The Mane Twelve Chapter 5 - The War
The day had come. Twilight Sparkle, along with Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy and now Rainbow Dash, was ready to begin phase one. As all of them braced themselves for the upcoming assault, Twilight gathered the leaders of the Pegasi squad, Heartfire Burn and Grafix.
"Alright ponies, this is it." Twilight Sparkle said to the group with minor determination. "Rainbow..." She turned her head towards the cyan Pegasus. "Your major concern now is to wipe the sky clear of them. Capture the Master Battlefleet, and take it down with the others. You're the only ones I can trust this assignment to..."
Rainbow Dash nodded. The cyan mare had a more serious expression on her face instead of her normal confident grin and excited look in her eyes. Heartfire Burn stayed behind her, only listening to the plan. Grafix stood alongside him.
Once everypony was set, the Pegasi spread their wings. As the door to the outside world opened, Twilight focused her Magic Energy on her horn. A beam of light burst out of her horn and lit the everlasting night. The light shined as bright as the sun used to. The Pegasi dashed away and towards the sky, towards the battlefleets. Rainbow Dash led them, flying as fast as she could. Heartfire had delayed his take off. His full of thoughts head kept him back. He slowly raised his head forward. He knew she was standing behind him. He spread his wings.
"What happened yesterday..." He didn't turn his head to face her. He lowered his head. He didn't know how to end his sentence. He raised it and turned around, facing her right in her purple eyes. "Don't mourn my death. It's not worth it..." He ended and took of, flying away from her.
Thyme was silent. All she could do was watch him leave her, distancing himself more and more.
"If only it was that easy..." She whispered to herself.
Twilight Sparkle's spell provided light, as much as it could. She looked at the brightness it provided. Memories returned to her, memories of the sun, when everything was peaceful in this little town. Princess... The minor determination that was carved in her face was suddenly gone. She lowered her head. Her eyes welled up and tears fell to the ground below her.
"I can't do this Pinkie..." Twilight whispered to her with a cracking voice. "This... all this... Applejack, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, this plan... Why did I plan it this way...? I might just be the cause of everypony's death..."
Pinkie said nothing. She wasn't happy, yet she wasn't sad either. She approached the purple Unicorn and gave her a hug.
"Twi, don't be so iffy..." She said with a comforting voice, "Whatever you do, never stop smiling..."
Twilight didn't look up. The tears begun to dry up on her cheeks. Her optimism hadn't returned though. She slowly raised her head and gazed at her light. Princess Celestia's image appeared in her head. What would she think of me if I just gave up...? Her lips slowly stretched back, forming a small grin.
"Rainbow Dash... everypony... we're counting on you."
Twilight's wish, however, was getting harder and harder to achieve as the minutes passed. As soon as the light shined bright in the sky, they were alarmed. Soon, the sky was filled with figures made out of shadows, figures that moved with great speed, leaving trails of black smoke behind them. The massacre that they caused in the streets now carried on in the skies. The figures stormed towards the Pegasi and clashed with them, their bodies blowing up into dark smoke upon clash. The impact on each Pegasus' body was fatal, the blow sending them back down to earth. Some of the shadows went berserk, going as far as ripping off the Pegasi's wings and forcing them down to the ground. The impact crushed their bones, killing them. The only image in their eyes before they let out their last breath was that of their bright, red glare as they came closer and ended their lives.
The number of surviving Pegasi decreased with every minute that passed. The remaining were struggling to live but it was pointless. The formation was gone. The survivors were afraid, they didn't have time to think, to react even. They fell one after the other.
Rainbow Dash didn't face them head on. She was focusing the Master Battlefleet. Right behind her, Fluttershy and the two Pegasi leaders, Heartfire Burn and Grafix. Their role had changed of the course of this assault. Now, with timed maneuvers, they managed to lure the figures towards them and dodge them effectively. They still suffered minor wounds, but as long as the mares didn't get hurt, it didn't matter.
They stormed to the battlefleet with great speed and, once they were close enough, they broke through its glass wall, which was used from the ponies inside it to look outside. As soon as they entered, the figures stopped. They didn't react, they just stared at the four Pegasi. Rainbow Dash's heart was pumping from their crimson stare. She looked away. There's nopony on board. That was the first thought that crossed her mind. Where are they?
"Everypony alive...?" She asked, still looking around with minor confusion.
