Silence. Dust and rocks. The endless echo of an empty plain.
At once, wind. The skittering of gravel over the barren ground. A light, shining brightly like a beacon through the night. A figure amid the light. Growing. Forming. Slow breathing.
Panic, gradually. Darkness. Fear. Worry. A plaintive cry from the lonely filly. No response.
Lost. Confused. A lonely sojourn through the rocky wastes. Nopony around to hear her cries. Nopony to understand her. Mourning the inevitable. No return. Nothing familiar. Forever afraid.
Faster. A slow trot becoming galloping. Screams filling the empty space. Guttural. Heartbroken. Too far away. Another place, another time. Nopony nearby.
An empty field. A lonely filly.
A tiara, bright as diamond, falling from her head. A clatter. Nothing. Weakness. Emotion overtaking her. The ground, hard as steel. Her bitter tears, hot against her cheek. Given up. Pooling. Everything against her.
To the side, a glimmer. Like starlight. Red. Standing up. The last sniffles, the last teardrops. Curiosity. Inspection.
Two beautiful rubies. One large. One small. Mother and Child. Dazzling. Inviting. Cool to the hoof. Smooth and flawless.
Snap! The hum of magic. The smaller gem, tucked away in the filly's bag. Even within, still cool and close. A smile. Security, weak among the desperation. A wish, small and quiet, so as not to break the silence. A vibrant glowing from the filly's bag. Surprise. Uncertainty. Warmth, overflowing. An image, flickering, growing nearer. Open hooves. A warm fire. Three small foals, playing and running about in a way only foals can. Another smile. A step. Another. Vanishing.
Numbers, flickering. Growing ever higher. 0.7%. 0.85%. 0.96%, 1.23%. A shift. A jump. A schism. Fear. Pain. Suffering. A hundredfold.
The nightmares of a simple baker's apprentice of Sugar Cube Corner.