His eyes opened and a low breath escaped him. He pushed himself up and he pushed the quilt back and rolled out of his bed. He let the large wings fall to the ground as normal and he pulled a brush through his mane and tail. He had finally learned enough about the wings he bore to be able to move them fairly easily from their relaxed position to be held at his sides. He set the brush aside as the wings were pulled up from the floor and they pinned themselves to his sides. He reached out to the desk and his claws gripped the cloak that hung by the desk. He heard a soft knock on the door and he pulled it open as Applejack stood in front of the door.
She hopped into the room, a wide smile on her face. “Ah made a bet wit’ Big Mac. If’n Ah clear out mah side of the orchard afore ‘e does then he has ta walk up Stirrup Street in Granny’s girdle. What he don’t know is that Ah have Twilight helpin’.” She told him with a laugh. “Ah need ya ta make sure ‘e does it. When Ah win can ya go wit’ ‘im ta make sure he walks the whole way?”
He said nothing for a second as he processed what she had said. “Does it matter that I have no idea where or how long Stirrup Street is?” He pointed out to her.
She looked blankly at him for a moment before she shrugged. “Ahh, that’s okay. Jus’ make sure ‘e walks a ways. Oh, the punishment fer Apple Bloom is still active so ya don’t have ta to do any chores this mornin’. She will do them when she gets home from school.”
The mare spun on her heel and opened the door to leave. Oblivion watched her and thought back to a bet he had been in with Lambert years ago. The younger Witcher had lost and had to walk around Novigrad yelling the words of the Maids of Vicovaro at the top of his lungs. That was a song the drunk yelled to piss off the guards. Oblivion had ridden Sasa behind him to watch and laugh at his expense. Lambert was still at the ass-end of jokes for that one, especially since Oblivion had to rescue him when the guards came running. Oblivion gave a quiet snort at the memory and then walked down the hall after the mare.
He went down the stairs and found everyone already there. He walked up to the table and sat down. He sat with them as they ate after declining. Once they finished Applejack asked him to take Apple Bloom to school. He agreed and waited for the filly to finish getting ready. The filly bolted up the stairs and then came down the stairs a few minutes later. She stopped at Oblivion's hooves and smiled.
“Ah’m ready ta go.”
“Are you sure?” He asked her.
“Really? Do you need those?” He asked and he moved to grip the strap of the saddlebags in his hoof as he held them in front of her.
She looked sheepishly at him and took them from him. “Oh right. Thanks, Oblivion.” She said as she slid them onto her body.
He nodded at her thanks and moved to the door, which she hopped in front of him and pushed open for him. He managed not to roll his eyes and went out of the doorway. He heard Applejack giggle as they left and he chose not to go back and say anything in reply. Apple Bloom was quiet as they moved out the gate and down the road toward the schoolhouse. They reached the schoolhouse and she went through the gate ahead of him. He stopped by the gate to ensure that she was now among her fellow foals and was about to turn to leave when a familiar snobbish voice caught his ear.
“Hey, Blank Flank! Trying to hide behind your saddlebags?" She taunted.
He hesitated in place and his ears flicked to listen further while his mind went over what had been said. ‘What in the Realms is a Blank Flank?’ He was silent as he looked at the foals and he could see that some of them had their markings and others didn’t. ‘Ah I see what she means now.’ He thought to himself. He looked at Apple Bloom and he watched as her spirit shrunk back in embarrassment and shame. His eyes narrowed in aggravation and he walked into the schoolyard and stood behind them. The pink filly and her gray friend were still laughing at the comment as he stood behind them. He gave a loud snort and they both startled and looked back to find him standing behind them.
“I come from a land where a marking does not determine your worth or value in society. You have your marking and you feel the need to belittle those who do not. That does not make you better than her or any of them. All it shows is that you have less worth than she does. You are not worth the marking you wear.” Both fillies stared at him as he went on. “Not having a marking does not prove anything about her. All it shows is that she still has the potential to discover herself. You are now limited to that marking and what it might prove about you. You cannot become more than what you are now. She has limitless potential and a strong heart to prove it. You are less than nothing little fillies and she is above you in that respect.”
The foals were now staring at him and he could see Apple Bloom take heart at his words and a small smile began to tug at her mouth. She walked up to him and wrapped her forelegs around his right foreleg and snuggled against him. He lowered his head to her and waited for her to speak.
“Does it really not matter?” She asked him as he patted her back.
“Your worth as a pony is not measured by a mark that can only tell another about one piece of who you are. You are a complicated creature unlike any other. A simple mark cannot hope to tell everypony who you are. There is no rush to get one little one. It cannot tell you everything about yourself and you are not less of a pony with or without one.” He assured her.
