Pip pip, I'm English and all that.
Mario and his sidekick entered the library to find the princess of the night sitting at the table, with a book in front of her. She had her head rested on the table and her eyes closed, lightly snoring.
"Wake up Princess, we have news to report to you" said Mario, tapping the sleeping mare on the shoulder. She shot up and blinked her eyes, whilst stretching out her wings.
"I'm awake, I'm awake!" she said, looking around the room. Her eyes set at the red stallion standing next to her. "Oh it’s you. I'm sorry about that, I get awfully tired during the day. So what is your news?"
"First the good news. We think we have recovered one of the elements" he said.
"Excellent! Cadence was correct with her assumption" she said with a great smile. "It certainly looks like we have a good start on the road for harmony."
"That's the thing, really. Scoots, can you fetch the element?" asked Mario to his sidekick.
"Yes sir!" she cheered, running out of the room, and dragged a large card back in.
Upon seeing the cardified Applejack, Luna placed a hoof over her mouth "My lord, what happened to her? It feels like some seriously dark magic is emanating from this. It certainly sends shivers down my spine" she said, looking over the card.
"What are we going to do about it then?" asked Mario to the princess.
"I will find out a way to break the curse placed on her, and you will continue your search for the elements. Take your assistant-"
"Sidekick!" Scootaloo interrupted.
"Whatever. Take her and head towards the desert regions to the south of Equestria, near Dodge Junction" she said, waving a hoof towards the filly. "I have taken some notes regarding what you should expect to see in the wastelands down there".
"Won't you need to investigate the crime scenes anymore?" asked the stallion.
"All of our searches proved fruitless, and besides, we have some help from above in that respect" she said, pointing to the sky.
"So I'm assuming Cadence told you where we have to go?" asked Mario.
"Indeed" she said, yawning. "Would you like to look at the notes before you leave. I am really tired right now, and I cannot afford to make any mistakes when every second counts". She passed the note to Mario, who read it aloud.
"Desert regions- Was once populated by violent bandits, but the efforts of the buffalo tribes drove them away. Thought to still exist in the many cave networks dotting the area, but activity is subdued. Former royal guard captain situated in Dodge Junction to investigate chaos damage to the deserts. Local delicacies include cherry pies, cherrychangas and pasta. Train runs straight to the town, should be easy to get to this time. Please pick me up a few lemons while you are down there."
He looked up, "Most of this stuff is irrelevant" he said, but to his dismay, the princess had already returned to sleep.
"Well, do you know when the train to Dodge leaves?" he asked his sidekick as they walked out of the building.
"Not a clue" she replied. "Hey, it looks like Applebloom and Big Mac are back" she said, pointing to the duo of ponies approaching.
"Good to see you again" said Mario to the larger stallion.
"As it is to you. Any news on the situation?" he asked.
"Well, Luna said she'd try to solve the problem regarding the card, but she thinks it'd be best if we kept looking for the other elements" Mario replied.
"Sounds like a solid plan. Do we know of the location of any?" Big Mac said.
"Near Dodge Junction, apparently. I think we can get a train down there from here" the moustachioed stallion said.
"What are we waiting for then? Girls, come on, we're going!" he called out to the two fillies. They ran to his side and ran alongside him. How he could command such utter control, Mario would never understand.
At the train station, Mario and co. saw a large predicament affecting the rails of the track. In front of the pink train was a large boulder, blocking the path.
"Big Macintosh! Just the pony I wanted to see" called the engineer, running over to them. He had a mustache which put Mario to shame, and a cutie mark featuring a pocket watch. "A large boulder was put on the tracks, and we need all the muscle we can get to shift it!"
"We'll see what we can do. Come on Mario, we need to shift this boulder" he said.
"I suppose" he replied, walking towards the boulder.
Hours had passed, with a team of stallions bucking away at the rock, slowly breaking it down into smaller chunks. Finally, it had crumbled into small chunks.
"Thank you boys for that hand. I owe you guys one" said the engineer.
"Hang on, do you know when the next train to dodge junction leaves?" Mario asked.
"Well, this train leaves for Appleloosa in five minutes. I suppose I could make a stop off there for you guys" he replied.
