The Witcher walked in silence behind the group as they walked deeper into the forest. He was bringing up the rear to allow him to watch their backs and keep any threats in sight should they come. His senses reached out around him and his ears flicked in various directions as he listened closely. He had corrected their path once already when they were following a side trail that was too narrow and would have left them walking in circles. His ears were in constant movement as he listened around them and he was not fully watching ahead of him as they came to a stop. He ended up on the tips of his hooves as he tried not to bump into Fluttershy’s flanks. She looked back at him and he could see the nervousness in her gaze as she gave him a think nervous smile. He looked ahead of her as he backed up a step as Twilight looked at them. He could see Rainbow hovering close by her.
“So none of you have ever been in here before?” She questioned, nervousness in her tone.
“Of course not.” Rarity replied. “It’s dreadful.”
“It ain’t natural,” Applejack added. “Folks say it don’t work like Equestria.”
Oblivion managed not to roll his eyes and he shook his head at their tone of voice. ‘They fear it since it does not need their care to survive. It operates like my world.’ He was about to speak when a familiar sound caught his attention. His ears quickly trained on the sound and his head turned to follow it.
“What's that supposed to mean?” Twilight asked, her tone even more nervous than it had been before.
He turned his body to look around them as the sound grew louder in his ears. He was not paying attention to the mares as he walked a few steps toward the edge of the cliff they were perched on. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Rainbow drop out of the sky and stalk toward the other mares. He raised his head to speak that they should be cautious when the ledge cracked and he raised his head, turning to them,
“Look out!” His voice rang out and they looked at him as the ledge gave way. “Shit!”
The ledge fell away and he watched as it raced down the cliff ahead of them. He spun around and his claws dug into the rock as he tried to slow his slide. He looked up as Fluttershy and Rainbow went to save the others that were still sliding. He leaned his body forward and was able to hide his claws for the most part. He looked behind him as Fluttershy came to hover close by him.
“Go help the others. I’m fine.” He assured her and she nodded and took off.
He looked back over his shoulder as the two Pegasus saved the others and dropped them off on a ledge off to the side. He could see that Twilight was still sliding and he was about to use his magic to reach out and catch her when Applejack went after her ahead of him. He looked at Rarity and Pinkie as they were looking at him and then back to the other mares. Rarity’s eyes connected with his and he watched her horn light up with her magic and he shook his head at her. He knew that he was going to need one of the other Pegasus to come back for him if he was not able to get to the ledge himself.
His head went up further and his eyes narrowed in annoyance. “No. I can do this myself.”
He looked under his claws and he could see that the rock was steady and was not in any danger of giving way under him as he pulled himself up to nearly standing. His wings flicked at his sides and he was cursing that he did not know how to use them. His claws dug in further as he leaned to the side and pulled one hoof out of the soft rock and dug it in in another spot. His hind claws acted in concert with his front and he slowly made his way over to the others and he hid his claws as Rarity and Pinkie reached out for his hooves to help him the last foot or so. He took the offered limbs and was soon standing with them.
“Are you all right dear?” Rarity questioned.
“I’m fine, thank you for asking.” He replied.
“Why didn’t you fly?” Pinkie asked him.
He shook his head and she seemed to drop the question as he made for the lower ledge, leading the two mares. He reached the end of the ledge and he could see the others were close to the ground under them. He saw a slight incline off to the side that would allow the mares and him to slide easily down to the bottom safely. Rarity and Pinkie followed him and he led them down the slight incline. At the bottom, they joined the others and they began to move forward. He found himself wishing he did know how to use the wings he had been given but he would have to put that thought aside for now, as the appendages flicked at his sides.
He was starting to regret listening in as the mares talked, or rather as Rainbow told the story of saving Twilight again, for the fifth time. Her boasting was beginning to grate on his nerves but he chose to simply begin to try to ignore her. He could sense that Twilight was doing much the same thing if the deep sigh that broke from her was any indication.
“I know Rainbow. I was there and I am very grateful but we have too…” She stopped speaking as a monster jumped out in front of them.
“A manticore!” Twilight shouted.
Oblivion reached over his shoulder for his silver blade and drew it, the runes buried in the blade lighting along its shaft. He was ready to charge ahead despite not knowing exactly what this monster was. He hadn’t seen it before in his experience but he was ready to wade into battle none the less. He took a step forward and Applejack caught his eye. She shook her head at the sight of the blade and he blinked as he understood what she wanted. He leaned back on his haunches and replaced the blade in its sheath. He sat down in the dirt and shrugged at her, indicating for her to deal with it on her own then.
“All right. You can deal with it then.” He said to her and she nodded in understanding.
He rolled his shoulders to move the cloak back into place, hiding the weapons. He sat in silence and watched as they tried their methods to deal with the creature in front of them. While they were wholly ineffective he had to give them credit for trying, despite their failures. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Fluttershy trying to stop them, in her quiet way. He tilted his head slightly at her attempts but he remained silent, it was her battle to win or lose. He grimaced as Rainbow was swatted from her tornado and he shook his head as she collided with the ground in front of the Twilight and the others. He watched as they all snorted and pawed at the ground, ready to charge the creature. He shook his head and started to get to his hooves and pull the silver sword once more. He looked up as Fluttershy inhaled, he pinned his ears in response.
“WAIT!” She shouted out.
He saw the others slide to a halt as she was now in front of them. She turned back to the monster and approached it easily. He nearly used magic to pull erg out of the way when it raised a paw to hit the butter-yellow mare. He paused in his attempt as she reached forward and nuzzled the manticore’s other paw. He blinked at her as the monster seemed to rethink his actions and showed her his other paw, revealing a thorn. The Witcher shook his head and sighed as the mare pulled the thorn out of its paw. The removed thorn was cast aside and the monster picked the mare up and began to frantically lick her in thanks. He got to his hooves and moved toward the monster, but chose to give it a wide berth as he moved past it. He waited while the others passed by him and only Fluttershy and Twilight were left.
“How did you know about the thorn?” Twilight asked her.
“I didn’t. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of kindness.” Was the Pegasus’s reply as she walked by them, her mane askew from the affectionate monster's tongue.
He shook his head as Twilight looked thoughtful and then she looked at him and he shrugged in response. The purple mare walked past him and he fell in behind her.
His hooves squelched through the mud and his claws were spread to allow him to move through it without slipping in the muck. This type of terrain was familiar to him and was proving to be no problem for him, even on four legs. His orange eyes watched in front of him and he scanned the terrain ahead of and to the sides of them. The trees were gnarled and hunched around them, creating deeper darkness that the mares were now trying to get through.
