There you are, you sneaky little bastard.
A cute (and surely delicious) bunny was hopping briskly through the lush, rain soaked forest of Everfree. There had been a colossal downpour last night, and I, being the favoured son of lady luck that I was, was caught in the middle of it. Do you know what that's like when you have wooden flesh? Imagine having a rash, just all over.
I'm a timber wolf, you see, which means that almost every part of me is made out of wood (*Sigh* and yes, before you ask that includes... *Ahem*, that area) . Have you ever felt wet wood? Yes? Well could you imagine being made out of the stuff? Yeah, getting wet is that uncomfortable for me, especially around the crotch. The simple act of raising my leg to pee turns into an effing ballad of torture.
But anyways, I'd rather not go into details. I'm kind of in the middle of a hunt here. Not a pack hunt, no, we only get together when taking down the bigger animals, y'know, deer and stuff (Don't look at me like that, I'll have you know that a full grown deer can kick pretty damned hard). I was flying solo, on this rabbit's tail like stink on manticore crap.
The chase had started a good hour or so ago, and I've got to give it to him (or her, it's pretty hard to tell with rabbits), he, or she, had put up a pretty good run. The rabbit thought it lost me about half a mile or so back, and to be honest, it kind of did. I spent the last half hour tracking this little sod's scent, and now, I had finally found the fuzzy little SOB. Right now I was eyeing him up from a nearby bush, kneading the sodden dirt with my paws, readying myself to pounce on it and off the little bugger.
The rabbit in question was snowy white, which was great, because in the forest, that meant he stuck out like a sore paw. It was also kind of weird, seeing as most bunnies around Everfree were either brown or grey so they could blend in with the environment better (The brown ones have more flavour. The more you know, right?). But hey, who am I to question a good thing? The rabbit seemed frightened (and tasty), petrified even. In fact, I think I could actually see it shaking. Good, that'll get it's blood pumping, I mean, who doesn't love a warm meal, right?
I'll just let it get a liiiiiitlle bit closer, yeah, that's right, wander over this way, just a bit more, don't be shy, there's nothing here, just take a couple more steps you adorable little appetiser. Almost... Allllllmooossst-
The bunny's ears perked upwards as it's small head snapped to the side, and it dashed off towards the voice.
I leap out of my hiding place in chase of the blasted rabbit, I'd wasted an entire bloody hour hunting this buck-toothed little shit, it was not getting away from me.
Soon enough, the rabbit notices me closing in, and doubles its speed. It weaves in and out of trees and hurdles over rocks and boulders in a feeble attempt to shake me. Sorry mate, but I've lived in this forest since I was a cub, his here is my world, I ain't going nowhere.
I urge myself to go faster, my legs pumping harder and harder, like a set of well oiled pistons. I thread through the trees like liquid, and glide over the boulders and ditches with ease. I've been hunting my entire life, overcoming obstacles such as these had pretty much become second nature to me. Out here in the wild, you either adapt or you die. I had adapted, and at the moment, it sure as hell looked like this rabbit was going to die.
"Angel, there you are!"
I look up to see a cream-coloured pony with a pink mane smiling warmly at my prey, beckoning it with open hooves. Don't even think about touching that rabbit, you pastel coloured skank, that's my kill, MY KILL! Her emerald green eyes flick to me, and her smile fades away almost instantly. Her pupils shrink as she recoils in terror. Without a second thought, she lets out an ear-piercing wail of horror. As me and 'Angel', as the pony called the rabbit, draw closer, she throws her forelegs over her head and shrinks into the ground. The rabbit latches on to one of her legs, shaking it wildly in an effort to get her moving, but all she can do is shiver. That's right, you fluffy little meal on heels, your pony can't help you now, you delectable douchebag, get your furry little ass in my belly!
"Fluttershy, watch out!" Shouts a voice from behind me. Suddenly, I'm blinded by a bright, purple flash. My right forleg goes numb, not just 'slept on it' numb, I mean completely and utterly numb. My Legs give way under me and my wooden hide is sent tumbling through the dirt.
Okay, so I tripped up, big deal, the rabbit isn't going anywhere, so no loss. I'll just get up, find whatever hit me, eat the living crap out of it and scoff the rabbit as seconds. Fullproof plan, really. But as I try to get to my feet, I'm met with a grisly surprise.
my leg isn't just numb, it's fucking gone.
The whole bottom half of my right forleg was just... missing. There was nothing there.... Just a stump, a blackened, smouldering stump. The numbness fades, replaced with agony.
Oh gods it hurts! It's like my nerves are on fire! No, it's actually worse than that, dear wolf-gods, it's like there's bloody magma in my veins! The gory stump pulsates with waves of pain which flow through my entire body. I... I can't move, it's just too much, I-I think I'm going to throw up. I start to lose the feeling in my remaining limbs as more and more blood seeps from my wound. I'm parched all of a sudden, so parched I feel as if I'll turn into a mound of salt if I don't get some water. I'm just so... Thirsty. Everything's going dark, and blurry. On the upside, everything's starting to hurt a lot less. Am I... Dying?
I can only whimper in protest as my vision begins to fail me. Are those voices? It's hard to hear over the high-pitched ringing in my ears. Must be the pony and my assailant, discussing what they're going to do with me. Leave me to die? Finish me off? Just sit there, pop open a brewski, and watch me bleed out? Either way I'm screwed, a timber wolf missing a leg is as good as dead. I can just about make out a purple glow surrounding me. Suddenly, I feel light, almost as if I'm floating. Well, I guess this is it. I'm actually kind of disapointed that my life doesn't flash before my eyes, it would have been pretty cool to have a quick once-over of my mediocre existence before I bit the dust. Ah well, I had to die sometime, besides, all dogs go to heaven, right?
'Then again, you're a timber wolf...'
Oh shut up, brain. Your logic isn't welcome here.
Fluttershy slowly unfolded herself from the foetal position, unsure as to why she was still breathing. The wolf should have wrapped those big, sharp, flesh-slicing jaws of his around her neck by now. For a pony she knew a lot about timber wolves (Well, she knew a lot about most animals). They were mainly carnivorous, had a unique biology, and were extremely infamous when it came to their vicious attitude towards ponies. In fact, they were responsible for the deaths of at least eighty ponies per year, making them one of Everfree forest's most blood thirsty animals, second only to the dreaded hydra (manticores were actually surprisingly gentle, and, despite popular protests, rarely attacked anypony). That wolf could probably rip open her gut and gobble up her insides in under a minute. So, why didn't he? Risking a peek from between her hooves, she found her answer.
She stared at the muddled pile of tangled wooden limbs sprawled across the grass, one of its legs absent. Blood was gradually beginning to pool around the glistening stump of a wound where the wolf's leg should have been. Dozens of splinters and miniscule scraps of wood shavings littered the ground around her, and red specks of the wolf's blood had peppered her coat like horrible, oozing polka dots.
"Fluttershy!" screamed Twilight as she rushed to her friends side. "I... I didn't mean to, I just saw it running towards you and I... oh sweet Celestia, I only wanted to stun it! I d-d-didn't..."
Tears began to flow from Twilight Sparkle's violet eyes as she took in the torn and battered body of the timber wolf. Had she killed it? Was she a murderer? Her chest tightened a wave of guilt crashed over her. She had only been trying to help! She didn't mean to hurt it, she didn't! She torn her eyes away from the gory sight, instead focusing on Fluttershy, who, to her horror, was freckled with blood.
Suddenly, something switched in Fluttershy's head. She didn't register the blood, she tuned out Twilight's mournful sobbing, and concentrated on the task that now laid at hoof.
Saving this poor animal's life.
Ooooh cripes, my head! Sweet merciful gods that hurts. Did I eat a Cockatrice or something? I promised myself I'd lay off those! Ugh, last time I scoffed one of them I woke up in the middle of a manticore threesome. And to think some youths actually get addicted to the stuff. For shame. Still tasted pretty good though, and it turns out manticores really know how to please a wolf... Just saying.
Well, I doubt moaning over my sozzled brain is going to solve anything, I suppose I should get up now. Opening my eyes, I'm greeted with a plain, grassy field. The sun peeks over the rolling hills in the distance, painting everything in a charming champagne pink glow. The tree line of what I think is Everfree forest stands to my left, the black patches of shadow beneath the pine trees a dark and foreboding contrast to the bright, sun soaked field I found myself in. Hmm, well, I've woken up in stranger places, and I must say, this is a welcome change in scenery. Alright, I guess I should get back to Everfree now, those adorable little animals won't kill themselves.
I almost jump out of my carapace as what I can only assume is a rooster deafens me with an ear splitting squawk. Right, you're paying for that one you loudmouthed little turd, I am going to chomp down on your feathery arse SO hard! Where are you? I look to my right, and find perhaps one of the most eye wateringly beautiful sights of my life. Animals. Animals everywhere.
Dozens of chickens scurried around a wooden coup, surrounded by nothing but a tiny fence which I could easily leap over. Rabbits, mice, rats, and things that I can't even name wait for me in cages, all fat and pampered and appetising. Oh lord, they even have birds! Do you know how hard they are to catch? Sweet merciful Drathgurg, they're even tied down, just waiting for me. There all so colourful, so exotic, so tasty. It's an all you can eat buffet, and I'm the only customer! Ha, there are even ponies!
Wait a sec... Ponies?
The memories come crashing through my mind like a freight train. The rabbit... The pony... The pain. No, it couldn't be. That didn't happen, it just didn't, it didn't! Reluctantly, I tear my eyes away from the living banquet of wildlife and look down to my right foreleg. It did. There was nothing there, nothing but a bandaged stump. My leg was just... gone. Was this some kind of sick, twisted nightmare? No, this was real, I just sure as hell wish it wasn't. I could still feel it there, though, still feel the wooden slabs of flesh grinding gently against each other, still feel the blood pumping through the arteries and veins. Oh god... I think... I think I'm going to be sick.
I vomit onto the ground, yesterday's breakfast piling up in front of me.
"Ugh, that's simply disgusting!"
Dear god, I'm a tripod! A fucking tripod!
Fluttershy bit into her bottom lip in an unsuccessful attempt to hold back tears. To actually lose something as close to you as a leg must have been horrible for the poor thing, but to be laughed at for it as well? Twilight had been kind enough to help her take the timber wolf back to her cottage where she had applied bandages and disinfectant over his wound. It had been messy, sure. But when something's life was in danger, she wasn't afraid to get her hooves dirty. She'd moved the wolf outside and, although it broke her heart, chained it to a pole. As much as she wanted to, she couldn't just let a potential pony-killer wander off. Her friends had all insisted upon seeing it up close (apart from Twilight, who told her that she 'needed some time alone'), which was understandable. Few ponies got the chance to see a timber wolf up close and live to tell the tale. Even she never had the chance, and she'd catalogued literally thousands of species. But after giving her closest friends this once in a lifetime opportunity, this is how they repaid her?
Rarity was shielding her eyes in disgust because the poor baby had gotten a little bit too flustered and been sick, whilst Rainbow and Pinkie Pie were rolling on the ground in hysterics. The only pony that seemed to react in any way decently was Applejack, who had supressed her distaste to a mild cringe. How could her friends be so insensitive?
She stomped her hoof to the ground, she had to put a stop to this.
"Girls!" she hollered sternly "Stop laughing at him, can't you see he's in pain?" the wolf whimpered weakly as if to confirm her point. As much as she hated raising her voice, she simply couldn't let her friends mock a handicapped animal, it was like laughing at a pony in a wheelchair, it just wasn't right. Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie quickly got to their hooves, their smiles gone and their eyes fixated on the ground. Rarity lowered her foreleg from her face, which was now stricken with guilt. Applejack had rid herself of her small cringe, and was now smiling at Fluttershy proudly. Rude or not, Iron Will had certainly taught her a thing or two.
"Well, ah reckon this 'ere fella has all the right ta be a little bit queasy, we're mighty sorry, partner." said Applejack to the still whimpering wolf, who was now examining the five ponies nervously.
"I suppose I may have overreacted slightly" apologised Rarity, who still hadn't taken her eyes off of the ground.
"A little?" asked Rainbow Dash sarcasticly.
"Well if my memory serves me correctly you were the one laughing at him!"
"Heh... oh yeah, uuum sorry about that, I guess"
Pinkie Pie looked as if she was on the verge of tears "Ohhhh I'm so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so sorry. I promise I'll make it up to you Wolfie! Oh! I know! I'll throw you a party! I've never thrown a party for a timber wolf before, it'll be so amazingly-super-fantasticallicaly-mega-fun!"
And with that, Pinkie was back to her old, ecstatic self.
Pleased with her apologies, Fluttershy turned back to the wolf, chances were he was starting to calm down now.
Go to a happy place! Go to a happy place! Go to a happy place!
Oh god, what the hell do I do now? My leg is fricking gone! Rule number one in the nonexistent rulebook of the wild, nature doesn't wait up for handicaps! I'm royally screwed! My pack will never take me back, a damaged hunter was a useless hunter. I can't go back home like this, Everfree is like the ghetto of Equestria! I'll be dead in a week! Oh, for the love of Drathgurg, I'm pretty much a walking corpse.
The ponies are talking again, not that I'm really listening. Chances are they're trying to figure out the best way to put me down. It's probably for the better, anyways. Frankly, I'd rather die here and get a burial or at least a cremation than die out there where my corpse will probably become the main course for some peckish predator... Hmm, wonder how I'd taste...
Well, whatever happens, I think it's safe to say my life is effectively over now. I mean c'mon, where's the fun in living if you can't kill and eat stuff, am I right? Yeah, I'm right.
It was an extraordinary stroke of luck that Fluttershy's friends were so eager to meet her new guest, for it saved her the trouble of asking them over herself. Alas, she had a problem that she needed solving, and she desperately hoped that one of her friends could provide an answer. As much as it shamed her, she just plain wasn't equipped to deal with the likes of a timber wolf. Currently, she housed thirty seven birds (Which included hawks, owls, pigeons, great bustards, eagles, sparrows and an ostrich. Yeah, an actual ostrich) , six ferrets, nine hares, eleven rabbits, nineteen chickens, twelve snakes, fourteen squirrels, five bats, an entire colony of ants, two foxes, thirteen goldfish, fifteen frogs, three deer and a toad. Her cottage simply couldn't accommodate a timber wolf, besides, her meagre budget was stretched thin as it was. So, she was left with two options. One: she release the wolf back into the wild where it would almost definitely starve to death, which was something she absolutely refused to do. And then there was option two: beg one of her friends to take care of him.
Which may be a problem, seeing as most ponies were absolutely petrified of timber wolves.
She took a couple of deep breaths. She could do this, she just had to be strong, just had to be stern, just like she was a minute ago. She could do that, besides, it's not like her friends would let her down...
"Girls?" whimpered Fluttershy from behind her milkshake-pink mane. Everypony halted their bickering and turned towards her. Oh sweet Celestia why did they have to look at her. "Umm, I'm... well, I... I don't really have enough time to take care of him and all, and I was wondering if, well... If-"
"If one of us could go ahead an adopt the lil' fella?" finished Applejack. Fluttershy gave a small nod of confirmation.
"I'm out!" Squealed Rainbow Dash, taking to the air as she did so "Uh, sorry Flutters, but I DO kinda live in a cloud house and all."
"Oh, well, that's okay, I guess."
"Yes, and I'm afraid won't be of much use either, a boutique is hardly a fitting home for such an... *ahem* exotic creature." Exclaimed Rarity half-heartedly.
"I, I guess not."
"I'm super-duper-looper sorry Fluttershy but I have to look after the cakes on Wednesdays and fridays and I can't leave Wolfie all alone because he might break something or hurt somepony or break and hurt somepony or run away or *gasp* he could eat gummy and then I'd have to put my hooves down his mouth and-"
"We get it, Pinkie, you're out." deadpanned Rainbow Dash.
At once, all heads turned to Applejack expectantly.
"...Y'all are gonna make me take 'im in, aren't ya?"
"Well, if it's not too much trouble..." whispered Fluttershy.
"*Sigh* Fine! Ah guess ah could take 'im off ya hooves."
Okay, from what I've gathered, that yellow pony is... auctioning me off? Meh, something like that. Well, I am chained to a pole... maybe it's some kind of enslavement thing, but why the hell should I care? I mean it's not like it's going to any difference in the end is it? My leg is gone, I'm broken, and therefore, useless. Like I said earlier, my pack would never take me back. They were my family, my brothers and sisters. What would you do in my position? I've lost everything. My friends, my pride, my home, everything.
One of the ponies breaks away from the crowd and starts making her way towards me. Orange coat, Blonde and braided mane, freckles... A stetson? Alright, Im calling it, she's a hick.
"Welp, c'mon over here, partner, looks like y'all are with me."
Nailed it. Wow, listen to that accent, I wonder how many generations of inbreeding it took to make this girl. I bet she tasted like apples and pig shit. I've sampled both, if you're wondering.
She untangles my chain from the pole and starts leading me away from the cottage and towards a large pony settlement up ahead in the distance. I've seen it a couple of times before from the forest, but I never managed to get the chance to see it up close. Why would I want to? As far as I could tell the place didn't have any edible wildlife (apart from ponies, which, after nibbling on a corpse I found in the woods, I can confirm is only 'okay').
Well, bristling with wildlife or not, this was bound to get interesting.
Applejack tugged on the chain lead once again, pulling the limping wolf in tow. He obviously hadn't taken to walking on three legs all too well. Every struggled step he took was punctuated by a clumsy stumble. He would sway heavily at the slightest breeze and collapse every fifty feet, only to awkwardly get back to his paws so the sequence could begin all over again. Applejack, although not particularly fond of timber wolves due to the stories Granny Smith had told her as a foal, still found herself pitying the poor creature. Seeing something as fearsome and threatening as a timber wolf in such an undignified state just felt wrong somehow. He was supposed to be a proud and dangerous predator, but at the moment he resembled more of a heap of driftwood, dragging itself across the floor.
Still, that's not to say he didn't look threatening. A pair of scars had been etched across his face, running diagonally down his snout and tracing across his maw. Those unnaturally yellow irises scouted across the streets and houses of Ponyville, no detail escaping his demonic, glowing eyes. His tough, wooden carapace was coated with scratches and cuts, no doubt from fighting. But what was perhaps most terrifying was his jaws. The gleaming white blades that were his teeth hung out of his upper mouth in a frightening overbite. She couldn't help but imagine what those teeth could do to her. They looked so sharp, they could probably glide through her flesh like a hot knife slid through butter. She probably wouldn't even feel it, not until he pulled away and took a nice big slab of flesh out of her back with a wet 'shlop'. Then, when she lay squealing on the ground, her hooves flailing in a panicked, agony-fuelled fit, he'd bury his head into her soft belly, plunging deep into her bowels and wrap those horrible, salivating jaws around her intestines. And then he'd pull, oh sweet Celestia he'd pull so hard, uprooting more and more of her unravelling insides as he went. Those eyes, those evil, glowing eyes would focus on her petrified face, like two lighthouses in a sea of her own blood, dear Equestria, there would be so much blood, all of it her own. There'd be so much, so much she'd drown in it, drown in the sea of blood pouring from her ruined torso, and all the time those fiery pupils would be watching her, watching her drown. He'd laugh as it flooded into her mouth, assulting tongue with the taste of raw iron before it gushed down her throat and into her lungs, filling them up until they popped with a soggy splat, like a water balloon hitting a wall. All the time she would be screaming, and he'd be laughing, laughing at her screams...
