Applejack walked toward the schoolhouse as her eyes scanned the fields along the way. She hadn’t seen Oblivion all day and he hadn’t come back from talking to Apple Blooms’ class. The Pegasus hadn’t seemed any different from usual when he got back from Canterlot, but she wasn’t sure half the time what was normal for him or not normal. He tended to hold most everything back unless asked directly. She looked away from the fields and she was surprised to see the foals crowding the gate and they seemed to be watching intently. When they realized that it was her, they all groaned and walked away from the front gate. She broke into a trot and came to stand by the gate as Apple Bloom smiled at her.
“Hey, sis. Where’s Oblivion?” The filly asked her.
“Oblivion takes ya ta school in the mornin’. Ah, pick ya up.” She replied.
“Ah know. Ah thought he would have stayed around and taken me home after talkin’ ta the class.” She explained.
Applejack paused as the filly explained as she turned to take her home and the filly fell into place at her side. “How was the talk he gave?”
“It was amazing!” She gushed. “He’s a great storyteller. Did ‘e tell ya all bout it?”
The orange mare shook her head. “Nah. He hadn’t come back to the farm when Ah left it ta come get ya.”
Apple Bloom looked closely at her before she responded. “So he ain’t home yet?”
“Don’tcha worry none. He’s a big pony and can take care of hisself. He’ll come back home when he’s ready. Did he seem okay when he left?” She replied.
“Kinda. Ah mean he was real quiet. More quiet than normal, even fer him. We asked him bout the last monster he fought and he didn’t seem happy bout it. Then we talked bout the runes and stuff his swords use.”
Applejack stopped and looked at her little sister. “Did he seem angry?” The filly shook her head in reply. “Tired?” Again she shook her head. “Sad?” Apple Bloom paused as she considered the question.
“A little bit Ah think. He seemed ta be thinkin’ when he left.”
“Well, maybe he just needed some alone time. Ya know how some ponies are.” She reassured her despite her own uncertainty.
The pair of them fell back into an easy pace as they headed for the farm. They reached the farm after a few minutes and they walked through the front gate. Apple Bloom ran ahead and Applejack knew she was giving a quick look around for the black Pegasus. The farm mare trotted forward to find her elder brother and found him off to the side of the barn.
“Oblivion come back yet?” She asked him as he looked over his shoulder at her.
“Nope,” Mac responded with his usual drawl.
“He ain’t come back from talkin’ ta the class. Ah figured he would be back by the time Ah got back with the filly. Could he have gone huntin’?” She questioned.
Both of them looked up as a flash of light went off to the side of them. Thick aqua mist falling across the ground for several seconds before it began to fade revealing Oblivion. The black Pegasus gave a loud snort as he stepped away from the spot he had teleported and she watched as his eyes fell on them and walked toward them.
“Where ya been?” Applejack asked him.
“I went to the Everfree to hunt and work on my swordsmanship.” He replied. “Since I did not think you would want me to do the sword work around your trees. They could have been nicked by the blade if I missed a step.”
She nodded in agreement. “Ah ask that ya not harm ’em.”
He fell in beside them as the three ponies moved to walk away from the barn and up a small hill that would allow them to look over a large portion of the orchards. They were located within the north orchard, but it was close enough to the middle that it was treated as a separate space. They remained silent for several minutes before Applejack gave out a sigh and looked to the two with her.
“Boy howdy. We got our work cut out fer us.” She said, and they both looked back at her. “That there is the biggest bumper crop o’ apples Ah’ve ever seen.”
The Pegasus said nothing as he looked away from her and back to the rolling fields in front of them. He could sense Mac shift his weight beside him as he saw him nod out of the corner of his eye.
“Eeyup. Too big fer ya ta do alone. Oblivion and Ah’ll be helpin’.” The red farmer commented.
Oblivion nodded in agreement but remained silent as Applejack spun her head to look at the roan.
“Come on Big Mac. Ah haven’t met an apple orchard that Ah can’t handle. Ah’ll take a bite out of this here crop before tomorrow’s end.”
“That’s what Ah mean. Bitin’ off more than ya can chew is what Ah mean. Good thing Oblivion and Ah are here.” He drawled in response.
Oblivion looked sideways at him and couldn’t help but think that he had spoken wrong. Applejack looked affronted as he glanced over to her and she spun on her hind to look at the pair of them. The Pegasus looked away from her as he saw the annoyed glare that began to cross the mare’s features. She glared openly at Big Mac, who continued to look impassively at the orchard.
“Are ya sayin’ that Mah mouth is makin’ promises Mah legs can’t keep?” She questioned with a sharp tone.
Oblivion nearly slapped his claws to his face at the reply. He then almost took a hoof to the back of Mac’s head in the same breath. But at the same time, he hesitated as he was a hired hand in the same sense that he was new among their family. He paused before offering any advice as it might not have been his place to offer it.
