Avatar is of Ambar, a character from the comic Las Lindas by Challodillo.
90w, 3dWriting Gold
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90w, 3dDoubled Fun
91w, 6dOrganized Shipping (Most Common)
93w, 9hTwilight is Best Pony
64w, 5dTwilight Sparkle
81w, 2dF/F ships
18w, 1dTwilight Shipping
30w, 3dLong Fics
1w, 3dShips in a Bottle 32 comments · 295 views
6w, 6dGot Married 36 comments · 197 views
10w, 20hHa'Jin'Vega 4 comments · 149 views
11w, 15hCloppin 16 comments · 208 views
15w, 5dI Just Want an Opinion 15 comments · 191 views
42w, 2dI really shouldn't be writing without thinking. 10 comments · 494 views
54w, 6dThe Beginnings of Chapter 1 10 comments · 174 views
66w, 3dRead This. 12 comments · 100 views
68w, 4dGot Bored, Wrote Fic 25 comments · 75 views
69w, 4dFound a Little Fic 6 comments · 50 views
Twilight woke up to the sound of very light breathing. She had to flutter her eyes a few times to make sure she wasn’t dreaming anymore before her vision cleared. She stared at the top of her tent, noting light was pouring in through the open flap. She smiled up at the ceiling and took in a deep breath. It smelled nice. So tropical, so beachy, so much like… Fluttershy. She stared down her bag curiously and noticed a pink-haired head resting on her chest, then she sniffed again. Yes that was definitely Fluttershy’s smell. Then she smelled another familiar scent.
It smelled like…
She turned her head rapidly to her left and stared straight into Rainbow Dash’s furious eyes. Twilight gasped quietly, realizing what this must have looked like, and quickly slid down into her bag until it hid her snout. She could not take her gaze from Dash’s, it was just so intense, and part of her felt extremely guilty.
“What’s going on?” Dash asked in a harsh whisper, glancing to Fluttershy briefly as the daintier Pegasus snoozed. Twilight could feel her stomach grow heavy with guilt. She briefly remembered why she’d chosen to tent with Fluttershy last night rather than Dash but she felt kind of bad about it right now. What had she been thinking? She could have at least told Dash…
Wait, why did she feel guilty about this? It’s not like anything happened, and they were going to be riding together when they set off this morning… “I’m just sleeping with Fluttershy.” Twilight stated. She watched Dash’s eyes widen in shock and dismay, and that guilt returned immediately. “In the same tent, with her, not in her bag or anything like… Um…”
Dash calmly narrowed her eyes, turned towards the exit and walked out. Twilight watched in panic, and quickly squirmed out of her sleeping bag. Fluttershy’s head rocked as Twilight climbed out, and finally she opened her eyes and looked around curiously. “Twilight?” She whispered curiously as she watched the unicorn quickly tame her multi-colored hair.
“I’ll be back later, Fluts!” Twilight whispered, running out of the tent quickly.
“But I told you I didn’t-!… Okay…”
The world was bright outside the tent. The sand was nearly blinding until she blinked her eyes as rapidly as possible and glanced around quickly, getting a feel for her surroundings. The dragons were diving into the ocean, catching fish by the mouthful, Applejack was out and about, looking at supplies, and Pinkie Pie was going for a little swim. And Rainbow Dash’s narrow flank was retreating into the tropical forest.
“Mornin’-! Twi?” Applejack watched the unicorn charge into the trees, and turned to face Pinkie Pie, who was shaking herself dry. “Huh, must need to make a little pit-stop.” The farm pony shrugged.
Twilight’s head swiveled rapidly as she ran into the trees, pushing through the green, leafy bushes and trampling grass as she avoided tree trunks. She could see flashes of blue at every step, retreating further and further into the green. Then as she started going uphill, she lost the blue. She stood in the middle of a small clearing, glancing uphill, then downhill, then left and right, and saw no blue.
Her heart was pounding rapidly, she knew she’d really angered Dash this time. Or was she not angry? What if she was just disappointed? Disappointed in what, that she hadn’t spent the night with her? She slowed her searching as she realized they didn’t ever really have some sort of system. She never said she couldn’t spend the night with somepony else, she was well within the boundaries of friendship to stay with Fluttershy last night. Dash could be mad all she want, she didn’t care.
Twilight whirled around to walk to camp, then immediately turned around again and started rushing deeper into the forest. Yes she did yes she did. “Dash!” She shouted, hoping for an answer, but she didn’t hear one. She called again, turning sharply as she met a cliff wall, going back into the forest. She ran for what felt like forever, looking for a flash of blue, a little rainbow, anything.
“Dash!” She called again, pushing through a clump of bushes until she emerged in a small clearing, and saw it. A flash of rainbow colored hair behind another bush, sitting there, waving some. Twilight sucked in a deep breath, and quickly pushed the bushes open.
Dash was squatting, her face a mask of pure terror, and Twilight stared back. They watched each other for a moment, before Dash’s eye started to twitch. “OUT!” She shouted, pushing Twilight out of the bush and onto her back.
She waited this time, until Dash finally walked out, looking incredibly embarrassed and a little annoyed. “You couldn’t have waited until I finished my morning business?” The blue pony asked with a heavy blush, thighs squeezed together tightly as Twilight lowered her eyes in shame.
“I was worried you ran off because you were mad at me.” Twilight admitted, her hoof softly scraping the grassy floor in embarrassment as Dash turned her head slowly to the side, still looking annoyed but also looked somewhat relieved.
“I’m not mad at you.” Dash sighed, leading the way back to camp with a slow gait, obviously taking her time to walk. “Well not anymore. I guess I was at first but I was thinking about it and… It doesn’t really matter. I mean we’re all supposed to be your guardians and stuff, I just got it in my head that I was, y’know…” Dash turned her head away to hide her face from Twilight, who circled around her back to see what was wrong, but Dash just turned away again.
“No, I don’t. You can tell me Dash…” Twilight whispered, sighing as she stopped trying to look at the Pegasus’s’ face.
Dash hesitated in her next step, but continued forward at the same, slow pace. Her cheeks burned with embarrassment as she tried to wave it off. It was nothing. It really was. So why did it embarrass her so badly? Why did it make her so jealous of Fluttershy?
Wow, was she actually jealous of Fluttershy? Just because she’d shared a tent with Twilight? It didn’t mean anything. They just shared a tent, and somehow woke up snuggling. That happened all the time. Maybe? She’d never slept next to Twilight before. She bet it wasn’t that great. She was probably a still, quiet sleeper, so she wouldn’t snore or twitch suddenly. Unless she was the sort who pulled you into cuddles in your sleep. That sounded… Warm.
“Well, I mean, when we started out on this with the others, I always kinda felt they weren’t so… Well, Anemone picked us to go talk to his brothers, so I always thought we were the… Y’know. The ones in charge, the important ones, the strong ones… I feel like we gotta stick together, and that, maybe, I guess I think I’m that one of us whose… Well… Um… Like…” Dash stumbled between words, and Twilight did everything she could to hide her amused smile. “I always thought, like… I’d be the… Of us and… Maybe…”
“You can tell me Dash…” Twilight whispered encouragingly.
“It’s embarrassing!” Dash stomped her hooves a little in the grass, making Twilight smile some. “Okay, look, it’s like this: just, do what you want. Okay? I mean, we’re all here to protect you, even Fluttershy, so you’re gonna be safe no matter what. Just… I guess… I-” Dash drooped her head and kept walking.
Something was bugging her. A lot. Twilight watched with a tiny frown, and tried to approach, to say something, but Dash was a difficult girl, no matter what she said… Unless… “Would you like me to find you some pineapples?” Dash’s head perked up, and she glanced back to Twilight with some surprise. “That’s your favorite, right? Pineapples? We’re on a tropical island, there’s bound to be a few here if I’m correct. I don’t know what’s wrong, but you’ll tell me eventually. Until that happens, I’ll go look for pineapples. You stay by the beach, okay?” Twilight smiled at that.
Dash stared at her for a few seconds with a surprised look, then opened her mouth a little, “… Holy hay Twilight, you need to stay out of my head. I’m serious, I’m feeling like you’re magicking at me or something.” Twilight grinned more brightly at that. “Alright, but be quick. I want to leave as soon as we’re all ready to…” Dash gave in after a moment of reluctance, and Twilight quietly nodded before bounding off with a happy little trot.
Dash watched her leave, seeing the purple slip away into the bushes, and she began to mutter to herself. “Good job Dash, send the important one off on her own…” She grumbled, dragging herself back to camp. Why did this frustrate her so much? She was perfectly fine with Twilight when the unicorn was around her, but now that she was speeding off to gather her pineapples she felt really… Really…
She was at a loss for words with herself. It felt like she was happy and sad at the same time, and her heart felt very heavy with both. She walked down until the slope evened out, and she took a seat on the sun-warmed grass. The world around her was absolutely full of life, yet she couldn’t shake this feeling that it was all some trick, one big undead puppet beneath her hooves and all around her. Twilight was right, it wasn’t brimming with the energy she was used to, it kept it all for itself almost selfishly, like it couldn’t give any out.
The leylines were dying out here, and she realized this whole island was fighting to keep as much energy as it could, that was why it didn’t so freely give the open air the excess. It was a haunting thought to think, outside of Equestria, the world was failing. Well…
She and Twilight would do something about that. She frowned, no, Twilight would do something about that. She was just along for the ride as a guardian, like the other four. Even if they weren’t picked to be Twilight’s guardians, they were basically doing the same thing she was. She wasn’t that special to Twilight in that case. She grit her teeth. That hurt to think about.
That couldn’t be true, she had to be important to her, right? Everything they’d experienced over the past few days, their heart-to-hearts, the stories they shared, the pains, the worries, the tears, Twilight even gave her forehead a kiss on top of the castle and promised up and down to make up for her… Wings…
Was that all this was about? The loss of her wings? Was that the only thing Twilight cared about concerning her? Was it? She just wanted to make things right in her own mind, was that it? Dash sucked in a deep breath at the revelation, and suddenly had the very strong desire to hunt down the unicorn and demand to know the truth, to know her feelings and intentions. Twilight had come to Ponyville to discover friendship, but she always had her nose buried deep in her books until somepony dragged her out…
Did she even care about them?
Dash’s eyes widened, and she ran to the nearest tree and smacked her forehead against it again and again, growling impressively dirty curses to herself as she fought the feelings of betrayal. Twilight was not like that. She was a good filly, who just didn’t have a lot of experience. She was not manipulative or mean like that, she’d even remembered Dash’s favorite fruit and was taking her own time to go get it for her!
