Stop! You are reading the third story in the Bonds of Eternity Series.
The first story in the series is Family found here:
The second story in the series is Nihil Novi Sub Sole found here:
Friends in High Places
Zecora returned home from gathering herbs in the Everfree forest, she was running low on a healing agent known only as "bitter drink," named aptly after its taste. She lit the fire under her cauldron and began to warm up her brew. She figured now was a good time to check up on her guest.
The white coated Pegasus mare had not moved from the spot that she had been placed nearly two days prior, she was staring blankly into space, and shivering intensely. No wonder, as she had pushed off the blanket that Zecora had placed over her before leaving... again. Zecora picked up the blanket and placed it back over the shivering mare, knowing full well that she was going to push it off herself again, and when she did, Zecora would just put it back on, the cycle would continue.
The Pegasus had not uttered a single word since Zecora discovered her, lying alone and injured deep in the Everfree Forest two days prior, and Zecora had given up trying to get her to talk. She offered the Pegasus a smile, which she promptly ignored and continued to stare off into space. Zecora knew that the Pegasus would speak to her when she was ready. Zecora had used the last of the bitter drink in order to heal the Pegasus's wounds and ended up wasting most of it, as she'd had an extremely difficult time getting her to drink it. Zecora had needed to hold her mouth open and forcibly pour it down her gullet, and even then, she'd spit out most of it. Zecora had managed to get one dose in her system by using twenty bottles of bitter drink.
Zecora returned to her brew, and began grinding up the various herbs into a fine powder, where they'd be mixed into water and heated slowly, stir occasionally, and the result was a cauldron full of bitter drink, hopefully enough to last a year.
She found herself distracted, luckily, this was a simple recipe, and being distracted for a few moments was of little harm, unlike some of the more complex potions that she made, where if you didn't stir exactly right, it would either be useless, or explode in her face. When it did happen, it was usually both at the same time. Zecora's visitor puzzled her, she could only imagine what this Pegasus was doing out alone in the Everfree forest. It wasn't a place for ponies.
Although, Zecora figured that it really wasn't a place for her either, but it didn't matter, Zecora had been used to being in places where she didn't belong.
Surprise was in her own little world, barely aware of her own surroundings; she knew that she had been taken from the spot where she had chosen to wait for her master to come to her. She knew she was in the home of a Zebra, and she knew that she was too hurt to move.
Hurt was a relative term, he body had been fine physically, her mind on the other hoof... well, that was a difficult thing to judge. She was shivering, not because she was cold, in fact she found the environment to be rather temperate, the Zebra had insisted on covering her with a blanket, and no matter how many times Surprise had pushed it off, she didn't seem to get the picture.
Surprise was shivering because she heard whispering in her ears. Her service to the master, The Paragon of Order had given her the will to keep the voices silent, and then the master had told her to wait for him in the Everfree forest. That had been nearly a week ago, the master had not come for her. Surprise had begun to worry for her master, the last time her master had ordered her to wait for him, he had not come either, it hadn't been his fault though, her master had been ambushed by chaos cultists, worshiping the master's brother as though he were a god, and imprisoned him. She feared that her master had suffered a similar fate again.
She yearned for her master to come, he gave her strength, a purpose that helped keep the whispering away, now she was alone, and she wanted to cry. She kept the tears in though, the master would not want her to cry, she needed to be brave, and the master would want her to be brave. It was hard for her, because the whispering was constant, unending. It put a lot of strain on her.
The whispers wanted her to kill the Zebra.
Surprise didn't want to kill the Zebra, not unless the master asked her to. What if the master needed her? What would master do to her if she killed her before he wanted her to die? Her master was not allowed to kill someone directly. The rules prevented him from doing so. Surprise had done much killing in his service. She took great pleasure in performing the master's will. Violence in her master's name provided Surprise with the pleasure that most creatures found from mating, and she had become quite good at it. She had many fond memories of using the chain-knife that her master had given her to put down ponies that had fallen to chaos, and she had done it gladly. She had saved them after all; the hold of chaos is a fate worse than death itself. Surprise had saved so many of them.
Most of all, she enjoyed the incredibly messy killings that she preformed for her master, because he praised her so much for them. Being cut open by the chain-knife and having one's internal organs and blood tossed haphazardly about a room sent a very powerful message, unfortunately, for most ponies that had fallen to chaos, they would chose not to listen to the warnings, and would have a very sneaky Pegasus visit them in the dead of night.
Thinking about her master had put a smile on Surprise's face. She hoped that nothing bad had happened to him. She missed him terribly and wanted him to come to her, and she would wait until he did. As long as it took, Surprise would wait. Surprise's thoughts drifted away, back to when she first came into the Master's service, a thousand or so years ago, when she lived in the lovely settlement of Dream Valley.
The Dream Valley Settlement was an idealistic community founded nearly fifty years before Surprise's birth, as a refuge for ponies who wanted to escape from the modern society of Equestria. It was aptly named, as it was the dream home of the reactionaries, a faction of ponies who were afraid of the advanced technology pioneered in the rest of Equestria, the Dream Valley Settlement was founded along the St. Germain River, in what was now considered the Hoofson Bay Area. This was a time, roughly a thousand years ago, but still several years before Princess Luna would become Nightmare Moon, when the Hoofson Bay Area formally belonged to Equestria, though it was sparsely populated, containing no major settlements. The ponies of the Dream Valley Settlement had founded the town in response to the Sunburst Project, the grandiose, misleading name for the Equestrian nuclear weapons programme.
Equestria had been much different in this day and age, when the Dream Valley settlement was founded, Equestria had just left the industrial age, pioneering devices like the thermionic valve, wireless radio communications, automobiles, and propeller driven aeroplanes, and had entered the atomic age. Needless to say, Equestria was far more advanced than the other nations it had contact with, the theocratic gryphons of the north, and the nomadic Cossack Ponies of the east.
The Dream Valley Settlement intended to isolate the ponies that lived there from the rest of Equestria, preferring to live out a peaceful, agrarian lifestyle of the preindustrial era. In truth, the Dream Valley Settlement was not unlike the modern Ponyville. There had been much change in Equestria after a thousand years, and Surprise had been there to watch all of it.