Hmm? Oh, I didn't see you there little pup. My eyesight has been fading as of late, but such a thing comes with age. Now, What did you want with this old broken twig.
I want to hear about the old heroes again!
You want to tell you that old tale again? Ha ha ha... You have only heard it hundreds of times before.
B-but, it is my favorite!
I know it is your favorite Olive Branch, but can't you get another to tell you? My memory is slowly fading with time.
You always tell it the best! Besides, I wanna hear about you this time!
You do have a point there. I guess I shall tell you since I was there. My tale begins a long time ago, back when I was just a pup, when the lands surrounding Equestria were still shrouded in the darkness of slavery and villainy. My story actually starts in a whole other world. In fact many of the heroes and villains that made the biggest impact on Equis' surface were from the same world that I was. A world of humans...
My day started like any other day. Alarm goes off at 5:30 AM on the dot, take a shower, eat a small breakfast, grab my bike, and I would usually head to work today, but I got the day off so I headed to my favorite little coffee shop that was sandwiched between two larger buildings called 'The Hole in the Wall'. Sure, it wasn't the biggest of places, nor had the best tasting coffee, but SHE worked there. Blazing red hair, shimmering emerald eyes, and a smile that could make even George Ramesy smile. Her name was Vivian.
The streets of New York are a dangerous place, especially if you are riding a bike. I shook myself out of my daze in time to swerve out of the way of a taxi cab's door that sudenly opened. The occupant flipped me off and said a few things I don't really wanna repeat. I apologised from a distance and after a few minutes, I arrived at my destination.
The small shop really was bigger on the inside, but the way it looked on the outside made it seem that you couldn't fit 3 people side by side in there. With a tap on the red brick in the mostly grey wall, I stepped into the shop. The inside was far more cheery than the dreary feel outside. It was painted in a chocolate brown and yellow lights illuminated the room. In the far corner sat 4 computers for customers to use to surf the web. I had my laptop, so I ordered my drink and sat in the lighter corner near the door. I opened my computer and started browsing youtube for any good pony videos; yeah, imma Brony, get over it. That was also the moment HE entered the small shop.
He wore a dark trench coat with the collar popped and an equally dark fedora, the combination blocking out his features. I thought he was there to rob the place, but no one seemed to even see him as he made his way to me.
'Ohshitohshitohshit!' I thought as he sat down across from me. I sat there in an uncomfortable silence as his hidden eyes felt like they were staring straight into my soul and out the other side.
"I see you like Ponies." He stated, I could feel a sense of satisfaction exude from him after he said that. "I too like the world of Equis. It truly is a remarkable place to visit."
"W-wait..." I stuttered. This guy was seriously STRANGER DANGER level of creepy, but what he just said caught me.
"You've been to Equestria? But it is just a fictional world for a kids show. You can't go there!" I announced to him. People were giving me strange looks. Shit, I was talking too loud again.
"on the contrary" He said, his voice seemed to change constantly. It made it hard to focus on it. "I know a way to travel there, but first I must ask something of you in return." And there it was. The catch.
"What is it?" I asked far too excitedly than I should have.
"I need your help in a little Game that is happening there as we speak. Discord has summoned other humans to Equis in the attempt to make some chaos like usual, only he started up a round of a very ancient Game. One I intend to win. I just need you to go there and stop the other 'Players' from achieving their goals."
"Whoah woah woah," I said. Confused Derek is very confused. "I'll do it, but I gotta know."
"Who are you?"
A bright glowing grin flashed in the darkness on his face and he said. "I am the god of lies and manipulation. I am Deceit." And with that, a large glowing eye appeared above his grin. His coat opened and shadows shot out and engulfed me. Before the shadows overtook my head, I saw that no one at all was moving to help me. It looked like they couldn't see me either.
WARNING: This chapter contains A LOT of exposition... You have been warned.
My head was pulsing and pounding and my entire body was stiff. I kinda expected it after being forcibly removed from my own reality, but I didn't think it would feel this bad. Not that I have a frame of reference for being pulled apart and being pieced together somewhere else, but you just have to wonder about it sometimes. I could hear a faint whispering in my head. It sounded more like wind blowing through a tree's branches than actual whispering, but I could have sworn I heard faint voices inside it. I opened my eyes to try and find the source of the mental intrusion and was extremely surprised to find out that I could see out of my right eye. All I could see around me were very tall trees and tick foliage that could probably be hiding some predator waiting to jump out and eat me.
Just my luck. I get sent to another world and I end up in a fucking hostile rainforest. Scents washed over me as I realized that I had been holding my breath. I could smell the fresh scent of a recent shower that probably just finished not to long ago and countless flowering plants and different animals that seemed to get farther away from me with each passing moment. I took another sniff and found that I smelled like cedar. After regaining my composure from all the information my nose had sent to my brain, I tried to stand. I found that such a feat was much harder than it sounded. From the feel of my legs, I could tell that I was no longer bipedal and it took me a few minutes to get used to walking on all fours. My greatest surprise was when I decided to check out my new form.
I was made of countless reddish branches and pine needles. My tail swished into view and I noted that it was actually a vine covered in longer needles. You could say that I started to panic. I found a large flower that held a nice sized pool of water and I looked into it to confirm my fears. The face that looked back at me in the aquatic mirror was definitely lupine in shape, but was made of more branches that contorted when I changed my own expression. I opened my mouth to reveal a folded vine that I could only guess was my new tounge behind the rows of large thorns that made up my teeth. My eyes themselves were a solid gold that seemed to glow in surprise and horror…
….I was a fucking Timber Wolf.
I tried to scream, but all that came out was a strangled howl that almost sounded like I was gargling Listerine. I quickly covered my wooden muzzle with my equally wooden paws. I could hear more howls answer mine in the distance that drew nearer as I looked around frantically for cover. The trees seemed to grow excited as my fellow Timber Wolves drew closer. They were practically right behind the large bushes. The first Timber Wolf to appear was much larger than me. If I could estimate his size then I would say that he was the same size as Celestia, and that made me around the size of Big Mac. He seemed to be made of a darker oak and had broad leaves on his tail. Several more Wolves appeared behind him; they were all made of different woods and leaves and were almost the same size as he was. The first one cocked his head to the side as he looked me over.
You look like us, but do not feel like one of us. I could hear his deep baritone voice ringing in my head much like the voices of the trees that I could still hear around me. His muzzle didn’t move at all as he continued. What is your name pup?
I sat there slightly dumbstruck, which was quickly fading away. I was strangely getting used to all the crazy around me. I tried to reply, but the only noise I could make were barks and whines. The large Timber Wolf face pawed and the others let out a collective, raspy laugh. I could feel the branches that made up my cheeks redden even further.
You are indeed are a strange one. Even the youngest of pups knows how to think to communicate. He said condescendingly.
I placed my paw over my face and replied. Ah, that makes more sense than trying to do this the old fashioned way. I thought for a few seconds trying to come up with a good name for myself. I didn’t want to give them my real name as it would probably seem weird to them. Since they were made of wood and other plant materials, I decided to go for a name that had to do with flora. My name is… Twig.. leaf… Yeah, my name is Twigleaf. Since I told you my name, wouldn’t it be fair for you to give me yours?
He considered me for a moment and said. I guess it would be for the best Twigleaf. My name is Strong Oak. I am the Alpha of the central rainforest pack. He paused as if listening to something and returned his gaze to me. You have been summoned Twigleaf. Follow us to our holt.
I gave him a confused look. Wait. What? Who? I asked.
It was about a one and a half hour dash to the holt. It took me a few moments to get used to the act of running on four legs, but afterwards it felt glorious. I could feel what passed for muscles tighten as I followed behind Strong Oak. Every time I passed through a shaft of light, bursts of energy flow through my body to replace the fatigue. It actually made sense, albeit in a weird way. I could feel my body use the light to convert the minerals in my body into glucose and then use it for energy. Strong Oak took note of my reactions but kept it to himself. The holt itself was more of a dense clearing than an actual holt. There were a ton of Timber Wolves wandering around, most of them glancing towards me and then turning away out of disinterest.
Enter. Oak said as we approached a wall made of thorny vines. He gestured towards it and they slowly untangled and separated revealing a smaller clearing with a massive, gnarled tree that took up most of the area. I wasn't too sure just what kind of tree it was, but it looked like it could have been here since the beginning of time itself.
That is a big tree.... I said as I approached said tree. As I passed the entrance, the thorns closed behind me and I was cut off from Strong Oak.
Um... is anyone here? Hellooo! I asked to nothing in particular. Jeez, so much for that... All of the sudden, I was blinded by a bright flash as something appeared in front of the tree.
"Greetings child of Man." A stern, regal, yet motherly voice said to me as I blinked the pretty lights out of my vision. "I can't say that I was actually expecting you at all." I finally blinked away the blindness and saw something that made my jaw drop for the second time today. Before me was an alicorn much like Celestia, except her coat was a light brown with darker brown lines swirling about her body. her mane flowed much like the Royal Sisters, but it was a deep forest green and had pricks of light that looked like sunlight that made it through the canopy. She looked at me gingerly with her golden eyes that had slits much like a feline would.
"I sense that you have many questions for me, but I must first ask you one of my own." She gave me a stern glare. "Just how did you end up here and why are you wearing the form of my Forest Guardians." So a Timber Wolf's real name was a Forest Guardian? Intriguing.
I wish I could tell you, but I'm not too sure myself. One minute I was talking to some dude about coming here, and the next I wake up in the forest looking like this. I motioned towards my new form and sighed. There was something about her that made me want to come clean about every wrong I had done in my life.
"That is indeed worrying... It would seem that the Games have begun. Given what the trees tell me, you are actually late to the Game." She turned back to me. "Well? Do you have anything to ask?"
Yeah. I guess my first question would be 'Why me?' but I have a feeling that you wouldn't know. I scratched my muzzle in thought. but I would like to know a few details if I am going to be stuck like this for awhile. She spent the next few hours answering my questions and taught me how to use my latent abilities that all Timber Wolves have. She told me her name was Terra, and she was the Regent of the Planet itself. Celestia was the Regent of the Sun and her sister Luna was the Regent of the Moon. I already knew some of this, but most of what she told me about herself was news to me. As Regent of the Planet, her tasks included mostly of taking care of the trees that provided the planet with oxygen needed for the ponies and other races to survive. She had created the Timber Wolves and tasked them to guard the forests of Equestria.
This... is a lot to take in... I finally said after she finished. I don't think I like the idea of being some game piece in some stupid game... She smiled at me.
"That is understandable, but play you must." She paused for a moment and continued. "Talk to Strong Oak once more. He shall give you a few tasks that you must complete to earn your place in this world. But be warned, they are very dangerous and you may not survive if you do not take this seriously." I sighed and bid her farewell and padded back to Strong Oak as he wait outside.
I was really not going to enjoy the next few weeks...
AN: Maybe I should have just called this chapter EXPOSITION! or something... Asides from being expositiony, I introduced my first theory. It all started when I was thinking about how Celestia and Luna were the Goddesses of teh celestial bodies. But what about the planet itself? That is when i started to create Terra, the less known of the sisters. Her true form is actually the massive tree and she only projects herself as she used to look like before she used her power to become a tree so that she could use her power constantly. Sorry if it isn't very funny, but I probably wont be quite as funny as Rust or Blackwing. Especially in these first chapters. Also, I know this may seem a bit forced, and I will probably edit it later. Right now I am tired and in pain. I nearly tore a ligament in my shoulder and it hurts. But all is well, i has medicine.
Whelp! off to do the second chapter tomorrow after I get back from work.
Oh wow! You actually got to meet the Forest Mother? I wish I could meet her, you make her sound pretty!
Ha ha ah… Yes, I did meet the Forest Mother, but she prefers to be called Terra instead of that stuffy title the ancient Guardians gave her.
So what happened next!?
Well, I spent the next few weeks getting used to my new body and mostly staying away from the other Wolves. Except for Strong Oak. He became something of the father figure I never had…
The holt was still dark as the sun peaked over the horizon. It would still be a few hours till the light actually reached through the trees. It had been almost a week since I started following Strong Oak around the rainforest and learning how to use my new abilities. I had a sneaking suspicion that Terra had told Strong Oak about me because when I emerged from her clearing, he had given me a knowing smile. Or at least as good of one that a lupine creature made of wood could. It was actually kinda creepy.
I awoke with the chirping of the birds and set out to find Strong Oak where he usually waited for me to wake up. He sat at the entrance of Terra’s Grotto and turned to me as I tried to stealthily approach. I learned that Timber Wolves could induce growth in all forms of plant life by literally asking them to grow. I guess you could say that Timber Wolves were the druids of the world thanks to Terra giving them the ability when she had created them. No matter how soft the moss I grew, Strong Oak could sense my approach. It was something of a game between us.
You will never be able to sneak up on me. Even when I grow old and rot away. He chuckled. Again, being a wolf made of wood made everything you do somehow creepy. His chuckles were like something breathing hoarsely down the back of your neck.
I’ll get you one day… I joked. So, what are we going to do today Oak?
I was thinking that we should go and check up on the manticore mother. Asides from protecting the forests, Timber Wolves also took care of the more dangerous creatures, leaving the weaker creatures to the ponies or other races. For the Rainforest though, one of the Cat-folk tribes took care of them.
She is still sick? The manticore in question had gotten in a fight with an insectoid creature that looked reminiscent of a Deathclaw from one of my favorite video games. While she had killed it, it had gotten her with the stinger it had on its tail and had scratched her injecting a paralyzing poison into her bloodstream. We would bring her food and help teach her kitten how to hunt for itself. Being able to change my shape by using sticks and plants to help change my mass was helpful. She was pretty stubborn at first, but gladly accepted the help after we fought off another of the Bugclaws. Strong Oak usually took care of the mother while I played with the kitten, both of us learning how to protect ourselves with our play fighting. I had never actually beaten the kitten yet though.
Yes, it will take some time for the herbs to show signs of healing, but I believe that she will get better with time. Strong Oak replied, pulling his roots from the ground. Another fun fact, when a Timber Wolf cannot get sunlight, they can plant themselves to draw nutrients from the soil. Most prefer direct sunlight because it gives the most energy over a short period. Let us be off now that you have finally awoken. I grimaced at his remark. I was still getting used to getting up at the crack of dawn.
Yeah, yeah. Lets get going already old man! I said as I dashed ahead of him. He just chuckled and followed me. I had already memorized most of the rainforest that surrounded Gaia’s Navel. Terra’s Grotto was actually set in the center of a large crater that really made it look like the world’s bellybutton, and the area around that was Timber Wolf territory. Not much actually entered unless they were escaping from a disaster, natural or otherwise.
We arrived with Oak in the lead, but stopped when we heard a rustling in the leaves before a massive lion-like creature with leathery wings and a scorpion tail leapt from them and tackled me in a vice like grip. The manticore kitten and I rolled a few feet before I gave up and allowed him to lick the back of my neck. Strong Oak laughed hoarsely as I slipped out of the manticore’s grip.
Yeah, nice to see you too. I said, attempting to shake the moist saliva from my branches. He had apparently gotten a hold of some honey because the saliva was pretty sticky and smelled sweet. Honey Jackers lived in the outer parts of the Rainforest and were as large as a small dog and twice as vicious as their Earth counterparts.
You two should go and hunt while I feed his mother. Strong Oak said. I nodded and whispered to the plants. The vines grew around my paws and into my branches, separating them and moving them around. It was all a strange experience to have your body pulled to pieces and not actually feel any pain. After a few minutes of having my body reformed, I took the form of a fully grown manticore. My mane was made of grass, and my fur was made of soft moss. My original body formed my new skeleton and parts of my tail were thrown about my mane, giving it a stiff appearance.
Let’s go George. Strong Oak once asked me why I called him that, but I replied that it was Earth humor and he left it at that. I mean, the kitten was sooo soft that I just wanted to hug him and squeeze him. I couldn’t NOT call him George.
George playfully nipped my left wing and followed behind me. For being a 200 lb ball of fuzz, he was pretty silent when we hunted some of the larger game. He actually snuck up on a Grime Vole and snapped its neck before it even heard him breathing. George soon learned why Grime Voles weren’t hunted as much as say, a Mallo Wisp. Tasty buggers, Mallo Wisps. George took a bite of the rancid meat and immediately vomited it out. Grime Voles usually spend their time marinating in fecal matter and rotten trees, making them the smelliest thing that was second only to the gym shorts of that fat kid in my class.
I started thinking about Earth. My life wasn’t the prettiest, or even the most interesting, but it had my one friend in the entire world and that made it somewhat bearable. His name was Keith. Before you start cracking jokes like ‘One time, me and my buddy Keith…’ let me remind you that now I could probably kill you in a heartbeat now from a mile away. Keith and I would always hang out at the café and talk about nothing in particular. We sort of fed off of each other like how a changeling can feed off of the emotions of a pony. Just being around him made me giddy and we both would go off on tangents of completely random topics that had no bearing on anything at all. The last time we talked, we were discussing why there were no Beast races in Phantasy Star episode 1 and 2, but there they were in Phantasy Star Universe. We both agreed that the Beasts ate too many tacos and were shunted out of the air lock before they reached Ragol. I sighed. I would probably never see him again.
George finished heaving and we both buried the body. Better for a new tree to grow instead of having a rotting corpse sitting around that no one was going to eat. I whispered a small sapling into the freshly turned soil. I was really liking my new abilities, whispering plants into existence, being able to manipulate said plants at will, the night vision was nice, and the not really needing to eat was a big plus even if I will never have the glorious taste of bacon on my palette ever again. While I didn’t really need to eat, I enjoyed having something solid to chew on now and then.
