8w, 4hCelestia & Luna
61w, 5dWriting Gold
8w, 3hLuna Is The Best Pony
66w, 1dDoubled Fun
- Show All Groups
66w, 16hTwilight is Best Pony
66w, 7hTwilight Sparkle
5w, 5dTwilight's Library
22w, 1hFinnish Bronies
32w, 14hMy Little Over Analysis
8w, 4hWorld-Building Alliance
8w, 3hLoyal Subjects
8w, 6dVallett's Private Library
1w, 1hThe Peacekeepers
“We have to get away!” shouted Saga. “We'll get killed and eaten! Or maybe eaten and killed!”
“Even trolls can't be out hunting in this weather!” shouted Vigg. “Let's go as far as we can in the directions the tracks don't and take shelter!”
“But won't they follow our tracks?” shouted Spike, who had started panicking a bit and actually gripped Saga's leg.
“Not after this snowfall. Not if we leave the ackja!” shouted Vigg. “Just grab the tarpaulin and some food, then we can move faster as well!”
Hurriedly, they dragged out the rolled-up tarp and a packet of bread and cheese, then they hightailed it as fast as they could in the blizzard in, as Vigg had said, the direction the tracks came from.
Except after a while the tracks disappeared. Vigg actually dug in the snow to find them – snowed over tracks look different when dug up than just packed snow – but there were no traces of the tracks.
“It looks like hills over there!” shouted Saga. Vigg looked.
“We'll take shelter behind them, roll up in the tarpaulin!” he shouted. “Come on, just a little bit left!”
They trudged through the snow and the snowfall actually let up some, the winds whirling around the hills ahead. It was then they saw it.
A huge, black shape loomed ahead of them, and trudged towards them. Spike saw it first and pulled on Saga to stop her, and she looked up, saw it, and squeaked. Vigg stopped in his tracks and at exactly this moment remembered that his spear was back at the ackja.
The shape lumbered closer. Now you could hear its heavy footsteps, it's huge hooves stomping the snow with a mighty thud, followed a microsecond later by a high-pitched clinking rattle. They all stood still, paralyzed. It stopped momentarily and its head, huge, elongated, swirled about and they could hear a snort. Then it advanced again until they could almost see it in the whirling snow and the advancing night.
Its form was basically cervine, but huge and freakish, its long muscular limbs ending in hooves that looked comically big until you imagined them smashing into your body. Its head had a huge snout of a muzzle and an enormous set of antlers, making it male – since reindeer are the only deerfolk where everydeer has antlers. It was obviously a person and not a beast, since it wore clothes – a cape and a cap – and jewelry that Spike would later describe as “tacky zebra”, with lots of gold anklets on every foot and its ears and nose pierced by huge golden rings – and since it carried a tool in its mouth.
“A ladle!” whimpered Saga. “That's just typical, we happen upon him about to make dinner!”
The stalu put down the ladle, which was the size of a shovel, and roared at them, then snorted. He lowered his head and pawed the snow in front of them.
“Hey you!” shouted Vigg. “Stand back!”
“No no no...” Saga suddenly moaned... “This can't be happening... I am Seeing... it could happen... please no oh my goddess...” She swayed unsteadily as if she wasn't quite there.
Spike leaned his head to the left, then to the right, and mumbled to himself. He took a few step towards the stalu, trying to get a closer look.
“Spike! Stay here!” shouted Vigg and Saga at once.
Spike got closer, right under the troll. He looked up at him, and the monster bent down and sniffled him.
“No!” shouted Vigg.
“Don't!” shouted Saga.
Spike turned around.
“Guys, this is just a moose, not some supernatural monster!” he shouted.
“A what?” said Vigg.
“Who?” said Saga.
“Look, there's a tribe in northern Equestria," said Spike. "They are big deer called moose. They are peaceful, they don't eat people, they eat the same stuff as you!”
“But it looks like a stalu!” Saga whined. “And I Saw what could happen...”
“I don't trust him!” said Vigg. “I've never heard anything good about stalus!”
Spike shook his head and turned to the big deer-thing.
“We're lost in the snow! Can you help us?” he said, indicating himself and his rather worried companions.
The stalu snarled and snorted. It certainly sounded like words to Spike, but certainly not any language he knew.
“Come on!” he said as he turned to Vigg and Saga. “Ask him in your language! He sure didn't take Equestrian in school!”
“We should get away while we can...” stammered Saga. Vigg looked like he was about to charge the stalu. Spike sighed and facepawed.
“Look guys, this is no troll! It's just some dude that's larger than you! We are freezing to death and he has got to have shelter nearby, because even 'savages' don't take random jogging rounds in the middle of a blizzard carrying kitchen tools! He hasn't done nothing bad yet!” he shouted.