He watched as her spirit recovered and she glowed brightly once more. He gave her a gentle push and she released his leg and a smile stayed on her mouth.
“He’s right Apple Bloom. Even if how he said it was a bit harsh.” A dark pink mare with three sunflowers on her flank spoke to them as she approached. “A cutie mark is not meant to be who you are. It’s just one part of it.”
He looked at her as he raised his head as high as he dared to avoid dwarfing the mare as he was close to two heads taller than she was. She drew up to them and came to a halt a foot away from the filly.
The filly smiled and went back to the other foals who crowded around her. “Thank you for helping her. Even though I am not fond of how you helped her. It was still very nice of you to help. Sometimes fillies can be very cruel when they wish to be.” She explained.
He said nothing immediately as he thought over what had been said. “I understand your point but that does not excuse cruel behavior. As I have told many I do not regret how I acted. I do not have the ability to truly regret.” He replied and turned to leave.
“Please wait.” She called out and the stallion came to a halt and looked back over his shoulder at her. “I spoke to Applejack the other day and she mentioned that you do not have much experience being around many ponies. I ask that you please leave the discipline of the foals to me.”
He turned around to speak with her properly. “That may be true but I do know how to treat others. Did you hear the abusive words that were being used?”
“I did not hear what was said no.” She admitted.
“Then how would have been able to stop it or punish it as needed?” The mare looked away as he spoke and he breathed out a short sigh. “Your name?”
“It’s nice to meet you Miss Cheerilee. I am Oblivion Shadow and I do not regret acting as I did with them. Perhaps next time you and I can act in concert and put an end to the cruelty that was being used on Apple Bloom. Though for the time being my presence might deter them from acting out against her. I will be walking her to school to prevent any more outbursts.” He said to her.
He spun on his heel and walked out the gate and onto the road back to the farm. He glanced over his shoulder to see the foals were all waving at him, Apple Bloom at the front of the group. He gave her a slight nod and he broke into a trot as he made his way back the way he had come. His hooves carried him swiftly back to the farm and he trotted through the front gate and back into the orchard. He looked to the side and he could see Twilight and Applejack picking apples in the orchard. He went back to the same tree he had been using to read under for the last few days and his magic summoned the book he had been reading and he settled underneath the tree and went back to reading.
He closed the book with a quiet sound and he stretched out his neck as his magic picked the finished book up and he sent it back to his room. He popped the bones in his neck as Big Mac came out of the house. He was wearing a pink and tan girdle that was pulled as tight as possible around his barrel. He pushed himself to his hooves, having recalled Applejack's request and made his way toward the red stallion.
“I’m sure you’re most thankful that I do not have much of a sense of humor to laugh at you with,” Oblivion said to him.
Mac nodded in silence and he started walking toward the town. The roan looked back and he saw the Pegasus following quietly behind him. He gave a shrug and kept walking as Oblivion lengthened his stride and drew up next to him. They got closer to town and he could see the roan was growing more uncomfortable the closer they got.
“If you keep a stone face you will be denying her and those that laugh the pleasure of seeing you squirm,” Oblivion advised.
Mac looked at him and he nodded as what had been said got through to him. He put his head up as high as possible and walked with his head high. Oblivion stayed at his hip and he watched as several ponies stopped to stare and snicker at the roan. When he did not react to their laughter and looks they seemed to give up and went about their own tasks. The roan looked over his shoulder slightly and Oblivion gave him a slight nod for him to keep going. He opened his mouth to speak when something stopped him in his tracks.
His ears flicked as he listened intently to the area around them. Mac had looked back and stopped when he realized the Pegasus was not with him. Mac turned and came back to him as he began to turn his body slowly, following his ears as they guided him. He reared up and his eyes were now also scanning the area around them. Oblivion suddenly came down on his hooves and trotted off to the side. Mac followed him and saw Oblivion’s eyes change as he started tracking something. Mac followed as quietly as he possible as the stallion gave a quick glance back to him. He reached the edge of the village and stopped. His head came up and he scanned the area around him. He suddenly started growling and Mac stayed behind him. The Pegasus snorted and relaxed.
“Damn it all. I lost it.” He growled under his breath.
Mac drew up next to him and he looked around them as he searched for something around them. “What was it?”
“I heard something that sounded familiar to me. I was following it but it began to fade out before I could narrow down exactly where it was.” The black stallion replied. “You didn’t need to follow me.”
“Yeah Ah did.” The stallion commented. “Ya’ll were upset bout somethin’. No way Ah could let ya go alone.”