“Ugh, my eyes need a break from this icky muck.” Rarity declared.
“That ancient ruin could be right in front of our faces and wouldn’t even know it,” Twilight shouted out in frustration.
“I would have warned you if it was.” He said to her.
“Yup. It’s no problem since Oblivion can see in the dark. It’ll be fine ya’ll.” Applejack informed them.
He watched as Twilight and the others turned back to look at him and they were able to see his eyes giving off a dull glow in the darkness. Rainbow jumped into the air and moved toward him and flapped her wings to allow her to remain level with his head. Her eyes bore into his as she looked closely at him. His cat eyes glowed back at her and she finally moved back a foot after a second hesitation. He assumed she had learned her lesson from the first time she had done something similar and he had sent her flying into a pile of hay.
“Hmm. Well, they do look like they can see in the dark. I guess it’s true.” She said to the others and moved to land back among the other mares.
He stayed still in place as the other began to move carefully around in front of him. His orange eyes watched as they began to try to find their way around and only managed to start bumping into each other as a result of their lack of sight in the darkness.
“Pardon me, I didn’t see you there.” Rarity apologized.
“Right over here I think there’s… Guh.” Rainbow called out and was bumped into by Pinkie Pie.
“Oh wait. Ah think Ah stepped in somethin’.” Applejack said as she paused in place and held up a mud-covered hoof.
Oblivion turned his head slightly to look at her and he could see that she was covered in mud from hoof to fetlock. He looked at the others and they were all in the same state. He didn’t need to look at his legs to know the state of the mud that covered his hooves. His claws flexed in the mud and he simply ignored the feeling of the mud as he decided that he preferred the mud over other fluids and solids.
“Ahh!” Fluttershy suddenly screamed, startling all of them.
Oblivion jumped as she screamed out and he began to look around them to see what might have frightened the timid mare. He watched as Applejack went into motion, her body slowly moving forward.
“What? It’s just mud?” She commented as she stopped in place as a tree loomed over her. She shouted in alarm and fled to land close by Fluttershy.
The Witcher was silent as the others began to cry out in alarm at the trees around them. Oblivion looked around them and he saw nothing was amiss as far as he could tell. His claws folded back into his hoof and he stood carefully on his four hooves. He didn’t see anything that was out of the ordinary with their surroundings. Granted nothing short of a room of Leshen was going to give him pause. The last time he had found himself screaming was during the Trial of the Grasses. And in his defense, everyone screamed.
The mares were now screaming as his ears pinned at the volume that was coming from them. He was about to shout for them to calm down when the sound of maniacal giggling rang out and they all stopped at the sound. He looked up as Pinkie Pie was laughing and making faces at one of the trees. The Witcher was silent as his eyes narrowed slightly at her antics and he stared at her.
“Pinkie Pie what are you doing? Run!” Twilight shouted at her, motion for her to join them.
“Oh, girls. Don’t you see?” She replied and started dancing.
When I was a little filly and the sun was going down
“Tell me she’s not,” Twilight commented, her voice dry.
The darkness and the shadows they would always make me frown
“She is.” Rarity replied.
“Oh, dear Gods.” Oblivion cursed under his breath as she went on.
I’d hide under my pillow
From what I thought I saw
But Granny Pie said that wasn’t the way
To deal with fears at all
“Then what is?” Rainbow threw in.
She said Pinkie you gotta stand up tall
Learn to face your fears
You’ll see they can’t hurt you
Just laugh to make them disappear
Ha Ha Ha.
He was quiet as she laughed at one of the trees and the girls seemed to see something that put them at ease. His ears flicked as he tried to figure out if he had truly missed a threat that they were seeing and he was not.
So giggle at the ghosties- Fluttershy flew tentatively up to it and laughed at the tree as well
Guffaw at the grossly- Rainbow flew right up to it and gave a hearty laugh
Crack up at the creepy- Rarity walked up, stopped a few feet away and chuckled at its expense
Whoop it up with the weepy- AJ jumped off Pinkies back and laughed as she went by
Chortle at the kooky- Twilight was gently placed next to a tree and she giggled behind a hoof
Snortle at the spooky- Oblivion was pushed up to the next tree and he simply looked at it
Pinkie shrugged as the trees returned to normal despite Oblivion not laughing.
And tell that big dumb scary face to take a hike and leave you alone and if he thinks he can scare you then he’s got another thing coming and the very idea of such a thing makes you wanna... hahaha... heh… laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuuggggggggghhhhhhhhh!
He watched as the girls all fell into a central circle laughing. He said nothing as he moved away from the tree that Pinkie had pushed him near and they slowly got to their hooves as well. He paused as they began to leave the area with Pinkie bouncing in the lead. He looked over his shoulder to eh trees and foliage and he was still not sure what had happened during the entire episode. He decided after a few seconds that it was not hurting them and whatever it was seemed to have been fixed by them laughing instead of screaming. He broke into a trot to catch up with the giggling mares.
“So long as they are moving forward I suppose it does not matter in the end.” He muttered to himself as he caught up with them and followed.
He remained at the back as they rounded a sharp corner and he came to a halt quickly as Pinkie slammed to a halt and the others rammed into each other. The pink mare stared ahead of her and Oblivion was no longer listening to them as he looked at the roiling river. His ears flicked as the sound of sobbing caught his attention. He looked downstream and his eyes went slightly wide at the sight of an enormous serpent. It was thrashing in the water, causing it to be impassible. He rotated his shoulders slightly to allow his swords to peek out from under the black cloak that covered them completely. He glanced carefully over his shoulder and he could see the swords as they waited for use.
The serpent did not seem to have noticed them as it thrashed and sobbed into the bank. The large waves were being created by its thrashing tail and out of the corner of his eye, he saw the girls all see the same serpent. He could see Applejack moving toward him and he felt her tap his shoulder to try to calm him. His body was ready to fight it if the need came and she could see the hilts of the two swords he carried. She seemed to understand that no amount of tapping his shoulder was going to calm him and that she was better off rejoining the others.
“Excuse me, sir. Why are you crying?” Twilight suddenly called out and the serpent looked at her as if it just now saw them.
The serpent now turned to face them completely and its face was still screwed up as it bit back tears. “Well, I don’t know. I was just sitting here minding my own business when this tacky little cloud of purple smoke whisked past me and tore half of my beloved mustache clean off. And now I look simply hideous!”