She slowly made her way back to camp, a large, lovely red mark on her forehead as she stepped out onto the beach. Pinkie Pie looked up from the crab she’d been watching, smiling brightly at Dash, but it fell as she saw her face. “… Your face is all red.” The pink pony pointed out as she slowly approached the sulking Pegasus. Applejack looked up from the bowl she’d been greedily devouring from, as did Rarity just next to her, looking pleased with herself. Fluttershy had been slowly approaching Hayseed, but turned, distracted as Dash came out.
“Eh? Yeah.” Dash mumbled, rubbing her forehead where it was still red, having difficulties feeling embarrassed about it. “I was out talking with Twilight and, well, somethin’ or other.” She looked up at the sky quietly in thought.
“Twilight hit you?” Fluttershy asked, her eyes suddenly wide with terror. She wasn’t the only one jumping to conclusions, with Applejack dropping her bowl suddenly and Rarity squeaking in shock. They gathered around Rainbow Dash quickly, who stared at them with bewilderment.
“What? No! I hit myself in a tree branch! She’s just out getting me pineapples!” She explained quickly. The tension deflated quickly, and Fluttershy blushed heavily in embarrassment as Rainbow Dash rubbed her forehead as her anxiety just skyrocketed as her friends idly shifted around her. She covered her eyes, feeling like taking a deep nap until this blew over.
“Oh, um, okay, I’m-” Fluttershy started, but Dash pressed her hoof to the shy little pony’s mouth.
“Save it, I’m fine.” Dash sighed and wandered into her tent. The other four stood around awkwardly, watching Dash disappear. When she was gone, Rarity turned to face the others.
“Twilight did something to her. Dash is never this distant.” She mumbled, and the other three nodded slowly. “What do you suppose she did? Do you think they got into a fight?”
“When Twilight left, I figured she was going to go apologize to Dash for… Something… Dash seemed a little huffy about something…” Fluttershy whispered lowly, staring down at her hooves. Was this her fault? Was it because she let Twilight stay in her tent? Should she have just ignored her sudden courage?
“Would explain why Twilight went to get her pineapples. Dash never frowns around those things…” Applejack touched her hoof to her chin in thought while Pinkie turned to go to the tent.
“You guys can figure that out, I’m going to go have a talk with Dashie and see if I can’t get her out.” She slipped away from the group and walked to the tent. The other three watched as she poked her head in, then walked inside.
Inside, Dash was moving the sleeping bags around. Pinkie watched for a moment as the mare set the bags across eachother and folded them slowly, soon making a little nest out of the bags to curl up in. She turned her head sharply to face Pinkie the moment she noticed her. “Can I help you?” The pony asked with an annoyed tone in her voice.
Pinkie put on a good smile, showing all her teeth. “Well, I’ve been thinking!” She walked in a bit closer and sat down. Dash, having just got comfy, tensed up. When Pinkie thinks, that means nopony rests. “You want to be a good guardian for Twilight, right?”
Dash nodded without hesitation. Of course she did, they were best friends… She thought. No, of course they were, even if weird things were happening, even if she wasn’t her most important guard…
“Well, I want to be a good guard too, so I was thinking to myself: ‘Pinkie you outrageously good-looking, magnificently intelligent, and all around amazing pony, how would you go about getting two ponies including yourself to become good guards?’ Then it came to me!” She pointed a hoof to Dash’s side, and Dash glanced to the sword in her harness. She calmly took it out, and Pinkie nodded rapidly. “We need to learn how to use that sword!”
Dash raised an eyebrow, staring at Pinkie closely while examining her sword again. The coin-shaped pommel, the wing-shaped guard that was shaped to curve around the mouth holding it, the short, straight blade extending a good foot from the pommel with the wickedly sharp edges… Pinkie had a point.
She didn’t know how to use a sword. She remembered how awkward fighting with it was, not because of its weight or shape, but because she didn’t know how to use it at all. The sword swung effortlessly for her, but during her battle with the jester she’d relied on kicking the clown simply because that was reliable. When she’d stabbed the thing it had left a mere flesh wound. She turned to Pinkie Pie and saw her smile a little. “That’s a pretty good idea…” She mumbled, sighing as she stood.
It would take her mind off her concerns too. She stood up slowly, and followed the bounding pink mare out of the tent. “Alright everypony! If you aren’t busy then clear out and start packing up! Dashie and I have some training to do!” Pinkie called as Dash set her sword on the sand. Applejack took one look as Dash’s wings fluttered intensely as she concentrated on the sword, then nodded to Rarity.
“Training?” Rarity asked, watching as Dash made her sword flash, and then watched her smile in satisfaction as she lifted up one sword and tossed the other to Pinkie Pie. Dash then took her thick, leather holster, disconnected it from the belt, and also copied it. She tossed that to Pinkie to, and they slid their swords in the soft-edged sheaths. Better than hitting eachother with the sharp edges. “They can’t be serious! Practicing sword fighting by themselves with actual swords!?” She glanced to Applejack, who smirked.
“Dash is a tough gal. Pinkie… Boy howdy I doubt she’ll even get poked.” Applejack reassured the unicorn, hoping the two knew what they were doing. The two ponies were joined by Fluttershy, and they stared as Pinkie and Dash stared at eachother, swords in mouths.
“So,” Dash spoke up after a few seconds, “do we just start fighting eachother or what?” She asked, glancing around slowly. The other girls merely shrugged, and Pinkie then set her sword down.
“I know! We need to do stretches! Like push-ups, and sit-ups!” Pinkie bobbed her head, and Dash began to nod. She understood that. She did that every morning before she went flying back when she… Right. “So how many should we do?”
“If you don’t exercise a lot, maybe start with thirty-five or somethin’?” Dash suggested, and Pinkie nodded rapidly. Dash had no problem with thirty-five or the full seventy, in fact, finishing when Pinkie did. Then they began to do their sit-ups, all while Rarity, Fluttershy, and Applejack began to pack things up.
When they finished the stretching and did a short jog up and down the beach, they went back to their swords and took them in mouth, and quietly stood apart. “So… Shall we?” Dash cocked her eyebrow, and Pinkie nodded rapidly. The two slowly, carefully started forward, and Dash made the first swing at Pinkie’s sword.
Fluttershy squeaked as she heard the first clatter as her friends began to fight. She tried to not look as she nervously rolled up the sleeping bags as tight as they could be and strapped them to the traveling bags as she heard the next hit. “Dashie you can’t aim for my sword, you have to try and hit me!” Pinkie urged, making Fluttershy wince.
“At least they’re taking it seriously.” Rarity tried to joke, but her eye twitched as there was another clatter. The sound of the swords sheathed in the thick cloth was a steady dull thump behind the working ponies. As Pinkie and Dash got more settled into training, the sound of practiced combat intensified.
For Rainbow Dash, each swing was a test. What angles brought the most power? How hard of a swing could her grip handle before she was forced to loosen from the tension? Where was a pony, and in this case Pinkie, most vulnerable?
For Pinkie, it was like learning the steps of a dance. Each move was invented, and each move had to be countered. Dash was swinging randomly though, pacing her swings to not strain herself or her energy. The two quickly realized the other’s strategy. Dash took her time, watching for perceived opening before diving in recklessly, blade swung in exaggeration towards the opening, where as Pinkie would skip back and bring her sword to block the hit. More than once the two had to spend several seconds reaffirming their grip on their swords.
Already they could see that would be a problem. They needed to work on keeping their hold tight and firm, or else lose several precious seconds regripping. Dash had already seen that problem when an attack threw her grip off, allowing Pinkie to dive in since she hadn’t lost hers. Dash had to back away rapidly, hop, skip, regrip, block the next blow, and pushed Pinkie very politely with her front hoof.
Dash attacked, Pinkie countered, Dash recovered, Pinkie waited, or if she had an opening, attacked. Dash found the dance interesting. Pinkie had an advantage, waiting and watching, planning her steps, never making the first move. Dash found it to be annoyingly effective, but whenever she waited, to try and get Pinkie to attack first, she always ran out of patience too quickly. Something to work on.
Twilight pushed the pineapple lightly. It rolled a bit. She was pretty sure it was ripe. It looked like the pictures of pineapples, green with a lot of yellow and brown. She was no expert, but she figured she’d find out once she cut it open, they had to have a knife sitting around somewhere or else she would be deeply disappointed in her friends’ ideas of what ‘being prepared’ meant.
She glanced up the tree she’d found, and using telekinesis, twisted off two more of the spiny fruits and levitated the them all in front of her as she made her way to the beach. She tried not to stray too far but she’d been so busy taking in the sights that she’d probably passed up more than a few pineapple-bearing trees along the way here. The tropics were so lush and refreshing, but boy were they hot. Sticking to the shade was nearly a must for her, though luckily they still had more than half of their canteens still full of water back at camp. She’d been careful to not drink too much, but probably already had more than she should have.
Still, the world was full of water, finding some that was fresh and non-salted shouldn’t be too hard, she figured. Though to be safe, she should take a look through her books and see if there was a water-finding spell. The books she learned magic from since she was little. The books that she didn’t bring. She somehow managed to keep her smile, despite attempting to throttle herself mentally.
She pushed through some lush green brush and glanced up quickly as she noticed a flock of brightly colored birds now watching her. She paused as she stood under them. They were many bright, neon colors that in Equestria wouldn’t have fit in so well. Their birds were more simply colored, not the elaborate reds, greens, blues, yellows, and oranges each bird was pretty much a mix of. They were incredibly curious creatures, and they all noted her with an equal amount of curiosity.
“Hello.” She finally spoke, smiling friendly-like. She then screeched as all the birds dived from the branches and attempted to land on her. She ran about, the pineapples laying in the middle of the clearing unharmed as Twilight ran around and kicked and bucked, but the birds seemed unconcerned and unharmed by her wild leaping. She finally slowed down as she began to tire out some twenty seconds later, and she panted heavily as she realized just how out of shape she was.
The birds, now cooing among themselves, began to nip at her coat and mane as Twilight stood there and panted, biting at her sweat. Well this was stupid. She reached back with a hoof, and had to strain just to try to wave a few away, but they just hopped out of reach. Were they mocking her? They were mocking her! Those little jerks! She reached back and wiggled her hooves some more, but they avoided her easily. She jumped, and they hopped, but landed back on her easily. She growled in anger and finally just sighed. “Guys, can you give me some space?” She finally asked, and the birds suddenly lifted off in a flutter of wings and squawking, leaving her with a very mussed back and covered in feathers.
She blew a feather off her face in annoyance, and picked up the pineapples and trudged off. She stared at the objects of her conquest, feeling more than a little accusatory of them just for leading her into this, but she kept forward. They were for Dash. She managed a smile. They were for Dash to apologize for… Well, she was getting them because she said she would, because Dash was in a bad mood, and because she screwed up somehow so she wanted to do something nice for her.