We spent about a half hour hunting and got quite the haul. George was able to take down a Mini Drake and a Vorpal Stag. The stag’s horns were extremely sharp and was a pain in the ass to take down, but thanks to George’s poison we were able to kill it. We approached the small cave that George lived with his mother and dragged the meat inside. Strong Oak was quite impressed with the stag, it wasn’t everyday that you actually see one, let alone kill one. Strong Oak and I left the cave and headed back to the Navel, apparently Terra wanted to see me again.
“How do you fare, Child of Man?” Terra asked me as I approached her.
I think that I am finally getting used to how things work around here, if that is what you mean. I sat down on my lupine haunches, wondering just what she wanted me for.
“I have a task I need you to complete. Up high in my branches, you will find a seed. An acorn to be precise. I need you to collect it and bring it to me.”
Really…. Send the dog on a fetch quest? I huffed. Still, that doesn’t seem too hard.
“I will have to warn you that you will meet great danger atop my boughs, for many dangerous creatures live up in the canopy instead of on the ground.” She warned me. I could easily take care of any ‘dangerous’ creatures that came my way. Especially up in a tree.
Yeah, I think I can handle it. I replied cockily. I started my ascent with a mighty leap into the first branches as Terra shook her head.
“I do hope he doesn’t get himself killed…”
This was seriously too easy. The only things up here were a couple of Skeeter Crows, nasty bloodsucking crow like creatures that like to swarm warm blooded creatures. Being that I had no real blood, they left me alone. Like I said, this was way too easy. I couldn’t grow any new branches while I was up here, seeing as Terra was the tree itself and only she could control its growth. Even with that slowing me down, I could still grow climbing claws from my paws and scale the trunk when there were no branches to climb on. The tree was massive and finding a single acorn was going to be a bit of work, but I was feeling confident that I could find it before the day was through.
Well geez! Where is this bloody thing! I huffed. I had spent the last few hours climbing Terra’s tree, batting away those pesky crows and other scavengers that seemed to roost up in the tree. Wait a second… Scavengers. All I had run into were scavenging creatures, but why were they here if there wasn’t any predators. My question was answered as I almost unwittingly ran into a massive, sticky thread. Fuck… My eyes widened in horror as I took a look at my surroundings. The sticky thread was everywhere, leaving holes barely large enough to crawl through on my belly. I could see hundreds of tiny spiders going about wrapping up insects and larger avians that got too close. They didn’t seem to eat the birds, just wrap them up nicely for whatever did.
“MMFH! MUMBFUUMF!” I heard a muffled voice to my right and it revealed itself to be a small wrapped bundle about as big as my head. It was shaking vigorously and causing the little spiders to swarm it, repairing the web as soon as it was broken by its occupant.
“MUMBLEFUMBF! FUMLEFUMM!” The muffled voice cried. Now would be the best time that I was deathly afraid of spiders, even the non deadly kind. They were just freaky looking and gave me the shivers like I was getting now. Sure, they probably couldn’t hurt me now, but that doesn’t get rid of a lifetime of fear. I closed my eyes and grew a sharp, wooden blade from my forepaw and cut the bundle out from the web. The little spiders didn’t seem to notice that their prey was now missing and went about repairing the web.
I slowly cut open the bundle and a speeding blur of white attached itself to my hackles. “THANKSTHANKSTHANKSTHANKS!” The bird said without catching a breath. It took a few moments to catch its breath as I inquired.
Are you okay? You look pretty shook up. The bird, which I have now recognized as a parakeet. Strange how he looked just like the Earth counter part, the only thing strange about him was that he seemed to be completely sapient.
The parakeet gave me strange look. “Like you should be talking Woody. You’re shaking harder than a leaf in a tornado!” This was true. I was still shaking and I don’t think I would stop for a few days.
Oy! I just saved your ass! You should be thankful at least. Besides, it isn’t like I wanted to be this way! I blurted. The bird gave me a surprised look and said.
The bird gave me an odd look and dismissed it with a wave of his wing. "Whatever dude, I could have totally handled that myself." he said with a puffed out chest.
“So, why are we heading further into the devils doorstep?” He asked, clutching himself deeper into my branches. I was crawling at a near standstill as I looked about slowly in the dark. I could see fine, but Keet was scared shitless, as I could feel his bowels emptying onto my neck.
I-I have t-to get an a-acorn. I stuttered, I could almost feel as if something was watching us. Again, I can’t even describe how creepy this place was. I could see the tiny, red glow of the drone spiders as they crawled around on the webs. I was keeping an eye out for the big momma spider that I knew had to be up here somewhere. If video games have taught me one thing, it is that there will always be a boss nearest where your destination is.
“A-an acorn? Seriously d-dude? Just go f-find a n-normal tree and g-grab one of those!”
S-seeing as we a-are climbing about in a l-literal goddess’s hair, I w-would expect t-this one to be s-special. Both of our mouths were chattering at this point. We both decided that it would be best if we both just stopped talking.
After a few minutes of pure, unadulterated, hellish horror that was arachnophobia, Keet spotted something shining above us. “H-hey, do you t-think that is the a-acorn that we are l-looking for?” He pointed a wing at the shining acorn.
I w-would think so… Lets h-hurry up and grab it.. I said, stretching my legs so that Keet could grab it without leaving my hackles. He would have grabbed it, if it wasn’t or the fact that it was attached to a branch that was stuck to the BIGGEST SPIDER IN THE OMNIVERSE! We both sat there paralyzed as the ancient Titan Spider opened all eight of its massive, glowing eyes and clicked its dripping fangs at us in annoyance. Did you know that a Timber Wolf can still take a dump? It isn’t so much as shit as it is actually a part of you that drops out. It is usually a rotten part, but it makes it look like you are taking a dump anyways. I immediately removed all the rotten, and some that wasn’t, plant matter from my body. Keet followed suit in his own fashion, marking my back in white.
The Titan Spider roared at us and Keet fainted onto my back and I instinctively belted him onto my back with a vine. Yeah, apparently spiders here actually have vocal chords, or at least the ones large enough so that the smaller ones can get in there and make some with webbing. I fell off of my perch and let my body run on auto pilot. I grew blades on each of my forepaws and sliced through any webbing that got in my way. To my eternal horror, the spider followed me by swiftly climbing down and ripping through the webbing. It didn’t look like it was going to stop unless we were dead.
Then my body did something I wouldn’t have done. It grabbed onto a vine and bounced back towards the spider with blades brandished as I roared along with the spider. I parried its fangs and dug both my blades and my elongated fangs into the back of its head. Bad move there body, bad move. Thousands of the tiny drone spiders crawled from the wound and attempted to inject me with a deadly venom. Good thing I was made of wood, but Keet wasn’t so I shook violently to remove them from my body.
Saaaaaasssslllllaaaaaaassssssssaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh Was the spider spitting at me or trying to say something? I really couldn’t care less and I leapt from its back in a sleek backflip. Although, in hindsight, that was another bad move. The Titan Spider impaled me on its fangs in mid air, causing me to howl in pain. Apparently, Timber Wolves can actually feel pain. And boy did it hurt. Imagine with me for a minute, take around a thousand knives and dip them in poisonous hellfire and stick them into every part of your body so that you cannot see your skin. Then try to dance to Dubstep. What’s that in your entire body? *POW* IT WAS PAIN!
The spider ripped me off of its fangs, and I fell down back to the soft peat that made up the ground in Terra’s Grotto, hitting almost every branch on the way down. I could feel myself fading fast and I couldn’t help but hope that Keet was alright. I couldn’t rescue someone and then practically get them killed within an hour by squishing him against trees while he was unconscious. That would be just plain rude.
Oh, did I forget to mention the pain I was in? Getting ripped almost in half will do that to ya, mate…
Fucking OW… I then proceeded to black out before I hit the forest floor. Again, ow….
Would you like to load save data?
Yes / No
I clicked on 'Yes' only to have it say that there was no save data.
"Fuck!" I yelled, tossing my controller across the room. It hit the wall with a loud thump. "That was the first fucking boss and it killed me?! How is that even possible?" I glared at the screen with intense hatred. The game I was playing had gotten a ton of good reviews and everyone I talked to about it said it was great. It was the first official video game that was set in Equestria, and being the Brony that I was, I just had to play it. It had an amazingly detailed character creation system, it even used some races that I hadn't even heard of before. I had decided to play as a Timber wolf mostly because no one else seemed to have played as one yet. Also, for each race, there was a different starting point and I had started in the middle of the rainforest. It actually went into a lot of detail about the Timber Wolves and how they lived. I had to hand it to Lauren, she really knew how to make a video game.
"Now I have to start all over..." I clicked on the 'New Game' option and raged yet again. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN I'M DEAD! THIS IS A FUCKING GAME! LET ME START AGAIN RAAAGGGLEFRAGGLELASSSHHHHTAAAAAGFLAAACKKLIMMMM!" I was starting to foam at the mouth as my RAEG continued. I was RAEGING so hard that I didn't hear my friend enter the room.
"Dude, whats wrong?" he asked, concerned. I sighed and calmed down. There stood a guy, not much older than me with deep, jet black, short hair and one green eye and one gold.
"I just got Chess Game of the Gods and got killed by the first boss and now it won't let me start anew." I pouted. I was really liking this game too.
"Oh yeah, I had heard about the difficulty curve. Apparently they wanted to make it more realistic, so they made it so you can only have one try. I think if you totally wipe the game and reload to your computer, you can make a new character. I screamed my frustration aloud.
"But it took me almost 2 whole days to even download it the first time! I am NOT going through that again. Faust can suck my dick!" I yelled at the computer screen, rudely thrusting my hips and pointing at my loins at the computer.
"Dude, calm the fuck down. You are getting too worked up about this." Keith said patting me on the back. Keith was always there for me when I needed him and I guess that is why I liked to be friends with him so much.
"But... I was doing great! The giant boss spider-" I stopped. When did Keith have a golden eye? And why was it glowing? Keith saw me staring and grinned a very familiar smile. His eyes melted together and his body darkened and shifted. What was left was a dark blob with a singular glowing eye and a creepily wide grin.
"Wait... Keith?" I asked, starting to get freaked out.
"Nope... Just Chuck Testa." The blob said laughing. I laughed uncertainly.
"What is going on? Who are you and what did you do to Keith?!" I yelled, scared and worried for my only friend.
"Keith was never here. You are not home. You are actually just a spirit right now in a small demiplane that I made just for this moment." The blob explained. "You are actually very near death right now and the only thing keeping you alive is my will. Can't have my Chess Piece dying on me, now can I?"
My head started pounding as I started to remember everything that happened to me over the past week and a half. I shuddered as I remembered the Titan Spider and how it simply ripped me almost in two with a click of its fangs.
"I-I'm dead...." I was holding my head in my hands and rocking back and forth. "But I can't be dead. I'm right here..." I said, practically ignoring the blobs explanation.
The blob slapped me with a amorphous tendril. "Idiot... I am starting to regret choosing you. You don't want want me to regret that decision." I shook my head slowly. I was staring a real live god in what passed for his face and yet I didn't feel all that afraid. I felt that it wasn't going to harm me, but I could feel that he was starting to get annoyed.
"W-why me?" I asked slowly.
"I think the better question is, 'Why not?" The blob said.
"I'm just a nobody, why choose me for some stupid game?" I said. I was starting to get pissed. "You could have picked some sort of macho body builder or an Asian guy. yet you choose a weakling like me who could hardly defend himself!"
The blob just looked at me blankly and said. "Well, as you humans say, For teh LOLZ!" It started laughing and floated around the room for a few minutes before becoming alert. "It looks like you are waking up." It said sullenly. "Oh, and try not to get yourself killed again. I don't think I will have the power to bring you back. Unless you want to be a zombie?" It giggled again as the room faded into darkness.
A pinpoint of light broke through my heavy, wooden eyelids, causing me to groan hoarsely.
Ugggh, would someone please turn out the lights? I asked, rolling onto my stomach. Why do I hurt? My chest felt hollow, like something was missing. Although, I could feel that something above me by a few feet. I opened my eyes and saw that I was in a dome made of small saplings with a strange stone that hung above me. It was the source of my discomfort so I tried to knock it away. Only to have a sharp pain lance through my hollow chest. OW! What the fuck! I yelped in surprise. The dome slowly wilted and the stone was set gingerly onto the soft grass.
My eyes winced as the bright light of midday beamed in from the opening in the canopy in Terra's Grotto. Terra's avatar trotted slowly and smiled reassuringly as my vision became accustomed to the sudden light. She knelt down so that she was down at face level with me.
"I am simply overjoyed that you did not perish, Child of Man." She said, her voice held a tone of relief. "We had thought that you would perish when you did not awaken for the past two days. You were lucky that the fowl that you rescued has such a.... colorful vocabulary. Else I would not have noticed you as you landed." I blinked slowly, trying to think of whom she meant. I felt kinda stupid once the realization hit me.
Oh...him... I said dully. I really didn't like Keet, but after seeing him under the iron grip of fear, I could see what he really was. A frightened braggart. He may put on the strong airs, but inside he is probably quaking in fear. I mean, just about everything in the rainforest could easily kill him in a heartbeat. I actually kind of pitied him, because he reminded me of myself back home on Earth. I used to put on a show for everyone else around me to hide my ineptitude.
Terra lightly picked up the strange stone and rotated it so that I could see the large scratch that was in the stone. What is that anyways. I asked, looking at the stone warily. I could almost feel the scratch throb as I looked upon it.
"This is your Soul Stone." She explained. I was somewhat shocked that my soul wasn't truly a part of me anymore. "This stone was part of the ancient method I used to create the Timber Wolves of old. You are very lucky that it was only scratched, but unlucky that now your life is limited." She looked forlornly at me and frowned. "The only way to stay alive now is to stay near me, or find Gaia's Seed, the acorn that I asked you to find up in my canopy. I am sorry that I did not warn you about the true dangers, but it was supposed to be a test. I regret sending you up there without proper training in your nature magics."
I gingerly picked up the stone betwixt my paws and lightly rubbed it. I could feel myself touching it and it made my spine shiver. Or at least what passed for my spine. This... is me? All I am lives in this rock? And I am going to die? My face held a blank look as I processed all the information. I think I need some time alone.... I finally said, pressing the stone to my chest and allowing my body to place it in the empty feeling in my chest. I felt more complete, but I still felt hollow now that I knew that I wasn't actually a real creature. I was a construct of wood and ancient magics. Was I even truly alive now?
Terra looked at me sadly as I limped out of her grotto and out of the clearing where many of the Timber wolves looked at me in surprise. I didn't even know these wolves, but I could feel that they cared for me. I never even realized that they even knew who I was. The only Timber Wolf I was around was Strong Oak, but he was nowhere around. I sighed as I found a secluded patch of forest and lay down, silently sobbing tears of sap. I could hear the trees lamenting my condition and slowly seemed to move so that more light got through to me. Thanks.... I said to them, not knowing if they could hear me or not.
The sun was slowly going down, yet the forest was already dark and the lightning bugs flitted about, blinking intermittently as they looked for a mate. I was lightly sleeping at this point, the sap was already hardening onto my muzzle. I didn't hear as Strong Oak silently approached me.
What troubles you young pup? He asked, his mental voice held concern and worry.
I slowly opened my eyes and looked at his large, wooden form. I.... Am I truly alive? I asked sullenly.
Why would you ask that? Of course you are alive Twigleaf. I am speaking to you now, aren't I? He said sagely. I only sighed and replied.
But... all the Timber Wolves are just constructs! What does that make me? I was once alive, but now I am just some plaything for some god whose name I don't even know! I said I am just a puppet dancing on strings, being controlled from the shadows...
Strong Oak gave me a stern look at me and smacked me across the muzzle with his large paw, dazing me and sending me sprawling. No. Only you control your fate, not some god. The Forest Mother may have created us, but we are now our own creatures. She cannot control us like the golems of old. He said in a stern voice. Much like that of a father disciplining his son. We follow her not out of duty, or even for any sort of debt that we might have incurred, but rather that we respect her for the power that she has. She has the power to put us in her thrall, but she doesn't because she cares for us like her own children. You are alive. You are in control. YOU will decide your own fate in this world. Not Terra, not me, and certainly NOT your Chessmaster. Strong Oak looked down into my eyes with his stern stare which melted into a look of concern.
I couldn't help but shudder as he finished his short speech. I stayed silent as more sap dripped down my face, I was still speechless. This whole ordeal was too much for a normal kid like me. I was just a human kid that was thrown into what seemed like a frikkin war between the gods all because the god who chose me was bored and wanted to play. I had gotten used to my new body fairly quickly, but this near death experience was too much for my psyche to handle. Strong Oak turned away and slowly walked away.
Morning came slowly as my eyes adjusted to the still dark jungle. I walked over to a nearby flower that had a small pool of water in it. I looked in at the somehow haggard looking face that stared back at me. Sap was dried and crusting off of my face and my eyes seemed duller than usual. In only a few days my life had been almost extinguished and know I had been told that I would die soon anyways if I didn't stay in Gaia's Navel. As much as I wanted to stay here in the forest, my brony self wanted to see Ponyville and Canterlot at least once. Just how was I going to do that now? I was now stuck here.
"Hey Woody, whatcha doing?" A familiar voice called. I turned to see Keet perched on a low branch watching me with a disinterested look. I could tell he was hiding his worry and concern.
Nothing Keet..... Just... thinking about things.... I sighed.
"Right, whatever dude." He said. "Oh! By the way, Terra asked me to get you. She said it was urgent."
Urgent? All right... just give me a second. I replied, wiping away the rest of the crusted sap from my face. I really needed to get a hold of my self. Lets get going, come on. I pointed to my shoulders and Keet alighted onto them.
