They left the library and moved on through Ponyvilles streets that were filled with ponies of different kinds and colors. The instant movements made it nearly look like a mosaic of a gifted artist. As expected the ponies started to look at him but at least there were no fear in their eyes, more curiosity than fear.
- By the way Twilight. – started Ember.
- It did sound like you have not arrived at home yesterday. Were there some problems?
- During my way back home the Pegasus Ponies brought forth rain over Ponyville. I would have never made it in time without the rain make me soaked wet. Rarity was with me though and she offered me to stay at her home.
- And probably after a longer sleep you left Rarity and were on the way to your home but then the fillies came back and informed everypony about Sugar Hearts accident.
- Everything you said was correct. I am wondering though if you just made it up or you found it out because of our established connection.
- Your mind is razor sharp Twilight Sparkle. But I just made it up because for a complete scan of your mind and thoughts I would need far more time.
Ember had his problem with moving forward through the crowd afraid that he might stomp somepony. Even though he did not have his old size he was used to, he was still pretty big only Princess Celestia could reach his size if he was correct. Twilight made the small journey a bit more comfortable with different kind of conversations. Nearly every time they passed a bigger group of ponies they welcomed her with a hearty hello, the only thing Ember got was the feeling of their eyes on him. His small companions tried as hard as possible to make his life a bit easier what was indeed touching for him even though he was not able to show it. A bell sounded not far from them making his eardrum vibrate in a rather unpleasant way. Soon after the bell they could hear happy laughter and yelling of the small fillies that ran out of a red building.
- That is Ponyville's school. – said Spike. – All the young fillies go there and learn.
- That is quite a lot of them. They all remind me of Sugar Heart.
The fillies saw him from the distance and ran right towards him in an impressive big pack. All of the sudden questions were thrown at him starting with: what are you to why don’t you have hooves like us? The fillies were all along him that’s why he could not go on, Twilight and Spike have been pushed roughly away from him what made him stand all alone against the pack but this time he actually enjoyed the attention. Seemed to be the effect of those cute big eyes all looking at him; the best thing about children was the fact that they barely shown fear to things that might scare the older creatures. Ember was not able to answer everything, one answer created more questions and he was outnumbered in no time. Then a sharp whistle cut through the air and made all the fillies quiet.
Ember noticed that an adult pony that had purple fur and a mane that had two different kinds of the pink color; a bright pink strip in the middle on the sides a darker pink. He could see from the structure of the body that she was a mare. After she reached him she looked at him with her light green eyes within he could see something he was not able to describe but somehow it made him feel secure in his heart.
- I beg your pardon. The children are always so curious.
- I am surprised that they are not afraid of me to be honest.
- The word travels fast in Ponyville. Allow me to introduce myself; I am Cheerilee.
- My name is Ember. – Right after that the children once more overthrew him with kind hello what made him melt a bit. – It is nice to see ponies that don’t have a problem with my… appearance.
- It is not the outside that counts – She was not only speaking to him she was leading her words to her pupils too. – It is the inside that really matters. I have heard that you have healed Sugar Harts disability!
- I did my best. She will soon be jumping all over the place.
- Oh I am so happy for her! She is a wonderful filly and a great pupil. Every filly in the town is like a second family for me and I am always happy to hear that one of them has been fortunate.
- Each of us deserves a second chance. – Even I… – He thought. – I am impressed how fast you have settled down that cheerful crowd.
- A teacher has to know such things. – She smiled and pated the nearest filly. – I can see that you have something of a teacher in you Ember. You have a good attitude for children.
- If you say so…
- Even if I enjoy our conversation I have to beg your pardon. This was a short break that is over now. It is time to go back to the class room!
The fillies made disappointed noises but all of them went back into the school under the watchful eye of Cheerilee. After every filly went in she waved at them and entered the school herself. With a nice warm feeling in his chest Ember looked at the school, he could see through the window how Cheerilee was teaching them some mathematic formulas.
- I really enjoyed the meeting with that group.
- Cheerilee is right you know.
- You have something of a teacher in you besides that you have the patience for children.
- I think it just comes by my living in the underworld.
- I doubt it that you have meet fillies down there. I saw myself how you were watching over Sugar Heart and I am one hundred percent sure that you would be a good teacher or even a baby sitter.
- Maybe you are right Twilight but I see that the fillies are in good ha… hooves. My assistance is not important right now. So where do we go now?
- We may leave the city at the next corner and go visit Fluttershy.
- Sounds good to me.
After they left Ponyville behind them they passed a river that apparently was surrounding Ponyville. The first thing Ember saw was a huge and enormous acre full of apple trees: Twilight noticed that he was looking at it and said:
- This is Sweet Apple Acres that belong to the Apple Family. On the other side lives Applejack with her family.
- That is quite a sight for a sore eye. They are collecting all those apples by themselves?
- Yes they do. It is a hard work but they always manage to get along without asking for help; sometimes we help them though.
- If you will show me how to run the show I will help too if necessary.
They continued their small trip. Along the way they passed through several ponies that ran away in fear after they saw Ember what made him let his ears go down. Soon Ember could see the river again with a small bridge that leads to a strange looking hill but after they got closer to it Ember could see that the actual hill was a house; clearly noticeable door and windows were proving it. On the nearby trees he saw many bird houses attached to the branches, bunny holes seemed to be everywhere and if you looked closely you would notice that under the bridge there was a hole too. Ember was not sure for what animal though. Besides the bird houses there were natural houses in the trees that were used by squirrels that were happily chasing each other in the trees. Right after he appeared on the stage the animals ran away from him in all known possible directions. They reached the door of Fluttershy’s home Twilight knocked at the door after a short while the upper part of the door open and Fluttershy appeared in it.
- Oh hello there.
- Hi Fluttershy. We are on a small trip with Ember so he can get used to his new home.
This statement made him fall deep into his own mind while the ponies were chatting a bit, especially with Spike that had all the attention from Fluttershy. Could he really call this place his new home? If his new friends were right the ponies in Ponyville will get used to him in some time but would it be enough? Would they accept him for being the creature he was? He was not sure. Each time he heard the word home Ember had a warm feeling in his heart that he started to like a lot. Eventually he will find a place where he will settle down by his own choice what cheered him up but first there were other thing he had to do first. The princess and the high council together with the magi court of the ponies were still waiting for them or better said for him. Right now Ember noticed that the ponies and Spike were looking at him:
- Oh please excuse me I have fallen deeply into my thoughts.
- Did you girls see that what I have seen? – asked Spike.
- Yeah… - said both ponies at the same time.
- What do you mean?
- The color of your eyes changed Ember. – said Fluttershy. – It did not remind fire it was more like a fog.
- Really? – asked Ember, it was surprising how many things he did not know about himself.
- It seems like your eyes changed their colors depending on the thing you do. In that case you were thinking and then they turned into that white misty color; like in my home.
- If that what you say is accurate then it is a problem…
- Why's that?
- My eyes are the only things that allow me to show some feelings. It might be abused by an enemy…
- You have to relax a bit Ember. – said Fluttershy. – Equestria might have its dangerous sides but in all it is a beautiful and peaceful land.
- I understand that it has to be bad for you at some moments but within time you will get used to a life where you don’t have to fight for your life day after day.
- I think you both are right but I am not sure if old habits will ever disappear out of my life. Let’s change the topic for now; Fluttershy if I am not mistaken you said that you are an animal caretaker?
- Oh yes indeed I am Ember. Shall I introduce you to my little friends?
- Introduce me to some animals? Don’t tell me they can talk too…
- They can but only in their own language. I am able to understand them though so it should not be a problem Ember.