She kept her spirits up as she walked alone through the brushy woods, weaving her way along the erratic path she’d taken. She probably could have saved some time by not sight-seeing, but where was the fun in that? It was her first, and possibly only time out in the world, out of Equestria. Seeing what was new, what was different, what was possibly dangerous was exciting. So far she had seen lots of birds, but little else.
She heard the creak of a branch and looked upwards again. Up, high above her, sitting in the leafy boughs was a funny little creature. She widened her eyes a little to get a better look as it began to move along the branch, outwards, towards her. The way it moved, she knew immediately it was a monkey, but she had never seen a black monkey with white around the face and chest. It stared down at her when it reached the tip of the branch, then it hopped up and down a few times, making an excited call before leaping from the tree to another one. She noted its tail was ringed with white stripes as it dove into the forest.
“Neat!” Was Twilight’s only response before she continued forward, mentally sketching the little creature. It’s a good thing Applejack had considered quills and parchment important, she needed to take notes on what she was finding. Princess Celestia would find the information interesting. She walked for half a minute before she heard a thump by her side. She yelped, leaping away as she stared at the thing that had landed by her. It was a brown, hairy coconut.
She blinked her eyes rapidly and looked up. The monkey was back, watching her, holding a coconut above its tiny head. When her eyes met its eyes, it tossed the coconut away, and scampered off in the same direction as before. Twilight tracked it until it disappeared, then huffed quietly. She half considered walking after it, but decided it was more important to deliver the pineapples and go. She kept up the pace, glancing upwards to keep an eye out for more “falling coconuts”.
It was because of this she didn’t see the monkey run out of the brush, screaming wildly, making her leap back as it jumped up, grabbed two of the pineapples and flung them furiously at a tree trunk, splattering them. It immediately grabbed the last pineapple, making Twilight’s jaw drop as it did just the same as the first two. “H-hey! What the hay do you think you’re doing!?” She demanded, leaping towards the rapidly hopping monkey as it smacked its hands together, screeching at her some more. That was it! Those were gifts and the stupid thing was interrupting her! With a little growl she charged forward, and it tore into the forest.
Twilight used her magic as subconsciously as she always did to bend back branches and bushes, keeping an eye on the monkey that ran away from her. She leapt over bush after bush, adrenaline allowing her to ignore her fatigue as she tried to catch the monkey in her magical grip, but it was fast and dodgy.
The forest around her grew thicker as she went deeper, her unfocused mind allowing her to wonder without worry after the feisty little creature that destroyed her presents. She caught glimpse after glimpse of black and white fur, and dove towards it, fully intending to make the monkey apologize and possibly get her more pineapple.
Even on such a gray, cloudy day the skies and the land were still beautiful. Despite the mournful filter the land was still lush with color and life, and as always, Derpy Hooves was humming loudly, happily, and peacefully to herself as she fluttered among the clouds. It had been a good delivery. Sure she may have gotten lost on the way hunting down a particularly pretty colored bird she’d seen but she managed to make it to Cloudsdale before the deadline. All around her, the world seemed the same as ever, just a bit more gray than usual but sometimes a little darker weather was nice.
Sure she wasn’t aware that it was an ominous sign set up under the orders of Princess Celestia to prepare the towns’ leaders all over Equestria to receive some bad news, but all she knew it meant was that it was going to be a cool day when she got home, perfect for a little outdoor playtime with Dinky, and once it started to rain they could start their baking inside.
She dipped and dived among the gray clouds playfully, going between the gray filtered world below and the sunny day up above, giggling playfully to herself as she enjoyed the heat, then the cool, then the heat, then the cool, again and again.
She began to slow down, little by little, as a knot formed in her tummy. She kept her smile, but despite her apparent outward joy, and the off, kooky look she had, she could tell something was wrong. She couldn’t tell what. It was just a feeling that somewhere, something bad was about to impact her life.
Her thoughts immediately went to Dinky. She had gotten this feeling only once before while she was out, and when she’d returned she’d found her little girl splayed across the kitchen floor running a burning fever, having caught the flu in her several hours of absence. The panic in her stomach made it bubble as she willed herself to go faster. She had not taken to finding her daughter so pained very well, as Ponyville’s doctor soon found out when she’d broken into the hospital at night to get medical attention.
Dinky was fine now, of course, but Derpy still never forgot the fear that had slid down her throat like an ice cube, cold, numbing, making it difficult to breath… Suddenly the cloudy day didn’t seem so fun anymore. Suddenly she didn’t want to go make muffins and go play hide and seek. She wanted to find her daughter and keep her in her embrace until the bad things went away.
She sucked in a deep breath, and her wings batted more quickly as she picked up speed. She was going to get home as quickly as she could, find her baby girl and keep her bundled up, no if’s, and’s, but’s, or or’s. She wouldn’t have anything bad happen to the greatest thing in her life. She wouldn’t let anything hurt her again.
She extended her front legs out, and began to pick up speed. She dared anything in the world to stop her now.
In the back of her mind, she was aware of the faint whistling sound behind her. In the back of her mind, she knew she should turn and look. But it wasn’t until there was a violent hiss that made her ears ring did she actually turn and look.
Deep beyond the black pit of teeth and hunger was a realm where the damned reached out to drag her into the depths.
“Now where did you go…?” Twilight whispered to herself, quietly walking as she scanned around slowly, waiting for some sort of hint of black or white, some little monkey figure to appear. She kept her voice and hoof steps low as she stared around the clearing.
She lifted one hoof up, and was about to take a step forward until a pineapple came crashing down directly in front of her. She froze up, and stared straight up as she saw the ring-tailed monkey bounce on the branch twenty feet above her. She narrowed her eyes at the thing as it ran along the branches to the left, and she followed him quickly. She telekinetically picked up any rock she passed by and tried chunking them at the little creature, but she always hesitated and it ended up sailing too short.
Now the monkey would glance back at her every now and then, as if watching to see if she was following, and it saw she was. She was a mite bit angry at the little creature, especially now that her front legs were covered in pineapple debris. She stared at it as it leapt from branch to branch, leading her deeper and deeper into the forest.
Mentally she was losing track of where she was and where she was going, she was just focused on following the little creature in the trees. It soon leapt to the ground, and continued as the trees ended, giving way to rocky terrain and the steady rise of a mountain. If anything, this made Twilight more bold since the monkey now stood out among the gray stone, and she galloped upwards, leaping from stone-rise to stone-rise as the monkey did, slowly gaining on it until the ground sloped up sharply and it leapt, climbing up onto a ledge.
Twilight jumped up after it, struggling, legs kicking to catch herself, and she pushed herself onto the ledge. The monkey leapt to another ledge, then another, Twilight in rapid pursuit. It leapt to the final ledge available, a completely flat ridge that was just a several foot jump away. Twilight made the leap and landed right after the monkey as it scampered into the cave. She was about to chase, when she watched it slow its run down. It didn’t look back at her, it stopped several feet in the cave and made a loud cry.
Twilight watched for a few moments, then made a sudden leap forward, causing the monkey to hop onto a raised rock, a broken piece of the roof that had rested in the middle of the cave. Twilight knew she had the monkey confronted, as it was no longer moving away, just staring at her. “Alright you little punk, you have a lot of trouble to make up for.” She informed the little creature.
It stared at her quietly, and then she became aware of movement. From the darkness of the cavern, she watched over a dozen shapes emerge, all small, all black and white little monkeys, some baring the ring tail, some just solid black, some with puffs of white on the tip. They all stared at her silently as she felt her advantage slip away.
The sixteen or so monkeys watched her quietly, and she made a move to step back, but they went absolutely wild with shrieks and howling until she came back forward. She stared at them with wide eyes until she saw one more monkey approach from the back. It awkwardly approached her on two legs, and in its arms was a very tiny ball of white and black. It walked towards Twilight slowly, heavily, as if the world’s misery sat on the little animal’s shoulders, and it laid the puff right in front of Twilight.
The unicorn stared for a moment, then leaned down. It was a baby monkey. A miniature of the ones surrounding her, and as she watched its little chest rise and fall rapidly, watched mucus run from its tiny nose and ears, she could tell it was incredibly sick.
The monkey on the rock made a long, mournful cooing noise, and watched her with wide, pleading eyes. She knew now why it attacked her gifts and let her keep close. It was leading her. “I…” She whispered, gently rubbing the little monkey with her hoof. Its breathing softened, and its eyes opened a crack. “You want me to help your baby?” She asked the monkey on the rock. It beat its tiny hands against the rock beneath it as it bobbed its head rapidly.
She thought back to the birds. All the birds and the animals. The way they trusted her, and had worshipped her. They knew they were safe around her. Did they really think she could help them though? “I don’t know how to cure illnesses…” Twilight whispered in half shame as she stared down at the tiny monkey in front of her.
She couldn’t help but feel pity, feel sad, feel useless. It was just a tiny baby, and its caretaker had gone so far to find her to get help. Not to mention it was saddening seeing the little thing so ill. It terrified her, having already witnessed pain and death… Its breathing grew rapid again. Twilight quietly looked up to the monkeys.
They all stood on their hind legs, as one, and had their arms held out. She could only stare as they brought their hands over their hearts and made tight fists in front of them. Then they turned their little hands outwards and their fingers spread out, as if blossoming, and they clasped their hands together again, pointed their fingers upwards, and slowly their hands rose above their hands as if making a line. Just above their foreheads, their hands spread, their fingers stretched out like a blooming flower.
Twilight watched them do it again, silently, as one. It was like they were telling her something. She watched them perform again, and noticed their fists started in their hearts and blossomed, like love, like care, like friendship…
She stared more intently as she watched their motions. Their hands spread like blooming flowers, like life coming forth, and then they concentrated it into a line, and moved it upwards, out of their forehead, where it bloomed again. They performed once more, and Twilight finally stared down at the baby monkey. In her heart, in her pool of magic, she touched her own feelings, and slowly spread it out like they’d showed her, pushing her feelings of care and love into it as she then quickly concentrated it into a line, pushing it up the direct path to her horn, which she leaned down and touched to the babe, and when her horn sparked as magic ran up it, she spread the magic quickly over the monkey’s shivering form. She squeezed her eyes shut as she felt heat in front of her face, as she surrounded the monkey in magic charged with her love and care, and then let out a quiet gasp as the magic she’d charged finally gave out.
She looked up slowly, watching as the seventeen monkeys surrounded the baby. The one that had brought the baby forward reached a hand out slowly to touch the child, and a tiny hand reached out and grasped it back. Twilight felt the pity turn quickly to relief as the tiny monkey rigidly got itself off the floor, its surrounding family bouncing and chattering wildly as the tiny monkey climbed into its mother’s arms. Before Twilight knew it, she was mobbed, being held and climbed all over by the excited little creatures, who pet her and hugged her while she chuckled softly. “I’m,” She gulped, and they quieted down and stared up at her, the one that she’d followed grooming her mane with his tiny fingers as he listened, “I’m very happy I could help you, and thank you so much for teaching me that spell, but you kind of took my gifts to a friend away from me, and on top of that I-” she glanced out the cave. Where the hay was she? “Oh dear.” She whispered. “I think I’m lost…”
The monkeys glanced to eachother, then began to chatter again as they took ahold of her tail and mane, and lead her out of the cave.