Vigg swallowed, then walked up to the stalu and looked him straight into the eyes. The huge deer-thing stared back, a most hostile stare. Vigg looked very long and then he looked away.
“Spike is right. We should take our chances with him” he said with a tired voice, then turned to the stalu and spoke Poatsi.
“Can you help us? We're lost in the blizzard! We can pay you, or help you in return!”
The stalu showed no great sign of understanding, but he did turn his head and pointed behind him with a hoof, growling.
“I think he wants us to follow,” said Vigg.
“You're mental again!” shouted Saga. “That's a monster, Vigg! You can't take Spike with you to him!”
Spike sighed. “It'll be OK, Saga. I read about dudes just like him at work, I helped some schoolfoals with their homework. Unless they are really different in Tarandroland he won't be dangerous,” he said, pleadingly.
“Saga, I've... looked at him. He is just really afraid of reindeer, is all,” said Vigg. “I can see stuff like that. I mean, See.”
Saga looked from Spike to Vigg and to the stalu, then stepped up to join them.
“Fine! But I can also See things, and if we all end up on a platter it's not my fault!” she snapped.
They didn't have to walk far, just up to one of the hills ahead. Outside it were some perfectly ordinary wooden buckets filled with snow. The stalu kicked at the hill and thereby opened a door that seemed a bit small for him. He shooed the kids in, heaved in the buckets of snow, got himself in somehow, and close the door behind them. Then he locked and barred it, which seemed to make him relax.
“Now we are locked inside the troll's cave,” said Saga. “This just gets better.”
“Why the snow?” said Spike and looked at the stalu, as if he could understand what Spike was saying.
“To melt for water, I assume,” said Vigg. “For cooking and stuff.”
“Exactly,” said Saga. “Cooking.Us.”
Spike sighed. “Don't carry on like that,” he said and looked around the very small room, presumably the hall, which was very very warm and lit up by a single big candle. It held a bench, a shovel, some sort of wicker rug, a coat-hanger made of reindeer antlers (“I think he'll have two more hangers soon, Vigg” said Saga), something which looked like four enormous boots (“When would he need them, if he doesn't use them in this weather?” said Spike and pointed to them), an enormous pair of skis (“When skiing – they are ski boots” said Vigg) and a giant mace.
Spike went up to it and touched it. The stalu jerked his head in Spike's direction and made a protesting snort.
“Yeah, he is totally going to pick it up and bean you with it,” said Saga and eyed the stalu.
“This place really smells of smoke,” said Vigg and wrinkled his muzzle.
“It looks like it's a whole tree!” marveled Spike. “And the rocks in the head, it is like the roots are holding them there!”
The stalu shrugged, hung his cap and cloak on the coat-hanger and pulled out a crude little chest from under the bench.
He started to remove – slowly and clumsily – his copious amounts of jewelry, putting it in the chest. Then he stopped, pointed at the kids, at the hanger, and at the chest, while he spoke very slowly and carefully in his own tongue, as people often do in the hope that strangers magically will understand them that way.
The magic worked on Vigg, who eyed the door to next room.
“I think he says we should take off our clothes and so on,” he said, and took off his jacket. Spike happily did the same, because while he had been really cold outside now it started to be really hot, and he didn't wear clothes at all normally.
“That can't be good!” said Saga. “You must realize this can't be good. OK for taking off the warm clothes, but taking off my jewelry – that can only be because he doesn't wanna choke on my piercings!”
Vigg gave Saga a tired look.
“He would have to flay you anyway if he was actually gonna eat you! Come on Saga, it's not a cartoon!” he said, and removed his thin silver necklace and put it in the box.
The stalu eyed it curiously and then stared at Vigg for a short while, then he turned to Saga and gestured for her to follow suit. She sighed and started to remove what she had on – she obviously hadn't hung chains in her antlers for a forest trip.
“We're going in” said Vigg and nodded to Spike who nodded back. As he moved for the door the stalu bellowed and pointed to the buckets. A mystified Spike picked up two while Vigg hooked two others on his antlers and laughed.
“OK, now I know where we are and what he's doing!” he said and opened the door. A massive wave of heat struck him and Spike, who suddenly had second thoughts.
“Wow, what's this? Is it an oven?” he said. Vigg shook his head.
“No no, it's just a sauna,” said Vigg. “The troll was gonna take a bath when he spotted us, and when he decided to be friendly I guessed he didn't want the heat to go to waste, so he took us with him. It would also be dreadfully impolite to not invite guests into your sauna – like eating and not offering them to join you. Guess trolls have the same etiquette as reindeer.”
The stalu bellowed.
