“The Gods are smiling down on us, Zekharyah.”
Fresh from the sac, covered in blood and fluids, the colt was more concerned with the sudden lack of warmth he was presented with than stargazing. Still, one indignant snort from his red-spotted mother and his sight slowly shifted towards her. He twisted one black-tipped ear back and pressed the other one forwards, signaling that he was listening. He shivered.
She beamed, covered in her own blood and prancing in place despite it. He wondered if she was in pain. He hoped she wasn’t, some small part of him recognizing that she was Blood and that he should Care For Her—
The snow crunched noisily beneath her hooves and she continued her lesson, despite the colt’s obvious discomfort. “Gods are loooovely beings that live up there—high, high up above us! Beyond the moon, among the stars, in a place far too beautiful for me to even begin to describe! Heaven, Zekharyah, is where the Gods reside.”
‘Is it warm?’ He thought long before he even knew what it meant, the blood around him already chilled by the snow and his sac losing all its warmth in the minutes that followed. He tried shifting his little wings around, but they ached, and they ached, and the ache travelled from his wings down into the rest of his bones.
She didn’t seem to mind, too busy prattling on and on about Gods and Monsters.
Zekharyah felt his eyelids beginning to droop, his body wracked with tremors. He was cold, so cold—
“—They’ve been speaking to me for a long time, Zekharyah.”
There was a change in his mother’s shrilly, singsong voice that snapped him right back to attention. Something that spoke to a part of his brain that he wasn’t familiar with yet. It needed him to get up, it needed him to run. But he hadn’t even taken his first steps yet. He didn’t know how to use his legs though now seemed as good a time as any to try.
She kept talking while the colt struggled to stand.
“Whispering to me since I was a chiiiiild!” The chestnut-spotted Pegasus sighed, like a woman remembering a lover she was particularly fond of—and she was, sort of. There was no greater love than the love of her Gods.
“It’s why I sought your father out, my sweet boy,” she cooed, her red lashes fluttering; he had managed to stand, though his legs were wobbly and his steps uncoordinated. He nearly faceplanted under the intensity of her glare.
“Black as night, they said, and though he was handsome, I still made him wait. You see, the Gods can see us more clearly this time of year,” she cocked her head, letting him stagger towards her—he ignored the sirens going off in his head, ignored every little part of him that was telling him to at least try to get away.
There was another part of him, after all, that recognized her as his Mother and Mothers promised safety, and warmth, and a full belly, if his instincts were to be believed.
“And I didn’t want them to miss it.”
There was a thud and then an explosion of pain in his chest and then his shoulder. Someone was screaming and it took a while for him to realize that he was the one screaming. He had slammed back down onto the snow on his side. His mother prowled around him like an old jungle cat, giggling madly—which eventually turned into a full on cackle.
“Do you see, DO YOU SEE?!”
Zekharyah thrashed around, unsure as to whether she was screaming at him or the stars—her Gods.
“They want you, Zekharyah. They want me to send you to THEM—“
His mother went silent and still, though the baby boy still balked and kicked and writhed around in agony. All his Gods’ damned thrashing was starting to uncover the others—she could see some of their noses, still covered with flesh. She could see their little broken bones and rotten, spotted bodies, little babies that all looked like her or bore her spots and she hated it.
She had done it for the Gods, she reminded herself, for the Gods—
“My babies, my sweet babies...”
Zekharyah snapped his eyes shut, certain that this would be the end. She was running at him, thundering closer and closer, his heart was mimicking her past—but then she charged right on past him, the sound of her footfall growing increasingly muffled by the snow.
He didn’t see her run into the tree, though he heard it. He wandered over to her a few minutes later, following her prints though they were being quickly covered by falling snowflakes. Her head was twisted at an awkward angle and blood dribbled from the corner of her mouth. He almost thought to suckle, but the thought itself made him sick, and so he opted to snuggle up next to her corpse while it was still warm to... wait.