… And if I may take a brief interlude from the fascinating day-to-day minutiae of the life of Pre-Equestrian Peasantry, there is a very important matter I wish to delve into. Namely, the scholarly pursuits of the Unicorns. Their magical experiments often interfered with the ventures of the other tribes, and their discoveries did eventually lead to scientific methodology and a betterment of all ponykind. But there is no story more indicative of the horrors uncontrolled Unicorn magic can inflict that the story of the Reaper’s Draught.
It all started with a single stallion: the scholar Ichor Wings. A unicorn, as his name may not indict, whose pursuits were solely alchemical. In the midst of Hock’s siege under the TB Plauge, Ichor Wings got it in his head that he may be able to delay, or even prevent death from occurring in a Pony host. Certainly, powerful healing magic was being formed in this era, and theories about repose and decay were beginning to circulate the scholarly world. Delaying one imminent for death certainly appeared, on the surface, to be the next step forward.
However, the scientists had no accurate way to tell once a pony had died. They had no yet determined an accurate measure of pulse, not yet thought of examining the eyes, or testing the breath and tongue for saliva. If one did not wake after shaking or shouting, then the body was to be laid out and observed for rot over the next several days. Sometimes these ponies would awaken, and would be accepted for further training.
Ichor Wings, not coming from an accredited school, and being regarded as a kook by the locals, was not allowed to experiment with those obviously suffering from TB, and the healing houses were closed to him. With few alternatives to test his theories, he volunteered to watch the bodies of the apparent dead, with the ulterior motive of testing his alchemical potions on the bodies.
Did he have the best of intentions that night? Perhaps, or perhaps not. One can only imagine the eagerness which he applied his potions, intending to revive ponies on the very brink. For, what harm would a potion commit to a body already past due? If his potion did revive, then he had the world to gain.
Without pausing to observe, Ichor Wings poured his concoctions into the bellies of possibly hundreds of dead and unburied, even those who had long since begun attracting flies and rotting, carefully cataloguing the changes in his journal. He notes: “In the bodies I tested an hour past have begun swelling with fascinating colors. The flies are starting to take on a greenish tint. If I’ve found a good fly killer, that would be a plus.” Eventually he declares the experiment a failure, as a green ooze had started to liquefy the bodies from the inside out, spilling over the stone slabs and to the ground.
In the next week, it became apparent that the ground had become contaminated all around Hock, rotting into a muddy, blackish green slurry. People became even more violently sick spewing that same green slime that had soaked from the corpses of the dead. The TB plague had been affected by Ichor Wing’s potion, breeding into a new brand of magical disease, the first of its kind. A disease that corrupted all forms of life indiscriminately powerful enough to even make the inorganic earth and rocks rot.
It was known at the time as The Final Plague, Reaper’s Joy, or Unstoppable Death. A wide swath was cut through both Unicorn and Earth Pony lands, leaving large scars that, as modern scholars may argue, drove the distrust of the two tribes to a new height. This is why the Earth Pony peasantry, though they would have benefited from the many kinds of Unicorn magic, for the longest time despised and distrusted their mountain-dwelling brethren.
And now, with that in mind, I will now continue to discuss how the average Earth Pony was affected by this widespread adaption of fear and tribalism …
Comments by Kyronea:
What a fascinating take on the prompt! I greatly enjoy historical lectures and reading up on history, and this was quite the beautiful bit of history at that. Beautiful, but dark and sinister…not to mention a little disgusting. This idiot Ichor Wings obviously didn’t know what he was doing, if in the process of trying to stop death he actually created some kind of horrid new rotting plague that tainted everything. I wouldn’t want to get anywhere near that stuff—the deaths from it sound horribly painful. At the same time it does present some intriguing explanations for some of the historical animosity between the Earth Ponies and the Unicorns. What I do wonder, though, is how it was finally stopped…by the sound of it, it could’ve kept going until it had killed everything! But then, all magic has its limits. Seriously though, I hope Ichor Wings didn’t escape the fate he unleashed onto so many others, because he was a complete jerk and a fool.