Celestia damned Granny Smith and her mentally scarring bedtime stories...
For the sake of Drathgurg, why does this have to be so bloody difficult! A manticore can strut about on two legs, and their brains are about the size of a chestnut, so why the hell can't I manage with three? And they make it look so. Damned. Easy! Genetically superior pricks. And you know what? This wouldn't be nearly as hard if blondie here would just stop pulling on my fucking lead! The constant stares we're getting isn't making it any easier, either. I mean come on, have some respect for a guy's privacy!
And another thing, these ponies scare ridiculously easy. The second they lay their eyes on me they either scream and run, bugger off indoors or just congregate into crowds and try their best to steer clear of me. I don't really get what all the hype is about, I'm a single, three legged timber wolf with a chain wrapped around my neck, it's not like I'd be able to off one of these four-foot rainbow-rats even if I wanted to. Besides, like I said earlier, pony flesh is only 'okay', it doesn't really hold a candle to other wildlife.
"Applejack!" whispered a shaky, orange maned and yellow coated mare who was hiding herself (poorly) behind a wooden carrot stand.
"Howdy there, Carrot Top." muttered my probably imbred captor (Apparently named Applejack) nonchalantly through the lead in her mouth. This 'Carrot Top' had her eyes fixated on me, her pupils the size of pinpricks.
"What are you doing with that monster!"
Nice to meet you too.
"Well, this here 'monster' is goin' ta be needin' a place ta stay! So, till further notice, ahm gonna be stuck with the critter."
"But... I just... Where did you even find that thing."
Oh yeah, I'm feeling the love.
"Uhh, it's a long story, Carrot Top, an ahm kinda busy" said Applejack, yanking on my lead again "y'know, what with it being harvest an all."
"Oh, well, just be careful, that thing just looks evil."
Luckily for that carrot loving whore, Applejack pulls me away. A good thing, too, a couple more seconds and I would have clawed her flank up so bad she'd shit sideways. She's still looking at me, right into my glowing, yellow eyes. I see that look alot, particularly on my prey. It's the look that says 'you want to kill me, don't you? You want to kill me and there's virtually nothing stopping you'. I love it when they look at me like that, absolutely love it. Yeah, that's right, look at my eyes, they're staring right at your plump, exposed neck. I'm waiting, Carrot Top, Waiting for you to look the other way so I can come and gobble you up. I'm waiting, waiting for the right time to gobble you right the fuck up.
She turns away with a shudder.
That's it, be afraid, because you know I'm going to get out some day or another, and when I do, I'm going to come for you, and I'm going to find you, and then, I'm going to eat you. You'll be sleeping in your bed, far away in dreamland, maybe having a little nightmare about me taking you apart piece by piece, and then you'll wake up, thanking your Princesses that it was just a dream. You'd open your eyes, and you'll find me standing over you, my gold eyes locked onto yours, my sharp claws mounted on your chest, and my sharp, yellowing teeth primed to pluck your throat right out of your neck. You'd try to convince yourself that you're still in a dream, still lost in some horrible nightmare, and it'll be over soon, that you'll wake up and everything will be fine. But you won't wake up, Carrot Top. You won't wake up because you're already wide awake, in your bedroom, with me, here. And I'm getting ready to eat you up and crap you out. I'm going to come for you, I'm going to find you, and I'm going to kill you, and there's fucking nothing you can do about it.
So yeah, I get a bit worked up at times, sorry about that.
Well, we're coming up to a barn, I can only assume that this is the 'Sweet Apple Acres' that Applejack mentioned. A large red barn stood before us, it's paint peeling off in patches, revealing the brown oak beneath. Don't ask how I know it's oak, it's just a weird sixth sense that all us timber wolves seem to have. It may sound pretty cool, but when it comes down to it, it's pretty much useless in day to day life. Just ask yourself, 'does it really matter to a wolf as to whether that tree is chestnut or pine?' The answer is no, it doesn't. Drathgurg, Netherthran and Jarik just thought it would be funny to give timber wolves an absolutely pointless power. Damned gods and their faulty designs.
Sitting next to the barn was a quaint two storey house, a wrinkled, green pony sat snoring on its cosy porch, rocking back and forth in her chair. It was a nice place, well, nice compared to the other places I've seen around here, I mean who wants to live in a brick house? Wood is where it's at, the pony living in that hollowed out tree a few blocks back had the right idea, hell, someone give that pony a medal or something.
In front of the house and the barn is probably the biggest apple orchard I've ever seen, which really isn't saying much, seeing as it was the first one I've ever laid eyes on. Still, it stretched on for a good quarter of a mile or so. There were easily five or six hundred apple trees here, if not more. The sea of bright green leaves was dotted by thousands of lively red apples swaying in the summer's breeze. The sweet, invigorating scent of apples washes over me, gently tickling my senses.
There were a couple of cows and pigs, but to my dismay, they were fenced off. I'm guessing that they kept the cows for milk (and hopefully beef), but I can't really see the point in ponies keeping pigs. I mean, it's not like you get anything out of them. Maybe this family had an unnatural craving for pork? Unlikely, but still, a wolf can dream, right?
"Big Mac, Applebloom, Granny Smith, Winona, we got us some company!" yelled Applejack at the top of her voice, nearly deafening me with that stupid cowmare drawl of hers.
Without warning the barn doors burst open with a jolting bang.
"Well howdy there, Big Mac, this here's-"
"Applejack!" roars a deep, masculine voice in fear.
As I turn to meet the voice's owner, a heavy hoof ploughs into my muzzle with a sickening crack. I crumple to the ground, fuck! I think my nose is broken! To confirm my worries, a torrent of red begins to gush from my nostrils. You know what? I've lost my leg, been kidnapped by a redneck, chained up like some dominatrix bitch and practically dragged through an entire town full of ponies who scream at the sight of me, just where the hell is the animal rights association when you need them? I stumble back to my feet to meet my attacker head on, somepony's going to learn the hard way that it's a bad idea to duff a timber wolf in the face. Just wait until my head stops spinning, then you're in for it you sucker punching bastard.
"Now look what you gone done! You broke the poor fella's nose!"
"Well ah thought he was gonna go hurt you, what're ya doin' with such a despicable animal anyhow?"
Despicable? You want to see despicable, oh I'll show you despicable!
As my vision clears a red stallion comes into focus. Crap, he's big, that complicates things. By the love of the three gods he's tall! Alright, going for the throat's out of the question. Oh well, the legs are still open, I could probably have a go at taking out one of those. The tank of a pony is still locked in conversation with Applejack, if I'm going to make this sibling-shagger pay, I best do it now.
I pounce forwards, thrusting myself off of the ground with my hind legs. Midway through my flight the stallion notices me going for his left foreleg, however he's already too late. The metallic taste of blood fills my mouth as my teeth plant themselves in the upper half of his leg.
"Gah! Applejack, get this thing offa me!"
Oh I don't think so, buddy. You broke my nose, and now you're going to pay me back every drop of blood I've lost with two of yours. I tighten my grip, sinking my teeth in even deeper. Who knows, if I'm lucky I might even hit an artery. I squeeze harder and harder, small rivers of crimson tracing down the stallion's leg. Come on, I can do better than this, get deeper, DEEPER! I want to scrape this asshole's bone!
"Oh sweet Celestia GET IT OFF!"
Applejack starts tugging wildly on my lead, desperately trying to detach me from the stallion's leg. NO! Not until I get my fill of blood from this bastard!
"P-please... let go of mah brother." squeaks a quiet, youthful voice.
I release my jaws from the speaker's 'brother', an audible 'squish' rings out as my teeth unsheathe themselves from his muscle.
My chain drops from Applejack's mouth as she gawks at the stallion, and it clatters to the floor. He'd fallen to his haunches halfway through my retaliation, and was now lying in the dirt, his eyes squeezed shut and his teeth grinding together. The flesh around his leg is warped and twisted, blood spouting from the grisly holes I'd made, drenching the soil. The wound resembles a gory work of modern art, the meat morphed and deformed in all kinds of interesting ways.
Applejack began to cry.
For the first time, I notice a small figure staring at me with big, magenta rimmed eyes. A little redheaded filly stood shaking in her hooves, those eyes drawn to mine, as if staring into my soul.
Big Mac's groans of pain echoed throughout the air as Caramel and Applejack hoisted him into a cart. Without a word, Caramel hooked himself up to the reins and pulled Applejack's big brother off to Ponyville hospital. This was her fault. She'd bought that demon here, she had let it get close to Big Mac and she had let him provoke it. Now, her brother was being wheeled off to hospital with scars that would stay with him for the rest of his days. Yes, he'd get better, but he would never lose those scars . They would stay there, like some horrifying misplaced cutie mark, as a constant reminder of how she had screwed up. Every time she would look at him, her eyes would flick to those teeth marks, and she would recall how she had given them to him. She knew, from the moment she looked upon that unnaturally twisted wound, that she'd never live this down. He would come back, and she had no doubt that he would forgive her instantly, because that's just who he was, but she would never be able to forgive herself. Now, every time they struck up a conversation, every time he offered to bail her out of her chores and every time they made those stupid little brother-to-sister bets, she would look at those scars, and no matter how much she told him she was sorry, and no matter how much he said he forgave her, the guilt, the soul crushing guilt would never leave her alone. She would carry its burden forever, like some irremovable little tumor.
That damned wolf.
She gave it a home, and this was how it repaid her? She should have listened to Granny Smith's stories! She had told her time and time again about how she was chased through Everfree by those rotten things during the first Zap Apple season, and that you should never trust a timber wolf. At the time, Applejack had just written her grandma's ramblings off as old mare's tales, but now, she could see the wisdom in her words. That was no animal she brought home, that was a monster.
What can I say? I'm terrible at first impressions.
Applejack had gone and hog tied me and put me in the barn. Seriously, she actually hog tied me, I mean who hog ties a wolf? *Sigh* The hickness is strong in this one. Anyways, I feel like I'm off to a pretty crap start here, it's been... what? Seven minutes? And the chances are I'm already on everypony's shit-list. Ah well, it's not like I was all that popular back in Everfree, so I'm more or less used to being despised. Bring on the hate, bitches!
Well, I'm bored. There's surprisingly little you can do whilst hog tied in a barn. Actually, there's surprisingly little you can do in a barn, period.
Heh heh, period...
My heart nearly burst out of my chest and skidded across the floor as a loud and commanding voice roared behind me, or rather, a bark. Let me explain briefly. You know when a dog starts yapping in the middle of the night and refuses to shut up? Well, that's because they're chatting with their pal a couple of blocks away. You see, the Canines of Equestria have their own language, which can be spoken in a variety of ways. Don't try to understand it, this is Equestria, not Everfree forest. Shit starts getting crazy the second you're past the tree line. Clouds stop moving on their own, animals lose all ability to look after themselves (which, in my opinion, is down to plain laziness) and evidently, Canines can talk to each other. End of the day, it happens. Deal with it.
"Y'all listen to me, ah seen what you pulled with Big Mac out there," The voice was stern, and strong, yet at the same time feminine, alot like Applejack's "and ah just wanna say, if you go pullin' anythang like that again," A paw came to rest on the small of my back, it's sharp nails scraping across my carapace threateningly "well, there won't be enough left of you for firewood, understand, partner?"
I could tell from that powerful voice alone that this was NOT someone I wanted to screw with.
"Uh, yes ma'am?"
The paw withdrew from my back, and the mystery speaker circled round, into my line of sight. Woah. Smooth brown and pale white fur, strong leg muscles rippling under her no doubt soft coat, liquid brown eyes glaring at me with contempt, perfectly white teeth formed into a snarl... Somebody call up Jarik, because one of his maidens must have fallen out of heaven and landed right in front of me. Said maiden raised an eyebrow suspiciously when she noticed me gawking at her awe inspiring beauty.
"Why're y'all starin' at me like that?"
Crap! She's talking to me! Quick, think of something awesome to say!
"... You have really nice leg muscles..."
She stared at me, the snarl dropping from her beautiful face and replaced with a look of confusion. She raised an eyebrow suspiciously, her jaw hanging slightly open. What? Didn't dogs get timber wolf pickup lines?
"Ah'm just gonna forget you gone said that." She muttered, turning her back on me and making her way towards the exit. Damn, she's leaving! Quick, hit her with another batch of charm!
"Uum, you look like a skilled killer! Your genes are very admirable! I'm a very experienced hunter!... Uh, if you were a booger I'd pick you first?" She continued towards the barn doors, tensing up more and more with every sentence of pure romance I threw at her. What the hell? My foolproof pickup lines are failing me, this is impossible! Okay, time to break out the heavy hitters.
"Your hips look very adequate for child bearing, our offspring would by no doubt be very healthy!"
She pivoted on her heels, briskly walking towards me. HaHA, success! Man, she looks pissed... And that is so hot. She closes the gap between us, her tail hanging dead between her legs and her eyes a pair of gorgeous mocha slits. Oh yeah, somebody's an angry puppy, and I can so get into that.
Don't judge me, I can get turned on by whatever the hell I want.
Without warning she swiftly cuffs me across the face with a paw. My newly bruised cheek goes numb, and the slight tinge of blood tickles the back of my tongue. My arousal dies away almost immediately. Of all the sick and twisted things that get me horny, being struck is not one of them.
"Y'all better watch yer mouth round here, cuz ah ain't got no time fer foul-mouths, ya hear?"
"Ooow... I guess so... Sorry"
"Apology accepted" She muttered angrily as she slipped out of the half open barn doors.
And I didn't even get her name, damn. Note to self, dogs do not like timber wolf pickup lines. I can't understand why not, though. I merely stated that she was probably a very good killer, that she had good genes, and that she'd make a great mating partner. Boom, romance in a nutshell. I dunno, maybe Equestrian views on pairing differed from the rest of the animal kingdom.
"Is Winona gone?" Whispered a voice from behind a nearby hay bale.
Great, more company.
"Yeah, the coast is clear."
The scampering of little hooves drummed into my ears as two foals and a hooved chicken wandered into my view. The first was a white unicorn with a pink stripe running through her otherwise purple mane (A little sidenote, ponies are really into effed up manes, whether they dye it or are just born with it that way is unknown to me, although neither would surprise me). She bore a striking resemblance to that other pony I saw this morning when I woke up, the one that looked remarkably like a marshmallow. The second one, I noticed almost immediately. It was the same foal who'd asked me to stop mauling her douchebag of a brother. Unlike her two friends, she wore a look of uncertainty rather than interest, she was probably a bit worried that I'd do to her what I did to her brother. Clever girl. The third was some kind of horrifying hybrid of chicken and pony, what the hell were the gods thinking when they whipped up this concoction.
"Scootaloo! Be careful, don't ya remember what it did ta mah brother?" Warned the redhaired little foal.
"Oh relax, it's all tied up, see?" The mutant chicken pointed a hoof towards my restraints "It ain't hurting nopony". The orange coated... Thing slapped a hoof on my shoulder to prove her point. Ouch, my pride felt that one, big time. The chicken-esque filly's bold statement seemed to calm the nerves of her friends, as the unicorn and earth pony both began to close in on me.
"Wow, look at those teeth."
"Forget about those teeth, take a look at those eyes!"
"Do ya reckon he's made of wood on the inside as well?"
"Hey look! He's missing a leg." chimed the white one with a small, bemused giggle, examining the bandaged stump that used to be my leg. Argh! Another sucker punch to my pride. Yes, I'm deformed, I'm broken, I'm a bloody freak! How fucking observant of you. Think I need someone laughing their ass off at me about it? God damnit, I feel so fricking degraded. I used to be a hunter, a fearsome beast lurking through the depths of Everfree, striking fear into the hearts and minds of others. Just look at me now, I'm tied up in the middle of a beaten-up old barn, being laughed at by foals like some kind of sideshow attraction.
I turn my face away from the three foals in a pathetic little attempt to hide my shame, whimpering quietly as I did so. My life used to mean something, I used to have a purpose. Now, I'm useless. I've lost my only true place in this god forsaken world, and the only thing that she can do is laugh. You know what? Laugh. Go ahead and laugh at me, because it looks like being laughed at is the only damned thing I'm ever going to be good at again.
However, no laughing could be heard.
Turning back to the white foal, I find her staring solemnly at me. She wore a frown so large it almost reached the tip of her chin.
"What's wrong with it?" She mused.
"Ah think ya hurt it's feelings." Answered the red haired pony.
"Thats stupid, timber wolves don't have feelings... do they?" asked the orange pegasus uncertainly, retracting her hoof from my shoulder.
"A'hm pretty sure Winona does..."
For a little while, everything remained silent, the three foals staring at me with those big, bulbous eyes. Slowly, the unicorn stepped forwards, into the range of my jaws. If I was snappy about it, I could probably get my teeth into her neck before she had time to react. From there on in, I could snap her neck with a quick jerk of my head. Yet, I refrained. She must have known that I was dangerous, so why risk her life by coming closer? It was at that moment she answered my question by throwing her forelegs around my neck and giving me a squeeze.
You know I've never actually been hugged before, I mean, I'm a timber wolf, so as you can imagine comforting others isn't exactly on the top of my 'to-do' list. It feels... warm? Satisfying? Cosy? I can't really explain it, other than it feels good. To hell with Cockatrice meat and all those other hallucinogens, hugging is my high. Gods, that sounded lame. Eventually, the other two decide to join in, and it turns into a good old four-way of love and affection... Wait, that came out wrong. Never mind, you get the point.
After separating from the hug the trio became a lot more, well, 'bubbly'. The pegasus/chicken, who it turns out is called 'Scootaloo', wouldn't stop tugging on my ears, those are non-detachable for a reason y'know. The unicorn, otherwise known as 'Sweetie Belle' (the parents who name these children seriously need a good ass whooping) kept on jumping up and down on my side, which seriously hurt, that girl needs to cut down on the pies, big time. The pony with the bow in her mane would constantly order me me to 'roll over', 'sit' and 'play dead'. Of course, I refused to do any of this, which only prompted her to ask more sternly.
After what seemed of hours of relentless torture, the three foals finally decided to leave me alone. They shot off after screaming something about crusading, or something like that. Thank god, a couple more minutes of that and I would have probably lost my mind.
Oh, great, there's still one left, the torture continues! The little redheaded earth pony, who's name is Applebloom (like I said, pony names are stupid), sat looking at me with those rose-coloured eyes of hers.
"Ah just want y'all ta know that ah forgive ya fer what you did to mah brother, after what ya did ta him ah thought y'all were a bit of a monster" A smile crossed her lips "You ain't no monster, you're a good boy!"
She reached out and began scratching behind one of my ears with a hoof. The sound of a hoof grinding against a block of wood isn't exactly the most pleasant of sounds, especially when said block of wood is your skull. Luckily, the feeling more than made up for it. It felt... ecstatic. She wasn't just scratching my head, she was scratching my freaking soul.
