of avenging, but go there, and free our Empress.” he shuttered violently as he tried to stand. Tianhuo hesitated for just a moment, wondering if perhaps this was one last trick, then helped him up. “Ziege plans to take her to a door that will expose her to the full might of their masters. He hopes that they will turn her into their slave, and then all of us with her. Go, there is not...”

“Much time. Zhou, do it. I will not fail.” she looked him directly in the eye. While there was little left in it, she saw what was left of his anger, and his hate, vanish. “I will bring our Empress back. At any cost.”

Zhou nodded feebly. The three marks on his body began to glow and his form began to shift and shimmer. “Hold … onto me. T-touch … the marks.” he gasped with great pain. She, finally convinced that this was no longer a trick, touched all three marks, and wrapped her remaining leg around his neck. He smiled feebly. “Now … now I see why you rose so quickly. I was jealous, envious. But now...” he rocked, and nearly fell over, “...now I see that it was an honor to serve under you.”

Tianhuo opened her mouth to respond, but was engulfed by darkness as the spell took hold.
 
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OCisbestungulate

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Chapter 13
To Banish The Darkness
Part Two
“Are you sure this is the right place?” the private asked as the group of them tread through a swamp. Well, it was more of a marsh, but it was bad news all the same. For, you see, it's awfully hard for a Longma to carry a full grown sheep on her back. They have a tendency to want to slip and slide off, what with the wool and the what-not. Not to mention the constant static shocks that come from said slipping and sliding. That, and now they were surrounded with puddles of water that may or may not be deep enough to drown in. Thus, it made the balancing act all the harder, for it made her all the more nervous. Plus, you know, there was even more shocking now. Not really pleasant.

Pom nodded her head. She had it easy. She had hopped onto the back of one of the dogs long before they had gotten this deep. “He's just around here. We're almost there.” she said quietly.

“I thought you said it was a she?” the private cocked her head.

“I just remembered that he's a guy...” Pom said sheepishly, averting her gaze and rubbing her left foreleg with her right.

The little lamb wasn't too much for conversation. But given all that had happened to her, the private wasn't going to hold that against her. “And you said you don't remember much else about this friend?” she asked as she opened her mouth a little to torch a branch that barred her path.

Pom shook her head. “Mum and Pappy don't come here a lot. So I've only come this way a few times.”

“But you are su-” the private began to say, when suddenly the little branch she torched sprung to life and little flowers suddenly began to grow from it. She took a startled step back, nearly losing Pop in the process. “What th-”

“Torching trees in a forest ends badly.” One of the flowers said, clearly chastising her. “I get that you can breath fire and all that, but you really should be a bit smarter about this.”

“Is that you?!” Pom said looking around.

“Oh! Did I hear little Pom?” the flowers on the branch turned to look at her. “Well hello there! Is this pyromaniac a friend of yours?”

“Pop's hurt! Can you help?!” Pom said desperately.

“Oh? That's not good. What happened? Uh, gimme a sec, let me open the door for you.” the flowers said as they turned to look at both of them. The private took another surprised step back as the swampland before her suddenly parted, and a firm dirt path rose from the ground. “Well, if he's hurt, hurry up!” the flowers said sternly.

The small band made their way down the path swiftly, with the young Longma marveling at this strange place as they went along. The whole of the swamp seemed bent in a tasteful arch around them, and along the walls sprouted flowers of all kinds and colors. She'd never seen anything like it.

Nor had she seen anything like the small cave that the path ended in. Inside she saw candles shaped like strange creatures. From the ceiling hung dried herbs, as well as several other plants she could only guess what their function was. In the center of the room was a pit that was filled with an odd gold-colored liquid of some kind, and on the other side of this pit sat their host, an old green reindeer.

“A reindeer? I thought you'd be a un-” the private began when she saw him.

“-icorn. Yes, that's what they all say.” the old bull rolled his eyes. “They always seem to forget we have magic too.” he sighed as he dipped his muzzle into the strange pool, and made a series of undignified slurping noises. “Anyway, good to see you little Pom.” he said after he had gotten his fill.

“Help pappy!” she shouted, the desperation in her voice tearing at the heart-strings of the private.

“Alright! Alright! Bring him over here. Let me look at him.” the old bull pointed off to the side of the cave, a spot that was out of sight from the entrance. The private glanced at him for a brief second, unsure about all of this, but complied all the same. Around the corner she saw what looked to be something of a bed. It was mostly twigs, but it was bed-like enough. She placed Pop on it carefully then stepped away. Pom rushed to his side, her face full of worry, and the old bull hobbled his way over to him. As he looked him up and down, Pom kept pointing at the mark on his face.

“Look at this!” she kept crying. But either he was ignoring her, couldn't hear her, or planned on reaching it eventually, because he continued his examination.

“Goodness me. What happened to you, old friend? Doesn't look like you tripped into the fireplace again.” the reindeer shook his head.

“He got attacked by some unknown enemy. I don't know the details.” the private shook her head.

“I see. Hum. Oh, what's this?” he asked as he finally reached the mark. Perhaps he hadn't heard Pom after all.

“I don't know! Can you fix it? Pappy said you could fix it! Fix it! PLEASE!” Pom's voice cracked, and the private nearly lost it. It was clear that this whole thing had hit the poor lamb hard.

“It seems to be a brand of some kind. Yes, a brand...” he stared at it, then closed his eyes for a second as his antlers glowed. A small yellow flower sprouted from the ground near Pop's face, and grew until it reached his face. Then it turned towards him, and shot yellow pollen at him. The private watched in surprise as the flower wilted away and the pollen changed from yellow, to a deep sickly green. “Control! It's a control brand! Yes! I've seen this kind of thing before!” he exclaimed. “You put this on someone, then usually say some kind of incantation or whatever. It's usually used by non-magical ungulates to channel the power of things or ungulates that have magic. Anyway, this works by forcing the will of the brander to overpower the will of the brandee! So, if the brander has a strong will, then the brandee is theirs to control!” he grinned, clearly satisfied with himself.

“So, can you remove it?” the private asked.

The reindeer looked up at her. “Huh? What? Why?”

“Please! Can you?” Pom pleaded.

“Well, I mean, I can. But are you sure you want me to?” he asked with a slight twinkle in his eye.

“Why wouldn't you?” the private asked.

“Well, I may be old, but I can be clever. You said that he was attacked by some unknown enemy, right?” the private nodded. “They branded him with some kind of dark magic, and I don't see Pam with you. So, either she's gone off after whoever did this, or she got captured, am I right? And I'm gonna guess from how distraught poor Pom here is, it's the latter. So, I'm gonna guess that she got nabbed and he got hurt in the same attack. Am I right?” he smiled.

The private stared at him for a second, then nodded slowly. “How...”

“I've known Pam and Pop for a very long time. We used to go gallivanting off into lands far and wide in my younger days. You see, they found me after my sprites had to abandon me by the roadside. But that's another story and another life. The point is, they've always been inseparable, and the fact that they are separate tells me all I need to know.” he nodded as he finished.

“I-I see. So … why not remove it?” she asked.