Rainbow Dash's question was an ironic one, even if she didn't know about it. Grafix could barely stand up, his hooves bruised from the encounters. Fluttershy walked towards him and put down a bag that she was carrying. She pulled out some bandages and wrapped them around his hooves. Grafix was taken aback.
"Better...?" Fluttershy looked at his hooves and then raised her head, looking at him.
"Y-yeah..." Grafix looked down and moved his hooves a little. The pain was gone as suddenly as it had come. "Thanks..."
Heartfire was in a worse situation, with cuts all over his body. The figures were focusing him more than Grafix. Or it seemed like he himself wanted to guide them towards him. He could hardly walk, let alone stand. Fluttershy approached him, ready to treat him. Heartfire stopped her half-way through.
"No... Your safety was my purpose. And I accomplished it. I was the shield."
Fluttershy looked at him in total silence.
"H-How... How can you say that?!" She yelled at him. Heartfire was taken aback by her sudden yell. It was very uncommon for Flutterhsy to yell, even in the worst situations possible. "What about the others?! Were they shields as well...?!"
Heartfire stayed silent. He looked away. That was the only thing he could do. Rainbow Dash went close to Fluttershy and put a hoof on her shoulder.
"Hey, let's not argue 'bout this now." Fluttershy turned her head to face her. Rainbow could feel that she was upset. It could be seen in her eyes. "It won't be in vain Shy..."
The yellow Pegasus needed a moment to calm down. She took a deep breath. Once she felt less tense, Rainbow walked towards a corridor that led out of the room, in theory that is. Heartfire walked behind her. Fluttershy stuck close to the cyan mare. Grafix followed last.
As all four of them were walking down the corridor, Grafix looked at Heartfire. Hearfire Burn. A stallion willing to sacrifice himself. He looked down at his hooves. The bandages made him grit his teeth. Why can't I be like him? Why can't I be like him? Why can't I never protect the ones I love? His hooves stopped, as if they were stuck in place. The others didn't seem to notice. Fluttershy secretly looked behind her. Upon noticing that Grafix had stopped, she walked towards him, making the other two Pegasi stop.
"What's wrong Grafix...?" She went close to him. "Is it your hooves...?" She lowered her head and checked on them.
Grafix looked at her as she checked the bandages. She looked at them, concerned if she did something wrong. She worries... because of me...? No, please don't...
"N-no..." He replied. "It's not... I-I'm okay..." The mare got up slowly as she heard these words and nodded at him positively. She still felt unsure though and Grafix could see it in her face. "Really... I'm fine."
There was a moment of silence.
The two of them slowly caught up to Heartfire and Rainbow Dash. The four ponies then advanced further into the corridor.
After a while of walking, the corridor led the four ponies into a large room. Rainbow Dash looked around. No exits here either. Surprisingly enough, there were no doors inside the long corridor either. The room was empty. Who controls it? She looked at the end of it, spotting a system of levers and buttons.
"The control panel!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed with joy. She immediately rushed towards it. I will not fail you, Twilight, not again.
Fluttershy and Grafix were about to proceed. Heartfire suddenly blocked their way as he put his hoof in front of them. Grafix looked at him. The grey pegasus looked around suspiciously. This is easy. He thought to himself. It was clear to him at that moment.
"Rainbow Dash!" He shouted at her. "It's a trap!"
The cyan Pegasus didn't have the opportunity to look behind her or even head back before she was ambushed. Golden chains rose from the ground beneath her and grabbed her from her hooves, neck and waist, tying her tightly to the ground. Fluttershy gasped. She immediately ran towards her and tried to break the chains. She tried to grab them and loosen them but they were too tight. Rainbow Dash screamed in pain as the chains got tighter and tighter. There was a sudden burst of laughter that echoed between the four walls. The ends of the chains suddenly rose from the ground and pulled Rainbow Dash towards the control panel. Fluttershy looked at Rainbow as she was dragged away. The ends of the chains floated around a masculine Alicorn.
"Easy prey!" He growled as he lifted the chained Pegasus in the air.
"Are you the hunter..." His eyes glew with a vibrant orange color as he stared at her. "Or are you the hunted...?!" Rainbow Dash was ready to scream but it just wouldn't come out. She could hardly breathe. The Alicorn's lips stretched back as he saw the fear in her eyes. His lips had formed a wide grin.
