From Highest Peak [By MuffinMantis]

Valor hovered high above the earth below, watching. Far, far below, a grim-looking building, square and inelegant with small, sooty windows high up on the brick walls, loomed ominously against the clear, grassy terrain. Valor stared down, his gaze fixated on the last remnant of a dark past he’d nearly erased. Today, he would finally end this. Today, the world would be truly safe.

His ears, acute beyond reckoning, could make out the quiet sobs of terrified fluffies from inside, and the muffled peeps and cheeps of foals, scared and confused but being protected by the adults as best as they could manage. Once, they would have been condemned to a grisly fate. But now, Valor was here. They would not suffer that fate while he was alive to stop it.

For a moment, his eyes drifted from the building, scanning the endless plains below. Countless herds of fluffies roamed, safe under his watchful gaze. It was all worth it, all the fighting, all the violence, all the testing of his will. To see this world that he’d fostered made it all worth it.

He remembered when he was a foal, what seemed like an eternity ago. When he’d been awoken from deep slumber by his mummah and daddeh, who were not fluffies like himself, but something else his instincts recognized, even if he could not. They’d raised him to be a hero, to protect the weak from the wicked. They’d taught him how to be what the world needed most.

This world is our gift to fluffies, they’d told him. But it needs a protector. It needs you to keep it safe.

He’d accepted that mantle unquestioningly. After all, what more could he want than to be a hero? Even with all he’d been through, it was still all he’d ever wanted. He couldn’t imagine a more noble calling.

Even so, he was sorely tested at times. The greatest rule he’d been taught, to never kill, grated at times. He yearned to strike down the monsters that’d lurked in the dark, before his long crusade had tamed the night. But he’d persevered, and instead had locked them away in the special sorry-box is mummah had given him.

All of this passed through his mind again as he stared down. A brief moment of contemplation before he finished his greatest task. Before long, his work would be complete. What would he do then, he wondered. After all, it would be the end of his purpose. But ultimately, such considerations couldn’t be allowed to stop him.

With a sudden crack, he rocketed towards the building in a flash, moving far too fast to be seen as more than a golden blur against the blue of the sky. Valor’s dive ended as he crashed through one of the windows, allowing pure sunlight into the building, likely for the first time in countless years. As the shards fell towards the cowering fluffies and the monsters herding them below, he settled his gaze on each of them, evaporating them before they could harm those below.

In a radiant blur, he passed through the walls again and again, his passage turning the bricks into rubble, then into dust, the blowing it away in the wind. Soon, there were no walls surrounding the trapped fluffies, and they stood bathed in the glorious light of day again. They murmured and cheered as he slowed and they could finally see him, for they knew they were saved.

The monsters, pale gangly creatures with seven sunken red eyes and five thin, insect-like legs, seemed to wither in the light. Suddenly they weren’t horrors in the eyes of the fluffies they’d captured, but instead pathetic creatures, frail and consigned to lurk in shadows. Their chattering intensified as they realized what was happening, and they began to run.

It was useless, however, as Valor zipped between them, one by one, carrying them off to their prison. A few tried to fight back, but their meager blows merely glanced off Valor, not even managing to disturb his fluff. In only moments, they were gone. The last evil in Valors perfect world, contained. His great work completed.

He basked in the glorious feeling, the knowledge that, finally, all the fluffies were safe. The tiny twinge of sadness that they no longer needed him hurt more than he’d expected, but he drowned it out. This was for the best. Now he’d do what his daddeh had told him he must, he’d leave them; without monsters to face, his strength couldn’t help them.

He turned, looking towards his distant home, far to the north. Now it was time to go.

A sudden crushing impact sent him careening off, miles zipping past in the blink of an eye. He slammed into the mountains that only moments ago had been so distant. He gasped for air, and coughed. Blood splattered the rocks.

Boo boo juice? he thought, confused. Bu’ Vawow nebah git owwies!

He turned, trying to face his assailant as another strike crashed into him, sending a wave of agony down his right front leg. What was going on? Nothing could hurt him! He was a hero!

“Wai 'ou huwt Vawow?” he roared, in pain and confusion, seeking his assailant.

“'Ou tink 'ou am a hewo?” a voice asked, and he finally saw his attacker. It looked…almost like a fluffy, but instead of the vibrant colors and fluff he should have seen he saw bare flesh, mottled and red.

“Munstah!” he growled, and moved to attack.

The assailant dodged out of the way, but the movement made it clear that Valor was faster. Without the element of surprise, the monster didn’t stand a chance against him. He turned as he shot past, preparing to strike again.

“'Ou nu am hewo,” the monster spat. “Dis am aww a gaem tu 'ou. ‘Ou nu undastan’ anyfing!” It darted back towards where they had come from, swooping down and snatching up a peeping foal. Valor’s blood boiled at the sight, but he paused. He couldn’t risk hurting the foal.

“Gon’ maek 'ou see. 'Ou am onwy anoda sewfish fwuffy,” the monster growled, and let the foal fall.

Valor knew he should catch the foal, but he also knew that he’d only be opening himself to attack. He had to get rid of the monster first, so he darted foward. “VAWOW AM A HEWO!” Valor roared as his strike connected, his opponent too slow to avoid it. The monster gasped in pain, but retaliated, its attack gouging Valor’s eye and causing him to shriek.

“Gwace nyo da twuff. ‘Ou nee’ tu die.”

Valor seethed with rage. This thing dared?! After all he’d done! He forced the creature down, colliding with the ground and driving deep into the dirt. This monster wouldn’t be allowed to stay in his world!

“CAFF! 'Ou nu undastan…” the monster managed, clearly hurt and barely able to speak. “'Ou wewe nebah a hewo!”

Valor’s rage overcame him. You must never kill, his mummah’s words echoed in his mind, but his rage burned too bright. He struck the monster again and again, until its strike lost their strength, then until its words gave way to gasps.

“Gwace…am…sowwy,” the monster gurgled. “Gwace am wowstest fwuffy ebah…”

“'Ou nu am fwuffy. 'Ou am onwy munstah.” Valor spat as he brought his hooves down a final time.

Part Two