“Because I can use it to open a direct passage to whoever it was that made this thing. Well, not an actual passage per-say, but the link can be done in reverse. After all, if the brandee has enough willpower, they could in theory shove the brander out of their minds.” he explained.

“So, we could take control of whoever did this to Pop?” she was liking this idea quite a bit.

“Not quite. That would require Pop to be awake and able to know a little magic. BUT! I'd be willing to wager that whoever did this to him, would do this to Pam. And I'd be willing to bet that they would most likely keep her close by. And while we wouldn't be able to take control of the brander themselves, I'd bet we could at least take control of their voice! At least, for as long as the link stays active.” he walked over to the pit in the center, and slurped from it once more, making a mess. “Oh! And by the way,” he continued, wiping his chin with a dirty leg, “unless the brandee is someone of unparalleled willpower, it usually takes something outside of them to pull them out of it.”

“How do you know so much about this?” the young Longma asked.

At that, he stared into the pool for several quiet moments. “That's a memory I'd burn to ash if I could.” he said quietly. He shook his head. “Anyway, you get what I'm getting at?”

“I think so. If Pam hears a voice she knows...” the young private began.

“Then she'd be able to throw off whoever is controlling her! Exactly!” the old bull explained.

“Huh?” Pom asked. “Are you gonna fix Pappy?”

“In a moment little one. But first, I'm going to do some scary things, but it's going to be okay. When I give the word, I want you to shout Pam's name as loud as you can, okay? Can ya do that for me?” he smiled.

Pom looked at him confused, then down at Pop. “Are you gonna fix Pappy?”

The bull nodded. “I sure will, but after you do that little favor for me. Okay?”

Pom looked at Pop once more, then back at the old green reindeer. “Okay! Just so long as Pappy and Mum will be okay.” she nodded.

“Wonderful!” he exclaimed, clapping his two front hooves together. “I've been wanting to do this for some time. Now, stand back, and get ready to shout when I say go!”
 
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OCisbestungulate

Always watching you
Backers' Beta Tester
Feb 3, 2016
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1,392
behind your curtains
Chapter 13
To Banish The Darkness
Part Three
Tianhuo had never been surrounded by darkness like this before. She could feel herself moving at an incredible speed, and it felt as though she was flying through a long tunnel. A tunnel whose walls were ... hungry. Though nothing but shadows surrounded her as she was propelled along, she felt the presence of hundreds of eyes, all of whom wanted nothing more than to eat her. Fear tried to grip her heart, but she steeled herself. Come what may, she could not allow herself to feel it.

She suddenly landed hard on her hooves, and the shadows around her vanished. She was now in a large stone chamber of some kind. The walls were made of rough stone, and the whole chamber was shaped like a massive egg. In the center she saw a huge pit, and around the sides of the chamber was a walkway that circled the pit. Along the walkway she saw many doors, and on the far side of where she stood, she saw a metal platform that rose off the walkway, and over the pit. Behind that platform was a very large passage that went back and then twisted out of sight. And right in front of her stood four very surprised looking cows.

“Welco-” one began.

“That's not Zhou.” another interrupted her with.

“She doesn't have a mark!” a third one shouted.

“Intruder?” the fourth almost shouted.

“INTRUDER!” all four shouted.

“Wait,” the first one said, as Tianhuo readied herself for battle, “Everyone's gone!”

“Hold on, you're right! We're the only ones here!” the second said.

“And I ain't about to fight a longma!” the third objected.

“Ain't that the truth! We ain't built to fight!” the forth nodded.

“RETREAT!” all four shouted, then bolted away from Tianhuo, and through a door, slamming it behind them.

Tianhuo blinked. She had not expected that. She shook her head. She needed to stay focused. She glanced about, hoping to see some clue as to where she should go. She didn't have to look for long.

On the platform a cloud of shadows suddenly appeared, then dispersed. Standing where there was no one before, was the goat Ziege. “Cows! Wha-” he stopped as he looked at Tianhuo. “I ... see. You are not Zhou.” he said, his one eye narrowing.

“No. He sends his regards.” Tianhuo said, launching herself into the air, and directly at him. He grinned, then vanished in a cloud of shadow.

“You cannot touch me.” he said as he reappeared on the walkway behind the platform. His grin was short lived however, as his face was met with a swift hoof. He was sent flying, and hit the wall hard. "What?!" he asked as he staggered to his hooves.

"You are easy to predict." Tianhuo said as she walked over to him

He looked up at her, and his face glowed with an evil light. "Easy you say? Well, predict this!" he shouted as his body became encased in darkness. He surged at her, tendrils of darkness lashing out at her. She calmly watched him, and bat the tendrils aside. She sidestepped him as he charged past her, and she took to the air. He turned to face her, but was too slow to avoid her attack.

Knocked once more to the wall, he stood slowly as she touched down onto the ground once more. "H-how..." he said, "I am filled with the power of the Masters! I have the speed of a falcon, the agility of a panther, the strength of a bear! How can you so easily best me?!"

"Give me The Empress." Tianhuo ordered.

"I will do no such thing!" he shot back.

"You cannot overpower me. Give her to me." Tianhuo took several step towards him.

"I serve the Masters! Their power is my power! You cannot best me!" he shrieked as the darkness surrounding him began to boil and froth. He vanished once more.

Tianhuo knew better than to allow herself to underestimate a foe. It was a bitter lesson that had finally sunk in. Thus, she took flight, and readied herself for anything.

He appeared above her quite suddenly, but she nimbly evaded him. The shadows around him stretched and shaped into a pair of wings as he pulled up and struck at her. She blocked with her hooves, and let forth a gout of fire. He shrieked as the wings suddenly vanished, and he fell to he earth, to the bottom of the great pit. The darkness around him shifted once more, and his shape grew longer, and with surprising ability, he landed on large paws that now surrounded his hooves. Also was surprising was his ability to dodge Tianhuo's sudden dive. He jumped from her, rebounded off a wall, and struck at her with large claws. They swiped empty air, but only just as she felt a breeze across her face. Tumbling backwards, she planted a hoof into his chin, and knocked him back once more. When she recovered, he was was on the ground once more, though the shroud around him was much larger then before. If she had to guess, this was the strength of the bear he had mentioned. He charged at her once more, and she flew into the air, but did not stay there long.

She twisted to look down at him, and he opened his mouth and let out a mighty roar. It hit her with a concussive blast, and nearly knocked her out, to say nothing of knocking her out of the air. She tumbled to the ground, and was met with a mighty paw just before she hit it. It smashed into her, and sent her flying clear across the room, and out of the pit. As luck would have it however, she had been sent flying into a door, which a very unlucky (and now very unconscious) cow had just opened. The other three stared in shock as Tianhuo's senses came back to her and she scrambled to her hooves, and rushed out of the doorway and into the Grand Chamber once more.

Ziege roared once more as she came into view, but his time she shot hard to the left, narrowly evading it. He roared again, and as she evaded it, she saw it hit the ceiling above her. It hit with a mighty impact, and left a crack. This gave her an idea.