The stallion was larger than an average pony and twice as big in mass. He had a crimson red coat and a mane that was as bright as fire, filled with bright red, yellow and orange colors. His body was covered with heavy, golden armor and right behind him floated a giant, double sided axe.
"I trust you operate this Battlefleet." Heartfire referred to the Alicorn.
The stallion didn't reply. Rainbow Dash was suddenly thrown at the wall to the right. The chains bound themselves on its surface, holding her against it. Rainbow Dash spit out some blood by the sudden impact. The stallion started walking towards Heartfire with slow steps, the grin still on his face. His axe swung itself in the air behind him. Fluttershy backed away, running close to the two Pegasi.
As the Alicorn got closer, Heartfire stomped his front hooves on the ground and leaned forward, preparing himself for an attack. The Alicorn now stood only a few centimeters away from Heartfire. He didn't respond. He only looked down, at him. Why isn't he attacking? The grey Pegasus thought to himself.
Heartfire seized the opportunity and, with lightning fast speed, lifted himself from the ground and clashed his head with his in a headbutt. The Alicorn's head leaned back, facing the ceiling. He was... dizzy? So it worked... Heartfire was about to attack once more before he heard his laughter again.
"Is that..." The Alicorn's head suddenly leaned forward again, his eyes burning up with excitement. "Your strength?!" The Alicorn yelled at him.
He charged his head backwards and then rushed it forward, striking Heartfire in the head with great force, so great that it sent him directly to the ground. The force was so intense that his body rebounded. The Alicorn seized the opportunity and charged his axe at Heartfire while he was in mid-air, capturing him by the neck and landing him in the wall on his right. Heartfire was still alive but his neck was stuck in between the two sided blades of the axe. He tried to get himself out but it was no use. He grasped the blades with his hooves and tried to pull it out. He grunted in pain as he pushed and pushed.
"That's it! Fight back!" He eventually let his hooves drop, blood dripping from them. "Break free so I can catch you again! Excite War!!"
Heartfire looked at the Alicorn, his eyes letting out a glare of shock. The stallion was the legendary Alicorn, War. He had had heard stories of him being the strongest pony that ever lived, earning his place in the Ponies of the Apocalypse, his lust for war becoming his element, his power, his drive.
"Why don't you talk?! Do you accept your defeat?!"
Heartfire looked at War in the eyes but didn't reply. War let out a chuckle. His hoof suddenly rushed towards Heartfire's face, punching him and pushing his head against the wall. The blow caused the wall to slightly crack behind Heartfire's head. War moved his hoof away. The Pegasus spit some blood on the axe's metal edge.
"Deify me then!!"
Heartfire looked away, the impact from that punch still affecting him. War's grin was gone. He walked away from him and towards Rianbow Dash. The chains that engulfed her suddenly vanished and the mare fell on the floor. Her breath was weak, as well as her movements. War grabbed her by her neck and lifted her up. Rainbow Dash didn't struggle, she had no power to struggle. War's grin re-appeared and his eyes glew brighter.
"The perfect trophy..." He raised his body and stood on his hind legs. "For the Ultimate Warlord!!" He charged his other hoof and pierced her chest.
Rainbow let out a weak gasp. War led his hoof out of her body and let go of her neck. Rainbow Dash's body floated in the air as golden blood ran down her wound. It spread all over her body, painting her gold. Her hooves lifted themselves to the sides. She seemed... crucified. Fluttershy looked at the golden Rainbow Dash in shock, tears already running from her eyes. Rainbow Dash's body moved towards the wall and stood against it, like an exhibit.
"Y-you turned her into... g-gold?" Fluttershy had cracked up, unable to talk properly.
War seemed to ignore her. He turned around and faced Heartfire again. The stallion was still looking at him, his look calm and concentrated on him. "I want to hear you..." His hooves slowly guided him towards him. "I want hear you scream in pain. I want to take that pride off your face..."
He stood in front of him and, for a while, just stared at him with his mouth half open, as if her had paused. But then, he formed an even wider than before grin on his face. His eyes flared up like a spreading fire. Heartfire lost his calm look as he felt an aching pain rushing through his body. He gritted his teeth as minor cracking sounds were heard. The sounds got louder and louder, as well as the pain. Heartfire's teeth separated and he let out a shout of pain as both of his wings were seperated from his body, blood splattering everywhere.