As she took her hoof away I couldn't help but release a satisfied sigh, much to her amusement.
"Ya know, once ya get past the scary eyes, the scars and the mean lookin' teeth, y'all ain't too bad. Ah think ah'll call you splinter, y'know, cuz yer made of wood and all, heh heh."
Isn't that cute? She gave me a moronic name of my own, just what I've always wanted.
She got to her hooves once more and headed towards the barn doors.
"Well, ah got a cutie mark ta earn, ah'll see ya later, mmkay?"
And, finally, at long last, peace.
"Run! for god's sake run, damn you!"
"I said get the fuck out of here! Go, or I swear to Drathgurg I'll kill you myself!"
The young pup's tiny form shook before the mighty roar that was his father's voice. Fire, everything was on fire. Random patches of ground were carpeted with flames. The usually lively greenery of the forest was engulfed by fire, the vibrant flowers and leaves darkening into lifeless silhouettes of their former selves before evaporating into clouds of glowing embers. The dancing golden blaze laced the trees, hungrily eating away at any and all life that once inhabited the once serene woodland. With every breath the young timber wolf took he would choke on the thick, black smog that lingered in the air. It almost seemed to stick to the inside of his throat, reducing his breathing to a pathetically weak wheeze. Above the noisy crackling of the fire he could hear tortured, bone chillingly pained howls of agony. Oh god, his pack, they were burning. The blurry figures of the pup's friends and companions could be seen writhing through the heavy soot, their bodies embroiled with fire.
He could smell them burning.
Splinter (as her sister had kept calling him) lay fidgeting wildly on the floor. His three legs had somehow managed to free themselves from the roe she had bound them with, and were now flailing about madly. He shook vigorously, as if he was cold, and quiet whimpers escaped his open jaws. Applejack stood by the barn door, watching the trembling wolf. She was no animal psychologist, but she had the common sense to know that this creature was scared. Winona was at her side, watching Splinter's strange mental escapade unfold. Applejack had resolved to bring Winona along with her for protection, in case the monster tried to do to her what it did to her brother, but at the moment it seemed like the only one it would hurt was itself. Splinter's whining grew louder. To Applejack it was nothing more than an aggravating noise, to Winona, however, it was something far more horrifying.
"They're burning, oh god, they're fucking burning..."
The small pup raced through the blazing forest. This was more than just a forest fire, this was hell on earth. Burning trees slumped to the ground with heavy thumps, crushing those below before they even had the chance to scream. Animals shot out of the flaming bushes and scorched plantations, grisly burn marks plastering their bodies. Some would collapse to the ground and devolve into a quivering wreck, their minds destroyed by the copious amounts of pain, others would carry on, dragging their torched carcasses onwards in a hopeless attempt to save themselves. All of them screamed, oh by Drathgurg, they screamed. He would try his best to ignore them, to block them out, but he simply couldn't. Nothing deserved to die like that. Some would emerge from the raging inferno completely encased in fire, like some horrid, wailing demon that had clawed its way out of hell to admire the catastrophe before collapsing to the ground, their screaming slowly ebbing away into nothingness as the life left their ruined bodies. Not him, oh god, not him. He didn't want to die, not like that, please god, don't let him go like that. Run. Don't stop, just run.
Keep running, just keep running.
The pup worked his spindly little legs harder than he'd ever worked them before. The fire had to end somewhere, the chaos couldn't carry on forever, it had to stop somewhere. But what if the inferno didn't end? He'd been running so hard his soles were beginning to bleed, why hadn't he escaped from this hell?
He began to slow down. He'd exhausted the last of his energy. That was it. He was going to die here, no, not just die, but burn as well. There would be nothing left of him but ash. Tears began to flow from his stinging eyes as he threw his forelegs over his head and prepared himself for his slow, torturous end.
My eyes snap open, and I'm greeted with the barn ceiling. A dream... It was just a dream... Just an effed up, crazy dream. Am I shaking? Yep, I'm shaking. Damned nightmares, there all I ever get. I would kill for a decent fantasy every now and then, but alas, my mind seems to have a fetish for scaring the shit out of me whenever I go to sleep.
BLOODY HELL! Damned roosters are hell-bent on giving a heart attack. There was one back at that winged ponies cottage and there's one here as well. The loud mouthed beaked pricks are everywhere! It's a conspiracy, obviously.
I guess I should get up now, I've got a busy day ahead of me. Oh wait, no I don't, because my fucking leg's gone! Yeah, I'm still pissed off about that, if someone took one of your limbs, you would be too. So now what do I do? I don't believe that a crippled timber wolf's day is exactly 'eventful'.
Well, I guess catching a bite to eat wouldn't be a bad place to start. However, that might be kind of difficult, being locked in a barn and all.
It was then I noticed the two silver bowls lying in front of me, one filled with water, the other with... Rat droppings? No, this stuff actually smells too bad to be a bowl full of turds. They're... kind of like little brown rocks... Dried rat droppings? That still didn't explain the stench. Wait a sec, why does it say my name on those bowls? The word 'Splinter' was scrawled across the two bowls in black ink. Judging by the shoddiness of the writing, I'm guessing it was written by that little foal, Applebloom. Then again, my captors are a family of hicks, so I doubt that any of their mouthwriting would be better than a newborn foal's. Heck, it was a wonder that any of them knew how to write at all.
Hold on... It's a bowl, it has my name on it, it's full of... stuff, and I'm hungry. Is this supposed to be... food?
I've eaten a lot of disgusting crap in my time, including actual crap , but there is no way I'm putting that in my mouth.
"What's wrong, ain't ya hungry, y'all seemed starved when ya decided ta take a bite outta mah brother."
The barn door had been opened, sunlight pouring into the room. Applejack stood in the middle of the entrance, casting a large, foreboding shadow over me. Winona sits at her side, expressionless. When the heck did those two show up, I swear that door was closed a minute ago, fricking stealthy hillbillies.
"Well, ain't ya gunna eat?"
Somepony needs to take a chill pill.
"Winona, would you kindly explain to me what this crap is?" I ask kindly (bitches love it when you as kindly).
A small yet devious smile crosses her lips. "That there's yer breakfast, partner." She answers smuggly. Hm, this must be her way of getting me back for those mind blowingly awesome pick up lines I had dropped on her earlier. She is so mean... And i'm okay with that.
"This is food?" No wonder Winona is so uptight, if I had to eat this spew I'd be pissed off twenty four seven as well...
"Well, what're ya waitin' for? Dig in!" spits Applejack, her eyes narrow slits and her mouth contorting into an angry frown. You know what? Screw her! Her brother sucker punched me in the face, and I'm the bad guy? Nope! I'm not having that, time to teach this stetson wearing trailer trash a lesson.
With a flick of my nose, I flip the bowl over, it's vile smelling contents scattering across the floor. Dig in to that, bitch.
Applejack's frown twisted into an evil snarl. "Gah! Y'all are nothin' but an ungrateful varmint! Fluttershy shoulda jus' left ya ta die!"
'Oh, my poor widdle feewings!' What, was that the best she could come up with? The old 'You should go die' routine? Does she have any idea how unoriginal she's being? Does she even know if I can understand her? If she hates me so damned much, then why the fuck did she take me in? This whole thing is just so stupid! I just... I just...
"FUCK YOU! Maybe your WHORE of a friend SHOULD have just left me! What the FUCK makes you think that I'd want to fricking LIVE LIKE THIS! How about you do me a favour and fucking KILL ME! I can see that you damned well want to, so COME ON! FUCKING KILL ME! KILL ME YOU BITCH! If you want me dead so bad how about YOU COME OVER HERE AND FUCKING. KILL. ME!"
So yeah, I lost my cool for a second. Sadly, all Applejack could hear was frenzied barking, so my little outburst was more or less meaningless to her. Winona, however, had adopted a somewhat shocked expression. Whatever, I just really had to get that off of my chest. These ponies needed to understand that I didn't want to be saved. To be honest, I'd rather die than live as a pet.
Applejack turned and walked away, muttering to herself about how I was a 'monster' and how 'evil' I was. Up hers, I didn't ask to be dragged into any of this. Winona stayed rooted to the floor, still staring at me with surprise. What's up with her, hasn't she ever been on the receiving end of a rant before? Hot or not, I hate it when someone stares at me, it makes me feel vulnerable, and in the wild, vulnerability means death.
"Just what the hell are you staring at?" I snap.
Surprisingly, she actually recoils slightly at my words. It's almost as if she's frightened of me, strange, seeing as she was threatening to tear me to shreds only yesterday.
"Did ya really mean all that? Do ya really think ya would be better off dead?" She sounds worried, I can't begin to fathom why. She's known me for less than a single day, and the closest thing we've had to a conversation was a couple of failed cat calls from yours truly.
"Yes." I reply almost instantly. It's like I said earlier, what's the point in living if you can't do what you were made to do? I've become useless, and in my opinion, that's a fate worse than death. I would have preferred to die a wolf rather than live as a freak.
"... Ah... Ah can't allow that."
What? What does she mean she 'can't allow that'? Does she have a strict 'no emo' policy or something?
She sighed to herself, her posture stiffening and her face once again becoming an expressionless mask "As much of a foul-mouthed, stubborn-as-a-mule, pain in the neck y'all are, ah'm not just gonna let y'all wallow in ya own sadness fer the rest of ya days."
So let's get this straight, I'm virtually a stranger to her, she hates my guts, I've mauled one of her owners, and she wants to help me? Equestrian logic in a nutshell.
"Hate to disappoint you, ma'am, but I doubt there's much you could do to cheer me up." Actually, that's a lie, there are several things she could do to make me very happy, if you catch my drift.
"And just what's that supposed to mean?" Oh my, it seems like I've gone and rustled her Jimmies.
"I'm just saying, I don't think you're capable of-"
"Well maybe y'all say too much! A'hm gonna SHOW y'all that life's worth livin, whether ya like it or not!"
Well, that escalated quickly.
Winona stormed out of the barn about an hour ago, demanding that I meet her at around four o'clock, which is going to be kind of hard seeing as I don't have access to a clock. I tried to explain this to her, but alas, she's an ignorant bitch, and a sexy one, at that. I mean, she's the kind of tail that a pack alpha would chase after... If she was a timber wolf, that is. You see, we're generally not supposed to couple with other species. It 'dirties' the gene pool, as my former alpha would say (he was an absolute dick, if you were wondering). In fact, merely interacting with other creatures was frowned upon, and actually mating with one was considered a crime worthy of banishment from the pack.
And, like I've said countless times before, a lone wolf is a dead wolf.
But hey! The good is that now that I'm officially a tripod, they'd never take me back regardless, meaning I'm free to screw anything I want! Every cloud has a silver lining, eh? Maybe this means I'll get to find out why dogs love humping ponies legs so much firstpaw. Yeah, I'm perverted. Deal with it.
Applebloom stands beside me with what looks like a bundle of rope clutched in her mouth. Hold up... How did she...? I was watching the barn door the whole time and... But... I was just... You know what, I'm not even going to try to understand it. Hillbillies are ninjas, end of story.
"Mah sis doesn't want me hangin' around with y'all, cus yer a monster an all that" She lets the rope unfurl, revealing it to be what looks like some sort of noose. So she's going to kill herself? "but then ah thought, 'even a monster needs a good walkin' every now an' then'!" Oooooh, I see what she's driving at, for a moment I thought she was going all suicidal on me, which would have been terrible. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy seeing things die as much as the next guy... It's just... well... I don't want it to happen to her... For some reason or another...
"Now, we gotta be reeeeeaaal quiet-like, cus ah'll get grounded seven ways till sunday if anypony sees us together."
Ooohohohoooh, so I'm going to get to see those ninja skills of hers up close. Time to activate stealth mode!
Big Macintosh was in no way a smart pony. Wise, perhaps, but definitely more than a stone's throw from smart. He did, however, have enough common sense to know when he did something wrong. He had spent the last day in the Ponyville hospital infirmary with nopony other than the charming (and, although he daren't tell her, beautiful) nurse Redheart, who'd bring him his foul, disgusting meals. In all honesty, he'd brought this on himself. Granny Smith had taught him good and proper to always think before he acted, a lesson that he'd obliviously ignored. If he had spared a few more seconds to analyse the situation before charging in head first, he wouldn't be lying here. Then again, what if the danger had been genuine? What if that wolf was wild, untamed and hungry? He wouldn't have had the time to spare to think, only to act, surely that justified him smacking the timber wolf in the face... Didn't it?
'No.' Rasped a miniscule voice in the back of his brain 'If that thing had been wild, he would have ripped your sister's throat out like a dry weed from wet soil, and there would have been nothing you could do to stop it.'
He shook his head violently, dismissing the disturbing thoughts. Yes, it was true, if that wolf had wanted his sister dead he would have killed her before she even set foot on the barn. But it didn't, and that's what matters. Everypony is safe and nopony got hurt (save for him, of course). Still, the mere fact that the timber wolf could have killed his sister bothered him immensely. He was her big brother, and it was his duty to protect her. If anything were to happen to her, he'd never be able to forgive himself.
Regardless, he had made a mistake, hurt an innocent animal, and paid the price for it. That wolf had every right to do what it did to him, although, he would have preferred it if it had taken its revenge in a little less... permanent manner. Big Mac flexed his bandaged foreleg, blotches of red spouting up through the white cloth as he did so. There was no doubt that the wound would leave a scar, and a nasty one at that. Oh well, scars were just a way of showing that you've put your body to good use. Besides, from what he'd heard, a lot of mares liked a rugged stallion.
He smiled to himself. With any luck, nurse Redheart was into that sort of thing.
"Ssshh, we're gonna have ta be extra quiet here, mah sis is right over there!" whispered Applebloom, pointing a cream coloured hoof towards Applejack, who was busy physically abusing an apple tree. She rammed her hind hooves into its trunk time and time again, leaving hoof shaped engravings embedded in the wood. Poor thing, what had it ever done to her?
Winona lay beside her, the rythmic beat of Applejack's hooves calming her as she basked in the morning sun. Great, Winona was high on sunlight and Applejack was preoccupied with beating the shit out of a tree, this should be a cake walk. I ready myself to sneak past the dynamic duo, kneading the dirt between my toes. Applebloom was... Wait, where the hell was Applebloom? With a quick scan of the surrounding orchard, I find my answer. The little red-maned filly was crawling silently past Applejack and Winona, her body flattened against the ground in a prone position. An interesting technique, but she needed to work on her speed. Any second now Applejack will turn around and-
"Applebloom? Jus what d'ya think ya doin'?"
Applejack was looking at her little sister with an expression that could only be described as a 'what the actual fuck' look. Applebloom merely laid there, her golden eyes staring into her sister's. The entire world seemed to remain motionless as the awkward silence dragged on, giving me just enough time to slip past without being seen. I promptly hid myself behind a nearby apple tree, my wooden carapace effectively acting as camoflage. I honestly couldn't wait to see how this turned out.
"Ah..." Applebloom's eyes quickly darted towards the makeshift lead in her mouth "Ah was jus' goin ta practice mah lassoin', t'was all..."
They use lassos? Oh, the hickness, the overwhelming hickness.
Applejack smiled warmly "Well ah'll be, mah little sis, takin' up the family tradition!" Her smile grew wider, showing off her pearly white teeth. Huh, and here I thought all hillbillies had terrible dental plans.
"Ah... Uh, yeah! That's it, ah'm practicin' mah lassoing!" stated Applebloom with newfound confidence.
"That's great, Applebloom. The lasso's been used by the Apple family fer generations! It's nice ta see y'all carryin' it on."
"Uh, yeah... Ah... Ah'm getting the hang of it." mumbled Applebloom, edging away from Applejack slowly.
"Say, how's about ya show me watcha learned?"
Applebloom's large pupils shrank into tiny black dots, and a worrisome grimace spread across her face.
"Uh... Okay then, ah guess..."
Applebloom clenched her jaw around her makeshift leash and shook it about vigorously. It was kind of like the rope was having an epileptic fit, pretty mesmerising, actually. Applebloom tossed the rope back and forth, pausing only for the occasional pathetic attempt at a twirl. Finally, as the icing on the cake, the 'lasso' slipped out of Applebloom's mouth caught her big sister around the neck.
Ten out of ten, a brilliant performance, you're going places, kid.
Applebloom smiled sheepishly as her sister frustratedly untangled herself from the rope and threw it to the ground.
"So... What did ya think?" asked Applebloom, now blushing from the embarrassment.
"Ah think y'all are gonna need that practice." Stated Applejack bluntly.
"Right" Said Applebloom with a wince "Ah guess ah should be gettin' on that right away then..." And with that, she picked up the lead and rushed off towards me. Applejack spared her a final glance before shaking her head in dissapproval and returning to her tree abuse.
Sneaky. Real sneaky...
The two of us journeyed onwards, eventually leaving the apple orchard behind, finding ourselves in a vast and expansive plain of rolling green hills, The occasional daffodil or flower spouting up from the ground. Far off in the distance several mountains could be seen, their snow capped peaks almost scratching the bright, blue sky. We were just outside of Ponyville's borders, the sounds of ponies going about their daily business barely reaching our ears. The fresh smells of nature tickled my nostrils, along with the sweet and strangely familiar scent of Applebloom. A light wind washed over my face, filling my nose with a myriad of new smells.
"Y'all jus' hold still now."
Without warning, Applebloom tossed the leash over my head and tightened it around my neck. Nope, I don't think so, I may be a deformed, ruined, broken and all around sorry excuse for a timber wolf, but I'm a timber wolf none the less, not some little filly's plaything. With a quick jerk of my body, I tear the leash away from Applebloom's grasp.
"Aww c'mon!" She whines, her ears flattening against her skull and her lower lip poking outwards.
I puff my chest out prestigiously and look the other way. Nope. Not happening.
"Pleeeease?" She scuttles into my line of sight and- oh gods... Those eyes! Her colossal, shimmering pupils were locked onto mine. Sweet Drathgurg, they're so- NO! don't look into the eyes! Look anywhere but the eyes!
"Purrty please?" She whimpered, her warm hooves brushing against my front paw ever so lightly. That touch... It felt so familiar. Oh come on, Splinter! You're a tough, no-shit, name-taking, ass-kicking predator of the wild! Just ignore her!
She sniffles slightly "But ah never got the chance ta walk a wolf before..." Oh god, her voice was cracking, she wasn't going to cry, was she? I sneak a peek down at the little bundle of hypnotic adorableness. Sure enough, her eyes were brimming with tears, and her lower lip began to quiver. Resist... Resist...
I lower my head in defeat and allow her to take hold of my leash. Her sadness vanishes instantly as she takes the lead in her mouth, and she returns to her normal, hyperactive state.
"Yay!" she squealed in childish glee. "Don't y'all worry, Splinter, ah'll be the best owner you could ever wish for! Ah'll feed ya, walk ya, play with ya-"
Wait a second, OWNER? When the heck did I agree to that? Hold on... when I let her take my lead... Did she think...?
Oh bugger, I've gone and given myself to a foal, haven't I?