"Heh, well then. ONWARDS VALIANT STEED!" he cried out loudly. I flinched at the volume of his voice. For a little parakeet, he had some serious lungs on him.
We arrived as the light of the sun was starting to brighten the jungle slightly. Terra and Strong Oak were waiting on us with serious looks on their faces. Something bad was about to happen. I could just feel it. Terra was the first to speak.
"I have terrible tidings. The trees have informed me that a creature of immense power is approaching Gaia's Navel. It seems to be heading straight here and has no indication of slowing down. I have no information on this creature as my power does not work on it. If only my sister were here, then she could possibly identify the creature. It is practically destryong the forest and any animals that near it as it approaches." This was serious. Something was destroying the forest? And headed straight here? How? Gaia's Navel was hidden with powerful magic from those who did not know of its existence. Unless... It already knew...
"I want you and Keet to stop it before it gets any closer." She watched as I flinched. I was not liking this plan at all.
Are you sure you can't get someone else to do it? I asked. I had my fill of fighting to last me a lifetime.
"You are the best choice we have. You have stood up to the Ancient Spider and survived to tell the tale. If you do not want to fight, then at least watch it and bring some of the other Wolves to fight it for you."
I thought for a moment before answering. F-fine... but I don't want to fight it at all. I.... I paused. I don't think I could take anything right now...
Terra smiled and said. "That is all I ask of you Twigleaf. I will assign some of the Wolves to follow you. Please, stay safe."
Well, shit. A challenger approaches? No, I had a strange feeling about the creature. It felt familiar and yet, much different from me. It felt old, experienced, and deadly.... I was probably going to regret this decision, but my curiosity got the better of me. So, I set about preparing for the upcoming confrontation with a power that made me look like a speck of dust in a desert.
May your minds stay sharp, and souls burn bright.
That sounds scary... First a giant spider, then a strange creature tearing through the forest? What happened after!?
Well, if you would stop hopping about and interrupting my story, I would have gotten to that.
... I'm sorry Great Shadow.... I will be quiet now...
Don't worry little pup. After all, one cannot learn without asking questions. Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, the Strange creature....
I sat in front of a small crowd of Timber Wolves, shifting uncomfortably as they stared at me intently. I could feel them judging me while I waited for Terra to address the group. She had a determined look on her face as she spoke with a stern voice.
"Guardians of the Forest. As I am sure you are aware, an unknown creature is headed this way at a frightful speed. It holds no respect for the forest and its children." Many of the Wolves gave out a low growl at the mention of harming the forest. Terra continued. "I have asked your newest brother to lead a pack to attempt to stop this creature before it causes anymore damage. I cannot ask that everyone here to go, so Twigleaf shall be choosing some to join him in his fight against the creature." I was starting to shake slightly in fear. Just thinking of fighting this creature scared me. What if it harmed my soul stone? What if it actually capture it?! I would be unable to stop it from reaching Terra...
"Are you all right Child of Man?" Terra asked me, snapping me out of my fear and worrying.
Ah...um, yes... I think?
"You shouldn't worry too much. The Wolves gathered here are my strongest Guardians. They will protect you with every ounce of their beings." Terra's voice was smooth and I felt safer.
I-I hope so... I said slowly. I turned to the small group and looked them over. Most of them were much larger than me, but there were several that were smaller and had flowers. Wait. Flowers? I had thought that all Wolves were gender neutral. At least, that is what Strong Oak told me. Although I did stop him before he could explain the Wolves version of the Birds and the Bees. Already went through that once and I sure didn't want to have that level of awkward again.
Well, um. I started, several of the wolves growled at me to hurry up and reminded me on the urgency of the situation. R-right... I think we could use at least 15 of you. T-that should be enough... I pointed out several large ones and a few of the flowering ones. I was curious as to their abilities. The Wolves that weren't chosen grumbled and slinked off. I hoped that they would listen to Terra and not try to take matters into their own paws. Crap. Am I already so used to this body that I am using paws instead of hands? Weird...
The jungle was eerily silent, seeing as the wolves evacuated most of the wildlife away from the creatures approach. We all watched and followed the hulking creature walked cautiously. It was probably because there was no sound at all except the creatures own clanking footsteps. What got me first about the creature was that it was humanoid, or even a human. It wore the largest suit of armor I had ever seen. It was even larger than most of the ones in the video games I used to play. I really miss video games. The second thing was that the small female.... thing... that sat on it's shoulder seemed to be having a conversation with it. I could almost hear the creature, but it's voice wasn't directed at me so it came as a barely audible whisper. The creature paused as the wolves started growling at it.
Lets go... I said as they approached the creature.
"Timber Wolves! These are hers!" The female creature jumped down off of the larger things shoulder. She approached the closest wolf and held her hand out. I could hear the whisper again before the girl replied to it.
"I'm sure she just sent them as an escort." The wolf she was reaching for lunged at her, the large armored mass grabbed her up and smashed the offending wolf's head. Another wolf leapt towards it from behind, only to have the creature's elbow break his jaw. As strong as this creature was, which frightened me to no end, it sped away back the way it came. Was it scared? The other wolves let out a victorious howl and gave chase. I reluctantly followed. Were these creatures really hostile? The younger looking female seemed to recognize the Wolves and wasn't afraid, and the larger one only retaliated. I really didn't have time to muse over these findings. I had to take care of this situation for Terra. With all she had done for me, I couldn't let her down.
The rest of the wolves chased the iron juggernaut to a dead end, a high cliff face rising behind them. It lay the female down and stood in vigilant defense. No, this thing wasn't scared. It was very clever. I quickly ordered all the remaining wolves to attack. It had the defensive advantage, but we had it out numbered. There was no wa-
Oh sweet Celestia... I spoke too soon. This creature, this iron giant, was a fighting machine. To me, the untrained fighter, it looked like he was flailing his arms about and knocking the wolves away with the simplest of ease. I started to cringe and slowly back away as the branches broke and wood flew. This creature showed no signs of slowing down. I thought the fight would end when one of the wolves gripped it's neck in his powerful jaws, but all it did was bring down it's chin and smash in the wolf's head. There was no blood where the wound should have been. I don't think this creature even had flesh. The closest thing I could think of was a golem. An ancient creature made of clay and magic. Much like how I was made from wood and magic. It fought off the remaining wolves with little trouble at all. Then it turned it's empty visor towards me. I did the only sensible thing to do in this kind of situation. I ran. I ran like the coward I really was.
I only looked behind me long enough to see that it was following, the female in its arms and she seemed to be happy about something. These two were seriously monsters. You know, being a creature of the forest and all and having magic that allowed me to control it to a certain degree, you would think that I would have seen the root that stuck half way out of the ground. I tripped over it and landed in front of a small mound of forest debris and soil. I was about to get up and keep running away from the golem that was chasing, but a large spider popped out of the mound, which was actually a lid, and dragged me into it's den. I immediately froze, stuck to the sticky webbing that coated the pits inner walls. I couldn't see much at first, but after my eyes adjusted, I could see the spiders glistening fangs and it's shining eyes.
FUUUUUUUUUUUCK! I mentally screamed. I was going all rage guy as the spider's fangs drew closer, the clicking and clacking sent shivers down my spine. I could feel the poison dripping down onto my wooden flesh and was kinda amazed that it's hot, rancid breath filled the small pit.
Fear. Fear is a very strong emotion. Especially when faced with death. And I guess you could say that I was faced with a lot of death lately. Seriously! If I could leave this damned jungle, I would leave in a heartbeat. The death in question seemed dissatisfied that its quarry had no edible fluids and was about to see just how sweet sap tasted when the Golem that was chasing me fell into the hole and caved the spiders head in with his weight alone. I was covered in squishy spider fluids as it got up, the female thing giggling at the Golem. She turned and saw me stuck to the wall, looking somewhat horrified.
"That's where it went." She said. Thank you captain Obvious! The girl glared at the golem and huffed. Said Golem was gearing up his fist for a punch, but stopped just inches from my chest when the girl said.
"WAIT!" Even I was surprised that she stopped him. I was just about to say my final goodbyes to nothing. She seemed to study me for a bit before saying.
"You serve Terra. Why did you shout out 'Celestia save me'?" I was starting to sweat, or at least I would have if I was still human. I can't believe I had let that slip! I guess I should try and play it off...
Ah... Umm.. h-habit? i said, unsure. She looked at me funny.
"How is it a habit? That wouldn't make sense, unless you aren't a timber wolf, but clearly you are." Shit! She was getting close! I should probably just come out and say it. They obviously weren't normal.
Well.... Ahhh... You could say that I am a not-Timber Wolf? I was still slightly intimidated by teh Golem, its sightless gaze seemed to pierce my very core.
"A not-timber wolf? That doesn't make sense. If you're not a timber wolf than what are you?"
Umm... I don't think you would believe me if I told y-you... I said slowly.
The girl crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow at me. "I'm an ancient goddess who controls the very core of this planet. He," The girl patted the Golems head, "Is probably the most fearsome warrior of all time. Try me."
I stared her down with my glowing eyes and said simply. "I'm a human."
The girl clapped her hands and let loose a small giggle. Seriously? Why in the nine hells was she laughing at that? It wasn't that funny. Was it?
"Did you hear that?" She asked the Golem. I heard that faint whispering again and the girl raised a finger to her lips and said.
"Oops? I'll fix that right now." Her hands phased through the Golems head and it didn't seem to mind much. I was personally shocked to see her phase through obviously solid metal, but she did say she was a goddess. Wait, a goddess and a strange creature... Was the golem a piece? The golem in question turned to me after the goddess was finished and asked clearly in my head.
'Now, what did you tell her?' oddly enough, his mental voice was tinny like it was emanating from the armor itself. Which was odd because he was speaking directly into my head. But I digress, it was probably normal for him.
Umm... I'm a human? I repeated as a question, unsure what I should have said. This guy was pretty scary with his seemingly sightless eyes.
The girl tapped the golems head to get its attention and asked "So? What do you think?"
'Probably a mid-level pawn, at best. Maybe if he healed up a bit he could do better, but the way he is now?' It paused, 'He might be of use, but probably not.'
"Well if he might be of use, then we should take him." The tiny goddess chirped.
The golem shrugged and grabbed me, ripping me from the sticky threads. 'Try not to land funny.' it said before promptly tossing me clear of the pit.
Wait, wha- I yelped as I flew. I was a tad slow in registering him throwing me. I landed on my side and rolled all the way over and back to my paws. I was just in time to see the golem climb out of the pit with the goddess on his shoulders.
Not cool, I said, giving him a glare. but... thanks anyways. I frowned at them some more, still unsure of their intentions. Just why do you want to see Terra anyways? I asked. They shared a knowing grin and the goddess said.
"A family reunion!"
I was positively dumbstruck. not only was she a goddess, but Terra's sister as well? I was flabbergasted. Wait... YOU are her sister?! I thought you would be more.... pony-ish... I said.
The goddess raised an eyebrow before retorting. "Well you're a human, shouldn't you look more human-ish?"
Touche. I have to admit that I kinda set myself up there. i just glared at her and said. Whatever, I guess I should take you to Terra now... The goddess rejoiced.
"ALL RIGHT!" She pointed off into the direction of The Grotto. "THAT WAY!"
We all started off in the direction of The Grotto and the Golem asked. 'So, do you have a name?'
I was kinda embarrassed of the name I chose, but it was too late to change now. Well... I call myself Twigleaf here. I kinda made it up on the spot. I said. I could tell he thought the name was stupid too. Great, just great.
'Adam. So Kindlingfern, how much do you know?' He introduced himself. I glared at the name. I had a feeling that this was going to be a regular occurrence.
I thought for a moment, pooling my meager knowledge of the subject of what was going on. Not much... I thought it was all conjecture when I got sent here. I don't even know who my 'Chess Master' is. Or whatever Terra called them.
'Alright. You are in a game. Gods from all the different pantheons participate. The games can be for fun or, more commonly, for power. Since the gods and goddesses can't directly interfere in the game, they use pieces, like you and me, to do their work for them. Based on your current strength you're a low-to-mid level pawn.' Adam explained. I soaked up the information like a sponge. I was slightly insulted that I was just a pawn.
A-a pawn?! I exclaimed. Well... I can't argue there... I did almost die a few days ago. I thought for a moment. Wait. You talk like you have done this before. How? his answer surprised me.
'Well I've been in games before this one.' I was definitely interested in hearing more.
What was it like? I asked, my curiosity was getting the best of me.
'Well, my first game started off a bit confusing. I was in a raid on a small coastal settlement, when Siegfried decided that we should have a brawl. That cheater bathed in dragon blood, so he was invincible. Oh, and that doesn't work with the types of dragons you find here. Well Siggy gut me like a boar, and then I was visited by a goddess, Skadi. She told me that there was a great battle, and that she would require my help. I accepted, and the next thing I know, I'm on some mountain and I'm a Yeti. After I found out what was going on I had a pretty good time. I didn't win, but I lasted to the end.'
I started thinking about what he said. If I was as sharp on my history and myth than I thought I was then that meant Adam was reaaaaly old. I pondered that for a few minutes before asking.
So, this kind of thing happens often? What usually happens after it is all done?
'Games happen all the time. I've been in 5 officially, this one being my 6th. And as for what happens after? Well it depends. Pieces who want to go home normally go home. Most pieces prefer to stay and live out their life, some start religions for their sponsor.' This sorta confused me. I knew what a sponsor was, but why would anyone wanna start a bloody religion for some crackheaded jerk? He continued. 'Your sponsor is your patron, player, chess master. The deity you serve. That's pretty much it. What happens after depends on you. Unless you die, then you're dead.'
Wow... I don't think I would want to stay. Nice as it is here, I miss my family. Heck, all I know about my 'Sponsor' is that he is a jerk. I said. Even though my family were just a bunch of jerks, they were still my family and I would like to be able to see them again.
'Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if your sponsor doesn't send you home, then you're probably going to be stuck here. Unless you get another sponsor.'
I can get another Sponsor? How would I do that? i asked, confused.
'Well basically there are two types of sponsors. The first type selects a piece form their world and brings them to the board. The piece then acts in the interests of their sponsor. The second type of sponsor is when a deity brings a bunch of random pieces, and then ignores them. Other deities, who may not be strong enough to find a piece of their own, rely on these pieces. They'll normally offer a contract, or just start looking after the piece that they want.'
Huh... I replied. We stopped in front of the entrance to Terra's Grotto, the massive wall of thorns stood in our way. By the way, you might want to stand back a bit. I don't think the other wolves are going to like you. I warned Adam. he lust looked at me. At least, I think he did. Not having physical eyes is weird
'You worry too much, what's the worst that could happen?'
Then, out of the blue(or rather, the ground), a skeleton burst forth from the ground in front of Adam, causing me to leap back in surprise.
Whargarble! What the Fuck! I shouted at the skeleton. It only handed Adam a small scrap of something and he read it. he touched the Skeleton's skull and said.
'Let her know I'll see her soon. Also give her my congratulations on taking over Tartarus.' Wait, Tartarus? As in the Greek version of Hell? man, this guy had connections...
'Where were we?' Adam said, knocking me out of my thoughts. Apparently I was still staring at the freshly turned soil where the Skeleton was.
What the fuck was that... I asked, still somewhat stunned by the sudden appearance and disappearance of the undead. Oh! we were going to see Terra. She is behind the wall there. I pointed to the large thorned wall before us. Give me a minute. I concentrated hard, feeling the voices in the thorns and asked them to move out of our way. They were stubborn, but after a few moments they slid begrudgingly out of the way. There... we... go... I panted, exausted. It took a lot of power to move the thorns.
"Hey Adam, couldn't you have just smashed your way through? It probably would've been faster." Cora said bluntly. Ow. That hurt.
I panted some more as I entered the Grotto. Well... They would just regrow if you tried to force your way in. I padded up to the World Tree and said. Hey! Terra, you have a visitor! The air seemed to hum as Terra's physical avatar appeared out of the tree.
"Welcome back Child of Man. I see that the creature is not whom the trees told me it was." She said. What was up with all these Goddesses and stating the obvious?
I nodded and turned to the two waiting just outside. And I think you may recognize one of them.
"One?" She asked before they approached.
'TWO!' Adam cried, throwing his arms wide. 'THREE!' He started walking towards Terra and I.
'Terra! It's wonderful to see you again! It seems like only yesterday that you rallied 29 of the most powerful deities against me, attempting to stop any further involvement I have in the Games. Ah, where does the time go?'
Hold the phone! He knew Terra? How?! I thought she was just an Equestrian Goddess! But apparently, somehow, Adam knew her. Had he come to Equestria before?
I looked back and forth between Adam and Terra. Wait. YOU TWO KNOW EACH OTHER?! I thought... Abuh..buh
"Ah, Adam. I was hoping that it wasn't you... Might I ask what you are doing with Cora?" Terra asked gently, her eyes becoming slits of distrust.
'Isn't it obvious?' He retorted.
"Hi sis! He's carrying me!" Cora shouted out.
"I can see that. But I can only hope that you did not enter a contract with him..." She already knew the answer, but she still had hope against it.
They both answered in tandem. "She/I did!"
Terra facehoofed and sighed. "Cora... You do realize that he is possibly the most destructive Piece out there."
"Yep." Cora replied with a smile.
'I don't know about that. I haven't done much... yet.'
Terra sighed again. "Just as long as you know what you are getting yourself into..." She turned to me and then to Adam and got a mischevious grin on her muzzle. "I have a proposition for you Adam..."
'Is this going to be like last time? Where you try to kill me, to stop me from completing my side of the bargain?' Adam replied.
Terra had a fake look of surprise and said " Are you still mad about that? But no, I need your help."