“Why of all the… This is yer sister Applejack, remember? The most loyal of friends and the most dependable of ponies?”
She had advanced on the red farmer as she spoke as the black pony stepped off to the side to avoid being caught in the middle. He watched as the mare pushed her brother backward until her snout was level with his. He looked nervously at the black Pegasus, who shook his head that he would not be stepping in for him.
“But that’s still only one pony,” Mac argued as he looked back at the mare. “One pony plus hundreds of apple trees, just don’t make any sense.” He drawled to his sister as he looked back to the black pony with them and then back to her as the mare’s eyes narrowed.
“Don’t use yer fancy math ta muddle the issue. Ah said Ah can handle this harvest and Ah’m gonna prove it. Oblivion!” She hollered.
“Ya’ll are gonna be the judge.” She started as she backed up to allow Mac to stand straight once more. “Mac and I are gonna have us a contest.” She explained once she was certain she had his full attention. “We will split the orchard down the middle whoever finishes first wins. Ya’ll will watch fer who finishes first.”
Oblivion looked between them as he glanced to the roan, who looked back at the Pegasus with a mix of surprise and disbelief etched on his features while Applejack wore a face of determination. He said nothing for several seconds as he considered what had been said already.
“Are you certain about this? Working together will enable it to be finished faster. By doing this all you will do is exhaust yourself…”
“Nope. Nothin’ to it Oblivion. This is how we gonna work it out.” She interrupted as she stomped her hoof.
“I understand that AJ, but still…”
“No Oblivion. Yer the outside pony so ya are perfect ta be the judge.”
He gave a low snort and shook his head. “Very well. Under one condition.” He waited for both ponies to nod before he went on. “I hold the authority to call this whole contest off if it gets out of hoof. Deal?” Mac quickly nodded in agreement, while Applejack paused and then grudgingly nodded as well. “Good. Now if you will excuse me, I need to visit Rarity before it gets too late.”
He spun on his heel and trotted down the hill, leaving the siblings behind.
He walked up to the shop’s front door and he pushed it open carefully. The bell above the door rang out, announcing that the door had been opened. He could see her spirit off to the side and he could hear her voice ring out, asking him to wait. He stood and waited for her to come to him as his magic flowed over him for a moment as he summoned the letter from Blue Blood. He gripped it in his hoof as it dropped into his claws and then folded them back into his hoof as the mare came around the corner. The aqua mist faded as the mare approached him.
“Oblivion dear. It’s so good to see you. I trust your visit to Canterlot was eventful?” She asked as she stopped in front of him. Her tone casual and inviting further conversation.
“It was certainly interesting.” He admitted. “I met a pony there that you might be interested in. But first. Here, this is for you.” He said to her as he held out the letter for her to take from him.
“Why thank you, dear. Did Ditzy take it to the wrong house? Again?”
“No. This one I am delivering.”
“Well, thank you.” She said as her magic gripped the letter and unrolled it and began to read it. Her eyes widened as she read the script on the paper and she looked up at the black Pegasus. “Oblivion darling. You met him and spoke of me to him?”
He nodded in reply. “He was quite upset when I met him. It took several minutes to calm him but I also remembered where I had heard his name. Twilight had mentioned that you wished to meet him.”
“When did I mention him?” She asked, her eyes uncertain.
“During that ticket fiasco.”
She blanched. “Urgh. Not my best moment. I am trying to forget it. I still feel awful for what I said and did to poor Twilight.” She informed him as she looked down at the letter that hovered in front of her. A smile crossed her muzzle. “Do you mind waiting a moment while I reply to him? He said to send it back through you since you have a spell that can send it faster than the mail mares.”
“I have no problem with that Rarity, take your time.”
“Please follow me, my dear. I’ll make some tea or do you prefer coffee? I had heard that you seem to prefer coffee.”
“I appreciate that and coffee would be fine.” He replied and fell in behind her as she spun to lead him off to the side of the main shop. “Thank you for the offer.”
“It is my pleasure darling. Please have a seat.”
The mare motioned for him to sit at a nearby table as she began to prepare some coffee for him. He sat in silence and waited as his eyes scanned the room. He stared at some of the fixtures as he had never seen them before and was not even sure what they were. Others were familiar but most he could not name. The scent of coffee began to fill the air around them and he inhaled the scent, enjoying the aroma it gave off.
“Cream or sugar?” Rarity asked as she levitated the aforementioned items.
“No. Black is fine.”
“Very well dear. Here you are. I will try to respond quickly.” She said to him as a scroll and quill hovered in her magic as she set the coffee down in front of him.
“Take your time. I am in no hurry and I will sit and drink my coffee while you write what you wish to.”
“You are a dear Oblivion. I will not ask you how you met him since that is between the two of you. But it seems that it was a good thing you did. So I am indebted to you for this.” The mare reached over and patted one of his hooves as he held the coffee cup on the table.
