Strength Grown from Kindness

Fourth main installment in the Tutelary Spirit universe. Recommended reading order: Loyalty, Honesty, Generosity, Kindness, Laughter, and Friendship.
Many ages after the original adventures of the Elements of Harmony, a young soldier tells his story of when he met the Element of Kindness. And this story, like many of the stories about the Elements of Harmony, entails Kindness herself imparting a lesson of friendship to the one who needs it most.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/237473/strength-grown-from-kindness

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1. Serenity in the Mountains

Across miles upon miles of a white, misty sea, mountain-peaked islands dotted across a sun-kissed horizon that sat under an empty blue sky. With barren rock covered in layers of thick snow and lacking any sort of shores, these mountainous islands were clustered close together across the cloudy sea like an archipelago in the sky, their peaks rising high out of the raging blizzard that enshrouded the rest of the land below with a white haze of blistering winds, where under the densely-packed labyrinth of mountain ranges that comprised the Eastern Mountains could be found.

Deep within this labyrinthine range of towering peaks that were over-flooded with the suffocating cold of the blizzard wind, there was a grand temple built into the side of one of the range's taller mountains. Like a bird's nest in the crook of a tree-branch, this temple of fine red wood and golden-etched carvings was nestled securely within the crevice of the mountain's ledge, weathering the blizzard that raged against it like a galloping wendigo—just as it's done against all blizzards for centuries past.

Within the confines of the temple, an orchestra of candles could be found dancing along the walls, their exuberant, little flames spectacularly fighting against the interior darkness just as well as the racketing walls battled to keep the harsh winds outside. Despite this constant and violent struggle against the forces of nature, the old temple exuded nothing but serenity from out of its woodwork; its isolation from the rest of the world allowing it to be a place of conjuring of thought and introspection for the soul.

But now the temple rang hollow, the hammering blizzard against the wooden walls echoing throughout the interior without opposition: the occupants of this temple's school of thought gone and long away from roaming these halls.

Now only a teacher remained.

Inside the temple's entrance, where its walls and four center columns were completely engraved with grand colors of repeating patterns, where golden statuettes eternally posed in the corners of the chamber, and where fine tapestries of color hanged from the ceiling, there sitting alone in the center of the chamber was a llama. He was a very old llama, with fur mottled grey and a face so wrinkly that it was a wonder how he could see at all from behind the flabs of skin that drooped over his eyes—the bushy eyebrows so common of llamas not helping one bit. Draped in a crimson and yellow robe, the old llama was positioned comfortably over a pool of sand; a small, wooden, rake-like brush in his muzzle that he used to trace through the particles of sand, trails of flowing waves being left behind in the sand as he did so.

Setting his wooden tool down next to him, done with the finer details of his work, the old llama looked over his efforts.

In addition to the jagged lines of rocks and the explosive sprays of foam, the flowing trails in the pool of sand all added up to a beautiful image of waves, frozen in time as they crashed against a rocky shoreline in spectacular display.

The corners of the old llama's mouth curved upward in a smile, glad to have finally finished his work.

Suddenly, without moving his head, one of the llama's ears swiveled in the direction of the massive doors that served as the temple's grand entrance, and he quickly realized that he had finished his work just in time too, before the inevitable happened.

At the temple's entrance-way, the massive, colorfully-engraved wooden doors that towered all the way to the temple's ceiling unexpectedly burst wide open, inviting in the blizzard like a rowdy guest. Clumps of snow poured onto the floor as the cold wind sailed deeper into the temple, its chilling indifference to the lives of others flapping the llama's robes wildly and kicking up tufts of sand within the sediment pool as it passed by.

Swiftly following behind the blizzard's rude entry came a robed equine that appeared out of the white haze of snow outside, completely wrapped up in a thick cloak that was weathered by the harsh winds. Looking around and quickly seeing how much trouble the blizzard's rowdy behavior was causing, the cloaked equine promptly rushed to close the massive doors behind him, their loud groans of old age creaking out of their hinges and echoing throughout the temple halls as they were slowly forced shut by the equine.

When the doors were finally sealed closed again and the blizzard thrown out like a drunken lout, the old llama glanced down to find that the drawing in the sand had all but disappeared in the wind.

But the old llama was not at all perturbed by this sudden development, not at all distraught at his hours of work gone in a second, instead he just picked up another of his wooden tools—larger and placed between his forelegs—and set about again on the sand, that same content smile from before still on his face.

