He wasn’t sure how long he sat there. The miserable cold and rain and wind lashing at him made him think that time took longer than it ever did. It felt like days. He would turn every so often, trying to make it regular, to check on the fire and on Northern as she slept. Her ears flicked back and forth in her sleep and he vaguely wondered what she was dreaming of. Probably her warm bed, the same one that he had made her miss that night. He would then turn back towards the night, plaguing himself with the guilt of what he had done. Eventually the rain slacked off and the wind died off. Not long after that, the rain stopped completely He heaved a sigh of relief. His back was almost dry from facing the fire the entire time. He stepped out of the cave and stood a little ways away before he shook himself off, flinging his mane back and forth, sending small droplets of water scattering in all directions. He was mildly damp by the time he got dizzy from shaking. He stepped back into the cave and stood by the fire, instead of in front of it now, allowing it to dry him off the rest of the way. He would occasionally walk to the other side of the cave and the fire, letting himself dry evenly. He would also use these occasions to check on Northern and stoke the fire.
She shivered once, whether from the cold or not, he couldn’t tell. He wanted to share his own warmth with her, but he knew that he still was wet enough to be cold to her, and would likely do more harm than good for her, so he bit his lip to stop himself and turned back to the outside, once again moving to the front of the fire. He used the opportunity to pull in more wood from outside the cave. There was more light now. He guessed that the clouds were clearing and the moon was shining down on them. He could see more dead wood to pull in. He turned around and felt an itch. It was a strange itch, not really there, but still there. He ignored it while he arranged the wood around the fire again to dry. The itch got worse as he did this. It became nearly unbearable. He then realized what the strange itch was and he snapped his head around to look for whomever might be watching him. He didn’t see anything. He suddenly had the feeling that maybe the cave belonged to something else.
He looked back at the cave, scanning the ground to see if he’d be able to see anything that would suggest that his hunch was true. He hadn’t any such luck. Either there was nothing to see, he couldn’t see it, or their presence had erased all traces. That shot him with panic. He looked up from his frantic scanning to Northern to see her still sleeping peacefully. He wouldn’t wake her for some sleep deprived paranoia, without evidence. She was mad enough at him already. But the feeling of being watched, that infernal itch, it still remained with him. He couldn’t stand it. Whatever was out there knew that they were there. He wanted to know what it was. Looking around warily, he stepped out into the clearing, looking around warily, his ears well open and focused, as he fought past his sleepiness. He was exhausted from his vigil, and for a moment, he wished that the rain and wind was back. It was so much easier to stay focused and awake when you were uncomfortable. Now that he was drier and warm, he could easily go to sleep, but he couldn’t allow himself that luxury now. He stopped right in the middle of the clearing, looking at all sides, one by one. Somehow, this made him feel a little more awake, but he knew that it wasn’t enough. He’d been awake too long. He was definitely going to miss details at this point. He hoped that being out in the open would just make him a much more tempting target than the cave and its occupant.
He hated waiting, but that’s exactly what whatever it was that was tormenting him was doing now. If it was going to kill him, let it kill him now! He stood there, slowly turning in his circle for maybe half an hour when he found himself facing back towards the cave when something happened. He heard movement from directly behind him. Adrenaline shot through his heart, waking him immediately by a little bit. He swung his head around quickly, possibly giving himself whiplash, and running things through his mind. He knew what he did wrong and he blamed his sleep deprived brain for allowing him to do it. He shouldn’t have turned his back on the clearing. A perfect shot that nopony would have been able to resist if they were going to attack him. When he came to a stop, he saw nothing. There was nothing. He couldn’t believe it, and his mouth hung open in wonder at that fact. He turned back towards the cave, then into the woods again, settling back on the cave, making sure that nothing had moved in there. Something had moved. Northern was awake now, and looking at him, one eyebrow raised in question at what he was doing. Her eyes still didn’t hold the anger they had last night, but he didn’t hold any delusions that she had already forgiven him. She just hadn’t remembered that she was angry at him. He shook his head slightly to clear the sleep from it, and listened again. He couldn’t hear anything besides the normal sounds of the woods. And the itch was gone. He wasn’t sure if that was good or not, but he shook his head again and walked back into the cave. “I don’t know. I thought something was out there,” he said, a little disappointed now that there wasn’t anything.
She stood up from where she had lay and walked to the front of the cave. “You’ve been awake too long. You’re starting to imagine things. Go get some sleep or you’ll be even more useless than usual.” And suddenly the hardness that she had had before was back. She remembered that she hated him. Ears back, Solomon went to the back of the cave and fell asleep. It wasn’t nearly as easy as he had thought it would have been. The warmth of the fire on his flank was only on one side. It caused him to be cold on one side, and he now realized why Northern had been cold. The ground was uncomfortable and hard. Unyielding to his shape, making it hard to sleep upon it. Eventually, the peace of unconsciousness and sleep yielded to his attempts to achieve it. But even then, it wasn’t restful. It was broken by him surfacing into the realm of semi consciousness. He’d hear Northern pulling wood in and placing it by the fire. Such a smart filly. He then fell back into sleep. Later he woke up to the sound of Northern pacing around the entrance, the sound of her hooves on the stone there somehow soothing to him. It meant that she was still there and alright. He was lulled back into his sleep.