“Yeah, sorry, we'll close the door!” Vigg said and dragged Spike with him into the healthy inferno.
Saga looked at the stalu, smiled embarrassed and put her fourth set of earrings into the box.
“Of course, you try to take off your bling before you take a sauna...” she murmured. “Your gold stuff would roast your legs, I assume... Nice nosering, by the way. I'm done, no more stuff!”
The stalu was scrutinizing one of her necklaces, an Equestrian jubilee coin that celebrated the return of Princess Luna which she had put on a silver chain together with full and new moons cut from tin.
“You like it?” said Saga. “You can have it, I mean you're saving us. Even if it is of my Goddess, I mean. And... if I was right and you're really going to... eat us or just kill us, I guess you get it anyway.”
The stalu snorted and closed the box, then looked at her.
“You... whatever your name is... if the guys are wrong... I want you to know... you see, I'm really thin. I was anorectic for a while, actually," Saga said. "No meat on me at all. And I smoke like a chimney, so I'm probably poisonous. But despite that... Please, if you really eat people, eat me before the little dragonling. I think the world can better stand to lose me than him, actually. OK?” Saga looked like she was close to crying.
The stalu looked at her with incomprehension. She sighed.
“Whatever, let's get a bath, whatever your name is. What is it, anyway? What. Is. Your. Name?” she said.
He shook his head sadly.
“OK, this works in stupid movies, let's see if it works in reality,” Saga said angrily. She pointed to herself.
“Saga! Saga!” she said. Then she poked him with her little hoof and tried to look as if she wondered something.
It must have worked despite the flickering candlelight, because he pointed to himself and bellowed.
“What did you say?” said Saga. He tried again, slower.
“'Kvalhissir'?” asked Saga. He nodded.
“Kvalhissir!” she said and pointed at him.
He nodded again.
“Oh, great!" she said. "Come on, let's tell you what the others' names are!” She pushed him towards the door to the actual sauna.
Spike had had steam baths before, of course – Ponyville had an excellent spa and it was open to children – but the reindeer way – and, it seemed, the moose way – was a bit different.
“Normally, you just heat rocks and pour water on them, but in a sauna like this – a smoke sauna – you use a hearth that fills the room with hot smoke beforehand for hours, then let it out. It's a really laborious way to do it, and you still have to throw water on the hearth to get the steam, the good steam, but it is assumed to be the best heat – at least by old fogies like both my grandfathers,” Vigg explained. “If you think it is too hot, sit on the lower benches. And leave and splash yourself with water or rub yourself with snow if you get too hot.”
“No problem!” said Spike, grinned, and sat on what was basically the hearth itself.
“I'm a dragon, remember?," he said. "We're not literally immune to fire but can take a lot. Having it in your belly sort of makes you used to it. And we like heat!”
“Hey guys, this is Kvalhissir, who rescued us!” said Saga when she came in, stalu in tow.
“You asked him? How?” said Spike.
“The primitive way” said Saga and pointed to her companions. “Spike – Vigg. Vigg – Spike.” The stalu nodded amiably, saw Spike on the hearth and jumped as high as was possible.
“Well, Miss Babysitter, while you were away, the child climbed on top of the stove and got burnt!” said Vigg.
Saga calmed down the stalu and then waggled her hoof at Spike.
“Well, don't do that! Burnt fawns smell bad!” she said in mock-stern voice.
“Luckily I'm not a fawn” said Spike.
“What?” said Vigg. “That's a horrible thing to say!”
“That's how my Gramma warned me not to touch the stove,” said Saga. “And 'If you drown I will give you a whupping when you come home' when I was playing in the harbor.” She smiled like an angel. “I love my Gramma so much!”
Kvalhissir apparently thought there was too much talk and too little heat, because he produced an actual barrel with melted water (“One prepared in advance!” said Saga) and started slowly and methodically pouring water on the top layer of hot rocks, using the giant ladle he had been carrying when they met him.
“I guess he grabbed the closest weapon he could find when he realized there were strangers about,” said Vigg.
“Weapon?” said Spike incredulously. “It's a ladle!”
“But look at the size of it!” Vigg protested. “It could crush your head! Anyway, I am sure he would have picked up a knife had he been peeling carrots or an ax if he had been chopping wood, but he was putting a sauna in order so the first thing he got in his mouth was the water-ladle.”
“Y'know, he could have actually picked up his actual weapon, the big mace outside,” said Spike.
“You don't think well when you get scared,” said Vigg. “I forgot my spear by the ackja.”
“It's a good thing you did,” said Saga, who suddenly looked very solemn. “It was the thing I Saw.”
The others looked at her.