Oblivion shook his head and his mane settled back onto his neck and his forelock fell to cover his right eye. “Next time this happens and if I tell you to run I expect to you hoof it.” He said and he only stopped his intense gaze when the other stallion nodded in agreement. He looked back out at the clearing that stretched out beyond the town and he sighed. “I’m sure that this is far enough for AJ. If it’s not then she can argue with me later about it. You walked a fair distance wearing that gets up so I think it’s more than enough.”
Mac looked relieved and he nodded gratefully. The black pony walked around the roan and led him back toward the road that they had come from. They passed through the alley that sat between two of the homes and back onto the road. Oblivion stopped as Twilight collided with his side. He looked down at her and he could see Spike was with her.
“Hi, Oblivion.” Spike greeted.
“Afternoon Spike, Twilight. Are you alright?” He asked as his Sight told him something was wrong with the mare.
She looked up at him and he could see that she was undecided about whether to speak to him or run. “You’re not going to ask me to give you the ticket as well are you?”
The Pegasus looked at her and his brow furrowed slightly. “Ask you about what?” He replied, his tone uncertain. “Go ahead, Mac. I’ll catch up to you later.”
The farmer nodded and moved past them and Oblivion watched as his stride was hurried as he moved back the way they had come. Oblivion saw Spike put his hand over his mouth to suppress a laugh as the roan left them behind. Twilight looked relieved and started to walk around him. He turned to move with her and was at her side as they walked.
“Why do you look like you are trying to hide?” He asked her.
“I got two tickets to the...” She looked around and stopped. She motioned for him to lower his head to her. He obliged. “Grand Galloping Gala.”
He gave a slow blink in reply as the name struck him as being something to laugh at but he paused and bit back a bark of laughter. “What is that?”
She gave him a look and then shook her head to rid herself of the surprise. “It’s a very exclusive ball in Canterlot. It’s held at the palace and I was given two tickets by the Princess. I got them and Applejack overheard and she explained that she would love to go and sell Apple products there to help the farm. Rainbow as it turned out was close by and she overheard as well. She wants to go to see the Wonderbolts and show them her skills.” She explained and he motioned for her to go on when she paused. “Rarity wants to go to meet Prince Blue Blood. Fluttershy wants to see the menagerie and Pinkie wants to go to the party that is usually held inside the building."
“At least you won’t be asking me for it.” She chuckled and looked at him as he glanced down at her. “Are you?”
“No, I have no interest in it. I have been to many balls and events in my time and found them to be lacking. There a nothing there except undercooked meat, weak booze, and no entertainment. I will pass.” He said to her and he could see her relax slightly. She sighed in relief but then jumped behind him when several ponies walked by them. He reached back and lifted the side of his cloak and she dodged underneath it to hide. “Better?”
She nodded and he guided them back to the library as Spike jumped from her back and walked beside them. Spike grumbled as he walked but a look from the Pegasus had silenced him quickly. The black stallion walked with her and he would speak with the mares about the pressure they were putting on the mare the next time he saw them. It was ridiculous that she felt she had to hide from everypony around her to avoid them asking her for a ticket to an event. They reached the Library and he pushed the front door open and they walked inside to find Fluttershy and several animals already inside. From what he could see they were helping her clean the shelves and the books.
Twilight breathed out a deep sigh and stared at the butter-yellow mare. “Oh no. Not you too.”
Oblivion said nothing as the mare looked at the Unicorn and a smile went across her muzzle. He kept his silence as Twilight seemed to be trying to keep herself in check. He could see her emotions as they flowed over her.
“Oh, well hello Twilight. I hope you don’t mind, but we are doing a bit of spring cleaning for you.”
“It’s summer.” Twilight deadpanned.
“Truly?” Oblivion said as he looked at her. He did not know which season they were in since he had only just arrived and the weather was not exactly clear.
Twilight cast a glance at him before she looked back at the other Pegasus in the room. Fluttershy paused and she looked at the animals that were hanging around the room and watching them.
“Oh well. Better late than never.” She replied with a nervous laugh. “It was Angel’s idea.”
Oblivion looked down at the aforementioned white bunny.
“You’re not doing this for the ticket, are you?” Twilight asked her.
“Of course she is. Are you shocked?” Oblivion scoffed and bit back a bark of laughter.
“Oh no. I’m doing this because you’re my very best friend. Right, Angel?” She said as she looked down at the bunny that was giving her a blank look. “Oh yes. We are just doing this for the ticket.” She confessed.
“Well, at least you admit to it,” Oblivion commented.