'Just checking,' Adam looked to Cora, 'Do you want me to help her?'
Cora put a finger to her lips, pretending to think for a moment. "Sure!"
Terra looked pleased with herself as she said. "I need you to help Twig retrieve the Seed of Gaia."
I blanched at the request. I-i don't t-think we should...
'Alright, just one condition.'
"And what would that be?"
'Nothing to big, just a power transfer. You may not have noticed, but Cora isn't exactly at her strongest right now. If you gave her about, let's say a third of your strength, it would vastly improve her recovery time.' Adam said with finality. I had a feeling he wasn't going to move from these demands.
Terra gave the thought little time for consideration. "Of course. Anything for Cora. Now, I need you and Twigleaf to retrieve the Seed of Gaia from Amalorg. I fear that she is using it's power to keep herself alive. I need you two to either take back the Seed and let her die normally or... Slay her..." She said the last part with a little remorse.
'Huh. Sounds good to me. Cora, why don't you stay here and catch up with your sister.'
Cora nodded, and hopped down. She walked over to Terra, leaving slight scorch marks where her feet touched the ground. Adam turned to me. I was still shivering at the thought of going back to fight the Matriarch. All those... little.... spiders....
'Alright, Tumbleweed. Lead the way.'
May your minds stay sharp, and your souls burn ever brighter as you reach for the stars.
I winced every time Adam's iron fingers plunged into Terra's bark with dull thuds. I had offered to help him up with some vines, but he was far too heavy and they broke before he even lifted himself up. I had went on ahead and landed on a web covered branch that noted the beginning of the horror that was to come.
'So, Underbrush. What exactly are we doing up here anyways? What's got you so scared?' Adam asked as he pulled himself up and plunged his fingers into Terra once more.
You don't w-wanna know... I stopped and shuddered, Just...no. I was having flashbacks to my first encounter with Amalorg, and my subsequent vivisection. Adam pulled himself up onto the branch next to me, seemingly unsure if it would hold his weight and asked.
'Just tell me. I can guarantee that I've seen worse. And anyways, how am I suppose to help if you wont tell me what were up against?'
Oh yeah? And just what have you seen... i said with confidence. I highly doubted that there was anything worse than giant zombie spiders.
'Well... so far I've seen the four horsemen, I've died several hundred times, had every one of my organs removed in such a way that I was conscientious and alive throughout the entire procedure, and I also brought back Hades' daughter after her curfew had passed. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.' Adam said nonchalantly. I was stunned.
Wait... FOUR horsemen? As in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? I said it before and I'll say it again. This guy had connections that even I couldn't even imagine. Well, have you s-seen a Giant Zombie Spider?
'No, the Four Horsemen of jolly good times. Of course Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse! And about giant zombie spiders? Well I've fought giants, zombies, spiders, zombie spiders, giant zombies, and giant spiders. A giant zombie spider would just be saving time in my books.'
I-i see... I said slowly. I took one last swing and landed amongst several web coated branches. I started to shudder. W-we're h-here... j-just a l-little f-further... I was scared out of my mind. I wanted to run back to the forest floor and see if I could indeed piddle myself now, but I had to be strong. Terra asked me to help get the Seed and damn me to Tartarus if I wimp out now. The tiny spider drones were starting to swarm towards me, the source of the disturbance in the webbing, and I backed up a single step as Adam finished his ascent.
Adam only looked at me, then proceeded to crash through the spiders and the webbing like they were those paper doors they had in Japan. 'You coming?' He asked, pausing to see if I was following.
I watched as Adam walked through the tiny spiders, either crushing them under his iron boots or they bounced off of his plates. I started to follow him and replied. 'Y-yeah... sure.'
Cora glanced at her sister and smiled. She was sitting on a large rock her sister had gotten for her, but even now her small form was starting to char the rock.
"Teeeeerrraaaaa~" Cora called out in a singsong voice. Terra shook her head and looked at her sister with a slightly worried look. "Oh don't be so fussy. Adam won't let anything happen to Twig."
"It isn't that I don't trust Adam to keep Twigleaf safe." Terra sighed, "It is that I hope that he at least tries to stay out of the fighting. He is quite dedicated to anything I ask of him. I am worried that he will do something brash."
Cora giggled. "I doubt he'll be much into the fighting. He's terrified of spiders. You should've seen him after we... rescued... him from one."
"And I am to blame for his fear of arachnids. I had sent him after the Seed a few days ago and Amalorg nearly killed him. He had fallen all the way from my canopy in pieces..." Terra looked towards the ground and sighed.
Cora leaned towards her sister and gave her a hug. "And he's willing to go up anyways." she murmured into Terra's ear, "That certainly says something about him." Cora leaned back and gave Terra a huge grin. "And if he breaks, you can just fix him again!"
Terra smiled and embraced her sister. "Thank you big sister. I am glad you are back from your slumber." she said, ending the hug with a smile. "Just what woke you up after all this time?"
"I suppose hunger would be the easiest way of describing it. Most knowlage of me is lost, and my creations are... gone now. I have very few who even remember me, belief in me is quickly disappearing..." Terra gave Cora a warm smile.
"Then we shall have to change that now, won't we?" She said with a wink. Cora let out a girlish giggle.
Adam was really tearing up the webbing with only his body. Nothing seemed to phase him as he continued forwards, blazing a whole new path. He turned to face me, he was covered from head to toe in sticky webs, and he said.
'Hey Barkbrains, are you sure you don't want to go first?'
No thanks. I think you got it. I replied. I was learning to ignore the names, mostly because I knew he meant no harm in them.
'Suit yourself.' He said as he continued to push through. He would occasionally toss a spider towards me and get me to scrabble away from it before I realized that I was much bigger than it and flicked it out of the way. He finally pushed one final time and we both entered a large hollow dome that I immediately recognized. 'So... where to next?'
I was shaking violently at this point, even if I had a determined look on my face. 'W-we're here...'
'So, if were here... where are all the spiders?' Adam asked. I almost facepawed after he said that.
As if on cue, Amalorg slowly descended from the top of the dome. "Why hast thou interrupted my slumberrrrr...." She said, her voice was scratchy, like nails on a chalkboard scratchy. It looked down at me with it's non blind eyes. Of which there were only 3 left. "Yoooooouuuuu.... Hast thou returned to take that which is rightfully mine!?" She screeched, causing me to scramble behind Adam.
I-it d-doesn't b-belong t-t-t-t-t-to y-you... I said, trembling. It was like I was staring into the face of death yet again. I could still remember the pain of her fangs scratching my soul and my body being ripped to pieces. It b-belongs t-t-t-to Terra... I was actually almost tempted to say something like 'Say hello to my bigger friend...' but my chattering teeth wouldn't allow me to.
Adam pounded his fist into his opposing palm as if he remembered something. 'Armalorg! High Priestess Armalorg, the Spider Goddess' Emissary! How did you screw up badly enough top end up like this?'
Amalorg hissed as she recognized the voice coming from the golem. "Yoooooouuuuuu..... yoooou did this toooo meeeee! With myyy faaaaiillure tooo defeeeeaaaat yoooouu, myyy goooodeeesssss cuuuurrsssseeeed meee tooo thiiiis foooorrrmmmm!" She screeched swiping a long leg at Adam. "I WIIIIIILLL HAAAAAVEEEE MYYY REEEVEEENGEEE!"
'Aww, I missed you too.' He said, grabbing the large appendage. 'Let me give you a HUG.' Adam wrapped his arms tighter, and her leg started to buckle.
Amalorg screeched in pain as she drew her injured leg to her bulky form. Small Drone spiders flowed from the wound like blood as they bandaged the wound with webs.
L-look out! I cried as Amalorg shot a large stream of sticky webbing at Adam. I lept up and tackled Adam out of the way, only to be hit by the webbing. The webbing slammed into me and propelled me into the trunk of the tree. The webbing felt tingly, like a thousand needles were piercing my wooden form. I could feel my body slowly numb and become useless as Drones swarmed over me and into my body. They were diggin around in my chest and emerged with my soul stone.I watched in horror as they started to bring it back to Amalorg. "Leeeeeet uuuussss ssssseeee yyyoooooooouuuu beeeaaaat mmmeeeee nnoooooww thaaaat I haaave a hoooosssstaaaageeee...." She said with her vile voice.
Adam gave me a blank look, not like there was much emotion that could be shown, but you get my drift.
'Soul stone?' I nodded in response. This wasn't going to end well.
'Hmm, I'll have to ask Cora about that... Anyways, what makes you think that having a hostage would work?'
"Hhhheeeee iiissssss yyyyooooouuuurrrrr fffrrrriiiieeeeennnndddd. Yyyyyyoooouuuu wwwwoooouuuullllddddnnnnn'ttttt hhhuuuurrrrttt yyyoooouuuurrrr ffffrrriiiieennnddd..." she said, practically spitting venom at Adam.
'Are you sure about that? I only met him a few hours ago tops.' He said to Amalorg before turning to me. or rather my still active body. 'Don't worry Twig, I'll avenge you.' Did he just... He did. He called me by my name instead of a lame nickname.
I shook violently. 'Just make it hurt... A lot.'
'I'll gladly honor that last request.' He said nodding before taking a few steps towards Amalorg. Something white flashed between me and Adam and I found my self flying, my connection to my body slowly fading. That is an odd experience. You know how people would describe a soul being sucked from a body like a berry through a straw? Yeah, it felt a lot like that.
I now had a sort of 360 awareness and I felt Keet there just above me, grasping me in his shaking claw. W-what? I thought you left! I said, happy that he was there, but still kinda mad that he had disappeared. I was also mad at myself for not noticing that he had disappeared.
"You really didn't think I would leave ya to die, did ya?" He said, he was just as scared as I was as we flew through the webbed tunnel that Adam had created. I smiled, or at least as much as a rock could.
I guess not...
He grinned at me and flew out of the now slowly closing hole where the drones were fixing the web. "Hold on!" He said. I grimaced. just how the hell was I going to hold on! He was holding me! Keet closed his eyes as he barely slipped through the hole and dispersed a few drones while he was at it. He breathed a sigh of relief as we entered open airspace. "Now we are even, yeah?" he said as he slowly glided towards the ground. The feeling of flight is something hard to describe. I knew I wasn't the one flying, but having my very essence exposed to the air felt exhilarating. I could feel each and every gust of wind as Keet brought his wings down, and I could feel the gentle breeze that wafted through the jungle, bringing a light scent of fruits and the undergrowth to my form.
My musings were interrupted by a large, grey form falling by us, almost making Keet drop me. I almost could feel a familiar presence fly past us towards Adam, but it was probably the wind.
Cora looked at her sister. Terra was wincing slightly.
Terra winced again. "Nothing it's just that- ugh -Adam's not being as courteous as he could be."
Cora patted her sister's hoof. "That's just how he is. You don't expect him to climb up with those flimsy vines, do you?"
"Well I suppose not..."
Cora leaned back on her rock, which by now was almost completely burnt through. "Well, I suppose that now's a good a time as any." Terra smiled at her sister.
"Yes, I do suppose now would be a good time to start. We wouldn't want you to burn your way back to the core, now would we?" She lowered her horn towards Cora, the wind itself was wrapping around Terra's form and the tip of her horn glowed in a majestic green light. "Come sister, let us become one once more. Even if it is only for a moment."
Cora reached up a hand, covered in a dark red glow, and gently touched a finger to the tip of Terra's horn. The lights merged, turning the color of rich loam, and enveloped the sisters. Their eyes began to glow a bright white, and when Terra pushed the pure energy into her sister, the glow slowly subsided, until it had completely dissipated. Cora glowed red for a moment, then it was finished.
"It is done, my sister." Terra panted. She slightly exhausted, as she had given Cora a little more than what was agreed upon.
"Thank you, sis." Cora gave her sister a hug.
Adam landed with a dull thud and created a small crater nearby Terra and Coralis.
"Oooh, that looked like it hurt." Keet said.
I don't think he can feel much of anything Keet. I replied as we alighted next to Terra. Keet set me down almost halfway between Terra and Adam. Well. That could have gone better.
Adam pulled himself out of the small crater he made and pointed an accusing finger at Terra. 'I blame you for this.'
Terra smirked at him. "Then let us call it even for gouging out my flesh during your climb. Besides that, where you successful in your mission?"
He started to casually toss the Seed of Gaia from hand to hand. 'What do you think?'
Terra breathed an audible sigh of relief. "Thank you Adam. Can you bring it over here?" She asked pointing to a small stone that looked more like a pedestal. "Just place it on the stone."
Adam only took a few steps towards Terra before the Seed started to glow. I watched entranced as it floated softly out of his ferrous hand and levitated towards me. I felt a sort of familiar warmth emanating from the Seed. It was comforting and encouraging. The Seed floated in front of my soul stone for a second and then slowly melded with it. It was an odd feeling. It was warm and comforting at first, but then quickly turned into a raging inferno. My soul burned and bristled with unbridled power. I felt the power pull plant matter from all around me, reforming my body around my glowing soul stone. My eyes started to burn and glow as my mind blanked out...
WHEW! That is it for this crossover. It was interesting to say the least. Sorry it took so long, but my life has been odd lately and I have been finding it hard to concentrate on writing. Well, mostly copypasta for this crossover XD. But yeah, if you haven't already, go check out Eathlome's story An Iron Pawn. It be some great shiznit in there. As some of you may know, I also have a Tumblr for Twiggy and anyone he meets along the way. You can find it HERE! Now you must wait for a bit as I start up the next arc! The Journey to Canterlot!
Uggh... My head was pounding like a drumset at a heavy metal concert, and the childish giggiling at my current state wasn't helping matters any. Wait... Giggiling? I slowly opened my eyes and was bestowed a vision most peculiar and bizarre. Light green Earth Ponies were floating and flitting between the trees. No wait, I stand corrected, they were floating and flitting INTO the trees. Each of them had a light green coat, almost a dark mint color, with a darker leaf pattern across their bodies. Their manes and tails were much like their leaf patterns in that they were made of leaves and were gently flowing in a non existent breeze.
"I am glad to see that you have finally awoken Twigleaf. You have been absent from the realm of the concious for the entire night previous. I was beginning to worry for you." Terra's comforting voice emanated from the World Tree. Instead of the massive oak tree I had grown accustomed to, it was now aglow with a strange, etheral light.
'Terra?' I asked, somewhat shocked at her new glow. 'What happened?'
"The Seed of Gaia has accepted you as it's Bearer, though I did not intend for you to be exposed to it's power just yet." Terra explained. "You are now 'Gaia's Avatar' and now my power within you, though I had to seal most of it away as the nature of your soul still has yet to grow accustomed to such immense power. I looked down at my chest, a small glow matching that of the World Tree was leaking from between the branches that made up my chest. It dissipated as I became aware of it. It felt warm and comforting, much like I had experienced earlier before I blacked out. It made me feel confident and at peace with the world and my lot in life. I felt like I could take on the world, but not any giant spiders though. I was done with those for the time being. Hopefully forever. I looked up at the playful, green ponies floating through the trees.
'So, what are those things?' I asked.
"Those are this world's dryads. They are spirits of the forest and protectors of the trees." As she said this, a dryad with a bright, vibrant rose flew up into my face and stared me down with large golden eyes, much like my own. It smiled and let loose a crystalline sound that was similar to the giggling from earlier. It flew off before I could examine it closer.
'How come I can see them now and not before?' I asked, watching the dryads start to form a ring around Terra and spin slowly around her large trunk. A strange, sparkling dust was falling from them and looked somewhat reminiscent of a large gathering of fire flies on a warm summer's eve.
"The Seed amplifies what little druidic power you had and I can only assume that you can now use one of the most basic abilities that all druids share." I frowned at the word 'basic'. Was I really that weak? "It is known amongst your own people as 'Nature's Sight' or 'The Eye of Gaia'."
Man, I was starting to think I was in some sort of video game or RPG. I mean, 'Nature's Sight' sounded like some sort of passive ability from a MMORPG or something. There were a few moments of awkward silence before I spoke up.
'So, were you always a tree?' I asked, curious as to her origins. I was actually surprised I didn't ask before. Terra seemed to mull the question over before replying.
"No. At one time, both Coralis and I both had humanoid forms as that was something of a universal norm. Our mother, the one you know as Gaia, or Mother Nature, created us to keep the new planet of Equis from destroying itself. We took the form of Alicorns as the growing sapient creatures of the planet were the Ponies." She was planting images and events from a time loooong past directly into my head as she spoke. I saw two somewhat familiar forms of young girls looking down at a ball of green and blue. The next image was that of two very familiar Alicorn fillies as they walked amongst the new life that sprung up around them. The final image was that of the elder filly sleeping deep within the planet's core and the younger glowing and becoming a large tree. Not quite the largest around, but still quite massive.
"After Cora went to the core of the planet to stabalize it's magma flows and set the continental plates in motion, she fell into a deep slumber to regenerate the power she had used. I had decided to use my power to become one with nature itself by turning myself into a Hamadryad." I had no clue as to what a 'hamadryad' was, but Terra seemed to pick up my unspoken confusion and explain. "A Hamadryad is akin to a dryad in the sense that they are spirits of the forest, but they are actually the tree itself. They cannot physically leave the tree, but if they are powerful enough they can create an illusion to project an image into the surrounding world, much like myself." That actually explained why she wasn't projecting herself like usual. With my new 'level up' and 'perk' I probably would have seen right through it and see her true self, which was the World Tree.
'So, what now?' I asked, for some reason or another, I felt an itch to leave the forest and travel. Which is odd, because I never had much wanderlust before.