Thyme's eyes opened wide. W-what is this...? She slowly turned her head upwards to face the Battlefleet. The fight was still going, yet something felt wrong.
"H-Heartfire...?" Her eyes unwillingly welled up as she talked to thin air.
Heartfire had lost consciousness. War pulled his axe out of the wall. Heartfire fell to the ground. His body lied on a pool of blood caused from the plucked wings next to him. His pride... Grafix shivered at the sight. His wings... every Pegasus' pride...
"Coward!" He kicked Heartfire's body. Grafix's heart sunk. "Take your pride back! And you...!" He turned his head and stared at Grafix.
The stallion lost it. He let out a shout full of fear and pushed Fluttershy aside. He spread his wings and ran inside the corridor, flying as fast away from him as possible. War let out a grin and stomped his hooves on the floor.
"Run coward!! Run like the pitiful creature you are!!" War's hooves moved slowly as he grabbed Fluttershy and dragged her inside the corridor, the thrill of the hunt rushing in his blood. "You can run, but you can't hide!" He ended up in the room with the shattered glass, where the four ponies had come from.
Grafix was at the upper corner of the wall, hiding from the war-consumed Alicorn. His entire body was shaking. Am I really a coward...? A pitiful creature... I can't even protect my loved ones! He gritted his teeth, trying not to let out another shout.
War looked around the room. "Come out and fight..." His axe swung itself in the air. Its movements were elegant, as if it felt War's excitement. "We will fight to the death!" He turned around to face the corridor and threw Fluttershy on the floor in front of him. "And this mare will be the victor's trophy!"
There was no answer. War's eyes looked left and right. There was complete silence other than Fluttershy's heavy breathing.
"Or perhaps I can entertain myself even more...!"
He raised his axe in front of him. He slowly lowered it. The edge of the axe was right above Fluttershy's neck. Grafix's eyes opened wide. N-no! She's... she's all I have... all I hope for... He gritted his teeth even harder. War raised his axe above and swung it down at her.
She's my light in the darkness of this world!
"Stop!!" Grafix yelled at him.
The axe stopped as suddenly as it had rushed itself backwards, only a breath away from Fluttershy. It started moving away and swung itself once again behind the Alicorn. War looked at the corner of the ceiling and saw the white Pegasus. Grafix flew down and close to Fluttershy. He now stood against War. The crimson red Alicorn squinted his eyes, taking a close look at Grafix. He let out a loud laugh.
"It's you, colt!" War yelled at him.
Grafix looked at War with wonder, still intimidated by his words.
"W-What...?" He hardly asked.
War laughed once again, almost unable to control it. "Of course you don't remember! It's been so long... you are but the same coward you were back then!"
Grafix looked at War, now completely confused. What does he mean... back then...? He had no memories of ever seeing War and he had only learnt of him until now, during the recent invasion.
"The eyes of fire!! The bringing of despair!!"
Grafix was more shocked now than he was afraid. His words started making sense, repeating themselves inside Grafix's mind. Despair... The eyes of the beast. Memories from the shallowest depths inside Grafix's mind started to ascend.
Back, when Grafix was still small. His family had moved to a new town, far away from Ponyville. It ached, the feeling of abandoning all he had grown to love in the small town. A sudden conflict occurred, a few days after they had moved. Fire. Fire everywhere. Buildings burning, soldiers fighting, ponies dying. Grafix ran to his house as all of hell was breaking loose around him. He was avoiding corpses, soldiers, fire. It was still too late though. Grafix could only stand in front of his house, staring at it while it was being engulfed in flames. It felt weird, but it seemed like a pair of eyes inside the fire stared back at him, freezing him in place. Why didn't I... try to help...? Why didn't I... act? He wouldn't see their smiles anymore, he wouldn't feel their touch anymore. His parents had died, and he didn't even try to help them.
"And it was I who sent this feeling in your soul! My actions made you what you are today! I am the eyes inside the fire! I am the flame of despair! I am the true culprit! I am War!!!"
Grafix couldn't stand the truth. All these things, coming out on the surface at times like these. "I..." He lowered his head. "I roamed as an orphan from city to city, constantly blaming myself. I only... embraced despair..." He raised his head. His mouth was half-open and his eyes stared at War. "W-Why?" He asked.
