The pitter-patter of small reptilian feet filled the library today. It was one of the few days Spike didn't get sent out to shop, and on top of that, he had the almost daily task of looking after Twilight until one of her friends came around to see how she was doing. Today though, they all seemed pre-occupied, so it was his job all day instead of just in the mornings. Right now though, his focus was on breakfast....well, breakfast and getting Twilight to get out of bed instead of trying to sleep the day away like she usually did. "Y'know Twilight, it's been ages since you've had me re-organize the books and make sure they're all in order....you sure you don't want to do that?" he called out to her.
Spike walked over towards the door leading into the kitchen that had been built into the library after he and Twilight had originally been given the place as their home away from home. He grabbed his apron off of the hanger next to the door and slung it around himself, trying to think of something else, to hopefully goad her into action. "Well, what about going to see if Applejack needs any help with harvesting apples? You usually enjoy getting to test out your magic with that sort of thing."
"No, I'm sure AJ's doing just fine...."
Spike scratched the side of his head after tying his apron off behind his back, hmm'ing for a moment and tapping his claw against the side of his head. "Erm....mmmaybe go visit Zecora? She hasn't seen you since you came back from Canterlot. You two get along pretty well, I'm sure she'd enjoy your company."
"No thanks Spike, I'm just gonna stay here today...." she said, a quiet sigh accompanying her voice afterwards.
He couldn't think of anything else, the little dragon grumbling a little more audibly and slumping his arms at his sides, staring in her direction, unable to see her from downstairs. "How about me shutting up and leaving you alone to wallow in your own misery?" he asked, his voice and expression a mix of annoyance and deadpan frustration.
"....That'd be nice. Some aspirin would be even better."
"URGH! Alright, fine," he growled out while tossing his arms straight up in frustration, throwing the kitchen door open soon after and closing it soundly behind himself. The sound of him rustling around the kitchen could barely be heard over the throbbing headache she had. It wasn't a fake-out either, she genuinely wanted to stay home today because her head hurt. Though at the same time, she knew a little medicine would likely make it go away. Okay, so maybe she was using it as a cop-out....that didn't change the fact that this headache felt abnormal. It wasn't throbbing in time with her heartbeat, it was aching in time with someone else.
All at once, she groaned and the pain got even worse for a moment, and her ears twitched, hearing a high-pitched sound, not loud, but just very high-pitched. She couldn't figure on the origin of it. It wasn't coming from within the house, it wasn't the tea kettle in the kitchen or anything like that, so where was it coming from? She quietly slipped out from under the covers of her bed and walked over to her window and pressed her ear up against the glass, and it wasn't that either.
She took the chance to look outside and take a peek at who was up and about this time of day. Rainbow Dash was already doing her morning training regimen, though her usual boisterous and loud nature was lacking this time around. She found that odd, but only in a vague sense, everyone had their off days. At least her knack for noticing the more subtle oddities of everyday life was still intact, despite how she felt right now.
Bon-Bon and Lyra were up and about, both of them trotting along excitedly towards the marketplace. She turned her head to look at her clock on the table near her bed, and found it to be close to opening time for most of the stalls. Perhaps she could go and do a little shopping? No....she felt too heavy. She didn't want to go anywhere. She hated this, not being able to will herself to go anywhere, her body giving her plenty of physical reasons not to if her mentality couldn't get her down enough. Phantom aches and pains wearing her down while her snapped, negative mindset tearing apart any ambition or motivation she manages to work up within herself. Everything felt so forced, even things she enjoyed still felt like chores and jobs, thankless and pointless jobs at that.
She was about to turn away from her window, but a sudden pang of fear shook her as that high-pitched sound suddenly picked up. The sound seemed to be drawing her in, forcing her to stare, gazing into her own eyes, glaring into her own reflection. She felt angry, but she also felt afraid. More than afraid, she felt terrified, as if she weren't herself anymore. She found her heart beginning to race the louder the sound got, the entire world fading from her attention, only the sound and her own eyes consuming all of her focus.