Twilight stormed toward the door. “No, no, no. Well, this has been very nice of you and Angel, but I’m not accepting any extra favors until I have made my decision. So I am going to have to ask you to leave.”
“NO! Don’t open the door!” He called out as the mare pulled the door open.
She opened the door and confetti hit her in the face. “Surprise!” Ponies shouted as she was pulled out the door.
After a few minutes, he looked at Fluttershy. He opened his mouth to speak to her when the door opened once more. He watched as Applejack, Rainbow, Rarity, and Pinkie walked into the Library. The ponies walked up into a separate section fo the library that allowed them an easy view of the door.
“Are ya here fer the ticket?” Applejack asked him.
“I’m a way. I have no interest in going to the event.” He responded and they looked uncertain of his meaning. “I have to be honest your behavior is appalling. All of you chasing her down and doing her extra favors is not helping her to choose one of you. You are all her friends and by throwing gifts and favors at her you are making her choice that much more difficult.” He noticed that a couple of them were starting to hang their heads as he spoke. “You are all acting like fools. I have seen children act more like adults.”
A flash of purple caught his attention and Twilight and Spike reappeared. “Warn me before you do that?” Spike complained.
“I didn’t even know it was going to happen,” Twilight said to him and panic went through her. “Quick Spike close the windows and turn off all the lights.”
The room was plunged into darkness and he heard Twilight sigh in relief. His eyes gave off their typical slight glow and the mare looked directly at him as his eyes adjusted to the pitch darkness. The Witcher sighed and his magic reached out and he flipped the light back on. The mare saw the other girls in the room and a scream tore from her.
“I can’t decide! I can’t decide!” She began and dropped to her belly with her hooves over her head.
Oblivion watched her closely and he could see that she was upset and he felt something tell him to stop it. “Enough!” He roared and stepped ahead of her, standing protectively over the mare. He saw Twilight looked up at him as he stood over her. Spike had jumped in surprise at his tone and was now standing off to the side of the stallion. “Spike! Give me the tickets.”
His magic gripped the tickets as Spike gave them to him and he summoned a scroll and quill into his magic. “Celestia. I am returning these tickets due to there not being enough for Twilight to bring all of her friends. On behalf of your student, Oblivion Shadow.” His magic ignited the scroll and it was sent through the window. He looked back to all of them and snorted.
Oblivion moved to the side as the farm mare came down from where they had been sitting. Applejack walked over to a still cowering Twilight, despite the fact that the tickets were gone. “Twilight sugar. Ah didn’t mean ta pit so much pressure on ya. If it helps, I don’t want the tickets anymore. Ya can give it ta somepony else, Ah promise Ah won’t be upset.” She looked past the mare and to the stallion. “Ya were right, Oblivion. We were bein’ unfair ta ‘er.”
Fluttershy spoke from her place with the others. “I feel awful for making you feel awful. I don’t want the tickets either.”
“Twilight. It was unfair of me to try to force you as I did.” Rarity said to her.
“And me too. It’s no fun upsetting your friends.” Pinkie lamented.
He looked up as Rainbow dash gave a happy flip in the air. “Yes! That means I get the ticket!” She started dancing in the air.
Oblivions magic gripped her mane and he pulled her roughly down to be muzzle to muzzle with him. “Try that again.” He growled.
She looked at him, her eyes wide in alarm. “Uh. You know what? I haven’t perfected my signature moves yet. So I don’t need it either.” She said her tone sheepish, he released the chunk of her mane that he held in his magic.
Twilight stood up with Applejack's help and smiled. Applejack looked over to Spike who was holding his stomach. “Well wallop my withers, Spike. Ain’t that just like a boy? Can’t handle the least bit of sentiment.” A green ball of fire burst from Spikes maw. “Whoa, Nelly!” Applejack yelled as she ducked.
Twilight’s magic held the scroll in the air and Spike took it and pulled it open to read it aloud. “A letter from the Princess, that was fast.” He said as he cleared his throat to go on.
My faithful student:
Why didn’t you just say so?
Spike held up a group of six tickets, their golden color sparkled slightly in the lights of the Library. “Six tickets to the Gala.”
Twilight beamed happily. “Now we can all go.”
Oblivion watched as the group of mares cheered happily. There was a pause in the cheering as Twilight’s stomach growled loudly. The girls all giggled at the sounds and Twilight looked sheepish at the sound.
“Allow us to treat you to dinner.” Rarity said to her and the others nodded in agreement.
Twilight suddenly stopped as they started to head for the door. “She didn’t send one for you.” She said as she looked at the black Pegasus.
