Urgh, so not happy with how this turned out . Its shorter then I planned and it took forever to write! *Sighs* But oh well.
Hopefully its still a good read :) I promise more soon, and not the *three month wait* kind of soon I just put people through...I hope.
Chapter Four: Guilty Before Proven Innocent
The night was, boring to say the least. My usual choice of playing video games and writing until I tired were sorely missed, and there weren't even any decent books I could read (I suppose I could have asked Applejack for something but the odds she had books on hoof were highly doubtful.
In the end I simply found myself studying the stars and trying to bore myself to sleep with repetitive thoughts. Soon after I made a game out of counting the number of planks that made up the ceiling…I was on my fourteenth round when I finally dozed off.
My dreams were far from peaceful though, my fears from earlier in the night -of never seeing home again- resurfaced and taunted me throughout the night. By some miracle though, I was able to get at least a few hours sleep before reality decided to come knocking, literally.
I always was a light sleeper, all it took was someone to open my bedroom door and I was wide awake on a normal day. So naturally being in unfamiliar territory and on edge after the previous day, I was even more easily awoken. As was proven when a loud thumping on the door to my temporary room almost caused me to tumble out of bed.
After disentangling myself from the blankets, I groaned under my breath, I initially didn't respond, instead trying to shake off the lingering sleep and gain my bearings, another, more forceful round of knocking halted my attempts to comfortably wake up.
"I'm up, I'm up!" I growled quietly, eyes finally cracking open as I realized sleep wasn't going to be an option anymore. How long had I been asleep anyway?
"Breakfast is ready, don't take all day or you'll miss out!" A high pitched and childish voice called from the other side of the door, closely followed by the faint clopping of tiny hooves clopping on the wood outside.
"Breakfast?" I repeated, my head darting upwards in spite of my exhaustion. I hadn't really thought about food the day before given everything that had happened, but now as my mind came to life and started focusing, the familiar pangs of hunger made its presence known.
As more of my senses returned the sweet smell of pancakes reached my nose, amongst other things that I didn't readily recognize. "Well at least they have something I can eat." I thought with a weak smile, before casting the blankets aside and forcing myself to my feet.
Almost as soon as my feet touched the floor I felt the all too familiar head rush, my body swayed slightly as the sudden change in position threw me off balance for a moment. It passed within a few seconds though and I forced myself to start moving towards the door.
Arriving at the kitchen, I noticed how, similar everything looked to back home. There was Applejack, Applebloom, and Big Mac seated at the table, plates piled high with various types of foods, some I recognized others not so much.
"Morning." I forced out as I awkwardly approached the table and took a seat. Although I'd had plenty of time to adjust the day before and during my long hours spent thinking before falling asleep, I still felt a mix of giddy excitement and tense dread as I studied the trio of ponies. This was like some kind of surreal dream, one I wanted to enjoy but found myself simply unnerved by.
"Howdy partner!" Applejack greeted cheerfully, a bright smile working its way onto her face for a moment before she resumed devouring the plate of food before her, I quickly averted my gaze and instead fell into the first vacant seat I saw, which just so happened to be right next to Big Macintosh.
Despite all the food on offer and the unused plate set before me (It seems they were expecting me) I found myself instead studying the red coloured colt seated next to me. I was hardly small back home, being just above six foot, however even then he towered over me while seated. I felt quite small and insignificant next to Big Mac, and while he seemed to pay me no mind at all, I still felt a cold dread creep into my veins as I focused solely on the table and did my best not to move too much, I did not fancy getting a hoof upside the head from him…
Thankfully he seemed to ignore me and after a few tense seconds I risked moving a few spare pancakes onto my plate, whereupon they were swiftly drown in syrup and jam. I ignored the glances I received at my high quantity diet and instead dug in with as much restraint as a starving wolf.
The next few minutes were thankfully silent, I'd expected more questions or even fearful glances, but luckily it seems the ponies were either used to me, or were better at hiding their unease then I was, on more then one occasion I caught myself staring awkwardly at one or another of the Apple family, still not fully believe this was real.