“My Sight – I have one besides the normal one everydeer has – it is kinda sucky – but sometimes – I see things that could be. And sometimes they are things that are going to happen, because unless things could happen they won't happen, OK?” she stammered.
The others looked confused.
“It is sort of like predicting the future except it is not,” she said with some irritation. “Anyway, when we met him, I saw what could happen – what could have happened. Except Kvalhissir was too afraid to go and get his mace before he went off to see who we were, and Vigg was too scared to remember to take his spear from the ackja. But what I saw, was what could have happened if you both had been braver. Then you were both armed. When Spike went closer to him, you charged him with your spear, Vigg. He defended himself with his mace and crushed your head. That made Spike spout fire at him, so he... he killed Spike as well. And when I... when I tried to run away, he ran me down and killed me.” Saga sniffed. “It was so close that we really died... And because I Saw that, I couldn't trust him... I didn't really understand the details until now...”
The others had fallen silent.
“And after he had killed us, he would have looked closer, and see that it wasn't the reindeer warriors he was fearing... it was just three lost children...” she added, downcast.
“So... because I'm a coward and he is a wuss, we didn't die and he didn't destroy his life?” said Vigg.
Saga nodded and sniffed again.
“It... you don't talk about your Sight, really,” Vigg said, obviously directed to Spike. “It is... both unsafe and a bit private. But since Saga has told about hers...”
“You don't need to say anything!” protested Saga, stood up from her bench and walked up to Vigg. “I'm a holy doe! I can talk about my magic!”
“I was going to say I will say what mine is, despite I find it be very embarrassing,” said Vigg. “Because it is important for what I did tonight. I... have the same Sight as my mother.”
“You can see into deers' hearts?! Oooh, that's so romantic and cool!” she said and put her hooves to her mouth.
“But it is so... girly!” Vigg protested. “It's like I'd start shooting rainbows that make everyone happy and pick dandelions and give each other candy canes...”
“And why is that important here?” said Spike. Kvalhissir was watching with interest, even if he couldn't understand what was said. It was unclear whether he was hoping Vigg and Saga would start to fight or start to make out.
“Because I looked into Kvalhissir's heart, and saw that he wasn't malicious or even hungry, he was just scared and surprised” said Vigg.
“Why didn't you do that right away?” Spike protested.
“It's... it's not like you can do it all the time. Hearts change, you know? It's not always it works... And sometimes you don't want to know... So... you really only take a look if you really wonder...” he said with some embarrassment.
“So you mean you were already so sure of him so you didn't look?” said Spike and frowned.
“Yeah,” said Vigg.
“Have you looked at me?” said Saga with interest.
“Yeah. When we had that problem with the ackja... you were so stubborn. I didn't know whether you were making trouble or why... so I took a peek,” he said, even more embarrassed.
“It's OK,” said Saga perkily. “I think it is awesome! I mean, a real Sight, like in fairy tales! Not like mine!”
“Have you looked at me?” said Spike with curiosity.
“No,” said Vigg and smiled. “I never had reason to doubt you.” He looked at his feet. “I did look at Twilight Sparkle, to see whether those stories were true... and they weren't... someone with her heart can't be that bad.”
“Why did you check her?” said Saga with some suspicion.
“Oh,” said Vigg with more of the embarrassment “I just think she is... really awesome. Yeah. She is totally awesome” he said with an guilty look at Spike. "That was what I meant. Awesome."
Saga gasped and squeezed herself down next to Vigg.
“She is, isn't she! She's the greatest!” Saga said. She puffed out her chest. “I happen to be her new apprentice!” Then she sunk down again and smiled awkwardly. “Well, just for a short while... at least until she leaves again... but I am totally learning new spells!”
It was Vigg's turn to gasp. “She is teaching you? Wow, I'm so jealous! That makes you awesome, do you know that?”
The both giggled a bit.
Spike facepawed. I really hope this brings them together, he thought.. After all, the situation have already gotten them pretty close. I am just not happy with what brings them together.
Kvalhissir got off the bench to cool himself with some snow. Spike followed their host; the heat was starting to be a bit too much even for him.
Author's notes: First, I hope there is so much Original Flavour in this fic that no one ever expected poor Kvalhissir to be an actual deer-eating monster. I mean, it's a standard cliché in this kind of cartoon that something is said to be evil and dangerous and then turn out to be innocent.
Second, I actually have a lot to say about trolls, moose and the Scandinavian perception of such, as well as something about my favorite MLP:FIM fanfic ever and how it inspired me a bit - but I am not doing it here. That will be in a blog here on the site. I know no one reads those things, but please keep an eye open for it. I will write my piece when it is not two in the morning and I have to get up at seven.
Thanks for reading!