- Bah! – Thought Ember. – Animals that can talk with animals… This is getting weirder and weirder with each new thing I discover.
- If you say so Fluttershy…
Even if it was not loud Ember heard a cute and happy sounding yay coming from the Pegasus. She closed the doors of her house and took the lead to her backyard. As on the other trees Ember saw that at each nearby tree were filled with bird houses. The chicken coop that was right under one tree was one of the first things Ember has noticed. After Fluttershy entered the backyard animals came from all directions though with caution because of his presence around.
- Oh don’t worry my friends Ember will not harm you. He is a friend and I am sure that you will like him as I do.
The animals faced their fears and swarmed around her what made her giggle happily. Ember watched that scene with big impression, the way she was treating the animals was something new to him; few words were enough for them to conquer the fear they had few moments ago what was in his case a miracle. All sorts of animals were around but he was certain that not all of them had to be native to those lands. Ember heard a splash coming from the river; a seal came out of it and was moving towards Fluttershy in a clumsy way followed by an otter that arrived at Fluttershy three times faster than the seal. The air was filled with the noises of the animals and it seemed that Fluttershy had a conversation with them. A strange pink bird that had long legs, that reminded him of thin sticks, was standing on one leg not far from him.
With its long neck the bird was looking at him with some interest in its eyes. Suddenly Fluttershy pointed at him with her hoof and all the animals ran towards him and once more he was surrounded by small things in a way that he was not able to move without stomping one. The smaller birds landed on his horns and shoulders while an eagle choose to sit on his head, a funny looking thing if somebody would see it. Ember had his fun with the small critters; happy to see that they did not fear him.
- What did you tell them Fluttershy? - asked Ember while he stretched one finger so a bird could land at it.
- That you are a nice guy and that they can trust you.
- Yeah. – He thought. – But if I will plan to get some meat that trust will be gone for good.
- Tell me though. Is that the Everfree Forest we were passing?
Ember pointed at the forest that was filled with dark trees farther away from Fluttershy’s house. A wall of creepy looking trees was darkening the horizon he was surprised that he did not see it first.
- Yes it is. – said Fluttershy with a scared tone.
- Isn’t it dangerous to live so close to such place?
- Not really. It is dangerous to go inside though. Deeper you go than more dangerous will be the animals.
- So the animals of that forest never leave their homes?
- It never happened. It seems like they hate the sun light.
In his thoughts Ember planed to enter the woods and see if the stories his ponies friends were telling him were really true. He could not imagine it though. The toughest place he was ever been were the depths of his former home; nothing could beat that. But he kept these thoughts for himself. Ember made his wings appear what scared off the animals and birds after that he made them disappear.
- It was good to see your duties Fluttershy. Your kind nature is inspiring.
Fluttershy blushed a bit and thanked him with a smile.
- But I suggest we move on Twilight.
- Yes we are still not ready with our trip.
- Fluttershy do you want to join us? – asked Ember and stretched what made the awful bone cracking sound be heard all over the place.
- Yes I can. My choirs for today are done.
- Lets go then. – Ember looked at the animals and said something in a language that the ponies did not understand. The animals though seemed to understand him what made them all start a chaotic orchestra of animal sounds.
- Ember what was that?
Ember laughed loudly with in his scary demonic way what made some of the smaller birds lose their consciousness.
- I am full of surprises aren’t I?
After Fluttershy said good bye to her small animal friends they moved on the same way they came to visit her.
- So where do we go now?
- I suggest we visit Pinkie Pie at the Sugarcube Corner.
- I assume it is some sort of shop?
- It is a bakers shop. They sell all sorts of great stuff and sweets. – answered Spike and touched his belly. – I especially love their muffins and cakes.
After a short while they entered Ponyville again: the streets were now over filled with ponies that were minding their own business. While walking along them they seemed not to pay any attention to him what was just right for him now. Passing by some trader stands that were selling all kind of things Ember stopped at the vegetables stand and scared the vendor so much that she could not move. Twilight figured out right away what Ember was checking on that is why she and his other companions including the vendor, that stopped being frightened after the vegetables topic came up, started to present him the veggies. It took some time for him to remember the names of the veggies especially of the green one that seemed to be the same at least for him. Some of the ponies that were passing by stopped and listed;
- The only vegetable I knew before I stopped was the carrot. - thought Ember and remembered the glorious soup he had today. Soon he was able to recognize the different kinds of veggies so they decided to move on only to stop at other stands: from food to kitchen gear the vendors were offering everything. They even tried to convince Ember to buy something but he always refused because he had no money to pay with. Then after they passed the last stand that was in sight Ember saw the place that the ponies were calling Sugarcube Corner. The first thing Ember had in mind was a cake after he saw the building. The bakery and confectionary reminded a birthday cake; colorful as it was. The roof looked like it was made out of chocolate with white edges that could be cream; the chimney was purple and had three ventilations.
The tower that was in the middle of the roof ended in the form of a muffin that had three candles on it; that’s why everybody would think that it reminded a birthday cake. A lot of pink and purple was on the lower parts what only could lead to thinking about sweets and any kinds of baked stuff. He could smell freshly baked things he could not really identify, as they arrived at the entrance he stopped:
- I think it will be better I do not enter this building.
- Why not? – asked Spike and sniffed. – Don’t you smell it Ember?
- I do smell it but I also do hear babies crying.
- Oh that is right! Mr. and Mrs. Cake have twins you know. – said Twilight. – And after you mentioned it I can hear them cry too.
- My presence in there would probably make things worse.
- Maybe you are right but that crying sounds strange doesn’t it? – said Fluttershy. – Maybe something happened?
- I will check it. Ember you better wait here. – Twilight went inside while she opened the door the crying of the twins became even louder. Something in this crying was not right that was sure. The unicorn came back pretty fast and reported what was going on:
- It seems the twins swallowed something! The parents are not sure what it might have been and the doctor is not in the town since last week! Ember you have to check on them!
Ember sighted and nodded. He promised that he would heal anybody that would be in a serious trouble but he was hoping that events like that would not occur; well he was wrong. Ember followed Twilight into the building, the smell of freshly baked goods were all over the place. There was nobody at the store front and neither in the kitchen; the crying of the babies seemed to come from the second floor. Twilight ran up the stairs followed by Ember that had to bow down even considering walking on all fours to go up easier; how he would leave this place had to wait. After he finally reached the second floor Ember saw that Twilight was talking with two ponies that seemed to be Mr. and Mrs. Cake the owners of the Sugarcube Corner both with terrified and sad faces waiting for his arrival. It seemed like Twilight was trying to prepare them for the encounter with him, it failed badly; they were even more nervous and besides the fear for their children they were afraid for their own sake.
- Twilight are you sure that this is a good idea? – asked the stallion with dark yellow fur and a mane that had the color of a carrot. He was wearing a funny looking hat and a ribbon that shared the same color as the hat; on the chest he had a white overall. – I will not risk the health of my children to a stranger especially like him!
- But darling the doctor is not in the town and you heard what he did for Sugar Heart… - said the mare that had blue fur and a mane that had two different kind of pink color. She was wearing an overall too only that it had pink wing like shapes on the edges while the rest was yellow. – We have to do something! I can’t stand hearing them crying in pain.
- You can hate me after I have checked the babies. – said Ember that could finally stand normally. – We don’t have time to waste.