The high-pitched sound started to drown out the silence of the library, consuming it and anything else that could have interrupted her in this very moment. Everything seemed to slow down the further her fears elevated, her reflection showing the stark horror that had etched itself across her face. The whole time, this high-pitched, constantly louder and louder sound remained sounding like it was far away, though she couldn't explain the fear she was feeling. "S-Suh-Spike....Spike....!" she stuttered, her throat feeling tight and dry, a lump almost cutting off her ability to breathe. She took in a choked, startled breath after she spoke, barely able to calm her breathing enough. She still couldn't look away. Why couldn't she look away from herself?
All too suddenly, she seemed to snap out of the paralyzing stare she had been ensnared in, just as that sound seemed to be rushing towards her impossibly fast from the distance she thought it was keeping between them, the sound also changing, twisting as it got closer. She hyperventilated and stumbled back a few times away from the window, her reflection staying the same even as she backed away. The sound was turning into crying....and within a second, she let out a startled and terrified scream, thumping against the side of her bed as the sound turned into a loud, ear-splittering newborn foal's crying scream, her eyes shifting into dragon's eyes in her reflection. "SPIKE!!!" she screamed out, looking away and hopping onto her bed quickly, her head darting this way and that, examining the room rapidly.
The little dragon was out of the kitchen in practically an instant, the kitchen door swinging open and the little purple lizard rushing up the stairs. "What?! What's wrong? Twilight, what's the matter?!" he called out to her, standing next to the bed and looking at the trembling lavender Unicorn with concern. There were fresh tears streaming from her eyes by now, looking to her window from out of the corner of her eye. "D-did you hear that? Please tell me that wasn't just me....!" she asked, pointing to the window. "Ca-can you see my reflection?" she asked, her voice trembling while she slowly hugged her pillow for some vague comfort, looking to Spike almost pleadingly.
He didn't know what to say, or what she wanted to hear, and he certainly didn't think fast enough to put two and two together. "Hear what, Twilight?" He only realized after he said it that that would probably only make this worse. Looking to the window though, then back to her, he furrowed his brow and walked around the bed, stepping up to the window. No, he only saw a very, very vague reflection of himself thanks to the morning light. "Sorry Twilight, but you're not close enough. I can't really see you in the window," he said, shrugging and turning to face her. She was turned away from the window, and shaking like a leaf. "Wow....just what happened? You're really shaken up!"
She shook her head quickly a few times, her headache a horrible banging pain by now. "I-I don't know! I just....I heard something off in the distance, and then I just....I couldn't look away from my reflection, I was almost nose-to-nose with the glass!" she said, her voice starting to break down into that all-too-familiar borderline-crying tone of voice she seemed to be getting a lot lately, her forelegs gripping her pillow tighter. Spike hopped up onto the bed and gently caressed down her back while she spoke to him, trying his best to calm her down. It really did make her feel a little better, Spike's presence was always one of the most comforting for her, especially now. He was a no-nonsense kind of dragon, she could always count on him to be rational when she lost her cool. "The-then it started getting louder, and closer, and I couldn't look away, and....and then it was right next to my ear! It was a little baby foal screaming so loud I couldn't hear myself scream! My eyes changed into-into dragon eyes in my reflection just before I looked away, too!" she said, clutching her head between her forehooves and clenching her teeth, looking down at her bed. "I think I'm really losing it....!"
He sighed when she fell into quiet sobs and rather pitiful-sounding whimpers, noting the almost paranoid look in her eyes, the way she constantly looked around, her head darting towards the window when a sound from outside reached her ears. "Twilight, calm down! I'm right here, okay?" he said, patting her back and wrapping his other arm around her neck, giving her a small hug. "Look, you've been really quiet and keeping to yourself so much lately. Maybe you should go outside or do some of the work around here," he said, smiling a little at her after moving around to stand in front of her, hopping off the bed. "You're right....you're probably going stir-crazy because you've been doing nothing, instead of doing a lot of the things you used to want to do all the time."