The black Pegasus closed his eyes and nodded at her. He opened them a moment later and focused on the coffee in front of him while the mare went to work on her writing. He was pleased to see that she was not rushing and appeared to be truly taking her time. ‘He needs another pony on his side. I am glad to see that she has accepted his letter and appears to be understanding with whatever he wrote to her. I was certain this is how she would react but there is always a chance I could have been wrong.’ He thought to himself as he brought the coffee to his lips and sipped it.
As a Witcher, he had been gifted with patience early in his training and it was once more serving him now. A monster may not return to their lair right away, which meant he had to learn how to wait. Time ticked past him as he sipped his coffee patiently while the Element of Generosity wrote in reply to Blue Bloods words. He held the coffee by his nose as he leaned against the table. She finally set the quill down and her magic waved the scroll in the air for several seconds to help the ink dry before she rolled it up and her magic held it out to him. He took it from her in his own magic, as it flowed and gripped the scroll, and then in a flash of aqua, it vanished.
“He received it.” He informed her once he was certain the spell had connected.
“Thank you ever so much darling. I can’t thank you enough for putting us in contact. I had never considered that being a Prince might be more of a burden rather than a gift. It has certainly made me think more about it and I have decided that I will be as supportive as I can and ensure that he has another friend to speak to.” She said, and a look of curiosity crossed her features. “That reminds me. How are you liking the design I added to your cloak? Quite fancy, no? It goes so well with your black coat and silver mane.”
“It was a bit of a surprise, I have to admit. But I am not one to fuss about a generous gift. While I was surprised by the addition I thank you for the effort you put into it.” He replied as she beamed and he finished his coffee. “Should he respond to you I will bring it over to you. Or would you prefer that I connect the spell to you and I can then transfer it to you through magic?”
“Oh, it’s fine darling. Just means you and I will be able to chat every now and then. I am interested in fashion that is common in your homeland.” She replied with a wave of her hoof.
“I will try to make time to discuss it with you. Thank you for the coffee Rarity and I am glad to know that you have chosen to speak with Blue as well.” He said to her as he set the empty cup on the tabletop.
He rolled his eyes to the ceiling for a moment as he sighed. “AJ has rubbed off on me more than I had thought. I gave him a nickname.” He replied as the mare hid her smile behind a manicured hoof. “Though he seems to appreciate it.”
“Perhaps it makes him feel like you were treating him as more of a pony and not Royalty?”
“I think you may be exactly right. Anyway, have a good evening Rarity.” He said, giving a slight bow of his head to her as he made for the front door.
“Have a nice evening darling. Don’t overdo it during the harvest.”
He looked over his shoulder and gave her a faint smile as he pushed the front door open and exited her shop. His hooves carried him through town as he made his way back to the farm. He knew that he could simply teleport but he paused before doing it as the sight of a few ponies stopped him. If the streets had been empty, he might have been more tempted. He broke into a smooth gaited trot as he moved through the town and out into the hills.
The Witcher was silent as he moved and soon enough, he was trotting through the farm’s front gate. He walked past the family as they were getting ready for dinner and he quickly went up the stairs and down the hall to his room. The Witcher pulled the baldric and cloak off his body and laid the baldric on the bed close by where he normally lay. He laid the cloak onto the desk behind him as he lay down on top of the quilt, and his magic gripped a book sitting on the desk as he deposited it in front of him. He opened it to the page he had left off on and quickly found the place he had last been reading and picked up from there.
His muscles trembled in places from the training and hunting earlier. He allowed himself to relax as he waited for the trembling to quit. He was used to the trembling as it had happened before and tended to happen when he had not adequately cooled down from training. He chastised himself for not cooling himself out properly. He trained an ear toward the downstairs and he could hear the other as they sat down for their dinner.
‘Tomorrow should prove to be interesting. Considering this asinine challenge of AJ’s this could go one of two ways. It could end up working in our favor or it will most likely end badly for some pony. I will have to keep an eye on it to ensure it does not end up getting out of hoof. Mac relenting to my recommendations will be simple, it’s the other Apple that might prove difficult.’ He thought to himself.
He looked down at the book once more as a soft rapping earned his full attention. He could see the light that shone back at him and he knew that it was Apple Bloom at the door. “Come in.” He called out as he closed the book.
Apple Bloom walked into the room and she smiled brightly as she climbed up onto his taller bed and was soon facing him. “Today was so awesome!” She gushed. “That story was great and everypony loved it. All the others are tryin’ ta get Miss Cheerilee ta ask ya ta come back and tell more stories. Some o’ the colts are wantin’ ya ta show ’em how ta use yer steel sword. Ah tried ta tell ’im, yer, not one fer showin’ off. Ah tried ta tell ’em but they really wanna see it. If Miss Cheerilee says it’s okay could ya come back and tell more stories?”