She dove into the pit, directly at him. He lunged at her, though he was too slow to hit her. She flew in front of him again, causing him to lunge yet again. Two, three more times she did this, then flew up. As she had hoped, he roared once more, but his time hit the metal platform that now hung over their heads, and knocked it loose. She kicked herself off the wall to evade it as it came crashing down. Ziege simply stood, and held his massive paws above his head. He caught the platform, let out a mighty cry, and then threw it to the side. It proved to be a perfect distraction.

Taking advantage of the distraction, she dove once more and planted a hoof directly into his face. Another blow came to his back, then a third to his rear legs. Striking him was strange, as the shadows that surrounded him were only semi-solid, but solid enough to cause him to fall to his backside. She flipped around and landed on his chest, and then filled his face with fire.

He let out another terrible cry as the shadows surrounding him vanished, taking him with them. She flew out of the pit, and saw him standing by the entrance to the largest passage out of this place. He was struggling to stand, and panting heavily. "How ... you are half-prey ... prey are weak!" he spat.

"It is because of that very fact that I won. I am neither prey, nor predator. I am both.And it is the power of both that makes me, makes us Longma mighty!" she said proudly.

"So, it is the fact that you are mere prey that makes you strong? Well then, how about we see just how strong you prey really are!" he shouted, then vanished again, but this time something took his place.

There, standing before her, surrounded by the most feral looking dogs she'd ever seen, was Pam. Upon her brow, and upon the brows of all three dogs, burned that terrible mark. Though, this mark was larger, and more savage looking then any she had seen before. In in their eyes was nothing but emptiness.

“Pam!” Tianhuo shouted. “It's me! Snap out of it! Think of Pom!”

The goat reappeared behind Pam, and cocked his head. “Oh? You actually know her? Then this will be all the better to watch. Because, win or lose, one of you is going to die!” he took a step back, raised a hoof, and pointed it at Tianhuo. “Kill her.”

Tianhuo was completely caught off guard by the speed of the attack. While Pop had been lumbering, slow, and sloppy, Pam and her dogs attacked with a speed beyond what even she had seen when they held nothing back against her. “PAM! POM! Think of your daughter!” she screamed as Ruff lunged for her throat. She weaved, but he still got a few claws on her face. Arf and Gruff lunged for her rear legs. She kicked one of them away, but the other latched on with a death grip.

“That might have worked with the other one, but that was because my will had overpowered his. She, however, is different.” the goat grinned. “This one was was taken to The Door. And there, The Masters do not dominate the will of their prey. They consume it! What you see before you is not a mind-controlled beast, but a mindless puppet! There is no saving this sheep, or her dogs! They will fight you, until the bitter end!”

Tianhuo raised her forelegs in front of her to block another lunge from Gruff. Her teeth sunk in, piercing Tianhuo's scales, and causing pain to shoot up her leg. Ruff lunged at her backside, though hissed his at his target as Tianhuo spin in the air to avoid him. She flew across the pit and slammed both dogs onto the lip of pit, but only managed to knock one of them off. She landed on the walkway, and drove two hooves into the face of Arf, who was still latched to her back leg. She made no sound, and kept her grip. Tianhuo raised her hooves again, but kicked off the ground as she saw Ruff run around the pit with terrible speed, and lunge at her once more. This time, however, he got her other rear leg. The combined weight of the two dogs proved to be too much, and Tianhuo began to sink in the air. She glanced down at them, and saw Gruff lunge from the bottom of the pit, past the walkway, and directly at her face. Training kicking in, she let out a gout of fire that knocked the dog back and away. She twisted and dove at the ground, hoping that she might pull up at the last moment to free her throbbing legs from the dogs.

Pam, however, was waiting for her on the walkway.

She reached out and caught Ruff, and threw him onto her back. He lunged from Pam's back, and this time his teeth found his mark as they clamped around Tianhuo's muzzle. Now with all three dogs on her, there was no way she could stay in the air. She twisted, bended, and even slammed Ruff in the ribs several times, but not a single one of them would let go. She finally hit the ground, and all three dogs spread out, immobilizing her on her back. Pam walked over, and pinned her front two legs to the ground with her back legs. She looked down at her with her empty eyes, and placed a hoof on the head of Ruff, causing his teeth to sink deeper. She raised her last hoof, her eyes locked onto Tianhuo's throat...

“MOOOOM!” an anguished cry suddenly filled the hall. Pam paused for a moment, then looked over at the platform. Ziege's eye bulged in surprise and he clamped his mouth shut. There was another noise, but was incomprehensible as he used his front legs to keep his mouth shut. His mark flashed brightly, then he shook his head.

“I had no idea that the link could be used like that. Interesting. Right. I believe you were about to kill her.” he said, clearing his throat. Pam looked back at Tianhuo. “Or...” his voice carried the unmistakable hallmark of a grin. “Or you could drag her over here, and we could take her to The Door. Yes. Let's do that! If Zhou failed me, then I assume that he's dead. Why not replace him? Yes. Bring her over here. We'll take her, and her precious empress to The Masters!”

Pam stared at Tianhuo blankly for a moment. Then sat down on her. She pulled Tianhuo's front legs up, then pinned them under her own fluffy body. Then, with a wave, her dogs dragged Tianhuo to the other side of the pit, and down the large passage.
[/spoiler]
 
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OCisbestungulate

Always watching you
Backers' Beta Tester
Feb 3, 2016
1,886
1,392
behind your curtains
Chapter 13
To Banish The Darkness
Part Four
Tianhuo could not see much from her position. Ruff blocked most of her view, but what she could see was that she rounded a corner. As they went along the passage got more and more narrow, and she saw the color from the world around her begin to slowly drain away.

“Flip her over. I want her to watch...” his voice hissed. Tianhuo struggled to break free, but was unable to do so as they flipped her onto her stomach. Pam pinned Tianhuo's legs behind her back, then sat on them. Tianhuo's instinct was to ignite her wings, but the last thing she wanted was to hurt Pam even more.

Now on her stomach, she could see clearly where she was. Before them all stood a massive door made of darkness. It writhed and twisted upon itself, and seemed to drain the color of the world around them. At the foot of it, lay The Daughter of Heaven herself, The Empress of Huoshan. The goat walked over to the door, stood on his hind legs, and opened his mouth:


Door that binds such power unfed
That holds such terrible dread,
With the power of we the chosen,
We command you, these fools minds to open!


The great door shuttered, and everything around them went dark. It lasted only a moment, then suddenly everything was wrong. White was black, greens became a strange red, and the great door was now wispy and white as snow. Tianhuo felt a great presence begin to fill the hall around them and a voice that was at once one voice and a thousand voices began to speak:


Hunger we know and feel,
To us, you bring many a meal,
Today we shall eat many a beast,
And you, Ziege, shall start our FEAST!


The door flew open, and from the blinding whiteness beyond, hundreds of clawed tendrils flew forth and sank themselves in the goat. He let out a terrible cry of pain as the tendrils dragged him to the ground. “Why?!” he screamed, the sheer panic in his voice ripping through the air. “Have I not served you?! Have I not given you all, and done all you commanded?!”


Fear.
You have let fear into your heart.
We commanded you to bring to us a most worthy meal,
and your flesh will do the part!