She looked scared, frustrated and indignant. "I haven't been doing nothing! I mean....have I?" she asked, Spike looking at her with his head cocked to one side, arms crossed over his chest. His expression screamed 'really? You sure you wanna ask that?' She let out a small sigh and tried to calm her nerves, looking to the window again and through it, looking towards the direction of the Everfree Forest, or what she could see of it from this distance. That was when she noticed it....something black sitting on top of a tree, very very far along inside of the forest. She turned towards the window again and slitted her eyes, trying to get a better look, but it was just too far away....but it was definitely a pony. No, a foal. Just as suddenly though, it disappeared into the leaves of the forest canopy. "What the....?"
Spike just sighed and shook his head. "I still think you should go out and get some fresh air Twilight. You're turning into a hermit in the middle of town," he said, turning to head back downstairs and finish breakfast. He didn't expect to hear the sudden shuffle of Twilight's hooves behind him as well, almost rushing him down the stairs. "Spike, can you stay here for today? If anyone stops by to check up on me, just tell them I'm heading to Everfree Forest."
He turned away from the kitchen door quickly, looking to her with no small amount of concern. "What?! Wh-why do you suddenly wanna go there?" he asked, his voice elevating when she started to walk past him and towards the front door. He hadn't seen that look on her face, and she hadn't even taken the chance to clean up before going out. Her mane was still disheveled and unbrushed, and her cheeks were still stained with the remnants of the tears she didn't seem to notice. "Uh....Twilight, aren't you going to at least clean up?" he asked, but she wasn't paying him any mind. She opened the door and stepped out without saying a word. He just stood there for a moment, rubbing the back of his head. "Oh man....Fluttershy's gonna....well, she'll....ahh, okay, she'll just give me a light scolding and go after her. Ah well...." he mumbled towards the end while heading back into the kitchen.
Panic. He felt panicked. He thought he was only approaching one of them, but instead, they had ambushed him, and he couldn't feel their presence until they were almost right on top of him! He was flying backwards and keeping his eyes focused on their bodies, but he continuously had to re-focus where he was watching their bodies at, their amorphous dark blob-like forms constantly shifting and altering, trying to move their eyes into a position where they could lock gazes with him. The few times they had managed it so far, they had broken his focus in the middle of his incantations by wracking his mind with irrational, unfounded fears. It was the nature of the Wild Shadows, to break their victims before consuming them.
His new-found connection to the wilderness around him, thanks to the Eco-Affinity spell he'd cast while running away from their ambush, allowed him to follow his instincts like any other animal of the forest and weave his way around the trees and tangling bushes as if he had lived here his entire life. It was probably the only reason he wasn't cornered and torn apart by now. He tried his best to not think of just how desperate his situation was, this was supposed to be a test pitting him against a single Wild Shadow, not five of them! He had no way of summoning any reinforcements, no safety net....he had nopony to rely on but himself out here. That single thought only had him sweating his predicament out even further.
'Okay Strider, come on, breathe, center your thoughts,' he said to himself within the confines of his well-trained and sharpened mind, picturing himself sitting still, eyes closed, breathing deeply....meditation within imagination. A trick he'd picked up much like the silent incantations had come naturally to him, recalling it having something to do with him always reading his books silently instead of out loud, his mind was trained through his schooling to be ready to do such things. 'Three on the left, two on the right. Eliminate the lesser, isolate the greater!'
He closed his eyes, a mental image of the forest filling the darkness behind his eyelids, the black shadowy smoke that represented the Wild Shadows fluctuating and trying to reach out for him with forelegs and hooves that constantly re-constructed and de-constructed with something close to a hissing bubbling sound, as if they were made of acid and constantly boiling away their own bodies to build new parts of themselves on a comparatively massive scale. He took a deep breath and finished the first incantation he'd kept at the ready in his thoughts, his unique ability to chant his spells in his head further enhanced by his discovery that he could multitask and prepare more than one spell at a time. It took a lot of focus though, and even a moment of hesitation could break such fragile concentration....not to mention, he wasn't the most calm pony right now.
