"In a foreign field he lay;
lonely soldier, unknown grave.
On his dying words he prays,
'Tell the world of Paschendale." - Paschendale, Iron Maiden
A land where the ideals of peace and love run true in the hearts and minds of the ponies that lived within its borders. A land where everypony treated each other as brothers and sisters, where dreams could come true, where a common pony could aspire to be something great, where one could live out his or her life in safety and comfort. A place untouched by the scourge of war.
Unfortunately, some things are not meant to last.
In the year 809 of the Lunar Cycle, the peaceful country was thrown into the bloodiest and costliest war that ponykind had ever witnessed: The Trench War. Equestria, having never fought a war since The Pony-Goblin War of long ago, did not properly adapt to the modern techniques of combat of the time quickly enough. To this day, historians still cannot find the exact cause of the conflict; indeed, even the princesses could not figure it out; all that is known is that they were not the instigators.
For ten long years, the war raged on with almost no end in sight. Every day, hundreds of ponies fell in battle on no-pony's-land; both sides being locked into a stalemate.
The following are excerpts from the journal of a soldier in the princesses' army, recovered from the former battleground near the vicinity of what is now known as Death Ridge.
March 9, Year 811 L.C.:
Well, this is it; my first entry on this journal. As such, I think I should write a bit about myself and how I came by this book, even though you're technically an inanimate object and don't really care about what I have to say.
My name is Sun Spark. I've just turned twenty-one a few weeks ago and I come from a town south of Canterlot called Ponyville. Nice place actually, if you don't mind the quiet and small town feeling.
I was finishing my second year at the Canterlot University when the war began. After that, there wasn't a single spot on the walls that didn't have some sort of recruitment poster or something telling us to fight for our kingdom and our homes.
The recruitment offices began filling up with all types of ponies from Canterlot, Manehattan, Fillydelphia, Maredrid, Preece, and much more. It was astounding to see so many in a single place. To think that any pony had a chance to become as great as the Royal Guard, well, it wasn't hard for a stallion like me to get excited.
I still remember seeing a full regiment of troops marching down the streets the first year. It was during Magical Studies class at the university. The professor was giving a long and interesting discussion on how magic works, a fascinating subject if I might add. I was taking notes at my desk next to the window when I heard cheers coming from outside. I looked over and saw hundreds of ponies lining the sidewalk, cheering and throwing confetti everywhere. The other students had already made their way over when the company appeared. They looked so imposing, yet calm in their blue and white uniforms. Their saddlebags clung to their sides while their rifles bounced on their back or, in the case of the earth ponies, were mount on their sides on special contraptions. I could make out some mares mixed in with the stallions, a mite smaller, but just as disciplined. Occasionally, a mare on the sidewalk would offer a gift to one of the troops, often receiving a kiss on the cheek in return.
One thought went through that mind at that moment: those are our protectors. Indeed, they were the ones who had pledged to protect our home from the enemy that had moved into our doorstep and, in the end, they would return as heroes, just like King Solaris after his victory over the Goblin King. My mind conjured up images of warriors charging the battleground, teeth clamping down on the hilts of their blades as they routed their foes off the field. At that one precise moment, I knew what I wanted to do.
I wanted to be one of those ponies.
When Hearth's Warming vacation came around, I returned to Ponyville to visit my parents. When I place a hoof on the warm cobblestone streets, I was set upon by one of my mother's best friends, an extremely hyperactive pony. Next thing I remember, I felt all the oxygen in my body suddenly escape my lungs as she caught me in one of her infamous death hugs. That would have probably been my final day in this world had it not been for the timely arrival of her husband, much calmer in temperament than his bubbling, giggling wife. The unicorn told me greeted me with a pat on the back, telling me that my parents were waiting for me. The energetic mare told me that she was hosting a "Welcome Home" party in my honor. Well, I guess some things do not change.
As I made my way towards my home, I took notice of my surroundings. Nothing seemed to have changed since my departure, the surroundings still as humble as ever. The inhabitants were milling about in the streets, conversing with friends and, at times, waving at me. It was as if there was no war happening at this time. I smiled, thinking of how I would everything in my part to protect this place; my home.
Boy, this entry is getting longer than I expected it. Not to worry, still got plenty of pages.
When I finally reached my parents' house, I was greeted by my mom wrapping her forelegs around my neck. My father followed suit, ruffling my mane with a large hoof. They told me that a nice meal of apple fritters had been prepared in anticipation of my arrival, courtesy of my aunt. As we dined on the delicious pastries, we talked a bit about our lives, or rather; she and I talked while my dad just listened; only saying "Eeyup" occasionally when it was called for. Dad had been preparing his family's famed cider for the upcoming Cider Season. Mom, on the other hand, had been very busy organizing the library ever since her assistant went away on honeymoon with the town's resident fashionista.
Then, our conversation steered towards the newest current event: the war. At this point, I found it wise to finally announce my plans. I stood up from the table, puffed out my chest, and told them, with a surge of pride in my voice, that I was going to enlist in the Royal Army. As I said that, I expected both of them to cheer at this declaration and embrace their son turned hero.
However, what happened was a definite far cry from what I had hoped.
At first, they were both speechless, but, I soon noticed anger forming on my mother's face. She yelled at me, saying that I should not be getting involved in such "dangerous endeavors", as she put it; that I should be focusing on my studies. My father said nothing, only sitting down with that same indifferent look on his face. However, he soon got up from the table and whispered something into her ear. Soon, they both went into the bedroom, closing the door and locking it in the process.
They remained in that room for what seemed like hours. A part of me wanted to saunter up to the door and try to listen in on whatever conversation they were having. Before I could do that, however, the door opened and dad stepped out. He walked over to where I had been sitting and placed a hoof on my shoulder.
He told me that while he did agree with my mother, he knew that I was an adult, capable of making my own decisions. He told me that my mother was only acting in my best interests, but he had told her that I was responsible enough. She tried to resist, but my father had always been a persuasive one, even if he doesn't have much to say. Eventually, she agreed, but both of them wanted me to at least finish my studies at the University before signing up. Oh, I tried to protest, saying that by that time, the war would have probably ended, but he was having none of it. Eventually, I begrudgingly agreed to their terms.
And, after two years of hard work, I finally got my diploma. As a gift, mom got me this journal that I am currently writing on. She said that I should write down all my thoughts on this book as a way to alleviate homesickness while I was away.
Thankfully, I was wrong on the war ending; it was still in full swing by the time I finished. I went to the recruitment office yesterday and enlisted in the Infantry Corp.; a hero's true place in war was at the front, I always thought. The doctors administered many different tests to fully judge my physical status, not to mention injecting me with Goddess knows how man painful shots. I passed with flying colors and was provided with a uniform and cap. Tomorrow, I shall be shipped to Basic Training in Manehattan, where, after two months, I will soon be saent to the frontlines.
Well now, that's my story so far. I figure now is the perfect time to end it here for now. I've been dragging out this entry far longer that it needed to be.