A Last Letter Home

Started by Onyx Quill, 2017 Oct 15, 14:40:18

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Onyx Quill

2017 Oct 15, 14:40:18 Last Edit: 2017 Oct 18, 16:19:03 by Onyx Quill
(Eh, didn't quite turn out right. But I got it down.)

Eight years before the current date in Equestria
June 30th, 1916 by the Old World calendar
Poulain Region, Northeastern Prance


Darkness. The lone candle in the corner of the dugout cast a pale light that reached only a few feet. Corporal Onyx Quill huddled next to that tiny light looking down at a few blank pieces of scrap paper he'd gotten from the Quartermaster to write a letter home. It was a letter that would be sent home with his personal effects if he was killed in action in the coming days. He gripped a pencil in his hoof and sighed.


A few blank pieces of paper. Nothing more.
But at a moment like this, when Onyx knew he and his fellow soldiers would probably die in a matter of hours, they seemed like a fragment of life. Something to be cherished.
About an hour before, C Company's commander had gathered the troops to tell them the news: they would be going over the top the next morning. The Grand Combined Offensive was about to begin. Tens of thousands of Equestrian soldiers from nine army divisions would be attacking an entrenched, deadly, and experienced enemy. The EEF commander, Field Marshall Hay, had exhorted them to defy the gods of war and destroy the enemy facing them. The new troops had reacted with enthusiasm. The combat veterans, like Onyx, had just mumbled in irritation.


Onyx imagined that if there WAS a god of war, he would sing a "This Day" aria about how perfect the first of July would be. Some of the new soldiers in his unit were full of confidence. The bombardment in this sector had started a few hours before. Nearly five thousand guns had roared to life behind EEF lines, seemingly all at once. The Germane lines were about half a kilometer away. Even at this distance the ground shook. The troops of C Company could feel it in their bones.

A few had said there was no way any "Germies" could survive the bombardment Equestrian guns were hitting them with.

Onyx knew better, and he'd made it clear that plenty of the enemy would survive to meet them.

Memories from before the war came to mind. Bitter memories. He thought about one of the last times he'd talked to his parents...



                             -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"I just can't stay here anymore!"
 His mother, Juniper Sunrise, bit her lower lip. Fighting a losing battle against her anger. She opened her mouth to say something, but dad cut her off.
 "The farm's gone son. Getting mad at us won't help."
 "You think that will, Agate?!" Juniper hissed.
 Onyx stopped listening. He'd heard this same argument so many times over the past months that he knew what his parents would say to each other before they did. Losing the beet farm was heart-breaking. Especially to his father, Agate Spade. That farm had been in his family for nearly 200 years. In better times, Onyx's family made a good living selling their crops. They'd never been wealthy, but they'd done well.

Several bad harvests had broken their finances. Losing the farm had broken their spirits. They'd arrived in nearby Hoofington with their few possessions packed into a wagon. They found a home the only place they could afford: a poor house, or homeless ponies' shelter. Onyx remembered the humiliation of that day all too well. After a few months living in the poor house, he'd wanted out. He hadn't cared how.


It had been in October 1914 that he'd left Hoofington without looking back. He made it to Canterlot, and tried to make it on his own.

He thought back to those days in late December, 1914 and after New Years 1915. He'd spent the past few months in Canterlot after leaving the homeless shelter in Hoofington, where his parents still lived. He'd kept himself fed and off the streets by doing odd jobs. After Hearth's Warming, many of the shops had closed down or let go of temporary workers. Onyx had found himself nearly out of money. He'd had just enough left to buy a train ticket back to Hoofington, but that was out of the question. The last thing he wanted was to go back to the poor house. One day, he'd gone to look for work at a shop in the poorer part of town, only to find it had gone out of business right after the holiday. He'd turned away and started walking up the street wondering what the hay he was going to do now. An army recruiting station caught his eye. It had a poster in the window showing Princess Celestia in all her splendor. In front of her were several brown-clad soldiers wearing flat rimmed steel helmets. Along with a slogan.

"Your Princess and Equestria Need You!"

Coming from a small, isolated village, Onyx had never been especially patriotic. Canterlot politics were of no concern to the mountain folk of Hoofsdell. Places like Prance and Germaney might as well have been on another planet. But Onyx decided to try his luck with the army.

Anything was better than the homeless shelter.
Having nowhere else to go, he stepped into the recruiting office. He signed the forms and took the oath of service. A week later, his life as a soldier had begun.

After months of training for combat, and the Battle of Amel earlier in 1916, the homeless shelter didn't seem so bad anymore.

There was so much he wanted to say in this last letter home, but not enough paper in the brigade to say it. After taking a few deep breaths to compose himself, he poured his heart onto the pages.


Dear Mom and Dad.