"Cheers" said the moustachioed stallion. "Girls, we're leaving in a minute, so hop on the train!" he called out.
"Coming!" they said in unison, running onto the carriage, with the two stallions shortly behind them.
The train sped through the wastelands in which they were headed. The train itself stuck out horribly, which attracted attention from a large snake that slithered along the track. Mario gulped as he saw it, hoping it would lose interest and go away. He hated snakes almost as much as changelings. Sure enough, the snake left the train alone as it approached a small town, with a sign saying 'Oasis'.
"This ain't Dodge" said Big Macintosh to the engineer.
"Sadly, it seems as though ahead from here, the tracks have been formed into a statue of sorts". He pointed towards a large metal figurine depicting Discord riding Princess Celestia with a look of glee in his face. "Looks like we're going to have to turn back" he said to his group of other engineers.
"How are we gonna get to Dodge Junction then?" asked Applebloom.
"You could stay the night here, and walk across Mt. Oasis to Dodge. Not too far of a walk, and it is relatively well trod" replied the engineer, pushing levers on the train.
"Well, thanks anyway" said Mario. The group walked towards the town centre as the sun set across the desert landscape. The town was very small, with around thirty houses and a few public houses surrounding a lake which was the namesake of the village. They walked into the pub, and rented a room for the night.
In the morning, Mario woke up next to Big Macintosh. The bed was quite small for a double, and as such they were pressed up against one another. On the floor in sleeping bags were the two fillies, curled up into small balls. Mario slowly moved from the bed and over to the window, which he opened to see the sun rising. Just behind a cluster of houses was a route leading up the mountain, which was a popular tourist spot according to the landlord of the pub. He heard movement behind him as the other ponies woke up.
"Morning guys" said Mario, still gazing out of the window. "We all ready for our trek across the mountains?"
"Ready as I'll ever be, boss" said Scootaloo, with Applebloom nodding in agreement.
"Let's go, then" he said, and they went downstairs for a breakfast of hay, which was dried in the sun. As they left, a letter fell and hit the red stallion in his face.
"Ow" he stated, picking up the letter. It was addressed to 'Cherry Jubilee, Dodge Junction'. Mario looked up and saw a familiar grey pegasus falling to the ground above the mountain.
"She could be hurt!" said Applebloom with concern in her voice. "We gotta hurry!"
They ran as quickly as they could up the path. Thankfully, the route was smooth and easy to run on, due to it being the main trade route before the trains covered the deserts . About halfway up the peak they found the crashed pegasus desperately picking up the letters spilled across the ground.
"Are you okay?" asked Scootaloo to the downed mare.
"I'm fine, just had a minor spill" she said, with a voice that sounded like she had a blocked nose. Mario recognised her as the local postmare, Ditzy 'Derpy' Doo.
"Why are you so far from Ponyville?" asked Mario, helping her to her feet.
"The entirety of the postal squad woke up a few days ago without any wings. This left me with the entirety of the postal work for Equestria, and I just got jumped by somepony" she replied.
"Did you see them?" asked Big Macintosh, trying not to stare at her lazy eye.
"Nope, but they slashed me with something" she said, pointing to a scratch she had gained on her flank. "Anyway, my rounds can't wait, so I'm off to Dodge junction, injury or no injury".
"Hold on, are you sure you don't want some escorts in case the thugs come back?" asked Scootaloo. "We beat up a bunch of changelings earlier, so some bullies should be no problem for us!"
"Actually, yeah, would you please actually?" she said, blushing.
"Of course, miss Doo" said Big Mac. The group walked together, with Ditzy hovering above them, towards the a chasm laying between the two large mountains. Behind them, Oasis was just a small sight, dwarfed by the metal statue of Discord. Ahead, a desert spread expansively into the horizon. In order to cross the gorge, there was a rickety rope bridge spreading the entire width. The posse crossed the bridge, trying to avoid the rotten planks which broke away underneath them. As they reached the end, they felt a jolt as something landed on the other end of the bridge. Mario looked back to see what it was, and he saw a large, eagle like being land on the other end of the bridge, with a sword in its hand. It brought it down hard on the bridge, severing the ropes that was holding it up.