Ziege screamed a terrible scream as she watched him get dragged toward the void. His hooves dug desperately at the ground, trying in vain to slow his progress. As he inched closer to the horrid maw, more and more tendrils shot forth and pierced his flesh. With each tendril his terror grew, and his screams of panic became infused with more and more hysteria. He reached the door, and began passing through it. He let out one last cry as a tendril wrapped itself around his throat, and silenced him. Then, finally, he was dragged into the horrid abyss that lay beyond. Though, at the last moment, she saw his expression change. What was once terror, changed into pure bliss.

His head vanished into the void, and then from the darkness shot forth several more tendrils that sank into both Tianhuo and The Empress. Tianhuo felt something come into her mind. It promised her great power, and in return all she would need to do was follow The Masters. The voice spoke of wonderful power, and and primal desires. It spoke, of hunger.

The Empress, however, was not impressed.

Tianhuo watched through clouding eyes as the sleeping Empress calmly stood on her hooves, and looked into the void. “Do you think, that for one moment, I would listen to you? Or, that for one moment, We would listen to you? My heartbeat is the heartbeat of Huoshan. And I will not bow to the petty cravings of some petty predator that was banished thousands of years ago. Begone from my sight unworthy insect!” She slammed a hoof on the ground, and a great scream filled the hall. The great door then slammed shut, and vanished. The thing that had begun to speak to Tianhuo vanished, and her vision cleared. Then, suddenly, she was free. The dogs, and the sheep that held her captive, all fell over, and went limp.

“PAM!” she cried, leaping to her hooves. The sheep's eyes were no longer empty, and the mark that had burned on her head was now gone. However, her gaze was distant, and was fading. “Pam! Please! Come back to me! You need to see Pom! Pop told me to bring you back! PAM!” she screamed.

Pam rotated her head to look at Tianhuo. “T-tianhuo? You sound so far away, and I can hardly see anything.” he voice was soft and hard to hear.

“Pam! Come on, hold it together! I've got you! Pom is waiting for you!” Tianhuo was fighting back tears.

“I … heard her.” Pam said softly. “I heard her call to me. She did call to me, right?” Pam's head began to sway slightly.

“Yes! She's waiting for you! So please!” Tianhuo wrapped her hooves around the backside of Pam's head, cradling it.

“I … I'm not her real mom.” Pam smiled. “But tell her … when you see her … that I love her as though I was.” Her voice was even more quiet, and her eyes began to close.

“Tell her yourself!” Tianhuo ordered, picking Pam up.

“And tell … my husband … I love him...”

~​

Tianhuo's cries of agony filled the entire compound. It traveled through the halls, through the doors, and directly into the hearts of any and all who had been left behind. Her tears flowed freely, and soaked the wool of her friend.

Pam, a guardian of The Meadow, and beloved wife, was no more.

The Empress placed a hoof upon Tianhuo's shoulder. “Why? Why did this happen?!” Tianhuo asked, looking into The Empress's kind face. “Could you have done nothing? You banished the evil, could you not have healed her?” Tianhuo asked, tears streaking down her face.

The Empress shook her head gently. “She was too far gone. If I could have, I would have. Come, let us give her an honorable burial.” Tianhuo didn't want to let go of her. She didn't want to accept what had happened, but she knew the truth of the matter. She had never lost someone before, and she thought that when that day came she could handle it. She, after all, was a proud commander in The Empire of Huoshan. But yet… “Come,” The Empress said softly. “Let us leave this awful place. Carry your friend, I shall bear the burden of her loyal hounds.”

Tianhuo nodded slowly and she carefully laid Pam on the ground. She took a deep breath, and carefully placed her head under Pam's body. She lifted her onto her neck, and then onto her back. She let out a long, and heavy breath. “After you, Empress.”

The Empress held up what looked to be a necklace made from some kind of iron. “This fell off of him when he got dragged off. I believe it will be enough to take us home.” She placed it on the ground, and smashed it with a hoof. It shattered, and the air in front of them split open. Through the tear, they could see the outside of the Royal Palace, and the chaos that still ensued. “Come, let us go home, and clean up this terrible mess.”

Tianhuo nodded, and the both of them stepped through the tear, and back to their home...
 
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Feanor

Proud Velveeta
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Feb 3, 2016
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And thus ends the first full fledged TFH fan-fic (that I am aware of), courtesy of all of our favorite slavering predator-worshiper. Three cheers for OC on a job well done! While admittedly a bit jelly, I also am happy that you stuck with it and delivered on what I have so far totally failed to do, and provided this young fandom with some worthy fan-fiction with which to pass the long wait, and keep us interested in this world. So thanks!

You have also inspired me to get my ass moving on my own fic, so maybe I will revive that again here soon. Anyway, thanks for the little adventure, and it's been a fun read!

So passes Ziege, son of... Diege? Liege? It's weird to talk about your OC as dead, then switching back to working on our RP event involving him. Poor Pam, and poor Pop, how will he get along all alone out there in the woods? Every good ending needs some tragedy though! I was hoping the Empress would kick some flank when she finally got done with her beauty sleep, seriously needs to get an alarm or something though. Just curious, considering this is using the same character, will this have any effect on our RP? Or is that a secret?
 

0Zero100

Alpaka Representative/Robot Family Bear
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Feb 3, 2016
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I'm OC's editor. Well, I used to be, then I kinda did some stuff, got busy, forgot to edit for him and just was kind of a bad editor all around. I wasn't reliable, but I aim to fix that, starting with this last chapter! So these are spoilers, but they're mostly filled with small corrections that OC will take care of in the next few days, take a gander if you'd like.

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE LAST CHAPTER!!!!!!!!!!


-She gave to thought to what she could hope to accomplish should she defeat Zhou, but that mattered little at the moment.
-"She gave /NO\ thought /AS\ to what she..."

-In her mind he saw the faces of all those whom she loved flash before her.
-"In her mind /SHE\ saw the faces..."

-Tianhuo's body erupted with flame and Zhou was blown back as she sudden lifted into the air.
-"... back as she /SUDDENLY\ lifted into the air."

-However, she was more then just rage, more then just half-dragon.
-"... more /THAN\ just rage, more /THAN\ just..

-Fire expolded from his mouth, but hit nothing.
-"Fire /EXPLODED\ from his...

-He took flight, hoping that perhaps he might out manuver her in the air, but he was very wrong.
-"... perhaps he might out /MANEUVER\ her..."

-“Y-you're really beaten. Surely whatever power had didn't abandon you so quickly.”
-"... Surely whatever power /YOU?\ had didn't..."

-“I … I was afraid. You … when you came blew me back, you started glowing. I saw … I saw Them. I saw around you, and in your eyes, I saw Them. And I, I was afraid.”
-"... when you came/,\ (Not sure if there's an extra word or if forgot comma...) blew me back..."

-"They surrounded me, and … and I felt afriad.” his jaw slacked somewhat and his eyes began to shift about.
-"... and I felt /AFRAID\."

-his shape, once large and strong, begun to shrink, and the ferocity that once swirled around him began to fade.
-(Not sure if Begun should be Began or not...)

-"Embrace Honered Father and Honroed Mother!"
-"Embrace /HONORED\ Father and /HONORED\ Mother!"