He considered what she had asked before he replied. “I’m not sure of another story I could tell you. Most of the stories I have are not very… Foal friendly. I have spent all my life fighting so most stories I know are about that.” He informed her.
She seemed to consider what he had said before her smile brightened once more. “Well, what bout the other Witchers? Do ya know any storied bout them?”
“Of course I do. There are many tales from when we wintered together at the Keep, but those are for adults. I cannot think of any off the top of my head that would be safe for foals.”
“So would ya come and tell more stories ta mah class?”
He looked away from her as a sigh pulled from him. “Maybe. I would have to think about it.”
She beamed and nodded enthusiastically. She jumped at him and her forelegs wrapped around his neck as she hugged him tightly. She let him go and turned to jump off the bed and she trotted out the door, leaving him sitting in silence. He sighed once more and shook his head as his magic gripped the book and set it back on the desk across the room. He looked back at the door as the sound of hooves on the carpet caught his attention as Applejack walked into the room.
“Ah fergot ta ask ya how yer visit went.” She said as she looked at him. “Did ya have fun?”
“I enjoyed the visit, yes.” He replied. “Luna and I enjoyed our sparring match and we had a long discussion after it over tea and coffee. We spoke of the changes since her banishment and all that has happened since her return.” He informed her, and then his gaze went to the weapons on the bed beside him. “That reminds me. Is there a forge in town?”
“Ah’m glad ya had fun. There is one yeah. Why?”
“My steel sword has a slight crack in it. Apple Bloom pointed it out while it was being passed around.” She looked at him; her eyes were wide as he went on. “I had it blunted by Twilight if you recall.”
“Ahh, that’s right. Ah clean fergot.” She said to him. “But ya only had the one blunted.”
“They were not permitted to hold the naked silver blade, only the blunted steel.” He replied and she nodded. “They were permitted to handle the silver so long as it remained in the scabbard. If they tried to remove it from the scabbard I would have taken both weapons away from them and that threat seemed to keep them from trying to test me.”
She chuckled and nodded. “Well, that would work. The silver can’t be handled?”
“Out of the two of them, the silver is more dangerous. It’s designed to fight monsters exclusively so it’s a design and the runes within it reflect that.” He explained. “Can you give me a basic idea of where the forge is? I dislike knowing that it is damaged.”
She looked thoughtful. “Ah can take ya to it once the harvest is done. That comes first. Ah just need ta show Mac that I’m the faster bucker and then Ah will show ya right to it.”
“I agree it is important but do recall that I have the ability to call it off should I need to.” He informed her. “Whether you like it or not I will put an end to this little contest of yours.”
“Yeah, yeah, Ah know.” She started, waving a hoof dismissively.
His magic flared and his aqua aura clamped her jaws shut. “Do not brush that off AJ.” He said to her as his aura gave off its aqua mist. “I will lock you in the barn with one of my locks should you get out of hoof.”
She nodded, and then he released her jaws and she rubbed them. “Don’t ferget ta be up early tomorrow.”
She left the room as he nodded in reply. His magic reached out and he started to close the door when a soft knock sounded and he opened it to reveal Mac standing in the doorway.
“Ah know yer gettin’ ready ta head ta bed but can Ah talk to ya?” The red stallion asked him as he waited by the open door.
“Come in Mac. I’m still awake so feel free.” He replied.
The red farmer walked into the room. Oblivion could see his spirit was conflicted and his face held a tinge of anger. Oblivion could see that he was upset and waited as the roan shut the door behind him. Mac gave a thin smile as the door clicked shut.
“Ah know that ya are gonna watch over this here contest that Applejack has made up. Ah know that ya won’t let it get too out of hoof but Ah have a request.” Oblivion laid in silence and waited for him to continue. “Can ya help me with my half?”
“Are you all right?” He asked as he tilted his head, his eyes questioning.
“Eeyup. Just a mite miffed at Applejack. She is goin’ overboard with this here contest hers.” He said as he sighed deeply and looked at the black Pegasus.
“I will watch over her Mac. I will help you as well, but why are you asking me to help you?”
“Applejack didn’t say we had ta do anythin’ alone. She needs ta learn that one pony can’t do it all alone and Ah’m worried her stubbornness could ‘urt herself or somepony else.” He explained.
The black pony thought it over for several seconds before he replied. “Very well. I think you are right that she is focused on trying to outwork you that she is losing sight of the much larger picture. It is likely that she will cause damage to herself and others if she is not reined in a bit.”
“Can ya help out those she might ‘urt? Ah know ya don’t use yer magic around other ponies but just in case can ya use it if it’s needed?” He asked, his eyes lowered as he spoke.
He looked down at the medallion around his neck as it lay against his fur. The Element of Spirit sat dormant in its place and he pushed out the breast collar of it. “I will do what I have to Mac. I will stop her from doing any permanent damage but you are right in thinking she needs to learn.”
