55w, 6dAussie Bronies
Seriously! Shocking, I know. Hint-hint, Hasbro.
THE STORM BREAKS
Pinkie Pie woke up rather abruptly. Granted, she also woke up in the bathtub, covered in bubble wrap and chocolate sauce, and with a very hungry toothless baby alligator gnawing on her tail. Ponyville's Premier Pink Partier, Pinkie Pie had often woken up in situations like these. Just last week, in fact, after a party she threw in honor of the party she'd had the night before, she had woken up duct-taped to the underside of Mayor Mare's desk. The mayor's office had been coated in a thick, even layer of strawberry cake frosting. That one had taken a bit of explaining. Pinkie Pie giggled as she climbed out of the tub, fondly reliving other notable aftermaths in her head. She called to the baby alligator, who was trying to pop a bubble from the wrap in his mouth with no success. "Common, Gummy! I got a feeling something big is gonna happen today!"
The small green reptile let out a gurgle similar to the noise of toilet unclogging.
Pinkie Pie snorted. "No, you silly-filly! My Pinkie-sense is going off the wall. It's a new one; I don't think I've ever felt this before!" She gestured to various places on her body. "Tingly tail, itchy kneecaps, twitching nose, and a slight build-up of acid in the kidneys!" She stopped and thought for a second. "Oh, scratch that last one off. I just need to pee!" Pinkie Pie tossed her pet gator out of the bathroom and shut the door. "No colts allowed in the fillies room!
The Cutie Mark Crusaders had woken up the moment Celestia's sun shot it's first beams of light through the bedroom windows. They'd crept past Rarity's room on the edges of their hooves. They'd left a note on her door explaining where they'd be and what time they expected to return. Now nopony could say they ran off without telling anyone where they'd gone. Provided Rarity didn't wake up in the next hour, they'd already be in the Everfree. That was unlikely. Rarity always slept late. Something to do with "Getting my beauty sleep, darling!". Older-mare stuff like that.
Ponyville's streets were always quiet this early. Few ponies were out; usually the ones that were spent their time in the marketplace, prepping the merchandise stands for the days sales. The Crusaders did have a few close calls, though. Rounding a corner, they'd almost collided with Ditzy Doo, Ponyville's beloved cross-eyed mailmare. Ditzy had been flying through the streets like a pinball, yelling something about how "the muffin was coming!". Luckily, she had been too distracted to notice the caped foals hugging the shadows.
Once the Cutie Mark Crusaders had reached the edge of town, they switched from walking to riding in the wagon. While this method if travel was significantly faster, the noise of Scootaloo's hummingbird wingbeats would wake up half the town had they used it there. The trio buzzed along at a brisk pace. They'd be at the Everfree Forest in a few minutes. As long as they didnt pass anypony on the path from the village, they were in the clear.
Apple Bloom dug around through her saddlebags, performing a last minute check in the back of the wagon. "Snacks, rope, a hammer, matches, stakes.... What in tarnation is this?". She removed a stick of dynamite. "Scootaloo, Ah thought you said you wouldn't be bringin' any 'o this stuff! Remember what happened last time?". Scootaloo looked back briefly and shrugged, indicating she didn't know anything about the explosive.
"Sorry Apple Boom, I thought it might be a good idea to bring, you know, in case we have to blown open a collapsed doorway or something." Sweetie Belle bashfully stated.
"Sweetie Belle? You brought this? Where did ya even find it?" Apple Bloom looked at her friend in amazement.
"Rarity uses it sometimes to get gems out of cliffs and boulders."
"Tarnation, girl! We gotta be careful with this stuff! Fluttershy's chicken coop still has sum scorch marks on it, ya know."
Sweetie Bell shuddered involuntarily. Fluttershy had given them an extra powerful version of The Stare for that particular incident. It still gave her nightmares. "When I look back, trying to get our cutie marks in demolition may have been a bad idea."
Scootaloo looked back again and nodded vigorously, eyes wide.
The trio fell silent as the wagon passed under the first trees of the forest. They were now in the Everfree.
Next stop, the castle ruins.
Buckshot grimaced as he felt a fat raindrop fall through the trees and smack into his snout. He'd left at dawn, affectionately kissing goodbye his sleeping wife and daughter in their beds.
Horseapples. Forgot there was gonna be a thundie t'day.
The sky above was roiling with black, tumultuous clouds. Thunderheads soared upward before cresting into the traditional anvil-head shape. The sun's light barely penetrated the thick cover, and was dimmed even further by the Everfree canopy. While it may have been late in the morning, the darkness made it feel like a particularly black night. Spectrum Sprint, the multicolor-coated weather pegasus, was enjoying her new job a bit too much. Ironically, Buckshot had been the one to schedule it with her. But that had been a few months ago. A lot had happened since then, and the storm had completely slipped his mind.