-"Embrace the herd!"
-(I thought we were past our Lawyer Friendly Equines phase?)

-“But you are su-” the private began to say, when suddenly the little branch she torched spring to life, and little flowers suddenly began to grow from it.
-"... little branch she torched /SPRUNG\ to life..."

-“I get that you can breath fire and all that, but you really should be a bit smarter about this.”
-"... you can /BREATHE\ fire and..."

-“Well hello there! Is this pyromaniac of a friend, a friend of yours?”
-(Not sure if shluld be: "Is this pyromaniac a friend of yours?"
Or:
"Is this pyromaniac of a *Something that's not friend*, a friend of yours?)

-The private took another suprised step back as the swampland before her suddenly parted, and a firm dirt path rose from the ground.
-"... another /SURPRISED\ step back..."

-The whole of the swamp it seemed bent in a tasteful arch around them, and along the walls sprouted flowers of all kinds and colors.
-"The whole of the swamp (X) seemed bent..."

-an old green reindeer.
-(Deerling from Pokemon when?)

“-icorn. Yes, that's what they all say.” the old bull rolled his eyes.
-(Bull? Thought he was a buck?) (SCRATCH THAT, JUST LOOKED IT UP, BUCK IS A MALE "DEER", NOT A "REINDEER". My bad mate.)

-“They always seem to forget we have magic too.” he sighed as he diped his muzzle in to the strange pool, and made a series of undignified slurping noises.
-"... as he /DIPPED\ his muzzle /INTO\ the strange..."

-“Help pappy!” she shouted, the deperation in her voice tearing at the heart-strings of the private.
-"... the /DESPERATION\ in her..."

-the old bull pointed off to the side of the cave, a spot that was out of sight from the entrence.
-"... sight from the /ENTRANCE\."

-“Goodness me. What happened to you old friend? Doesn't look like you tripped into the fireplace again.”
-"... What happened to /YOUR\ old friend?
(Shouldn't it be: "Doesn't look like HE tripped into the..."? I'm not sure...)

-“It seems to be a brand of some kind. Yes, a brand...”
-*Shakes fist* Nikeeeeeeeeee!!!!

-“Control! It's a control brand!
-*Shakes fist* DirecTVvvvvvvvvv!!!!!!!!!

-“He branded with some kind of dark magic, and I don't see Pam with you. So, either she's gone off after whoever did this, or she got captured, am I right? And I'm gonna guess from how distraught poor Pom here is, it's the latter. So, I'm gonna guess that she got nabbed and he got hurt in the same attack. Am I right?”
-"He branded /HIM\ with some...
(Nice to know The Doctor still hasn't given up his adventuring)

-“I've known Pam and Pop for a very long time."
-(Dang, headcanon destroyed.)

-"But that's another story and another life."
-(Headcanon reestablished!)

-After all, if the brandee has enough willpower, they could in theory shove the brander out of their minds.” he explaned.
-"... he /EXPLAINED\."

-"And I'd be willing to be that they would most likely keep her close by."
-"... be willing to /BET\ that they..."

-“And, unless the brandee is some one of unparalled willpower, it usually takes something outside of them to pull them out of it.”
-"...brandee is /SOMEONE\ of unparalleled..."

-“That's a memory I'd burn to ash if I could.”
-(Getting a serious John Hurt Doctor vibe from Deerling over here.)

-“Wonderful!” he exclamed, clapping his two front hooves together.
-"...he /EXCLAIMED\, clapping..."

-She could feel herself moving at an incredible speed, and it felt as though she was flying through a long tunnle.
-"...flying through a long /TUNNEL\."

-A tunnle whos walls were, hungry.
-"A /TUNNEL\ /WHOSE\ walls..."

-Though nothing but shadows surrounded her as she was propelled along, she felt the presence of hundreds of eyes, all of whom wanted nothing more then to eat her.
-"... wanted nothing more /THAN\ to eat her."

-“RETREAT!” all four shouted, then bolted away from Tianhuo, and throguh a door, slamming it behind them.
-"... and /THROUGH\ a door..."
(TEAM ROCKET'S LASTING OFF AGAAAAAAIIIINNNN!!! *Shine*)

-“No. He sends his regards.” Tianhuo said, launching her self into the air, and directly at him.
-( /Herself\? One word or two? I'm not sure which you were going for.)

-“You cannot touch me.” he said as he reappaeard on the walkway behind the plaform.
-"... as he /REAPPEARED\ on the.... the /PLATFORM\."

-Though, this mark was larger, and more savage looking then any she had seen before.
-Than

-In in their eyes was nothing but emptiness.
-(Too many "In's". Or did you mean: "In her eyes..."?)

-She weaved, but he still got a few claws on her face.
-"She weaved, but /SHE\ still got..."

-“This was was taken to The Door.
-"This /ONE?\ was taken...

-"What you see before you is not a mind-controled beast, but a mindless puppet!
-"... /MIND-CONTROLLED\ beast
(Also, having some serious flashbacks, but from where...?
Kingdom Hearts... 358/2... Xion... Roxas... Poppet... I got nothin.)

-Her teeth sunk in, peircing Tianhuo's scales, and causing pain to shoot up her leg.
-"... in, /PIERCING\ Tianhuo's scales...

-Ruff lunged at her back side, though hissed his target as Tianhuo spin in the air to avoid him.
-(May I?) "Ruff lunged at her /backside\, though hissed /at\ his target as Tianhuo /spun\ in the air to avoid him."

-She flew across the pit, and slammed both dogs onto the lip of pit, but only managed to knock one of them off.
-(May I?) "She flew across the pit, slammed both dogs onto the lip, but only managed to knock one of them off." (Or some odd combination of both.)

-She landed on the walkway, and drove two hooves into the face of Arf, who was still lactched to her back leg.
-"... who was still /LATCHED\ /ON?\ to her back leg."

-He lunged from her, and this time his teeh found his mark as they clamped around Tianhuo's muzzle.
-(Lunged from her what?) "... this time his /TEETH\ found his...
(Also, ewww, dog kisses of death!)

-She finally hit the ground, and all three dogs spread out, immoblizing her on her back.
-"... spread out, /IMMOBILIZING\ her on her back.
(Kinky) 

-Pam walked over, and pinned her front two legs to the ground with her back legs.
-(Even more kinky.)

-She looked down at her with her empty eyes, and placed a hoof on the head of Ruff, causing his teeth to sink deeper.
-(Less kinky)

-There was another noise, but was in comprehensible as he used his front legs to keep his mouth shut.
-"... but was /INCOMPREHENSIBLE\ as he used..."

-Then sat down on her.
-(D'ohoho! OC, you naughty little minx... badger-cat, whatever you are.)

-She pulled Tianhuo's front legs up, then pinned them under her own fluffy body.
-(Ooo, steamy.)

-As they went along the passage got more and more narrow, and she saw the color from the world around her begin to slowly drain away.
-"As they went along/,\ the passage..."
(Maybe forgot a comma?)

-“Flip her over. I want her to watch...”
-(Still steamy, now I'm in a sauna.)

-His head vanished into the void...
-(Senpai?..... Senpai........)