Seeing the bridge begin to collapse, he yelled "RUN FOR IT!". Ditzy grabbed Scootaloo and flew to safety with her, while Big Macintosh grabbed Applebloom and placed her on his back. The bridge slowly fell as the panicked ponies fled towards the end of the bridge. Thankfully, they escaped the collapsing bridge, and ended up panting on the floor of the path leading down the other mountain. The eagle like figure flew towards them and landed in front of the out of breath stallions.
"What are you doing in my territory, dweebs?" it asked with a low, but feminine voice. Upon closer inspection, it would appear that she was a griffon, with a large imposing structure. She held a steel claymore in her left claw, much like many of the griffon troops, and plate armour down her front left leg. On the end was a claw, which fitted over her talons and made them even sharper. On the tips, there were blood stains, probably from some unfortunate pegasus.
"Passing by. Now let us through please" said Ditzy.
"Oh hey, it's my friend from earlier" the griffon said, approaching the pegasus mare. "Surprised a loser like you would even dare returning here."
"The mailmare never flees in fear" she said, trying not to stammer.
"Adorable. Now hold still, I wont miss this time" it replied, drawing her sword above her head.
"Wait, why are you attacking us?" asked Applebloom.
"The boss gave me the entire desert as my grounds, as long as I cause as much trouble as I can. The names Gilda, and it'll be the last you ever hear" she said, pointing her blade at the fillies.
"Oh great, another of Discords goons" sighed Mario. "Do you just want to let us go? I think I have some pasta here for you if you do, and my pasta is delicious" he said, rummaging through his bag.
"I don't want any of your stinking pony food!" she said, now pointing her sword at the red stallion. "To be honest, now I look at you, you kinda look like this Mario guy the boss has put us on lookout for. Let me take a nice look at that cutie mark of yours, and maybe I'll let you pass…" she said, advancing on him.
"Err, its not really that interesting" he stammered, backing away.
"Red M on a white background, eh?" she said, grabbing him. "YOUR HEAD IS MINE!" she yelled, preparing to swing her blade. She was caught short as Big Macintosh kicked her in the ribs, causing her to drop Mario.
"LEG IT!" the smaller stallion yelled, running down the path.
"Mario!" said Big Macintosh, who had caught up with him, "We ain't gonna outrun her. We have to fight her, or at least disarm her".
"Any bright ideas guys?" the red stallion asked his entourage. They all shook their heads while running for their lives from the crazed griffon.
"I have you now!" Gilda yelled, diving at the ground in front of the adults, and with her back to the children. "Luckily for you, moustache boy, boss wants you alive. Your friends… not so much" she said, licking her beak.
"Know any secrets about griffons from your book?" whispered Scootaloo to Applebloom.
"Apparently, they're really proud. Don't see how that will help us" she said, watching the griffon advancing on the three adults.
"Hold on a second, I'm going to do something both awesome and crazy" the orange filly said. She stood tall in the clearing and yelled "Hey, featherbrain! Your mother was a manticore, and your dad only had one wing!"
Turning around swiftly, she screamed "He was a veteran! How dare you mock him like that!".
"Your sister is a fillyfooler, and your feathers look like my grandmothers!" she taunted.
Scootaloo wondered if she had gone too far, as she could see tears forming in her eyes. "I'LL EVISCERATE YOU!" she shrieked, grabbing Scootaloo by her neck and choking her.
"Get your dirty claws off of her, half breed!" yelled Mario as he unleashed a flying kick to her head. She fell to the ground, unconscious, and released her grip on the filly. "Are you okay Scoots?" he asked her.
"I'm ok. I think we should clear out before she wakes up" she replied, coughing. The others agreed, and they continued their journey down the side of the mountain, away from the knocked out griffon.
"Finally!" said Scootaloo, running ahead of the group. "We made it to the desert!"
"But where do we go from here?" asked Applebloom, with a puzzled look on her face.
"Due west if I'm not mistaken" Ditzy said, pointing towards the horizon, through a sandstorm.
"Great" sighed Mario. "Might as well get this over and done with" he said as they walked towards the storm.