Eventually the food ran dry and I managed a satisfied sigh as I nudged the plate away and rested my arms on the table. "Thanks." I muttered uneasily, not entirely sure what else to say. Conversation had been non existent since I arrived, and I wasn't keen on breaking the silence, but I wasn't about to forget my manners, especially when seated next to a colt that could crush my head with the barest twitch of a hoof.
Unsurprisingly the silence continued and despite my better judgment I decided to press on. "So, what's the plan now?" I asked, hoping one of them would respond with something close to 'send you home'.
Applejack thankfully spoke up. "Same as any other day, there's apple bucking to do. Rainbow is gonna find Twilight and tell her to stop by. Until then though…" The orange pony trailed off, her eyes narrowing a touch as she studied me from across the table. I couldn't help but fidget slightly in my seat under those emerald orbs.
"I guess I'll just stay out of sight for now." I wrung my hands together as I broke eye contact and studied my fingers. "Not much else I can do without risking someone seeing me."
"Ya could help out around the farm." I shifted my gaze back to Applejack. "Plenty of work needs doin'."
I briefly considered declining, after all how did they expect me to apple buck? I was a gamer not a body builder, the best I could hope for was to wind up flat on my arse. However as I tried to think of a suitable way to say no, I couldn't help but sigh inwardly. Given they'd given me shelter and put up with my presence without really knowing what I was, who I was or even if I was dangerous, it was hardly in my best interests to say no, wast it?
"I'll give it a shot," I conceded. "Given what I saw you doing yesterday though, I doubt I'll be much use."
Luckily for me, there were other jobs available besides bucking trees. After a few embarrassing attempts, Applejack instead gave me the job of separating the still healthy apples from the ripe ones. Ordinarily that would be Applebloom's job, but she had school today, leaving the task to me.
Still, it beat the heck out of breaking my legs kicking trees all day…Applejack was lucky she, she had years of practice to strengthen her legs, me not so much. Luckily the job she'd given me was simple and easy, tedious perhaps but it was within my skill range and kept me occupied until Twilight showed up and sent me home.
"So, this is what you do," I paused as Applejack delivered another hard kick to one of the trees, causing another shower of apples. "Kicking trees and collecting apples?" I'd long lost count of how many trees she'd actually bucked, but it had been easily an hour or two by now since we started.
"For the most part, yeah." The pony confirmed as we set about retrieving any stray apples and putting them in the baskets. "It might not seem like much to you, but it's a living." I couldn't help but chuckle at the comment as I idly tossed the last apple into the waiting basket.
"Well at least you HAVE a job," I chuckled quietly. "Back home, I'm not exactly doing anything with my life, not yet at any rate." I decided to leave out the 'and I'm perfectly okay with that' that was normally attached to the end of the sentence, it wasn't exactly true, but honestly I wasn't against staying in my room all day.
Still, it was nice to get out in the sun once in a while…as today was proving.
"Sometimes ya just gotta grab the bull by the horns." Applejack commented offhandedly, not bothering to even glance in my direction. "Ya can't just let life pass ya by forever."
The response made me pause for a few moments, before I simply shook my head and continued following the pony and doing my part. "That's…true." I said slowly, not entirely sure what to make of the statement.
Silence took hold once again after that brief exchange, and I found my mind wandering. Again the question of why the hell I was here sprung to mind, certainly my presence wasn't that important to the Nightmare's plans? If it was even half the creature I'd imagined then it could easily deal with the mane six, after all if one of the ponies died the elements would fail and it would be unbeatable.
So why bring me here? What did it hope to achieve by pulling a random human along for the ride?
The answer came sooner then I'd have preferred…
Another two hours had passed in relative silence, now and again one of us would make a comment or I'd ask a random question I already knew the answer too. Applejack was acting nice enough, though I had no idea whether she was genuinely being polite or whether she was just doing this to keep an eye on me I couldn't say. Maybe I was just being paranoid, but given the circumstances who could blame me?
I idly spared a glance skyward, a hand moving to wipe the sweat from my forehead as I studied the scattered clouds that had started to overcast the sky. "Looks like there might be some rain," I mentioned, surprised that I hadn't noticed the pegasi moving the clouds about.
