2w, 6dI'm Makin' A Call 0 comments · 19 views
6w, 3dThe Before Times 2 comments · 25 views
9w, 3dSuper Special Awesome Love Lost Fun Fact Time 0 comments · 23 views
10w, 6dTime for Your 4 AM News. 0 comments · 21 views
12w, 5dWild Blog Entry Has Appeared! 0 comments · 22 views
13w, 18hKeeping Busy 0 comments · 16 views
15w, 5dTwo In the Chamber 1 comments · 26 views
19w, 1dAchievement Unlocked! 0 comments · 25 views
20w, 3dA Present for Y'all. 1 comments · 28 views
28w, 5dFEELS. 2 comments · 55 views
Fluttershy came to with a splitting headache, and dizzier than if she had been on the losing end of a battle with a tornado. She didn't remember much after the lightning bolt had struck the chariot. A cry for help, a rending crunch, it was all very fuzzy. With a great deal of difficulty, she forced herself into a seated position. As she did so, she felt something lightly brush against her flank. Looking to see what it possibly could have been made her sick to her stomach. Her right wing hung limp and useless at her side. Oh no... Her first panicked thought was that it was broken. A closer inspection alleviated that concern. "No...it's not broken, it's just dislocated..."
The thought of dislocated wings quickly shifted the mare's thoughts to that young robin from the day before. "Ohh... I should have asked Big Macintosh to check...on...him..." Fluttershy trailed off, feeling her muzzle turn beet-red again. "B-Big Macintosh..." That spot where he had kissed her cheek began tingling softly. The pegasus physically shook off the light-headed feeling that was slowly working its way into her mind. There were more important things to attend to first.
Not the least of which was finding out exactly where she was. Doing her best to ignore the very odd combination of the dull pains coming from her limp wing and the euphoric feelings coming from her head, the mare gathered enough strength to stand up. "Where...where am I...?" she muttered, slowly taking in her surroundings. Just beyond the thick curtain of fog, she saw what looked like dozens of long, shadowy claws reaching out from the dark backdrop of trees. The rain was still falling heavily, adding an eerie ambience to the atmosphere as it battered the dense foliage. The realization of where she was hit Fluttershy like a blast of frigid winter air. "T-t-the Everfree F-forest...!" She swallowed nervously, and her eyes began jumping from one dark spot to the next. The more she looked about, the more tricks her worried mind played on her.
A rustling in the undergrowth behind her quickly drew the pony's wide-eyed attention. "W-who's th-there...?" she stammered. As answer, the rustling intensified and moved closer. "A-Applejack? Is...is that you?" Unconsciously, the winged mare began backing away from the approaching noise. Fluttershy was so fixated on this unknown threat, that when she backed under a broken branch, she nearly jumped out of her coat. "Aaahhh!" The butterfly-marked pony uttered a shriek of terror, and bolted forward, the rustling before her now irrelevant.
Now, as most anypony would agree, running with one's eyes closed is not the smartest thing to do. It was some kind of miracle that Fluttershy didn't gallop headlong into one of the dozen trees flying by her. Ultimately, it wasn't a tree that halted her panicked flight, but her own discarded saddlebags. She hit the muddy ground with a wet thud. The pegasus covered her eyes and lay there, shivering with fright.
The familiar noise snapped the pony out of her scared trembling. Sitting upon her saddlebags, struggling to free their latch and get at the provisions inside, was a small, spherical insect-like creature commonly known as a parasprite. The little blue critter looked forlornly at the pony. Fluttershy bit her lip; she was very familiar with parasprites. The tiny animals were unbearably adorable, but they also had voracious appetites and reproduced faster than ten rabbits.
These little buggers, armed with those two traits, had literally eaten quite a few Ponyville citizens out of house and home. Fluttershy, having befriended the first parasprite, had been responsible for the infestation. She had definitely learned her lesson from the mishap. As hard as it was for her to admit this to herself, she couldn't keep this poor creature. Especially not now. The words sticking in her throat, the pegasus shooed the little animal away. "Go on, little one... Go home...quickly now!" When the parasprite refused to budge, the pony finally gave in. She opened up her bags and pulled out a small apple. Showing it to the parasprite to catch its attention, she kicked the apple into the forest. That did the trick; the ever hungry animal made a beeline after the food.