Mrs. Cake looked at her husband, begging him with her eyes to let him pass. Mr. Cake sighted and showed him where the children were. Ember entered the room that was apparently designed for the babies: Pinkie Pie was standing close to a crib where both fillies have been put in, their crying was weaker now and it sounded more like moaning than crying. Pinkie appearance was different than Ember was used to; the happy always smiling pony had tears in her eyes.
- She really have a hard time… - thought Ember and approached the crib. The wooden floor announced his coming in a rather loud way what made Pinkie turn around.
- Oh Ember I am so glad to see you! Please help them! I just can’t stand to see them like that. – She started to cry heavily. Mr. and Mrs. Cake hugged her and waited for a miracle to happen. Ember sighted and looked at the babies, surprised he noticed that the fillies were a Unicorn and a Pegasus while their parents were surely Earth Ponies; he did not ask though there was no time for such things now.
- They are called Pumpkin Cake and Pound Cake. – said there mother and pointed out who was who a boy and a girl. Pumpkin Cake reminded him a lot of her father while the boy was looking more like his mother. Ember opened the crib and got the attention of the small creatures that were looking at him with those big cute eyes; he could read pain in them and it was obvious that they were looking for help around in the environment. Embers eyes changed their color right away to the light green color; gently he touched them on the heads and made the pain disappear. The fillies sighted relaxed sadly he did not cured them yet. The only thing he did was to remove the pain, now he had to focus on the source of the trouble. The weak babies were lying on their backs waiting for treatment.
First he started with the boy Pound Cake that was a Pegasus Pony: he casted a spell and connected with the body of the filly but before that he caught the light with his will and created butterflies that started to fly above the heads of the fillies. While they were busy with the new discovery Ember started to look through Pound Cakes body. The throat seemed to not be damaged and on the way to the stomach he found no injuries. That is why the guardian concentrated on the content of the stomach. Right away he saw the cause of the problem:
- I think I know what the boy has swallowed. – Said Ember that was focusing only on the boy now that was trying to catch the butterflies above him. – It looks like a key.
- Oh my… - said the stallion. – It must be the key I have lost today….
- I will remove it from his stomach Mr. Cake. I suggest that you three turn around though.
- What?! No! No! No! I will not allow it!
- You have to trust me. Or the situation might get worse. – The father nodded.
Ember started to focus magical energy around the shape of the key. His eyes changed their color a bit and now were dark green; surprisingly the small unicorn reacted to it and looked at him with a curious look. Ember checked everything as good as possible. After he was sure that he could continue this procedure he laid his hand on the filly’s belly and started to slowly move it up in the air. The key started to move up through the skin of the filly that could not feel what was happening. Ember changed the physical structure of the key and made it entirely ethereal, what allowed him to remove the key out of the baby without harming it. The parents looked at that with wide open eyes as did probably the others but Ember was too focused on his spell that is why he did not notice it.
Finally the key left the body of the child; he cut the connection with his body and turned the key back into its proper form and structure. As expected the key was wet and had a strong smell that was coming from the stomach acid. Ember threw it simply behind him. The boy seemed to be relived but the guardian have decided that the child needed sleep, that is why he casted a spell and let the small boy enter the land of nice dreams. Now it was Pumpkin Cakes turn. The curious unicorn was looking at him with fascinating eyes totally ignoring the butterflies he has created. The guardian connected with the child and noticed a small magical barrier building up in the girl; she was defending herself from his influence! He bypassed her defense easily and without dealing any damage to her.
She looked kind of disappointed and angry in the same time what made Ember smile in his mind. Then he started the examination as he did with the boy; several wounds have been found along the esophagus that had been left by something sharp. Embers eyes became light green again, with his finger he gently moved from the throat to the belly leaving a small line of energy only he could see; at least he thought so. The line went into the body and healed the wounds. He checked everything several times in the end he focused at the content of the stomach. Right away a small pink round thing appeared in his mind. On its back there was something metallic that had a sharp tip; Ember was sure it caused the damage to the sensitive flesh inside the body.
- I am not sure what that thing is. – said Ember after a while. – But don’t worry I am able to remove it.
He did not hear the relived sights in the room. Once again he focused only on the patient and started to cast the spell that would help him to remove the foreign body out of the stomach. Ember replayed all the movements, slowly and delicate as possible; the thing appeared out of the skin of the small filly and was on the half way out but the girl noticed it and started to focus magic again. In desperation the unicorn nearly broke his concentration that was the only key to keep her from any damage. With the other hand he touched her horn on the tip and the magic accidentally disappeared; Ember could not allow interference like again, that’s why he pulled out the foreign body and cut the connection with the filly. He sighted loudly maybe even too loud because he has been overwhelmed with questions. With his hands he calm down the ponies and the small dragon and showed them what he just took out of the body.
- Dear Celestia! That is one of my earrings! – said Mrs. Cake and nearly fainted.
Ember turned around to the unicorn and let her fall asleep with his spell. After that he continued the conversation in their minds.
- It is done… the fillies will be alright. Let us go down and let them sleep.
The parents looked one last time at their babies and then they all went down to the first floor what was rather a hard thing for Ember because of his horns. In the end he actually managed to leave the stairs that were not good enough for his size without damaging the wall.
- Our children were suffering because of our forbearance…
- Do not bother your mind with such thoughts now. The worst part lies behind us now the children are safe and will be healthy in no time.
- Thank you so much for your aid… - said Mrs. Cake, if you would be standing there now you would see that she was trying to remember his name.
- My name is Ember.
- Thank you very much Ember. May Celestia bless you for that.
The guardian has noticed it several times that the ponies, the inhabitants of the town and even his friends, were saying things like: By Celestia and so on. What in the end made him think that Princess Celestia was playing a way bigger role than only the role of a monarch of this land. Pinkie Pie seemed to be relived as the parents. Right away it was clear that the children seemed to mean a lot to her, Fluttershy and Twilight were at her side; their company had an immense effect on her. Friendship… They openly offered him their friendship without a second thought and yet he was not able to understand it fully. Ember could still see the pictures that were burned into his mind; Rarity’s torture, the selfish offered sacrifice for her sake even if it would mean that they would be the one that would be suffering the pain. Then the crystals broke and the roles as the guardian ended in agony. Would he be able to do something like that for other living creature?
- Remember Ember it does not matter what you are, what matters is who you are.
The words of the Grandmother came back in his mind. The first free choice he did was to protect them from his old nemesis. He pay with his own blood for the sake of the creatures he did not really know and yet he did it; saved them from the dragon and left the world he once knew with them. Since then he experienced things that would have never happened during his stay in the depths of the Underground, changing him in ways he still could not express with words or thoughts. The sight of the three friends that were there for him, the gratitude of the parents and the fruits of his work made him feel like he has never felt before. The old *guardian* was gone, burn to ashes by the overwhelming heat of the chains and out of the ashes Ember raised.
A different creature that seemed to be able to show feelings even if he was pretty bad at it. Pinkie Pie went back to the Pinkie he knew and as expected she did start to thank him in all different random ways for his help. To see her smiling again and to know that the small babies were unharmed and healthy was price enough for him. The last procedures though somehow weaken him and he was feeling dizzy all of the body. The small unicorn nearly did some serious damage to him; somehow she literally smacked him in his magic core without knowing it. If he would not have stopped it everything would have end in a disaster.
- I need to get out on the fresh air… - said Ember that was trying to sound normal but his voice sounded weak what blown the cover right away. He bowed before the Cake family and let himself disappear in the shadows. The ponies could only see that the door opened all by its own, as fast as possible he managed to get between some sideways of two buildings. Ember sat down on the ground and touched his forehead that was glowing hot.