"Now that you posses the Seed, I was hoping you could help me set nature back into balance. Ever since Discord was released, my control over the forests of Equis has been waning, and chaos has become their ruler. I hesitate to ask this of you after your previous 'ordeal', but this must be done and no other I can send will be able to commune with the Guardian Saplings that reside in each forest." Let's see...
Possibly meet some ponies?
Save the world from a slow and terrible demise?
Might as well check that one off as well.
'Sure, it isn't like I have anything better to do right now.' I replied. 'I'm sure Keet would be estatic to get out of here.' Terra glowed happily.
"Thank you Chil- No. You are no longer a child in the eyes of the forest. You deserve to be addressed as such. From now on, you shall be known as Twigleaf, Avatar of Gaia. You may leave whenever you wish, though I think Strong Oak would like to bid you farewell. I believe he is in the clearing where you first met him." I smiled and bid Terra a fond farewell. It wasn't like I was never going to return, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was not going to be back any time soon.
It wasn't long before I found Strong Oak sitting in the middle of the tiny clearing where I first arrived and subsequently freaked out. He was silent as I approached and continued to look up into the blue sky the showed through the canopy.
'Is it already that time?' He asked. A tone of remorse could be heard plain as day in his voice. 'I had hoped that this day would not come for some time yet. I sat next to him an joined him in his cloud gazing.
'Yeah, I wouldn't mind staying for a bit longer, but the world isn't going to save itself ya know!' We both shared a chuckle.
'To think that when you first arrived, you couldn't tell left from right, let alone how to properly thought speak.' He paused. 'You truly have grown in the month you have spent amongst us... I am proud to call you 'Packmate'.' We both sat in silence for awhile, just content to watch the clouds blow by. I got up and said.
'Well, I guess this is goodbye. At least, for a little while.' He removed his gaze from the sky and looked me in the eyes.
'Remember that you are always welcome here in Gaia's Navel young Avatar.' I smiled at him and left. A part of me just wanted to run up to him and hug him, but we were guys. Guys don't have mushy feelings or do hugs. There wasn't anything else to say anyways.
I actually felt Keet's presence before I saw him glide down out of a nearby tree and alight onto my head.
"So, ya say yer farewells to the old wolf and the tree hag?" He asked. I just ignored his shoddy insults. It really wasn't his strong suit.
'Yeah. We might as well get started now Keet. We have a long road ahead of us. A long road indeed.' Keet just laughed.
"You keep talking like that Woody, and you may just wither up and die from old age!"
'Oh ha ha. Very funny. You do realize that I can hurt you right?' I said jokingly.
"And what are ya going to do? Sprout a tree in my stomach? You don't have it in ya!" He retorted.
'Oh yeah? Watch m-' I was rudely cut off my a shrill, feminine scream.
"I think we should check that out Woody." Keet said, even though I was already runing towards the source of the disturbance.
'Way ahead of you!'
I burst through the underbrush and spotted a familiar Manticore growling and approaching an even more familiar Earth Pony. The pony had a light, cream colored coat with a rose and pink mane; her cutie mark was that of a single, blooming rose.
'Bad George!' I scolded the manticore. George backed down and folded his ears back. 'What have I said about eating ponies?' George whimpered and backed further away from the Pony. I turned to the Pony and apologized for George. 'I'm sory bout that. He gets kinda antsy around new faces. He really is a nice kitten when you get to know him.' The Pony look at me confused and horrified. I knew from my experience that no one could really hear my thought speech, but her look made me think that she could.
She blubbered some nonsense and promptly went out like a light from the shock of hearing me speak, let alone at my size compared to hers.
"Well, dungfeathers... I guess she couldn't stand your breath." I gave him an unamused glare and looked back at the pony. Her saddle bags were on the ground and open. Looking inside one, I saw that she had been collecting flowers and small bags of seeds.
'I guess she is expanding her shop selection. I wonder why she didn't hire anyone else to do it for her?'
"Maybe because she is an idiot? I am still wondering how she got down into the Navel! It is like a hundred hoof drop straight down!" Keet exclaimed. The po- Okay, by now you should have figured it out that she is Roseluck. So I am going to say such.- Roseluck let out a small groan and slowly opened her eyes. Which quickly took on their previous look of fear as she noticed me sitting there watching her.
'You alright there miss?' I asked, even though I knew the answer already.
"Y-you c-can talk?!" She exclaimed.
"DING DING DING! Lets give Captain Obvious here a prize!" Keet said sarcastically. Rose glared at him, then returned her gaze back to me.
"B-but how? I thought all Timberwolves were savage beasts!"
'Funny story that. Turns out that all Timberwolves are capable of speech through telepathy, but no one outside of the forests realy take the time to listen. As for why the Timberwolves are savage. Well, let us just say that I am here to change that.' I explained to her in a slow, yet comforting tone. 'You really shouldn't be so afraid of me. I am not going to eat you, I don't think I can anyways, being a plant and all that.'
She seemed to calm down a bit. "I-I see..." She paused as if thinking of something she had forgotten. "Umm... You wouldn't know where I can find a 'Blood Rose' by any chance, would you?" She asked. Strange question, but I went with it.
'Sure, just a second.' I ushered up some of my newfound power and asked the soil to produce whatever a 'Blood Rose' was. The soil complied and a small sprout grew and bloomed into a small bush with a single, deep red rose that bloomed. It looked like the closer the red got to the center of the rose, the darker it got.
'Well, here you go. One Blood Rose. Anything else I can help you out with?' I said jokingly. Roseluck looked on in awe as the bush bloomed right in front of her eyes.
"How did you do that?!" She exclaimed, looking the rose bush up and down. She was starting to get giddy.
'I asked it to grow and it did. That is all there is to it. At least for me anyways.' She looked from me to the bush and back to me with a tear in her eye.
"You have no idea how much this means to me..." She paused.
'Twigleaf. Just call me Twig. This is Keet.' I pointed to the snickering fowl.
"My name is Roseluck. I want to thank you for saving me earlier, but do you think you could help me out of the forest? It is far more dangerous than I realized..." She shuffled a forehoof and looked at the ground.
'Sure. I was just headed out of the forest myself, but I have no idea which direction Equestria is.' She beamed and said.
"OH! Thank you Twig! I can show you to Ponyville if you want. It is a nice little town on the edge of the Everfree Forest. Although the forest is really scary..."
'I don't think the Everfree will be any trouble. And I would be glad to escort you back to Ponyville.' Roseluck smiled and hugged me tightly.
"Thank you again Twig. I have to make a stop in Stalliongrad to the north first to sell some of these seeds and get more supplies for the trip home." Hmm... Stalliongrad huh? Sounded interesting enough.
'Sure. Lets get going!' I said. Roseluck cut the Blood Rose and placed in in her saddle bags.
"I do hope nothing happens on the way there..."
Let me give a shout out to DataPacRat and the fic Myov'e Got To Be Kidding Me. Awesome stuff.
You know.... I have never really told anyone this, but I have always found the night sky to be the most beutiful this on Earth, but living in New York made that almost impossible with all the light pollution. Yes, there is such a thing as light pollution. It is where there is so much light, that it outshines even the stars, leaving the night sky blank and dreary. So yeah, I guess you could say that the night sky in Equestria is a sight to behold. Also knowing that a certain pony princess actually paints it each and every night, telling us mortals stories of the heroes and legends of old makes it all that much more awe inspiring.
Although, the only thing more beautiful than the stars was the moon. It was a large glowing disk in the sky that lit up the small camp I had set up for Roseluck and Keet. They were both fast asleep in a small tent I had made out of moss, limbs, and large leaves. I never actually realized it, but I had to admit that Roseluck was kinda cute for a pony. If I remember correctly, she was a tad asocial like me, staying in her garden to tend to her plants. I really did not know much about her really, although you ask me about Fluttershy or Rainbow Dash and I could tell you quite a bit. I was actually quite eager to meet them when I got to Ponyville.
The one thing that kept bothering me the most tonight was the singular question that kept popping into my head no matter how much I tried to dismiss it. What the hell was Roseluck doing that deep in the Rainforest in the first place? Either she moonlighted as a Daring Do wannabe, or it had to do something with the Blood Rose. Now, I may be some sort of druid thing now, but that doesn't mean I know a lot about plants. All I knew about the Blood Rose was that it was extremely rare. At least, for a normal, non-druid, pony. But I do know enough about medicine that most remedies originally came form herbs or exotic flowers like the Blood Rose. Once again, I dismissed the question and told myself that I would ask her in the morning before we left.
Now, being a Timberwolf, I really had no need for sleep, but I could if I had wanted to. Not sleeping for a few days is really hard on the soul. So I found it strange that I actually started to feel tired. Not normal at all, at least normal in the sense of what I am now. My eyelids felt heavy and instantly started to droop no matter how hard I tried to keep them open. I was supposed to keep watch for Celes- well, I guess I should start saying 'for Terra's sake' now, given the circumstances. But anyways, my mind slowly wandered into a place I would rather not have seen again.
I was back in my room on Earth, game console and TV in front of me. The words, "Game successfully saved" in bold green letters superimposed onto a scene much like that of my Timberwolf self sleeping nearby a tent that looked as if it had been grown. "Gods damn it..." I cursed under my breath. I could feel something behind me and I knew exactly what it was.
"Can't you just, I don't know, TELL me when you are going to do that?!" I growled at him. Growling is a strange thing to hear from a human throat.
"Oh don't get your panties in a bunch Derek..." Deceit replied. How he knew my name was something for another time, but then again he was a god or something so I guess he could just find out with a snap of his non existent fingers.
"What do you want now Deceit..." I said coldly. The large blob of shadows frowned(Which was surprising seeing as he ALWAYS had that stupid, shit-eating grin on his face).
"Simple. I want you back..." Ooookay? This was new. I thought the only way I could get rid of my Patron was by having him give me up according to Adam.
"Wait... What?" I asked, still slightly confused. "How the hell did you lose me in the first place?"
He only growled at me in distaste. "Your thrice damned goddess severed our connection with that stupid seed of hers!" His amorphous form shivered as he grew angrier. "She knew that the Seed would destroy the connection! And I just had to choose someone with a damned pure heart! Choose a Hero Deceit! Heroes are more likely to win Deceit! Good always triumph Deceit!" He ranted. "I am never listening to Discord ever again..." He seemed almost sad. I almost pitied him. Almost.
"Well, I guess that you can.... SUCK IT! HA HA! Now I don't have to put up with you and your annoying voice anymore!" I cheered. I was really liking this turn of events. "Thank you Terra! This has really made my day!"
Deceit grew more and more agitated as I continued to cheer and insult his incompetence. "You know, for a god of lies and manipulation, you do a HORRIBLE JOB! It is almost like you were scripted by a horrible author who is just writing because it is an easy escape from reality!"
"SILENCE!" Deceit roared. The dream/illusion thing I was in started to crumble and dissolve. "I CURSE YOU DEREK! I CURSE YOU WITH THE KNOWLEDGE THAT I WILL HURT YOU WHERE IT HURTS THE MOST. MAYBE NOT TODAY, MAYBE NOT TOMORROW, BUT ONE DAY YOU SHALL FEEL THE FULL EXTENT OF MY WRATH!"
As the dream started to disappear, I said the one thing I knew Keet would appreciate.
I woke up to Roseluck shaking me awake. "Oh thank Celestia! I was getting worried when you wouldn't wake up after Keet dropped that rock on your head!" I looked over to Keet to see him whistling innocently on top of the tent.
Yeah, don't worry about me. I'm fine. I paused thinking about the strange dream that seemed to fade the more I thought about it. Actually, I am more than fine. I grinned and got up onto my paws. Well? Shall we get going? We got a lot of ground to cover if we want to make it a good ways to Stalliongrad by nightfall. I said, prancing on ahead. I could tell Keet and Roseluck were sharing a confused look.
It was now mid afternoon, and Celetia's life giving sun was high in the sky and Roseluck and Keet were both feeling the full brutal heat of the Jungle. Me, on the other paw, was enjoying the stream of energy it bestowed to me. I always did like oranges.
Say Roseluck, just what were you doing so deep in the Jungle anyways? I wouldn't think that at girl like yourself would venture far from home, and yet here you are, walking through the middle of the Great Southern Rainforest with a parakeet and a vicious, deadly Timberwolf like me.
"Vicious? Deadly?" Keet laughed hard. So hard that he had to stop and catch his breath for a few moments before starting again. "You couldn't hurt a fly! Let alone a Pony." He continued laughing as I put on my best pouty face. Scary, I know.
"Aww, look. You are hurting his feelings Keet! Shame on you!" Roseluck chastised Keet while I inwardly grinned. Traveling with Roseluck was going to be fun.
Back to the question at hand. What are you doing so deep in the Jungle?
Roseluck's expression took a deep dive into the sad zone. I actually started to regret asking her. I-if you don't want to answer, that is okay with me... I don't really need to know...
"I-I really want to tell you, but..." She looked like she was going to cry. SHIT! I WAS MAKING ROSELUCK CRY! That was almost as bad as making Fluttershy or Pinkie cry! I was truly a monster now...
"Now look at what you had to go and do Woody! You're making the poor mare cry!" Keet chastised, grinning all the while.
Shhh... It is all right if you don't want to tell me Roseluck. Take your time if you really need to... The rest of the day was left in awkward silence as we walked north by northeast towards Stalliongrad. None of us really could say anything, even while we were making camp. We were getting really close to the edge of the Jungle now. It looked less like a Jungle and more like a normal, if dense, forest. Keet and Roseluck both entered the new tent as I stood vigilant for anything dangerous. The only thing I saw the entire night was a small flash of light green out of the corner of my eye before it disappeared.
We reached Stalliongrad only a few days after my altercation with my ex-patron. Not much happened on the trip besides a run in with some Diamond Dogs. They were nice enough blokes, we traded a few rare herbs for some news from around. The only thing of interest to me were the tales of the new generation of so called Heroes. The most prominent was that of the Griffin Pirates on thair great airship, 'The Possiblity', and whispers of something that they called 'The Lunar Legend'. There were a few others that seemed interesting, but I just dismissed them. I had the itching sensation that they could also be like me. Players.
The city of Staliongrad may have looked impressive from the outside, but after we payed off and assured the gatekeepers that I wouldn't kill anypony, I was quickly surprised how much like the USSR it got it's name from. It wasn't really cold enough to snow, but the streets looked dull and the buildings were grungy. The citizens weren't much better off. Sure, they looked like they were doing fine, but seeing this level of poverty in Equestria was jarring to say the least.
We had split up to gather the necessary supplies for the distant journey to Ponyville. Roseluck had gone off to find food and possibly a carriage to take us, and Keet just flew off to look around the city. I didn't have any bits on me, so I couldn't really do anything except for scare the citizens with my very presence. It was fun for the first few times, but after awhile I started to feel sad. Not being able to communicate was starting to get on my nerves. I was still trying to figure out why Roseluck could hear me and no pony else, but I was interrupted by a strange, white pegasus stallion with a very unkempt mane and tail. His cutie mark was that of a gilded book and a pencil. His olive drab beret and light vest made him look Scottish.
"Well now. Just what do we have here?" He asked, his right eye seemed to float down as he stared at me. "I bet there is quite a story to be told here mate."
Yeah, quite a story indeed... I rolled my eyes.
He seemed surprised for a moment before replying. "Well then. Why don't you tell it to me over a pint?" Did he just hear me? "No, I read it!" He said with finality. This guy was really strange...
ANYWAYS! Here is part 1 of Twig's adventures in Stalliongrad which is a part of the 'Journey to Ponyville' arc. I decided to split the chapter into two mostly because
1. My Wii was starting to lag.
2. There will be many drinking related shenanigans in the next part.
3. Because I can.
So there ya go. I wil also like to say this once again, but GO TO THE TWIGGY TUMBLR AT ask-twigleaf.tumblr.com AND ASK HIM SOME QUESTIONS DAMNIT! Also go check out Eathlome's tumblr ask-cora-and-adam.tumblr.com. I apologise if I go the addresses wrong, but I will post the links whenever I get onto the computer. For now, you shall have to find them the hard way if you can.
So there I was, sitting in a nice little pub thing, quite rustic given human standards, and drinking for the first time since my 21st birthday. I wasn't a big fan of alcohol, but this pony had enticed me with some Hard Sweet Apple Cider. Of course, he didn't say that it was hard, he just ordered normal cider. I should have known that it would have alcohol in it since I was in a pub. None of the pub's patrons would even look in my direction. I mean come on! I was a good 2 feet taller than any of them and I had a very imposing figure. I would have expected them all to run away screaming, but Stalliongrad seemed to be a mixed city and I guess I was only slightly strange. Then again, this city was near the Rainforest, so I guess the citezens had made it an art of staying out of a stranger's buisness.
"So.... you say that you weren't always a Timberwolf?" 'Scruffy' said. Yeah, given his appearance and the fact he won't tell me his name, I had to call him something! Given what I knew cutie marks, this Pegasus had to be some sort of author or something, given that his cutie mark was that of a book and a pencil.
W-what?! I never told you anything! You haven't said a thing since we got in here?! I said, thouroughly confused. He had been sitting there for the past five minutes reading his little, ratty journal. The cover only said "Story Notes".
"I told you. I read it! it isn't that hard to understand..." Scruffy replied nonchalantly.
So, you read it in that thing? I asked curiously. Where did you get it?
He beamed and replied. "Found it a few years back in Canterlot." He started. "I was just trotting along, and then BAM!" He smacked his hoof against the bar for emphasis. "This little beauty comes right down onto my head. I was kinda pissed at first, but after reading it, I found that it was just chock full of ideas for my writings!" He paused for a few and started to continue. "You see, I am an autho-"
Yeah, I gathered... I said, interrupting him. I decided to finish off the small pint of cider and walk out the door before he tried to get me any more drinks, but I was stopped by the sudden rush of nausea.