What the hell do I do now? I'm not pet material! I can't live like that! Pets have to eat that shitty food ponies give them, they have to be obedient, that have to... go outside to pee... *shudder*. I can't do those things, I'm just plain not cut out for it. I'm a timber wolf, a wild animal, I wasn't made to be some pony's lapdog. I look back to Applebloom, who is still checking off all the duties she would fulfill.
"Pet ya, hug ya, clean up after ya-"
I have to give it to her, she has bravado. Not many fillies would be capable of acting so carefree whilst face to face with a predator as threatening as I was. She was brave, well, either that or incredibly stupid. She was tough, but at the same time, tender and caring. When she brushed her hooves against my paw a minute ago, I swore that I could actually feel her love.
And then it hit me.
Her sweet, almost sugary scent, her bravery, her hard-headedness, her compassion and love, her gentle, comforting touch...
She was just like my mother. My dear, sweet, dead mother.
Once again I look at her. She's staring up at the sun-lit, bright blue sky, fixated on the few wisps of cloud that populated it. A sudden gust of wind catches her mane and blows it into her face. She shakes her head briefly, getting the strands of strawberry red hair out of the way before returning to her cloud gazing, still ranting on about how she would love me, care for me and do her very best to make sure that I would never be alone again.
Okay... I guess I could give this whole pet thing a try.
Applebloom skipped cheerily back to the farm with her new pet in tow. To think, she was the proud owner of her very own pet. This was great, she finally had a pet, and a real one as well, not like that pet rock Applejack had given her for her last birthday, that thing didn't even eat the little biscuits or drink the water she periodically put out for it (although it was extremely talented at playing dead, staying still, and... well, being a rock). The other girls were going to flip when they found out! And who knows, Splinter might be able to bag them their cutie marks in wolf care. Celestia knows they tried everything else.
She cast a quick glance over her shoulder to catch another glimpse of her totally awesome pet. Despite his limp, he still managed to look proud, strong, and most of all, threatening. His hide was webbed with scars, the most noticeable of which was a pair of jagged grooves running across his face, beginning at the tip of his nose and leading across his face.
She could see why a lot of ponies would be afraid of him, in fact, even she got a little edgy when she was around him. But if you were willing to just overlook the scars, the razor-like teeth, the sharp claws, the yellow eyes and the way he looked at you hungrily from time to time, you'd find a perfectly normal, kind hearted puppy... Who just happened to kill and eat little animals. Admittedly, she was doubtful of him at first (particularly due to the gory mauling he gave her brother), but after that night at the barn, after how he almost seemed to cry when Sweetie Belle made that comment about his missing leg, and how he had accepted that apologetic hug, she could see that he was a far cry from those vicious monstrosities that Granny Smith mentioned in her bed time stories. He was just a lonely little pup with nopony to love him, but she could fix that.
Applebloom stops in her tracks, gives me a quick once over and returns to her skipping as if nothing had happened. Well, she's a quirky one alright. We had gone through our little walking session (or 'walkies', as she liked to call it) with staggering amounts of speed... Or rather, SHE did, I was more or less dragged along. It's actually kind of frightening how fast this little foal is, she's like a lightning bolt, a southern-accented lightning bolt wrapped in a frilly pink bow.
'I bet she tastes like her brother.'
What? Bad brain! She's a child, for Drathgurg's sake! But gods, I'm hungry. Well, I did skip on breakfast, but can you blame me? That miserable excuse for food smelt worse than a manticore's ass crack crammed full of chimp feces and ancient milk. Frankly, I'd rather go through death by starvation as opposed to putting that in my mouth. Don't get me wrong, I'm a survivor down to the bone, and I've crammed all kinds of horrid shit in my gob (and I mean all kinds), so my standards aren't exactly high, but there are things that even I'm not willing to eat. Oh well, I'm sure I'll find something edible at one point or another after I haul my wooden ass back to the farm...
But I'm hungry NOW!
I look back at Applebloom, who was still bouncing along like the energetic little nuisance she was. She was so lively, so healthy, 'so unsuspecting.'
'Come on, scarf the bitch.'
No... As appealing as it sounds, I hardly think my new owner's companions would take too kindly to me eating their youngest family member. Besides, I promised myself that I'd give these ponies a chance to impress me, and by Drathgurg, I'm a wolf of my word!
'No, you really aren't.'
... Good point.
Still, the image of being hunted down by a mob of angry technicoloured donkeys isn't a very appealing one, it would probably be for the best if I just-
A foreign scent wafted through the air, almost like... woodchippings? No... something living... Something familiar...
*Sniff sniff sniff*
That's the smell of...
*Sniff sniff snort sniff... snort*
"Come on Angel, it's time to go home" whispered a soft, elegant voice somewhere off in the distance, barely audible even to my ears.
Angel wriggled against Fluttershy's delicate hooves as she carefully picked him up and went to plop him back into her deep green saddlebags. Did he look like a Chihuahua? Well maybe... But that didn't mean he liked being hauled around in a bag! Ever since he'd wandered off into Everfree forest she had been keeping him suffocatingly close, he couldn't as much as take a dump without her watchful eyes staring him down. 'I mean c'mon, at least let a bunny do his business in privacy!'. So he had screwed up once, big deal! So he got lost for a couple of hours, whoop-de-doo! So he was hunted by a ravenous timber wolf, so what? Everyone makes mistakes once in a while, besides, it's not like he was going to run into any wolves out here!
As if on cue, a three legged, yellow eyed demon came charging wildly over a nearby hill, a small filly flapping about behind it, tangled in a rope wrapped around the beast's neck.
Was that... No! It couldn't be...
Angel delivered a firm kick to Fluttershy's foreleg 'LET ME GO, OH FOR THE LOVE OF EQUESTRIA LET ME GO!' Fluttershy dropped him with a pained squeak. She cradled her bruised foreleg to her chest, her eyes squeezed shut, little droplets already beginning to spout from them.
He didn't wait around for the tears.
"ITS COMING FOR ME! OH SWEET CELESTIA ITS COMING FOR ME!"
There it is! The little bastard (or bitch, I'm still not too sure on its gender yet)! That's the mangy S.O.B that cost me my leg! Its pale white ears drooped lifelessly and it's beady black eyes flared with terror as I sounded my mighty battle cry.
Yeah! That's right, run you delicious little dick! Give me a challenge!
I doubled my pace, which was still painfully slow compared to my usual speed. Briefly, I doubted my abilities to actually catch this damned rabbit, what with only three legs and all. To hell with it, disabled or not, i'm hunting this hellspawn of a bunny down, and then, i'm gonna eat the bastard, feet first!
I'm coming for you, asshole!
Angel blasted through the field and back towards Ponyville, surely the wolf wouldn't follow him there. Splinter held the gap between the two of them (three, if you counted Applebloom, who was now screaming incoherently), denying his prey any distance.
Lacking one of his forelegs, he had to compensate by pushing himself even harder, meaning his stamina would suffer. Luckily for him, though, the blind rage and fury that he felt numbed the burning in his muscles and the metallic, coppery tinge in the back of his throat. He could feel pain later, now was the time for killing.
"Your ass is mine you fuzzy little FUCK!"
There! Fluttershy's cottage! If Angel could just stay ahead of the wolf until he reached it, he'd be in the clear. Fluttershy had thoughtfully added a 'bunny flap' to her front door so that Angel could go outside to poop (she had it installed after the umpteenth time he'd used her sink as a toilet). It was no bigger than your average cat flap, the perfect escape route! He glanced over his shoulder to check on the wolf's progress. Oh dear bunny-gods! How the heck did that thing move so fast? The monster's teeth were bared in a ferocious, curved snarl, thick ropes of stringy saliva hanging out of its mouth. Its maw was an evil hole of jagged, yellowing teeth, like it had decided to go and chomp down on a pane of glass. Briefly, Angel tried to imagine how it would feel to become chow for such a monstrosity.
'It's no use running, Angel, because it'll catch you in the end. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day. It's lost a limb and it's still coming for you, and you know it won't stop until it gets what it wants, and it just so happens that it wants you. It'll scoop you up in those big, vice-like jaws and eat you up. Those plaque stained shards will burrow themselves extra deep into your back and strip away a nice big slab of meat, and you'll be left alive, left alive to watch.'
'Screw that!' screamed Angel mentally as he kicked himself into overdrive. He worked his legs relentlessly, his veins and capillaries virtually clogging with adrenaline. Slowly but surely, the wolf began to shrink back into the horizon. He could do this! Just a little farther, he was almost there!
Angel burst through the bunny flap, skittering across the floor and slamming headfirst into the wall before collapsing. His vision erupted into light, his entire body becoming numb and stiff. The only sound that he could hear was the frenzied slamming of his heart and his deep, ragged breaths.
'I made it... I actually made it... I-'
A nearby window exploded inwards as the dreaded timber wolf ploughed it's way through it, the foal bound by the rope around its neck following in suit. Its wooden body clattered against the floor as it landed beside him on its side. It quickly got back on its paws, swaying from left to right uneasily. Hide! He had to hide! Angel firmly ordered himself to get back onto his feet, he had to, lest he become this thing's lunch. He bit down on his lips with his buck teeth as he dragged himself to the closest hiding position: underneath a nearby dresser. Movement alone was torture, however the alternative was by no doubt far more excruciating.
"Where the hell are you?" barked the wolf cruelly. The little filly hastily untangled herself from the rope, her mane dishevelled and her eyes wide with shock, she was shaking wildly, the chattering of her teeth audiable from across the room. The poor thing looked ready to faint.
"I know you're in here somewhere, don't think for a second that you can hide from me!"
Angel scurried further beneath the dresser, burying himself into the plush, grey clouds of dust bunnies. It... He... would never find him here. Here was safe, he'd never check beneath the dressers. Of course he wouldn't... Why would he? There was nothing beneath here, why would a big bad wolf check here of all places? Yes, he was safe... He was safe...
'Oh please, Celestia, let me be safe'
*Sniff sniff* "I can smell you, you son of a bitch! The longer it takes me to find you, the longer i'll take to kill you!"
The wolf began to circle menacingly around the room, his claws clicking against the floor, the sound beating into Angel's ears and stabbing into his heart, each individual 'click' hammering another nail into his coffin.
*Click... Click... Click...*
"I'm going to find yooooouuuuu Sang the wolf with a sick giggle.
*Click... Click... Click*
Quietly, the wolf began to hum a disturbingly jolly tune to himself. It was happy... abnormally happy. It was as if the wolf he was ridiculing Angel, taunting him with song. The humming grew louder, filling the cottage, but still not loud enough to drown out the daunting click of his claws.
The wolf began to sing.
"Run rabbit, run rabbit, run, run, run"
*Click... Click... Click*
"Don't let the wolf have his fun, fun, fun"
*Click... Click... Click*
"You'd best fly, or else you're gonna die"
*Click... Click... Click*
"So run rabbit, run rabbit... run."
A wooden paw slammed down directly in front of the dresser with a resounding thud, sending a cringeworthy chill down Angel's back. 'Move... Please, for the love of Celestia don't stop here, just keep on walking, please...'. It didn't know he was here... It couldn't. The wolf let out a mirthless laugh.
"I can hear your heartbeat."
The wolf shunted the dresser aside with his snout, casting it across the room. His fiery yellow eyes bored into Angel, glaring at him hungrily. An evil smile hung upon the wolf's scarred face, his lips drawn back, revealing his blade-like teeth. So, this was how it ended? Grub for a timber wolf?
Despite his gut wrenching terror, Angel couldn't help but feel the tiniest bit disappointed that his life didn't flash before his eyes.
"Just make it quick." squeaked Angel before fainting overdramatically (if he was going to die, he was going to die with style).
Huh, well I'll be damned, the fluffy asshole can talk. You learn something new every day, eh? I feel like I should be shocked, or at least a little bit surprised, but honestly, what does it matter? So my food can speak, big deal, it ain't going to stop me from eating it. Shame the little fella gone and fainted though, now I don't get to ignore his pleas for mercy. Ah well, a meal is a meal, and I'm famished!
"Bon appetit, motherfucker."
"You step away from Angel Bunny this instant!" blares an insanely loud voice from behind me. Sweet Drathgurg, somebody has one hell of a set of lungs!
I turn to meet this pony/megaphone, coming face to face with an all too familiar mare. Milkshake pink mane, creamy yellow coat, and teal eyes... Woah, those eyes... They're so... eye-y. Wait, I can't move! Why can't I- eeeeeyyyyesss... Gah! No, resist! Resist the eyes! But they're so big and... Big. Really big. Super-duper-techno-trooper big. Why? Why are they so god damned humongous? And why do I feel so sleepy? Heh, i'm like... The sleepiest I've ever been right now. I need a power-nap...
I collapse onto the floor, the world spinning in circles.
This is like cockatrice meat all over again.
The pup laid stoically upon the mound of deathly grey ash that he used to call home. He would scream if his throat wasn't so painfully dry. his young face was matted with soot, and burnt out cinders clung to his body. Everything was gone, everything. The fire had all but destroyed the once grand and marvelous forest. It used to be the pinnacle of beauty, a brilliant masterpiece painted by nature and life. It used to be so colourful, so alive.
Now it was nothing but dead.
The once proud and green pine trees were now nothing more than pitch black pillars reaching up out of the bare, crispy dirt. The deep red roses and lively, yellow daffodils were gone along with the moist, fresh spring grass. Now, the earth was barren and colourless, save for the occasional ember, still smouldering on the ground, as if unsatisfied with the colossal amount of life it had already consumed, still calling out for more. The exotic and exciting scents of the wild had been replaced by the vile, nauseating stench of burning wood and flesh. The wonderfully varied wildlife was gone, their only remnants the twisted and fried corpses which littered the wasteland, all burnt beyond recognition.
The pup opens his mouth to speak, but all that comes out is a dry croak, followed by a fit of hoarse, throaty coughing. He tries again, but the words catch in his throat, as if refusing to leave the refuge of his mouth and wander out into the empty, lifeless plain that used to be so glorious. He gives it one more try, forcing the words out of his dry, throbbing throat.
"Mum? Dad? Anybody?"
His feeble calls lead him into another bout of violent coughing, this time speckles of soot stained blood flicking from his mouth as he wheezed. He rests his quivering head in his forelegs, his gleaming yellow eyes staring off into the distance. Everything was charred, as far as the eye could see. He was alone. Completely and utterly alone. A single tear crawls down his face, cutting through the soot that clung to his cheeks.
"I want my mum..."
From the safety of the forest, they watched. They watched him from afar as he slinked past the orange pony, they watched as the foal had thrown a lead (the very symbol of imprisonment and disgrace) over his head, and they watched as he offered, offered himself to the filly before giving chase to small, white rabbit . It was all so weak, so pathetic, so degrading.
A quadruplet of timber wolves lay intertwined with the shrubs and greenery of Everfree, invisible to the former hunter and his equine oppressor. Through each of their minds ran the same, unanswerable question: How could he? To be captured and withheld was dishonourable enough, but to accept it? The squad rose to their paws and darted away into the dark confines of the forest, leaving a lone wolf to watch over their former pack member.
The boss needed to hear about this.
"Phu-leaaase! Pleasepleasepleaseplease!" begged Applebloom, sitting on her haunches and holding her hooves together as if in prayer.
The second the wolf had hit the ground, Applebloom had jumped to Fluttershy's side (scaring her into giving a startled 'eep') and began pleading her to not tell anypony about her and the wolf, especially not Applejack.
Fluttershy instinctively hid behind her mane. Begging? Nopony ever begged her before. Still, it didn't change the fact Applebloom had done something ridiculously dangerous, and Applejack had to know all the same. 'I mean, she could have been seriously hurt, or even...' Fluttershy dismissed the thought briskly, the thought of poor little Applebloom actually getting killed made her blood run cold and her bone marrow freeze over. She cast a quick sideways glance at the timber wolf, sleeping soundly on her cottage floor. 'Just think about what those teeth could do to a filly!' No, she couldn't let this stand, Applejack would have to know...
Then again, Applebloom did look rather upset.
"Please Fluttershy, ah'm beggin' ya, beggin' ya! Don't tell nopony!"
"Applebloom, what were you even doing with him, if- if you don't mind me asking, that is?"
"He's mah new pet." answered Applebloom, putting a hoof to her chest and smiling pridefully.
"Oh, well, I... Don't think that's a very good idea." Whimpered Fluttershy, her voice getting fainter and fainter by the syllable.
"Awww c'mon," moaned Applebloom "ah promise ah'll be careful, pleeease?"
"I'm sorry, but it's not... safe. I- I don't... Really... Think that you should-"
"Pleaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa *inhale* aaaaaase?"
Fluttershy began to twiddle her hooves together awkwardly. It really wasn't safe to have a foal running about with a timber wolf on a leash, in fact, it was surprising Applebloom hadn't been hurt already. But then again, she did say it was her pet, and she couldn't take away another pony's pet, could she? No, she could never bring herself to do something so heartless. But then again, she didn't want to be responsible for a little filly getting herself eaten either. Surely it would be for the greater good if she just told Applejack and be done with it, besides, Applebloom already had a pet rock, didn't she?
"I'm sorry, but Applejack would really want to know, and, well, I don't think you should be keeping him as a pet after... After what he did to your brother." Fluttershy shuddered as she said the last part. It was frightening to think that a stallion so big could be hospitalised by an animal so, well, crippled. It was even more frightening to know that said animal was in the same room as her. Another shiver ran down her spine as she thought of all the ways such a creature could hurt her. If it could put Big Mac in the hospital, she doubted it would have much trouble putting her in the morgue. She didn't even want to think about what it could do to Applebloom. She puffed out her chest and put on the best 'serious face' she could.
"No." she said bluntly "That wolf is a dangerous animal, and I don't want you getting anywhere near it". Wow, she said that? She took a moment to revel in her pride. Her being assertive was a rare occasion to say the least, but every time she was she it counted it as a small victory over her meekness.
"But... Ah already gave im' a name." croaked Applebloom, her eyes now brimming with tears "Ahn... Ah've never really had a pet before..."
Oh no, she didn't want to make anypony cry, she just wanted what was best for Applebloom, was all. 'But is this really what's best for her? Taking away her new pet?' It had to be done, the wolf wasn't a pet, it was a predator, surely she couldn't let a foal keep an animal as naturally bloodthirsty as a timber wolf! But then again, Applebloom had been alone with him all the way over to her cottage, if it wanted to... do anything to her, it would have done it already, wouldn't it have?
Besides, she had already given it a name.
Fluttershy sighed in defeat, she just plain didn't have it in her to break a filly's heart.
"Okay... I- I won't tell..."
Applebloom beamed with joy *gasp* "Really? Really really?
Fluttershy gave a small nod of confirmation.
The young filly squealed with excitement, hopping up and down on the spot with giddiness.
"On one condition."
"Huh?" Applebloom paused her hopping in midair (something Fluttershy thought was exclusive to Pinkie Pie) and stayed there for a couple of seconds before falling flank-first to the floor with a soft 'thump'.
"Y-you have to tell me all about him." said Fluttershy with a warm smile.