It released a loud wail and flopped back into the water. A wave of water went over the group of mares and he jumped back to avoid being soaked through. His sword was nearly out of its scabbard when the wave went over them. ‘This is this world’s version of a water serpent? By the Gods.” He thought to himself as he slid the weapon back into its sheath. He cocked one hip and relaxed his stance enough to allow his body to calm.
“Oh give me a break. Really?” Rainbow said as her mane dripped water onto the ground.
“That’s what all the fuss is about?” Applejack seemed to agree with her statement and shared her sentiment about the situation.
“Well of course! How can you be so insensitive?” Rarity chastised as she leaped forward and admonished the other mares as she looked at the serpent. “Oh just look at him. Such lovely luminescent scales.”
“I know.” The serpent replied as he sniffled and his eyes stayed on the white mare in front of him.
“And expertly coiffed mane.”
“Oh I know, I know.”
“Your fabulous manicure.” She went on as the serpent sat up to examine his nails.
“It’s so true.”
“All ruined without your beautiful mustache.” Rarity concluded, finality in her voice.
The serpent suddenly seemed to deflate at her observation. “It’s true, I’m hideous.”
“I simply cannot let this crime against fabulosity go uncorrected.” She said, her voice determined as she leaned down and her teeth gripped one of the purple scales tightly and yanked it free of the serpents hide.
Oblivion tensed as the serpent shouted in alarm and his stance changed to allow him to move quickly to protect the mare should the need arise. He was ready to move but the serpent only looked hurt by the actions and did not lash out at her. The Elder Witcher was quiet as the mare held the sharp scale aloft.
“Rarity! What are you…?” Twilight began to ask as the mare brought the scale down.
Oblivion watched as the scale cut clean through her tail and it dropped to the ground behind her. She tossed the scale aside and her magic picked up the cut tail. It enveloped the tail and she levitated it top the serpent maw and it twirled in place and replaced the lost half of the mustache. The serpent had waited in silence as she worked and when it was done a smile crossed his face.
“Ohohohohoho! My mustache! How wonderful!” He crowed.
“You look smashing.” Rarity commented, clearly pleased with her actions.
“Oh, rarity. Your beautiful tail.” Twilight said to her as she walked forward and pointed the small stump of the mare’s tail.
“Oh, it's fine my dear. Short tails are in this season.” She replied. “Besides. It’ll grow back.”
The lavender Unicorn looked over and her eyes lit up at the sight of the calmed river. Oblivion watched as she waded out into the river.
“We can cross now. Let’s go. Whoa!” She shouted as the serpent came up underneath her hooves.
“Allow me!” He crowed and dove back into the water, allowing them to jump across the river using his coils.
Oblivion stood at the back of them as they jumped the coils and he suddenly shook his head and waded into the water. Easily keeping up with them as he sloshed through the water. He ignored the strange looks he was getting as he got to the shore about the same time as they did and he ignored the looks that he was still getting from them. His wings tightened around his barrel and he fought back the desire to look down at the appendages, instead, he waited for them to get in front of him and he brought up the rear once more.
They had been walking for over an hour with him occasionally altering their course to follow the game trails versus going through the rougher patches of terrain. He had caught several looks from the others when he changed their course but so far they had not asked him for details. Twilight still led them forward and his ears began to flick as the sound of running paws caught his attention. He stopped in his tracks and listened intently. He could not hear any other sound aside from the occasional rough patch of breathing and the paws that drummed on the ground.
“Wait.” He said to them and they stopped to look back at him.
He saw Twilight roll her eyes as she turned to look over her shoulder at him. “We don’t have time to stop Mr. Shadow.”
He didn’t reply as the sound of breathing grew louder. He watched as Twilight ears suddenly flicked and she looked back ahead of her. She backed up a step as she looked back at him and he nodded solemnly at her. He moved forward, passing them all as he went to stand ahead of them. His hooves held him easily as he closed his eyes and simply listened intently. He moved slowly forward and a small clearing spread out in front of him. The sound of drumming paws faded and now only the harsh breathing remained. He looked back and the girls were all watching him closely. Even the bold Rainbow seemed happy to let him go first. He closed his eyes and let his ears tell him what they could.
“About five or more. Maybe seven.” He muttered to himself. Behind him, he heard Fluttershy whimper at the numbers he mentioned. “Stay here.”
He walked calmly out of the shelter of the trees and into the moonlit clearing. He could see several sets of eyes staring out from the darkness of the other side of the clearing. His eyes narrowed and their glow strengthened as he focused on the eyes that were, in turn, watching him. He moved further into the clearing and he glanced back as the mares were now hugging the edge of the clearing and watching him. His hooves were silent on the grass and the taller grasses rubbed against his legs and they tapped against his chest and shoulders. His height would give him an advantage in any fight and he rotated his shoulders to ensure his swords were in the right position for use.
A loud growl came from the other side and several creatures emerged from the darkness. Their bodies were wood-like and leaves covered their bodies in places. They acted much like the wolves he was used to and he waited as several of them showed up and began to surround him. Behind him, he heard the girls gasp and he glanced back as Twilights horn charged. He caught her eye and shook his head. She looked shocked and her horn went dormant as Applejack patted her shoulder and told her to let him be. He went back to watching the pack of monsters as they circled him as best as they were able. He began to move toward them slowly, one hoof in front of the other as they were thrown off as he approached. They were hunters and their new prey was challenging them as he moved toward them.
“Come on.” He said to them and two in the front charged him.
His body slid to the side as he moved out of the way and his hoof reached back and his claws wrapped around the hilt of his sword. The steel sword glistened in the moonlight as the runes that were embedded within it blazed to life. It crashed into the first monster and he watched as one of the runes activated and the body lit with fire. It screamed as smoke began to come off its hide. It fled the scene and he was now faced with one less monster. The rest began to charge him in one large group and he backflipped to give himself some distance. He pirouetted as two charged him and he slammed the blade into one of them and then spun to let it crash into the other one as well. He rolled to the side and found that he could not roll as well as he used to and he found himself working harder to get to his hooves as he had the last time he had used it. The monsters seemed to see the difficulty and one lunged in to get a hold of his hide.
A scream rang out from behind him as he rolled his body backward and his rump went over his shoulder as the monster's jaws closed on nothing but air. He was back on his hooves as his mane settled back on his neck and he tilted his head to let his forelock get out of his eyes. He was finding that using his sword on three legs was not an option and he reared back onto his hind legs and waited for them to attack him once more. He put one hoof forward and the group now numbering five advanced as well. His wings clung tightly to his sides as he did not need them as he tossed the sword into the air and his jaws gripped the hilt as he charged forward.