You know how alcohol normally effects a human? How it is digested in their stomach fluids and all that? Well, it seems that as I don't have a stomach or a liver, it went straight to my soul stone. And hoo boy! I was drunk in under ten seconds. Not tipsy, or woozy, but dead stinking drunk. I couldn't think straight for the life of me. My thoughts were so muddled that even my body was starting to come apart. I sat down suddenly, my rump smacking into the wooden planks of the floor, and my body just simply crumbled away. The only thing left of me was my head with my soul stone lodged right in the center of my head. It made my eyes glow more than normal.
I dun feel sho gud... I groaned. It was like being drunk and having the hangover all at once.
"Well, that's interestin innit." Scruffy commented, picking up my head. I winced at the sudden change in elevation.
Ooooww... Put meh doun! I mumbled. He promptly dropped me.
"Looks like Timberwolves cannae hold their liquer." He laughed.
I wanted to move so badly, but all I could do was sit and stare at the bar cushon he had dropped me upside down on. I had decided to grow some legs, but the result was not what I had been expecting.
I had grown four, small, spiderlike legs from my head. Two grew from the corners of my mouth, and the back two grew right in the back of what would have been my skull if I still had one.
To my eternal embarrassment, this was the exact moment that Roseluck had decided to walk into the pub. I guess she had been looking for me so she went to the place with the fewest ponies. Smart lass...
"W-what happened to you?!" She asked. Her voice was almost that of one of her "We're doooomed" wails.
Nyet! Keep the voices down! it hurts my everything. My voice was getting less slurred. Roseluck picked me up and placed me on her back, right between her saddlebags.
"You should be ashamed of yourself Twigleaf! Just look at you, your body is now just firewood and you are just a head! What would your mother say..." She scolded.
That choo are besht pony? I said drunkenly. The comment made her blush furiously. I giggled in response.
Roseluck ish prettiest pony prone to panic... I mumbled, or would have if I could actually speak. Instead, she heard everyword and that made her blush all the more. With that, she promptly dropped me on the cobbled street and gallopped off.
"You aren't so good with the mares, are ya lad?" Scruffy commented as he trotted up behind me.
Pshaw! Ah ish shekshy.... no... I am wood now... Hee hee... Wood... I started rambling on as Scruffy picked me up and placed me between his wings.
"You know, there was something like this in the note book." He said. "Something about something called a 'headcrab'? I have no idea what that is though."
I giggled again, leaping into his unkempt mane. Rawr! You are zambie now! Nom nom nom! I said, chewing on his mane.
Scruffy sighed. "Well, come on. We got sights to see and some ponies to meet!" Of course, I didn't hear him as I was now unconcious. I swore to my inner self to never drink again for as long as I lived.
"So, this is him?" The voice seemed to yell even though it was more of a light whisper.
"Aye, this be the Timberwolf that that I told ye about." The familiar voice of Scruffy replied. "See? He looks like he is coming to."
How the bloody hell can you tell? He looks like a rock to me."
Oh shit.... this is bad. I couldn't sense any useable plants nearby nor any soil in wich to grow a new body, not to mention everything was sore.
Uuuugh... my everything hurts... I moaned.
"What was that? He was flashing for a bit." The other voice asked Scruffy.
"Well, I think he just said that his everything hurts. Booze will do that to ya mate."
I 'opened my eyes' as it were, and looked about the room. I was in a basement of some kind with Scruffy and a cow of all things. Well, a bull to be precise. He was a spotty brown and what looked to be dulled horns poking out the sides of his head. The rest of the room looked like storage for something. If the 'smell' was anything to go by, then it was for a bar.
"So, he can hear me, right Pencil?" The bull asked Scruffy. Pencil? Well, now I know he had to be an author or something. Scruffy nodded.
"Well then. I am guessing you are wondering why you are here." I pulsed once just to let him know I was paying attention. "Well, if our sources are correct, then that means that you might be one of the 'hue-man' creatures that have been wandering about recently and we need your help."
Oh for fuck's sake. I mentally facepalmed. Apparently the other humans that were running about weren't very stealthy about their approach to coming to Equestria. That would mean that they were probably the crazier of the Bronies. I was not looking forward to meeting one of them. I have better things to do than help you guys! As much as I appreciate getting kidnapped and forcefully drafted into your secret cow army, I have a mission of my own. I can't take the time out to help you at al. I said forcefully. Scruffy translated for me.
The cow looked somewhat surprised. "According to our sources, you humans are all about helping us end the slavery at the hands of the Diamond Dogs."
Yeah? Well, take another look mister. You kidnapped me and now have the gall to ask something of me? I'm sorry that you guys can't seem to defend yourselves, but this has nothing to do with me. As I said before, I have more important things to do than fight. Besides, fighting isn't my thing. Now, if you came up to me and asked nicely, then I may have considered it.
"But we need your help!"
And I don't care. I'm sorry, I truly am, but I have to make sure that the world doesn't end from natural imbalance. You have noticed the weather and otherthings acting oddly, right? That is what I have to stop. It isn't natural here. I almost growled at him, but I held back. Besides, a flashing rock that can be crused under hoof isn't very threatening.
"Then I have no choice. Bring her in!" The cow yelled up to the upper level. Terra damn him! He had Roseluck! So much for the peace seeking, underground railroad. I almost couldn't believe that he was resorting to foalnapping Roseluck just to get me to do what they wanted. If only I had some soil.
"According to our sources, you have been traveling with this mare here. Correct? You wouldn't want anything to happen to her, correct?" I was starting to seethe. I also noticed that I was now starting to glow a faint red. Not that it mattered. I felt stronger the darker it got.
"Please don't hurt them Twigleaf..." Roseluck whimperd. I suddenly felt that I had just woke up and had just became aware of my surroundings again. I hadn't even noticed the dirt brown Earth Pony bring her down. Her soft voice had brought me back to my senses.
What do you want... I growled this time. This bull, no he was less than that. If he was willing to threaten the life of another to get his way, he was less than a pile of shit.
"I knew you would see things my way." He said smugly. "I need you to help out with a small prob-" He was cut off by the familiar voice of Keet as he flew in from the open door carrying a small sack of what I could feel was soil.
"ALLONSY!" Keet cried as he dropped the bag over me. It wasn't the richest of soils, but it would do. I reached into myself and drew upon the well of energy grow myself a new body. For some reason, whenever I grew sometihg to replace a body part for myself, it was always cedar.
Keet landed on the table in front of me and grinned smugly at the cow. "You foalnapped the wrong pony there, bovine!" Ket said as the horrified bull watched my new body grow and assemble itself until I stood at my full height and glared down at him.
Not cool bro. I growled. The bull promptly fainted at the sight of a large predator staring him down. The pony that was holding Roseluck had run off.
"Well, that was fun." Keet said.
Really? Maybe next time you can be ki- foalnapped and threatened by a cow. I said to him, remembering the term he had used.
"Y-you didn't really enjoy that... Did you Keet?" Roseluck asked nervously.
"Of course not! It was a figure of speech." Keet replied. Seemingly injured by her accusation.
"Oh good." Roseluck breathed a sigh of relief. I guess she was more like me than I thought. We both disliked violence.
I vote we get out of here before his friends come here. Besides, Don't we have to get to Ponyville?
It was a few hours before we had gathered all the supplies we needed for the trip to Ponyville, but it was geting dark and Roseluck was tired after today's events. If I could sleep, I probably would have as well.
We booked a room at some grungy old inn that was known as the 'Sleepy Stables'. It was run by the nicest unicorn couple that I have met so far. They were old and wisened and gratefully accepted our patronage despite me being a Timberwolf. I personally think they could tell the good people from the bad, and that is why they let us stay for cheap. Oh well, I was just glad that Roseluck was okay after today's events. It was cute in how she curled up next to my new mossy hide and mumbled softly in her slep. I couldn't tell what she was saying, but I could tell she was havin a nice dream. As for Keet. Well, he was snoring. How a bird snores, I'll never know. For now, I was content to just wait for Celestia's painted sunrise and keep an eye out for trouble. After all, I couldn't even think about putting Roseluck in harms way again.
Myaa meow meow for now!
I was standing amongst a field of wheat that seemed to go on forever. The golden grains shifted casually in the gentle breeze. I quietly motioned my hand over the grains, feeling tips tickle my palm. I knew I was dreaming, for I was a pure white, glowing, humanoid figure instead of my body of pine and moss.
I felt content to just stand watch over this field for eternity as a guardian. Looking to my left, I saw what looked to be a group of spectral ponies playing amongst the tall stalks of wheat. Their laughter brought a smile to my face and I decided to try and approach them. They noticed my approach and gave me curious glances.
"You aren't supposed to be here yet." An Earth Pony mare stated bluntly. "You don't belong here silly."
"Why?" I queried. "Is it because I am human?"
"No." A strange look passed over her face, like she was hesitant to say. "You don't belong in the Fields because you are still alive."
"The Elysian Fields is the end of the Mortal Journey and is a place of rest for those who have earned it."
At this point, a brown Unicorn stallion approached me and said simply. "It is not yet thine time. Thou still have many long centuries ahead of thee yet and thou art still bound by oath to serve thine Patron." The unicorn turned towards a cave that I had not noticed. It looked out of place in this endless sea of amber waves. "Come with me and return to the Mortal Coil."
Intrigued, I followed him into the cave and into the tunnel of light. Although the tunnel got darker instead of lighter as I continued alone down it's expansive pathway. Back to the world of the living.
Time Unknown, but presumed to be night
I awoke in darkness. At first I thought I went blind, but found that I was just in a stone cell with no light. I panicked as I felt a familiar void in my chest. My souls stone had gone missing! I couldn't even feel where it was, it was like I was completely detached from it, it made me feel little more than a husk. Well I guess that was what I was now. A Husk.
Interesting fact. The body doesn't need the soul in order to function. But when the soul is destroyed, the body usually will become something like a mindless drone. Seeing as I was still in control of my mental faculties, I had hope. I had seen a Husk before in my time in the Rainforest.
The sound of rusty gates squeaking open broke my train of thought. The heavy looking, iron gate slowly rose and the entire cell shifted as I was tossed into a sandy arena where quite a few wealthy looking ponies and griffons watched me with eager anticipation. Some cheered while others took a more aloof position.
"MAAARES AND GENTLECOLTS! GRIFFONS OF ALL AGES! I NOW INTRODUCE THE SWIFT, THE FEROCIOUS, THE MYSTERIOUS... TIIIIIMBERWOOOOOOLF!"
The voice seemed to echo all about the arena as those who were cheering, cheered louder, and those who weren't, became interested. They all seemed to be awed by my size as I overheard several comments about the subject.
"Wouldja look at it! It is huuuge!"
"Woooow! Look at the size of those chompers!"
"Don't look too strong, but then again."
"Looks confused. Good. That will make it easier on the gladiator."
And many more were circulating around as the announcer continued.
"And now, for the mare you all have been waiting for.... The fierce, the deadly, the sexy..... AZURE LAAAAANCE!"
From the opposing side of the arena, a greyish-blue Pegasus mare with a wispy, curling, white mane and tail that looked matted to her body with sweat and blood and a cutie mark of a lance piercing a blue star strutted out and blew kisses to the stallions in the crowd. The audience went absolutely berserk with her shows of affection. She was wearing some sort of thin metal plates that seemed to fit her form, yet still show off some of her coat. Probably another way of provoking the audience.
I knew what happened to me now. I was 'wolf'napped while I was sleeping all to fight in this bloody gladiatorial arena. From how everyone was reacting, I could only guess that they had no idea that I was sentient. They probably just saw me as another monster to be killed for entertainment. How wrong they were...
"Tonight, we have a special game for all of you. Tonight is the 500th anniversary of the fight against the monsters of the Jungles when Stalliongrad was still young!"
Okay, that was good. I was still in Stalliongrad. All I needed now was a way to get out of here without hurting anyone.
"Tonight you shall see our gladiators fight against the different species from the Jungle. First up is this rare strain of Timberwolf. As you can see, he is much larger than the normal Timberwolf and is much more deadly. They say that they once were guardians of an ancient deity, but fell into darkness when their deity forsook them. Now they are little more than beasts who hunt ponies and feast upon their corpses!"
The announcer guy was really laying it on thick. If he even tried to study us, he would know that everything he was spouting was a complete lie. Not that he cared. I think his job is to make the 'beasts' seem more deadly than they really are.
"Can Azure Lance overcome one of the Jungle's fiercest predators and claim the prize of 5000 bits? This pony thinks so. So place your bets and lets get fightin'!"
A bell chimed and Azure Lance strafed me as I stood still and gave her a curious look. Seeing this as a sign of weakness, she tossed her shorter throwing javelin. The javelin whizzed through the air and sunk into the sand at my paws. I huffed as I tilted my head and snapped the flimsy weapon in my jaws.
This didn't seem to phase the able warrioress as she took to the sky and dive bombed me with her jagged lance. The thing looked sharp, but it was made for ripping as it came back out. The lance sank into my branches and came back out with naught but sticks and boughs that weighed her down. I roared in pain. The downside to not being attached to my soul was that my current body felt pain. And what a painful pain it was.
I just gave Lance a pleading look, but to no avail. She charged me again with a wild glint in her eye and flicked the lance at me again only to hit air. She looked surprised as I leapt over her head in a way that would make a gymnast jealous and landed behind her. She deftly spun with the lance as if trying to strike me with the blunt end, but I stopped it with a large hand made of wood and vines that I made from my body. Sand was not a good thing to try and grow something.
"Wh-what?" She looked at me with wide, surprised eyes and tried to pull the lance out of my grip. I pulled her closer and looked deep into her eyes and gave her a look that said 'I don't want to fight you' yet still was intimidating. She was scared, she thought I was going to kill her. She then smiled as a short blade was plunged into my chest. She pulled it out expecting to see blood, but I just winced and sighed. I opened my chest to show her that I wasn't like her. I had no organs to wound. She knew she was going to lose, she had no way to truly injure me and was now unarmed as I tossed the lance away.
"Go ahead and kill me monster!" She spat. Flinching at a blow that didn't come. I cocked a twig that passed as an eyebrow and replied.
Now why would I do that? Your death serves no purpose and I personally don't like killing. She didn't hear me, but there was something in the way she looked at me that she understood my feeling behind my words.
"Y-you aren't going to kill me?" She asked. "But if one of us doesn't the-" She was cut off as several large, burly Diamond Dogs in heavy armor came out of the gates and encircled us, spears pointed at us. They looked sharp...
A silent signal was given to the Diamond Dogs and they all rushed forwards and impaled us both. I looked on in horror and pain as Azure Lance coughed up large quantities of blood and slowly collapsed. I broke the spears that were embedded in my wooden flesh and cradled her with my large vine hands.
No no no no! Why?! Why did they kill you?! Shouldn't they have just let you go? I cried silently. No one could hear my wails and I felt alone as Azure's life force slowly seeped from her broken form. I could see the glowing mist leave her and I tried so hard to keep it from leaving her body with no effect. Sap slowly trickled down my muzzle as the Diamond Dogs stabbed me over and over trying to kill me. I couldn't feel the pain over the empty numbness from seeing the death of a sentient creature. Sure, I shouldn't be concerned, but for some reason I felt we had connected somehow.
Strong Oak had said something about it. He called it Empathy and it allowed us to connect with others on a level that most never feel. At this moment all I could feel from her was happiness. She smiled as she reached for something I could not see.
"Mummy...." She weakly gasped. Her body went limp and the connection was abruptly severed. I felt even more empty than I had only moments before. Tears of sap dripped down onto her face as I was dragged away from her lifeless corpse. The crowd was silent at this new, unexpected development. They didn't seem shocked, only disappointed at the fact that Azure Lance was just murdered in front of them.
"Such a shame."
"She was so young. Oh well, the next gladiator will be better."
"That Timberwolf must be tame or something. Cause he wasn't very deadly now was he?"
"I WANT MY BITS BACK! THIS WASN'T A FIGHT!"
They didn't care about Lance, they had more gladiators willing to die for a few bits waiting for their turn to die. It disgusted me. How could ponies act like this? Griffons I could understand, but ponies? They were supposed to be peaceful creatures of love and harmony, but instead I found out that they were just so.... Human. I guess ponies and Humans had more in common than just sentience. Was this some sort of galactic norm? Does sentience come with sin?
These thoughts passed slowly through my muddled mind as I tried to sort out my emotions. They had finally managed to toss me into a different cell with a window to the outside. Hope. If there was even the slightest bit of usable soil outside the window I could...
Nothing. Just stone, grime, and waste. I could tell I wasn't in the market district anymore. I was more than likely in the Staliongrad version of the Slums, or the Black Market. Wasn't Equestria supposed to be a land of plenty? A land of peace? My guess was that Celestia was just good at hiding the rest of the world from her little ponies. Not the rest of the pony race, but only her ponies.
I was going to have words with Celestia about this. Loud words, at least if I could speak that is. I was fairly certain that she would be able to hear me. You know, being a goddess and all that.
It was few hours more before a large griffon entered my cell, flanked by two, burly Diamond Dogs in shiny armor. He gave me a look of disgust and said.
"I know you can understand me mongrel, but just in case my point doesn't get across..." He pulled out a small, black sack with several glowing runes printed on it and grinned. He pulled out my soul stone from th bag and caressed it with a claw. I felt violated. My very being was being rubbed threateningly and I couldn't just attack him without it being harmed.
"You cost me a large sum of bits tonight Wolf, but don't worry, I shall prepare you for tomorrow night." He grinned and pulled out a vial of blue dust. I recognized it immediately. Poison Joke. It wasn't pure pollen though. There was something else mixed in with it. I really didn't want to find out, but I had a feeling that I would.