Fluttershy picked up her saddlebags and slipped them on, struggling quite a bit in getting them over her injured wing. "Ow..." Finally, with her saddlebags on, and the parasprite hopefully taken care of, the pegasus...realized she hadn't the slightest idea where she was going. Applejack was missing, along with all of Celestia's guards; she was standing, alone, in the middle of the Everfree Forest. She wouldn't be able to pick out the right direction to Canterlot if it was given to her.
As the gravity of her hopeless predicament sank in, the pegasus mare dejectedly sat down to ponder her next move. She quickly wished that she had looked before sitting down, as she planted herself square on the business end of a sharp green pinecone. She was back on her hooves in an instant, doing a little jig of pain. "Ow, ow, ow..." When the bright snap of pain had faded, Fluttershy turned to investigate its source. "A pinecone...?" Wait, this pinecone is much too young to have fallen now..." Further inspections turned up half a dozen more of the young pinecones, scattered amongst several broken branches. These branches had not fallen naturally; something had knocked them from the trees.
A chance bolt of lightning going off overhead afforded the yellow pegasus a glimpse of the forest before her. It was like a tunnel of broken branches and crushed foliage leading deeper into the dark forest. Yes, it looked scary, but Fluttershy had no other options. The mare swallowed nervously and started into the darkness.
With each shaky step, the dislodged leaves and twigs crunched noisily underhoof, echoing into the inky blackness. "It's all right, Fluttershy..." she said to herself. "You can do it... Just keep walking..."
Fluttershy froze at the ghostly moan. Her frightened turquoise eyes darted from left to right. She didn't dare turn around, for fear that she would see whatever had just made that noise right behind her. "W-who's th-there...?"
The pegasi's eyes snapped open at the agonized plea. "That's no ghost..." Concerned, she broke into a quick trot. "Hello? Who was that?"
"This way... Over...here..."
The voice led the winged pony to the twisted, splintered mound of wood and metal that had been the chariot. Bits of debris, all various sizes, were strewn about the new clearing. Underneath the largest piece, probably what was left of the chariot's body, was the trapped owner of the voice. "General! Oh my goodness! What happened? A-are you all right?"
"Oh, Miss Fluttershy...it's you..." General Headwind wheezed. "Yes... I'll be fine...once I'm...free of this...wreckage... Could you-"
"Oh, yes, o-of course." Fluttershy nodded and set her shoulder against the chunk of debris, allowing the pegasus general just enough room to wriggle free.
"You...have my thanks, Miss Fluttershy..." he replied, quickly climbing to his hooves. He drew in a sharp breath of air and released the straps on his heavily damaged armor, letting it fall away. As it did so, Fluttershy spotted a trail of blood streaming from a fresh puncture wound directly under his left wing.
"Oh my... That looks serious..." the mare commented. "Where did it come from?"
"Look at my armor." he answered quickly, focused on his wing. He gave it an experimental flap and winced.
Confused, Fluttershy gave the discarded armor a closer look. One of its plates had been forcefully bent inward by some great force, creating a wickedly sharp edge. This keen edge was tipped with a sticky, crimson substance. No further inspection was required to figure out what that was. "A-armor's supposed to protect you...isn't it...?"
"It did." Headwind corrected. "After that lightning struck the chariot, it dropped like a stone. Not too far from here is a giant rift, and you and Miss Applejack were set to drop right into it. I did everything in my power to prevent that from happening. I was able to give the chariot enough of a pull to get it over the rift. Most of it, anyway; the wheels clipped the edge, and...well..."
Fluttershy clapped a hoof to the side of her head and screwed her eyes shut. A piercing cry for help ripped through the confines of her mind. "Applejack was thrown out..." she finished slowly.
The general bowed his head. "Yes...I'm sorry..."
"What...what happened to Applejack? Where is she?" The yellow pegasi's voice was suddenly fatigued.
"I...do not know. My apologies. The chariot was moving faster than I had anticipated and I was unable to stop it after the two of you had fallen out. The thing that did stop me was this tree here. If I hadn't been wearing armor at the time, I wouldn't be standing here talking to you." General Headwind explained. "I'd rather take a wound under my wing than become part of a tree."
"There should be first aid supplies somewhere in this wreckage. Once I'm patched up, we can be on our way."
"That won't be necessary."
"Beg pardon, Miss Fluttershy?"
"Wh-what I meant to say is that I actually have medical supplies in my saddlebags. Better safe than sorry, right?"
"I-if you'd like, I-I could dress that wound for you..."
The white pegasus nodded and held his wing aloft. "Be my guest."