"Shouldn't be, were not scheduled for a storm till tomorrow." I pulled my gaze away from the clouds at the response, an eyebrow arching as I studied the orange pony.
"Yeah, the weather patrol booked a storm for tomorrow, they make and move the clouds where their needed. Why?" Applejack had a similar confused expression to my own by this point.
"They…make the clouds?" She nodded. "Alright then, so where did those come from?" I waved a hand towards the rapidly overcastting sky, glancing skyward once again I noted with a hint of unease that the number of clouds had doubled in a matter of seconds.
"Probably from the Everfree forest, tha' place isn't natural." Applejack cast a weary glance skyward as well. "Clouds blowin' about on their own, not right I tell ya.'
Despite myself, I couldn't help but whip around and give the pony a wide eyed glare at the comment. "That's not, natural? The clouds forming and moving where the wind blows them, isn't natural?" Again I received a nod, and a slight frown in response. "Damn this place is weird." I sighed, doing my best to sound surprised by this.
Whatever response Applejack had planned was cut short as a sudden gust of wind buffeted us and a familiar blue shape dropped to the ground a few feet away with a soft thud.
"There you are!" Rainbow Dash snapped the second her hooves touched the grass, voice laced with venom and eyes flashing dangerously as she fixed her attention solely on me.
Needless to say I didn't meet her gaze for very long. "You better start explaining yourself, and fast!" The pegasus continued as she took a step forward, I swiftly took one back.
"What's this abou' Dash?" Applejack cut in as the rainbow maned pony moved to speak again.
"What this is about is that Twi didn't come home last night." Both ponies exchanged a brief glance, before Rainbow Dash fixed me with another accusing glare. "Spike was helping Rarity yesterday and she went to Zecora's. She should have been back before dark, but she's still not home. No note or nothing."
I crossed my arms and finally forced myself to meet the pegasus' gaze. "And you're here yelling at me because…?" Her eyes narrowed sharply and I involuntarily gulped at the harshness of the glare, if looks could kill…
"It seems a little to convenient that you show up the exact same time Twilight goes missing, isn't it?" Again she glanced towards Applejack, likely looking for support.
Needless to say when both of them started staring at me, one looking ready to kill, the other simply concerned, I felt my nerves starting to fray. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, you really think I had something to do with this? Why on earth would I do anything to you're friend…and how when I woke up here on the farm and ran into you two minutes later!" My voice raised a touch as I uncrossed my arms and waved one in the air in front of me. "I woke up, here!" I pointed to the ground. "I didn't have time to do anything before you two started chasing me!"
"How do we know he isn't lying to us?" Rainbow demanded as her eyes flicked to her orange coloured friend, then back to me. "He might not be alone either." My gaze shifted to Applejack as well, her eyes were starting to narrow as well, Dash's words sinking in and no doubt taking root.
"What would I gain by doing anything to Twilight? You said yourself she's probably the only one that can get me home!" I growled, my short temper rapidly reaching its limit. "I've been here helping Applejack all day, I don't know anything about you're friend, or anything else about this damn place beyond what you told me last night and this morning."
A faint rumble reached my ears, and I risked another glance skyward, the gray clouds had now completely overtaken the sky and were rapidly darkening. Something wasn't right about this…
My cloud gazing was interrupted when I felt a sharp jab to my stomach, glancing back down I found myself face to face with Rainbow Dash, whom had just poked me it seemed. "She's missing, and you show up at the exact same time, deny it all you want, but we know you have something to do with this."
A low growl escaped me as I batted her hoof away and took a step back. "Yeah, it's a bit suspect, but don't you think you'd be doing Twilight more good by retracing her steps, visiting this, Zercora and asking her if she actually did turn up yesterday? Rather then hanging out here and accusing me of stuff you have no proof of?" By this point I'd given up being diplomatic and started giving as good as I received, something I often did when frustrated.
Rainbow started to advance again, but was abruptly yanked backwards a few paces when Applejack grabbed a mouthful of her tail and sharply tugged. "Whoa there, he's got a point." She mumbled before letting go of the pegasus. "We need to find Twi first; we can deal with the rest of the details later."