The world felt cold. So very cold. So very numb and cold. Hundreds of eyes, demented, violent, blood-thirsty, seeking another to put through the very same hell they experienced. She could see them. She could see them rising from the pools of frigid water, stiff with frost as they reached forward from the hell mouth, screaming at her, commanding her to join them…
She went totally numb, her mind blank, and her wings stopped flapping. She fell like a rock as the gate soared overhead, and all she could see was the world spinning and flipping rapidly. Her head her head sweet Celestia her head. She heard the screams, the accusatory roars of pain, the pained shrieks of ponies she had never met who hated her and wanted to devour her simply because she existed in a world they could no longer be apart of.
Their rage and their hatred had no place in this world but she could feel it more clearly than she could feel her own screams in her throat. She felt her heart constrict, her stomach squeeze in pain, she felt the urge to vomit and cry at the same time, she felt the need to simply die and relieve herself of the anger they’d directed at her. She could hear them, she could feel them, she could imagine the chilled waters and the frigid stares of multi-mouthed beasts as they ripped her apart, offering no ounce of mercy.
Even worse she could hear them. She could hear from her past. She could hear their mocking insults, she could hear their soft, sadistic whispers behind her back, she could see their pointing hooves and cruelly grinning faces, she could see every pony that had ever hurt her in some way, all their faces, laughing, pointing, shouting, insulting, belittling, shoving, hitting, spitting, all the ponies who had ever made her sad, all the ponies who had driven her to a point her life before her wonderful daughter, before Ponyville, a point in life where she’d go home, and consider just putting the pain to an end…
Just nestle up in a good corner and drain the bleach, slash the neck, throw herself into the fire pit and be taken to a peaceful world where having one bad eye didn’t draw so much negative attention, where the odd things she would say went unnoticed, where nopony sought her out just to hurt her…
These emotions, these memories, they swirled in her head with the screams, the accusing stares, the icy water, and when she stabilized she saw the ground rising rapidly.
No more pain. No more suffering. No more names or shoving or pushing or shouting and screaming and cold and pointing and staring and laughing and hitting and Dinky and bullies and hell and… And Dinky… And Dinky…
“Dinky…” She whispered to herself, her voice working through a cracked, choked throat, filled with nausea and self-loathing, and the screams began to die. No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no nonononononono.
No she couldn’t die. She could never die. She had a little girl. A baby girl that needed her. That loved her. That didn’t judge her or make fun of her. She had a little baby girl she loved more than anything at home. No, she couldn’t die…
‘Derpy, you really need to work on those corkscrews. I know you see funny but they get the clouds out of the way the easiest.’ She heard the voice in her head as she saw the ground rising ever closer. ‘Just watch me and follow my lead. It’s not so hard!’ Rainbow Dash insisted.
‘Y’all need a place to stay and work for a bit ‘fore ya get started here, we got some room in the barn loft. Cows’re quiet, pretty friendly too.’ Big Mac had offered idly upon seeing her consider a ‘For Sale’ sign on a house.
‘I don’t give a crap if your eye is off or not! You can still see out of it so you should be able to spot a dropped package!’ The post office boss had reprimanded her, acting like there was nothing wrong with her eye and it was solely her at fault, not the eye, just her, as a pony.
The screams stopped, the tears stopped flowing as the memories were pushed aside by Rainbow Dash, and Big Mac, and her boss, and all the other ponies who welcomed her and her daughter to Ponyville shamelessly. No, she couldn’t die. She couldn’t die, they needed their post-mare. Dinky needed her mother, Rainbow Dash needed Winter Wrap-Up help, Big Mac needed apples carried into town, her boss needed his hardest worker on the job.
She rolled slowly forward, wings and legs extended, and she felt herself catch air and begin to slow. She flapped her wings several times, catching air, and she caught herself two-hundred feet above the ground. She sucked in a deep breath, her body regaining its energy, and she flew forward, wiping the tears from her eyes as determination filled her once more.
Yes, she needed to go be a good mom. She needed to wrap Dinky up tight in her grip. She began to flap rapidly forwards, rising up again, head swiveling frantically as she recovered enough to understand that what she’d been through was unnatural. Had that been some sort of cruel spell? She remembered a hiss, and whistling noise…
That whistling noise…
Derpy turned her head rapidly around, ears cocked. She heard the whistling more clearly now. It was behind her, up in the clouds, and it was coming for her.
From the clouds emerged fifty full feet of vicious predator. It was long, tube-like, like an enormous flying snake, its head having a solid bone plate with no eyes that could be seen, the bottom half dirty brown skin. Its whole body was one enormous muscle, covered in murky dark blue scales, with two great brown tentacles coming from just beneath the bone-plate that made the top half of its head, each antennae topped with a bush of brown hair. All along the top of its body were air-slicing spines, and the bottom looked like it was covered in bony hooks, pointed towards the direction it flew.
The enormous leviathan opened its mouth wide, revealing an endless throat full of razors and knives, and from the very depths of its stomach it let loose thousands of screams, thousands of angry, terrifying screams. Derpy stared for several long seconds, and her mind blanked as the enormous monster made that violent hissing noise, its scales lifting from its main body to release a spray of cloud-stuff that propelled it faster towards its prey.
No, she could not die. She could not be food. She had to stay. There were ponies who counted on her. One in particular, the most beautiful, the cutest, and most loving of them all, needed her.
The nausea building in her was threatening to erupt outwards as the thing flew closer, and the barest of seconds left she threw herself above the creature with a rapid flap of her gray wings, narrowly avoiding the creature as it flew beneath her, its wide, twelve-foot wide body racing underneath herself as she tried to catch herself, smashed against the leviathan’s body, felt pain shoot up her body as the thick, spined scales scraped across her body before she was thrown off as it thrashed its body, forcing her to catch herself again before she fell.
She bat her eyes rapidly, and out of her one cocked eye she saw it turn rapidly, mouth opening to swallow the fluff hanging above them, and its body grew thick and expanded as it devoured the clouds. It then turned rapidly towards her, lunging down as she sped back towards the direction of home. She could hear the whistling behind her as the wind slid along its spined body. It screamed again as it chased the tiny pony that would ease its hunger, and Derpy felt her body shudder as the scream reached her in full, the images of laughing, mocking ponies filling her head until she flushed them out as she tried to remember Dinky.
She tried to remember Dinky, but the screams seemed to darken the picture in her head, numbing her mind to the happy memories. She felt so cold, so so cold as she was dipped into the ice-waters, only to be ripped out again and impaled again and again with a sharpened splinter of bone, as a creature twice her height watched her with a mocking smile made only of teeth and no lips-
She could vaguely hear herself screaming in agony as she thrashed in the air, falling again, the enormous sky-snake diving downwards with its mouth open, intending to swallow her whole and send her to its master’s domain, but Derpy felt her own hooves smash into her forehead, blinding her for a moment and making her ears ring as the images and memories were driven out. The need to crash, to die, to throw herself into the beast’s maw disappeared as she caught herself again, forcing her wings to flap despite how little she felt through them.
She trusted her own body and instinct to guide her as she flew, fighting the feeling of worthlessness and avoiding the suicidal thoughts that filled her mind. She had to remember there were ponies who needed her… She did not need to die, she did not want to die, she had to go to her daughter, that was all that mattered.
She spun left, wincing as she felt one of the creatures large antennae crack her across the back, sending painful spasms up her body before she opened her eyes to watch it twist, turn, angling towards her, climbing the skies rapidly as it kept its mouth wide open to swallow her. She kicked herself off its still flowing body, sending her not into its mouth but in the battering-ram like plate that made the front of its head. She avoided the scream, but as it crashed into her, spots filled her eyes as she felt her front left leg explode in pain. She began to fall again, but she flapped her wings hard to race away from the beast as her leg flowed underneath her limply, unresponsive and pulsing with blinding pain.
Derpy Hooves could still hear it as it corrected itself in the air and began to fly after her, cutting through the air with phenomenal ease as it aimed for her. Her stomach roared with sickness as the pain in her leg seeped into her panic, poisoning her with fear, with the terror of knowing it was going to catch her, hurt her, eat her, drag her to that place…
No… No… She needed to get to Dinky… She couldn’t allow herself to die. She could never die. She had to get to Dinky, she had to be there to protect and love her daughter. She couldn’t stop the tears from flowing though. The monster behind her cut beneath her, angling upwards to swallow her from below, but she started diving to the left, narrowing missing being eaten or hit again.
Her leg sang with pain as new pressure was put on it and she had to twist her head to gag and retch, holding her stomach back for now even as the leg told her it hurt and did everything it could to get her to stop and fix it. She couldn’t fix it, not now… She had to get home… She had to get to Dinky…
Sweep. Straighten. Lunge. Twist. Kick. Sweep back. Block.
Pinkie’s eyes were hardened as she examined Dash, watching the dance as their moves slowly became less slow and awkward. Their attacks and movements were growing more and more practiced as they swung and countered, Pinkie growing more aggressive as her grip on the handle became more firm, surprising Dash at a turn or two whereas Dash was learning how hard to swing, where to swing from, what angles work best…
Low and sweeping were her preferred strikes, they didn’t strain the neck as much as overhead attacks, though the power was lost in the swing since she fought gravity. She’d made three hits against Pinkie, all three gently dragging, hardly painful hits that would leave a nice cut, but against a trained, armored warrior there wouldn’t be enough to stop them. She needed to practice more, get used to more powerful hits rather than rely on low, wide, easily blocked hits.
She was also getting tired. The both of them were. Pinkie more visibly, even despite being a near endless reservoir of energy, the training and unusual movements were exhausting her now. She blocked another swing and stepped back, raising a hoof. Dash stopped her forward push, and shook her head a little when Pinkie dropped her sword and began to pant.
“Goodness, are you two finally done?” Rarity asked with a heavy sigh of relief as Dash dropped her sword as well. The two swords glowed, and pressed into one, sheath and all, and Dash reattached it to her harness. “I should have said something earlier but really, practicing sword-fighting with actual swords? What if your sheaths slipped off?”
“Oh poo, you worry too much.” Pinkie waved a hoof to blow it off, panting heavily before she rolled onto her back and groaned. “I’m a tiiiired pony…”
“Yeah,” Dash agreed, laying down immediately, “my neck hurts. My jaw hurts. Sword-fighting’s tough…”
“Looks like it works the muscles somethin’ fierce. That actually looks like it makes ya pretty tough, maybe I should join in.” Applejack mused quietly as Rarity shook her head rapidly at the thought.