Mac looked at the silver breast collar and nodded. “Thanks, bro.”
Oblivion watched him as he turned and opened the door to leave. He looked away from the door as it closed behind the farmer and his orange eyes looked out the window. ‘Bro. Another odd thing to get used to.’ He had already chosen to skip a bath for the night and simply go to sleep. He stretched out his wings, hearing the joints pop due to lack of movement. He brought the right-wing to hold in front of him as he scrutinized the healing gash. The gash had almost completely healed and new feathers had begun to grow in as well. He had thought that it would heal slower than was normal for him but he was pleased to see that he had been wrong in his guessing.
He slowly extended the limb again and he watched as the tips collided gently with the ceiling and close to a foot of their length was bent against the ceiling. He let them fold back against his body and he got up from the bed and moved the swords under the quilt as he pushed the quilt back for him to lay under. He pulled his mane out of the tie that had bound it and the strands fell to lay against his neck and shoulders. He laid his head slowly down onto the pillow as his eyes scanned the window for a moment before he closed them and listened as the rest of the family getting ready for bed as well. Time ticked past as the house went completely silent and he allowed himself to sleep.
His eyes snapped open and his head was swiftly raised from the pillow as he scanned the room for what had awoken him. It was still pitch black outside as he got out of bed. His forelock fell into his eyes and he tilted his head to move it out of the way. He pulled his swords out from under the blanket and buckled them in place on his back. He decided that he did not have time to put his mane in its tie and he chose to leave the room without it. Something was calling on him to get moving and he refused to be the last one to move as needed. He moved silently out of the room and down the hall to the stairs. He carefully went down the stairs and out into the farmyard. His hooves were silent as he began to walk carefully forward.
His claws slid out of his hooves and he kept them out as his Spirit armor slid out from the medallion and the glyphs buried within it glowed for several seconds before they dimmed. He broke into a long trot and his stride was ground eating as he moved toward the north orchard. His eyes narrowed as he began to search for tracks and any other signs that would tell him what had awoken him, besides simple intuition. His skin crawled and he could feel the sweat as it beaded up on his skin as he searched. He stopped as a pair of tracks caught his attention as they were slightly off to the side of the path he was on. He put a claw within the track and he could feel that there was still some amount of heat within, telling him they were new.
“Could be a drowner or a Nekker. But what is one of them doing here?” He asked himself even as he recalled the Forktail. “Though they are not the first I have seen here. The tracks in the ground are similar to each other but there is usually a scent that is there to give them away. Drowners and Nekkers each have a distinctive scent that comes with their presence.” He mused.
He moved away from the tracks and followed them as they remained clearly defined in the dew-covered grass. He stopped and raised his head as a sound caught his ears. He reared up and began to listen intently around him. He scented the air and when nothing came to him he dropped back to four legs. His ears did not hear anything beyond what had stopped him a moment earlier. He broke into a trot as he followed the trail and his hooves were silent on the grass. His ears flicked as the sound of a growl caught his attention. He slowed to a walk as he listened and the sounds of a Nekker made him stop in place.
“What in the hell? Nekkers are pack animals and there is always a group of them. Why am I only hearing one of them?” He muttered, his voice barely above a whisper. “Usually they have five to fifteen in their packs.”
He crept forward so as not to alert his quarry that he was close by. He looked around the nearest tree as the scent of blood, dirt, and death caught his nose. The Pegasus reached over his shoulder and the silver blade slid out of its sheath as he pulled on the hilt. The silver blade gleamed brightly in the darkness and runes skittered across its flawless surface. The blade was forty inches long and razor sharp. He breathed in a short breath as he lunged out from behind the tree, sword at the ready. He scanned the area and found nothing where he had been certain there would be a monster waiting for him. He could tell by the scent that it had been there but it seemed to have vanished in the time it took him to pull his sword. He scented the air and the scent itself was fading fast, leaving nothing behind for him to follow.
“Gods below.” He cursed. “What is going on? The Forktail was similar but the body was taken by a portal once the fight ended. This was closer to ponies than that was though.”
There were faint tracks in the dew-covered ground but nothing explicit. The silver blade was slid back into its sheath. He could tell that the Nekker had been there but seemed to have vanished. The black pony looked up in the trees and even thought about trying to fly up to the tops of the trees but after spreading his wings he decided not to. He couldn’t risk being injured before the harvest later that day. Especially since the Pegasus still had no idea how to fly. He gave a loud snort and shook his head. His magic flared and he used the light from it to illuminate the area around him.