"It was all..." He growled. "Personal entertainment."
Grafix was taken aback by his words. Murder, destruction... just to... satisfy... Grafix's eyes lit up after hearing that. He stomped his hooves on the ground and looked at War with a look full of hate and anger.
"Just to satisfy yourself?!" Grafix spread his wings and rushed towards him, the doubt of fear in his head now replaced by anger and the need for revenge.
War waited for him. As soon as Grafix was close enough, he charged his hoof and punched him in the gut, cutting Grafix in mid-flight, ceasing his breath. He threw him back, Grafix's body clashing with the wall. The Pegasus gasped as blood rushed out of his mouth.
"It's the feeling of fear!" War punched his breastplate with his hoof. "It's the urge of the hunter, to show no mercy, to attack relentlessly! Embrace the feeling of war!!"
"I will never..." Grafix's wings lifted him from the ground. "Become a monster like you!" He begun walking, slowly approaching War. "I will end your war... I will end your life..." War's grin got wider with every one of Grafix's sentences. "I will..."
Grafix was interrupted. He felt something holding his one hoof back. He looked down, at his hoof. He was held back by a yellow hoof. He held him tightly but at the same time, the touch was gentle. He led his eyes to the end of the hoof. The yellow Pegasus lied next to him. It was Fluttershy who held his hoof. She had bruises on her body and she could hardly raise her head to look at him.
"I... I remember..." Her voice was weak. Her word came out as whispers. "You were... a good colt. You... you always found a way to forgive." Grafix's eyes opened wide. "No matter what they did to you... you always forgave them... And then, you suddenly left." She put all the strength she had into raising her head. "And when you came back, you weren't the same. Couldn't you forgive... yourself...?"
Grafix's hooves had been rooted in place. He stood still, looking at Fluttershy. He raised his hoof and looked at it. What have I... become? He lowered his hoof and closed his eyes. He took a deep breath. As he opened them, he turned his head to face War. The crimson red Alicorn looked at him accordingly. He seemed irritated.
"Has feared taken over your body again, coward?!"
"No..." Grafix quietly replied.
War roared and stomped his hooves on the floor underneath him. "Fight me! Fight to win! Fight to avenge!"
"No." He replied the same way. "All these years that passed, I thought of many things. I had changed, I had become somepony I wasn't. I had become somepony that didn't know what he wanted to do, how to act, solely because of all these thoughts. But..." His lips slowly formed a weak smile. "I now know... I don't have to blame myself anymore. I'm back to where I wanted to be, I am with the ponies that I care about. What happenned belongs in the past. I forgive myself... and I forgive you, War."
War was taken aback by that last sentence. His furious expression got even worse upon hearing that. "You forgive me...?! War is not a virtue, it's an act!! An act of satisfaction! The sight of ponies dying, the smell of blood in my nostrils, the faces full of fear, it's what makes it unforgivably satisfactory!!"
"I'm not you War." He turned around and looked at Fluttershy. "Our grudge is over. All you have to do..." He turned his head and gave him a weak smile. "Is move on."
"I don't want your forgiveness!!!" War roared. He raised his axe. The sharp metal glew with a dark red aura on its edges. The sounds of fire and soldiers crying out could echo from it. "The sight of ponies dying! The smell of blood in my nostrils! The faces full of fear! This is the meaning of War!!!"
He threw his axe at him. The axe spun and spun, the energy becoming greater as it approached Grafix. The Magic Energy around the blades exploded, covering the place with dark smoke. The entire corridor was destroyed and the two rooms in the battleship were now one. Huge chunks of metal crumbled and fell to the ground. War couldn't see the outcome but he knew that a hit like that would kill any pony. He started chuckling. A weak sound coming from inside the smoke ceased his laughter.
It sounded like waterfalls, soothing water, just flowing. As the smoke cleared, War's eyes opened wide. Grafix didn't have a single scratch on him. His axe was stuck on the fractured wall, its metal shattered and rusty and the handle turned into bits and pieces. Aside from that, Grafix was now emitting a yellow aura from his body. Water... War's fiery eyes flared. The white stallion looked at War with a look more serious that he had ever shown. He raised his hoof and pointed it at War. The aura started concentrating around Grafix's hoof, materializing itself into a glowing, golden fleece.