“What are you doing!?” Twilight suddenly screamed as he moved.
He heard her question but he did not stop to address her concerns. He ducked his head and the first monster crashed into his chest and he felt its claws graze his shoulder as he spun under it and the blade activated once more and it was lit aflame. He paused as it fled and his mind rushed into place as he realized that there should only be three left. He glanced back and the two that he had bashed into pieces were not dead and had already rejoined the fight.
“So fire it is then.” He muttered through the hilt in his mouth.
He charged into the group and they scattered around him. He spun to face one of them and Igni scored across the ground as the monster cried out and fled from the battle. He quickly backflipped once more and the sword descended with him and he landed almost squarely on top of another monster. He released a short blast of Igni as he landed and it shattered into pieces as fire licked over it. He was able to hop backward and he waited for it to get up once more, as the others had done. When it remained on the ground he focused on the remaining three.
The remaining three stared at him for several seconds as he began to walk toward them. He watched as they seemed to share one thought as they spun to run away from the advancing Witcher. He said nothing as he watched them vanish into the trees and darkness. He reached up with his hoof and his sword dropped into his hoof, he laid it over his shoulder and it slid back into the scabbard over his shoulder. He turned back to the others and they were all staring wide-eyed at him. Applejack was the first to blink as a smile went over her face.
“Ah didn’t believe ya when ya said ya knew how ta use that thing.” She admitted to him.
“I figured you had your doubts.” He replied as he stopped in front of them.
“What kind of pony are you? A soldier?” Rainbow asked.
“No. I am no soldier. I am a Witcher, nothing more.” He replied.
“And that is?” Twilight asked him.
“I am a monster hunter and a curse breaker among other titles my kind have gained.” He informed her, his voice solemn.
“I’ve never heard of it,” Fluttershy said to him.
“I am not from this area so I am not surprised that you have not heard of my kind.” He responded.
Twilight stared at him as he rolled his shoulders and let the swords go back into hiding under the black cloak that sat on his back. The mare looked at the ground at her hooves before she looked closely at him. She opened her mouth to speak but her jaws snapped shut as she spun on her heel and the others fell in behind her. He brought up the rear once more and he said nothing further as the group moved on.
His eyes narrowed as he looked farther ahead of them. He could see the outline of a ruin ahead and he opened his mouth to speak as he looked for how they would be getting to it.
“There it is! There’s the ruin that holds the Elements!” Twilight shouted and galloped forward.
“No! Stop!” He shouted after her.
His words did not reach her as she nearly went over the edge. He heard her yell shrilly as she appeared to be scrambling to back up from the ledge. His orange eyes narrowed further as he could see Rainbow grip her tail and pull her back to safety. He sighed and trotted forward with the others to catch up to them. He reached the pair and he could now confirm what he had seen originally about the bridge. It was tilted halfway and appeared to be broken on the far side. Twilight looked crestfallen at the sight of the bridge in front of her.
He caught a look from Applejack as she shook her head at an unspoken question from him. He had been considering using the magic he carried to fix it like he had done with the celling and the wagon wheel but a shake of her head dissuaded him. He gave an agreeing nod and he went back to looking back at the other side of the bridge. He could see the other side and that the bridge was simply needing to be tied to the other side. The Witcher was silent as Pinkie bounced up to stand close by Rainbow.
“Now what?” She asked as she leaned out over the edge.
Rainbow flicked her wings and one of them gave the pink mare a gentle push. “Duh.”
“Oh right.” Pinkie replied, her face sheepish.
He watched as the rainbow-haired mare took off to the other side. Fog rolled in ahead of them and covered the area that the mare had just vanished into and obscured half of the bridge. His ears were trained forward and he was able to hear Rainbow talking to somepony. He reached out with his claws and secured the bridge on their side as if to entice the mare to do the same on her side. None of the ponies with him seemed to notice the claws on his hooves and he didn’t allow them time to question him about the knots as they waited.
“Rainbow! What's taking so long?” Twilight shouted to the Pegasus.
He watched as the fog cleared for a few seconds and they were shown that the mare was speaking to three other ponies. Twilight gasped and he could sense that there was something wrong with the three strange ponies. His body tensed as he prepared to move should the need arise. Twilight drew up next to him, he didn’t doubt that she had noticed the change in his body stance. She gasped at the sight of them.
“Rainbow! Don’t listen to them!” She cried out.
The fog rolled back in and obscured their vision. Even he was unable to hear or see what was going on behind the veil of fog. He was ready to use magic if he needed to when the rope went taut. The fog began to clear as the Pegasus came out of it and stood close by them on the bridge. She reared up and flicked her tail with a smile. The mares cheered happily and they began to cross the bridge one by one. Rainbow came to hover close by Twilight.
“See? I’d never leave my friends hanging.” She assured the Unicorn.
He saw a small smile cross Twilight face and he stayed close behind her and the others. His hooves were silent as they all crossed the bridge and they advanced on the decaying ruin that now stood in front of them. A small set of stairs showed them the way into the building and Twilight was the first to enter. He stayed at the back and the others walked in ahead of him as Twilight gasped. He looked inside as his hooves went up the stairs and he looked around them. He was reminded of the many crumbling ruins he had been to in pursuit of contracts and treasure on his journey along the Path.
“Interesting.” He commented under his breath as he walked inside.
He could see that further into the room was a stone monolith with six stone balls perched on separate arms. He chose to remain slightly back from the others should anything else come out of the dark corners of the ruins and advance on the group. He watched as the stones were picked up by rainbow and Fluttershy and dropped gently on the ground close by the Unicorn mare.
“We finally found them. Be careful with them.” She said as the stones were set in place in front of her. “Where is the seventh? The book said: When the six are present a spark with cause the seventh to be revealed.” She said in clear frustration.
He watched as the others all looked between each other and Applejack looked at him and he shrugged in reply. “What in the hay does that even mean?” The farm mare asked, her tone loud enough for all of them to hear her easily.
Twilight gave a distracted shrug and focused her attention on the stones in front of her. “I’m not sure. But I have an idea. Stand back. I’m not sure what will happen when I try this.”
“Come on ya’ll. She needs ta concentrate.” Applejack said and began to usher the group out the door behind them.