- This was way too close… - he thought and searched the ground for a water source. After he finally found one Ember pulled it out and created the small water ball; in the end he cast a spell that froze the water into ice. The useful thing about his first spell was the facts that even if the water was frozen it was still able to change its shape; right away he put the cold association on his forehead. A loud sizzle went through the air after the ice touched his forehead. Water was running down his skin directly in the direction of the eyes where the melted ice right away evaporated. Relived he moaned and let the association do its work while he was thinking about the small unicorns unexpected reaction. Ember was sure that the filly is able to use magic, not yet totally under control and surely not in the bloom of its true potential: that was the thing that was bothering him.
Even if it was only an accident that would never happen while he was on guard the young filly managed to weaken him for a while, and that might get crucial for him if it would be found out. The cooling method worked eventually and the glowing heat disappeared and he started to feel better. Right away he lifted the spell that was shrouding him from the eyes of the living creatures and went back to Sugarcube Corner entrance where he found Spike eating something. It seemed thought that his spell did not really lost its power after he said Hi to the baby dragon he scared him what made all the cookies he had in his hands fall on the ground.
- Ember is that you?
- Yes. Why do you ask?
- You look like you lost some parts…
Ember looked down on his body and saw that several pieces of him were still invisible; the torso, left leg and the right arm were missing what made him look ridiculous. This time he made sure that his spell was gone for good:
- Where did the others go?
- Why do you even ask? They are looking for you all over the place.
- I had my reasons to do it Spike. I will summon them back.
He pointed at a place where there was enough space for his friends, and then he concentrated and cast the spell. A blue imprint appeared on the ground and with a loud sound that reminded a splash of a big, heavy rock falling into water the three ponies appeared on it and bumped into each other. A bit confused they were not able to say nor do anything. The imprint was gone and Ember sat down on the ground; it was a mistake to use spells after his accident so he ended up being weak once more.
- Sorry for the rough ride but I did not want to look for you all over this place.
- Don’t worry about that. – said Spike. – Teleportation is nothing new to use. I think the crush was the worst part that happened.
Twilight rubbed her head with the hoof:
- Why did you disappear all of the sudden?
- I had my reasons.
- I have heard the change in your voice before you left Ember. – said Fluttershy. – Something must have happen to you.
- Yes I noticed that too. – Pinkie hit the ground with the hove. – What was it all about?
- I said I had my reasons. – said Ember and sighted. – Leave it be… please.
It was hard to him to let the last word be spoken but the ponies gave up the questioning. Twilights eyes though were telling him that she was suspecting something to be honest he saw it in anybody around here.
- I will never win their trust if I will keep being that way. – thought Ember and clenched his hand.
– Where shall we go now? – Ember tried to let them focus on something different but he doubted that they would forget it; the guardian hoped that they would understand why he did not say anything. Pinkie was the first that started to act normal by jumping up and down at the place where she was standing.
- We should go visit Rarity in her Boutique! And you know what I have a great idea!
- And that would be? – asked Spike.
- I will buy us some ice cream! – Before somebody or somepony could say something she charged off yelling back to them that she would meet them at Rarities house. That’s why they moved on. Gladly they were not asking him further for his strange behavior, and the entire situation lost its tense atmosphere. The ponies started to talk about all sort of things but Ember was not sure if it was told to him. Most of the things he did not know at all even if he did some *research* in Twilights mind.
- Seems like I was lazy this time…
He noticed that the street was more crowded than in other places of this town. Then he saw the reason for it. A tower like building started to appear in the middle of this place, not far from that building he saw a well with a statute of a female pony standing on a ball only with her back legs. Right away the stranger from the Underworld became the attention of this place. The eyes of the ponies were picking on him but he tried to ignore it. His friends were still chatting about some sort of spa, whatever it might be but then a strange sound stopped their conversation. Ember heard both of them scream, their scream was followed by screaming of other ponies and eventually he saw fillies in the air that were on a strange looking device. It did not take long time till the fillies fell out of their strange machine and started to fall down.
He made one move forward and catch all of them with a simple telekinetic spell, saving them from a rather painful landing. With Embers bad luck though he got hit by that device right into his head what made him see birds in front of his eyes. The guardian put the fillies on the ground and started to shake his head a bit.
- Girls! Are you alright? – asked Fluttershy concerned.
- What about me!? – asked Ember in his mind that was still seeing things doubled. Besides that he was fighting the device that was stuck between his horns.
- You could get hurt and hurt others! Why are you in such a hurry? – asked Twilight and helped the fillies to get up.
- Sorry. – said the fillies in the same time. Ember finally started to see normal, he looked down at the fillies and right away he noticed that there was one Earth Pony, Unicorn and a Pegasus. The little fillies seemed to not notice him at all what was kind of shocking for him.
- Thanks for saving us Twilight.
- I did not catch you.
- Who did it then?
Spike pointed at Ember that was standing behind them, still trying to get rid of the device that was stuck between his horns. As expected his appearance scared the fillies that started to yell loudly what made all passing ponies look at him. Gladly Fluttershy somehow managed to calm them down with one word then she flew up to Ember and helped him to remove that strange device, after that she patted him and said:
- You don’t have to be afraid of him. He will not do anything to you.
- Do not make me look like one of your pets Fluttershy. – He joked around and looked down on the fillies. – Don’t worry I am not hungry right now.
The kids were not sure if he was joking or serious that is why they remained hidden behind Twilight and Spike.
- Oh girls Ember is joking. Come on introduce yourself. – said Twilight and used her magic to move the three fillies above her right in front of Ember, that kneeled down to have a better look at the three fillies.
- My name is Scootaloo. – The first who started to talk was the Pegasus. She had orange fur and a mane that somehow reminded him of Rainbow Dashs style besides that the color was purple. The unicorn was the second one to start that somehow has managed to push forward before the Earth Pony.
- My name is Sweetie Bell. – She had a nice looking snow white fur and a properly styled mane that had the color pink and purple. Sweetie Bell had an impressive sounding voice that with proper care would be a great voice for singing. The way she was standing and talking reminded him of Rarity what he pointed out right away.
- Little one you remind me of a pony I know. Rarity is her name.
- Rarity is my big sis. Where did you meet her?
- This is a story for another time. – Ember looked at the last filly that was defiantly an Earth Pony. She had light blond fur and a mane that had the color of red. A pink ribbon at the back of her head beautified her cute appearance even though it was made rather simple. This pony did remind him of a friend he knew as well.
- Let me guess you are AJ’s sister?
- You do know my sister too? – asked the filly that was still a bit behind the others.
- Yes I do. – Ember did not mention anything that happened in the depths of his old home; being a show off was not really his thing. Even if he probably has shown his abilities to the pony folk he hopped they did not think he was showing off. – How may I call you young one?
- I am Apple Bloom!
Then the fillies came closer to each other and took a deep breath:
- WE ARE THE CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS!!!
It was impressive how loud such small things could be. The echo of this sound was vibrating hard in his ears besides him the others were shaking their head to clear it from the sudden outburst of the fillies.
- What was that all about…? – asked Ember and got up. – What are the Cutie Mark Crusaders?
- This is a story for another time… - said Twilight. The fillies started to bombard him with any kind of question about things he was good at, trying to somehow get information out of him. Ember could not stop thinking that the things they were asking for would be used by them to earn their Mark. Not that he had talent at anything they have mentioned, he did not have a cutie mark in the first place what made the fillies call him a blank flank. Somehow that expression got him pretty bad that is why he did not respond to this. Soon the fillies got bored by standing around and doing nothing, that is why they took their strange device Spike called a scooter that was gladly not broken, jumped on it and by using the power of her small wings Scootaloo made it move forward with an immense speed. Ember could hear shouting of ponies on the streets.