“Don’t go encouraging them! Somepony could end up really hurt!” She insisted, even as Applejack sighed.
“Rarity, if we get into a fight with anypony who don’t like us, who might also probably be armed, we’d still end up pretty hurt. At least this way we can prepare…” Applejack pointed out. Rarity fluttered her eyes, and opened her mouth to argue, before turning to face Fluttershy for support.
“Please tell them they’re crazy!” She whispered. Fluttershy had been listening the whole time, and calmly pawed at the sand.
“Um, I’m sorry Rarity… But when Applejack puts it that way,” she glanced upwards to the farm pony, whose eyes widened a little in surprise, “I think maybe I should learn too? Any way I can help…” Rarity’s jaw dropped as she stared at the mare who slowly shrunk in on herself at the surprise looks she was getting.
“Um, Sugarcube? I don’t mean to offend none but, Fluttershy, combat ain’t exactly where a pony like ya’ll should be.” Applejack gently nudged Fluttershy, who lifted her head up quickly.
“B-but that’s why I should learn! If I ever get caught, or get us in trouble, and, um, I need to… Be there… I can with a…” She trailed off and stared down at her hooves. Applejack sighed softly, not entirely sure how to comfort the poor pony as she glanced to Rarity, looking for help.
They all yelped as the blade landed between them, Rarity and Applejack jumping back as Fluttershy completely froze up. Dash stretched and groaned, twisting her neck to make it crack. “Hey, anypony who wants to give it a try is free to. But later. Right now we need to go now that we’re done.” She then paused, and glanced around slowly. “Oh Dash you idiot.” She hissed, turning to face the jungle, her eyes widening in panic as she started to move towards the treeline.
“Dash?” Applejack watched her friend grumble as she tried to make her way to the forest.
“Good job Dash!” The Pegasus’ tone took a cutting edge as her friends joined her side, “Let the savior of the world go off by herself! In weird, dangerous land no less! Wonderful Dash!” The blue mare hissed as she popped her neck as she tried to gallop faster. “Twilight!” The girl shouted as loud as she could, preparing her aching body to bound forward.
“Yeah?” The five of them turned their heads rapidly as they spotted a familiar unicorn walking down the beach towards them, joined by a small troupe of fuzzy little friends, four of which sat on her back, all holding pineapples.
Fluttershy loudly gasped, and galloped the distance to meet Twilight to smile down at one of the little monkeys that was walking by Twilight. It made a rapid chittering noise, and Fluttershy squeaked happily as several of them climbed onto her back, much as they did Twilight. “Oh Twilight, these little friends are wonderful! However did you find them?” She cooed longingly as one of the monkeys on her back cradled a pineapple to its chest to squeeze one of her ears.
“They actually found me. This one right here-” she leaned back and her ear flicked, whacking the one sitting closest to her neck in its face, making it screech and playfully grab for the offending appendage., “- found me. He needed help.”
“Aww,” Fluttershy whispered, touching her nose to one of the curious monkey’s hands, “what sort of help did the little guys need?” Everypony but Dash joined in to meet the monkeys as Twilight told her little story. Fluttershy was absolutely horrified to hear one of the monkeys had been near death.
“That’s just awful! What did you do? Is the little thing alright?” She asked, and Twilight bobbed her head rapidly. Dash listened from the distance, oddly quiet.
“He’s just fine. I had no idea what to do at first, but somehow these little guys,” the monkeys all glanced towards Twilight as she mentioned them, “I have no idea how to explain it but they knew the exact motions I needed to take to use a healing spell.” The monkeys began to chatter some, and Rarity’s jaw dropped a little.
“That’s impossible! They’re simple animals! Only unicorns can use magic!” She heard a harsh cough, turned, and gave a meek smile to Rainbow Dash. “And a certain few of us who have been picked by Alicorns…” Dash nodded at that.
“Besides, Twilight,” Dash finally spoke up from the back, “you said it yourself, there’s no magic here. The leylines here are pretty much gone. There’s no way they could know what magic is much less know how to use it. How could they have-”
She reared back as one of the monkeys leapt forward, a pineapple held out in its tiny hands. She stared at it for several seconds, then past it to Twilight. Twilight smiled softly and the rest of the monkeys leapt forward, each dropping a pineapple right in front of her. Dash was now sitting in front of a pile of eighteen pineapples. “I, um, found your pineapples.” Twilight blushed a little.
Dash leaned over and gently sniffed the pile of pineapples and looked up to the unicorn. Twilight spoke up again, “I think it worked out in the end, got you six times as many Pineapples as I meant to thanks to these little guys.”
Dash calmly took a pineapple, and pulled her blade out. The group watched her slash open the pineapple. “Fresh.” She noted as she eyed it. Using the sword, she began to carve it, messily, and core it. When she finished cleaning it up, she took a bite, and the edge in her stance calmed. She sighed heavily, then gave Twilight a calm, grateful smile. “It’s good.”
Twilight smiled proudly, and approached her guardian with a happy gait. “Good. I’m still sorry.” Dash shot up, eyes widened when she felt the tip of Twilight’s snout touch her neck just below her jawbone, in the barest hint of a kiss, and she sat down to join in on nibbling the pineapple. Dash lowered her head to watch and mumbled something that was probably not understandable in any language.
It took several minutes to cut up and clean up the pineapples so they could be transported more easily, but with Pinkie Pie helping out things went by easily. Dash was surprisingly quiet the entire time, spending a good amount of time watching Twilight and Fluttershy get climbed around on by the monkeys. Pinkie Pie didn’t draw any attention to it, she wasn’t feeling talkative either due to being so tired, but she was at least humming.
After several minutes, Twilight dismissed the monkeys, realizing they were wasting time just standing there. The monkeys hopped away, all giving Twilight one last little rub of thanks and got to the trees. Fluttershy smiled them off as Applejack and Rarity brought the dragons around, and using a few spare containers they packed whatever pineapple they could manage.
When they were finally ready to take off, Twilight began to walk over to Rattler. The dragon and Dash watched her curiously. “Twilight, aren’t we riding Dick?” Rainbow Dash asked, making Twilight turn to face her with a slightly confused expression.
“Oh, right.” Twilight suddenly nodded. “We were thinking about rotating flight partners between each landing.” She explained, then paused. What had she just learned today? She looked back to Dash with an apologetic expression, but the Pegasus had already turned away and was walking towards Dick. Twilight couldn’t see her face, but Fluttershy, next to her, looked concerned.
Fluttershy looked to Twilight longingly for just a moment, then fixed her expression and approached her slowly. She knew what she had to do. She had to be a good friend. She had to be a good girl in this. What mattered was that her friends were happy, safe, and taken care of. “Twilight?” She whispered, getting the unicorn’s attention. “I think you should go with Dash.”
“But I promised I’d ride with you…” Twilight whispered back, making Fluttershy sigh heavily.
“I know Twilight, and that’s very sweet of you, but I think you should be with your Guardian.” Fluttershy wished she could be in Dash’s position, but she returned Twilight’s gentle smile as she ran up to catch to Pinkie and tell her about the change in plans. Fluttershy watched a sad smile as Pinkie nodded enthusiastically, running back over to Fluttershy as Twilight nudged Rainbow Dash from behind.
“Hm?” The blue mare turned to face Twilight with a somewhat dull expression, which quickly changed to one of semi-annoyance. “Aren’t you riding with Fluttershy?” She asked with a tiny sigh, and Twilight shook her head slowly.
“Change of plans, she wants me to ride with- well, she wants to ride with Pinkie Pie. She said, um,” she didn’t want to point out that Dash had been acting moody about this, she didn’t want to get her angry or defensive, so she had to think fast, “she said we should all learn to fly the dragons and I should learn from you since you know how to fly Dick, and she’s going with Pinkie since Pinkie can fly Rattler.” She explained in a speedy tone with a semi-nervous grin that made Dash raise an eyebrow.
“I guess that makes sense. We are pretty tired from sparring anyways.” Dash murmured, making Twilight nod rapidly, trying to hide her enthusiastic nervousness.
“That actually sounds like a right good idea.” Applejack called from on top Hayseed. Rarity, sitting behind her, suddenly perked up, and not happily. “It’d be good for the lot of us to all learn how to fly a dragon. Rarity, switch with me.” Applejack set the reins down and turned, but was held still by Rarity’s from legs.
“Absolutely not!” The white pony spoke in part horror, part nervousness. “I certainly don’t mind riding the beast but I am a fashion-designer! My experience with animals goes as far as a domestic cat, a toothless alligator, and a baby dragon with a short attention span with lazy eyelids!” Twilight snorted in amusement, covering her mouth with one hoof. “I trust you to fly Hayseed because you’ve had experience with animals well before you met with your precious dragon, and then of course he sees you as his best friend. I am not trading seats and that’s final!”
Applejack stared flatly at Rarity for what must have been twenty seconds before she turned, wrenching Rarity’s grip off her, and she fit her hooves under Rarity’s arms, making the fashionista sweat nervously. “We’re trading and that’s final.” Applejack growled in a low voice that made Rarity squeak.
“I’m not angry you know.” Dash sluggishly climbed up Dick’s back, her whole body aching. She shouldn’t have started cutting those pineapples, it just aggravated her neck further. On top of that she still felt weird about Twilight riding with Fluttershy. Or when she was about to. She still felt weird, and it was incredibly difficult to explain…
“Well, I,” Twilight sat in the saddle, nervously taking ahold of the reins. Dick turned his head to look at her curiously, and she could have sworn he was smiling when he turned away, “it’s like… Um, well, do you want to ride with me?” There, successfully passed it on. Wait, did that make her mean?
“…” Dash calmly slid behind Twilight, and the unicorn could have sworn her companion was deliberately brushing her sides with her legs as Dash hugged Twilight from behind and calmly set her head on the back of Twilight’s neck. Twilight froze up immediately, holding the reins tightly as Dash sighed. “I want you to be safe.” Dash finally admitted, letting her body relax against Twilight’s. It was comfortable. It was warm. “I shouldn’t have let you go into the forest alone.”
Twilight frowned softly, and turned back to look to Dash as best as she could. “I’m a big girl Dash, I’m alright…” She whispered softly. Dash was being surprisingly soft. Maybe it was because she was so tired from… Sparring she’d said?
She wasn’t just tired. Rainbow Dash felt drained. Between the sparring and figuring out her own emotions, she just wanted to take a nap. Lucky her, Twilight was surprisingly soft. Yeah, they’d need to beef her up some if they planned to do physical work. “I could have sent a clone with you. I’d forgotten this isn’t Equestria, that it isn’t as safe… Nopony can go out alone, especially you, but I was the first to make the mistake…”
“And nothing bad happened! I helped save a life, I got you your pineapples, and-”
“And what if you got attacked!?” Twilight froze a little at Dash’s hiss. “I’m supposed to guard you and keep you safe! If something had happened, I wouldn’t have been there.” The hooves tightened around her, and Twilight sighed softly.