He slept longer this time and he woke with a jolt at his name. “SOLOMON!” Northern was yelling. She wasn’t at the entrance to the cave. She was in the clearing, a chimera attacking. Shock drove him into a fully awakened state, hopping to his hooves before he even knew what he was doing, charging out to take on the beast that was attacking. He didn’t know how to attack a creature like this though. Before he could even get close to it, the snake head lashed out at him, biting at him but missing and impaling its nose on his horn before knocking him back to the edge of the clearing. Northern shot a lance of green from her horn, but before it reached the chimera, it dissipated to nothing. Solomon quickly searched his mind as he forced himself back to his hooves. He needed to resort to the only thing that he had in abundance, and that was his knowledge. Chimeras where large three headed creatures. Yep, he could see that very well from here. A lion head and a goat head sat on its shoulders then a snake head that swayed back and forth for the tail. He was on the right path then. He charged forward again, stopping at the extreme edge of the snake head’s reach as it struck at where he was going to be in the next moment. He leaped upon its neck and ran up towards the base where it connected with the rest of the body. The chimera consisted of balance in three aspects. Physical from the lion, magic from the goat (how they got that however, was beyond him) and vigilance from the snake. He finished this thought as he reached the base of the snake tail and moved onto the chimera’s back. It bucked, trying to dislodge Solomon from its back. He flew through the air to the front of the chimera, landing a few feet in front of it. A few more bolts of Northern’s green magic dissipated before they hit the chimera, but now Solomon could see why. The goat head was sending out miniature blasts of magic, causing the larger ball of magic to be destroyed. The chimera has three minds and hearts. As long as one head lives, the chimera lives. He had no clue how he was going to fight this thing.
He scrambled back onto his hooves once more, placing himself directly between the chimera and Northern. “Run!” he yelled over his shoulder at her. He didn’t wait to see if she’d comply with his directive, but charged the lion’s head, trying to jab it in the throat with his sharp horn, like he had to the snake’s nose earlier. He didn’t get close enough to the lion before it smacked him with its paw, sending him off towards the clearing again. He was left viewing Northern turning about and running as darkness ringed his eyes. At least she’d get away sa- ‘why is the chimera chasing her instead of coming after me?’ He wondered, a fresh stab of adrenaline shooting through his heart, driving the darkness away from his eyes. He was up on his hooves once again in a blur, giving chase to the chimera. Northern stumbled on the ground, and Solomon could see why. He wanted to kick himself for not noticing it earlier. Her leg was gashed. He truly hoped that it was the lion’s claws and not the snake tail. He was sure that the chimera had a poison bite. Speaking of, the snake took that moment to strike at him as he was beginning to catch up with the chimera as the chimera was beginning to catch up to Northern. Solomon ducked into the mouth, jabbing his horn deep into the tissue at the roof of the snake’s mouth. He then dragged his horn through the soft tissue, ripping and tearing it as he pulled his head out of the snake mouth, carefully avoiding the fangs. The snake flung its head back, blood falling from its mouth in great globs. But the snake was the only part paying him any attention. The lion and goat were still attacking Northern for some reason, despite him being the obvious threat. At least Northern was still able to keep out of reach of the lion’s claws, and kept throwing her magic at the goat to keep it distracted. But how much longer?
Solomon wished that he knew more magic at this point, but he didn’t. He’d have to make due with the magic that he did know. He shook his head to get the blood out of his vision and summoning his magic, started shooting rocks quickly out at the base of the snake tail. It was the limit of his magic, but he made due with it. The rocks split scale and started cutting into the muscles and sinews. It was tiring him out more than it should, and he realized that he was getting the attention of the goat. It was trying to stop him from hurting the snake. But the snake was losing too much blood now. It flopped to the ground and thrashed. This halted the chimera’s advance, but immediately turned its attention upon Solomon. He was instantly swiped back into a tree by the lion’s claw. The claws bit into his skin dragging across his chest and forelegs, causing them to burn greatly as if on fire. He cracked his head against a knot in the tree. His vision swayed and doubled. A ringing filled his ears and he began to lack in his ability to comprehend what was happening. He closed his eyes and tried shaking his head to clear it, but all that did was cause so much pain that he wanted to throw up. Nothing in his stomach to throw up though. He opened his eyes and he could briefly see just a single chimera before it split into three. It was coming closer to him, dragging its dead snake along with it. The snake made it move slowly, maybe he could use that to escape. But even as he tried, he felt nothing but pain. He was moving just as slow as the chimera now, but the chimera wasn’t hindered in its ability to attack. Solomon was. Onto his hooves, he started limping away from the chimera, looking over his shoulder to watch it. It felt strange to him, to watch and see the chimera moving, and knowing that it made noise, but only ever hearing the sound of ringing in his head. He really hoped that it would clear up soon. He found it annoying.
The lion’s mane was suddenly aflame. While the goat was distracted from her, Northern had used her magic without its interference. Now the lion wouldn’t be much good either as it thrashed, beating at itself with a single paw, but unable to reach the spot that was on fire. Chimera roared in its pain and frustration at the two ponies as it started to move off into the forest, away from the ponies that were causing it pain. A chimera left alive can return killed or damaged parts of it to life with time. Well, at least his mind was starting to sort itself out. Northern stood farther away than the chimera had started from when it had come after Solomon. She was breathing heavily, but she was safe. The adrenalin running through Solomon’s system ran out. Darkness quickly closed in around him and he fell to the ground. A second later, Northern stood over him, with concern on her face. She was safe, that was good. She was trying to say something, but he couldn’t hear her. All he could hear was the ringing in his ears and the pound of blood being pumped through his body as it stabilized itself. He rolled his eye away and he saw the first rays of the sun pierce through the vale of the forest canopy. He felt no fear as the darkness overtook him.