The Witcher walked back with them and stopped in the doorway. He watched the focusing mare from the doorway and his ears flicked as a familiar sound caught his attention and his head came up to his full height as he began to look around them. He walked a few steps back into the room as a noise from Twilight caught his attention. He looked at her and found the stones were now swirling in a small vortex in front of her. He saw her stand up with another cry as she leaped into the vortex. He lunged forward to help her but she was gone by the time he reached where she had been.
“Shit.” He muttered and began to look around him to see where she was.
A flash of light off to his left caught his attention and Rarity joined him as he looked out a dilapidated window. She suddenly pointed and his gaze turned to see what she was pointing at. A flash of light from one of the side ruins caught his attention and he looked at the white mare at his side.
“How do we get there?” She whispered.
He didn’t reply as his mind went over how he was going to reach her in time to help her with Nightmare Moon. He breathed in as magic surged up within his body and he said nothing as it rolled under his skin and he closed his eyes as he wished for a portal. His body was covered in an aqua aura and he vanished a bare second later.
Twilight looked around as she was suddenly on the ground. She looked up and Nightmare had the element stones floating around her as she laughed. Twilight gasped but then pawed at the stone floor and looked at the Alicorn. The black mare looked at her.
“You’re kidding? You’re kidding right?” The mare looked to the smaller Unicorn and set the stones down as she lowered her head to charge back at her.
Twilight's horn glowed as she charged the taller mare. As they were about to collide Twilight's horn flashed and she teleported to land in the center of the stone circle. Her horn lit up once more and she concentrated while Nightmare Moon turned back and snarled. Twilight’s horn flashed and she was sent skidding backward. Nightmare landed in the center of the stone circle.
“No. No.” She cried out as the stones glowed from Twilight’s magic.
When the glow failed to show the last element Twilight looked on in horror as Nightmare cackled with glee, reared up, and brought her hooves down. The impact broke the stones and they shattered. Twilight looked as Nightmare continued to cackle with glee.
“You little foal. You will never see your Princess or your sun again. The night will last forever!”
Twilight turned to find Oblivion standing several feet behind her. The black stallion stepped forward and walked up to stand in front of Twilight. “As much as I enjoy the night's darkness, crops that need light cannot survive and you will reign over a world of nothing. Ponies will either die or leave you behind. As I said your crown means nothing with no one to rule.” Oblivion spoke with a calm assured tone and the Alicorn mare listened.
She looked uncertain for a moment before her eyes narrowed and she glared at the stallion. “I will rule for eternity after I finish breaking you!” She roared and her horn lit.
“I will never break again. I was broken once and reforged in steel and silver!” Oblivion roared back at her.
He lowered his body into a defensive stance as his shoulders rolled to push his cloak back and expose the twin blades over his shoulder. Magic flowed through him as the steel sword was pulled and it hovered close by him. Behind him, he heard Twilight whisper that it was impossible but he ignored her shocked tone and focused on the mare in front of him. An aqua aura flowed over the sword as a green line went down the sword, showing the dominant rune that was embedded in the blade. He knew that the blade had several runes buried in it and that this one was the most recent one he had embedded in it.
The crazed mare lowered her own body and she growled under her breath as her own horn lit with her magic and a curved blade was summoned to her. He lowered his body for a second before he charged her, his blade raised. Their swords clashed and a shower of sparks erupted from the impact point. The swords moved swiftly as their wielders acted, the weapons left an aftereffect in the air to show the speed that they were being used. The mad mare grunted as she was slowly being forced backward by the Pegasus’s onslaught. Oblivions sword clashed against hers with every move of his body, with every thrust and swing of the blade he was pushing her back. His hooves danced over the stone floor and he recovered from every near miss and movement the mare threw at him.
She roared in anger as his blade slipped through her defenses and grazed her neck, leaving a short gash that slowly oozed a stream of blood. Her magic charged and it pulsed outward and threw him away from her. He rolled over his shoulder and was able to get back on his hooves quicker than the last time he had used the maneuver. He charged her and she braced for the impact on the weapons in their magic. At the last second he buckled his knees and slid under her defenses, he stood quickly and rammed his shoulder against her chest, sending the mare rolling backward.
“You will yield!” He roared at her as his magic once more surged over him and teleported him to her.
He reared up as he came to her and slammed his hooves down in an attempt to pin her to the ground. She rolled out of the way and his hooves cracked the stone as they came to rest on the ground where she had been. She brought her blade up as she stood and it nicked over his shoulder, leaving a small gash that bled sluggishly. He backflipped away from her and landed solidly on his hooves, his stance steady. His medallion trembled on its chain and he leaped back with a push of his legs and a blast of magic collided with the ground where he had once been. She lowered her head with a scream of rage and he could sense the amount of magic that was being leveled at him was immense. She turned her head slightly and he looked in the direction it was pointing and he surged into motion as it was leveled at a stunned Twilight.
He broke into a gallop and he slid to stand in front of her and his magic dropped the weapon into his claws as he readied himself to deflect the magic that was being thrown at them. The magic was released a bare second later and he swung the weapon and it was able to deflect the magic. He felt the tremor that went through the blade at the impact and the magic skittered off and faded into nothing. Dust was kicked up around them and momentarily obscured them both from Nightmare. He looked back at the still stunned mare and his tail flicked and it slapped her in the nose. His ears still rang from the magical assault, but through the ringing, he could hear the other mares as they drew near to them. He waited as she shook her head and her eyes focused on him.
“I’ll keep her occupied. The others are almost here, trust in them and yourself and you will not fall to her or anyone.” He said to her as he was once more covered in magic and he vanished from the dust.
Twilight watched as he vanished in a flash of magic and she once more was stunned by the sight of it. Her ears flicked as she looked over her shoulder to see the shadows of the other mares coming up the far stairway, she felt relief go through her at the sound of them as she looked back at the Pegasus stallion. She watched as he once more stood in defiance of the Alicorn. She felt strength go through her as she got to her hooves.
Oblivion roared in defiance as he charged Nightmare Moon. She lowered her horn to use it against him and he swung his sword and it deflected the magic that she was trying to fire at him. His sword grated over her horn and she yelped as she pulled back. He called on his magic to teleport behind her and he pulled up his hind legs and bucked her hard in the flanks, forcing her to pitch forward and face plant. With her flank in the air, he bucked her again and she flipped onto her back. He saw Twilight cringe out of the corner of his eye, as he spun and reared over her, finally pinning her. He failed to notice that her hind legs were under him. She kicked his belly and sent him over her and onto the ground. He grunted and leaped to his hooves.