“Dash… Listen?” Dash lifted her chin to face Twilight with a glare of self-loathing, but it melted away as Twilight stroked her hair, and sighed again. “Nothing happened. That’s the point, something bad may have happened, but nothing did, and you’re right, I may have been hurt if you weren’t there… But we thought of it now.” Twilight smiled as Dash just looked unsure. “So, yeah, you’re right, I need to stay safe, and what better way than to have my guardian by my side?” She ran the hoof down Dash’s back and squeezed her into her side gently.
Dash winced a little, but managed a little smile. “Okay. But I’m not going to leave your side. I freaked out enough with you gone, and Pinkie was the only thing here keeping me from rushing off to find you, but from now on I’m going to stay nearby and keep you safe.” The Pegasus whispered and gently snuggled into Twilight’s back. Twilight smiled softly and turned to look at the rest of the group.
Applejack was smiling as she whispered instructions to Rarity, using her own legs to hold Rarity’s up as the white unicorn trembled, taking ahold of the reins. Hayseed was looking back at her, making soft, comforting cooing sounds as Rarity just whimpered quietly. “Okay okay Rarity, you can do this. You’re a strong young mare, strong and beautiful. You can tame a broken sewing machine, you can tame a dragon.” She whispered to herself.
“Right then, ya just gotta be firm with ‘im. He’s got tough skin meanin’ he ain’t gonna feel ya tappin’ him around. If you wanna go somewhere, ya gotta tug. Got that sugarcube?” Applejack asked, moving her hooves to cling to Rarity now.
“Darling, right now I’m all ears and nerves, you don’t need to tell me twice.” Rarity whimpered.
Beyond them, Fluttershy was holding the reins carefully, examining them as if they were ancient artifacts written in a different tongue, all while Pinkie talked her ear off, “-which is why I thought giving more gradual tugs was a good thing but then I realized that I need to be heard now which is why I started making sure to tug harder but you can’t tug too hard or it annoys her and I can tell when she’s annoyed because she starts to growl and get really shaky which might have just been turbulence but I noticed it only happen if I tried tugging really hard so-”
“I’ll try and learn quickly, Rattler.” Fluttershy whispered to the dragon, who made a growling noise that was either a purr of pleasure at having such a sweet pilot or a rumble of hunger because somedragon stole some of her fish!
“Okay, so, Dick responds pretty quickly. Just be sure you tug hard enough for him to feel it, otherwise you won’t get anything.” Dash explained, using her hoof to guide Twilight’s arm back to tightly tug the rein, causing Dick to turn until he was facing Rarity and Applejack. “Right. And if things start to get shaky, just slack the reins and he’ll straighten himself out, or move to a part of the sky that isn’t so turbulent.” Dash explained, and Twilight nodded. “So, since you’re kind of the leader here, you wanna, y’know, lead the charge?” Dash asked.
Twilight looked forward, her eyes glowing until her pupils disappeared, and she stared down the coast towards the west. She tugged Dick’s rein until he faced the direction she did, and she turned to the others. “Okay, is everypony ready?” She asked, and got a few nods from Fluttershy, but Rarity was shaking too hard to tell. “Alright, on my mark, we lift off. Three,” She held up the reins, “two,” she heard the others behind her get prepared, “one,” there was a whoosh of air, and Rarity was screaming as she took off on Hayseed, Fluttershy and Rattler right behind her. “I-I didn’t say mark! GUYS!”
Dash grabbed the reins quickly as Dick watched the others in confusion, and snapped them. In a moment, they were launched into the air, chasing after the others as Twilight retook the reins. “It was worth a try.”
“Those jerks.” Twilight huffed as they started to catch up, Fluttershy trying to talk Rarity into stopping screaming as Applejack tried covering her mouth with a hoof.
His flight began to slow as he heard it again. His ears lifted up high, turning rapidly to listen in on the high, keen noise he’d heard twice now over the past ten minutes. As he stopped his flight to land on the cloud he’d been aiming for, Schola quickly joined him. “So I’m not the only one hearing that?” She asked him curiously.
He closed his eyes and perked up his ears, ignoring all the activity around him of his team of fliers training, taking a deep, meditative breath to clear his mind as Rukafelth had taught him. He heard it again, and he turned his head sharply in the direction is came from, Schola now watching too. “It’s one of Anemone’s beasts.” Shallom stated, low, his voice a whisper of imminent danger as Schola quickly turned and signaled for all their troops to quiet down and gather around.
It took less than a minute for the whole flight team to gather, and watch their tense leader as he sucked in a deep breath. “Schola, we’re going to go take a look. If it’s too close, we may have to drive it away or kill it. Get Blaze Squad prepared for scouting and possible combat.” He turned his head to face the gathered colts and mares, and gave a sharp snort through his nostrils. “I don’t think I need to tell you what sort of danger we’re in right now. If you see the creature, hide. Do not listen to it, and do not attract it’s attention. Chances are low that we’ll even have to engage it, but if we do and it somehow finds its way in here, under no circumstance are you to join us. Nopony deserves the fate it will deliver to you.” He explained quickly, sharply, and every ear in the crowd turned up as they heard the scream.
Shallom was quick to leap off the cloud and head towards the edge of the cloud valley they had taken, standing at the ready as he felt his wings flicker and twitch, agitated by the high amounts of magic they were sensing. He turned his head as Schola approached, four armored ponies next to her, each with a flame symbol on their helmets and the sides of their armor. He gave them small nods of recognition, nothing fancy, nothing spectacular, this was a mission, not a briefing. “Let’s get this over with. I do not want to spend more time than I have to handling hellgates.”
Beyond their temporary home, Shallom could see the world had gone oddly gray. He did not know the signs of Equestria, but he was familiar with the concept of an “omen”. They flew south, listening to the screams of the great beast they were looking for. It was not difficult to track, it was a noisy thing, but seeing it forced Shallom to lock his muscles to stop himself from shuddering. The massive beast was unlike anything they had ever seen. They were used to their own relatively small dragons, they’d even handled the intelligent dragons here rather well…
But this was a mindless, ever-hungry portal to the dark place they were currently watching. No heed for morality, no base instinct beyond “devour”, no intelligence beyond predation. This was just a thing meant to hurt the inhabitants of the world, specifically engineered to cause fear and pain.
And even worse was that it was dangerously close. These were the sort of things that sensed civilization and hunted it down, meaning it probably knew where Shallom’s entire squad was right now. That meant that they could be breached at any moment, and a good number of his soldiers could wind up dead flying blind through the cloud-field.
He could not have that. He narrowed his eyes and stared intensely as it suddenly dipped downwards, mouth wide open as it emitted another horrifying shriek, and it was only his sharp eyes that saw it was chasing something. A pony… A little Pegasus. He narrowed his body and flew faster, Schola and the Blaze Squadron matching his pace. It was not a Pegasus he recognized, unarmored, flight erratic, looking somewhat pained…
“It’s trying to get that Equestrian Pony!” Schola gasped beside him. What else could it have been? The only Golding Ponies here were soldiers, all in their stations. This was just a lost Equestrian pony. “Sir, what should we do?” Schola asked, watching the scene carefully as they slowed.
Shallom chewed his lower lip slowly. On one hoof, it seemed like if they just let this go on, one of their enemies would be dead and the monster would be distracted. On the other… Nothing deserved such a fate. Not to mention he had some admiration for the Equestrian’s craftiness, which he assumed was how this one managed to stay alive… The Pegasus’s flying was incredibly erratic, and would have been exhausting to do in full armor, but it didn’t seem to stop them as they dipped low and immediately shot up, avoiding the great mouth before it turned upwards, only to dive once more to avoid a scream, twist to the left, and completely slip down its side. The leviathan wasn’t fooled though, and turned quickly to chase, knowing where the pony was…
“We’re going to kill the beast. Whether the Equestrian lives or dies is in its own hooves. Stay close to eachother, and watch for weak points.” He ordered, and in a moment the color-barrier was shattered as he turned into a living lightning bolt.
He watched through the observation window calmly, easing his queasy stomach by remembering Celestia’s words. He had to repeat them to himself constantly when he first stepped into the room to watch just to keep himself from running. He’d heard the others talking about this male endlessly, calling him a true hero, calling him brave, saying he thought about the others before himself in the face of pain and death.
They say he’d faced a monster.
What did it mean to face a monster? What was the appropriate way to face a monster? He’d heard them talking about him like he had, despite Celestia being the one to burn it off the face of the planet, slain the monster, he had killed it and brought it to its knees, that yes he may have had help from a couple of the other Ponyvillers, but he had been the one to release the cows and the sheep and the chickens, to run straight to town to warn them of the danger, and turn around to land the crippling blow on it.
What if he hadn’t released all the animals? Would they have still lived, since the beast was focused on him? What if he hadn’t taken it to town, had used the instruments he’d already had to slaughter the creature? Would he still be as much of a hero? That was a question that couldn’t be answered now.
There was no doubt this stallion on the operating table had been brave in not thinking solely of himself. Already being called a hero… Would more ponies be heralded as heroes for facing these monsters? What about in the war? What would make them heroes in war? Slaying one enemy? Slaying five? Slaying twenty? Were numbers even a factor? If five Equestrians took down one heavily armed opponent, would the five Equestrians be heroes or would they just be soldiers? What if one heavily armed Equestrian took down five unarmed enemies?
What made you a hero? What made you brave?
Did it even matter? Did personal glory have a place in a country-wide war? If what the Twilight girl had said was correct, then they weren’t just fighting for personal reasons, for money, or even for personal freedom, they were fighting for the very existence of Equestria itself. Was it selfish to want renown in a war that could mean life or death for Equestria? For the world?
What had Celestia said? ‘The world is much bigger than you think. You may be used to having such a carefree, taken-care-of life, but keep in mind that etiquette, manners, and expectations are not beneath you. You’ve hurt somepony tonight, have you ever thought about the other ponies you may have hurt? Made them angry, or sad, or disappointed?’ It took him a long while to let that sink in. He didn’t want to think he had done anything wrong, he still didn’t want to think such a thing, but looking into his past, looking at the way ponies stood around him compared to, say, a heavily armored, stern-faced guard, he could see nopony was relaxed around him.
“It seems like I keep catching you at the wrong moments.” He turned his head quickly to face the softly smiling Princess Celestia. She walked into the room and shut the door behind her, joining him at the window to stare at the figure on the table below. “I’ve been catching you thinking more. Is that a good thing?”
“I’d dare say not.” He answered with a weary sigh, turning his head away from the window when fresh blood leaked onto the table. “It’s been keeping me too preoccupied to enjoy myself lately.”