While his orange cat eyes made it easier to see in the dark he knew that he could not substitute pure light. He could have used the Cat potion but he did not wish to use it at the moment. He slid the silver blade back into its sheath as he searched the area and after several circuits of the area, he paused in the center of it. He sighed in defeat and made for the farmhouse, as his armor slid back over him and back to the medallion around his neck. ‘It’s odd that it would vanish like that. Could the portal have come before me and taken it? But why would it take it before I get there? The last portal that held the Forktail appeared upon its defeat but this one might have taken it before I got near it.’ He thought to himself as he paused once more as he neared the barn.
“Could a Nekker have gained magic upon coming here as I did?” He asked himself but shook his head. “No. That’s foolish. A Nekker would not know how to use it even if it had it. There were no signs of burrowing around that area either. Their claws leave very distinctive marks in the soil and the surrounding area. Even if the Nekker vanished the signs would not.”
His voice was barely a whisper as he talked to himself. He looked up at the farmhouse and his Spirit Sight showed him the pony’s sleeping soundly within it. He looked over his shoulder to the silent orchards and the darkness that came from them. He turned to face the orchard and his gaze steeled.
“These ponies are mine to protect and nothing will get near them so long as I am here to prevent it.” He growled. “A Witcher is always for sale but they have earned my protection and I will not allow them to come to harm.”
The Pegasus turned to the house and walked inside as he finished speaking to no one but himself. He stopped once more as the sun began to edge itself over the horizon. He had been paying attention to the time as he had searched the orchard. He walked into the house and up the stairs to go back to his room. He reached the room and walked into it to pull his mane up into its tie. He made sure his baldric was tightly buckled and he turned to leave the room and wait at the kitchen table. He was standing at the table when Mac came down the stairs a yawn pulling from him as he came to the bottom of the stairs.
“Mornin’.” Mac greeted him as he sat down by the table.
“Morning,” Oblivion responded.
His ears flicked to listen behind him as Applejack bounced down the stairs. “Mornin’ boys!” She hollered.
Oblivion pinned his ears for a moment at her volume. Mac greeted the mare as she started pulling out ingredients for their breakfast. Mac looked at the black Pegasus who nodded that he was still with him. Breakfast passed as they ate and then moved outside. Oblivion walked slightly behind the siblings as they walked out to the barn and stopped in front of it. He looked back to the sleeping mare and filly and then looked back to the pair of ponies with him.
“All right you two.” Applejack began. “Mac, ya want north or south?”
“Ah’ll take north,” Mac said to her.
“All right. Ah’ll take south then. Oblivion ya’ll go in the middle and take the baskets from each orchard and get ’em into the barn. If the barn gets filled up with all of mah apples then putting ’em on the side of the barn is fine as well.” She said and turned to look at the apple trees.
Mac looked sideways at the Pegasus who managed not to roll his eyes at her tone. He gave a barely perceptible nod to the stallion as well. The two siblings parted and went to their respective orchards and the Pegasus fell in behind the orange mare. He stayed with her until she reached the far end of the orchard and turned to look at the first tree that was ready for harvesting.
“Well, Ah better get kickin’. These here apples ain’t gonna shake themselves outta the trees.” She said as she looked away from the tree and then her face screwed up into alarm as the ground began to shake under their hooves.
“What in the hell?” Oblivion said as he dug his claws into the ground to ensure his own stability.
“Ow.” She yelped as an apple fell onto her head and her eyes widened as understanding went over her face. “Oh no. A stampede. Ya need ta stay here. Ah’ll be right back.” She shouted and she took to her heels.
Oblivion said nothing as she took off through the orchard. His magic flowed as he teleported to the red stallion’s side. Mac looked alarmed as he appeared several feet away.
“Applejack ran off, talking about a stampede.” He informed the stallion.
“Stampede? She say where?”
“No. But she was headed for the town if that helps.” He replied.
“Stay here and start buckin’ the trees. Ah’ll be back.”
Oblivion opened his mouth to question him as he took to his heels as well. The black stallion snorted and looked up at the trees around him.
“Buck the tree? Seriously?” His horn lit as magic pulled the apples out of the tree and he set them in the baskets. “Rarity wanted some of the first apples in exchange for that fabric.”
Oblivion looked to one of the baskets and after pulling out the rotted or bad apples he put an R on the side of it and set it to the side. He continued with the tactic until his ears caught the sound of hooves. He looked back to see Big Mac coming toward him. The farmer’s eyes widened at the baskets that were set out in a row.
“Ah suppose tellin’ ya not ta use yer magic shoulda been mah first step.” He said to him.
Oblivion gave him a sidelong look as he then looked at the buckets he had already filled. “Seriously?”
“Ah didn’t think ya would use yer magic at all since ya try ta keep from usin’ it at all,” Mac said to him. “Ya need ta do it the traditional way.”
“How long would it have taken you to do this much?” Oblivion questioned.
“Most o’ the day. Ah know yer right about it bein’ easier but we need ta keep with tradition.” The roan replied.