Few month ago, I wasn't Ponyville's bloody Champion. One month ago, magic apples were still a bloody myth.
He turned his bandanna around his neck. The moon on his chest began glowing brightly underneath, casting enough light to see by.
Few months ago, I wasn't a bloody hero.
He remembered the tournament. It had been held at the Royal Palace and attended by ponies from every place in Equestria. Literally. Every town was supposed to send a few representatives, and Buckshot had been nominated to go along with Rust and Ragdoll, a couple that had recently arrived in town. The Tournament was intended to select a sort of lieutenancy from the Princesses for one of the chosen ponies from each town. The idea was that with competent ponies managing their towns and representing the Crown, the Princesses could rule their subjects more effectively. It was like being elected mayor, only you had to protect your settlement from everything that threatened it if you were chosen.
And the only way to leave office was to die.
The events in the Tournament had been designed to test a pony's bravery, their capability, their intellect, and their heart. Various scenarios had been presented to each contender by the Princesses themselves by the means of a magical simulation. The events had made no sense to Buckshot. For his first challenge, he was instructed to defeat an Ursa Minor. Armored to the teeth, he'd knocked the beast out with a swift kick to the side of the head. He was the only one who managed to do it. He'd expected to win right there, but the Princesses barely acknowledged his feat. Even stranger, for his next task, he was asked to change a diaper. Buckshot chuckled at the memory. Despite the randomness of each challenge, he'd performed to the best of his ability. Many, many challenges had tested him in everything from how he lead others under stress to how he folded his laundry. He'd done the best of the three Ponyville; Rust and Ragdoll had forfeited under mysterious circumstances. In the end, he'd been given the title of Sir Buck Apple, Champion of Ponyville. And to his suprise, he'd done better than almost all the others there. After the awards ceremony, after he'd been knighted and recieved his golden bandanna, an audience with the Princess Luna had been requested, and he'd nervously obliged.
The Princess of the Night had blessed him, and then the mark on his chest had appeared.
"You have proven thyself to be a courageous, intelligent, and noble stallion. We give you the blessing of the Night, that thou mayst serve Equestria in a form far beyond your abilities." she'd said. Buck had no idea what she meant. Still didn't.
She'd also offered him one wish as a reward. After much thought, he came up with the perfect one. He'd asked for a way to ensure his family's well-being. It had been granted by the creation of the magic apple tree. Princess Celestia had seen him after, and presented him with his golden bandanna.
The Princesses had invited him back to the Royal Palace on a later date to explain their actions. The tournament left them too busy to spend time with more than one pony for more than a few minutes. Buck had decided to go once his orchard was up and running.
Sorry, sheilas, family matters come first. I'll be sure to have that talk with ya, but in me own time.
A twig snapped somewhere behind him, bringing Buckshot back to reality. He turned his head to look behind him as he walked. Suddenly, his hoof caught on a root while his head was turned. He fell over the side of formerly hidden slope and proceeded to bounce down a long decline, coming to rest in a misty depression. He landed facedown in the mossy turf. An enormous silver oak tree towered above him to the left. The stallion spat out some dirt and looked around. This area did not look familiar.
"Celestia's mane, where in blue blazes am I..?"
He tried backtracking, but the fall had disorientated him. The now-raging storm above didn't help one bit, either. He focused for a bit, then the glow coming from his mark increased, effectively becoming a silver flashlight, cutting through the velvet blackness around him. The forest seemed especially sinister all of a sudden. Buckshot felt bile rise in the back of his throat. He had absolutely no idea where he was.
No. This can't be happening.
Buckshot began sprinting. He had to get find his way back. He couldn't just stand there. He tore off through the dark forest, barely avoiding running head on into trees thanks to his moon's light. Shapes whipped past him as he crashed through the undergrowth. A clearing opened up in front of him, and in his panic, Buckshot forgot one of the most basic rules of survival in the Everfree Forest: never go into open spaces. Realizing his mistake, he turned around to exit the clearing.
Lightning crashed overhead. The flash illuminated the forest for a split second. In that one second of brilliance, it revealed the one thing nopony should ever see.
A cockatrice stood before Buckshot. It was looking him dead in the eye.
That last thought was frozen as his body turned to stone.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Right, so I thought I'd make things a little interesting. How would YOU like to be a part of this story? Send me a message explaining why you feel you could make this story better, and a description of the OC you want put in. I'll announce your entry into the story at the beginning of the chapter they are introduced. Keep in mind, your part may be major, or nothing more than a cameo. Depends on how I like your character. You have until New Years Day. Good luck.