“Enjoy yourself how?” The Princess asked with a soft nudge. She was the only one who could get away with that with him. Well, she was the only one who could. Now he held his tongue more often and let it brush off, no matter how completely undignified it made him feel when any other pony did it.
“I’ve been turning away company more and more now that I’ve been seeing they’re only interested in my furniture and food, parties feel much less entertaining now that I’m letting other ponies talk about themselves, and I can’t quite shake the feeling that nopony has any real interest in me.” He admitted, watching the doctors and nurses work quickly to set bones and tie up stitches after he was closed up.
“I’d say I have an interest in you.” Celestia smiled gently.
“You have an interest in everypony. Everypony else avoids me like the plague unless they want a favor.” He sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly. Letting his pride down had hurt more than stubbing his hoof. He felt a lot wiser, but he wasn’t sure he liked the pain that wisdom came with. He missed the days of simply not caring.
“Into a depressing, agitated, highly annoyed unicorn that can’t stop reading. I’ve never been so bookish looking into these humility and friendship concepts. I spend most of my time wishing you hadn’t given me that talk and that I was in the concert hall right now catching up on Ray Starlight’s latest opera, but thanks to you, I’m down here considering heroism.” He smirked in amusement at that. He felt more hollow than anything, now that he looked in on himself. It felt like the only pony he could talk to on a personal level was Celestia, and that’s because she knew why he’d gone through these mood swings.
“Oh dear Prince, you’re just like a little caterpillar, give yourself time and-”
“- I’ll bloom into a handsome and wonderful butterfly, I know I know. I’ve never felt this way before and it’s been one uncomfortable pitfall after another to ‘discovering myself’ as you put it again and again. Do you feel like this all the time?” He asked her curiously, and Celestia let out a deep, heavy sigh.
“At times, but most especially now that all this is happening.” She stared at Big Mac as they gently cleaned him of blood and pus, the doctor now washing his hooves.
“‘All this?’” He repeated.
“The attacks, the wars, my student running off…”
“Speaking of Twilight,” they both turned to face the small dragon entering the room, holding a clipboard and a quill as he shut the door, “she asked me to be your personal assistant and, no offense Princess, but you haven’t exactly been using me to my fullest. I get that you’re almighty and all powerful, but you could at least throw me a bone or somethin’.” Spike walked in, standing next to Celestia, opposite of Prince Blueblood.
“My apologies Spike, I’ve been having difficulties coming up with tasks for you. If this were any normal day I’d have you booked solid for a week, but until I know exactly what I need to do…” Celestia left it at that.
“Ergh, an entire week? Maybe not then, I need to practice pumping up for Rarity.” Spike grinned at the thought. Blueblood glanced to the little dragon in surprise. Yes, he was Twilight’s assistance, and Twilight was Rarity’s friend, he’d most certainly know her…
“How is Miss Rarity since she last threw cake all over me?” He asked, his tone not losing its royal, that is to say, snooty, edge.
Spike raised an eyebrow at the Prince, “Not that it means anything to you, but she’s been doing great. You’ve actually inspired a lot of her more, uh, ‘gothic’ designs.” He smirked a little, but Blueblood didn’t notice.
“Hm, well, happy endings all around then.” He watched them wheel Big Mac out of the operating room, and he quietly went back to his thoughts of heroism. He pushed the sore point that was Rarity out of his mind as he wondered about his place in all of this. Did he even have one right now? He would be considered a civilian at the very least, but then again, even Civilians worked to support the army, and he hadn’t worked a day in his life…
“Oh, Spike, there is something you could do for me right now.” Celestia spoke up, and Spike immediately pressed his quill to the parchment.
“Whatever you want Princess!” He answered enthusiastically. Even the tiny dragon had a place as Celestia’s scribe. He was a Prince, a royal, he wasn’t meant to do anything and not expected to do anything. People looked at his royal body, saw his royal blood, and ooh’d and aah’d, but at the end of the day, he realized, he had done nothing, and would continue to do nothing during the war but hide because he was important somehow.
“I want you to write a draft for the Equestrian Scribes, so copies can be made and delivered across Equestria. Ahem,” she closed her eyes, and collected her thoughts, “Due to the circumstances around us, due to the invaders, the war, and the recent attacks, I must have the displeasure of expanding our military. Any and all ponies above the age of fifteen may join the Equestrian Royal Guard by traveling to Canterlot. All traveling fees will be suspended during this time. Those who enlist can expect steady pay, but be aware of the dangers they will face. If you are unsure, then please do not be pressured to enlist, the effort will require civilians as well, performing their jobs and supporting our army.”
“Supporting our army… Got it.” Spike nodded, and presented Celestia with the paper. She read it slowly as Blueblood turned to watch them both. Soldiers went and risked their lives every time they were set to march. Did that constitute heroism? Maybe not the level Big Mac would be considered a hero, but individually, they all had strength, willpower, and a love of the land they lived on…
“You misspelled ‘enlist’.” Celestia pointed out with a small smile. “It’s an e, not an i.” She told him, and he grumbled to himself as he used the enchanted tip of the quill to erase the letter and replace it. They had families to care about and friends who would miss them, but they made kinships with their fellow soldiers, put trust in eachother that was so hard to find outside of a military unit, they trusted eachother to watch each other’s backs, to not run in the face of danger, to hold the line and stand by their side… It was the sort of trust he had never experienced.
“Figures. Twilight never uses that word in writing anyways. So, this is it?” Spike turned to face Celestia, who nodded. “Alright, we’ll have all of Equestria informed in no time.” He scampered out of the room. For a few moments, Celestia smiled at the door, but turned her head sharply as she noticed Prince Blueblood walking past her.
“Off to somewhere?” The Princess asked, and Blueblood nodded slowly as he opened the door. “Where to?” She asked curiously, turning towards him and the door.
“I’ve been thinking about some things, and I’ve decided that the best way to serve Equestria right now is to learn and experience what it means to put your head on the block, so to speak.” He turned to face Celestia, noticing her mystified stare. “I mean I’m going to go enlist.”
Derpy was barely aware of the direction she was going now. Half blinded by tears of pain she weaved through the sky randomly, knowing she had to stay away from its mouth and its voice, exhausting herself making wild movements. The thing behind her wouldn’t stop screaming at her. She was doing everything she could to avoid the noise, to avoid the pain it inflicted on her mind, to avoid bringing back the memories of the colts and mares of her past…
Wildly she dove, past its mouth, and slipped underneath its worm-like body, but the great snake was not fooled. Its flexible body allowed it to follow easily, without hesitation, and with a wince she turned quickly, leaning into her broken leg’s direction to avoid another scream. She squeezed her eyes shut, ignoring the screams passing behind her while her leg stung.
The creature behind her was relentless as it swerved and dived towards her, again and again, no matter how she turned the monster was closing in on her from behind. She was tiring, she knew that, and the creature was gradually catching up. She sucked in a deep breath, batting the blinding tears out of her eyes as she tried to think, just tried to think of a way to escape, to avoid death, to see Dinky again…
“I’m sorry Dinky…” She whispered softly, trying to dive again, but it was too late. She heard the scream, and she waited to feel the crippling depression wrap around her so the creature could catch up, swallow her, take her to frigid waters…
The scream went to her ears, but it did not freeze her to the soul. Instead, it sounded like the creature had just experienced pain… She dared not to look, she had to flee, it could be a trick…
“Mornin’!” She turned her head rapidly as a blur shot past her, straight back to the creature, and this time she did look. A Pegasus in armor that she did not recognize, wielding a thin, light spear flew towards the monster, which had turned and was currently pursuing what could only be described as living lightning, which weaved around its mouth and smashed into the beast again and again, making it shriek with each blow. The Pegasus flying past her was suddenly surrounded by four other ponies, each armored as well, each holding a long sword in their mouths as, Derpy was wondering if her eye was acting up on her, they set themselves on fire. “Aim for the tentacles first!” The female Pegasus shouted, flying along the beast’s body as the armored, blazing Pegasi flew in to comply.
Derpy watched with wide eyes as the lightning bolt avoided capture, smashing into the creatures back halfway down its length, the burning Pegasi latching onto its thick antennae, letting the flames soak into the appendages as the female seemed to just observe its body closely, every now and then jabbing her spear into its body.
The leviathan bucked and twisted, lashing and flailing madly as it was grabbed, poked, and assaulted again and again, its screams growing more and more wild, angrier as it viciously bucked, tossing the bolt and the female away with a twitch of its body. Now she could see the lightning more clearly, it was a Pegasus, a huge, handsome Pegasus, and he looked absolutely livid. “Anything?” He asked the female, and she shook her head.
“It’s solid. I can’t even lift up the scales- watch it!” She shouted as the large flying beast twisted its antennae together, forcing the burning ponies to let go or risk being crushed, but one that had grabbed onto the bushy hair at the tip struggled to get free. Its allies closed in with the blades, trying to slash him free, but then the tentacles began to spark.
Derpy moved her one good front hoof to her mouth to hide her gasp as all the ponies were thrown off the flying monstrosity, lightning and thunder filling the sky as electricity exploded from its body, black clouds leaking from underneath its scales as the flaming ponies were tossed off, the female getting grabbed by the huge Pegasus to prevent her from being tossed away, and the electric Pegasus hardly flinched.
The leviathan turned its head to face Derpy, a scream erupting from its mouth as it charged her, only to be crashed into by the great Pegasus. The burning ponies were no where to be seen, but glancing closely, Derpy could see a sword stuck in the tangled tips of the antennae. Whoever these ponies were, she had to do something…
She flapped her wings, getting closer to the female Pegasus who was tailing the beast as it thrashed, flying after the bigger Pegasus before it dipped upwards, great mouth open as it swallowed the clouds in the sky and dove back down towards the huge pony. Derpy was not fast right now, but she just barely managed to get within shouting distance of the female. “Its scales!” She called, drawing the mare’s attention. “When it spits out the clouds to go fast its scales lift up!” She called. The mare stared at her for a few moments, then began to nod rapidly as it flew forward, past the beast, trying to get to her leader.
Derpy stared around, hoping the other four ponies would appear to help, but she saw no sign of them. They must have been…
No no no. No she couldn’t think like that, she had to be hopeful. They had to be somewhere, still alive, just recovering… Until they came back, somehow she had to help… This thing wouldn’t stop until it killed her saviors and then her… Then where would it go? Three ponies wouldn’t satisfy such a big creature, it would keep eating…
“Dinky…” She whispered to herself. This creature would want to eat her baby. As long as it was alive, Dinky was in danger… No. No no no no no no. Not her baby… She grit her teeth tightly, ignoring the pain shooting through her body as she flew up the creature’s body, avoiding its bucking as she shot over the armored female, going straight for its antennae as they began to spark, launching a lightning bolt towards the big male running from it.