Well, this is it. As I write this, it's just after 9pm on the 30th of June, 1916 by the Old World calendar we use here. Tomorrow, we'll
be going "over the top" in the Grand Combined Offensive. I suppose it's time for a few final words. I've made my peace, and tomorrow,
I'll have the best companions a pony could hope for facing Hell with me. Gray Hoof is sleeping a few feet away. Not sure how he's managing
that with all the noise from shellfire. Gray is the first friend I made after joining the army last year, and one of the greatest friends I've ever had.
He can always lift our spirits in the dark times with his pranks and sense of humor. I'll never forget the time he stole the Captain's mustache.
Shimmering Dawn is laying across the dugout from me. Seems like she can't sleep either. She's a wonderful artist, ma. You'd love her drawings.
She had a hard life before the war. Her father was a minor nobleman, but her mother was a poor, working-class mare who wasn't married to her
father. Made for a tough family life. She had a half-sister who studied magic under Celestia's guidance, but who disappeared some years ago.
I just finished going over some last minute preparations with Jade Jester, our platoon sergeant. She's brave and fiery. A fine leader. We all look up
to her.

Can you imagine that? Shy, introverted little me leading troops into this battle. I never could have imagined that back in Hoofsdell. It's where I am
now though. Gray, Shimmering Dawn, Ruby Sky, Tipsy, Ocean Leaves, Emerald Harvest, Clay Sculptor, Joyous Breeze, Graceful Stride, Dewshine, and
Pinstripe. Those are my squad mates. They'll be counting on ME to lead them tomorrow, and I will NOT let them down.

We had our fights over the years, but we had great times too. So many of them.
Those cold winter nights on our little farm, when we'd all huddle around the fireplace, tell stories, and sing songs. Those Hearth's Warming Eves
when I'd bug you about opening presents early. Harvest time, when dad and I would race to see who could dig up beets faster.

I love you both so much, and I'm proud to be your son.
Your jaws might have just hit the floor when you read that, but it's true. Mom, you always said I had a great heart, and a beautiful soul. I hope that's true.
If it is, I have you both to thank. Dad, you liked to say I was an idiot. I KNOW that's true. Thanks old colt. *Smile*

If you get this letter, it means I've been killed in action. I know you'll be crying when you read it, but it's okay. I'm in a better place now, far from the
war, and I'll always be your baby colt. Even from the next world. If you see a shooting star at night, know that it's me keeping watch over you.

Love now and forever,
Your son, Onnie.

Corporal Onyx Quill, C Company, 5th Royal Fusiliers.



Onyx tucked the letter away with some of his personal effects and gave them to the battalion sergeant-major, to be sent back to his family if he was killed. Then he laid his steel helmet on the floor and rested his head. He'd made his peace and was ready. Onyx finally drifted off to sleep for what he thought would be the last time.

When you've walked my road and you've seen what I've seen,
You won't try to talk about your magic friends.
You'll know dang well why I have this glint in my eye.
And I won't cry beneath anypony's hoof again.
-Onyx Quill ((Inspired by "Mal's Song." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_btQs2Movo))

ScarletInk

Wow, Onyx, this is very beautiful and well written, my congratulations :,)
"Oh, somewhere deep inside of these bones
An emptiness began to grow
There's something out there, far from my home
A longing that I've never known"
- "Jack's Lament", Danny Elfman

Onyx Quill

Quote from: ScarletInk on 2017 Oct 18, 15:11:48Wow, Onyx, this is very beautiful and well written, my congratulations :,)

 You're way too nice. :) Hehe. 
 Maybe I'm too hard on myself, though. My standards for me can be rather high.
When you've walked my road and you've seen what I've seen,
You won't try to talk about your magic friends.
You'll know dang well why I have this glint in my eye.
And I won't cry beneath anypony's hoof again.
-Onyx Quill ((Inspired by "Mal's Song." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_btQs2Movo))

ScarletInk

Quote from: Onyx Quill on 2017 Oct 18, 16:11:26You're way too nice. :) Hehe. 
 Maybe I'm too hard on myself, though. My standards for me can be rather high.

That's only natural for any sort of artists: the day a writer, painter or anything else, is going to be completely satisfacted with what they did, creativity will die. ^-^

I wrote a couple of things too for this forum, you're welcome to read them if you want to.
"Oh, somewhere deep inside of these bones
An emptiness began to grow
There's something out there, far from my home
A longing that I've never known"
- "Jack's Lament", Danny Elfman

Onyx Quill

 It pays to be your own biggest fan and your own biggest critic. :)
When you've walked my road and you've seen what I've seen,
You won't try to talk about your magic friends.
You'll know dang well why I have this glint in my eye.
And I won't cry beneath anypony's hoof again.
-Onyx Quill ((Inspired by "Mal's Song." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_btQs2Movo))

ScarletInk

That's self-awareness at its finest, my friend. ^-^
"Oh, somewhere deep inside of these bones
An emptiness began to grow
There's something out there, far from my home
A longing that I've never known"
- "Jack's Lament", Danny Elfman

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