“You think you can destroy the Elements of Harmony just like that?” Twilight shouted and he paused at the sound of her voice. She looked at him and he nodded as his magic teleported him to her side. “Well, you’re wrong, because the souls of the Elements are right here.” She said to the mare as she stood proudly as the other mares joined them.
“Applejack, who reassured me when I was in doubt represents the spirit of, Honesty!
Fluttershy, who tamed a manticore with her compassion represents the spirit of, Kindness!
Pinkie Pie, who banished fear by giggling in the face of danger represents the spirit of, Laughter!
Rarity, who calmed a sorrowful serpent with a meaningful gift represents the spirit of, Generosity!
Rainbow Dash, who refused to abandon her friends for her own heart's desire represents the spirit of, Loyalty!
And Oblivion Shadow who refused to back down in the face of overwhelming odds represents the Element of Spirit!
“The spirits of these six ponies got us through everything that you sent at us. Every challenge fell to these ponies in front of you.” She shouted, her voice loud and confident.
Oblivion said nothing as the shards of the stones now floated around each of them. He said nothing as the stones hovered and spun in place. He looked around as each of them was a separate color and they hovered around their respective bearers.
Nightmare Moon looked back at them, a mixture of surprise and disbelief on her face. “You still don’t have the seventh element. The spark didn’t work!”
“But it did. A different kind of spark, I felt it the very moment I realized how happy I was to hear from you, to see you, how much I cared about you. The spark ignited inside me when I realized that you all...are my friends!” Twilight and the others looked up as a new light went off above Twilight. It was in the shape of her cutie mark and stayed hovering in the air her. “You see, Nightmare Moon when those elements are ignited by the spark that lives in the heart of us all, it creates the seventh element: the element of...Magic!” Twilight exclaimed.
The seven ponies were pulled together and the light that flowed from them created a rainbow that held a color from, each of them, even Oblivions black. The rainbow hit Nightmare Moon and swirled around her consuming her, hoof to horn.
“No! NO!” She screamed in protest but even the sound of her protect was drowned out by the sound and power of the rainbow that now surrounded her.
Oblivion stood on his hooves and opened his eyes. He looked around and saw the mares lying on the ground and slowly coming too. He looked at them in surprise as he could see a gentle glow coming from each of them. The glow churned and fluctuated as their emotions changed. He suddenly realized he was seeing their spirits. Their color was different for each of them and the intensity was different. He was quiet as he reached out with his new senses to see if he could feel Nightmare Moon. He didn’t feel her presence, instead, he felt the presence of another, gentler spirit near him. He gave a quiet snort and looked back to the mares beside him.
Rainbow was the first to stir. “Ugh, my head.”
Applejack was next as she slowly sat up. “Everypony okay?”
“Oh thank goodness!” Rarity exclaimed several seconds later.
“Why Rarity. It’s lovely.” Fluttershy said to her.
“I know. I’ll never part with it again.” She said as she waved her regenerated tail in the air and then nuzzle the strands.
“No. Your necklace. It looks just like your cutie mark.” Fluttershy informed her and pointed the jewelry around the mare’s neck.
Rarity looked down and her eyes went wider at the sight of it. “What? Oh so does yours.” She pointed at the pink butterfly necklace around the mare’s neck.
Pinkie jumped forward excitedly with a squeal. “Look at mine! Look at mine!” She called out and looked down at the blue balloon around her neck.
“Aw yeah!” Rainbow crowed as she looked at the red lightning bolt on her neck.
Applejack looked at her necklace, which was an orange apple. “Well. Look at what yer wearin’ Oblivion.”
Oblivion gave her a slight tilt of his head as she motioned for him to look down. His eyes widened at what he saw. On his head was a crown of silver with black accents around the edges. The wolf symbol was an onyx jewel in the center of the crest. The crown itself extended down to the side of his head just past his ears. There were runes engraved into the metal. He knew what they meant but he was certain that he was the only one who did know them. He wore a breast collar that was also a brilliant silver with black edges. His medallion was now embedded in the front of the collar, its dark metal offset the bright silver and drew the eye to it.
He could tell that the properties of the medallion had not changed. He now wore guards on his forelegs that did not encompass his hoof, allowing his claws to be used. He stomped a hoof experimentally and the armor remained in place as it was wrapped around his cannon bones. His cloak remained and it sat easily on his back. He looked back and he could see the pair of swords were now visible and he moved as a glint of color caught his attention. He moved the cloak and he could see that silver veining now covered the scabbards. His wings sat in place, unused and he felt them shudder at his sides. The Silver armor went down his back and ribs ending just before his tail. It appeared to be one single piece but would move independently if needed. He stared at the image before he let the mirror vanish. He blinked and shook his head.
“Very regal darling.” Rarity praised. “The silver suits your lovely black coat.”
The others nodded in agreement as he said nothing in reply. He had not worn full plate a day in his life. Unlike the others, he chose the lighter armor to avoid being weighed down. He shrugged to see how the armor moved and he was pleased to find that it was comfortable and moved easily. His normal armor felt like a second skin and this felt even better than his old set had. Rainbow walked over to him and she looked at his back to get a better look at the pair of swords on his back.
“Why in the wide world of Equestria are you packing around two swords? I know we saw ya use one of them in that monster fight just now, which was cool, but why do ya need them?” She questioned.
“He’s a Witcher.” Applejack supplied. “Ah mentioned it afore.”
“I know you did,” Rainbow replied. “I just wasn’t paying attention to it.”
The mares all looked at him and he nodded. “I am a true Witcher. Though what I am is not well known here. I have two swords because they have two separate purposes. One is to fight monsters and the other for everything else.” He supplied. “I’ll explain that another time since we are not alone.”
The mares all nodded and Applejack looked back at the lavender mare. “Gee Twilight! Ah thought ya were spoutin’ a lot of hooey, but Ah reckon we do represent the Elements of Friendship.” Applejack spoke up and redirected the conversation away from the black stallion, much to his relief.
“Indeed you do.” A voice called out.
A bright light came from a nearby window and as it faded out it revealed a white Alicorn. She was taller than Oblivion though only by a hand or so if he had to judge. Her horn was longer than the other two Unicorns with him and she wore a pair of golden hoof boots, with a golden breast collar, and a golden crown sat behind her horn. She smiled as she spread her wings, which were only slightly smaller than Oblivions own.
“Princess Celestia!” Twilight cried out, joy in her tone.
The mares all bowed low to the Alicorn and he remained standing. The farm mare who was closest to him looked at him and she suddenly gave him a sour look.