- That was interesting… first they want to know anything about me then they change their mind and woosh they are gone.
- They will never give up till they will get their Cutie Mark. – said Spike. – At least they do not lack the faith.
- Oh power of youth I miss you… - thought Ember.
- They will find it out in the right time. – said Fluttershy. – And I am sure they will find it out working together.
- I am wondering though. What would be Embers special talent? – asked Spike. – What do you think?
- I don’t think I have one.
- How can you say that Ember? – started Twilight. – After all you have accomplished?
- The things I have done were merely social deeds. You cannot call it a talent.
- Maybe magic is your talent? – said Fluttershy. – I mean you know so many things about it. You even talked with the animals using a language I did not understand.
- I still have to find my purpose my little ponies. I lack it very much now if….
Ember heard some kind of noise in the air, which was followed nearly in the same time by yelling of Rainbow Dash. He looked up and saw her flying down at him with an incredible speed that she seemed not to control. Frozen by it he waited for the upcoming crash, the only thing he could say before the impact was a quiet: - Oh no….
After the collapse the force of Rainbow’s speed nearly threw him out of balance. The guardian could feel some pain in his chest where he has been hit but he endured worse things. Rainbow Dash fell down on the ground, she seemed to be unharmed besides that her head seemed to hurt her.
- What are you made of? Iron!? – She touched her head with her hoof while Ember only scratched the place where she hit him.
- I felt safer in the woods than in your town. – His comment made some of the passing ponies laugh, including his friends. Ember helped Dash out by removing the pain in the head, right after it she was back in her element and started to perform all kind of tricks and acrobatics. Fascinated by it Ember looked at her skill; she seemed to enjoy the attention a lot what made her do more advanced performances. Ember applauded at her and started to clap with his hands:
- I would be honored to fly with you through the wide open sky Rainbow Dash!
- Do you think you can keep it up with me?
- We may test it some other time.
- With pleasure. I always like to show the rookies how real flying looks like.
- Don’t be fooled by my appearance Mrs. Hot Air. I am full of surprises.
Rainbow Dash flew down to her friends and landed directly an Embers head, the muscles of his neck became tense from the extra weight that was lasting on them. Not that it was challenging.
- So what are you guys up to?
- We are guiding Ember through the city. – said Twilight. While she talked with Rainbow Ember noticed that Spike was now sitting on her back what was a funny sight: A dragon riding a pony.
– We go to Rarities Boutique right now.
- Why don’t you show him the Joke Shop? This is at least something funny.
- I am already a walking joke for the ponies. – said Ember and made a strange sound that the ponies could not identify.
- You will be even a greater joke if you will go to Rarity. In the end she might just start sewing a suit for you. – The girls started to giggle about the imagination of Ember in a high class suit that would be just perfectly suited for special occasions.
- Indeed I am a joke for them. – He thought a bit disappointed at this fact. Their laughing has been interrupted by Pinkie that jumped out of nowhere holding something in her hooves; probably the thing that she called Ice cream back there. The thing though that was more interesting and confusing for Ember was the fact that she was moving on her back legs what made no sense for him at all but to be honest: would a talking pony make any sense? Or that the talking pony was able to hold something with the hoof? His appearance among their kind was senseless too that’s why he started to get used to things like that. He managed to survive in the underground, experienced things that were in many ways strange and ridiculous in the end he would just need time for adapting into this world.
- Oh here you are! You did not make any progress at all.
- Lets say things literally fall down from the sky. – Ember looked up a bit so he could see Rainbow that was still sitting on his head, no now the Pegasus was lying on his head and she probably did not intent to leave this place. – I hope you have found a comfortable place Mrs. Dash.
- It can’t be compared to the clouds but…
Ember made a one might swing with his entire body what threw the Pegasus into the air where she open up her wings and let the wind do the job for her to stay in her element.
- That was so awesome! We have to do it again!
- Hell no! You are heavier than you look like.
- I am so sorry that you are not so trained well as I am.
Ember laughed quietly. The guardian started to enjoy spending time with them; especially talking was something that he was missing in the Underground. The symphony of the stones was always a cheerful experience that kept his struggled mind in peace where others probably would lose their senses for good but a conversation with an intelligent creature was something that he really missed.
– I will start training eventually, do not worry on that.
- If that is true then I would like to see your training.
- I don’t see any problem with that but for now there are still things that have to be done. Until then I doubt it that I will find proper peace.
- Are you still worried about your meeting with the princess?
- Would you not be worried on my place Twilight Sparkle? Try to imagine that creatures like me would call you for a meeting with their monarch and the High Council. How would you feel if you would be the only creature of your kind among the others?
- I see your point. I would probably be scared all the time. No offense…
- None taken.
- Hey stop talking! It is ice cream time! – The first Ice cream she gave to Ember that inspected the small unknown thing. The others, including Rainbow, received their portion that Pinkie brought in a bigger amount. Ember did the mistake of eating it whole with one bite what made Spike laugh at him loudly. The ice cream had the taste he did not know but he was sure that he once knew it: Pinkie Pie called it strawberry. The ponies and the dragon were licking their portions while Ember was still trying to figure out how he would eat the ice cream next time he would have the occasion for that. They were still close to the Town Hall that is why Ember asked them to move on. On their way to Rarities Boutique they had to pass the same river that was surrounding the city with its round shape.
According to the ponies there were several bridges in the city that helped them to pass the river easily. None of the builders seemed to have foreseen that a creature like Ember would use it. On one of the bridges a stallion that was pushing a large cart created traffic because he got scared by Embers appearance. Yelling on both sides forced Ember to help out the stallion of his misery. To afraid to use his magic after the small incident with the baby Unicorn, he decided to use his own strength to remove the blockade. His wings appeared with strange sound out of his back, gladly the stinging feeling that he nearly always felt after his wings appeared was gone for good, besides that the sticky mess was gone too what made the entire thing cleaner.
While in the air Ember grabbed the cart with his claws and lifted it together with its owner that was yelling terrified by the free aerial ride. That is why Ember put him on his beloved earth that the ponies started to kiss right away. The traffic was gone so they could continue, the nice thing was that the other ponies that were waiting to pass by were thanking him for his aid what improved his mood greatly. Soon he saw a building that was outstanding of all the other houses Ember passed by. Its shape somehow reminded him of the Town Hall of Ponyville but if Rarity would hear him saying such thing he was sure she would be arguing with all she got in her clever mind. Everything from the roof to the door was matching perfectly to each other. The tower like building had some kind of message for the eye and Ember was sure that it was something like: If you look for extravagant and elaborate gowns you came to the right place.
Several times he has heard that Rarity was a fashion designer that was creating and selling fantastic dresses. Her craftsmanship truly seemed to be highly demanded because he saw several ponies leaving the places with big packages on their backs. Of course those ponies got scared by Ember that was moving towards them. The mare that was wearing the package nearly let it drop into a mud puddle but through Embers quick reaction with his wings he catch it long before it fell into it. The ponies thanked him for his aid, telling him something about a saved Birthday party and such, Pinkie greeted the ponies and started a chit chat with them. According to Twilights memories Pinkie Pie knew nearly every citizen of that town. What seemed to have its profit because they gave her an invitation that Pinkie sadly had to decline because she would be on her way to Canterlot.
The door of the Boutique opened and Rarity ran towards them like she would be charging at a fierce enemy without fear. She stopped at the two ponies and started to ask if her creation was fine.