"If there is a later!" Dash snapped, her eyes never leaving mine. "He could do away with more ponies by the time we find out what happened to her?" I felt my right eye twitch at the accusation. I know Dash was loyal and protective of her friends, and under any other circumstances I'd have sided with her in a flash, she made a lot of good points and for all I know I could have something to do with Twilight's sudden disappearance without even knowing, if the Nightmare could bring me here, who knew what else it could do…
But I wasn't about to admit that, not at this point in time. "You know what, screw it!" I suddenly yelled, causing both ponies to jolt slightly. "Call me what you will, think what you damn well like!" My eyes flicked to Applejack, who was staring at me with wide eyes. "Where does this, Zercora live?" I demanded, my manners evaporating along with my patience.
"In the Everfree forest, why?"
With a nod I spun on my heel and started walking away. "Hey, where do you think you're going!" I heard Rainbow Dash shout. I didn't even bother to turn around, favouring to just shout over my shoulder.
"You're friends missing and she's my only ticket home, I want to go home, so I'm going to find her. Follow me if you want, or try to stop me." Several seconds passed and I didn't get tackled to the ground or kicked in the head, so that was a good sign.
As I weaved through the trees however, I started to ponder what I'd just done, and felt my heart beat quicken. I just signed up to go into the Everfree forest…alone, to find a Twilight Sparkle…
What, the hell, was I thinking!
I ran a hand through my sweat soaked hair as I continued searching for the path that would lead me out of the farm and towards my goal, my mind still running through a million thoughts a second.
I had no knowledge of the area beyond what I'd seen in the show, I had no skills or even equipment to survive out in the forest. I was a gamer not a damn soldier! I wouldn't last five minutes in there! And yet here I was, despite all the fear starting to creep into my mind and chill my blood. I was still heading for the forest.
I also had the strangest sense of déjà vu right now…
Come to think of it, that whole conversation felt, oddly familiar.
My pace began to slow as I started replaying the argument and the little bits of information I'd received. Twilight was missing in the Everfree forest, Rainbow Dash blames me, I go it alone to find her in some stupid attempt to clear my own name…
"Holy Throne…" I muttered as a hand moved to my forehead, my fingers lightly pressing against my temples, I didn't even pay any mind to the fake religious reference I'd made, I was known for quoting my favourite games or books rather then real religions that I didn't follow. "This is just like…" My thoughts trailed off as I finally halted, a realization smacking me upside the head.
I wrote this exact same scene in that damn story! It played out almost exactly how it was written, to a T. "Okay…that's just freaky." I said slowly as I began walking again without even realizing. "Just a coincidence, just a coincidence…I hope."
After what felt like hours of randomly wandering through the trees, I managed to at least find the path and reach the entrance to Sweet Apple Acres. I spared a brief glance over my shoulder at the house in the distance, this time there was no stab of excitement at seeing it for real. My mind was focused elsewhere to notice how insane this situation was.
So far I hadn't seen Rainbow Dash or Applejack since the argument, either they'd decided to go find Twilight themselves, or they were following me. Either way they weren't trying to stop me as of yet, and I wasn't about to argue with that.
"This has got to be the stupidest idea I've ever had." I muttered, a pang of unease following the words as I realized I was quoting myself from my story yet again. Shivering slightly I set off down the path towards Ponyville, as much as I didn't want to go there, that was the only entrance I knew about that lead into the forest.
With luck I could sneak around the town, slip into the forest, and find Twilight without any pony seeing me. Though given the fact that I, appeared to be living my story as the Nightmare hinted at, I had a feeling things weren't going to go the way I wanted.
Still if that was the case, then I had a good idea of where to start looking for Twilight. It was just a matter of finding the place for real…all the while dodging the denizens of the forest, probably being hunted by Twilight's friends (If Dash distrusted me then the others would likely follow suit before long). All the while having no food, water or equipment of any kind…
"I am so screwed…"
Annnnd there we go, all four chapters up! :D Hopefully anyone reading this is enjoying it so far, the next chapter will be along soon. I was going to upload my other MLP story here as well, however after receiving some tips from the EqD proof readers I want to go back and rewrite it...so I'll hold off until I get that done before posting it here :)