“I see.” Oblivion managed to hold back several cruses as he simply looked at the buckets. “I understand but you have to realize that I have only bucked a tree once and I left a deep indent in the bark.” He informed him.
Mac looked uncertain for a moment before he nodded. “When ya chased down Apple Bloom?”
“Yes. So I do not have the experience you do. You will have to give some instruction if you wish me to do more than pull the buckets to the barn in regards to helping you.” He commented. “Ah. Before I forget I set aside a bucket for Rarity since she had asked for a bucket of apples in exchange for the fabric Applejack requested.”
Mac started at the reminder and put a hoof to his face. “Ah clean fergot about Miss Rarity’s apples. Thanks, fer takin’ care o’ that fer me.”
Oblivion nodded at the thanks and he was quiet as Mac showed him how to buck the trees with just enough force to knock the apples loose from their branches. He bucked a few of the trees and then his magic flowed over him as he picked up the buckets and walked them to the barn. He loped back to where Applejack was bucking her own trees and picked the buckets up from her as well. He repeated the process as the day wore on and he began to question the sense behind not using magic at all. He concluded that he was forgetting that they were Earth Pony’s and did not have magic at their disposal.
“It’s going to be a long few days.” He muttered under his breath.
The next few days dragged past him and he found that his patience was slowly being tested. He had heard from Twilight that the mayor had set up a celebration for the Apple siblings to thank them for stopping the stampede. While he had to admit that it was nice to see their accomplishments acknowledged he also considered the terrible timing of the celebration. He leaned onto his forelegs and his hind legs buckled the tree nearest to him as Mac whistled to get his attention.
The Pegasus was not a fan of being whistled at but he tried to ignore it as the roan began to speak to him. “Applejack and I are busy with the harvestin’. Can ya go into town and got to the party fer us?”
“Why would you want me to go?” Oblivion questioned.
“We’re both busy and we can spare ya fer a while.” He explained. “Please?”
Oblivion sighed and nodded. “Very well. I’ll be right back.”
“Yah might wanna start that way. Ya might need ta run ta make it in time.” Mac said to him.
Oblivion stared at him and his eyes narrowed in aggravation as he took to his heels. His hooves drummed over the compact dirt as he ran towards the town. He would have teleported but he knew there would be many ponies at this celebration so he dared not use it. He drove himself onward and after several minutes he could see the town ahead of him.
Twilight looked out over the crowd as they interrupted her once more. She gave a low growl as the Mayor came onto the stairs and she moved to the side. She felt nervousness bite at her as she had not seen the Apples yet. She had no idea if they were behind the curtain or not. She looked to the side as a cloud of dust came from behind the stage. Her head tilted to the side as she tried to see if there had been a gust of wind but she didn’t feel anything.
“Ah-ahem. And so, with no further ado, it is my privilege to give the prize, Pony of Ponyville Award, to our beloved guests of honor, two ponies of the utmost trustworthiness, reliability, and integrity. Ponyville's most capable and dependable friends: Applejack and Big Macintosh!” She yelled the last part.
She clapped her hooves as the curtain moved aside and she stared at the sight of a very dirty Oblivion Shadow. She realized the dust had come from him as he had come upon the stage moments before the Mayor had begun to speak. Which meant that he had not teleported, he had in fact run all the way from Sweet Apple Acres. She cringed as he was clearly trying not to pant. She could see that he did not look thrilled to be there and she bit back a giggle at the look he gave her and the others.
The Pegasus stallion stayed still as he raised his head to its full height and approached the stage. He hated being the center of attention and even in this world that fact had not changed. He mounted the steps up to the stage and he came to stand close by a ridiculously large trophy. He looked at the shiny golden surface and he fought back a sigh.
“My apologies for being here instead of the Apple siblings. Both are working tirelessly in the orchards and have asked me to stand in for them. I will accept this honor in their stead.” He said, his voice loud enough to be heard by those in attendance. “Now if you will excuse me.”
He reached out and his hoof gripped the trophy and he pulled it onto his back. His wings extended and he was able to keep the trophy from falling with the aid of the wings. He looked at the bulky trophy and he shook his head at the ostentatiousness of it. His hooves carried him off the stage as he moved to go back to the farm.
He stopped and glanced over his shoulder as Twilight approached him. “Yes?”
“Will you give them our regards? And thank them for all of us.” She asked.
“I will.” He replied as he began to walk back to the farm, with the golden trophy sitting across his back.
He set the trophy in the front room of the farmhouse and rolled his shoulders now that he had been rid of the weight. His wings went to his sides and clung tightly to him. He walked out of the farmhouse and his eyes scanned the area around to ensure that there was no pony’s nearby to see when he teleported to the orange mare's side. The mare looked at him as the flash of aqua magic caught her eye. He looked at the exhausted mare in front of him.
“The town says thank you.” He growled at her.
“Mighty kind of ya ta get that fer us.” She said to him.