-Tianhuo felt something come into her hind, and began undoing it.
-(WHOA! The kinky thing was just a joke man, I wasn't serious.)
"... something come into her /MIND\ and began...

-Tianhuo watched though clouding eyes as the sleeping Empress calmy stood on her hooves, and looekd into the void.
-"Tianhuo watched /THROUGH\ clouding eyes.... on her hooves, and /LOOKED\ into the void."

“My heart beat is the heart beat of Huoshan."
-(Heartbeat, one word.)

-The dogs, and the sheep that held her captive, all fell other, and went limp.
-"... captive, all fell /OVER\, and went limp."

One I'll give you guys for free:
-She placed it on the ground, and smashed it with a hoof.
-(Percy Jackson much?)

*That was actually the only thing in Chap 4 that was wrong... and it wasn't even wrong, I just wanted to make a comment.*
 
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OCisbestungulate

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So, honest confession time: Yes, I am fully aware of the story is rather unoriginal in many ways. I'm aware that I used many, many cliches. In short, I know of the many shortcomings of this story, but I wanted to say that I wanted to allow myself to make them. That said, I still very much enjoyed writing this whole thing. And yes, there is the odd loose thread here and there. I put those there intentionally in case I should decide to expand a little bit upon this. And yes, there will be an epilogue to all of this (in case the question came up).

Self deprecation and other nonsensical filler aside: Thank you all for taking this ride with me. After all, if not for you good people, I would have never written, nor finished this story. Thank you for being both modivation, and insperation. And, thanks for reading. :Paprika:

And thus ends the first full fledged TFH fan-fic (that I am aware of), courtesy of all of our favorite slavering predator-worshiper. Three cheers for OC on a job well done! While admittedly a bit jelly, I also am happy that you stuck with it and delivered on what I have so far totally failed to do, and provided this young fandom with some worthy fan-fiction with which to pass the long wait, and keep us interested in this world. So thanks!

You have also inspired me to get my a-- moving on my own fic, so maybe I will revive that again here soon. Anyway, thanks for the little adventure, and it's been a fun read!

So passes Ziege, son of... Diege? Liege? It's weird to talk about your OC as dead, then switching back to working on our RP event involving him. Poor Pam, and poor Pop, how will he get along all alone out there in the woods? Every good ending needs some tragedy though! I was hoping the Empress would kick some flank when she finally got done with her beauty sleep, seriously needs to get an alarm or something though. Just curious, considering this is using the same character, will this have any effect on our RP? Or is that a secret?
Aww, thanks! Indeed, thanks to all! And:
So, the great plot twist is: He's dead. He's always (more or less) been dead. Ziege is straight-up dead, but
the masters wouldn't let him actually die, as well as the fact that he refused to let death stop him from serving them. So, he inhabits the present as a specter. Or rather, more of a wraith, that possesses willing mouth pieces as needed to carry out the will of his masters.
This is why his form was indistinct during the Battle of Unruliness. That said, he is far from immortal (if that would be a concern). After all, a humble confetti rocket was more then enough to knock him out of commission for awhile. Magic or holy power would be enough to banish him. So, I hope that answers the question. :D

I'm OC's editor. Well, I used to be, then I kinda did some stuff, got busy, forgot to edit for him and just was kind of a bad editor all around. I wasn't reliable, but I aim to fix that, starting with this last chapter! So these are spoilers, but they're mostly filled with small corrections that OC will take care of in the next few days, take a gander if you'd like.

EDITING STUFF

One I'll give you guys for free:
-She placed it on the ground, and smashed it with a hoof.
-(Percy Jackson much?)

*That was actually the only thing in Chap 4 that was wrong... and it wasn't even wrong, I just wanted to make a comment.*
Thanks Zero. I'll get those things fixed up soon-ish. That said: I've never read any of his books or seen the movies. So I get to say that I didn't steal from those! :D
 
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Feanor

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In short, I know of the many shortcomings of this story, but I wanted to say that I wanted to allow myself to make them.
Words of wisdom, if only I could do this, I might finish something someday. Maybe.

As for the spoiler...
That is what I was starting to suspect. It shouldn't be too much of an inconvenience, after all, you spent alot of time as an ethereal eavesdropper in the council halls anyway. We'll just have to remember to pack confetti..
 

0Zero100

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Basically, in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, Per y and his two friends travel to the underworld to save his mom who was kidnapped earlier in the movie. Stuff ensues and they can finally leave, but to leave they have to step on these (Rocks? I forget what they were. Essentially a teleportation stone.) and they only have three... Percy, his "2" friends and his mom... 1, 2, 3...4. That was really it, just stepping on a stone and a portal pops up and (PJ) stepping on a stone and being teleported somewhere.
 

OCisbestungulate

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So, upon pondering this story, and thinking about it, I came to realize something about it that I had not realized when I wrote it.
Tianhuo is not a hero. That is, she is not in this story.
Not only that, she never saves herself. Every problem she faces, she is defeated, handily. What's even worse, is that I realized that I committed what I consider to be a sin of fanfiction, and basically made my OCs better then the canon ones (okay, one, since The Empress kinda rofl-stomped my OC master-mind villain thing). Granted, I tend to beat upon my characters pretty badly (though I suppose I'm tame by some measures), but Tianhuo never wins. Not even once. Even when she beat Zhou, it wasn't her that won, but it was he who was beaten by something else. And, after her moment of glory, the moment in which she finally becomes realized as a character, she gets straight-up stomped once again. It's not even a contest. Odd, considering that she's the only champion of the 6 who's a professional solder, yes? When I realized this, that I had made her weak and little more then a plot beat-toy (who was carried along by the plot, rather then driving it, which is kinda sad considering a nameless private did more then she did to move the plot along), I was filled with remorse at having done her such a disservice. So, why am I saying all of this?
One: to apologize to the fans of Tianhuo who may have picked up on this. What I had ended up doing was very much unintentional.
Two: because I want to change this fact. If I have the time, I will be making edits to the story, edits that will change her from an abused villain that destroys everything she touches, to a hero who steps up to the challenge she must face. Thus, if things seem to have changed, or been altered, that is because they have. Thus end the rant.

Nothing to see here! Move along. :D
 
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0Zero100

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Personally, OC, I would have kept it the way it is. I know you wanted to paint a certain picture for us, but in the end, isn't this picture, in it's own right, a masterpiece? (That's not an exaggeration, in my eyes you're very good, though not novel tier, you excel at your craft.)

It's not a NYT best seller, but you have to admit, it's certainly has it's own unique charm. I respect your judgement and won't tell you not to, but I'll say that it was an honor helping at the middle and finale of this story. I hope you can rewrite this into something you can be proud of.
 

Feanor

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This is true, but I think you are over-stating it a bit. Yeah, she got beat up alot, but I for one liked that. You're right that she could have been more of the driving force for plot progression, but that could be done despite her defeats, rather than in their stead. Her determination and willpower are shown, and those can be as good tools as martial prowess. Her struggles made her feel more like a growing, developing character - more 'human' if you will, and there is definitely something to be said for that. Not to say she couldn't do with dishing out a meaningful beating or two.
Even when she beat Zhou, it wasn't her that won, but it was he who was beaten by something else.
I thought it was more like her embracing the balance of the two aspects that allowed her to defeat him. Idk, it didn't really seem like something outside of her to me, more like a revelation (albeit with some help) that allowed her to channel her own inner power, but maybe I misunderstood.