“Oblivion! What are ya doin’?” She said to him and motioned with her hoof for him to bow.
“I do not bow.” He replied easily. “I do not bow to Emperors, what makes you think I would bow to a Princess?”
“It is fine my little ponies. He does not need to. My dear student, I knew you could do it.” The Alicorn said with a wide smile.
“But you told me it was an old pony tale.” Twilight began giving the mare an uncertain look.
“I said you needed to make some friends, nothing more. I saw the signs of Nightmare Moons return and I knew that only you had the magic inside to defeat her. But you could not do it until you let true friendship into your heart.” She explained.
Oblivion broke away from them as a light off to the side of them caught his attention. His hooves were silent on the stone floor as he approached and he came to stand close by a small pale blue form that was semi-conscious on the floor. He looked around her and he could see the smoking remnants of Nightmare Moon's armor that were scattered around her. It was a smaller Alicorn and if he was right she was important to the one he had just met.
“Now if only another will do the same,” Celestia said as she drew up close to him.
He glanced at her and she gave him a sad look and he blinked slowly at her and backed up to give her space. The Witcher backed up to rejoin the others and they were now watching the monarch intently.
“Princess Luna!” She called out. He heard the smaller Alicorn gasp and he watched as she slowly turned to face the white mare. “It has been a thousand years since I have seen you like this. It is time to put our differences behind us. We were meant to rule together little sister.”
The mares looked up in shock. “Sister?”
“You’re surprised?” He commented and they all looked at him.
They said nothing as the white mare went on. “Wil you accept my friendship?” Celestia asked of her sister.
Oblivion and the girls watched in silence. The young Alicorn looked down to the ground for several seconds and then lunge forward to collide with her elder sister. Tears fell from her eyes as she nuzzled her.
“I’m so sorry! I missed you, big sister.” She cried out.
“I missed you too.” Celestia said to her and tears fell from her eyes.
Pinkie smiled and the others did the same. “You know what this calls for?” Oblivion groaned in response. “A party!” Her voice was exuberant as she bounced in place.
Celestia turned to them and her horn lit up with a golden light. A jeweled chest appeared in front of them. It opened to reveal a velvet inside with indents for the crowns and necklaces to sit inside it. Oblivion stared at it and weighed his options.
“We will keep the Elements here for safekeeping. Just place them inside and they will be safe within it.” She said to them.
He watched as the mares went up to the chest and each one placed their Element within the box. While they had been doing that he had chosen that he was going to be keeping the Element that had been given to him. He shook his head as the others were now looking at him, their eyes going wide. The two Princesses also gaped at him as he began to turn to leave them behind. His medallion trembled as magic covered the armor that was on his body. He growled in anger and spun to face the mares. His body was covered in the aqua aura and it lashed out at the white Alicorn. She gasped as it pushed her back and she fell to her rump and stared back at him.
“I am more than capable of protecting it personally.” He addressed them. “I acknowledge that you have the admiration and respect of your ponies but you do not have mine and have not proven to me that you deserve it. I will keep it with me.” He said to her.
Oblivion's magic enveloped the armor, the crown, leg guards, and armor across his body shifted to move toward the collar around his neck. It seemed to melt into the collar and disappeared into it. It shifted further and only the medallion with a silver and black outline remained. His magic faded and Oblivion sighed as he finished. He looked down and gave a pleased noise before he turned to leave.
“Wait!” Luna cried out and he paused.
He looked over his shoulder and turned slightly to look back at her. He watched as Celestia got up from where she had fallen as a smile played across her lips. He could see her amusement at having been overpowered.
“That was quite impressive. Especially considering you are a Pegasus. And you should not have the magic to overpower me.” She said as she brushed off her flanks and her wings helped dust her off. “How are you able to use magic?”
“I truly do not know. I did not use it before I arrived here. Where I am from I do not have any magic that is pronounced. I have my Signs but they are minor and do not have much magic behind them if any.” He replied with a shrug.
“Thou did not have before coming here?” Luna questioned.
He nodded in agreement with her and she looked up at her sibling. “Equestria has always had magic interwoven into its very being. Could it be that it was made active when thee entered our lands?”
Celestia looked thoughtful as the other spoke and she nodded. “That is possible I suppose. I have never needed to test it and if that is the case then it would be an even rarer occurrence. You are the Element of Spirit. You do not yield even to those who rule above you.” She giggled slightly and her eyes showed her mirth at the situation. “Please keep the Element safely with you. We will trust you to protect it should the need arise.”
He nodded in agreement and he paused before leaving as Luna took a tentative step forward. “Thou were holding back during our battle. May we ask thee why?”
He gave a slight smile and he looked at her. “I do not fight to kill the innocent and suffering.” He replied as he was covered in his magic and it teleported him away from them.
Oblivion looked up as Applejack came back from town and she trotted up to him as he was finishing helping Big Mac with a few last-minute chores. He watched as she looked at the light bandage on his shoulder. Mac had insisted on covering it despite his protects and assurances that it would be healed in an hour or less. She stopped close by them and flicked an ear back to listen to her.
“God ta see ya made it back okay. Ya missed a fun party with the Princesses and the others.” She said to him.
“I’m sure I was not missed. You are aware that I do not enjoy parties. Though I must admit that the ones here are very different than the ones I have been to before.” He admitted. “If you are looking to iron out the details of my staying here and my working for you it has already been discussed. I, Big Mac, and Granny Smith talked it over earlier.” He informed her.
She blinked several times as he pushed a barrel in front of him. He pushed one in front of him with his forelegs bumping into it when he pushed it ahead of him. He saw her level a look at her elder brother before she focused on him once more.
“That’s not all Ah wanted ta talk to ya about.” She said.
“Then am I safe in assuming it’s about the events of today?” He replied and he looked over his shoulder as he moved the barrel into the barn and set it on its end as she nodded. He bit back a deep sigh and turned to her. “For the record, I do not regret any of the actions I took today. All of them were needed in some way or another.”
Applejacks' eyes widened as he spoke, she put her hoof over her face as a small groan escaped her. “Ya are impossible. Fine. Ah won’t ask about them then. Next time don’t disappear like that though. What if we had more questions? Ah know Twilight has a lot o’ questions fer ya. She is stayin’ in Ponyville now so she can ask ya later. She didn’t wanna leave her new friends, you included.”
He stared at her for a second. “Hmm.” He turned to the front of the barn as Mac walked into check that he was done and then headed for the house.