His wings stopped flapping for a brief second as the mental image of intense flames overtook his mind's eye, and he quickly manipulated the ever-changing image, his lips moving just as he'd formed the flames as he wanted them to be in his head. "Lotesse sina ista existana!" he called out, a large red circular rune appearing beneath his feet, glowing with an ethereal light that seemed to set his wings ablaze, but the fire was quickly spread in front of him, the flapping motions seeming to fan the fire out. A foreleg extended, the mental image staying cemented in his conscious thoughts, him making the otherwise wildly burning blaze turn into a narrow, more intense wall of impenetrable fire that curved around in front of the three Wild Shadows on his left, cutting them off and giving him enough time to lean to his right and shift between a bunch of bushes on his right. He landed with a light skidding along the grass and semi-muddy dirt, the armor covering his hooves getting a fresh layer of brown.
He took very little time in preparing and cutting loose with his second spell, though he had to rapidly rattle off the incantation under his breath, a gaze from one of the two Wild Shadows rushing straight at him breaking his focus and eliminating the spell from his thoughts. He was starting to succumb to the fears, he could feel it, every muscle in his body was trembling. He didn't have time to think about calming down though, he was about to be pounced upon! He moved on reflex, jumping to the side as the gaping maw of the Wild Shadows opened and sharp, spear-like tentacles lashed out at him, trying to turn him into a pony-kebab!
He only managed to evade well enough to avoid getting stabbed, but two deep cuts in his left foreleg made him cry out and lose his spell yet again. Struggling to ignore the pain, he backed away from them as they moved closer, only a few feet away now, leaving him very few options. He had the incantation done in his head though, by the time they had opened those endless, void-like mouths of theirs up, both of them big enough to swallow him whole and put him through the infinite rows of blade-like teeth he saw, almost being mesmerized by the endless void of cutting death he glanced into for a brief moment. It literally looked like it had no end, as if he'd wind up in another plane of existence if he were eaten by one of them.
"Please, help me...." he heard one of them call out, giving way to a cacophany of voices that filled the air around him, all of them the same voice but saying a mind-boggling multitude of different things all at the same time. He looked past them while jumping back and then to the side, evading their ensnaring tentacles, seeing the flames from his wall of fire slowly dying down. Soon, he'd have all five on him again....he had to get his Vortex spell off! It was the only spell he had with a large enough radius that could take out a small grouping of targets. The only thing he hated with this spell was how close he had to allow them to get to him all at once....
He started to compensate for his lack of concentration with verbal commands, distracting himself from focusing on the enemy by talking his way through the fight and the sidesteps, ducking and jumping up high with the help of his wings, at one point standing on a tree branch while the tree started to collapse beneath him thanks to one of them striking the base of it and smashing it to splinters, stump and all. Instead of moving away from them though, he flew towards them, landing almost between them both, ducking a tentacle that shot for his throat, only to feel it wrapping around his chest, then his middle, but he held his ground. They both moved in for the kill, and that was when he cut loose with it. "Lotesse sina ista existana!"
Though his armor was enchanted to draw upon energy from outside its wearer's body, there was no doubt about a powerful spell's capacity for tiring its caster, even if the spell isn't drawing upon the caster's soul to fuel it. With a firm stamp of his right forehoof directly onto the center of the runic circle that had formed beneath his feet, colored an almost neon green, an intense whirlwind kicked up all around him, and while he was fine, the owner of the tentacle that was rapidly bubbling into nothing around his body was being flung about within that cutting air and eviscerated, limb from amorphous limb, until the intense winds had cut it up so small that it could not pull itself together any further. This gave him no particularly effective amount of rest, a heavy panting heard from him as it began to die down. The two Wild Shadows were gone....but he had very little time before the magic sustaining the wall of flames not too far away would fail, and they would be upon him. He could already hear them calling out....little foals.