The Element of Kindness was an expert at tending to all types of injuries and quickly had General Headwind's wound tightly bound. "I-I'm sorry, sir... But, uhm...your wing won't be useable for a while. That wound was deeper than I thought... I'm sorry I couldn't do more..."
"Nonsense, Miss Fluttershy. It feels as good as new. If you didn't already live in Ponyville, I would personally recommend you to the Royal infirmary."
"Th-thank you..." she murmured, blushing from the compliment. Shaking off the embarrassment, the shy pony mustered up enough courage to pose a nervous question. "Uhm...General, sir?"
"I-I know that you want to get to Canterlot as soon as possible, but...but...I can't go without Applejack. She's my friend and she wouldn't leave without me. I have to do the same for her."
"My thoughts exactly." the general agreed.
"Re-really...? I thought we were supposed to get back to Canterlot as fast as we could?"
"I promised her Highness that would escort the two of you back to Canterlot. The first thing a pegasus is taught upon joining the Royal Air Guard is to never fall through on a promise. We'll find Miss Applejack, you have my word; and my promise." The stallion paused and focused his eyes on a gap in the swaying foliage. "It looks like the storm has passed for the most part. Princess Luna has also given us a full moon to travel by. Let us make the best of it. Follow me, if you would be so kind."
"Where are we going...?"
"Well, the most logical place to begin our search for Miss Applejack would be where she was last seen, wouldn't you agree?"
"I-I suppose..." the winged mare murmured hesitantly. "W-wait for me!" she quickly added after the general's short blue tail disappeared between two trees. As she trotted up beside Headwind, he flipped her a quick glance.
"Might I ask why you're not flying, Miss Fluttershy? Personal preference, or have you been injured?"
"Uhm... A little of both actually..." Reluctantly, the pegasus turned to reveal her limp wing. "It's not broken, just dislocated... It...it must have happened during the crash, I think..."
"Two usable wings between two pegasi..." Headwind muttered. "Not exactly the best situation to be in. Unfortunately, I possess very little medical knowledge concerning pegasi wings. Members of the Royal Air Guard are taught to continue their mission, even if they should lose use of their wings. I'm deeply sorry that I can't return your favor, Miss Fluttershy."
"It's all right, really. I'll be fine." the mare insisted.
"That aside, I do have another question for you. The Princess asked for you and Miss Applejack by name. How did you come to be so close?"
"Oh, that. I suppose being good friends with Twiligh-"
"Wait, you're the friends that Miss Sparkle always refers to in her letters to the Princess?"
"Her Majesty speaks volumes about her student and her close friends. I've heard many things about you, Miss Fluttershy."
The pegasus mare was genuinely surprised. "Good things, I hope?"
"But of course. I feel honored to be protecting the Element of Kindness."
The female pony didn't have an appropriate response to a compliment like that. Not that it mattered much; Headwind's quick pace had already brought them to the edge of the ravine that he had mentioned earlier.
Fluttershy swallowed nervously, the pegasus general was right. This ravine was giant. Gingerly, the pony leaned out over the edge to peer downwards. All she could see was a thick, wispy bank of fog below her, endless for all she knew. Just looking down into this gray, roiling soup was making her nauseous. "Oh my... Y-you don't suppose Applejack...f-fell in, do you? Ohh...it looks like such a long way to the bottom... I hope she-"
"Nay, yellow pony; do not fear, do not worry. Two pegasi, they caught her, and took off in a hurry."
Only one pony can rhyme like that. The butter-colored mare's gaze flew up out of the foggy ravine as she spun around to face the familiar voice. Her turquoise eyes lit up hopefully. "Zecora! What are you doing all the way out here in the middle of the forest?"
"A healer of animals cannot possibly doubt, that she can make medicine when her supplies have run out. You see, I have made this journey to where we now are, in order to find more herbs for my jars." The small zebra turned to reveal the baskets she was carrying, filled with glass jars of all sizes, that were in turn filled with various herbs and berries.
"Those pegasi that carried Applejack away, were they female?" Fluttershy asked concernedly, envisioning the pair from the burglary the night before.
Zecora shrugged. "They were flying too high for my eye to see clearly. I only knew they held onto their quarry quite dearly."
"Oh, o-okay then..."
Finally, the other pegasus deemed it time to join the conversation. "Forgive the intrusion, ma'am." he began politely. "My name is Headwind, General of the Royal Air Guard of Canterlot, and I have been instructed by her Majesty, the Princess, to escort Miss Fluttershy here and her close friend, a one Miss Applejack, to the royal city. This mission is of the utmost importance, so if you could point out the direction these two pegasi flew, I would be most grateful."