"It... can't... be..." War was speechless. "So it's true... he was right. The Element came for my life. To assist the Lord." His eyes looked at the fleece in shock, more than that. He was intimidated by it.
Grafix looked at War silently. The fleece glew bright and War's body emitted the same color. War's crimson red skin let out bright light. War coughed, spitting out water.
"War is everlasting."
His armor vanished into bright light. His eyes stopped flickering, transmitting only a hollowness. His hooves were bound in their place by golden chains that had risen from the ground. His coat took the shining, golden color that his armor had.
"War is everlasting."
Like his armor, his body slowly begun vanishing. His disintegrating body was absorbed by the fleece in the form of pure Magic Energy.
"War... is... everlasting!!!"
Those were War's last words. His body, now pure Magic Energy, was sucked inside the fleece. Grafix looked at where War stood and just looked at it for a while, trying to figure out what had happenned. He turned his look towards the fleece. He smiled to himself.. The fleece faded away in the form of golden sparkles but the yellow aura still floated around him. Grafix leaned forward, close to Fluttershy. He lowered his hoof and held hers. Some of the aura slipped from his hoof onto hers. Her bruises slowly disappeared. The mare opened her eyes, revealing their light blue color.
"Don't worry Fluttershy..." Grafix comforted her with his voice. "It wasn't in vain..."
The two Pegasi walked to the other room. Grafix approached the crucified Rainbow Dash. As he looked at her, the rest of the aura moved away from his body and started moving around Rainbow's body. The golden color dripped away as it had come. Rainbow fell to the ground. She grunted. She shook her head, looking around.
"W-What happened?" She asked Grafix, still a little confused.
"It's a long story..." Fluttershy replied with a weak smile.
Heartfire opened his eyes. He slowly got up, his body still aching. He held himself against the wall. The grey stallion let out a sigh as he looked at his wings. He soon changed his view and looked at the wall. Unwillingly, he punched it as hard as he could. The sound alerted the three Pegasi. The went close to him.
"Hey, you okay?" Rainbow Dash asked him. She looked at his wings and gasped.
"Yeah... Heartfire pushed himself against the wall and stood on his hooves. "Let's just... finish this."
The four Pegasi walked towards the controls. As Rainbow got control of the Battlefleet, she guided it towards one that was nearby, crashing into it. Before they knew it, one ship crashed into the other, completely breaking their formation.
They left as soon as the Battlefleet fell from the sky, carrying Heartfire back down to Sugarcube corner, where they were greeted by the Unicorns and Earth Ponies. They were cheering for them as loud as they could. Rainbow Dash looked around. Even some Pegasi had survived. She let out a joyful laugh. The Mane Six reunited.
"Dash, you did it!" Twilight squeed in joy.
Pinkie greeted Fluttershy with a tight hug. Grafix stood inside the crowd, scratching the back of his mane. Thank you Fluttershy... He looked at his hoof. For returning me to who I was...
As soon as the four of them landed, Heartfire moved away from the rest of the ponies. He sat inside the old pastry shop, in the dark, where nopony would see him and his state.
Inside all the excitement was the white Unicorn, Thyme. However, she didn't cheer along with the rest of the ponies. She was searching for Heartfire. All four of them had come back together. Where is he...? As Thyme got a quick glance of Sugarcube Corner, she noticed a dark figure inside it. She entered the dark store.
"Heartfire? Is that... you?" Thyme approached the fractured Pegasus.
Thyme was taken aback when she saw Heartfire. His wings were missing and blood was running on his body. Heartfire didn't want to look at her in the eyes.
"Please, leave me."
Thyme came closer to him.
"It's okay..." She tried to comfort him by putting a hoof on his shoulder.
"Look, Thyme..." Heartfire moved Thyme away from him. He raised his head and looked at her in the eyes. "I... I don't want us to be together." Thyme looked at him, trying to hide her shock. "It's just..." He continued. "The more I'm around you, the more I hurt you. And I don't want you to get hurt when I find the one I truly love."
Thyme looked down. The silence that had taken over at that moment was something Heartfire had never experienced before. He approached her and put his hoof under her chin, slowly lifting her head.
"I just wish for you to-"
Heartifre was cut short from Thyme's sudden slap on his face. Heartfire didn't respond. He only looked at her, silently. Thyme didn't speak. She got up and walked out of Sugarcube Corner, leaving him alone.
All alone again...