Present-day Hate watched absently as one of his troops was taken down right in front of his face: he's seen it happen in his dreams so many times that he no longer felt surprise...
Around them the scene could only be described as indescribable. The ponies were pulling into phalanxes and huddling against one of the canyon walls, arrows occasionally firing from the living fortifications. Meanwhile, the griffons would swoop down to get any of them who hadn't gotten to safety fast enough, thinning the herd, occasionally carrying off a pony to use for rations later...
Instead of joining the phalanx, Hate had set himself on fire, and was running around tossing fireballs everywhere. This was one of the few tactics he knew which alarmed the Griffons: as a species they were uncomfortable with anything they didn't already know or understand, and they'd never seen a unicorn quite like him before...
After a very brief period of this, the griffons flew back out the way they came: they would wait for the ponies to calm down again before another run. It was what they'd been doing since this offensive had begun. One of the remaining pegasi flew up above the canyon walls, looking about, all the arrows and horns trained on his position. He looked around for a bit before signalling the "all clear" and flying back down.
Hate gritted his teeth as he looked around at the aftermath. Between the starvation and the griffons, he might not even be able to bring his army over the mountains. He'd been thinking constantly of how he might do this, but he'd only come up with one solution... He glanced over at one of the griffons who'd failed to get out alive. What he was thinking, a year ago, would have been disturbing to his senses. Now...
He walked over to one of the healthier looking Earth ponies, "Hannibal, can I use you as a test-subject?"
Hannibal just blinked at him, confused.
Hate sighed, "I want to try something absolutely mad, and probably irreversible. I'm not willing to order you to do this, so I'm asking outright. Are you willing to let me alter your physical body for this?"
Hannibal thought for a moment, then nodded, "Alright. I trust ye me'lord..."
Hate nodded, gesturing for him to follow him back to the felled griffon. He called over one of the healers to watch, then pointed down at the griffon and spoke to Hannibal, "The griffons don't starve in these mountains because they don't need rations: WE're their rations. How do you feel about eating meat?"
Hannibal blinked at them, "Eating... Ye can do that?"
Hate nodded, pulling a plain looking book with his name on it from beneath his barding, "I've been sitting on the spell for quite some time, but I didn't want to propose it until we needed it. I think we need it now." He flipped through the notebook to a two-page spread explaining how to change the anatomy of a pony to become a carnivore like the griffons. "Once I do this, I don't know of any way to reverse it, and I don't know what the long-term effects will be, but I'm pretty sure that this will get us to the griffon king's palace without starving..." He glanced back up at Hannibal, "Are you willing, Hannibal?"
Hannibal looked over at the griffon, then back at Hate, "Well... If it means eating again, and actually doing some damage to these griffons... I suppose I can live with it..." He nodded.
"Right then." Hate looked over at the healer, "I don't know what this will do. Stand back until it's finished." He waited for a nod from the healer, then turned back to Hannibal, "Hold still and stay calm: this is more drastic than anything I've ever done, and I'm pretty sure it'll hurt..." He planted himself firmly, and lit up his horn.
Immediately, Hannibal began to twitch, shutting his eyes as his jaw quivered. At some point he flat out dropped to the ground and started moaning. It was over quite soon though...
Hate walked over and looked down at him, "Hannibal? How do you feel?"
"Shore... I feelss-Shoore..." he hissed through bizarre looking sharp teeth.
Hate nodded, "Looks like I'll need to mess with the part about the teeth... Can you stand? Check the griffon..."
Hannibal pulled himself over to the griffon, smelling it, then immediately turning around to look at Hate, sallivating and excited, "Shmells deishush!"
Hate nodded, noting to make their appetite less scary too, "And how does it taste?"
Hannibal didn't even say anything, he just started eating to his hearts content. The healer backed away with a horrified look on his face. Hate cringed a bit, but he was a bit more prepared.
Hannibal finally finished, standing back up and grinning back at them, "I'm full shir!" He looked like he was so full he might fall over.
Hate scribbled some things in his journal, "Right then, go ahead and lie down for a bit..." He waved the healer over, "Check him out..."
Present-day Hate sighed at Hannibal, "That one went completely insane when we got back... I altered his brain and nerves far more than the others..."
Another group of earth ponies were now watching from a ways off. Hate waved them over, "I figured out a way to make us carnivores. You'll have to eat meat instead of plants for the rest of your lives, but you won't starve with the griffons around. Would you consent to this?"
The group looked at each other, then all began to nod back at him.
Hate glanced at the unicorn examining Hannibal, "Everything alright with him?"
The healer nodded back, "I... don't know anything about this, but he doesn't seem to be dying..."
Hannibal looked up at him, "I feel great, shir!"
Hate nodded, "Well then..." he turned back to the new group, "Hold still and try to stay calm: this is painful." He used the new variant on them, with similar reactions, and got a set of ponies very similar to the ones in the north. He nodded again when it was done, "Right, now, try sharing a meal."
Needless to say, they also enjoyed food in them...
Present-day Hate glanced over at Daemon, "This is probably the part where a good third of your ancestors come in..."
Hate was now taking a spot on top of a boulder to address the troops. He explained to them the food situation and how he planned to remedy it. "Any of you who do not consent to this, please, go around the bend: I am not willing to force this upon any of you. Go now." He looked around the crowd, huddled around them in the pass. None were leaving. "What I am about to do is horrific and irreversible. If you do not want to become carnivorous, go now. There will be no consequence, none will think any less of you, and you will have plenty of access to the remaining rations." He glanced around: none of them were leaving. By now, they were ready to take anything that might make the griffons think twice about them. Those birds had been pushing the limit for far too long...
"Very well then, all of you, hold still and try to stay calm: this will be painful." With that, he drew upon massive amounts of power and began to turn them all. As the magic finished off his troops, he felt it begin to enter him, closing his eyes...