She kept her eyes fixated upon the cottage door, her body buried within the long grass. Her pack brothers had demanded that she stay behind and observe the traitorous cur. 'Observe', what nonsense! She was a hunter, a killer, petty 'observations' were below her. She had been trained to kill, and by the gods, she was going to kill. This scum had tarnished the name of his very species, let alone his pack. Payment was due, and she was the one who was going to cash in the cheque. She inched closer, wary of any sudden movements. As she closed in on the cottage she began to slow down. Whoever lived here kept a lot of animals, a real lot. Chickens lay roosting in a coop, and several flamboyant birds rested on perches set up around the cottage. Spooking them would be a bad idea. Murder became a lot harder once your target knew you were there. The faint voices of ponies could be heard from inside the building.
"-An mah friends played with 'im an all!"
"He... sounds really nice, Applebloom."
"Yeah, he does, don't he? But, ah've got a lil' problem."
"Well, when ah gone ta take 'im out, ah noticed his food was all over the floor. He hadn't even touched it!"
"Oh... Well, Applebloom, um... You see, timber wolves don't eat dog food. Their diets consist of, well, other things."
"... Umm other animals."
"Didn't quite catch that."
"Oh... So, he has ta eat meat?"
The huntress dropped her jaw in disbelief. Were these ponies really so blind and ignorant that they actually forgot that timber wolves were strictly predatory? A creature as moronic as these equines didn't deserve the life the gods had bestowed upon them. Something so weak was never meant to survive. They tainted nature's land with their brick dens and cobblestone paths. They insulted the gods by ignoring them, instead putting their faith into their false deities, the pretentious 'princesses' who hid away in their stone city in the mountains. They enslaved the gods' subjects with leashes and cages, robbing them of their freedom and their dignity. Their entire species was a filthy stain on the face of the world, a stain that she took upon herself to cleanse.
Starting with these two.
Applebloom trotted through the cottage door, hauling an unconscious Splinter behind her. She'd tied her DIY leash around his hind legs in a basic knot. If there was one thing she was good at, it was tying knots. It was surpisingly helpful in her day to day, cutie mark hunting life. Luckily, he was surprisingly light, which meant that dragging him was a cinch. Fluttershy followed her closely, her worried eyes fixed on the timber wolf. Had using 'the stare' been a bit too much? After all, the poor thing was probably starving! All it wanted was a little food. Well, hunger wasn't going to be a problem anymore, seeing as she was wearing a pair of saddlebags stuffed full of carnivorous animal feed (which was imported from the griffon lands due to Equestria's strict animal rights laws). She silently told herself off for forgetting to give the feed to Applejack in the first place. There were literally dozens of animals in and around her house, meaning that there was commonly tons of work to do, ergo plenty to remember. She couldn't be blamed for forgetting one or two things, could she?
The wolf grunted softly as Applebloom dragged him face-first through the dirt. Fluttershy could only hope that being hauled by a filly didn't hurt too much.
She spared a quick glance at her beloved animals which she kept in her front garden. They seemed... Alert, as if something was amiss. It was almost like they were frightened. The birds scanned the surrounding fields, some staring intently into the dark expanses of Everfree forest, sort of like they were expecting something to slink out from behind the towering pine trees. The chickens hid away in their coop, and the numerous ferrets and mice who were usually scampering across the ground had stopped in their tracks, heads snapping back and forth on the lookout for any kind of movement. Suddenly, Fluttershy found herself feeling a little bit uneasy herself. Everything was just a little too peaceful. She shook it off and continued to follow Applebloom. Of course her precious animals were scared, a timber wolf was being dragged through her garden, after all. 'Yes, that's what has them spooked, they're just a little unsure about Applebloom's pet, is all' she told herself, although not really believing it.
She never saw the pair of bright yellow eyes staring at her in contempt from the nearby grass.
The yellow pony moved away, following her smaller friend and her new 'pet'. Now was the time to move. She slinked out of the long grass, taking care to stay out of the other animals' line of sight. The two ponies picked up speed, moving at a steady trot towards the nearby pony settlement. It was surprising how fast the smaller one could go whilst towing a fully grown (minus one leg) timber wolf behind her. Why the gods had blessed such pathetic creatures with so much strength was beyond her, but then again, the gods worked in mysterious ways. No matter, the filly's strength wouldn't save her.
She ducked back into the long grass. She'd cut them off further down the path, and then she'd find out if that filly was as tasty as she was strong.
She moved with speed, her footsteps virtually silent. Her targets were getting closer to the pony town by the second, they'd be untouchable once they entered its perimeters. If she was going to kill them, she would have to do it fast. She came to an abrupt halt before diving into a nearby bush. This would do. She was now ahead of the two ponies, and the bush that she had chosen to hide in was only a couple of feet away from the pathway. A plan formed in her head immediately. Seeing as the pegasus could fly and therefore escape, she would be her priority target. With any luck she would be able to get her jaws around the pegasus' neck before she had time to react. As for the foal, well, her stubby little legs wouldn't be able to outrun hers, and the traitor was, from the looks of it, asleep, making him an easy target. To sum it up, she'd have them all dead within the minute.
"I know what you're thinking, Serrah, and I'm telling you now, don't do it."
Her heart skipped a beat as a familiar voice broke the silence.
"By the gods" she gasped "you nearly gave me a heart attack! Explain yourself!" She turned to face the timber wolf that thought it was a good a good idea to sneak up on her, of all wolves. One of her pack brothers stood behind her with a huge, condescending grin stretched across his face. 'Fricking smart ass'.
"Boss says we leave them alone... For now."
Leave them alone? LEAVE THEM ALONE? They soiled the name of their pack, and they were just going to leave them alone?
"That's preposterous! They disgrace us with their very existence, and we're seriously going to let them live?"
To Serrah's mild surprise, her pack brother began to chuckle.
"Don't you worry your pretty little head, Serrah. The boss knows what he's doing, he always knows what he's doing."
The steady trotting of hooves could be heard off in the distance.
"Get down!" snapped Serrah, quickly lowering herself to her haunches. Her pack brother scrambled to the ground beside her, peeking out between the leaves of the bush. Sure enough, the pair of ponies soon trotted into view, the traitor still being towed along by the filly. They were so close, so open to attack, yet she was unable to take action. She growled to herself in fierce frustration as the ponies pranced freely through her ambush point. There goes her kill.
"I had them... I damned well had them."
"No need to fret, Serrah, I'm sure you'll get your chance sooner or later." Said the pesky wolf dismissively.
Hell yes she'd get her chance. She raised herself to her paws once the ponies were out of sight. She'd get her chance real soon. Nobody disgraced her pack, nobody.
For innumerable days and nights, the young timber wolf walked. He dragged himself through the lifeless wasteland of ash and embers, and back into livelier lands, where the forest remained untouched by the ravaging inferno that had swallowed up his home. The forest used to be so comforting and homely to him, but now, without a pack, everything seemed so alien. There was nobody left to watch over him, nobody there to cradle him when the sun went down and the winds grew strong. Being alone was all so new to him, and so terrifying. He wasn't strong like his dad, nor was he nimble like his mother, he was simply the runt, the unwanted little weakling. He was weak, defenceless and most of all starving. If something had wanted him dead, he wouldn't have put up much of a challenge. He barely had enough strength to stand, let alone fight.
However, in a strange kind of way, he almost wished that something would just jump out of the bushes and kill him already. Dying would just be so much easier, and starvation was already beginning to drain his life away anyways. Perhaps, if he prayed extra hard to the gods, they would grant his wish and send a manticore his way. Maybe death wouldn't be so bad. It could be like falling asleep, or even waking up. Yes, waking up from a terrible nightmare, safe in the knowledge that it was all just some warped dream. Could this be a nightmare?
No, nightmares had the courtesy to end.
The steady roar of gushing water caught the half-dead pup's attention. He had gone the past two days drinking nothing but his own saliva, which had coincidently dried up not long ago. He licked his lips with his bone dry tongue in anticipation. With great effort, he began to crawl towards the noise, the rumble of the distant waterfall willing him onwards.
As he edged closer, the sound grew louder, and his desperation grew stronger. With a final push he tumbled through the thick shrubs and bushes in front of him, revealing a tremendous river which seemed to go on for an eternity, winding through the forest like a vein of liquid crystal, gleaming and shimmering under the sunlight.
A couple more minutes of agonised struggling later, and the pup soon found himself staring into the rushing water, his unclear blur of a reflection looking back at him. With a heavy sigh of relief, the young timber wolf plunged his maw into the stream, lapping up the water so fast his throat began to sting. He came up, gasping for air, before dunking his head into the river once more. It seemed as if death wasn't ready for him after all. Not yet, anyways.
Applebloom slipped silently through the orchard, dragging the unconscious wolf behind her. Luckily, Applejack was on her break, napping underneath one of her beloved apple trees, which was a habit that she had picked up from Rainbow Dash. Hopefully nopony had checked the barn whilst she and Splinter were out on their walk around the outskirts of Ponyville. Applejack was a great sister and all, but she did tend to get a little... stressed when somepony disobeyed her orders. Once, Caramel (who worked on Sweet Apple Acres as a part-time employee) began harvesting the apples a day earlier than scheduled because he wanted to 'get a head start', as he put it. Applejack chewed him out for two hours straight and gave him a week's worth of night shifts to boot. The poor guy just stood there and took it on the chin.
To put it simply, when Applejack got mad, she got furious.
Applebloom dragged the limp wolf through the barn door and gently laid him to rest on the floor. Now that she thought about it, the floor was hardly a fitting bed for him. Meh, maybe she could get him a couple of towels, or a rug or something. Perhaps even a basket, like the one Winona had. Yeah, Splinter was bound to love that.
Well, at least she didn't have to worry about feeding him anymore. Fluttershy had agreed to drop off that weird wolf chow after Applebloom had snuck Splinter back into the barn. She was probably waking up Applejack right now, plopping her saddlebag full of meat down in front of her and insisting that she feed it to the Splinter so that he could stay 'nice and healthy'. If there was anypony who could talk about feeding chunks of a dead animal to your pet and sound adorable at the same time, it was Fluttershy. Heck, even Applebloom had a hard time competing with her, and she was a certified heart-warmer.
After motherly nuzzling Splinter's rough, wooden cheek, Applebloom skipped out of the barn with child-like innocence, brainstorming the different ways of how she could concoct a comfortable bed for her new pet. Could you earn cutie marks in bed making?
Winona had always considered herself a forgiving dog, within reason, of course. Whenever Applebloom hid her favourite chew toy and laughed whilst she spent hours on end trying to sniff it out. She let it slide, because in the end of the day it was just a game. When Applejack hauled her off to the vets to have some funny looking stallion jab the living crap out of her with sharp needles that supposedly stopped rabies, she would forgive her as well, because she was just concerned about her health. When Granny Smith forgot to feed her, she wouldn't take any notice of it, because Granny Smith was technically a relic, therefore bound to forget things here and there. She was a Granny after all, having the memory span of a goldfish was kind of in the job description. However, if there was anything that she found utterly inexcusable, it was tardiness.
And guess who was behind schedule.
She thought she had made it clear to that foul mouthed log of a canine, meet her here, four o'clock, on the dot. It was five, so she'd been waiting by the oak tree for about an hour. He actually had the moxy to stand her up. Did that cocky mound of kindling even want to learn about the joys of living? Probably not. Still, she gave him an appointment, an order, and nobody disobeyed her orders (the farm's cattle found that out the hard way).
Winona got up from the spot she had been waiting in, and briskly began to make her way towards the barn, her fury building with each step. When she was finished with him, there would be nothing left but a couple of wood shavings.
I wake up to the musical twitter of songbirds and the steady whir of a subtle summer breeze. Opening my eyes, I'm greeted with the lively green and deep brown of the forest. The sunlight weaves its way through the ceiling of leaves, coating the world with a warm, golden light. Everything from the mighty trunks of the trees to the grassy and damp ground is teeming with life. Beetles and ants scurry across the soil, sparrows and woodpeckers sit perched upon the branches and countless forms of wildlife strafe through the sun soaked bushes. It was all so colourful, so alive.
I realise almost immediately that I am home.
How did I get here? I left these lands long ago, ever since... actually, you know what? It doesn't matter, I'm here now, home. I don't know how I got here, and to be honest, I don't really care either. I'm back, reunited with my homeland, everything else is unimportant.
"You know, you can't laze around all day."
That voice... so stern, yet so soothing. There was only one wolf in the world whose voice was as delightful as that.
"Mum?" I ask, turning slowly on the spot. My jaw hangs open on its hinges as I face the wolf behind me. It's her. Oh gods, it's her. My mother sits before me, her head tilted ever so slightly to the side and her mouth curved in a warm and comforting smile. Her brilliant yellow eyes shine with motherly compassion, her innocent stare thick with the love only a parent can give.
"Mum? H-how are you... when did... how?"
She giggles heartily, a mirthful and joyous sound. I swear her laughter alone was enough to thaw the iciest of hearts.
"Oh, come now" She cooed, gracefully striding towards me "you don't have to worry about any of that, you're here now, and that's all that matters".
She raises a paw and gently lays it on my cheek. A single tear trickles down her face before she pulls me towards her and encompasses me in a loving hug.
"After all this time... you're back, you're finally back."
My eyes brim with tears as I return her sweet embrace. This was impossible, my parents died gods know how long ago, and my home died with them... yet here I am, my remaining foreleg wrapped tightly across the back of my dead mother's neck.
She tightened her grip, sliding a paw onto the back of my head and bringing it firmly into her chest. My ear flattens against her breast, and I can hear the rhythmic beating of her heart drumming away inside of her. She lowers her head to mine and whispers in her sweet, motherly voice.
I try to get back up and face her, but pushes me down. Hard.
"We raised you, loved you, wiped the shit from your backside, and this is how you repay us?"
The sound of my mother swearing was strange and unnatural. A voice as harmonious as that wasn't meant to be tarnished with foul language, it just sounded... wrong.
Suddenly, I realise that there were several things that didn't quite seem right. My mother's hug was never so tight, my home never used to be so colourful, the birds in the trees weren't moving, it was like some kind of elaborate set for a play. However, there was one thing that trumped all else, something that stood out above all the rest.
My mother, or whoever the hell this was, wasn't casting a shadow.
I pull away, this time harder, and thankfully tumble out of the imposter's grasp. Scrambling to my paws, I aim to put as much distance between me and... whatever the heck this thing is as possible.
"So, you're running away again?" growled my fake mother. "I knew you would, I damned well knew you would!"
I bolt off into the woods as fast as my legs can carry me. Slowly, the trees begin flake away and dissolve into clouds of grey ash, as if an unseen fire was ravaging them.
"Well, running won't do you any good here, you hear me you little shit?" Roars the voice of my mother "you'll burn, you hear me? Your going to fucking burn!"
It's just a dream, just a gods-damned dream. Oh please, for the love of Drathgurg, let it be a dream!
Winona closed in on the barn, her teeth bared and her ears flattened against her skull. She could smell the wolf's treacherous scent wafting through the air. He reeked of laziness, cowardice and... filly? Applebloom. Yes, that was it, he smelt like laziness, cowardice and Appl- wait.
Her heart sank into her gut and her entire body went numb as a horrifying realisation struck her.
Applebloom was alone with a timber wolf.
Winona's angry march broke into a terrified dash towards the barn. How could she let this happen? She was a guard dog, it was her job to make sure nopony went and got themselves killed! Dozens of images flashed through her mind, each depicting what that savage would do to poor little Applebloom. She could see it now, she'd burst through those doors and find the floor red and sticky with blood, little yellow limbs thown carelessly across the room and chunks of strawberry coloured scalp resting in small, crimson puddles. The wolf would be standing in the middle of the gory chaos with what little remained of Applebloom's shredded torso gripped in between his sharp, flesh-churning teeth.
In short, Winona wasn't a very positive thinker.
She bolted into the barn with such speed that she actually skidded across the floor and collapsed onto her side. Winona wasted no time getting to her paws, there could be lives at stake here. 'By Celestia, if he's so much as touched a hair on her head I'll-'
The wolf was laid out across the floor, convulsing violently. His jaws were clamped shut and his teeth were making a cringeworthy squeal as they grinded together. The sound made her skin crawl in disgust. It was vaguely similar to the sound of cutlery being dragged across a dinner plate (Big Mac had a horrible habit of doing that). She'd have to stop him before he turned his teeth in to dust.
'But would that really be such a bad thing?' Murmured the small, almost silent voice that was in the back of everypony's head. The one that tells you to light fires and laugh at the sick and dying, the little devil sitting on your shoulder, begging you to do something mean 'no teeth means no biting'
Winona briskly shook the thought from her head. Although she didn't like the foul mouthed varmint, she didn't exactly hate him either. Besides, she'd never sink that low. Flankhole or not, he was still an animal with thoughts and feelings.
'Yeah, he has thoughts alright. Remember the way he was staring at you this morning, oh! Or those things he'd said to you yesterday?'
Damn straight she remembered it, heck, it was pretty hard to forget someone telling you that 'your hips look very adequate for child bearing'. Somebody needed to teach this wolf to put a cork in it every now and then, to have some restraint, and to not go swearing his head off at the closest pony whenever he got a little agitated. It looked like that somebody was her.
The wolfmade a struggled and choking noise, as if drowning in his own saliva. Just what the heck was wrong with him, anyways? Was he having a fit or something? Do timber wolves even get fits? Regardless, it looked like he was in trouble, and she had the perfect idea to fix that.
She strode up to the fidgeting wolf and delivered a slap to the tip of his nose.
"-UST A DREAM!" wailed the wolf as he jerked upright fast enough to put that rainbow coloured pegasus who slept around in the apple trees to shame (Winona could never quite remember her name... Raindrop Runner or something? Bah! Stupid pony names).
Any anger Winona held for the wolf quickly dissolved into concern. First the muttering in his sleep, and now this? Just what the hay was he dreaming about that could give him such a scare? Something was wrong with him, and those scars on his face didn't just appear overnight. There was a story to this wolf, a dark one.
And in due time, she'd find it out.
Ever since the exhausted and famished pup had stumbled upon the river, he'd been reluctant to venture far from it. The woodlands were so thick that he doubted that he could ever find his way back if he got lost. This river was a miracle, a blessing from the gods, and blessings could be taken away as easily as they were given. Besides, there was little reason to leave the river's bank, anyways. He had water, creatures small enough for him to kill would come to drink, and the canopy of trees made an acceptable (albeit poor) shelter.
All that was missing was company...
As the sun melted away into the horizon and the pale moon rose up to take its place among the hordes of blinking stars, the pup took his place beneath the shade of a nearby pine tree. His thoughts drifted to his mother, and how she would encase him in a vice- like hug during nights as cold as these, soothing him with her warmth and lulling him to sleep with her rhythmic breath against the back of his head.
He snuggled up to the sap-stained trunk of a tree in a futile attempt to fill the void of his parent. Still, the wood gave him comfort, as it served as a subtle reminder that technically, he was never truly alone. There was life in the trees, albeit bleak and emotionless... However, they were company. Silent, and unloving company, but company nevertheless.