“What else is on yer mind? Ya look like ya need ta say somethin’.” She asked him.
“There is something I should probably mention. Mac already knows about it so it makes sensed to inform you as well.” He paused to ensure that she was listening to him as he went on. “This is something that I ask you to truly keep secret. Magic aside it’s important that it not get out to avoid panic.” She looked nervous as he looked at her. “Do you recall when Mac and I went back into the house yesterday?”
“Ah remember it. Ya looked a mite bit wobbly.” She replied after thinking for a moment.
“Turns out that I am not only an herbivore. I happen to be an omnivore.” She looked at him, questioningly. “That means I eat meat as well.”
She snorted and fell backward on her heels. “Wh…What makes ya think ya eat meat?”
He looked sideways at her for several seconds. “I already have. And before you say anything I hunt in the Everfree not around here. I have no intention of causing panic or upsetting anypony. I left that party last night to go hunt. Even you thought I seemed better after I returned. You would be right. I felt better and still do. So it would seem that I do not need to hunt very often but we will find out how often is needed. I am informing you out of courtesy not because I feel I must.” He sighed. “Will you please stop looking at me like I’m going to bite you?”
Applejack shook her head to remove the obvious shock and she pushed herself to her hooves and looked closely at him. “Ah’m sorry. Ah’m just a little shook up. Its been a long couple a’ days. But Ah understand, how did Mac figure it out?”
Oblivion barked a laugh. “He found out by accident. When we went inside he made me a couple of sandwiches and ended up with my head in a bucket.” Applejack gave him a sympathetic look while he continued. “I need to balance my diet with both. I will try to inform you when I think that happens. In the meantime, I will limit the amount I do eat until I learn the timeline and amounts. Mac watched over me and saw my teeth which...” He groaned at the look she gave his muzzle.
He pulled his lips back and showed her his teeth. She visibly cringed but her curiosity won out over caution. She put a hoof gently on one of his canines. He saw what she was doing so he didn’t move at the slight touch.
“Well, Ah’ll be. That’s quite the mouthful.”
He closed his mouth and nodded. “Mac called it a mouth full of knives.”
Applejack laughed in agreement. “He ain’t wrong.” She laughed and gave him a light punch on his uninjured shoulder. “Ya do look like ya got a mouthful o’ em’. But Ah can tell ay ain’t dangerous. But that was a bit of a shock.”
“Understandable. Now I will have to ask your judgment on this next thing. Mac has asked that I choose when to inform Granny Smith. I will inform her of it when the time comes but I am unsure of telling Apple Bloom.”
Applejack nodded. "As much as Ah want ya ta be honest. Ah don’t think Apple Bloom is quite ready ta know ya eat meat.” He nodded in agreement as she continued. “Ya mentioned once that ya were not well-liked as a Witcher.” He nodded for her to go on. “Is that why ya lashed out at the Princess?”
He blanched for a moment before a sigh pulled from him. “I am used to being treated poorly by ponies because of what I am. Most use us for what they need then we are tossed aside. I reacted in a way that is natural to me. I was not trying to harm her, just get her to drop her magic from me.”
“So ya were thinkin’ she was about ta hurt ya?”
“Something like that.” He replied.
“Ya should tell our friends more about what ya are so they know more bout ya.” She started and he stared blankly at her as she paused. “What?”
“I have not mentioned to you or them about how Witchers are never any pony’s friends. Most of that is because most of us keep to ourselves as a rule. We are vilified by most that come into contact with us and if they interact with us it is only to get what they want and they throw us aside. Ponies fear what they do not understand and I do not blame them for it, it is just how things are.” He said to her and she listened to him as he spoke to her. “I was not born here, nor was I trained here. You saw some of that training last night with Nightmare Moon.”
“Ah know what Ah saw with the fight. Ya are definitely different than most ponies but that’s no reason not ta like ya. Ya aren’t that much older than the rest o’ us so we have no reason ta… What?”
He said nothing for a second before he spoke to her. “How old do you think I am?”
“Mid-twenties?” She replied and he barked a laugh and shook his head. “Late twenties?”
“No. I am much older than that.” He replied and she looked uncertain as he went on. “There was only one Witcher that was older than I am and I am over one hundred years old.”
Her eyes went wide as he waited for her to respond. Her mouth slowly fell open and her eyes were wide as she stared at him. “Yer… One hundred… What? How is that possible? Granny is younger than ya are.”
“I live for so long because I was made to. I do not wish to upset you with the details but know that I am designed to live longer. I have lived far longer than most would think it possible and my age has not affected my movements as it would if it were the natural aging process.” He informed her.
“So yer not feeling yer old age like Granny does?” He shook his head at her question. “Ah still can’t see how ya can live so long and not age at all.”
“As I said I was made this way. I have to admit hearing I am older than Granny Smith is pretty amusing.” He replied with a short chuckle. “I was around twenty-five or so when I left Kaer Morhen to walk the Path. I have been on my own for many years or so and I am not used to what a friend or family is. Even among my kind we meet up rarely unless we seek each other out should the need arise. My fellow Witchers are my brothers, not my friends.”
Applejack was silent as she seemed to be thinking over what all he had said to her. She looked from him to the ground and then back to him after several seconds had elapsed. A small smile crossed her face as she looked back at him.
“Okay, Ah must admit that is a lot ta take in. But ya will learn ta trust us. All o’ us are connected now.” He tilted his head slightly and she reached out and her hoof tapped the medallion around his neck. “The Elements. We are all connected through ‘em.”
“Now one more thing ta talk about with ya. Ya don’t need ta be so formal wit’ us. Ya can relax with us and be yerself.” She said to him and she started to say more as he looked at her and she paused.
“You are asking me to stop a century of habit. Asking me to change it is like asking you to be Rarity for the rest of your life.” She blanched and he nodded as she looked back at him. “Exactly. I will try to ‘loosen’ up as you put it over time. So why don’t we start with something small for the time being? I will use your nickname occasionally.”
She looked thoughtful and then nodded in agreement with him. “That will be perfect. Ya sound too formal with always usin’ full names. Yer name is easy enough ta shorten since ya have yer surname.”
“Very well this will take some getting used to I have to admit, AJ.” He replied as he stumbled over her nickname.
She nodded as she chuckled over his near slip and patted his shoulder. “Soon enough ya’ll be as easy goin’ as Ponyville.” He simply looked at her and she patted him again. “Well. Maybe not that easy goin’.”
He said nothing as she motioned for him to follow her and he fell in behind her as they left the barn.