"Tomorrow night shall be the most glorious night of your life Wolf. You shall become my greatest gladiator. Herds of Ponies shall march up to claim the bounty on your head! 50000 bits to he or she that can kill the Timberwolf!" He grinned maliciously. "But we both know that you are hard to kill without your precious Stone. Kekekeke..."
He tilted the vial and let a small amount of the dust to touch my soul stone. The effect was immediate. I could feel my mind slowly degenerating as I roared in pain. He and his guards left and locked my cell once more, leaving me to my drug induced rage. My reality was slowly losing it's cohesion and my sight was stained with red. I was losing control of my body and damned be the Pony or Griffon that got near me.
The next Night
Rage and fury. Relentless anger. I was furious at the world for shattering my dreams and showing me the gritty world it actually was. But not to worry, I was going to change it. I was going to purify the world in fire, then start again with just a sapling. Yes, that was what I was gong to do, but first was the matter of the Griffon standing before me in the sandy arena of death and desolation. Where Ponies, Griffons, and Diamond Dogs came to die.
The Griffon before me had a slicked back look to his head plume, and his feathers had a greyish tint to them. He brandished a broadsword at me, and had a look of confidence in his eyes. Foolish idiot.
He took to the sky, only to be chased by several thorned vines. He chopped at them, grinning at his small victory. Of course, he didn't see the large spike of wood shoot out of me like a balistae when his back was turned.
The fight was over before it even started. I rushed up to his slowly dying form and ripped his throat out in a shower of glorious red blood. I couldn't eat it, but the act of ripping someone's throat out appealed to me for some reason.
The young Griffon gasped his last, useless breath as I stared menacingly into his fading eyes. This felt good. This felt right. I was a predator and it was my place in the world to kill those weaker than myself. I howled in victory over the corpse of the young Griffon. He wasn't even 17 yet by my calculations.
"What an upset folks! It looks like the Timberwolf from last night has finally come to it's senses! That makes this it's first kill tonight! How many more will fall to it's monstrous fangs? Well, stick around folks! Cause we got more fighting on the way! Remember, whoever can kill it get's 50000 bits and the title of Grand Champion of the Arena!"
What an annoying voice. What I wouldn't give to feel his blood trickle down my throat. The Guard Dogs came in through the opposing gate from me and pointed spears laced with pure Poison Joke and large torches. They collected the body and his effects and exited the arena once more. I could smell the fear in the air and it was euphoric. To see a crowd of raggity Ponies and Griffons watching me with fear made me feel like a monster. But then again, I was a monster. A beast in name and action.
It wasn't long before the betting began once more and my newest challenger came out of his side of the arena. It was a trio of Ponies, one of each type. A crimson unicorn with a ashen grey mane and a fireball cutie mark, an orange pegasus with a green mane and a dark raincloud cutie mark, and the largest of them was the sea blue earth pony stallion with a white mane and a shield and lance cutie mark. The earth pony stallion glared at me with revenge in his eyes.
"Looks like we have a grudge match here folks! Shielded Lance, leader of the Ponies Three, is here to get revenge on the Timberwolf who slew his sister! Will he and his elite team of Monster Hunters be able to take down this monstrosity? Place your bets folks, cause we are going to have the match of your pitiful lives right here!"
The trio split up with the pegasus taking the sky, the unicorn charging a spell and dashing to the righ, and the very large, and very angry earth pony taking the center. I didn't move. I had no reason to. I planted my roots deep into the sand, reaching the stone underneath, and drew upon the power of the Earth beneath me to solidify my position. I was practically a wolf shaped wall when Shielded Lance barreled int me. I lowered my head and lifted him and his heavy armor over my head, and sent him flying behind me.
The pegasus came in swiftly behind him, flying at top speeds with a spear cradled in his fetlock. He made a jab for my eyes, only to miss and shove the spear down my throat eliciting a gurgled roar. I snapped the tiny spear and extracted the other end from my body. I only just pulled up my roots as the unicorn finished charging his spell.
I barely dodged the hurled flaming ball of death and used the pegasus as a stepping stone, sending him down into the path of the fireball. The pegasus screamed as he was swiftly incinerated. The unicorn didn't have time to react and I pounced on him and bit deep into his crunchy spine. I slowly pulled the unicorn's spine out slowly, listening to his feeble cries for help. I cradled his still active spine in my jaws and growled before I ripped his spine, which was still connected to his skull, out of his body. I tossed the spine and head of the unicorn at the earth pony as he regained his footing.
"You monster...." He said solemnly, saying a swift prayer to his fallen compatriots. He glared at me with a rage to match my own. Tears were streaming down his face now as he drew his own lance and held it steady using a harness attached to his side. He lowered his visor on his helmet and dug at the ground. The fool was going to charge me. This was almost to easy.
I placed my roots back into the sand, although this time I grew them towards him as he charged me. He let out a mighty bellow right before thousands of small rot ends lodged themselves int his gut and lifted him into the air.
He gasped an coughed up blood, glaring at me all the time. "This isn't over Wolf..." He spat, blood splattering the reddened sand. I ripped him t shreds before he could continue his little death curse.
Oh, I think it is little pony. I think it is...
The crowd cheered as I howled in triumph, the gore still raining down, drenching me. I have never felt so alive in tht single moment than I had ever in my entire life. It was... orgasmic. Every fiber in my being was on fire and I wanted more, but the Guard Dogs had other plans. They tried prodding me into my cage with their puny spears and Poison Joke. I went along, but not without taking a few with me with a few root spikes.
I was placed in my cage and dragged out of the arena, my howling filling the stands amongst their own cheers.
Rage, Wrath, Fear, Gore, and Death. These were the only things I could think about. They were all I wanted to think about. I couldn't wait till tomorrow night. I was promised more ponies to slay. And Tartarus take me if I didn't get them...
Idea by Paw Print.
May you always be bright.
Midday of the 'wolfnapping'
A cream colored earth pony with a rose colored mane sat at a teble outside of a small resturaunt, poking at her salad. Her only companion was a small parakeet that was busily testing just how much bird seed his gut could hold. A cherry tomato rolled away from her questing hoof, pushed into a stockade with the others of his kind. The parakeet had a worried expression across his beak for just a moment before returning to his meal. With the last of his seed gone and his depressed pony friend sighing at her tomatoes as if she had expected them to come to life and make her wishes come true. The parakeet knew just what her wish would be; it was the same as his after all.
"Hey, come on Rose! Everything will turn out all right in the end. I don't think there is anybeing in this city strong enough to beat Twiggy in a straight fight! He'll be fine and we will find him. So don't worry! Be happy!" The small parakeet chirped at his sullen companion. The mare only sighed in response. She had finally found what she had been searching for and she could just get on the next train to Ponyville, but a nagging tug pulled at her heart whenever she thought about leaving their missing companion.
"But I'm afraid for him because he won't want to get into a fight if he can avoid it. There are many ponies that would take advantage of him in a heartbeat if they could. I just don't want to see him hurt." They both sat in silence for a few minutes with an almost tangible raincloud over their heads. Roseluck looked up to the sky and saw several Pegasi shuffling some winter clouds around. She didn't know why the Stalliongrad ponies liked the cold, she herself liked the springtime when all the beautiful flowers came into bloom and painted a beautiful mosaic on the grassy hillsides.
Keet couldn't take the irritatingly depressing silence any longer. He mumbled something about going out to look again and took off, leaving Roseluck to her loneliness. She sighed again and went back to her tomatoes, herding one into her mouth to it's juicy demise. The sweetness of the tomato exploded into her senses and made her miss the meals Twigleaf had made for her on the road to Stalliongrad.
Keet grumbled in annoyance as a particularly cold gust of winter wind blew right through him, chilling him to his hollow bones. He let out a shallow curse as he reflexivly puffed out to stay warm.
'Stupid Ponies and their stupid weather magic....' He thought to himself. He made another circuit around the upper city before heading to the slums. He only visited the upper city to relieve himself on the rich snobs. Heh heh bullseye. As he approached the slums, he noticed a distinct change in air quality. It was like he passed through a barrier that kept all the smell inside the slums, leaving the rest of the city to breathe clean air. It smelled like filth, shit, and negligence.
"OH SWEET CELESTIA! That is just RANK!" (I say this often when I smell something awful) Keet coughed as he was forced to land from a coughing fit. He never smelled anything so horrid in his life before. With a quick look around, he found the source of the stench. A young filly had starved to death in the alley below him. Her coat may have once been a soft, golden yellow, but the dirt and grime made it a dingy bile color. Her mane wasn't much better off, the muted blues were now covered in filth. She hadn't even earned a cutie mark yet. He just watched in horror as a young griffin chick looked into the alleyway and saw the corpse. His expression fell a moment before a gleam in his eye took over. He walked over to the corpse and looked around to see if anyone was watching before taking a huge bite out of her bony flanks.
Keet had already taken off and vomited in another alley. the whole thing was something he didn't realize actually happened. Sure, he once saw a Manticore tear into stag, but this was just different somehow. He cleaned himself up and took flight once more, trying to get as much space between him and that alley.
It wasn't long before before he came upon a large gathering of more grungy ponies and griffins. There were a few Diamond Dogs as well, but not so many as Ponies. They were all gathered around a large griffin who seemed to be whispering something to the crowd.
"For a limited time, the Undercity Brawl Arena is selling tickets half off to any combatants who wish to enter the arena! WIll you be the one who vanquishes the mighty manticore? Or will you die a horrid death like most who enter here?" The griffin went on and on, trying to recruit fresh meat for some sort of monster fighting arena or something. It wasn't too intersting to him untill near the end of his speech. "Not to mention that we have a new beast for you to fight! The timberwolf will be a dangerous foe for anybeing to face, but I believe one of you may have what it takes to take him down. Whaddya say?"
The small crowd was buzzing with excitement as the griffin left the small stage and dissapeared into the shadows.
"Jackpot..." Keet muttered to himself as he formulated a plan to get in.
Roseluck physically winced everytime she inhaled. The smell of sweaty stallions and the faint smell of blood and gore was almost too much for her to handle. Every instinct in her head told her to run for it, that this place was dangerous and she should run off screaming about the horror of it all.
"Are you sure this is going to work Keet?" She asked nervously, her head swiveling around towards the exit every few seconds.
"Of course it is going to work! It is my plan after all!" Keet declared with a whisper. "My plans always work!"
"Then what about the time a few days ago when you tried to knock that beehive down?"
Keet winced and replied. "Well.... MOST of my plans work."
"And the time-"
"Shush you! This isn't the time to get into trivialities!" Keet hissed, cutting her off. Roseluck smiled a bit before she remembered where she was thanks to a not so gentle nudge from the griffin behind her.
"NEXT!" The mare that sat behind the small desk was taking names and other information of any contestants and directing them where they should go. She was a light chestnut brown with a small white patch just in her mane that made an upside down triangle pointing towards her muzzle. Her white mane was frazzled and unkempt from the warmth and long hours she had been sitting there. Another nudge.
"Oh.. umm.. I'm-" Roseluch started, only to be cut off by the mare's uniterested tone.
-=Meanwhile, in another universe=-
"Hey Twily, have you seen that-" The young human male was cut off by his own hand slapping into his face.
"Have I seen what?" The town librarian and sexiest unicorn returned the query.
"Umm... nevermind..." He replied, glaring at his hand. He would have to keep a closer eye on this traitorous appendage today.
-=Back to the story=-
Roseluck too felt the urge to smack her face with her hoof, but for some reason she felt the need was satisfied and just answered the question. The mare probably just says that to everypony as a precaution.
"Flow- Er... Tamer..."
The mare actually looked up from her sheet and gave Roseluck a good once over. "Maybe if you do good in your first match, the boss might give you a job. The last batch of tamers got eaten by a Buzzblade. They weren't much of tamers I guess." She giggled as if that was something funny. Roseluck just gasped in shock.
"Well, go on through the second door on the left. And try not to get lost, blah blah blah..." The mare resumed her bored staring contest with the paper.
"I told you it would work!" Keet giggled in triumph as they walked away from the line. "My plan is flawless! Only a genius could have come up with it!"
Roseluck rolled her eyes and steadily moved closer towards the stench of death. She didn't want to admit it, but she was getting used to the smell.
"Come on braniac, let's hurry and find Twigleaf before-" She was cut off by a brutish Dog who stood in front of her and pointed towards the second door on the left. Seriously, somepony must have it out for her. This was only the 27th time she had been cut off today!
"Right..." She said and entered the room. The room was large, more of an auditorium than a waiting room. It was packed full of contestants who were waiting on their turn to fight and prove themselves. Each one of them looked frightening with various scars or wicked blades. Many wore armor, some went without, and very few looked nervous. This was not were she wanted to be right now. Her previous nervousness and panic had caught up with her and was shaking her like a dirty rug. She quickly found a corner and tried her best to hide from every living thing in the room without much success.
"You know, despite how sexy your flank is, holding it up like that would only lead many of the males here to have a little pre match fun with you." A raspy, female voice pointed out. With a blush and a quick turn, Roseluck saw a blue pegasus mare with a wispy white mane that reminded her of clouds. She was wearing ligh plates of armor, designed for speed and maneuverability, not to mention to show of some of her 'features'. Roseluck blushed some more when she saw the beautiful warrioress smiling at her.
"Umm... T-thanks.." She replied when she finally found her voice again. The mare lughed and replied.
"Don't need to thank me, the sight of your hot flanks is all I needed to cheer me up before my match." The pegasus held out her hoof. "The name is Azure Lance. Not my real name, but that is what everybody knows me as. Come on, I'll introduce you to everybody!"
Azure took Roseluck and practically dragged the poor mare towards a small group of three other ponies. A massive sea blue Earth Pony with a mane similar to Azure's, a lean looking orange pegasus with a forest green mane, and a very studious looking crimson Unicorn with a mane like ash. The earth pony was wearing a full set of armor that covered his entire front with heavy looking plate and left his legs light. This was in stark contrast to the pegasus' padded armor and the unicorn's simple cloak.
Before they reached the group, the pegasus flew up to them with agrin on his face. "Yo Azzy, who's the hot topic?" He said, waggling his eyebrows at Roseluck.
"Lay off Thunderhead, I already go dibs." This caused Roseluck to blush more.
"Awww phoey. You always get dibs..." Thunderhead replied defeated.
"Don't worry Thunder," The unicorn said, not once looking up from his book. "It just means she is 'faster' than you."
"And what is that supposed to mean?" Azure glared at the unicorn.
"Exactly as you are taking it I supose." He replied, closing his book and smiling at Roseluck. "My name is Flash Fire and it is a pleasure to met you."
"Mine's Thunderhead, but you can call me Orange Lightning! Zing-za-zing!"
The silent earth pony was still polishing his helm and not paying attention to the group. This earned him a furious snort from Azure and he sighed. "Sheilded Lance." Was all he said and he returned to his duty.
"Don't worry, he's just shy around pretty mares." Azure giggled.
The doors to the arena proper burst open and two Dogs came in, dragging a bloody lump between them. Roseluck nearly lost what little she had eaten today at the sight. What was left of the contestant had chunks methodically chewed from it and she guessed it was a griffin based on the severed wing the Dogs tossed after it into a pit in the wall.
"Poor bastard. Looks like an R.O.U.S got him." Flash mused.
"R.O.U.S?" Roseluck asked.
"Rodent of unusual size."
"Next contestant!" One of the guards yelled.
"Umm.. how do they choose the next contestant?"
"By whomever walked through those doors last." Azure replied.
Roseluck looked about nervously and saw every eye was on her.
AN: I know I have done a previous Visions chapter, but this one is more along the lines of a 'real' Visions chapter and not just some random snippet. Enjoy the spoilers!
My old room looked just as I had left it so many years ago. My bed was actually a nook built inside the wall with a bookshelf surrounding it. The sheets looked to have been recently changed and prepped for my arrival from the hospital. Even the bookshelf had been dusted, now the only thing left on the shelves were old photos I never brought with me when I moved out. I ran a finger over the old shelving and felt the minute bumps and dents from where I had once placed a book back on the shelf too hard or when I threw a temper tantrum when I was younger. I walked over to the old, scarred writing desk that sat underneath the window and looked out into the busy streets of New York.
"Are you sure you'll be okay alone?" My mother asked, concerned that I might just slip away once again. The doctor's had told me that I consumed a lethal dose of my sleep medication, but thanks to my nosy neighbor, I made it to the hospital in time to save my life. Everyone was confused when I made it out of my coma due to my panicked state. I nearly knocked my older brother unconcious with a mean right hook, at least as mean as I could have with my degraded muscle. I had thought they were all some illusions brought on by Deceit. It also took me a while to realise that I could speak normally again. Everyone gave me funny looks when I told them about my 'dream', as the doctors so delicately put it. They might as well just said, "Boy be crazay!" and saved myself a visit to the therapist.
Tossing those thoughts to the side, I ran my hands over the gored wood, loooking back on my memories in this room. Was I truly back? Was it all just some dream as the doctors say? I really hoped this was just another of Deceit's elaborate illusions made to make me become unbalanced again. I felt underneath the desk for the old inscription I carved there when I was younger and just thought it sounded cool.
"To truly see the world, you must first close your eyes."
How true that statement became for me back in Equestria. It felt odd to be able to see with my own eyes again, and I found that I missed being able to see the ebb and flow of the aether that wrapped around every living thing. Even though I had my eyes open, I felt more blind than ever before.