Serrah marched through Everfree, glowing with fury. What the hell was wrong with that old coot? The traitor had abandoned them, and her decaying relic of an alpha simply chose to sit back and let him walk away? Nonsense! It was about time she gave that rusty cretin a piece of her own mind. Alpha or not, nobody had the right to pardon deserters. The traitor's soul belonged to Netherthran and the fiery plains of hell, and she wasn't about to let someone rob the gods of their belongings... even if that someone was her father.
She approached the mouth of a cave which wound into the bowels of one of the small mountains which littlered the Everfree forest. There was nothing special about it, no skulls carved into the rock or sharpened spikes jutting up from the earth like in those ridiculous stories the ponies told their foals. It was simply a cave, blending in perfectly with the rest of the forest. Nothing to catch the eye, nothing that would raise suspicion, and nothing that would scare the food away. When it came down to it, practicality served one better than flashiness. Still, she had always found something subtly threatening about the gaping, black 'O' of the cave's entrance. No matter how long she spent staring into the inky blackness of the cave's maw, she'd never had the courage to enter it. Throughout her entire life, she had never set paw in the cave, partially because she feared who lived here, but mostly because-
"Speak, Serrah. Your words mean more to me than your silence."
She jumped at the deep, echoing rasp which emanated from the cave. A pair of yellow eyes blinked into existence among the darkness of the cave, like two stars twinkling in the night sky. A silhouette began to shift eerily within the shadows, slowly getting to its feet and pacing towards the entrance, the form of a wolf gradually taking shape. Good, he was awake.
"Father." she said, in a way that made it sound more like a rank rather than a relation. "I've come to -"
"Ask why I let him live?" finished the ominous voice calmly as the silhouette slinked closer to the light.
She winced to herself discretely. Gods, she hated it when he finished her sentences!
"Why don't you come a little closer, Serrah?" continued her father. "These worn eyes of mine have trouble making out that beautiful mug of yours." He chortled jokingly.
A shiver flowed through Serrah as the ancient wolf laughed. A voice as cold and gritty as his wasn't meant to laugh, it just sounded... wrong. She suppressed her discomfort into a small wince, and waited for her father to end his bout of horrid giggling before continuing.
"Yes, that's exactly what I'm wondering. Bringing justice to those who betray us has been a tradition of the pack for millennia, a tradition that you've broken, father."
The old wolf's joints creaked as he began to draw away from the shadows. A chipped paw slipped into the daylight, two of its toes missing up to the knuckle. Serrah could just make out the small frown on the shadowed figure's face. Oh no, she'd gone and pissed him off, hadn't she? The paw inched forward, revealing the lower half of a foreleg bandaged in scars. A small chunk of wooden carapace had been ripped away along with the soft flesh underneath, revealing yellowish bone.
"Do you doubt me, Serrah?" he asked with far too much calmness for Serrah's liking..
"I- I never said that..." squeaked Serrah, turning away slightly as more of the wolf's battered leg came into view.
"Well you certainly implied it. I want you to listen, my girl, and listen well. This... deserter finds himself in a very favourable position. He is living under a roof, being fed, cared for and treated rather well, considering the circumstances."
"So, why is this? What does this show us?"
"I don't know..."
"The ponies, Serrah! They trust him!" he exclaimed merrily "He's gone and made friends with his food!" his thunderous cackling started up again, this time so loud that birds fled from their nests and small animals scurried out of the bushes, desperate to put as much distance between them and the two wolves as possible.
The old wolf keeled over in a fit of laughter, slapping a paw to his belly as he fell to the floor and rolled on to his back. "I- I've never seen anything so ridiculous!" He squawked out between his chuckling.
Serrah's rage boiled over. Was this why he chose to spare the traitor? Amusement? Could her father really be that crazy?
"Please... tell me that isn't the only reason..." She said bluntly "Tell me you've allowed him to live for a reason other than your personal amusement!"
"Of course there's reason, you blind girl!" he bellowed, his disturbing laughter still tainting his voice. "It's actually quite brilliant, when you think about it!"
"By the gods, will you just come out with it already?"
Serrah's father sighed in defeat, still coughing up a few abrupt giggles. "There aren't many meals, my girl, who hand themselves over to you freely."
"You still don't see? Think, my girl! With trust comes dominance, and with dominance, power!" With every word the wolf's smile grew more sinister and twisted, his eyes brimming with deranged joy. "Why should we hunt for our food when he could bring it right to our doorstep?"
Serrah's eyes widened in realization "you plan to eat the ponies?"
The wolf had turned around, and was retreating back into the gloomy depths of the cave. His worn joints creaked with every step, like a sickening orchestra of age and decay.
"Father! Where are you going?" she bellowed after him "I demand an explanation!"
I'll give you my reasons in good time, dear Serrah. But if you don't mind, the sun's starting to go down, and an old wolf such as myself needs his rest."
"What? No! You can't just leave me on a cliffhanger like this! This is a serious matter, and we need to discuss it properly!"
"Then come in here and discuss to your heart's content. Meanwhile, I'll be taking a nap."
She made to follow him, but stopped herself near the shroud of shadows which enveloped the inside of the cave. The sillhoette of her father faded away into the darkness, like a spectre gliding off into the night. It was so... black in there. She turned away, heading off into the thick brambles and trees of the wilderness. Her father was right, an old wolf such as him needed a good, early bedtime. She and him would talk about that gods damned traitor later, for now she needed a place to sleep... Preferably somewhere in the moonlight.
"And I say it's personal!" I growl at the nosy (but nonetheless hot) dog before me. Do Equestrians have a different idea of etiquette? Because apparently it's all well and good to wake someone up in the middle of their hypnosis-induced beauty sleep so you can demand that they tell you what they're dreaming about. Not ask, demand. Well, Winona had done just that, a fatal mistake in my books. You think I'm a prick on average? When I'm fresh out of my metaphorical bed I make the usual me look like a bunny rabbit glomping a teddy bear.
"Consarnit! Why d'yall 'ave ta be so defensive!"
"Why do you need to be so perverted!"
That caught her off guard. "What did ya jus' say?"
"I said, why do you have to be so 'per-ver-ted.'" I drew the final word out so I could get it though that thick hillbilly skull of hers. No, it wasn't necessary, but by gods was it funny D'you have a thing for eyeing up your guests whilst they sleep or something?" I didn't mention the fact that the prospect of her watching me sleep had done so much for my fantasies.
She stared at me slack-jawed, her only movement the blinking of her eyes. Finally, she spoke "Are you really accusin' me of that?" She asked, her jaw still slack in confoundment "Y'all call me a pervert, in mah home, to mah face!"Her left eye twitched slightly, a subtle indicator of the rage within her. On hindsight, when I saw that little twitch I probably should have called it a day, but you know me...
"Can't say I blame you," I said matter-of-factly "I mean, who wouldn't want a piece of me?"
"OH THAT IS IT!"
Applejack stood vigilant at her quaint apple stand, trying in vain to sell her apple based goodies to the stuck up mares and stallions who were obviously too busy 'enjoying' themselves (if that was right word for it) to bother with a country girl such as herself. To them, she was nothing but some backwards hick, staining their party like a streak of sticky black oil on a pristine, white carpet. She could hear them whispering their snide comments about her 'common mane' and 'atrocious attire' as they strode past her, casting sour looks whenever sheso much as looked their way. 'Best night ever my flank' she mused to herself sadly as she fiddled with her stetson.
"Go back to Apploosa, cowmare." hissed a green unicorn as he trudged past uncaringly. Ouch, that one hurt. Her eyes began to grow warm with tears, and her chest tightened into a knot. 'c'mon, Applejack, you're a big mare, toughen up' she told herself, fighting back the urge to cry. Damn it, she was better than this.
"You know, I could kill them."
Turning to her left, she found the wolf, staring at her with eyes which burnt like and flickered like embers. Its mouth swung open, and it spoke to her in a raspy and otherworldly voice.
"I can kill them all. I could do it slowly, I could do it fast, I could do it any way I wanted..."
Applejack tried to scream, oh by Celestia how she wanted to scream, but no matter how hard she tried, her body wouldn't let her. It was as if somepony had jammed an invisible cork down her throat. She stood in shock, her eyes now interlocked with the wolf's.
"They'll die, Applejack, they'll die slowly, I'll make extra sure of it. And you're going to watch, just like you did when I hospitalised your brother."
Applejack awoke with a jolt beneath her favourite apple tree. That wolf, that Celestia damned wolf... She'd had that dream countless times before, but he had never been there before. She bent forward and rested her face in her hooves. If her paranoia over that vile creature kept up for any longer, she'd find herself in a straight jacket.
Applejack's ears perked up at the sudden angry barking and pained whimpering, her heart sinking into her stomach when she noticed where it was coming from.
Good afternoon, morning or night my fair readers! I'm afraid to say that I'll be off in adventure land for the next two weeks, so don't hold your breath for the next chapter. Super-duper-starship-trooper sorry, guys.
I'd like to give thanks to Maskedferret for his proof reading, it's thanks to him that this chapter is actually legible.
So, farewell! I'll get right back to work as soon as I'm finished abusing my liver.
The scrawny pup woke to the soft patter of rain against the forest’s leaves. The sky had become clotted with dark rain clouds overnight, and the sudden downpour had caught him unawares. Thunder rumbled close by, so loud that it seemed as if the gods themselves were roaring with fury. A plump drop of water fell from one of the trees leaves and landed on the wolf’s nose with a dull ‘pat’. Great, not only was it cold and lonely, but it was wet as well! It was as if Drathgurg found his suffering funny. A strange heat began to build up inside of him, and an acrid metallic taste began to sear in the back of his throat, as if he’d just ran a mile or lifted something heavy. His teeth grinded together and a low growl began to seep out of his frowning lips.
He was cold, he was hungry, and by gods, he was angry.
In a fit of rage he flung himself out of the shelter of the tree and into the sheeting rain. He began to bark madly towards the clouds, catching mouthfuls of rainwater with every snap of his jaws.
This was all their fault! He didn’t do anything wrong! All he had wanted to do was live his quiet, boring life with his quiet, boring parents in his quiet, boring home. But no! The gods couldn’t have that, could they? They just had to turn everything he had grown to love into cinders! They had to fry his loving mother into a steaming pile of ash! Why? Did the bastards in the sky get off on his torment? Did they perch themselves upon the stars and laugh at him as he slept alone through the bitterly cold nights? Did something about him just plain piss them off?
For hours he barked fiercely at the thick blanket of clouds, too angry to feel the numbness in his limbs and drowsiness in his head. His throat became hoarse and stung with every hate filled bark he threw at the pouring sky, but he yapped on regardless. He began to sway as the bracing wind pummelled him harder, and with a strong gust it swept him from his feet and sent him tumbling towards the river.
He slid easily across the rain-slicked earth, and soon plunged into the raging waters of the river, still barking as the current dragged him downstream. The water was freezing, far colder than the torrents of rain had ever been. The wild rapids of the roaring river would yank him underwater, only to toss him back up moments later. The river tugged him under, and his torso slammed into the broad side of a rock jutting up from the rivers depths. Over the heavy rainfall and thrashing waters a dull crack could be heard as one of the pup’s ribs snapped. The pup didn’t even register it; he’d lost all feeling to the cold long ago.
The river swallowed him up once again, and this time the small wolf breathed in the icy water. He had no doubt that he was going to die, that much had dawned on him ever since he had escaped the hellish fire which had consumed all that he had once loved, and he had come to accept that fact. It was only a matter of time before something or the other came along and killed him, so why not let his demise be drowning? ‘After all,’ he thought to himself ‘it is supposed to be just like going to sleep.’ He opened his mouth, welcoming the freezing waters into his lungs.
“Just like going to sleep…” he gargled to himself as his vision faded to black.
I made to leap right as Winona leapt towards me, her jaws braced in a furious snarl. Sadly, one of the many, many disadvantages of missing a leg is that you have piss-all balance. Because of this, my nimble dodge turned into a clumsy, face-first tumble to the floor. Winona soared overhead, her bared claws missing my head by inches.
Tactical faceplant, for the win.
Winona turned the moment she landed, wasting no time by instantly charging me head on. I rolled to the side, like the agile ninja I was, out manoeuvring Winona’s charge. I quickly got back on my paws, finding myself face to face with my inbred enemy.
Slowly, we began to circle each other.
“It’s about time somepony teach ya’ a lesson or two!” Spat Winona as she flattened her ears against her skull.
I held my silence, busily eyeing Winona up, searching for weaknesses to exploit. She was strong, there was no denying that, and it was pretty obvious that she held the advantage here, what with having all her limbs. However, she did have her downfalls. I managed to dodge both of her attacks so far, meaning that she was slower than me; her fighting stance was flimsy, showing that she was inexperienced, and best of all, she was overconfident, which she just made obvious to me with that stupid ‘teach you a lesson’ line.
Winona made another lunge at me, and I narrowly escaped with a quick hop backwards. She followed up her lunge with a few steps forward, bringing herself back into biting range whilst barking at me threateningly. I allowed her to gain the ground, cautiously backpedalling and waiting for her to give me an opening to attack. She crouched on her hind legs, an obvious indicator of an incoming attack. as I expected, she leapt forward, aiming for my neck. I shifted left, pivoting on my paws.
Winona landed in front of me, her teeth finding nothing but air. Mine, however, clamped around something far more physical.
Applejack burst through the barn doors. For the love of Celestia, what had that demented thing done now? Hurt Applebloom? Killed Winona? Took Granny Smith’s head and fashioned it into a hat? All of the above? After a quick inspection she found her answer.
“What. The. Buck.”
With an overemphasised stretch, Big Mac withdrew himself from the hospital bed. He raised his injured foreleg to Nurse Redheart, who gently peeled back the reddened bandages. He turned his head away to hide his blush, which Nurse Redheart noticed almost immediately. She giggled slightly, and Big Mac’s cheeks began to glow even brighter.
The wound had healed nicely (with a little help from unicorn magic), and he’d been confirmed fit for work. He wiggled his foreleg back and forth, testing its flexibility. He tensed the muscle in his leg (partially because he wanted to test the new scabs durability, but mainly because he wanted to show off to Nurse Redheart). Yes, he was fit and ready to put his self to good use once again, no doubt about that.
“Well…” he sighed “ah suppose I should be gettin’ back to the farm now…” although he yearned for the fresh air, the company of his family and all the other amiable comforts of home sweet home, his heart seemed to drop as he said these words. No more hospital meant no more Nurse Redheart. He didn’t even get the chance to talk with her! Although, truth be told, he wasn’t exactly the most conversational of ponies. Heck, his dictionary usually consisted of ‘eeyup’ and ‘nope’. Most ponies who knew him would be shocked senseless whenever he uttered a sentence with more than six syllables.
Nurse Redheart, as if sensing Big Mac’s disappointment, raised herself upon her hind hooves, using Big Mac’s newly healed leg for support. Leaning forward, she pecked him gently on the cheek, stifling a giggle of embarrassment as she did so.
“I’ll see you again soon, Big Mac.” She whispered softly into his ear.
Big Mac, now five times redder as usual, could only stutter in shock “Uh, y-yes ma’am! Th-that’d be nice M-Miss Redheart!”
He trotted woozily out of the hospital and back towards Sweet Apple Acres, now far more concerned about when he would see the lovely Miss Redheart again than he was with work.
He knew mares dug scars!
“Git yer chops off a mah backside ya rascal!”
“mrph mrumph gmurr!”
Dear gods, I’m stuck! Of all the times my jaws could’ve gotten stuck it had to be when I’ve got them wrapped around the pooper of a pretty girl! I don’t know whether this is a blessing or a curse! All I know is that this is NOT what my guy friends mean when they say ‘getting some ass’. Well, at least my teeth aren’t in too deep, tearing a chunk of buttmeat out of a dog’s behind isn’t exactly at the top of my ‘to do list’… although admittedly, I’m kind of curious as to how canine anus tastes.
Winona twisted her head awkwardly to face me, and instantly saw the hungry look in my eye.
“Don’t even think about it.” she said flatly.
Ah well, her ass would have probably tasted rather… shitty…
“Don’ ya worry, Winona, ah’ll get ‘im offa ya!” yelped a panicked Applejack as she sped through the barn door. Oh joy, hillbilly to the rescue! What’s she going to do? Work her redneck magic? Pry me off with a rake? Whisk me away with her trusty lasso?
My tail ignited in pain as Applejack dug her teeth in to it a began yanking it frantically.
"Git *yank* yer *yank* chops *yank* offa *yank* mah *yank* DOG!"
"Mph *whimper* gfert!"
(translation) "I'm *whimper* TRYING!"
Big Mac smiled to himself as he strolled the orchards of Sweet Apple Acres. 'A little bit of time away from home makes you appreciate it even more' he thought to himself, embracing the comfort that the leaves brushing against his skin gave him. Eagerly, he trotted towards the house, already devising a plan on how to best surprise his family with his early recovery. He wondered to himself if they'd missed him as much as he had them, and just how had things been getting on with that wolf anyways?
He skipped onto the front porch, giving Granny Smith (who'd been sleeping in that darned rocking chair of hers for the past two days now) a hearty hello.
He reached forward to rap on the door, but froze as he heard the angry shouts of her sister coming from the barn.
"Git yer chops offa mah DOG!"
He curiously made his way towards the barn, the slight grunting of his sister as well as some kind of strange whimpering grew louder as he drew closer to the entrance. Whatever was going on, it didn't sound good, his slowtrot broke into an all out run as the dark reality that his sister may be in genuine trouble fell upon him.
"Applejack, what's goin' on in h-"
He stopped squarely in his tracks as he laid eyes upon the canine/pony centipede before him.
All three of the barn's occupants froze as they noticed the large red stallion staring wide eyed at them.
"Big Mac," mumbled Applejack through the tail of the timber wolf "ah can explain."
There was light at the end of the tunnel, slowly prying him out of the blackness. He turned to look behind him. Black. Dark. Nothing. This tunnel had no exit, and truthfully, he didn't want it to. He'd heard the stories and tales which the other wolves so commonly spoke of. To go towards the light was to tread forward unto death and release yourself of life, whilst to turn around and brave the darkness was to take up life once more.
Or so the stories told...
Peering into the darkness, he found that he couldn't see the tunnel's walls (if there were any, that is). All around him the world seemed to stretch on in an eternity of shadows, save for the single speck of light ahead of him. Somehow he knew that he could wander through that abyss of darkness for centuries on end, perhaps even millennia, and still find no light other than the one that loomed ahead, like a lone star in the dusk sky.
He stood still, his ears swivelling on his head in a vain attempt to find any kind of sound. There was nothing, not even the draw of his breath. He tested this silence with a quick bark. Nothing. As he worked his paws around the unseen floor, he found that he couldn't feel anything either. It was almost like a dream, only it was far too real.
He wasn't dead, this was far too dark to be the afterlife. He saw neither the dancing flames of Netherthran's hell nor the brilliant sun rays of Jarik's paradise. This was simply... was it 'limbo' they called it?
"Come." Whispered a ghostly voice ahead. "Come to me..."
The voice perplexed him. It was so familiar, yet unlike anything he'd ever heard. It sounded joyous and excited, yet at the same time heartbroken. He shivered as it spoke to him again.
"Come home, little one, come home..."
Calmly, he began to walk towards the light.
"Yes. Come, come to me, come home..."