- Wow she really loves her craft. – He thought while he was listening to Rarity that was still talking to the couple to be more careful with the package. It seemed like she was working on that dress quiet a time and she would not like to see it in mud; nobody on her place including the owner of the dress would like to see the new item dirty. Rarity seemed not to see that Ember was here, his companions seemed to think the same after the couple left they greeted her with a hearth hello.
- Oh my… please excuse me. I just could not stand the thought that my newest creation would have been ruined by a clumsy customer! – She wanted to hit the ground with her hoof but after she saw the mud she took a big step back from it. – I see that our friend is fully adapting to us?
- After all the things that happen today I came to a conclusion that adapting will take way more time than I have expected.
- Everything needs its time. It is like making a dress, if you hurry up to much it will just not be the same as you would work on a wonderful and marvelous dress for a special occasion. Take your time for your new life and enjoy the things as good as possible.
- Oh my goodness Rarity… we saw many customers leaving your shop. How did you manage to do all those things in a short time like that? – asked Fluttershy that was more alive since the group was growing.
- Darling I have many useful tricks for that. Besides that the most things were already done they only needed the last cut to be. – She clapped her hooves against each other and giggled. PERFECT!
- I hope you will not take so many things with you to Canterlot like you did the last time. – said Twilight. - If I think of the poor service boy that had to move it all by his own…
- TWILIGHT! We go to Canterlot the most wonderful place in whole Equestria! I have to show the ponies of that marvelous place that they can find perfection and beauty not only in their city. I am a living example and representative of our Ponyville!
- If that is true what you say I am sure that the ponies in Canterlot have good thoughts about this place. – said Ember.
- But in the end I do think that for them every other pony that is not dressed or acts like them is a worse kind, a second class citizen. I am not a fan of things like that.
- Some things in the world will never change at that point. – Admitted Rarity. – Sure thing is that they do not thing that our place is full with ponies that have no taste in clothing.
- Clothing is only a second skin. A surface that might look pretty but it might hide the true nature behind it.
- Why do I have the feeling that you have a lot of experience in that case Ember?
Ember got hit by that comment; he was not really sure why he was saying that or why he had a reason to think that way.
- I… I don’t know. Sure thing is that nobody should judge a person. – The ponies looked at him with lifted eyebrows. – Pony… by the way she or he dresses. The higher society always despite those that were not blessed enough to have the opportunity to call themselves rich. I have the feeling that I will not enjoy the state at this place.
- We will try to make it easier for you Ember. – said Fluttershy. – You will not be alone there.
- That is right. Do not worry about being judged by your look. Not all ponies are that way.
- I might have feel better with it if I would be one of your species Twilight. But I am not and I do know how I look like. The way the ponies were gawking at me made me feel uncomfortable and tomorrow I will go with you to the capital city of this country.
- Ember made a sound that reminded them of a sight but they were not sure about it.
- Don’t worry Ember as Fluttershy said we will be there with you. Everything will be fine you will see.
- I hope you are right about it. – He looked at his new friends that were now all focusing at him. – And thank you for everything.
- If you will feel sad just let me know. Pinkie Pie will do the final blow to your sadness!
Ember looked at Rarities house:
- Your house suits you Rarity. The architects truly knew what you need.
- Thank you! I was actually helping a bit with the look that is why it is so magnificent.
- I am on a small trip through your town. Would you like to come with us?
- Luckily I do not have any work for now. I do expect much work next week though.
- Whys that? – asked Pinkie that was as usual jumping up and down happily.
- Fancypants and some of his friends have preordered some wonderful suits and dresses. Besides that Mr. Hoity Toity asked me to help him create some patterns for his new spring selection. I cannot wait to start with it!
The names ponies were using in this land were simply strange for him; Hoity Toity, Fancypants? Thinking twice though his name was not directly a name that is why he did not say anything about it. While the girls were chatting around, Dash was relaxing on a cloud above them but for sure she could hear everything what they were talking about. Ember looked around hoping to see something interesting but to be honest the thing he really wanted now was to see the sky of the night and to see Luna again. He was hoping that she would be there at the meeting; according to Twilights memory and her own words, it can be that she will not be able to do so. Not far away from away from Rarities house and shop there were stands that were probably some sort of shops too.
Today he saw enough stores to be honest. The things that were being sold were not really important for him besides the food of course. Still many thoughts were in his mind and the questions that remain unanswered became a visit of new questions that were unanswered but would be eventually. Ember saw small fillies playing next to one of the tents. They were using a jumping rope for that, maybe nothing as uncommon as it appeared to him but it was interesting to see how the fillies were swinging the rope by using their mouths. He could hear them laughing, enjoying the old game as others did before them and the sound of that would have made him smile if he had a mouth. Ember did notice though that the muscles that were along his face were reacting to such things what made him think that he was really smiling, even if nobody was able to see it.
Happy about the new discovery he laughed quietly and continued to watch the fillies but then the kids saw him and hid right away what made his ears go down. Rainbow Dash that was watching the situation from above flew over to the fillies and brought the small scared fur balls to him. He kneeled down on one knee and looked down on the fillies that were still not sure what was all about the mysterious creature.
- Do not worry kids. – started Rainbow Dash. – Ember might look scary but he is cool.
- As Rainbow Dash said my name is Ember little ones.
After that the fillies lost their doubts and as the kids at the school they started to ask him all kind of things they found strange about him. He did answer to everything as good as possible; joking around that for him the ponies were the one that were the strange ones. Then the kids asked him if he would like to play a game with them but sadly Ember had to decline it but he did promise that he would play with them if he would be back from Canterlot. The fillies cheered at him and started to jump from place to place, Ember better should watch out to not make too many promises like that. Otherwise he would not have any time for other things but after thinking twice there were not many things to do for him. He hoped that he would find something to do.
Guarding was his destiny below the earth in the similar looking tunnels of his former home but here on the surface he thought he would not have the opportunity to do it again. To be honest he was happy about it because new ways were waiting for him to be chosen. It seemed that they had no limits what made it very exciting for him. His companions came to him and greeted the small fillies, the kids made cute sounding noises after they saw Pinkie Pie that jumped right in front of them and started to suggest games that she could play with them. But her companions reminded her that they were now on the way to Applejack’s home. The fillies made some grim looking faces and said that the adults were the most boring thing in the world after that they ran off.
- Hey Rainbow the small kids called you boring. – said Ember and looked at her.
- They do not know how wrong they are! I am the most awesome pony in Ponyville!
- I do agree that your flight skill have to be unmatched by any other pony.
Rainbow Dash turned red in her face what was kind of a new experience for him. Happy about his compliment she started to fly happily though her element, apparently talking to herself about being the best of the best. Rarity came along and looked at her friend and cleared her throat in the gentlest way a lady could perform:
- You do realize that today we had a meeting Rainbow?
Dash stopped to *swim* in the air and the happiness turned right away into a shocked face, she hit her head several times with her hoof so strong that Ember could hear the sound clearly.
- I am so sorry Rarity! It slipped out of my mind… I had to deliver several clouds and I did promise an ill friend to do his job for him.
- Oh that is not a problem Rainbow my dear. – Rarity looked at her with a sharp look and a grin that made Ember shiver inside. – But do not expect that you will talk your way of it. We will make a new appointment.
- Okay, okay! Fine! I will even say that I will stay an hour longer.
- Wonderful! Do not worry Rainbow you will not regret it.
The Pegasus sighted and landed on the ground but before she did it she flew closer to him so he could hear her say: - This will be so boring.
