1 month later...
The pain of his loss was unbearable. After a month of tear filled nights, she had finally given up hope. She knew that he was gone by now. She pretended to be okay, but as Wolf died, a large part of her died with him. She walked into the marketplace in complete silence. It was near sunset, and everyone still in the market was either doing some last minute shopping, or closing down their stands. Applejack was the last one to close. She never realized that she had already walked all the way over to her apple stand.
Applejacks words fell upon deaf ears as Twilight completely ignored her.
The sudden change in her tone snapped Twilight out of her trance like state.
"Ya'll right sugarcube?"
Applejack could tell she was lying. Being the Element of Honesty meant she could sniff out a lie a mile away. She never said anything about it though. She decided it was time for that to change.
"Twilight...You feel like taking a walk through Whitetail Wood? Running of the leaves is in a few days, so we might as well take a walk while the leaves are still there, don't you think?"
"I don't know Applejack, what about the stand?"
"Big Mac can handle it today. C'mon, let's go."
As they walked away, Big Macintosh appeared out of a shop and began to close down the stand. He looked up at Twilight and nodded at her. He could tell she was sad.
"You miss him too don't you?"
Twilight didn't answer. All she did was close her eyes and let a single tear fall to the ground.
12 minutes later, Whitetail Wood
"Beautiful ain't it Twilight?"
She didn't answer. She couldn't bear to look at the leaves. It reminded her of the day Celestia's guards took him.
Applejack looked behind her and sighed at she saw Twilight looking at the ground. She walked up to her and put her hoof around her neck and brought her in for a hug. Then she said to her, in a soft and soothing tone:
"Look Twilight, ah know you miss him, but it's been a month. Ya need to let him go."
Twilight began sniffling in Applejacks embrace, struggling to hold back tears.
"I don't want to let him go..." Her voice was shaky, filled with sorrow. She wanted him back. Right there,right now. She remembered when he first saw her after being taken to Celestia, how he held her after they stared at each other. She wanted to be back in his arms, for him to hold her close to him. She didn't want anything else. If she had one wish, it would be for him to come back to her. The one thing she could never have. The sun began to set behind the golden brown leaves. Applejack didn't dare move an inch. She would stay there with Twilight till the end of time, if need be.
Meawhile, at the CMC clubhouse...
"Who's with me?"
Scootaloo slammed her hoof down on the table. No one answered. She frowned.
"Ugh, come on girls!"
"Nuh-uh Scootaloo, you remember what happened the last time we went in there!" Applebloom answered to her with a scowl.
"So we ran into a cockatrice, so what? Fluttershy was there to save us!"
"But this time she won't be!"
"Oh be a little brave Applebloom!"
The two started bickering with each other as both Nyx and Sweetie Belle facehoofed.
"What do we do?"
Nyx turned to Sweetie Belle, confused.
"I said what do we do? Do we go into the forest?"
Nyx looked to the ground, a sad look on her face.
"It's dangerous in there...And even if we don't get hurt, what will our famillies say?"
"We'll all probably be grounded, or worse."
"...My mom's been really sad ever since he dissapeared. She misses him...I do too..."
Nyx shut her eyes tightly and sniffled a litte. She then opened her eyes and gave a determined and decisive look.
Applebloom and Scootaloo were ready to get into a hoof fight when they heard Nyx's voice.
"I'm with you Scootaloo!"
"Yes! All right, anypony else?"
Applebloom looked in disbelief as Nyx walked over to Scoot's side and placed a hoof on her shoulder.
"Well, I'm not letting you two go in there alone!"
Applebloom's jaw dropped to the floor as Sweetie Belle trotted over to Scootaloo and Nyx. All three of them turned to Applebloom.
"What? What are you staring at me for?"
They all sighed at the same time and, again with perfect timing, gestured for her to come on.
"Uh-uh, Ah am NOT going in there."
She cringed as Scootaloo said her name in the most serious tone she had ever heard from her. She began to stammer.
"Ah- We, are you? Arrgghh. Fine. Ah'm coming too."
"YAY!" They errupted in cheers that nearly shattered Appleblooms ear drums. She went over to them and they all placed their hooves together.
"We'll find him and bring him back!" Scootaloo decreed.
"Together!" Sweetie Belle added.
They all joined together for a loud shout:
"Cutie Mark Crusaders Wolf Rescuers!"
38 minutes later, Zecora's hut, Everfree Forest.
Wolf tried to get up. Zecora caught him and stopped him in his tracks.
"Aw come on Zecora, It's been a month, you said it yourself, I'm healing fast! I'm feeling fine, I can make it back to town!"