It horrified him to think of how many of these Wild Shadows were previous victims of other ones, so many ponies that have gone missing in the past, likely becoming these abominations themselves. Byproducts of Shadow Magic that found a way to make themselves infinitely worse, becoming creatures that eat ponies....disgusting. He was already putting himself through a second incantation of the same Vortex spell, despite his exhaustion, too tired to focus on the spell in his head, uttering it under his breath. "I challenge the laws of nature and the sky, by summoning the fickle might of the winds...."
The wall of fire fell to non-existence, and the three foal-sized Wild Shadows charged him with little regard for their own safety, like most all Wild Shadows did. They never recognized when they were in danger of being destroyed. Then again, he looked rather weak, exhausted even, but that was only momentary, though it was about to easily get far, far worse. He was already trying to catch his breath from the previous exertion, but he charged towards them in a half-run, the three trying to strike him from a distance first with their seemingly limitless blade-like tentacles, each of them missing him for the most part, but one managed to cut his left foreleg again.
Keeping what seemed to be a blind spot or something for him in the back of his mind, he lowered down as they opened their mouths and loomed over him, on all sides, his voice rapidly rattling off the spell, eyes clenched shut so he could maintain his focus. This was a dangerous position to retain your concentration, after all, he didn't need a curtain of fangs and razor-sharp teeth coming down around him, that could easily snap his focus and make him panic. "Lotesse sina ista EXISTANA!" he yelled out as loud as he could, his voice echoing with an unnatural, ethereal sound to it, as if it had reached into his very soul. The runic circle smaller this time, but the smaller size seemed to intensify the effectiveness of the spell, the air whistling all around him, fast enough to send his mane flapping about and even forcing him to close his eyes again when he tried to open them, getting nicked in the corner of his left eye with his mane a couple of times.
Within mere seconds, they were completely gone, and he collapsed into a shaking, trembling, near-unconscious mess. He felt like he'd run three marathons, his body was so worn down, the burn in his muscles making him start to cramp up, or at least feel like he was. He was desperate for oxygen, his mouth open wide and his lungs working three times their normal rate, drawing in and exhaling over and over, his throat quickly drying out and causing the air to chill his esophagus, making it feel like every breath was cutting him up in there. He started wheezing and his sore muscles in his legs twitched a little, but the bleeding he saw from his deeper cuts had him concerned. He knew his anatomy, and he knew that those monstrosities could have made a shallow, but no less effective cut in a large vein in his leg. He gave himself around two minutes and worked his way to his feet, his wings loose and slumped down over his sides, his head hung low and his eyes half-lidded. He'd been through the wringer, that was for sure. In silence, he felt out the vague energy of the beacon he'd activated to call those things to himself, making his way towards it.
Zecora felt the blood rushing to her head, but that failed to become a concern, her keeping in her meditative position with the stick staying standing straight up beneath her, the muscles in her neck semi-tense to keep her neck straight so she could bear the weight of the rest of her body on it, as well as maintain her balance with that stick pressing directly against the top of her head. One could only wonder how she managed the likely acrobatic feat to get herself in that position so high off of the ground, but that was her secret.
Her concentration was broken only when she felt something abnormal outside of her home. She had become so attuned to Everfree Forest, living within it all this time, feeling out the dense woods and finding so many new ingredients that one could not find back in the Zebra Nations naturally, most of the things she worked with now had to be imported for a rather high price back in her homeland, most of them being natural luxuries for their cost. Of course, being a Druid helped in these matters, something she kept quiet about even to her friends in Ponyville. She had no doubt that she would never get another moment's peace if Twilight ever came back and discovered the kind of nature magic she could perform, given the time to prepare it, unlike Pony Magic that could be summoned up on a whim, based on a Unicorn's emotional state and how their thought process worked. It was the defining trait as to whether a Unicorn could be a magic trick practitioner like Trixie, or a great Sorceress like Twilight Sparkle.