“It’s fine. I have no interest in such a thing. This is fine for me. I thank you for the consideration though. Go ahead with the others. I will be heading out anyway.”
She nodded and walked out the door ahead of them. He looked at Spike who was still in the room with him. The baby dragon looked uncertain and his eyes fell on the stallion.
“What about me?” He asked as he looked at the pony.
“If you wish to go send her a letter asking for a ticket.” He said to him.
Spike looked at him, uncertainty in his eyes as he held his stomach and a letter came from his mouth. He opened it and two more tickets came from inside of it. He read it over and a wide smile went over his face. “Two more tickets! We can go too Oblivion!”
“Great,” Oblivion replied, sarcasm dripping from his voice.
Spike gave him his own ticket and his magic held it as he sent it to his saddlebags at the farm. He walked out behind the baby dragon who quickly trotted past the farm mare that was standing by the door. She looked at the black Pegasus who paused to stand by her.
“Ya’ll gonna go ta the Everfree fer some runnin’?” She asked him.
He gave her a nod before he began to walk away from the library and toward the edge of town where it met up with the Everfree. His own stomach called for food and his claws flexed as he walked. He trotted toward the forest and he was not able to stop the slight grin that tugged at his mouth. He reared up and broke into a gallop as he moved through the tall grass and into the forest. He slowed as he caught sight of a fallen tree along the edge of the forest. He was still working on keeping his balance but he decided that if his hooves hit the tree he knew how to roll. He neared the tree and as he got to the right point he gathered himself and the muscles in his hind legs gathered. He trusted his body to know how to jump and land without causing injury. His body leaped and, to his own surprise, cleared the tree and galloped on. He allowed the smile to remain as he continued running. His wings pulled from his sides and he let them flap to give him a boost of speed but he nearly fell as they overbalanced and he slowed to put them back in place at his sides.
He began to slow further as he neared a clearing that he had been using for his hunts. He flicked his ears and he was not able to wear anything close by him. He came to a stop and he rolled his shoulders to get his swords into place to allow him to draw them if he needed them. He moved to follow a nearby game trail and he slowed as the sound of hooves caught his attention. He slowed and began to crouch as he neared a new clearing. He could see a small herd of deer in the clearing and he began to scan the herd, looking for a soft target. He saw one off to the side that appeared to be lame and would make for a good target. He began to stalk forward, keeping his body as low as possible. He stopped as he was as close as he could get if he stayed within the bushes. He waited for the deer to graze closer to him and he waited for the right moment, when it came he leaped from the bushes and the hunt began.
Applejack was walking back to the farm when movement caught her eye. It was on the edge of the Everfree and she trotted into the taller grass as far as she dared. She chuckled at the sight of the black Pegasus as he ran around the edge of the forest. She watched as he spun on his heel and made for the edge of the forest and she watched as he leaped a fallen tree. She was quiet as she approached and she could not help but wonder why he had not been flying. It would have made hunting very easy for him.
“Well. Even without flyin’ he sure seems ta be havin’ some fun.” She said as she slowed to a walk.
She made sure not to try to creep up on him, something told her that would not end well for her and she made sure to keep her normal pace and gait as she moved. She watched as he plunged to a halt and his ears flicked to listen as he heard her walking. She broke into an easy lope and neared him as he looked over his shoulder to her.
“Ya’ll’re havin’ too much fun out here.” She teased.
He barked a laugh at her and shook himself. “Perhaps. I never thought that being able to jump again would prove to be so interesting.” He admitted. “Perhaps this is why some choose to run wild.”
“Maybe. But Ah gotta admit that’s quite the jump. Ya can make it since yer so tall.” She chuckled as she pointed to eh fallen tree he had been jumping.
He shrugged and they both broke into a trot as they headed for the farm. “I wasn’t certain that I would make it over it. I cleared it on my way into the forest and I came back to it when I was done. I was ready to roll if I clipped it.”
“Well, now we know why yer so thin. Ya run around so much when yer out here.” She joked.
He chuckled and looked at her as they slowed to a walk. “Maybe. I have always been lean. I’ve been an active pony all my life. But I suppose to others I might look sick.”
“Ya are too thin. But Ah’m thinkin’ puttin’ weigh ton ya might be impossible.” She said to him. “Ya seem ta have more energy than most though.”
He nodded in reply and looked ahead of them. “Ah. I will be out of town in a few days to go to Canterlot and spar with Luna. I had forgotten to mention it before.”
“Why are ya meetin’ up wit’ her?”