As the old llama worked, the clanging of metal and the clacking of hooves approached him, before stopping on the opposite side of the pool of sand to reveal the cloaked pony in weathered layers of brown cloth. Sitting down on his haunches, the pony removed his hood to reveal a young stallion, black of coat and wearing a gold-colored helmet that covered his mane. Silently, with violet eyes, the pony watched the llama work.

Concentrating on crafting the sand before him, the elderly llama did not spare a moment to greet his guest.

Without a word, the armored stallion sat patiently.

Outside, the brushing of the blizzard winds against the temple walls echoed around them.

"...So," finally spoke up the old llama in a calm voice that creaked with age, not once ceasing in his work, "...she's on her way then."

Across the pool of sand, the young stallion sat with his back straight in attentive readiness, before giving a curt nod of his head toward the old llama, "Yes," he answered.

For a moment, the elderly llama made no indication that he had heard the stallion's response. He only kept silently working at the sand, his attention solely focused on the flowing shapes and trails he was crafting in the loose sediment, before finally...

"And she sent you to keep me company until then," stated the wise, old llama, his tone making it clear that he was not asking a question.

Regardless, the stallion gave his answer anyways with a short nod, "She did."

The wood trailing in the pool of sand paused in its work.

Staring silently down at the pool of still sand, the corners of the elderly llama's lips twitched just a bit higher, "That Mare..." he uttered under his breath with a tone of pleasant unsurprise, fond memories flowing out of those two words as he once again resumed his efforts in expertly shaping the sand.

As the old llama worked, the young stallion glanced around at the empty temple he was in; his eyes drifting over the flapping tapestries that hanged from the ceiling, the shining gold statuettes of long-gone llamas of the past, and of the multitude number of candles along the walls that the stallion was slowly realizing must have been all lit by the lone, elderly llama before him, "Where is everypony?" he asked, turning his attention back to said llama.

"Gone," answered the old llama curtly, before further elaborating in a sagely tone "I sent all my old students off on a quest to find the undiscovered Scrolls of Experience."

Blinking once, the stallion scrunched his eyebrows down in confusion, "The Scrolls of Experience?" he pondered aloud, "What are those?"

Creaky chuckles danced across the pool of sand, hints of amused hysteria on its heels, "Nothing! Made it up on the spot when they asked," answered the old llama, a big smile stretching the aged fur on his face, "I just wanted them off the mountain so I could kick the bucket in peace. Thought I might as well trick them to stop wasting their lives in these walls and get them to go out and experience more of life while I was at it," he cackled humorously, elderly amusement filling the air, "but don't worry, they're a smart bunch. I'm sure they'll figure it out ...eventually" he paused, before shrugging indifferently, "...or not. Either way, I'm sure at the end of this they'll all have Scrolls of Experience of their own that they can use to teach their own students with."

A small military smirk grew on the young stallion's muzzle as he heard the elder's words, familiarity of the old llama's methods tickling his funny bone, "You'd give the Mare of Laughter a run for her bits."

Chuckling the only way that a wise, old sage could, the elderly llama nodded in agreement, "She always was a better teacher than she liked to let on." When his chuckling let up, the old llama raised his head up to the young stallion, "...Speaking of teachers, how's yours?"

The young stallion met the old lama's gaze, "She's kind," he answered with complete seriousness.

Wise, elderly llamas apparently loved to chuckle sagely when given the chance, "Indeed," chuckled the old llama, amused, "but what about you? How did you end up as one of hers?"

Violet eyes flickered away before quickly returning back to the old llama, "...By learning to be kind," the stallion answered just as seriously as before.

The wood trailing in the pool of sand once again paused in its work.

"Oh, come now, don't disappoint her," spoke the llama as he stared directly at the young stallion, a hint of sternness in his tone, the same type of sternness that teachers explicitly saved for students that they know aren't giving their best, "out of all of her retinue, she specifically asked you to come up here and keep me company," he returned his attention back to the sand, once again focused on tracing beautiful art from out of the lowly particles of earth, "...and I'm sure she's made mention of the type of stories that I enjoy listening to."

Sighing, the young stallion removed his helmet and set it on the floor next to him, revealing his white mane that contrasted sharply with his dark coat. Rubbing a hoof through his mane, he made contact with the growth of green vines and bright buds that grew out from between his strands of hair.

"Well," started the stallion, his violet eyes far away, "I suppose it began when my mother received a letter of condolence from the Equestrian Guard..."

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