He should have been scared, and scrambling back into the darkness to reclaim his life, but was there really a reason to? He had no home, no parents and no friends, nothing but himself. What reason did one have to live when life itself had become pointless?
"That's right... come here, come home..."
As he drew closer, the light became brighter, as if kindled by his presence. Waves of inexplicable scents washed over him, all emanating emanating from the light. He took them in, savouring their strange and wonderful smells.
"Stop." ordered the voice with such urgency that the pup stopped dead in his tracks. for an entire minute the voice did not speak, leaving him alone in the silent and overwhelming darkness. Finally, after a wait which seemed to last last for hours, it spoke.
"You're not ready!" it screamed so high that it deafened him. The light shrank back into the dark, quickly shrinking into an insignificant speck. The unseen speaker still called to him from the depths of the darkness.
"Not ready... not ready..."
"Wake up!" screeched another, more feminine voice from behind him. "You've got to wake up NOW!" He felt something... pressure on his chest, as if someone was pushing down on him, trying to crush him. Suddenly, he began to ache. The force pressed down on him again, and the ache grew stronger. His lungs stung stung and his stomach burned, but his heart caused him the most pain. With every strengthening beat it sent a torturous torturous spike of pain coursing through his body. He collapsed to the floor in agony, groaning silently to himself.
"I said wake up!"
An unseen force jerked him further back into the darkness. The small remnant .of the light ebbed away into nothingness The pressure on his chest began to rise and fall, as if some unseen phantom was beating his chest with its paw. The pain began to grow to an excruciating level, and tears began to slowly roll down his face. Was this the afterlife? Was he doomed to spend an eternity in this place enduring such vicious torture?
Was this hell?
"Please," whimpered the feminine voice "just open your eyes..."
I sat fidgeting in front of the two storey house which my captors lived in. A thick chain bound me to a nearby pole which that big-ass red stallion had shoved into the ground. Winona stood squatting on the porch (apparently it hurt to sit down) next to the withered green mare who sat snoring in her rocking chair. The former, needless to say, looks far from happy... In fact, that’s an understatement; let’s just say that if looks could kill, I'd probably be dead.
I suppose she wants me to apologise, although, truth be told, this was one hundred per cent her fault. Maybe if she wasn't so stuck up her own ass she could learn how to take a joke or two.
The door of the house swung open, and out came Applejack. From the cringe on her face, I take it that she can still taste my tail. If only she knew where that thing had been, the poor girl would never feel clean again. Her colossal brother followed in suit, the ground actually shaking with each step of his bulky hooves.
Applejack released an exasperated sigh. "I reckon it's about time somepony taught y'all a lesson or two." she nodded grimly to her brother, who marched forward to her side. "Winona, ya' best get back inside."
I don't know what worried me more; the weird little trinket that Applejack had in one of her hooves, or the smug, condescending smile that Winona was giving me. Winona did what she was told, walking back into the house with a giddy little bounce in her step. Why the hell is she so damned happy?
Big Mac looked towards his hooves shamefully. "A'hm mighty sorry about this, fella, ah really Am." he mumbled under his breath. Sorry? Oh bugger, something nasty is going to happen, isn’t it?
As if on cue, Applejack raised the small tube to her mouth, and an evil smile crossed her face as she popped it into her lips and blew.
Oh. Dear. Gods...
"THERE ARE KNIVES IN MY EARDRUMS! FUCKING KNIVES!"
The shrill shriek of harpies, forks against plates, hooves being dragged across chalkboards, they all sounded like music when compared to the relentless ear rape I was experiencing. I'd call it the sound from hell, but even demons aren't evil enough to omit this level of ear-fuckery. It was almost as if someone was driving a pair of white hot needles into my ears, although that was kind of an understatement. My head felt as if it was melting from the inside out. Any more of this and my brain would be dribbling out of my nostrils.
"Okay! I surrender! Just make it stop, for the love of the gods, MAKE IT STOP!"
“Now c’mon, sis, that’s enough!” yelled Big Mac, placing a hoof over his sister’s shoulder. She pushed him away savagely. He tumbled to the floor (damn, Applejack is tougher than she looks), and before he could get up, an orange hoof came down hard on his chest.
“Don’t you try anything, Big Mac,” growled Applejack. “You an’ I both know he had this comin’”
She clamped her lips around the whistle again, and blew.
Winona had propped herself up on her hind legs, using the windowsill to balance herself. Something was amiss. She'd been subjected to the dog whistle before, but only in short bursts. Whenever Applejack had used it on her, she would take extra care to make sure that it didn't hurt her too bad. After all, she only used the thing to make a point. But at the moment Applejack was doing a little more than making a point, she was torturing the poor thing!
'No! C'mon Winona, she ain't hurtin' him that bad... is she?'
The convulsing wolf slammed his head violently to the ground and dragged it through the dirt,and one of his hind legs begun to spasm wildly. A single tear rolled down Big Mac's cheek as Applejack blew harder. As her lips wrapped around the whistle again, the wolf's mouth opened in a soundless scream. His one foreleg groped at his skull weakly, as if he was trying to dig something out of it.
Winona had been punished with the whistle before, but this was far more than simply punishment. Big Mac pulled himself off of the floor and trudged over to his sister, acting cautious of her, as if she were some sort of vicious animal. He laid a hoof on her back again, only this time more gently. Applejack ignored it, keeping her eyes fixed on the squirming wolf. Big Mac leaned closer and muttered something quietly into her ear. She swatted him away with a foreleg, taking the whistle from her mouth to scream something at her brother. Big Mac shrank under her rage, taking a few uneasy steps backwards. She cast her brother one more hateful glare before returning to her torture. Winona had seen enough. Someone had to put an end to this his, and it looked like that someone needed to be her.
"Please man, stop her!" I sobbed pleadingly to Big Mac as his sister set the demonic little tool against her lips again. My head seared with an intense pain, one more terrible than any other I had felt before in my life. It was almost as if my brain had heated up to such an extreme temperature it was melting the skull around it. I gulped for air, my breath hoarse and ragged. Reaching out with my foreleg, I brushed my paw against the stallion’s hoof. “Big Mac...” I manage to choke out "help me out here, and I will suck your dick… I swear to the gods I will.”
... What? Don't look at me like that! You would've totally done the same thing.
Applejack inhaled once more, and I readied myself for another barrage of pain. The pain, however, never came.
Winona ploughed through the house door and onto the porch, growling ferociously. All eyes snapped to her as she put on her savage display. Damn, and I thought she was pissed when I bit her in the ass.
Applejack was the first to get over the shock of the moment. She stomped a hoof demandingly, a small snarl of her own on her face. "Winona, get back inside, now!" she snapped. Winona moved towards me, her eyes not leaving Applejack's for even a second. She came to a stop in front of me, lowering herself into a defensive stance. Just what the hell was she doing, didn't she want me to suffer?
"Get back inside!" hissed Applejack through clenched teeth. Her eyes still burnt with that passionate hatred that I thought she reserved only for me.
My furry knight in shining armour replied with nothing more than a throaty growl, inching closer to me as she did so. Applejack looked as if she might actually explode with rage. The pair stood their ground for at least a minute, neither breaking eye contact. Big Mac and me merely looked at them in anticipation, neither of us willing to do something as suicidal as interrupting their uber intense staring contest.
Finally, with a grumpy huff, Applejack turned her back to us and made towards the house. "Y'all wanna be that way? Fine!" she grunted. "But don't come cryin' ta me when he decides to take another bite outta ya!" She disappeared into the house, leaving us alone with Big Mac. The stallion sighed to himself, his posture deflating.
"A'hm awfully sorry, lil' fella," he said in his fatherly way, gently placing one of his hooves against the side of my head and stroking it affectionately. "mah sister... doesn't take too well to anypony who hurts her family, by accident or not..."
I give him a look which screamed 'no shit', and he pulled his hoof back in what I assume was shame. He was apologising for his sister, when as I recall, he was the one doing all the torturing. He looked away, unwilling to meet my venomous gaze.
Still, I suppose I can't pin all the blame on the poor stallion. He did happen to be the only colt in a house full of mares, after all. If I was raised in a place like this, I'd probably be a little bitch who couldn’t stand up to his sister either. I dragged myself off of the ground and propped my head against one of his legs, welcoming another one of his loving strokes. Gods, I hope nobody was watching. Crippled or not, I was still a timber wolf, which meant that I still had a reputation to uphold.
"Y'know," he said, a small smile appearing on his face. "up close, you're kinda cute."
Well, so much for reputation.
After caressing my hide and giving me a quick scratch behind the ears (oh gods yes!) he let left us be, following after his sister. For the first time I notice the warped scar on one of his forelegs, and a pang of guilt struck me right in the old ticker. Did he really deserve what I did to him? He'd only wanted to protect his sister, and I'd left him marked for life. To think, he was the one who was sorry, when I was the one who'd been causing all the pain (excluding the bloody nose he gave me when I met him, of course).
Waitwaitwaitwaitwait... I'm feeling sorry for a pony. Me, one of the most cynical cynical bastards out there who eats cute, cuddly animals for a living. Just what the hell is happening to me?
Winona interrupted my little reflection session with a nudge from her nose. "You alright there, fella?"
"Yeah... yeah I'm fine." I mumble.
She frowned to herself, looking me up and down pensively. "Y'know I never thought she'd take it so far, right?"
I began to fumble clumsily back to the barn. I needed peace, and some time alone. For all my life I had been the predator, the one at the top of the food chain. To have someone twist and break me the way Applejack just did was a rather new experience, and not exactly a nice one either. She stripped me of my power and confidence and forced me to grovel at her hooves. The sharp teeth and vicious claws I had once prided myself on now felt weak and obsolete, and all of my skill in hunting and killing seemed pathetically weak when compared to the brutality of Applejack.
So, this is what it feels like to be bumped down to the bottom of the food chain.
“Hey, c'mon, don't go bein' all grumpy about it!" barked Winona from behind me. She darted in front of me, blocking my path. "Don't you dare give me the silent treatment, mister! Ah jus' saved yer flank, so how about you suck up yer pride and talk with me for a second?"
She really isn't going to leave me alone, is she? Can't a guy wallow in his own sadness around here?
"Winona, please, at the moment I just want to rest, okay?"
She seemed taken aback by how sincere sincere I sounded, and admittedly, so was I. The torture had taken a lot a lot out of me, and I simply didn't have the energy to be a prick at the moment.
"Well then, we can talk on the way to yer bed!" said Winona, strongheaded as always. She moved to my side, and we both continued onwards to the barn. I was tired, just so damned tired. All I wanted was some peace and and quiet, but a certain dog was having none of it.
"Now there ain't no doubt that Applejack gone a step too far back there," said Winona. "but that doesn't mean ya didn't have it comin' to ya. Ah mean, you've been causin' all kinds of trouble since ya first got here!"
"Like?" I mumble with a yawn.
“Well let’s see, ya scarred Big Mac, spit on our hospitality, tried ta take a bite out of mah flank, and to top it off you're about the rudest thing I've ever had the displeasure of meetin'. Did I miss anything out?" Well there was that one time when I dragged Applebloom through the dirt so that I could break into a pony's house, throw their furniture about and then try to scoff their beloved pet, but she doesn't need to know about that.
"Nope, I think that's about it... unless you want to count my failed attempts at romancing your icy heart. I said sarcastically. Ha! And I thought I didn't have the energy to be a prick!
Winona gave me a cold glare. “Since when is sayin' ya wanna buck somebody considered romance?"
She uses the word 'buck', really? Is the Equestrian language really so damn intent on using puns that it swaps out it's swears for them? Shame on you Celestia, shame on you.
"Are you kidding me!" I hiss. "Asking someone to do the horizontal bop with you is about as romantic as you can get!"
She widened the gap between us, looking at me like I'm infected with the plague or something. "Uh, you mind givin' me a rough description of what your idea of ‘romance’ is?"
"Well, first of all the males of the pack sniff out the female via the pheromones she produces, then they face off with space each other to see who's strongest, and then the winner... bucks the female and produces offspring, simple.” and that, folks, is love and affection in a nutshell.
"No gettin' to know her, askin' her out, meetin' her parents or, y'know, actually falling in love?"
"Winona, you're not making any sense!"
"Ah just forget it!"
The rest of the trip went by rather quietly. I think I actually might have freaked Winona out a bit with my A to Z description of love. She won't come within five feet of me and she keeps casting me these awkward glances. Hey, she asked to hear it! It's not my fault she doesn't know anything about the birds and the bees.
Finally, Winona broke the silence.
"you're weird, you know that?"
"You have no idea." I say with a smirk.
We came to a halt at the barns entrance, and it was a chore to simply keep myself standing. "Thanks for the help, Winona," I groaned, practically half asleep. “I won't forget it."
Winona stared contemplatively at the spot where the wolf had just been. He'd slipped off inside only a minute ago, and she guessed from the audaciously audaciously loud snoring she heard that he was already asleep. His last words to her still ran through her mind. He thanked her. Him, a wild beast who was only a few hours ago chewing on her backside. Slowly, a small smile crept onto her face. Maybe he wasn't such a flank hole after all.
The snoring subsided, and the wolf's voice boomed from within the barn. "Winona, I'm trying to sleep, and you standing there all spaced out is really putting me off. So how about you do me another favour and begone!"
His eyes slid open, and he was immediately blinded by the gleaming sun. The clouds had cleared, and with them the rain. He felt tired, exhausted even. Sleep beckoned him, yet he felt obliged to stay awake. He could vaguely recall the ghostly voice which had called to him in the darkness, drawing him closer to a mysterious light before pushing him back into the eerie darkness. A hazy brown figure drifted in front of him and examined him curiously with glowing yellow eyes. The blurred creature nudged him in a concerned manner.
"Are... are you alright?" it spoke. He recognized it almost immediately as the voice he had heard calling to him from the dark in his dream, or limbo, or whatever the hell that was. He blinked his vision clear and shook his head vigorously to clear his mind of its drowsiness. The blur focused, and what it revealed almost made his heart stop.
The curved face of a female timber wolf loomed above him, its snout mere inches away from his. The soft gust of her breath swept across his mug as she sighed in relief. "Well, at least you're awake," she said with a sheepish smile. "For a moment I thought you might actually be dead."
He stared at her with a despondent, shell-shocked expression, seemingly unaware of the fact that she was speaking. A long, pregnant silence filled the air as he gawked at her, almost unable to comprehend the fact that he was alive. He had fallen into the river, he had been dragged across the sharp rocks of the rapids, for gods sakes, he swore that he had drowned! The fact that he was still breathing was nigh on impossible.
Yet breathe he did.
"Uhh, don't take this the wrong way, but you don't exactly look too good." said the female, eying his injuries with concern.
He abruptly snapped back to reality and struggled to his paws, only to fall back down onto his side, which sent a sharp bolt of agony through his chest. He gritted his teeth and moaned with pain. Three of his ribs had been cracked when the current of the river had swept him into the side of that jagged rock, and by the gods, was he feeling it. Without warning, the cuts and scratches that his tumble through the river had given him began to burn and sear in unison.
"Oh jeez," whined the female as he bellowed another tortured moan. "you look really, really messed up. I-I'll go get help, okay?"
Before he could reply, the other wolf darted off into the forest and disappeared into the trees. Great, he was hurt, he was hungry, and now he was alone. Still, she did say she was getting help, and considering the luck he'd had for the past few months, that was nothing short of a miracle.
Something warm trickled sluggishly down the side of his face and landed on the ground with a little 'pit'. A small red splotch appeared on the grass, and then another, and another. So he was bleeding, that hardly came as a shock. After all he'd been through it was surprising that he was still in one piece. He dragged himself towards a nearby puddle and gazed at his mangled reflection. A long gash ran through his eye and down the length of his maw, its edges jagged messy. A droplet of blood dribbled into his eye, tinting its otherwise gold colour and turning it red. There were other cuts adorning his body, but none were as pronounced and noticeable as the deep cut on his face. The drops of crimson made a rhythmic pitter-patter as they struck the puddle's surface.
"Over here, this way!" yelled the voice of the female timber wolf from the thick brambles of the forest. The rustling of leaves echoed through the air as she and what he expected were a couple of her pack kindred drew closer. Whoever that wolf was, she had probably just saved his life. The undamaged side of his mouth curled into a smile as his vision began to fade once more.
"And I never even got her name..." he mumbled before losing consciousness.
I casually ignore the little prick and keep my head laid firmly on the floor. Something in my gut tells me it's about seven-thirty, and I don't usually start the day until around nine. Of course, this has always been a rough estimate, seeing as I don't have a watch or anything. When it comes to keeping the time in the forest, you don't really have much to work with other than how bright it is.
That rooster is just begging for a punting.
A serious punting.
"Finish that sentence and I'll bloody end you!" I yell. Waking up is bad enough without some beaked bastard squawking in your ear. You want to know the reason why we don't have roosters in Everfree? Because they're absolutely fricking useless, that's why. When the gods created the forests and blessed it with wildlife they were intelligent enough to know that making a bird whose sole purpose was to be a dick and pissing everyone else off wasn't a good idea. Too bad the Equestrian gods never got the memo.
Well, at least that little evolutionary fuck-up has finally shut-
Winona stretched herself out, eliciting a crackle of popping joints. She gave a long, drawn out yawn before skipping out of her basket and setting off towards the kitchen. It was just coming up to eight O'clock, and the rays of sun pouring through the windows promised a day of fine weather. She could hear the faint whistling of robins from outside and the musical humming of Big Macintosh from the kitchen. Big Mac would always hum whilst he fixed his breakfast (and more importantly, hers). She smiled as he hit a high-note and drummed his hooves on the table. She hadn't noticed how much she had missed his amateurish humming until now. It had always been the highlight of her otherwise boring mornings. Every day he'd have a new tune, and every day she would listen to it. She couldn't help but notice that it was more cheerful than usual, not that that was a bad thing.
Then he began to sing
"Ah got sunshine, on a cloudy day!
Oh when cold outside, ah've got the month of May!"
Well, this was new. Big Mac rarely spoke, let alone sang.
"Ah guess you say, what can make me feel this way?
My mare, talkin' 'bout my mare!"
Winona blushed at the mention of a mare. This was quickly becoming awkward.
"Ah got so much honey, the bees envy me!
Ah've got a sweeter song than the birds in the trees!
Winona walked into the kitchen just as Big Mac finished the chorus, which in her opinion was executed wonderfully (although that only made it all the creepier). The colossal stallion had just picked up the bag of dog food they kept in the cupboard and was half walking, half dancing his way over to Winona's bowl.
"Ah don't need no money, fortune or fame!"
Ah've got all the riches baby, one stallion can claim!"
He filled her bowl to the brim before giving her a cheeky wink and sauntering over to the table and slumping into a chair. He plucked a note from the table and scanned through it with half lidded eyes. With a content sigh he leaned back and stared dreamily at the ceiling, obviously lost in thought.
Winona snapped up the generous breakfast Big Mac gave her, eager to part ways with the stallion before he got even more crazy. Meanwhile, Big Macintosh began to whistle his way through what she guessed was an instrumental whilst thumping the beat into the table. Just what the hay had gotten into him?