“She sent me a letter asking me to meet her for a mock spar and have coffee afterward. Since there is nopony here that can spar with me seriously she is the best option. Her style of combat is different than mine and I am curious if it has changed since she was cleansed.”
“Are ya sure it’s safe?” She asked him, her eyes went from the road to him as she spoke.
“Not you too. She is no longer Nightmare Moon. Don’t be close-minded.” He replied with a scoff.
“Ah was wonderin’ somethin’.” She said, changing the subject.
“Yeah. How come ya haven’t been flyin’? Ah haven’t seen ya so much as flap yer wings.”
He nearly fell forward at her question and he found himself without a lie that he could tell her. He sighed and shook his head at her. “That’s not an easy question.”
“Ah’m sorry if it too personal.”
“It’s not that. It’s just that I really do not know how.” He informed her. “The ponies of the Witchers school were Earth Ponies or Unicorns. I was the only Pegasus and if I knew how before the trials that knowledge was stripped from me during the Trials.”
“Oh. So ya don’t remember how ta fly?” She asked him.
“Well. Ya could ask Rainbow ta… Actually nah. Ah wouldn’t want her ta teach me anythin’.” She started and then corrected herself.
“Precisely. I have remained on the ground ever since. Ponies’ do not deal with my kind well so I have never thought to ask for lessons.” He went on. He had only lied partially to her.
“Well, we’ll think o’ a way ta get ya in the air.” She said to him and patted his shoulder as she walked forward on three legs.
They fell into silence as they walked through the front gates of the farm. He scanned the area ahead of them as Apple Bloom ran inside. She had been outside playing when she spotted them ahead of her. He cast a glance to Applejack who shrugged at the filly’s swift departure. The pair of them walked into the house and Mac looked up from the table and a chuckle broke from him.
“Apple Bloom went upstairs ta get yer bath ready.” He said, his tone laughing as Oblivion groaned.
He bit back the rest of the sound from his throat and looked up the stairs as he moved to go up to them. He went up the stairs and was almost to his room when Apple Bloom came around the corner, running into his leg.
“Oof.” She made a noise as she struck him and then looked up at what she had run into. Her face broke into a smile and she looked up at him. “Ya wanna read a book?”
He stepped past her and she followed him to his room. She waited as he unlocked the door and he walked into the room. He set his cloak aside and hung it beside the desk on the chair. He pulled his baldric from its place around his body and leaned it against the side of the desk. He cast a glance to the filly who gave him a clear shake of her head. A clear agreement not to touch them. He looked over the cloak and he could see that it was in need of a wash. He would look into a way to clean it when he had an extra moment. He would ask Applejack and see if he needed to take it into the forest to wash it as he had done many times before.
He had finished one of the three books he had borrowed and he picked up the History of Magic volume two and it hovered in his magic as he turned around. Apple Bloom held out her hooves and he lowered it into her hooves with a slight sigh and she spun to take it to the bathroom. He shook his head as she walked several feet ahead of him. He walked down the hallway and reached the door as she came through it and looked up at him.
“It’s all ready.” She said to him, her smile once more bright.
“Thank you Little One.” He said to her and patted her head with one hoof.
He walked into the bathroom and locked the door behind him. His wings drooped to the floor and he stretched out his neck and he heard several small pops as it stretched. He raised them just high enough to not bang against the sides of the tub as he stepped into it and laid down inside of it. His magic opened the book but his eyes did not scan the pages as it sat in front of him. His wings floated to the surface as he considered the day that had gone on around him. He considered why he had stopped the mares from trying to guilt Twilight into the tickets that she herself had been gifted.
“What purpose was there in stopping them? They would have noticed their actions were doing nothing but harming her on their own. Why did I intervene in it?” He asked himself, his voice barely above a whisper.
He knew that something had told him that he needed to act and he was not sure what it had been. When he acted it seemed to fade and nothing was left in its place. It had been like a gentle push in the back of his mind and he could not place if he had ever experienced anything like it before. He shifted in the water and dunked his wings under the warm water, the feathers spreading slightly as the water permeated them. The black Pegasus was silent as his musings fell quiet in his mind. He stood up and used the soap to clean his body and wings before he laid back down to let it slowly wash off of him.
His magic closed the book and set it beside the sink to avoid it slipping into the water. He recalled that the mare had told him that the books needed to return in the same shape as how they left the library. His mind went slowly blank as he allowed his senses to listen around him for anything that stood out. His eyes closed as he focused on simply listening to the world around him and he laid his head down on the rim of the tub. He opened his eyes after several minutes as he stood up and his claws gripped a nearby towel and used it to dry himself off. He stepped out of the tub and his magic slid over his body, drying the rest of him. He looked over his wings, checking for any loose feathers or any damage to them from his run.