It did feel like she was carried along alot, and there are other flaws, but that is no reason for remorse. Writing stuff like this is the best practice. Alot of things you won't ever recognize until it is written and posted, so as with most things in life, just doing it and keeping an open mind to your mistakes and what you can learn is the best way. This is a good story that was enjoyed by many of us, and also revealed to you some points you could work on, so it is a win win, yes? As Bruce Lee once said; "Absorb what is useful, discard what is not."
 

OCisbestungulate

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This is true, but I think you are over-stating it a bit. Yeah, she got beat up alot, but I for one liked that. You're right that she could have been more of the driving force for plot progression, but that could be done despite her defeats, rather than in their stead. Her determination and willpower are shown, and those can be as good tools as martial prowess. Her struggles made her feel more like a growing, developing character - more 'human' if you will, and there is definitely something to be said for that. Not to say she couldn't do with dishing out a meaningful beating or two.

I thought it was more like her embracing the balance of the two aspects that allowed her to defeat him. Idk, it didn't really seem like something outside of her to me, more like a revelation (albeit with some help) that allowed her to channel her own inner power, but maybe I misunderstood.

It did feel like she was carried along alot, and there are other flaws, but that is no reason for remorse. Writing stuff like this is the best practice. Alot of things you won't ever recognize until it is written and posted, so as with most things in life, just doing it and keeping an open mind to your mistakes and what you can learn is the best way. This is a good story that was enjoyed by many of us, and also revealed to you some points you could work on, so it is a win win, yes? As Bruce Lee once said; "Absorb what is useful, discard what is not."
You know, you're right. Besides, it's a bit hypocritical of me to be all like, "It's okay to write bad things!" and then be all like "Oh woe is me! I wrote a bad thing!" Not to mention it's totally a buzz-kill when a writer/painter/etc..., does that kind of thing. So, here's to simply letting my unnessary (and I imagine laborious) lamentations go!

Plus, you know, still gotta upload an epilogue! :D
 

OCisbestungulate

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It took far too long to upload this, but here it is:

Chapter 14
Epilogue To The Darkness
Tianhuo shifted in her armor as she flew through the sky. It was a clear morning, with the sun having just risen over the horizon. Today was a big day for her. Today she would be promoted to Captain of the Guard, the highest position one could attain. The Empress had decided that since she had proven herself fearless, skilled, and loyal beyond question, that she would be the perfect fit for the position. Tianhuo had been humbled by this choice, and was still unsure of she was fit to fill such a major position. Still, The Empress trusted her, and she would serve her until her dying breath.

That, however, would have to wait. The ceremony wasn't until mid-afternoon and she had somewhere else to be until then. Her mind drifted slightly as she made her way across the heavens. She thought of all that had happened only a few days ago. About how she had nearly lost her life to the traitor Zhou, how the Empire itself had been attacked, and about how The Empress had been abducted directly out of her chambers. And about how…

Her mind drifted to emptiness as the sun continued its slow climb up the sky. Right now she didn't want to think about too much. She let out a sigh. She would be there soon enough. She should save her thoughts for then.

Until then, she let her mind drift to the memory of when they had stepped through the portal. They had arrived in the midst of unbridled chaos as Longma and invader fought each other. She had stood, her long graceful body and scales shining in the sun, and in a powerful called to her dear friends (for she saw her subjects as such). At once every Longma looked at her, dark mark or no, and their eyes filled with adoration. With one voice they all shouted a mighty war cry, and Tianhuo had watched in awe as the marks upon her fellow Longma suddenly vanished without a trace. It did not take long after that to turn the tide and crush the invaders.

Invaders. The word made her thoughts drift to the traitor Zhou. It was true that his actions had caused the invasion, and that he was guilty of high treason. However, when they had found him, a twisted form clinging to life and begging for mercy, they had taken pity on him. And when Tianhuo had told them that it was his actions that had sent her to The Empress, they had decided that he would live. However, he would rot in their dungeons for many years for his actions. She sighed. She didn't want to think about such things anymore. There would be more then enough heaviness for one day.

Some time passed, and by the time she arrived, it was near mid-morning. As she flew over her destination, she glanced down. There, in the center of a scorched patch of forest, stood a ram, a reindeer, and two dogs. Before them, four markers sat upon the ground. It looked like she was just in time for Pam's funeral.

She choked back some tears at that thought. Now was not the time for that. Soon, but not yet. She descended to land beside the ram, who sat on a stretcher held up by his two dogs. He, and the reindeer, looked over at her. Pop gave her a sad smile, and she smiled in return.

“I'm sorry…” she said quietly.

Pop's smile changed little, and he shook his head slightly. “You brought her back to me. That's more then enough.” his eyes closed and his ears hung, “I just … wish I could have been there.”

A gentle, yet sad silence filled the air around them for a time. “She heard Pom's voice.” Tianhuo said at length.

“I'm glad.” Pop replied softly.

“So it worked. I'm glad.” the reindeer smiled slightly.

Tianhuo looked at him curiously. “Oh, Tianhuo,” Pop began, “this is an old friend of ours. Pam and I met him many years ago. He's the one who made it possible for Pom to talk to you guys,”

“I see. You must know a thing or two about magic then.” Tianhuo appraised the old reindeer. He almost looked more like a plant then an ungulate.

“I do, but that's not really important.” he replied, waving a dismissive hoof. “What's important is that Pom was able to reach her.”

“In speaking of which, where is Pom? Or her brother?” Tianhuo looked around, but saw no trace of the little lamb.

Pop shook his head sadly. “After all of that happened, her parents moved and took her with them. Besides, I don't know that she would be able to handle being here.” he sighed.

“I wouldn't underestimate that lamp, old friend.” The reindeer said, “She may be rather meek now, but I saw something great in those eyes. But that's nether here nor there. Shall we start, Pop?”

Pop took a deep breath, held it for a second, then let it out. “Sure, I just wanna ask Tianhuo one last question.” he said, turning to look at her. “Tell me, did she die a hero?”

The question caught Tianhuo completely off guard. She stumbled slightly as it hit her, and a few tears came out of her eyes. She thought back on that horrible cave, and her fight with Pam. She had Tianhuo's life in her hooves, but she faltered. One quick strike, and it would have been all over. Had she died a hero? “Yes, Pop. Yes she did. And she wanted me to tell you-”

“That she lov-” he started to finish for her, but his throat caught, and he was unable to finish speaking.

“That she loved you. And that she loved Pom as though she was her own.” Tianhuo said, reaching out and putting a hoof on him.

Pop was unable to say anything after that. He wanted to, she could tell, but he couldn't bring himself to say anything. Finally, after some time, he collected himself once more. “Pam,” he said, his voice clear and loud as began the service, “I cannot follow you. You have gone, as all of us, to a pasture beyond the far mountains. You have gone to that pasture where our fathers, our mothers, our sisters and brothers, and where even our children have gone.” it was hard for him to speak, but his voice held steady. “Pam, when you get there, bid them hello for us, their kin. And when you graze beside them, think of us as the green grass fills your belly. May you bleat with joy forever more, and may...” his voice finally gave out, and he could say no more.