- Our group is nearly complete. – said Ember and looked down at the ponies. – Only AJ is missing.
- Let’s move on then! – said Spike. – With any luck Granny Smith had made her delicious Apple Pie!
The ponies made an loud mmmm what made even Ember join it but it sounded like he was growling. Spike hid once more behind Twilight only that he did it behind her neck and mane. The rather uncommon group head back to the bridge where Ember has resolved the traffic problem; they have passed the Town Hall and continued their trip leaving behind the river that was surrounding the city. The Sweet Apple Acres had an impressive size. He was not sure how many trees or even how many hectares in total there could be. Bright and shiny apples of the red, green and sometimes yellow color were decorating the trees; a sweet scent of them was all over the place. Tempting as they were Ember was fighting against taking one off, better to wait with that or he could expect some juicy bucking from AJ.
On the other side of the street there were fields, he did not see any buildings but he was able to smell a lake nearby. After a while they arrived at the way that was leading to the Farm. The guardian has been informed that this is a rather big family that lives all across Equestria, each of them having their own big apple acre. Along the way Ember stopped and listened carefully, he was not sure what he was hearing right now but he was sure that he heard two different kinds of sounds. After he mentioned and pointed the direction that was leading into the acres, the ponies suggested to go there, assuming that AJ was working already. They moved on into the acres and in no time they were surrounded by the apple trees. The scent of apples, singing of the birds that were jumping from branch to branch was filling the air around them. Then they all hear a pony shout angrily. Right away they recognized her as Applejack. Suddenly a small pack of bunnies appeared behind the trees, running as a wolf would be hunting them. The personification of the wolf was Applejack that seemed to be far more dangerous than the mentioned predator.
- Come back here ya thievin’ vermin!
Ember might be mistaken but he saw how the bunnies that had made up an impressive distance from her have stopped for a moment, turned around and showed their tongues at her. What in the end made her rage even more; the bunnies changed their direction, outsmarted the hard working mare and ran towards them. Ember found it funny how that situation resolved but he did intend to help her out. He filled his lungs with air and roared fiercely. The bunnies including Applejack and the others in the group that were enjoying that funny moment got scared by it. Poor Spike and Fluttershy have been so frightened that they fell on their backs, the way how the *fainting* goats do it. The small critters looked at the big creature with fear beyond imagination, frozen by it they did not move at all.
Applejack that seemed to be in the same state recovered really fast from it and waved at them. The group went to her and greet her while Ember was still looking at the bunnies that were now so close to each other, that they were shaping one shaking fur ball. Fluttershy came by and looked at the bunnies and started to talk to them. But all of the sudden after she said that stealing was wrong she looked at the bunnies with a started that made a cold shiver run down his spine.
- How is she doing that? – He thought a bit scared by the fact that a pony like her could be so frightening. The bunnies were even more scared by her than by him. They turned around and ran with all they have got in their small legs. The sight of their white tails going up and down could be followed for a short time but then it got lost between the trees.
- What by the spirits was that? – He asked Fluttershy that now was looking and acting normal.
- She used the *stare*. – said Rarity with some sort of frightened voice.
- A stare that not even a dragon could manage to hold out. – said Rainbow.
- Most of the time when it happens I am not aware of it… - said Fluttershy quickly trying to not look bad.
- Well you can add me to the list. I am sure that I would not hold that *stare* out.
The ponies laughed happily. He turned around and greeted Applejack and asked:
- What was that all about?
- This small pack always comes here and steals my apples. Most of the time in front of me! Greedy lil….
- I am sure that they will not come back for a longer time. – said Pinkie Pie that was hoping her usual way. – Ember and Fluttershy sure are a frightening mix. – She giggled and pretended to do the stare and the roar of his in the same time what was actually hilarious.
- How have you been? – asked Twilight.
- Big Mac did some real work while we were gone. Right now he is helpin’ Granny Smith while I took over the work here.
- What were you doing? – asked Ember interested.
- I’ll show ya. Follow me.
The first thing that everybody would notice was the fact that among the most trees were big wooden buckets and that many of the trees here did not have any apples on them anymore. Several trees seemed to be dead or sick. Applejack went to the nearest tree and hit it with her back legs. The sound he heard on the path filled the air and then all the apples fell down from the tree, mysteriously falling all into the two baskets that were around it.
- And that my dear friend is apple buckin’.
- May I try it out?
- Sure! Just don’t hit to hard okay?
Ember went to the next tree and knocked it lightly with his fist. All apples that were on it fell down directly into the basket. How the hell is that even possible? The ponies especially AJ looked at him with wide open mouths, this time he felt uncomfortable and said:
- Watch out or ya’ll swallow a fly.
The ponies mumbled something and started to hit the ground with their hooves while Spike was rolling Twilights mane a bit around his claw. Ember laughed but his laughter has been stopped by something strange. He felt that something was hitting him with a wooden thing against his back sometimes even his butt.
- Step away from the girls and the trees ya ruffian! – He got hit again. Right after he turned around he saw an old looking mare that had a broom in her mouth. Her fur had the color of a green apple, a white mane and other signs of her age were nearly all over her body. Yet she was hitting him like no ordinary young mare could ever do. What was most impressive in his eyes.
– Don’t worry children I’ll protect you!
- Granny Smith wait! – said Applejack but the mare did not hear her. She keep continue to hit him with the broom. Something hit him in the side: frustrated Ember noticed that he got hit by packed hay.
- That is right! Let’s show him what the Apple Family is made of! – It was incredible how loud she was and how, Ember was not sure about it, she somehow was swinging the broom faster. A short and loud Eeyup went through the air and Ember got hit by the next missile. Not that it hurt him, he was just standing there. His eyes reminded now of fiery lines while he was under siege of the Apple Family.
- Big Mac! Granny Smith stop! – yelled Applejack and moved towards the mare.
- Huh? What is it sweetie? – Granny Smith finally stopped hitting him.
- He is a friend stop attackin’ him! – she had to say it more than one time and it had to be loud so the stallion called Big Macintosh could hear it too. Ember got hit four times in total by his missiles that were quiet accurate.
- Oh you do know him? – asked the mare that let the broom down on the ground.
- Yes I do! He is the one I was talkin’ about yesterday.
- Ya could have told me that he would visit us! – protested the old mare. – After I heard his roar I thought he was attackin’ you.
- I should try to not roar around this place to often. – He thought and scratched his flank that has been under siege of the old mares furry.
- Big Macintosh! – yelled Granny Smith. – Get over here and greet our guest.
It seemed that she was not loud or not clearly enough because he got hit by the fifth time in a row. Oh the drudgery!
- Greet him as a friend not enemy!
- Stop that nonsense Big Mac! – yelled Applejack. – He is not a threat!
In no time the bombardier arrived. The biggest and strongest looking stallion he has seen since he was in Ponyville. Nearly as big as Luna he had an impressive strong body structure that had to come from living and working on the farm. His fur was red nearly like the red of the apples and he had a simple pale yellow mane that somehow matched his look. Something was attached around his neck, a wooden thing that seemed to be heavy and yet he was moving with it like it would not be there at all. Big Mac still had challenging look in his eyes but his body remained relaxed. Both of them started a stare duel that was going on for a longer time that they were thinking.
- Boys… - they both heard it and rapidly stopped it a bit embarrassed buy their actions. AJ moved between the two ponies and pulled them closer to each other:
- Ember let me introduce my family. This is Granny Smith and this is my brother Big Macintosh.
- A pleasure to meet you sonny.
- Eeyup. – Was the only respond of Big Mac that was chilling around right now.