She leaned to her left and curled her body down, almost folding in half in the process, the stick clattering against the ground while she walked over towards the window in her home, peering out of it and in the direction of the unnatural, tainted magic she felt. Yet, at the same time, now she felt the occasional burst of nature magic....but very powerful bursts, occurring too quickly to be a Druid's nature magic. Concern welled up in her when she saw the flames however, more concern for the forest than for herself or what the reason was behind it. She started to leave, but decided to prepare a simple barrier spell, drawing the runic circle on a slab of wood and putting it into her pack, alongside a stopped-up bottle of ink and the painting brush she'd used to paint on the wooden slab.
With that, she was rushing towards the slowly dying flames she saw making a surprisingly small amount of smoke in the distance. She was frozen in her tracks for a minute, feeling a far more drastic amount of elemental magic emanating from that same location. It felt as if it was reaching out so far that it were pulling the inherent wild magic from the very air, the plants, and the trees all around her. 'A Battlecaster, maybe....? Why here?" she thought to herself, proceeding at a trot now, not wanting to charge whoever it was making these spells happen. She didn't like what she was feeling though....somewhere nearby, she felt something unnatural. It was small, but it was there. There were larger concentrations of what she could only describe as pure negativity in the same direction as the whirlwind she could see in the sky, through the forest canopy, it created a funnel of wind so high up into the air.
Wind Strider's hooves began to drag a little, his body feeling so heavy after only a small amount of spells. 'Sure, two of them were of a very high tier, but did the fear of death really make me lose my focus that badly? Focus is paramount to one's success using Runic Magic, and if I reacted this way to fighting five of them alone....what will I do against a Nightmare?' Thoughts of getting back to town shut that mentality down with seemingly more important thoughts of getting a bed to rest in and sleep for a bit, perhaps, or at least something to drink.
The snap of a few branches in the distance startled him and made him snap his head to his right, the condition of his body forgotten in a shock of adrenaline. It was unfounded though, the noise producing nothing more than early morning shadows. Well, early-morning shadows that didn't want to murder him. He had already found his way to his shadow beacon and re-bottled it, the bottle hanging at his side now.
Another ten minutes of rather uneventful walking later, and he found himself closer to familiar ground. He lifted his head up, feeling vaguely better, though still sore, he'd have to do something about that before he met up with Rainbow Dash later. Lifting an armored hoof, he tilted the forward edge of the metal shoe against a narrow cut in the side of the tree trunk, running horizontal along it. Following the line, he nodded a little when his shoe fit the mark perfectly. "Okay, going the right way...." he panted out to himself. He even sounded better, though his throat was still feeling somewhat sore. He swallowed hard and walked past the tree, intent on finding the nearby path, but another sound past the bushes startled him again.
He shook it off soon after though, figuring that it was just another fairly far-off thing moving through the forest. However, when he thumped against something lukewarm, semi-squishy and saying something in surprise in a familiar foreign language, he jumped back and flopped back on his flanks. "Whoa! Hey, hello, hi there!" he said in a semi-panicked voice, trying to rouse some kind of response from the origin of that voice. He recognized that accent, he'd heard it before....
"Who, pray tell, is over there? The one that caught me unaware?" the voice called out. He blinked a few times and watched as a Zebra stepped through the underbrush and into the small space a short distance away from the path he knew about. They both exchanged curious glances with one another, but Strider was the first one to speak up. "Better question: what, pray tell, are you doing in this forest?" he asked, looking her over for a moment. Yeah, definitely a Zebra. He thought the forest was empty, he would've wandered further into it if he'd known. The look on her face gave it all away, him standing at attention when she silently approached and walked around his right side.