Even though the general stood a full head taller than her, Zecora remained as amiable as ever, even when he stepped right up to her. "Come with me, pony of great caliber. I would be happy to be the guide to your traveler."
"Oh, thank you, Zecora! Thank you so much!" the yellow pegasus said joyfully as she followed the two ponies along the ravine's edge.
Little by little, the trees began peeling away from the canyon rim, before finally opening up to a massive stone structure, crumbling in places from the ravages of time. Despite its disrepair, the ponies couldn't help but stop for a moment to take in its majesty.
"The ancient castle of the Royal Pony Sisters..." Fluttershy remembered this place; the site of the first (and last) showdown with Nightmare Moon. Something told the timid pegasus that this place was going to be very important in the near future.
Even General Headwind found himself in awe. "I was always told that this place was nothing more than myth. I can remember being told bedtime stories about this place when I was just a colt..."
Not to be left out, Zecora put in her two bits. "I remember hearing stories of this castle so grand, even while back in my homeland."
Standing before the trio was an imposing entry hall. The dark stone of the arched doorway gleamed invitingly in the strong moonlight, almost beckoning the wandering travelers into its gaping maw. The rough cobblestone path leading into the hall was horribly overgrown, slowly being reclaimed by nature. Significantly less confident than the ponies before her, Fluttershy cautiously followed them into the long-abandoned entry hall. The instant her hoof touched the stone inside, it felt like something stabbed her mind. "Ahh...!"
"I couldn't do it... I...wasn't fast enough..."
"Rainbow Dash, darling, you did all that you possibly could have done..."
"No, I didn't... I could have gone faster..."
"C'mon, Dashie, turn that frown upside-down. How could you have flown faster than a Sonic Rainboom?"
"Augh! You don't get it! Neither of you do! I could have done something! For Celestia's sake, I'm supposed to be the Element of Loyalty! Bottom line: Twilight needed me and I wasn't there for her! I...failed..."
Fluttershy didn't know it, but by this time she was unconscious upon the cold stone floor. General Headwind and Zecora had heard her fall and quickly stood over her. Above all of them, visible only in the moonlight streaming in through a hole in the dilapidated ceiling, a shadow moved. It rapidly leapt into the night sky, where feathered wings carried it off toward another massive stone structure.
Entering through an arched window frame, the pegasus trotted up to a circular stone slab that sat before a majestic stained glass window, whose artistic appeal had long since been shattered. Once in the center of the altar, the winged pony pressed a hoof into a small circular depression in the stone. A "click!" was heard in response, and, one by one, steps began appearing, spiraling their way down into the darkness under the stone disc. At the bottom of this staircase one would find a sturdily locked wooden door. A knock on the door and a small panel on it slid back.
"Password?" the revealed pair of pink eyes asked.
"Good and evil, their cycle eternal, hearkens to the moon's glow and the sun's inferno." the pegasus stallion recited.
The pair of eyes narrowed suspiciously. "How do I know it's you...?"
"Open this door, numbskull, before I knock it down on top of you..."
The female voice behind the door giggled. "Yup, that's you all right. One sec'." The panel slid back into place and moments later the door was opened, revealing yet another pegasus. One with a jagged, dark blue mane not unlike the shape of a bolt of lightning. "So? Whadd'ya find out? Huh? Huh?"
"Zip it... Just tell me where the boss is. We've found another Element."
"Oh. She's in the library, looking up spells we can use."
The winged stallion sniffed and set off down the torch-lit hallway, ignoring the stream of babbling from the pegasus behind him. A glow emanating from an archway showed him where the library was. As he turned the corner into the room, the pony was halted by a voice from the far wall.
"This had better be important... I don't need any more interruptions, so unless Nightmare Moon has somehow returned of her own accord, you can back your flank right back out of this room."
For some reason, the formerly serious male pegasus began snickering, very obviously holding back laughter. "W-we've located...a-another Element, just outside the e-entry hall...Pffft!"
The pony at the desk looked up upon hearing this. "Normally, I would lay into you again for laughing like that, but that's going to have to wait. Which Element did you locate?"
After regaining (some of) his composure, the stallion continued. "It was a little dark to see, but I believe it was the yellow pegasus. Kindness, I believe."
"Then I've got the perfect spell to test out our new 'power source.' Get me a charged sinkstone and meet me outside. It's time I tried walking in an Element's hooves."