Day one, Time, 7:30 AM
Far in Deltora’s north, the last storm of winter had gathered. It howled like a mad wolf in the early morning, and chilling rain pounded the ground like stones. Even the most resilient of the northerners didn’t venture outside during a day like this. Some of the oldest would tell their grandchildren of this storm, calling it “Winters Last Breath.” The only beings who dared the winds were the lands guardians, for they could fly above the storm clouds and still observe their domain.
Far below them however, a yellow pegasus struggled through the storm. Her pink mane was tossed and tangled by the wind, blinding what precious little sight she had. Her legs were numb with cold and her energy reserves were nearly depleted, and yet she moved on with fiery determination. She hadn’t any memory of where she was, or where she had been. All she knew was her friends were missing, and she was far from home.
Normally those thoughts alone would be enough to send the mare into a hysterical panic, but she had no time for that now. She could feel her wings loose feeling from the icy rain, but she clung to the thoughts of her friends, both pony and non pony. They would help her get through this. Somehow they would all go home together, and then she could panic.
The wind picked up to a ghostly roar, and the rain came down harder and colder than before. Grass was pinned down under its force, and trees bent and cracked. Fluttershy got some relief from this in the form of a large, pale rock. It offered a sliver of protection from the storm, but it was enough for Fluttershy to regain her precious sight, and not a moment too soon. Behind the rock was a hidden grove of trees that seamed somewhat sheltered from the storm.
Gathering all her remaining strength together, Fluttershy charged once more onto the brink. It felt like days passed but eventually she made it to the grove. It wasn’t fully protected from the storm, but it was safer than where she had been. Fluttershy quickly walked towards the trees, and immediately started gagging on water. Due to the blinding wind of the storm, she hadn’t noticed the large spring in the center of the grove, and fell right in.
Quickly she clambered out and dashed for the trees, where the winds were calmer. Shivering from cold and exhaustion, the yellow pegasus made her way towards the nearest tree and collapsed by its base.
Time, 9:00 AM
The first thing Fluttershy heard was screams of pain and fright. She looked around desperately for the source, which didn’t take long. On the ground was some form of bipedal creature, clad in leather armor. Its hair was braided and came down to its midsection. She moved over to the injured creature cautiously, having also noticed the knife held tightly in its appendages known as “hands.” The creature didn’t bother to look at her, instead staring off towards some large rocks. Odd. Fluttershy thought. I don’t remember the grove being this barren.
Two other creatures were by the rocks, a long length of rope in their hands. By the looks on their faces, they were struggling with something.
“This one’s a fighter!” One of them said.
“Yeah, it’ll fetch us a nice price in Rithmere.” His companion replied.
“Yah sure that’s such a good idea? Look what the little devil did to Fairfax. I’d hate to see what’ll happen if it gets out in Rithmere.”
“Which is why we sell it and disappear as soon as possible Farley. Honestly sometimes you are so-“
Before he could finish his sentence however, the rope was thruster from both of them and dragged in-between the rocks before either creature could grab it. Not a moment later the rope came flying back and ensnared the one called Farley. As soon as he was down, something large came and tackled the last creature to the ground. Fluttershy’s heard nearly leapt from her chest when she saw who it was. “Applejack!”
The orange mare made no response to Fluttershy, not even bothering to look up from the pinned creature. It desperately reached for its knife but AJ swatted it away. “Now wha' in tarnation gives ya’ll the right to attack me?”
“I’m not afraid of a talking mule.” He spat. Applejack looked directly into his eyes while hers blazed with anger. This was the last thing he saw before she brought her hoof down on his head.
“Call me a mule will yah?” She muttered to herself as she headed back over to the rocks. Fluttershy dashed in front of her. There was no way Applejack could miss her now. But again the orange pony simply ignored Fluttershy, and walked right through her!
Time: 7:00 PM
Fluttershy shot up from the ground, clasping her chest. The storm seemed to have dies down and the grove seemed much more pleasant and peaceful. Too bad that was all ruined by Fluttershy’s turmoil. Was that all just a dream? No it couldn’t bee, it felt so real. Like I was actually there!
Suddenly Fluttershy’s ears picked up the distanced sound of laughter coming from the center of the clearing. Slowly she crept to the tree line and observed. Next to the spring were two more of the creatures she had seen in her dream. Fluttershy could just tell that these two were not friendly in the least. Slowly she began creeping towards a large circle of rocks, until she heard a moan of pain. Turning around she could see a third creature gagged and blindfolded. His right arm was bleeding. Suddenly forgetting her fears, Fluttershy headed back to the trees just as the two by the spring finished filling their flasks.
“What good fortune that we find this spring, wouldn’t you say?” One of the creatures asked. Fluttershy could see he had a long cut going down the right side of his face.
“Yeah, we can make the trek to the cost in no time now.” His companion said. “You hear that mate, soon you’ll be rid of us and be free as a bird.”
“Well, as free as you can be on a foreign slave ship.”
That got some laughter from the two of them before they downed the water they had. Fluttershy watched them and was suddenly filled with her most feared emotion, RAGE! How could any creature be this cruel to another and laugh about it? It made her sick. Slowly she snuck down from the trees and began advancing on the captive creature while the others still had their backs turned. When she got next to him she lightly tapped his shoulder. The creature stirred a little, but did nothing else. “Don’t worry, I’m here to help.”
Immediately the creatures head turned towards her and after a moment nodded in agreement. Quick as she could Fluttershy undid the bonds around his arms and began work on his legs. Once his hands were free, the creature took off his blindfold. When he saw that his saviour was a taking winged horse however, he let out a grunt of shock.
The two by the spring swerved around and immediately drew their swords. A look of anger was plastered onto their faces. The prisoner tried to run but ended up falling over from the ropes around his legs. Fluttershy was suddenly filled with fright, and clasped her hooves over her head, waiting for this nightmare to end! Instead of the sound of metal hitting flesh however, her ears were met by grunts and cries of pain and fear. Confused and intrigued, Fluttershy partially opened her eyes.
The two creatures had dropped their swords and had gone ridged. All they could do was scream as their bodies stretched upwards and their legs merged together. Roots bound them to their spots and buds appeared on their faces and fingers. Until finally the screaming stopped and in their places were two identical looking pale trees.