He ducked his head away when she spotted that bottle with his beacon in it, the familiar sound of Zebraans curse words making him back away from a clearly angry femme that was making a point of getting in his face about it. "How dare you bring Shadow Magic to Everfree! This disgusting spellpower sickens me. Being this close to it makes me nauseous, you show no sign of being cautious," she said, poking him in the chest with a hoof and shoving him a little. "You use your Runic Magic with wanton abuse. I respect this forest; what's your excuse?!"
He cringed a bit, he figured maybe she wouldn't know, but damn, she was calling him on everything! He looked away for a moment, trying to come up with SOME kind of excuse, some reason for his actions. Ultimately though, he sucked terribly at lying, especially on-the-fly. On top of that, he was wearing his Royal Guard armor, something he figured she would figure out, given enough time. A defeated sigh left him while he sat down again, turning his somewhat stoic gaze towards her. The exhaustion was more evident in his voice, now that he could relax somewhat. "I'm a Royal Messenger, under orders from Princess Luna. Everfree Forest was meant to be my testing grounds, she was unaware that anyone lived here. I was also unaware, I'm very sorry that I put you in danger, but my test is over regardless."
Zecora actually seemed taken aback by this news. She believed that moving here and living in something close to solitude would get her away from such creatures, her beliefs and studies pointed to the Everfree Forest being safe. Her eyes seemed to scan over mental images being projected across the ground, her mouth opening and closing as if trying to come up with something to say. Finally, she looked up at him and shook her head. She still looked upset, but she seemed far more calm. "Why would the Princess send you without help? You are a young and inexperienced whelp."
He chuckled a little at that, but his own fatigue was starting to catch up with him again. He just couldn't catch his breath, for some reason. "Yes, well, perhaps I'm new to this, but I'm hardly all that inexperienced, I have been under direct study after all," he said, standing up again and starting back in the direction he was walking in the first place. "You are a Druid....right?" he asked, stopping next to her and closing his eyes, thinking quietly and speaking more slowly. "<Why are you living in Everfree Forest?>" he asked her in her native tongue, catching Zecora off-guard. But then, she thought about what he said he was. "<I suppose I should have expected that from a messenger,>" she muttered, turning to walk with him.
"<I simply decided to move here after travelling to this place. Everfree Forest is a wonderful place to live, when vile monsters are not being called forth within it,>" she said, walking a little behind and to the left of him. Strider hrm'ed and nodded a little. "<I see. I will keep this in mind so the Princesses do not make the same mistake, without letting you know ahead of time. These are still Equestrian lands,>" he said, smiling back at her and slumping his head down for a moment.
Zecora simply nodded and kept her thoughts to herself, for the moment. This young colt was rather forward and cocky....it left a bad taste in her mouth. He seemed to think she would be perfectly compliant. In truth, she had no choice but to be, but she would be respectful to the Royal Pony Sisters. She didn't have to bend over backwards to anything this uppity male said to her! "<Perhaps, but I watch over this forest with more dedication than any Royal Guard,>" she said as calmly as she could, seeing the path leading out of the forest up ahead. "<So until the Princesses can contact me....I kindly ask you to get out of my forest.>"
He turned his head towards her, stopping in his tracks. He was going to say something, but he was far too tired to get into it with her. She seemed angry again....he didn't get the fairer sex sometimes. Maybe it was just him, that was always a good chance. "<Alright....I'll make sure to speak to Princess Luna about this,>" he said, turning his head and bowing his head. "<Again, I'm sorry. I will not do it again,>" he said, and turned to walk away. He didn't entirely hear her calling him a foolish child, while walking back towards her home.
The closer he got to the entrance/exit of the forest, the more energetic he felt. He would have plenty of time to spend with Rainbow Dash now, which was a relief for him. This whole ordeal was more than he'd initially bargained for. He stopped for a moment and touched his forehead with a hoof, rubbing there for a moment. "C'mon Strider, just gotta get back to town, then you can lay down for a bit maybe....shoot, what time is it?" he muttered to himself, blinking his eyes open and looking down the path. That was when he spotted a lavender Unicorn heading his way at an increasing pace. "Twilight....?" he muttered.