Zecora didn't answer. Instead she turned around and shot a look at him that carried the message very clearly:
He sighed loudly as he fell back into his pillow. Amidst the sound of boiling water and Zecora's humming, he thought he could hear something from outside. Very soft, stealthy, like a large feline of some kind. He dismissed the noise, thinking that it must be all the steam from the cauldron's boiling ingredients playing tricks on him. All of a sudden, a giant stinger came through the wall and knocked over the cauldron, causing it's scalding hot contents to spill on the floor, and on top of Zecora's hind legs. She screamed as she jumped onto a shelf, a burning pain overtaking her. The stinger then proceeded to impale Wolf. He rolled just in time as the stinger came crashing down onto the bed. A giant paw came throught the hole in the wall, giant claws ready to sink into Wolf. In the blink of an eye, he had drawn his knife and jammed it as hard as he could into the paw. A loud roar shook the hut as the creature ran into the forest. He looked back over to Zecora, who had climbed off the shelf and into a corner of the hut.
She nodded. Aside from the burns, she was alright. Wolf inspected the damage to the hut. The wall was nearly gone, the cauldron was overturned and many of the masks lay on the floor, while glass from the broken bottoles littered the floor.
"I'm going after it."
Zecora was silent. She looked at him from head to toe. His head was completely healed, save for the scar that was already on his face. His muscular chest was in perfect condition. On his side, where a large cut once was, healthy and tough skin filled it's place. Then she looked at his legs. She could tell that those were the strongest muscles in his body, honed by years of training and a lifetime on the battlefield.
"Your legs, are so steady...indeed...you are ready."
He smiled and grabbed a glob of mud.He closed his eyes tightly as he covered them in mud with his fingers. Then he painted two stripes on each side of his face, right under his eyes. He turned back to Zecora.
"I'll be back." He leaped out of the hut and ran off into the forest, making nearly no noise.
Somewhere within the forest...
"Ah knew I shouldn't have come along with you three! What was Ah thinking?"
"Oh, be quiet Applebloom!" Scootaloo scolded her.
"You be quiet Scootaloo!"
"Why don't you BOTH be quiet?!"
They both turned to Nyx, who had just passed by them and was followed by Sweetie Belle, who was giggling. After a few minutes walk, they all stopped to rest.
"Shhhh!" All three fillies hushed Scootaloo, including Applebloom, who had her hoof in Scoot's mouth. She pulled Appleblooms hoof from her mouth.
"What was that for?!"
"We don't want anything to hear us!"
"Then how are we going to find Wolf?!"
"Girls...shhh...." Nyx hushed them, as she perked her ears up. The other three fillies followed.
Rusling in the bushes.
"Umm...Wolf?" Sweetie Belle asked. No answer. All they heard was a low growl as a pair of yellow eyes could be seen through the bushes.
* * * * *
A scream pierced the night air. Wolf went into overdrive. He sprinted across the forest, nimbly dodging trees and rocks.
* * * * *
Scootaloo had tripped and fell on her back. The Manitcores paw had pinned her to the ground. She screamed at the top of her lungs as she saw it's stinger position itself above her, ready to come down. She continued to scream as the stinger lunged forward, ready to take her life. It never hit her. She opened her eyes and there he was, holding the stinger with only one arm. The Manticore turned to him, confused. A wave of pain washed over it as Wolf's fist connected with it's face. It was knocked back, taking it's paw off Scootaloo. Wolf drew his knife and turned to Scootaloo.
"Get back. NOW."
She obeyed his order without question, running back and joining her friends who were standing there watching. Wolf turned to face the Manticore, which had recovered from Wolf's blow. It lunged forward at him. He rolled to the left, and when his arm came back up, it sliced through the Manticore's face with ease. It roared in pain and began to swipe at Wilf with it's paws, claws out and ready to tear through flesh. He expertly dodged it's paws, but was unable to avoid the body slam that sent him flying through the air. He landed on the Manticores back, afetr having lost his knife to gravity. He looked up and saw the stinger ready to strike. It came down. He barely managed to roll out of the way, causing the stinger to punch through it's ownere skull, killing it instantly. He sat down, the adrenaline in his system wearing off. After a few moments, he got back up, found his knife, and turned to the three fillies staring at him in awe.
"Hey girls. Miss me?"
They replied with cheers and they tackled him to the ground, while he laughed as he was knocked over. Over their cheers, he could hear approaching hoofsteps, and then a loud yell.
Twilight burst through the bushes, her face red from anger, and ready to yell at the top of her lungs. She was about to, until she saw him getting up.
"Hey Twilight. I'm back."
End chapter 17