He brushed through his mane and tail as they were now dry and he pushed open the door to find Applejack walking past. The mare looked at him as he turned off the light in the bathroom and walked out ahead of her. He reached his room and she stopped by his doorway with a grin in her muzzle.
“Mac said ya made sure he walked a way on the street. Thank ya fer yer help.” She said as she giggled.
“It was nothing.” He assured her. “I have a question though. Where can I get my cloak cleaned?”
“Ah would talk ta Rarity if ya needed it cleaned off. Though yer right it might need a bit of a cleanin’.” She said as she stepped into the room and looked at the cloak. “Yeah. Just ask ‘er bout it.”
“I will speak to her in the morning.”
Applejack backed out of his room and he closed the door behind her. He stood in silence in the middle of the room and was about to lean against the bed when something rolled over him. He had moments of intuition like this before and he had learned to listen to them. They had warned him of his fair share of attacks from bandits and monsters alike. He moved to the window and leaned over the bed and he looked out past the orchards. He didn’t see anything at first but the more he looked the stronger the feeling became and he reached for his blades. He moved a wing and put them under it and the wing held them in place. He moved silently through the stilling house and out the door.
His eyes scanned the barn and then the orchards as he passed by them. His hooves were silent and his ears perked as he listened intently. His swords were hung under his wing and he made sure that he could easily reach them if the need should arise. The feeling that had driven him from the house was still with him as he moved. It made his skin tremble and his steps were hurried. He moved out from the barn and out into the field behind the barn.
The grasses were tall enough to brush against his chest as he moved. A sound caught his attention and he pauses in place as his ears flicked, intent on the sound that moved around him. He knew the sound but was having trouble placing it. It reminded him of the sound that Rainbows wings made when she flew but the sound was more intense.
“What in the… Oh no.” He said to himself as he dropped to the ground and looked to the skies.
His eyes watched for the monster that he knew was above him. He intended to use his black coloring to keep himself from being spotted from the air. He stared up and he finally saw it, the Forktail flew above him, circling. He followed it and he cursed not having his belt that held his crossbow and bombs. It was low enough that a well-placed bomb would have knocked it from the air. That was his normal first attack when dealing with the kind of monster in front of him.
His dared not use magic since the light from it would catch the monster's attention. He was certain that his crossbow was in his saddlebags with his other weapons. That made him think his bombs were inside of it as well. He hesitated to use them in case he would never be able to replace them when his stores of ingredients ran out. The black Pegasus breathed out an annoyed sigh as the monster circled above him. He cursed not being able to use his own wings more effectively but he moved past that fact quickly as he considered how to lure the monster to the ground.
“How?” he whispered to himself as he remained huddled against the ground, waiting. “Only way I have ever gotten them out of the sky was either a bolt to the wing, a bomb, or… bait.”
His eyes followed the Forktail as it flew and he slowly got to his hooves and he knew enough about them to know that they would not pass up on an easy meal. He had to act like bait and draw it down to him. He started to walk through the field and when he was sure the Forktail could see him he began to fake a strong limp. Typically they avoided fights unless they could win and he knew this from the last few he had hunted. He heard a loud hiss from above and he looked up as it flew just high enough to be able to ambush him easily. He waited as it plunged out of the sky and headed straight for him.
“Good boy.” He praised as he spun, his sword coming from the scabbard at his side as he dropped the steel sword and baldric to the ground.
The monster didn’t have enough time to pull away from its attack as it was on him when he spun to attack it in kind. Its feet hit the ground with a resounding thud and the ground shuddered in response. He spun and the blade cut deep into its chest. It shrieked and tried to kick him as it moved. He backflipped and his magic reared up as a Grapeshot bomb appeared in his magic and he held it close by as the monster seemed to be deciding whether he was worth the possible fight to kill or if it would take to the air once more. It took a second as it spread its wings and began to take to the air. Oblivion reached out and his claws grabbed the bomb, his magic lighting the fuse. He hurled it at the struggling monster and it exploded against one of the leathery wings, destroying the limb.
He pinned his ears at its shriek as it fell ten feet to the ground. He charged it and his blade cut deep into the monster's flesh as it began to kick out at him. He dodged to the side but a heel caught him in the chest and he was rolled backward, away from it. He got to his hooves and the monster did the same. Blood oozed from the wounded appendage and covered the ground. He knew that if he waged a slow fight then the monster might bleed to death and save him the trouble of fighting it seriously. He would simply need to avoid it. And while he had used the tactic on some monsters before it was not his first choice. He was a fighter and standing back was not his normal style.