- The pleasure is on my side. Yet I recall Applejack telling me that the Apple Family was way bigger.
- Our family indeed has many numbers. – Said Granny Smith that was showing first signs of weakness after her assault. – But they do not all live here; the Apple Family is spread around all of Equestria. They all have their own Apple Acres that they are taking care off.
- How many members of your family do live here then?
- Besides us there is still my lil sis…
- Apple Bloom.
- Oh you did meet her already?
- Lets say they literally crashed into me. – Ember turned around to Rarity. – I did meet you sister too Rarity.
- I hope they did not cause much trouble. – said the Unicorn a bit concerned, Ember laughed quietly but still loud enough that the ponies could hear it. Afraid that he might scare the old mare he stopped though.
- It was an interesting meeting; it was like looking at small miniatures of AJ and Rarity.
- I will interrupt you only for a second sonny. – said Granny Smith. The way she called him made a nice feeling in his tummy, he was not sure why though. – But I would suggest that we all go to the farm and talk properly at a table and with mugs of our great cider. There are still some barrels left.
After Granny mentioned the cider the ponies morale went beyond limits. Especially Rainbow Dash was happy about that offer because right after it has been mentioned she jumped high into her element. The group followed the slow Granny Smith with patience and listened to hear while she was telling Ember some old stories about this place. Ember enjoyed listening to the older mare that somehow reminded him of the Grandmother he met not far from his grove. They both had voices that were reflecting experience they have gathered through their long live, besides that the way they were talking was kind of relaxing for him. Ember did talk about their work, how impressed he was that only four ponies were taking care of this big Apple Acre. While the two ladies were talking and thanking him for praising the fruits of their hard work, the stallion was silent and as Ember was expecting the only thing he was saying was his Eeyup.
Soon the other ponies started other conversations of course the kind of conversations that Ember could not join or add his thoughts or comments. He was sure that they were not doing it on purpose, the things they were talking about were normal for them but not for him; the old guardian did not say anything and pretended that he was watching the apple trees that were surrounding them. Yet Granny Smith noticed his sudden silence and asked:
- Tell me Ember what do you like?
- What do I like?
- To be honest, since I left my old home I’ve seen so many things that I started to like but. – He looked at the crystal clear sky and at the trees that let the sun shine through their crowns what was truly a marvelous sight for him. – It is the sky that I really like especially the sky of the night. I fell in love right away.
The girls giggled at him while Big Mac made his typical sound followed by a nod.
- Ah yes, yes. I do understand your fascination sonny. While I was a young filly I snug out of my room and went outside to watch the stars till I fell asleep only to be wake up by my mother. You will get a cold! She always said and yet she was the one that got ill most of the time.
- If I could I would not sleep at all. With each passing hour the sky show more and more of its beauty. I’ve regretted that I have ever went down below the earth and that I have forgotten how it looks like.
During their short but still long way through the acre they finally reached the end of the apple trees. A clear path leaded to the farm that soon appeared at a small hill. Home of the native Apple Family was quite a sight; first of all it did look differently than the houses he has seen in Ponyville. The construction looked more like a one big barn but it had nice looking shapes and on the red painted, wooden walls he could see inscriptions that were showing plants that were spreading around the wall like snakes; each of them holding a one big apple. The roof has been painted purple; on one place the roof ended like a small tower. A wind rose was pointing out the current direction of the wind while on the top of it was a metallic apple. Long before they have reached their home Ember have seen corn and carrot fields, a chicken coop, a well and other building he could not really identify.
Along the farm there was a wooden fence, the entrance had a semicircle form; plants were moving around the edges of the entrance creating an interesting appearance. Ember could see that there were fruits growing at them surprised he noticed that it were apples. In the middle of the entrance there was a hanging sign that of course had an imprinted white apple. The ponies were chatting and joking around while Big Mac was playing the listener. They passed through the gate while Ember had to go around it what his companions did not notice. Even if he has visited all his friends the day seemed still to be young even if it slowly started to reach its end. The Apple Family asked the guests to wait outside while they prepare a table and hay to sit on; what they did in an impressive short time.
It seemed like unexpected visitors were quite common at the Sweet Apple Acres. Big Mac brought forth a one big barrel that seemed to weight nothing to him. Ember could hear the liquid cider hit against the wood what brought water into his mouth, not only for him Rainbow seemed to have the same reaction. AJ brought the wooden mugs and started to fill them up with care and love. After everypony and Ember received their mug the final moment of truth has come. The foam was bubbling a bit and the scent of apples filled the air, by the way… if he was not wrong; if cider has foam that means that it has alcohol in it but he did not say anything. All at the same time grabbed their mugs, what was kind of amusing to look at, yelled cheers and tasted it.
Ember could not describe what he was feeling right now but it was far away from being bad… yes far, far away from being bad. It seemed like he made some kind of noises probably slurping, without noticing it. The ponies especially the Apple Family members were looking at him and waited for his judgment. Embers eyes were closed for a while that seemed to be hours for the waiting ponies; right after he opened them he looked at Granny Smith.
- I am speechless…
The ponies started to hit the ground with their hooves cheering and yelling while Ember looked a bit disappointed at the mug that was way, way too small. Granny Smith told Applejack to give him and the rest another round while Big Mac was still quiet only occasionally telling something: surprisingly not only his Eeyup. Ember enjoyed the next round of the cider and soon any bothering thoughts have been pushed at the second plan nearly completely allowing his bothered sense to rest. The conversations that started right after that round were simply cheerful and relaxing. While talking the big barrel became emptier and emptier till it was totally out of cider; what was heartbreaking for Rainbow. The sun slowly started to go down; soon Ember got up and thanked the ponies for their generosity and good time they gave him this day.
- The day is close to its end and soon my beloved night sky will appear with all its beauty and glory. – Ember sighted and stretched his bones, followed by the crack that made the females shiver but made Big Mac look at him with some kind of respect. – I better go back to the grove.
It seemed like that the ponies did not expect it because right away they started to argue about it.
- You do not have to sleep outside anymore Ember. – said Rarity. – The nights are getting colder why would you even consider to go back to the grove while you can sleep in a warm bed.
- Rarity is right Ember. You might get a cold. – Said Fluttershy louder than usual.
- First of all girls… I do not have any place to stay. Besides that I do want to sleep outside. Walls made me feel like I am back in the Underground. I want to enjoy the space, the fresh air and the sky! Maybe later I will consider finding a place that I might call home.
- Ya could at least stay here at the farm. – Suggested AJ. – Ya might stay outside for as long your heart desires it but if the weather would change ya might find refuge in the barn.
- I admit it is a seductive thought. – Ember looked at the trees. – But for now I will stay at the grove.
- If ya say so… still our doors will always be open for ya Ember.
- Thank you.
- You’re welcome.
- There is one thing though. – Ember looked at Twilight. – I want to talk to you privately.
- Oh okay. No problem.
- Again my friends thank you for everything. – He bowed down. – If any of you will require my help do not hesitate and come to me. I will do my best to help you out.
The ponies nodded and started to slowly separate and go their own ways. Twilight asked Spike to wait for her at the library after the dragon was gone both of them were on the way to Ponyville.
- There is one thing that is bothering me Twilight Sparkle. – started Ember and got silent for a moment.
- What is bothering you?
- I am not sure to be honest.
- Lets give it a try anyway
- It is Princess Luna.
Twilight stopped and looked at Ember that right now was watching the sky. His esteem eyes have changed their color that right now reminded her of a clear midnight sky. Her feelings were already telling her that she knew what was bothering the guardians mind.