Hours passed me by as I sat on my bed, reading an old book I found in my desk. Oddly enough, it was about trees. Mostly sciency junk, but I did love my biology back in the day. With a quick glance out the window, I could tell it was almost 4:00 pm. Almost time to leave for the therapist. He was supposedly supposed to get me straightened out, but I already know what he is going to say.
"It was all a dream." "This is your reality." "Blah blah blah, I'm an idiot, Blah blah blah."
You know, normal therapist stuff. on a passing whim, I hovered my hand over my desk and tried to will it to change shape. My eyes only opened to my dissapointment. Nothing had happened and I was crazy.
"Derek! Time to go!" My father called out to me as I sighed in dissapointment. I opened the door and closed it behind me. Leaving an old room only slightly changed and a small twig growing out of my desktop with two new leaves that soaked up the afternoon light.
Idea by Paw Print
May you always be bright.
-=Underground Hunting Arena=-
That was all Roseluck could say before they forcefully tossed her into the arena. Well, 'tossed' may not have been correct. It was more of a 'polite nudge' with a sharp spear. A black, leather whip was thrust into her mouth as she stumbled into the sandy pit. The crowd watched her intently, few giving off catcalls which made her blush a bit. All eyes were on her, and this made her extremely nervous.
"FILLIES AND GENTLECOLTS! Beings of all walks of life! We have a new champion in the making here in our midst! She has a dark and mysterious past full of dark secrets. Don't let her looks fool you though, she is deadly with her whip and isn't afraid to snare you in it's grip. I GIVE YOU THE WHIPLASH!"
The crowd cheered and clamored to get a better look at the new contestant to gauge her for themselves. Most were just there to oogle her flank. She wasn't sure where the hell they got the name 'Whiplash' from, nor her 'dark and mysterious past', but she wasn't sure she liked it.
"Tonight is her first match in this arena and we have decided to start it off with a bang! It is The Whiplash vs Razorfang!"
The other side of the arena exploded into chaos as a massive rodent with matted, brown fur and a large set of bloody incizors that were still wet from it's previous victim. The creature had a wild gleam in it's eye that made her involuntarily take a step back. The guards that were holding it's chains let it loose and dashed away into the safty of the monster cells.
"Hey, do you even know how to use that thing?" Keet asked from her back.
Roseluck couldn't help but think back to her younger days as a little filly alongside her sisters. Their father had been part of the Royal Guard and wanted his foals to at least to be able to defend themselves if the need ever arose. Daisy had inherited their father's skill with the longsword, while Lilly took easily to the rapier. Roseluck was the only one to choose a non-lethal weapon.
"Yes, why?" She asked the parakeet that rode on her.
"Whew, I thought you were some sort of pansy pony pacifist."
Rose shot him a dirty look and took a defensive stance, circling the rodent. The way she held herself took a complete 180. She now looked strong and capable, easily flicking aside the charging squrrel creature with an expert crack of the bladed whip. She was no longer the weak and helpless pony Twigleaf had met in the forest. She was a fighting machine with nerves of steel. She was going to get through this and save Twigleaf no matter the cost. Keet was quite surprised by the personality change.
Razorfang cautiously watched his opponent, wary after the stinging crack of the whip. THe match drug on and on as the two exchanged glancing blows, gauging each others strength and defenses. Roseluck was shocked by the level of sapience this creature possesed. But she knew never to underestimate an opponent, sentient or beast.
"ROSE! LOOK OUT!" Keet called from above, causing her to turn her eyes off of her opponent for a millisecond. A chance Razorfang didn't pass up.
Time seemed to slow down to a standstill as Roseluck watched the ROUS leaping for her throat. Her eyes flashed and her whip cracked like thunder, the leather cord wrapping itself around the monster's throat. The blade bit deep and with a slight tug, it slit the throat of Razorfang.
Roseluck looked on at the giant rodent, it's eyes full of malice and rage towards her. Was it because she had killed it? No.... It was more than that. It didn't just hate her, it truly loathed her. But it didn't seem to be directed at her solely. Roseluck got chills as the life faded from its eyes.
"I-I'm sorry..." She whispered in reverence. She never liked taking a life. Even if it was a monster's. She held her head up and finally heard the cheers of the crowd. It disgusted her. Sure, Ponyville was a sheltered place, and everypony lived in happy peace, but she had thought it was mostly the same all around Equestria. How wrong she was.
"Aaaaaaand there you have it folks! A great upset by The Whiplash! Despite her demure appearance, she easily dispatched Razorfang like it was foal's play! Razorfang had a winning streak of 15 before Whiplash came along! Just what will she do next?! Come back tomorrow to find out!"
"Not coming back here, that's for sure...." She said under her breath as she made her way back into the waiting area where Azure and her friends were waiting to congradulate her. Keet softly landed on her back as she trudged back in.
"Wow, I didn't think you could handle a whip like that. You'll have to show me something later..." Azure said coyly. A round of 'well done's, 'Awesome's, and even a 'Holy Shmowowzow!' made Roseluck feel a little better, but she still couldn't get the image of Razorfang's last look out of her head. Azure seemed to catch on and gave Rose a concerned look.
"Hold on guys, Me and Rosie need to have a little chat. Mare talk." The stallions all groaned and let the two go as they walked to a les occupied area of the masive room.
"First kill?" Azure asked.
"Then what is bugging you so much?"
"Have you ever noticed that the 'Monsters' seem a little too... hostile?" Roseluck said giving Azure a start.
"Hostile? Rosie... They're monsters. That is all there is to it. They want us dead more than we want to kill them."
"But something just seems.... Off somehow." Roseluck paused. "I can't explain it, but I can just feel it in my heart. These creatures are in pain."
Azure Lance looked on at the beautiful mare before her. She had an aura of confidence when she said those words and Azure could feel that she believed it entirely. She sighed and placed a hoof on Roseluck's shoulder. She could actually be happy and settle down with this mare, despite only having known her for a few hours, there was just something about her that just felt right to Azure.
"Look Rosie. I like you, I really do, but there are some things in this world that are a constant. Monsters are evil. Hunters kill monsters. That is all there is to it. Monsters can't think. They can't show mercy. Hay, they are just mindlss killing machines. Don't think too hard on it." Azure left Roseluck standing there and headed back to her friends. Roseluck didn't know hat to think. She thought that Azure may have been able to understand where she was coming from, having been doing this for longer, but she suspected that that was what kept her from seeing it. Azure's brother, Shielded Lance, trotted up to her slowly, each hoof fall sending a slight tremor through the ground near him.
"I am not going to lie and say I know what she said to you, but i do know she means well." He said.
"I know... but there seems to be something off about Razorfang. He was... Angry."
Lance sighed. "When Flash and I first started out our Hunting careers, we found our way here. At the time, the Arena was run by a Pony by the name of Night Bane. The creatures we fought here were true monsters, not these beasts today. Xerxes, the current owner, used to be a Hunter like us, but that changed when Night Bane died. he took control and soon afterwards the monsters became little more than mutated beasts. Nopony seems to remember the days when hunters would gather to slay the Great Wyrms. Days of comraderie and high adventure." He said, a wistful look in his eyes. He looked far older than he was.
"Come now, let us return to the others before Azure's fight comes on."
"Is she is fighting next?" Roseluck questioned.
"Yes, if I remember correctly, they have her scheduled to fight a Timberwolf they captured recen-" He was cut off by Roseluck gripping the front of his armor and shaking him furiously.
"Twigleaf? He's here?"
"I don't know." He replied after she stopped her violent assault, a sheepish grin and blush across her features. "I was not aware you tamed a Timberwolf, you must be formidable indeed."
"Well... No, he saved me from a manticore a few days ago and has been travelling with me ever since. He is really nice. He tries to make sure I am comfortable before anything else."
"Strange. I was not aware that Timberwolves could speak."
"Well, not exactly. He tried explaining it to me. Only beings who are closest to nature can even begin to hear him." She explained.
A Diamond Dog came out and announced that the next fight was about to begin and that Azure should get ready. Everybody in the room gave a cheer and wished Azure luck as she strutted out to face her challenge.
"I have a bad feeling about this...." Roseluck said as Azure disapeared.
"So do I." The large stallion agreed.
A Diamond Dog approached them and said. "Boss want see Whiplash. Meeting tomorrow night after rest."
Roseluck wasn't looking forward to the meeting. Hay, she just wanted to find Twigleaf and get out of here, but this presented a good opportunity to search the place.
"All right then. Tomorrow..."
Stalliongrad Hunter's Arena
"And now, for the mare you all have been waiting for.... The fierce, the deadly, the sexy..... AZURE LAAAAANCE!"
This is what i live for. The cheering crowd, the adoring fans, and the drooling fancolts as they imagined me in.... Compromising situations. I didn't mind at all, infact, I loved it! the crowd was mine and they hung onto my every action like it was the only thing in their pitiful lives. I kinda wish I could move on to some other arena where the wealthy and elite came to watch me fight, but those were shrouded in shadow and rumor. I needed something with more substinane to spread my name all the way across the world! Even Princess Celesta and Luna might invite me for tea or something. Not that i like tea, but you know, there are some pretty raunchy rumours about them both. I strutted out into the arena and blew kisses to my fans, watching them go absolutely gaga over such a simple act. They would never know who i blew the kiss to either. maybe that cute colt in the front row, or maybe that burly griffon.
"Tonight, we have a special game for all of you. Tonight is the 500th anniversary of the fight against the monsters of the Jungles when Stalliongrad was still young!"
Oh right. I had almost forgotten about the whole 'anniversary' fight thing. I didn't much care for it, but whatever floats the fans boats I guess. I was here to look hot and kick flank, and by the looks of this Timberwolf they were pitting me against, there wouldn't be much flank to kick. The thing looked seriously confused.
"Tonight you shall see our gladiators fight against the different species from the Jungle. First up is this rare strain of Timberwolf. As you can see, he is much larger than the normal Timberwolf and is much more deadly. They say that they once were guardians of an ancient deity, but fell into darkness when their deity forsook them. Now they are little more than beasts who hunt ponies and feast upon their corpses! Can Azure Lance overcome one of the Jungle's fiercest predators and claim the prize of 5000 bits? This pony thinks so. So place your bets and lets get fightin'!"
Really? Only 5000 bits? Oh well, at least I can get some excersize while I'm here. I hoisted my javelin and tossed it at it, just coming up shy of hitting it. The puropse of the javelin wasn't to actually hit it, but to distract it for a few seconds while I took to the sky with Star Striker, my trusty lance. I grinned and I struck the beast in the side, burying the lance halfway into it. It roared in pain when I tugged the lance out, carrying with it some of the beast's flesh. Of course, it was nothing but limbs and moss, but it looked rather grusome. The crowd was loving that bit.
I shook off the branch gore and locked eyes with my opponent. It looked like it was trying to beg for mercy! Is this really the best Xerx could find for me?! I wanted something dangerous! Not this sniveling pup! I charged it along the ground and thrust out Striker, only to hit air. I looked up and saw the stupid thing doing some sort of fancy acrobatic leap over me! I have some moves, but this thing was twisting in a way that would break a normal pony's spine. I quickly thrust the back end of my lance at it's head to try and daze it, but it spawned this massive.... Claw? Talon? No, it was too blunt, but it did a great job of grabbing Star Striker.
"Wh-what?!" I stuttered, this thing was alot smarter that I gave it credit for. Damnit! I just broke my Bro's number one rule. Never underestimate your opponent. I tried to pull it out of his grip, only to have it drag me close enough for our muzzles to touch.
"What? No dinner and a show first? You naughty puppy." At least, that is what I would have said in a normal situation. It just gave me a rather frightening look with it's golden eyes. I reaaaally underestimated this thing. I knew it was coming. I was going to die. This timberwolf was going to kill me right here and feast on my flesh. At least, I think it would have. I am going to admit that I don't know much about Timberwolves. I pulled out my short sword that I just remembered I had hidden on my and plunged it deep into it's chest. Ha! I win now stupid pup!
I pulled the blade out, fully expecting it to drench me with blood, but the blade was clean. I looked at the blade and then the wolf, only to hear it sigh and open it's chest. The damn thing was hollow! There was not much inside it, only a round pocket and a small sack that I had punctured that was leaking water, but was swiftly sealing back up. This thing was no monster, or beast for that matter, it was a golem! That sneaky, overgrown, bastard of a feather duster! Xerxes had tricked me! We never did get along, he always had a fetish for mares. He tried to add me to his harem, but I proverbally slapped him by saying I liked mares too.
"Go ahead and kill me monster!" I spat at his paws as he tossed my lance away. I turned away, waiting for the quick pain and the darkness of death. When that didn't come, I looked at it, confused. It just cocked it's head at me and I felt like it wouldn't kill me. Dunno how that works, maybe it was trying to communicate with me? I really should have paid more attention to Greyclaw...
"Y-you aren't going to kill me?" I asked. "But if one of us doesn't the-" I was cut off by Xerxes' paid mutts ran out and encircled us. My gaze went straight to Xerxes' private booth and I shot him the dirtiest glare I had ever conjured in my life.
I am soooo going to haunt you for the rest of your miserable life! I cursed him in my head. He smirked at me and flicked his talon away from him. They rushed forwards and impaled both me and the Wolf with their sharp spears. I coughed up aloooot of blood. Must have.... Hit something... vital... Y'know, death doesn't hurt quite as much as I thought it would. Sure, there was that sharp pain when the spears tore through my flesh, but after that was just this warm feeling. The Wolf tore through the spears as if they were the same twigs he was made of and cradeled me in those big ol' viney grabbers of his. THe edges of my vision went all fuzzy and my breath came out more and more ragged. I could see a field of amber grains gently waving in the wind and a pair of ponies standing there, as if waiting on me. One was a brown unicorn stallion with the whitest eyes and mane I have ever seen. It just looked so pure that I felt ashamed to even look at them. He just smiled at me and turned to the Pegasus mare. I vaugely recognised her amber coat and magenta eyes. She was crying, a mix between sad and happy. I could feel something sticky run down my face as I reached out for her. I remember her now...
"Mummy..." I practically sighed that last word as I felt my body go limp. I got back up and found my wounds were healed, my body felt lighter than it had ever in a long time. I looked at the Stallion and he smiled again.
"Welcome, Azure Lance, to the Elysian Fields." His voice seemed to echo and made me feel all giddy inside. "I believe that thou has a pony who has awaited many years to meet thee again..." Tears. Tears flowed freely as I hugged my mother for the first time in a loooong time. I'm kinda glad I died now. I hope that Xerxes doesn't do anything too drastic to that poor Wolf.
I sat in the silence that permeated the forest around me, setting a haunted ambience that would have once sent a chill down my spine long ago. Now it was wrapped around me tight like a cold blanket. The only sounds and lights came from the various faeries that flitted about me on their tiny, glowing wings that sounded like millions of crystal bells chiming intermittedly. These things eventually faded, giving way to the modern world, a world of engineering and science. Each of the cities were lit with various lights that never went out, eternal and unyeilding light that outshined even the stars themselves. It reminded me of an old place I once knew. So long ago...
If it bothers you so much, why don't you just... Get rid of it? a voice chimed in my head. It brought to mind images of rotting and death. Of screams and tourture. We both know you have the power. Just one or two... Cities. It would be just like old times!
No... I told the voice, no, I told myself. What the peoples of Equis do is not our buisness... Not anymore.
Oh? The way they tear through the forests, killing the land, is not our buisness? it questioned. If that isn't our buisness, then what is? Nursing sick, little bunnies back to health? No. We were great once, and we could be once again! Think how pleased Terra would be to see the green of the forests again...
No. I told him once again. We had our time. We helped the great heroes usher in this golden age. Just look at any city. Every race is living in harmony. To break that would be the greatest sin.
Yes, and you would know about sin, wouldn't you, Murderer. A shadow formed in front of me, a form I have grown used to these long years. Myself, shrouded in shadows with red eyes that pierced the dark with malicious thoughts dancing behind them. Behind this shadow me stood a veritable army of shades of various races, even a few humans that stood tall over the heads of the natives of Equis. Each one's face was twisted in a visage of agony and horror, they each howled their curses at me with their voices shrouded in the sounds of silence.
Yes... I do. I said solemnly. I remember each of their deaths, especially the three closest ponies. One of each of the three, all clad on dark armor befitting them. Earth in heavy plate, skulls adorning his armor. Pliable leather hugging the form of the Pegasus, his dark gaze picking out even the tiniest details 300 yards away. Shadowy robes flowed about the Unicorn, dark flames eating at it's hem.
Release us once more to reign havoc upon those who would harm us. Let loose us upon the land of the light and drag it back into the dark waters. Let me create a world for us to live in peace. No longer will you have to worry about being hurt, for those who even thought about it would be struck down with the all consuming hellfire.
We both know I will not. The last time you were free, it took the efforts of many to seal you away again. So many lives were lost in vain, never to find rest after you twisted them to your will. I snapped at my shadowed form.
Oh, give it up. You both are giving me a headache... Another me groaned. This one was was bathed in a holy glow. I mean seriously, this has to be the 3000th time you've tried this millenia alone. I'm starting to get sick of your 'Ohh, I'm so eeeeviiiillll, look at how evil I am.' You are this close to being on Sombra's level of bad guy with your crappy monolouges. Graah, eeviiil, slaaavveesss Graaah! I laughed aloud, the sharp bark cutting through the silence that had fell in the realm of reality.
So what? A good villain needs a bit of drama and flair...
And you are just taking it too far. Geez, I could be a better villain than you and I'm the good side!
All right you two, put a cork in it, we got a job to do. Both forms frowned and vanished, taking with them the army of shadows. I padded along an obscure, ancient path towards my destination. Sometimes, being crazy was annoying, but it was kinda nice having someone to talk to. Even if it was the fragments of my shattered psyche.