“And may the skies above you be free and clear from care and sorrow. Rest in peace, our beloved Pam.” the reindeer finished. Pop turned to him to say 'Thank You', but couldn't. The reindeer nodded in reply. “My old friend, I would do almost anything for you and Pam.”

“Thank you.” he said quietly, then began weeping. Tianhuo had no idea for how long he wept, nor did she care. Rather, she stood in salute, as one would a fallen hero. She knew that she would be late to her promotion ceremony, but right now, she didn't care. Right now, she had a friend to bid farewell.

I suppose in retospect, I should have actually written the scene in the which the Empress saves her empire, but oh well.


And that's it. No more. The story is done.
 
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0Zero100

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It took far too long to upload this, but here it is:

Chapter 14
Epilogue To The Darkness
Tianhuo shifted in her armor as she flew through the sky. It was a clear morning, with the sun having just risen over the horizon. Today was a big day for her. Today she would be promoted to Captain of the Guard, the highest position one could attain. The Empress had decided that since she had proven herself fearless, skilled, and loyal beyond question, that she would be the perfect fit for the position. Tianhuo had been humbled by this choice, and was still unsure of she was fit to fill such a major position. Still, The Empress trusted her, and she would serve her until her dying breath.

That, however, would have to wait. The ceremony wasn't until mid-afternoon and she had somewhere else to be until then. Her mind drifted slightly as she made her way across the heavens. She thought of all that had happened only a few days ago. About how she had nearly lost her life to the traitor Zhou, how the Empire itself had been attacked, and about how The Empress had been abducted directly out of her chambers. And about how…

Her mind drifted to emptiness as the sun continued its slow climb up the sky. Right now she didn't want to think about too much. She let out a sigh. She would be there soon enough. She should save her thoughts for then.

Until then, she let her mind drift to the memory of when they had stepped through the portal. They had arrived in the midst of unbridled chaos as Longma and invader fought each other. She had stood, her long graceful body and scales shining in the sun, and in a powerful called to her dear friends (for she saw her subjects as such). At once every Longma looked at her, dark mark or no, and their eyes filled with adoration. With one voice they all shouted a mighty war cry, and Tianhuo had watched in awe as the marks upon her fellow Longma suddenly vanished without a trace. It did not take long after that to turn the tide and crush the invaders.

Invaders. The word made her thoughts drift to the traitor Zhou. It was true that his actions had caused the invasion, and that he was guilty of high treason. However, when they had found him, a twisted form clinging to life and begging for mercy, they had taken pity on him. And when Tianhuo had told them that it was his actions that had sent her to The Empress, they had decided that he would live. However, he would rot in their dungeons for many years for his actions. She sighed. She didn't want to think about such things anymore. There would be more then enough heaviness for one day.

Some time passed, and by the time she arrived, it was near mid-morning. As she flew over her destination, she glanced down. There, in the center of a scorched patch of forest, stood a ram, a reindeer, and two dogs. Before them, four markers sat upon the ground. It looked like she was just in time for Pam's funeral.

She choked back some tears at that thought. Now was not the time for that. Soon, but not yet. She descended to land beside the ram, who sat on a stretcher held up by his two dogs. He, and the reindeer, looked over at her. Pop gave her a sad smile, and she smiled in return.

“I'm sorry…” she said quietly.

Pop's smile changed little, and he shook his head slightly. “You brought her back to me. That's more then enough.” his eyes closed and his ears hung, “I just … wish I could have been there.”

A gentle, yet sad silence filled the air around them for a time. “She heard Pom's voice.” Tianhuo said at length.

“I'm glad.” Pop replied softly.

“So it worked. I'm glad.” the reindeer smiled slightly.

Tianhuo looked at him curiously. “Oh, Tianhuo,” Pop began, “this is an old friend of ours. Pam and I met him many years ago. He's the one who made it possible for Pom to talk to you guys,”

“I see. You must know a thing or two about magic then.” Tianhuo appraised the old reindeer. He almost looked more like a plant then an ungulate.

“I do, but that's not really important.” he replied, waving a dismissive hoof. “What's important is that Pom was able to reach her.”

“In speaking of which, where is Pom? Or her brother?” Tianhuo looked around, but saw no trace of the little lamb.

Pop shook his head sadly. “After all of that happened, her parents moved and took her with them. Besides, I don't know that she would be able to handle being here.” he sighed.

“I wouldn't underestimate that lamp, old friend.” The reindeer said, “She may be rather meek now, but I saw something great in those eyes. But that's nether here nor there. Shall we start, Pop?”

Pop took a deep breath, held it for a second, then let it out. “Sure, I just wanna ask Tianhuo one last question.” he said, turning to look at her. “Tell me, did she die a hero?”

The question caught Tianhuo completely off guard. She stumbled slightly as it hit her, and a few tears came out of her eyes. She thought back on that horrible cave, and her fight with Pam. She had Tianhuo's life in her hooves, but she faltered. One quick strike, and it would have been all over. Had she died a hero? “Yes, Pop. Yes she did. And she wanted me to tell you-”

“That she lov-” he started to finish for her, but his throat caught, and he was unable to finish speaking.

“That she loved you. And that she loved Pom as though she was her own.” Tianhuo said, reaching out and putting a hoof on him.

Pop was unable to say anything after that. He wanted to, she could tell, but he couldn't bring himself to say anything. Finally, after some time, he collected himself once more. “Pam,” he said, his voice clear and loud as began the service, “I cannot follow you. You have gone, as all of us, to a pasture beyond the far mountains. You have gone to that pasture where our fathers, our mothers, our sisters and brothers, and where even our children have gone.” it was hard for him to speak, but his voice held steady. “Pam, when you get there, bid them hello for us, their kin. And when you graze beside them, think of us as the green grass fills your belly. May you bleat with joy forever more, and may...” his voice finally gave out, and he could say no more.

“And may the skies above you be free and clear from care and sorrow. Rest in peace, our beloved Pam.” the reindeer finished. Pop turned to him to say 'Thank You', but couldn't. The reindeer nodded in reply. “My old friend, I would do almost anything for you and Pam.”

“Thank you.” he said quietly, then began weeping. Tianhuo had no idea for how long he wept, nor did she care. Rather, she stood in salute, as one would a fallen hero. She knew that she would be late to her promotion ceremony, but right now, she didn't care. Right now, she had a friend to bid farewell.

I suppose in retospect, I should have actually written the scene in the which the Empress saves her empire, but oh well.

And that's it. No more. The story is done.
I applaud you, good sir! 'Twas an honor to serve you and this story!
 
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Eliah Pickford

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Apr 11, 2019
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....I feel like I read something from a want-to-be Manga writer...

Then again, I'm a want-to-be Lovecraft writer so it's not like I've got ground to stand on.

That, the dragon empress bit felt like how the Ethereal in the novel Fire Warrior wasn't affected by the ruinous power of Chaos. Again, problem isn't you, its me.
 
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