“What do you think you’re doing!?” She heard behind her, but she ignored it as she charged towards the gleam of metal tangled in its tentacles. She latched onto one of the tentacle hairs carefully, and felt it begin to twitch, try to wrap around her, but she slipped away as fast as she could. Her hooves grasped the handle of the big blade, and she tugged it free, getting flung off the tentacle as it suddenly bucked. The pressure put on her leg as she tried to hang onto the sword made her scream, but she had it. She had the sword. “Are you insane!?” The female demanded, Derpy opening her eyes to find herself in the Pegasuses’ foreleg. They stared into one another’s eyes, and she could see the shock in her face.
“It’s gonna kill my little girl…” Derpy whispered, using her good hoof to push the blade’s handle into her mouth. Maybe it wouldn’t, maybe it would avoid Dinky, maybe Dinky would never even know about the creature… But Derpy could never take that risk. She needed to do what was best for her little girl, and right now it meant killing a beast.
“… What?” The mare whispered, then shrieked as teeth sunk into her leg, making her let go. The blonde mare was shooting off towards the creature again, sword in mouth, and Schola growled in pain. “… Stupid girl.”
She shot after the mare, not even close to sure of what she was doing. “Where can I hurt it?” The cock-eyed mare asked, and Schola shook her head.
“It has no weak-points! Get out of here you little foal, this is more than you can-” The mare sped up, leaving her behind. She cursed her armor’s weight, trying to keep up but losing the mare.
This was insane. What she had in mind was the sort of thing they put you into a special school for even considering. It had no weaknesses on its hide, it shot lightning, it devoured you whole, and it was amazingly agile as it twisted and turned, making it difficult for the lightning bolt to get around its mouth, only to keep twisting and ducking away from its screams. But there was something nopony had tried yet. That was because it was insane.
But nothing was beyond a panicking mother.
Shallom turned his head sharply as he felt a presence, and for half a second all he could see was a Pegasus approaching him from behind rapidly, sword in mouth, and he immediately cocked his hoof for a hard strike to the face, to shatter the teeth, make them drop the blade, fracture the skull, let the pressure of flying and the brain damage drop them, but he held his hoof back when she came alongside him, several feet away, out of range. “E-excuse me, I need to ask a favor!”
Shallom sharply turned his head to face to mare, eyes squinting angrily at her as the two dove suddenly, avoiding another scream. “Are you insane!?” He demanded loudly, and he watched her panicked look as she glanced backwards again and again.
“I-If I don’t survive,” she called, glancing back, “tell my daughter I love her. Her name is Dinky Hooves, she looks like me but as a unicorn and has two good eyes. She means the world to me!” She called, the two turning up sharply, her teeth clenching around her sword as she put it there.
“What in Galio’s name are you babbling about you stupid mare!?” He saw her turn her head back to the creature, then look to him one last time. He grit his teeth. This stupid mare… “Fine! I promise that in the off chance that you actually live, I won’t stand your daughter on your grave and tell her what an idiot you are! Sound good!?” He shouted.
He felt even angrier at her simple nod that yes, this was in fact just fine with her, and highly considered knocking her out to keep her out of the way so he could concentrate on flying while Schola searched for weak points, but his anger turned to confusion as she slowed suddenly. “Tell her momma loves her!” She called out, turning to face the monstrosity.
“What are you doing!? Move! Get out of its way!” He shouted back to her. She was wounded, heavily, he could tell, yet still she held the heavy blade, and turned to face the monster. Was she losing her mind through blood loss? He considered turning to get her, but no, it was too late.
He could only watch as the great maw opened, then closed around the cock-eyed Pegasus. “Stupid stupid stupid mare.” He began to pant heavily, hastily putting the name Dinky Hooves in his mind and keeping it there. He had a little girl to show how not to prove your love to your children now. He sucked in a deep breath through his teeth and tried not to think about what had just happened.
The screams were tearing her mind to shreds. She could see them, their red eyes, their gaping mouths, their pointing hooves at the end of the beast’s tunnel, but she turned her head away from the frigid death and looked all around her. The inside of the beast’s tunnel was lined with sharp teeth, angled outwards to spike anything dazed by its maddening scream, but Derpy, for the moment, was conscious, and sane, despite the terrifying cries, and managed to keep herself in the middle, barely avoiding the surrounding teeth as she held the bit of the blade in her teeth.
She slowly descended, avoiding the rows and rows of blades with careful guidance and a bit of luck. The surface of the creature’s insides were slick, offered her no traction, but by wrapping her good front leg around one of the teeth’s bases she stayed. She bit the grip tighter and squeezed her eyes shut, trying to drown out the screams by bringing the blade up high, and then swinging it down against the creature’s inner hide.
She did not see her work, as the monster had shut its mouth, cutting out her light. She slowly pulled the blade up, squeezing her eyes shut as the sounds of the screams grew louder in the darkness, echoing across the closed area, the red eyes piercing her shut lids as she brought the sword down again, and this time heard the squelch of metal against flesh. Something wet splashed her hoof, something very warm and wet, and she held her stomach back as she brought the blade up and brought it down again. Another squelch, more wetness on her hooves, and suddenly there was light again.
The creature had opened its mouth, and she could see what she was hitting now. It wasn’t the creature’s tooth-lined innards, it was a corpse. She stared at it for several seconds, the pale white, coatless body, with three slashes across it, its eyes bright red as it stared up at her, mouth yawning, gaping, and then screaming…
From the depths of the creature’s stomach, she saw them. A coldness like she’d never felt pierced her skin as she felt one latch onto her good front leg, and immediately her vision exploded with spots as its teeth sunk into her flesh, sending pain all over as the coldness spread, numbing her body and her mind, filling her ears with fresh screams and taunts, drowning out all logic and reason as self-doubt, self-hatred, and anger filled her mind…
She kicked it away, half-aware of her own screaming as she scrambled backwards, her broken leg burning in agony as she allowed pressure on it, but she ignored it, just to escape the cold and the hate, weaving among the teeth as more of the corpses began to crawl from the depths, slowly, their back legs useless as they let out angered shrieks, their glowing red eyes showing even when the leviathan closed its mouth.
Derpy couldn’t find the sword, she had lost it when she was screaming, and panicking she was crawling back towards the entrance. Both front legs hurt, one from blazing pain and one from cold infection, each numbing step making her stumble as she passed between the teeth, trying desperately to escape…
She couldn’t stand the screams anymore. The looks, the bites, the hatred, it left her feeling dazed and exhausted, her entire body one big sore, her feelings and mind in an even worse shape. Why was she here? What was she doing in here? There was no sound reason to kill it… This was all so pointless… It was fate she should die here, she knew that now. She would never see her baby girl again, that was that. She’d never know if she was okay or never be able to protect her again. She was to die to this monster, she was to get sucked into hell…
She pressed herself again one of the large teeth, her eyes half-lidded as depression-induced exhaustion began to take her over, and she just didn’t care… She could escape all this pain if she just died and let them take her… She would never have to worry…
Her glazed eyes slowly passed over an open space in the gaps of teeth. She hadn’t seen an opening between teeth before… Then her eyes found the tooth. It laid on the ground, several feet away, within easy distance of her. She stared at it for several seconds, and the light shown brighter as the creature broke through the clouds, letting in sunlight…
A spot of hope. She lunged forward, grabbing onto the tooth, panting heavily as she took ahold of it. Somehow this tooth had gotten dislodged. Something had knocked it aside long ago. Whatever it was, she didn’t care. She just latched onto the tooth, and turned to see the corpses slowly making their way forward. She might die here, but she could take the creature down with her… She raised the tooth, and brought it down.
Schola yelped, slamming her spear into the beast’s hide and just barely managing to hang on as she felt it thrash beneath her, suddenly losing its stream-lined dive towards her captain, jerking upwards and letting out a pained scream. It thrashed again, rolling her off before turning downwards quickly as it began to roll in the air, as if trying to throw something off before it let out another cry of pain, twisting and turning, falling rapidly with determination before it bucked again, letting out a more gargled scream as blood poured from its mouth.
She twisted in the air and caught herself, watching as it shook and cried out as is sailed to the ground, crashing harshly against the ground with earth-shaking impact. On the floor it squirmed and thrashed, a giant snake in the final struggles of life as it bled rapidly from its mouth. It screamed out, again and again as Shallom fell from the sky, aiming towards the big, thrashing monster, and all around him white fire appeared, swirling, gathering, intensifying until he stopped in midair, releasing the flame around him into a wide blast. The flames struck the writhing creature, surrounding it in a maelstrom of white fire, making it scream one final time, the noise dying in its throat as it ceased moving.
Shallom landed on the beast’s exposed stomach hard, the flame around him dying quickly as he dismissed it with a simple flap of his wings, and Schola joined him in short order. “How strange.” His second in command whispered as she tapped her hoof against the creature’s stomach. “What do you think made it up and die all of a sudden?” She seemed hesitant to jinx their situation, especially as they were both forced to move as it began to dissolve underneath them.
They landed to its side, the length of the beast turning solid black, bubbling once it was completely taken over, and then the black began to turn to dark wisps in the air, disappearing piece by piece rapidly, the wisps turning to nothing once they reached high enough. In the bottom portion of the black mass, the gray Equestrian Pegasus laid very still. “That idiot.” Shallom sighed, stepping through the black mass, which spread around his hooves and harmlessly disappeared as he approached the Pegasus.
He checked her over real quick. She was alive, but severely damaged. Broken bones, one of her front legs was turning black, but perhaps even more disturbing was that she was hugging what appeared to be the tooth of the damned gate. He wanted to just roast the piece away, but this was her kill, he had no doubt. She deserved the trophy. “What should we do? We can’t just leave her like this, she’s probably bleeding internally.” Schola gently touched the Pegasus around her body, feeling the tenderness at every point, before glancing to her Captain.
“What I’m more concerned with is finding Blaze Squad.” He stated, the last of the black disappearing. Yes, these Equestrians were crafty… Or brave… Or just plain stupid, maybe a mix of the three. Going inside the mouth to kill it though? That required a lot of bravery or an even bigger mess of stupid than he thought. Go inside the hellgate to kill it…
“Well we can’t just leave her here!” Schola pointed out, knowing her Captain was right, but still, she frowned down at the Pegasus. “She served a duty to us as well as Equestria in getting rid of the beast. Isn’t there anything-”
Shallom lifted his head high in the air, and from his mouth shot a small, concentrated ball of white flame. “Let’s go.” He said quickly, shooting away from the scene as Schola watched the ball for a second, only to see it explode in bright light. The explosion lingered, the light flashing rapidly as smaller explosions went on in the light. She ran off after her Captain, the two flying off to look for their missing Squad.
All hail Derpy, killer of snakes.