He began to read the note yet again, this time pausing halfway through to giggle in just a little bit too fillyish a fashion. Winona took the moment to hastily slip out of the front door and onto the porch, where Grandma Apple still sat swaying back and forth in her rocking chair asleep. If she hadn't known him any better, she would've said that Big Macintosh had gone absolutely insane.
Little did she know that he had a date with a certain nurse.
She sat down next to Granny Smith and gave another audacious yawn. She never really woke up until the afternoon, and made a habit of simply lazing about until the clock struck twelve. It was just one of the many strange little quirks she had. When the sun was high in the sky she was as energetic as a five year old full of sugar, but as for the morning... well, Applejack could fetch her own damned stick.
She closed her eyes and nestled her head into her forelegs. She had a full belly, the day was free, and she was still tired. It was the perfect time to indulge herself in some light napping. Or rather, it was, until Granny Smith started snoring.
Winona glared at wrinkled old mare with malice. Although Winona loved the ancient pony, there was no doubt that she had one of the most annoying snores that the farm dog had ever heard. It was what Winona expected a suffocating hyena would sound like if it had its vocal chords replaced with a foghorn. She shuffled away miserably in search of another, more quiet area to hunker down in. She briefly contemplated nodding off in the orchards before remembering the dozens of twittering birds which made their nests upon the branches of the apple trees. How Applejack managed to nap in that infernally loud place was beyond her. Then she remembered the barn. The calm, peaceful barn. She'd be able to catch some shuteye there no problem. Well, she could have, if it wasn't occupied by that foulmouthed visitor of theirs.
Her thoughts shifted to the wolf. She'd met some strange animals in her life, but he took the cake. His vocabulary more or less consisted of curse words, he rambled about burning animals in his sleep, he was covered with those scars...
So many scars...
She had never seen a creature so disfigured, twisted, and abused. What made it even weirder was that he seemed almost proud of his injuries. Whenever he walked past or caught you looking at him, he would make sure that you would get a good look at the dents and incisions that littered his wooden flesh, apart from the missing leg, that is. He made sure to hide the remaining stump of a limb as much as possible, tucking it into his chest and angling himself in a way that hid the stub almost completely.
'Proud of being scarred, yet ashamed of being disabled. And here I thought they were both two sides of the same bit.' she thought to herself.
"You can't stay up there forever, dickface!" growled the rough, threatening voice of the timber wolf. "You're gonna have to come down some time or another!"
His voice was coming from the opposite side of the barn. The panicked 'BACKAAW' of a rooster thundered through the air, followed by the timber wolf's harsh bark.
"Celestia darn it! What's he gone and done this time?" grumbled Winona. Strange or not, this wolf was nothing short of a nightmare to up with. She raced around the barn, and not at all to her surprise, she found the timber wolf sitting on his hindquarters, staring intently at something above him. She followed his gaze to a petrified rooster, who stood perched upon the barn's roof. The poor little thing looked as if it were about to drop dead from fright.
"Just what in blue blazes d'ya think yer doi-"
"Shh!" wolf hissed through his teeth, keeping his eyes trained on the terrified bird. Did he just... shush her? It took all of Winona's constraint to stop her from sinking her teeth into his neck there and then. Nobody, and she meant nobody shushes her. Lucky for him, she wasn't in the mood for bloodshed, but that didn't mean that there wouldn't be hell to pay.
"Ah'm in a good mood," she lied. so ah'm gonna give ya the chance to apolog-"
On the other hand, bloodshed didn't seem like such a bad idea. However, before she could pounce on the offending wolf and churn his flank into a neat little pile of sawdust, she remembered her previous battle with him, and the injuries it had left her with. She cringed as she recalled how painstakingly long it had taken to pry his jaws off of her backside, and how much it still hurt to sit down. If she was going to get through that thick skull of his, she'd have to do it with words (although using her claws was still a tempting offer).
"What're ya doin'?" she blurted out before he could shush her.
"Ah can see that, mind tellin' me why?"
"This bastard's quick, Winona. I can't afford to let him out of my sight." he made it sound as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. He flinched as the rooster shuffled a wing, as if he was preparing to jump into action. "C'mon," he muttered under his breath. "I'm ready for you, come at me."
"Ah... ah'm not actually all that sure how to react to this."
The wolf groaned in annoyance. "I'm guessing Equestrian society doesn't involve 'challenging', does it?" he asked without taking his eyes off of the rooster.
Winona scratched her head with a paw. "This is gonna be some kinda weird timber wolf thing, ain't it?"
"Uhuh." answered the wolf with a curt nod. The two stood in silence as the awkward staring match continued. Winona had to admit, she never expected neither the wolf nor the rooster to be able to go so long without blinking. She cleared her throat to remind the wolf that she was still next to him, waiting for an explanation.
"Ya mind runnin' whatever the hay yer doin' by me?"
"In case you haven't noticed I'm kind of busy, I'll tell you later. I'm NOT letting this guy slip by me."
"You do know roosters can fly, right?"
As soon as Winona mentioned this, the bird took flight and disappeared into the distance. The wolf fell back onto his flank and sighed in tired aggravation. "Well, I suppose that solves the mystery of how he got up there in the first place." he grumbled, pawing the ground roughly. "Anyways, you wanted to know what challenging was, didn't you?"
Winona gave a stout nod. Although she didn't particularly like the wolf, there was no denying that the stuff he said was interesting. From what Winona gathered from his vastly foreign views on romance and questioning of Equestrian culture, the society he had come from must have been completely different than Equestria's. It was quite exciting to her, seeing as she seldom ventured any further than to the end of the apple orchards.
The wolf scratched his scarred maw thoughtfully, concocting an adequate way to explain 'challenging' to Winona in a way that she'd understand. "Have you ever challenged someone to a fight?" he asked.
"Don't ya remember our little disagreement yesterday?"
He smirked grimly. Oh yeah... That's not really the best example, seeing as you kind of just jumped me." Winona narrowed her eyes at him. Maybe if he hadn't provoked her she wouldn't have 'jumped him' in the first place! "You see, challenging is kind of like telling someone that you're going to kick their ass. Only, you tell them with your eyes, not your mouth."
"Well why d'ya have to stare at 'em? Can't ya just say you wanna fight?" asked Winona. The whole process seemed rather pointless to her. Why waste time staring when it would be so much easier to simply talk to each other? The wolf shook his head slowly.
"Words can be manipulated and twisted into a shield for the cowardly. Ask any timber wolf and they'll tell you the same thing. The eyes are portals into the soul, which means that there's nothing to hide behind when someone stares into them." The wolf spoke with a seriousness that Winona hadn't seen in him until now. He sounded surprisingly wise and old, like that turtle tortoise Applejack's Pegasus friend brought over every now and then.
"What's yer name, partner?" she asked, suddenly aware that she'd known him for three days and still had no idea what to refer to him as other than 'partner'. The wolf smiled at her weakly, which would have been somewhat charming if not for the yellowing teeth and scarred face.
"Well, Applebloom's taken to calling me Splinter, which I guess is as good a name as any."
She smiled back, but her grin quickly died away. "Y'all 've been hangin' 'round Applebloom?"
Shit! I can't believe I let that slip! I promised myself that I'd keep Applebloom and me under wraps. It was obvious that Winona was dead serious on protecting her family, so there was no telling how pissed off she might get when she finds out that a full grown predator has become the youngest girl's new playmate.
... Did I really just refer to myself as 'playmate'?
"Hey!" she snapped, baring her teeth and giving me a glare that would make a manticore crap itself. "Ah asked you a question. Have you, or have you not been gettin' close ta Applebloom!"
My eyes dart left to right, like they always do when I'm nervous. Alright, there's a fence about forty feet to my left. If Winona starts getting a little bloodthirsty I'll head for that. I just hope to the gods that she sucks at running, because losing a limb has seriously reduced my speed. Defending myself was out of the question. I may have managed to beat her during our last confrontation, but now that she knew my fighting style as well as what I'm capable of, I doubt I'll be as lucky. Plus, I really don't want to risk going through another session of ear-rape with my friendly neighbourhood torturer. I looked as if I had three options:
Option one: Run, get caught, and get the living crap beaten out of me.
Option two: Fight, loose, and get the living crap beaten out of me, followed by having Applejack burst my eardrums with that weird little noisemaker of hers.
Option three: Stay, try to explain, fail, and get the living crap beaten out of me.
Well, I'm not quite in the mood for another bout of torture and I seriously doubt that I'd be able to haul my ass over the fence (if I even made it that far), so I may as well go with option three. At least that one doesn't take any physical effort. And who knows? Maybe Winona is feeling particularly conversational today.
She wasn't feeling particularly conversational today. As soon as I mentioned that Applebloom had taken me for a walk yesterday Winona had pretty much swan dived into my face and pinned me to the floor. For an Equestrian pet that spends all of her time on a farm, she's pretty damned strong. She loomed over me with her ears flat against her skull and her eyes narrowed, staring menacingly into mine. Her snout hovered only inches away from mine, and I could smell the rancid stench of that disgusting dog food on her breath. It takes a lot to frighten me. I've lived in the forest for all my life, which is filled with all kinds of creepy crawlies who'd love to rip me open and use my intestines as a skipping rope; I've seen innocent animals die squealing and thrashing in infernos of fire; I've killed and eaten things which most people only ever see in their nightmares.
All of that didn't compare to how shit-scared Winona made me feel now. Of course, I wouldn't dare show it. If someone, anyone sees fear, they'll exploit it in a heartbeat.
"You hurt her, an' ah'll kill you." she said simply. I've been given countless threats in my life, a lot of which were actually followed through, but none had ever sounded as honest and sincere as what just came out of Winona's mouth. Lies and deceit were my speciality, and I knew full well that this as neither. I cleared my throat and spoke, picking my words carefully to avoid getting her even more riled up.
"Winona, I honestly didn't have any choice in the matter. I was just enjoying some time alone, wallowing in my own sadness, and then all of a sudden three foals popped out of nowhere and-"
She dug her nails deep into my shoulders. Not deep enough to draw blood, but by the gods did it hurt like a sonofabitch. First my leg, then my ears, and now this, if I didn't know any better I'd say that Equestrians have some kind of strange obsession with inflicting pain on me. Maybe I'm just one of those people that everyone loves to hate. Either that or gods are just shitting on me.
"Yes, three! Applebloom, Sweetie-something and the chicken! They barged in and approached me, not the other way around. I haven't done anything fucking wrong!"
"Y'all watch that foul language!"
"Who gives two shits about my language? You're the only one who can bloody understand me!"
"Well maybe I don't like it!"
"Well maybe you should make me fucking STOP!" my fear of Winona as well as my concerns for my personal safety had long since gone out the window. I tried to explain the situation to her, and all she could do was find something else to bitch and moan about. There was literally no reasoning with this dog. So screw it, if she's going to hurt me regardless of what I say, I may as well piss her off whilst she's at it.
"Maybe ah will." she growled, pushing her nails into me further still. i felt the warm and all to familiar sensation of blood slowly trickling out of the small but nonetheless painful wounds. Surprisingly, I don't feel afraid. In fact, I feel quite the opposite. Ever since I've met Winona, she's had a blatant air of superiority over me, and I'm pretty damned sure that I know why. She thinks that just because a family of oversized, hooved vermin accept her as their willing slave, she somehow becomes more civilised and superior to me, who is the unchained and savage beast which nature had intended me to be. Well you know what? It's about time she got some blood on those nice, clean, filed claws of hers.
"C'mon then," I goad, matching her snarl with one of my own. "if you wan't me to stop swearing so much, then how about you fucking MAKE ME!"
She unsheathed one set of claws from my throbbing shoulders, and and then brought it smashing down upon my face with relentless force. Her nails scraped across my muzzle and through my lip, adding three new incisions to my mug. Scars, you can never have enough of them, can you? A drop of blood rolled from the fresh cut, seeping into my mouth. Blood doesn't taste nearly as satisfying when it's your own.
As a thin line of red began to trace itself down my cheek, Winona's snarl faded into an expression of shock. She hastily dismounted me so that I could get back on my paws, a second glance shown me that she was slowly backing away. She looked almost frightened of me, which didn't really make much sense, seeing as she was ready to rip my throat out a couple of seconds ago. Her eyes flicked from the bleeding cut on my face to the small red holes she'd left in my shoulders, examining her handiwork (pawiwork?) in horror.
"I- ah'm sorry. Ah... ah wasn't thinkin'!" she stuttered. "Ah j-just wanted ya to simmer down, ah never meant to..."
She went silent, but I could still feel her looking at me as I checked the severity of my new cuts. Despite hurting like hell, the bloody holes in my shoulders were fairly shallow, and were pretty minor injuries. The scrape across my face was nothing more than cosmetic damage. Still, it stung like a bitch, and licking the shoulder wounds clean was going to be aggrovating as hell (Just try to get a dog to lick its shoulders, it ain't easy).
"Ah didn't mean ta' hurt ya'."
"You sure as hell could have fooled me." I grumble. Why does she insist on being apologetic? Last time I checked I was the one who provoked her. It was about time Winona got some blood on her paws, anyways. Maybe now she'll realise just how much similar to me she really is and stop being such a domineering bitch all the time. I never like being bossed around, especially not by an Equestrian.
"It's just, when ah heard ya'll were gettin' close to Applebloom, ah..."
"Got defensive?" I finish. She nodded timidly. I could relate to that. Dispite a timber wolf pack's complete disregard and exhile of any and all disabled members (for example, me), the pack itself was meant to be extremely dedicated to the protection of those in its ranks. I say 'meant to' because nobody ever seemed to bother giving me a helping paw whenever I was up shit creek. That is, apart from-
"But that doesn't make hurtin' you any less right!" exclaimed Winona, smashing through my train of thought like a bulbous, southern wrecking ball. "Ah'm sorry ah hurt you fer swearin'. Yer different, an' ah haven't got any right to try an' change that. Yer kind just happens to use... uh... more exotic language."
Seriously? She's apologising to me for that?
Freakin' morally perfect Equestrians...
Serrah kneaded the fine, well ploughed soil between her toes. The apple orchard she currently hid in was a sentiment to why she loathed ponykind as much as she did. The trees stood in neat rows, ravaged of the bounties which nature had bestowed upon them. The earth beneath her had been stripped of grass and savagely raped by the steel ploughs that the ponies dragged across what they claimed to be their land, land which they insisted on abusing more and more every passing day.
There was a time when the great pine and oak trees encompassed the farthest reaches of Equestria. Now, there was only this.
The orchard was a fine example of the ponies' enslavement of nature. The trees had been forced into constricting columns so that they could be methodically robbed of their fruits, the pigs were kept trapped in dingy wooden pens, and worst of all, any form of outside, non-equine life was shooed away. Just what the hell gave the ponies the right to deny nature access to land that rightfully belonged to it?
And to think, he sided with them.
She stealthily closed in on the tall wooden structure ahead, keeping her head low and her body prone. Careful observation had taught her that the traitor had hid himself in the bowels of the building. No matter, the large doors which were left hanging open allowed her more than adequate passage. Pack traitors were to be dealt with, and she couldn't give less of a damn whether or not her father approved. He may be an alpha, but he had no right to spare traitors.
A rooster cawed from its perch upon the building's roof, stopping Serrah in her tracks. The bird's call may well have been a warning, which would have meant she'd been spotted somewhere down the line.
The rooster cawed again, almost absent-mindedly. Good, from what she could tell, it was just making noise for the sake of being annoying. She continued down her planned route, but stopped once again when she heard the infuriated roar emanating from within the structure.
"Finish that sentence and I'll bloody end you!"
She had no doubt that it was him.
Serrah continued her approach in well-practiced silence, this time ignoring the bird's aggravating squawks. She already smell the sour breath of the traitor, the stench of birdfeed on the rooster's feathers, and the strong musk of the dog's fur.
Serrah instinctively flattened herself against the ground to ensure that she went undetected. 'Damn,' she cursed to herself. 'I should have seen her coming. And to think I call myself a huntress...'
The dog in question was making a beeline towards the structure. It was a female with white fur blotched with chocolate brown. A red collar was strapped around her neck with a small golden circle dangling from it across her breast. No doubt this creature was a pet of the ponies, an animal which had willingly given up its freedom in favour of being dragged around on a lead. As far as Serrah was concerned, it was yet another crime that equines had committed against the world, one they would eventually pay for.
Her eyes snapped back to the building as she noticed something in her peripheral vision. A figure emerged from the door, and her jaw clenched in anger as she noticed who it was.
'So, you've finally decided to show your face, have you? Great, now I can tear it off.'
The traitor emerged from the building before sluggishly circling round and landing himself on his plot, staring at the rooster. Good, he was tired as well as distracted. If Serrah played her cards right, she'd have him dead within the minute. Or rather, she would have, if it weren't for that bloody dog. The hound sat herself next to Serrah's target and began to idly converse with him.
Serrah brought herself to the edge of the orchard and hid herself behind the thin trunks of the apple trees. It wasn't exactly the finest of cover, but at this distance she doubted that it mattered that much. From where they were standing, she probably blended in with the rest of the trees. There were many reasons why timber wolves had a wooden carapace, and camouflage just happened to be one of them.
The rooster took flight, and Serrah ducked beneath the shade of the leaves as it passed overhead. There were enough complications as there was. First the dog decides to take a walk, then the traitor decides to get some fresh air, then the two start chatting, she didn't need a bird cawing at her to top it off.
She waited for a few minutes to see if the dog would leave. She may have been a pet, but that didn't give Serrah any reason to kill her. She was here to deal with traitors, not slaves. However, there wasn't currently much choice in the matter. The pet was being an obstruction, and if Serrah couldn't get around her, she'd have to go through her. She doubted that the dog would present much of a challenge to a huntress such as herself. Pets had virtually no knowledge on combat, making them pitifully easy to topple in a fight.
The dog suddenly leapt on the traitor, barrelling into his chest and pinning him to the ground in the span of about two seconds.
Well, maybe they weren't that pitiful.
Serrah had to strain her ears to hear the two canines growling fiercely at each other, and even then she could barely make out what was being said. Something about an 'Applebloom', whatever the hell that was.
Whatever it was, the dog looked nothing short of furious about it. If Serrah was lucky, she wouldn't even have to get her paws bloody. From the looks of it, the traitor was already as good as dead.
But alas, much to Serrah's disappointment, the dog dismounted the timber wolf, giving him nothing more than a quick swipe across the face. She shouldn't have suspected much else, the ponies were known for raising their pets to be spineless. If anyone was going to be doing the killing, it would have to be her.
She readied herself to pounce at the two canines. She had observed enough, now was the time for action. Her hind legs compressed and coiled backwards, and her lips pulled back to reveal her serrated, yellow teeth. In a brief moment of thought she outlined and organised her plan of attack, taking even the smallest of details into account, from the stances of her foes to the direction of the wind. A burst of adrenaline heightened her senses and quickened her already pounding heart. She would have had them both dead in the blink of an eye...
If not for the solid buck Applejack delivered to the back of her head.
The world blinked out of existence the second the pair of orange hooves made contact with her skull. 'So much for being the perfect huntress...' she thought for herself as she dropped limply to the ground.