The monster hissed and snarled as he watched it closely. Its tail waved in the air behind it and he knew enough to avoid the tail when it was used in combat. Its teeth were enough to give a human fits of pure fear but he had faced monsters with bigger teeth than a Forktail. It charged him and he waited as it neared him and he moved to the side and pirouetted as it passed, slicing the blade along its side. It swung its tail and he knew enough to hold the blade in front of him. What he was not ready for was the impact of countering it and the blade nearly fell from his claws. He was about to curse the fact that he did not have thumbs when the monster swung its head to bite him.
He dropped to the ground and rolled his body as far as possible. He got to his hooves and the monster came after him. He had fought many of these and he knew them well. The loss of its wing had enraged it and it was now even more aggressive in its attacks. The thick spikes that covered its back and tail were enough to drive him back as it charged and swung its body to use its heavy tail. He dodged out from under it and spun his sword to try to sever the tail if possible. The weapon collided with the tail and his eyes went wide as the weapon fell from his hoof.
“Shit.” He yelped and tried not to immediately dive for the weapon.
The monster didn’t know he had lost his sword but it did manage to step on the weapon and its head lunged out as it tried to bite once more. His magic lunged to the front as the symbol on his forehead glowed brightly in response to the loss of the weapon. He reached out to the weapon with magic and it came back to his hoof. He left it in his magic and it hovered at his shoulder. He flexed his claws and let the sword hover, choosing instead to use his magic and hope it worked. The Forktail charged him and he waited for it to near him as he swung the sword down and it carved through the monster's face, though it did little more than anger it further. He bit back a string of curses and moved aside as it passed him.
“Okay. Now I have pissed it off.” He grumbled.
It stopped and came back for him as he gave up on magic and took it back in his hoof and he slammed down his hoof as Aard rolled over the monster staggering it. He charged in and his blade scored across its chest and shoulders. It screeched loudly and tried to bite at him as he spun to the side and he backed up to allow a stream of Igni fall over the monster's head and shoulders. It backed up at the heat and he pushed his advantage. The Witcher pushed forward as the stream of fire faded out and he swung the blade forward and the monster moved its head back and he angled his blade to cut deep into its neck. Blood fountained as the weapon slid into the softer flesh and he drove the weapon as deep as he could without losing his grip on the silver sword. He jumped back as the weapon began to slip in his claws and he pulled it roughly from the animal’s throat. It screeched and flailed, trying to get him as it fought against its own death. He backflipped as far as possible and now he waited for it to bleed out and fall.
“Well, that was a lesson.” He breathed out.
The Forktail began to try to charge him and he was ready for it to attack as it stumbled and fell to the ground a couple of feet from him. It breathed roughly as it tried to live on. He went to the side of it and he angled the weapon and slid it into its hide and into the heart, ending its suffering. He knew that some would view his actions as cruel but he knew that he had no desire to allow it to suffer needlessly. He had argued with a man once about whether a monster deserved mercy. In the end, they had agreed to keep their opinions to themselves and even then they had argued later about it. He still thought of them as needing that final bit of mercy as they lay dying. Others would see his actions as weakness and still more as cruelty. He was not out to please them but he had a feeling that the ponies of this world would side with him on giving the monster mercy.
A slight grin tugged at his mouth as he realized that his views might be more accepted in this world then they were on his own. “Interesting.” He muttered.
The body lay still as he backed up a step and watched it for several seconds. He was beginning to look around him to see if anypony had seen anything or heard anything as the monster was not exactly quiet in its attacks. When nopony came to investigate he assumed that it had been quiet enough to remain unknown. He looked over the body and as he was beginning to wonder how to either bury the body or burn it. He looked up as a portal of large size appeared off to the side of him, just close enough to begin to take the monster from its place. Wind began to flow over him from the portal and he gripped the ground with his claws as the body began to move toward the portal.
“By the Gods!” He cursed loudly and started to try to back up as the wind buffeted him.
His wings pinned tightly to his sides as he tried to stay away from the portal. He watched it closely as he was waiting for someone to come through it. When he saw no one coming through he watched the body as it went through the portal and the portal itself closed and was gone moments later. The winds ended abruptly and he was left, stunned in place. He had seen nothing come through and the only evidence of the portal was a burnt spot on the ground. The Witcher used his magic to reach out and pick up the scabbard from where it lay several feet behind him. He cleaned the sword of blood and slid it back into the scabbard and he tucked it back under his wing.
“Well. That was surprising.” He admitted to himself, though his voice showed no sign of surprise.