He had thought she would say more but he watched as she went back to the trees and he gave a light snort and his magic flashed as he teleported to the roans’ side.
“The town says thank you.” He said to him, parroting the exact same words he had said to Applejack.
Mac turned to look at him and walked over to him and hoof bumped him. “Ah appreciate that Oblivion. Why don’t ya sit and rest fer a minute? Ya look a bit tuckered out.”
He blinked in reply and sat down heavily at the offer. He looked down at the ground for a moment before his eyes closed as he sighed. He opened his eyes after a moment and he blanched at the layers of dirt and grime that covered his legs and chest. He looked over the rest of his body and found it was in the same condition.
“Ugh.” He groaned quietly.
Mac chuckled as he bucked another tree. “Ya hunt monsters right?”
“Ya hunt through mud and Celestia knows what else and yer groanin’ bout some dirt?” Mac teased.
“That’s a different issue. Back in the Northern Realms, there are no readily available baths.” Oblivion replied.
Both of them remained stone-faced for a moment before a chuckle broke from Oblivion and Mac barked a laugh. Oblivion pushed himself to his hooves and his magic picked up the buckets that were closest to him and took them to the barn. The routine fell in once more and he split his time between helping Mac and picking up the barrels and buckets from both orchards.
The next morning began the same as all of the others and he moved from orchard to orchard. He left the barn to find Twilights bright spirit coming towards the barn. He walked out to find her standing a few feet away and once she saw him she came over to him.
“Oblivion. Are you all right? You look exhausted.” She said to him and placed a hoof on his shoulder.
“Well. I can say that tracking monsters is easier than most of the time.” He replied.
“What's going on? You came into town yesterday and you looked pretty rough around the edges.”
He gave a loud snort of annoyance as he tried to brush some of the encrusted dirt from his legs and chest. “Here is the current situation. Applejack is acting like a petulant foal. Before harvest even started Mac commented that he was glad there would be three of us to do the harvesting since pretty much every tree was covered in apples. Applejack took it badly and then challenged Mac to an apple-bucking contest. They split the orchard down the middle and have been going almost nonstop. Mac in the north and AJ in the south. What AJ does not know is that Mac has me helping him for the purpose of teaching her a lesson. She’s worked herself nearly into the ground and I am the unfortunate fool stuck as the go-between. I am this close to calling it off.” He held his forehooves an inch apart.
She looked at him as he finished expiring and she sighed as a cringe went over her. “Okay. How can I help?”
He barked a laugh. “Mac is the easy one right now. His side will be done in a couple of two to three days at most. Applejack will be finished in four to five days at best.” He admitted. “You can try to talk some sense into her but I will warn you that you stand a better chance of getting the world to not turn.”
Twilight bit back a smile behind a hoof as she giggled. “Well, I can try. If I need to talk to you again where will I find you?”
“I’m headed back to help Mac with a few trees, pick up the baskets, and then over to AJ for the same.”
“Okay, I‘ll try to talk some sense into her.”
“Good luck. You’re going to need it.”
He turned on his heel and trotted back into the trees and he found Mac easily enough. Mac turned and held out a glass of lemonade for him. He took the glass and drank down the cool liquid. He sent the glasses back to the kitchen and turned to buck several trees. Time ticked past and he picked up the baskets and made for the barn. As he neared it Twilights Spirit was bright as he approached her. He set the baskets inside and looked at her as he left the barn. He could see the frustration on her face as he chuckled.
“I warned you.”
She huffed and shook her head. “How can one pony be so stubborn?”
He shook his head and chuckled at her. “Well if I heard her right earlier she has several commitments she promised to help with over the next couple of days. I think she is going to go help Rainbow, then Pinkie Pie, and lastly Fluttershy. Given how worn out she is I don’t anticipate this ending well. I did give Mac my word that I would help those that are affected to a degree. So let me know if any of the affected ponies are seriously affected. Since you will be around those affected more than I will be.”
Twilight nodded and then looked at him. “How?” She asked and then her eyes went wide as she realizes what she said. “I mean you can’t heal can you?”
“I’m not sure if I can or not. I mean that I can help sort things out if the need arises.”
“Oh, okay. I see what you mean. I will keep you informed.” She said to him. “Hopefully we don’t need you for anything. You look as tired as she does.”
He nodded as the mare turned for the gate and he trotted into the south orchard and found Applejack standing on once place and snoring. He frowned and walked up to the snoring mare.
“AJ.” No reply. “AJ!” He shouted and she still did not respond. “Applejack!” He yelled and she startled awake at the volume of his voice. She pitched forward, tripped, and fell flat onto her nose. She clamored to her hooves and rubbed her nose with one hoof.
“Tarnation Oblivion, don’t scare a gal like that.” She admonished him with a glare.
“I would apologize. But that would require me to be sorry for it.” He replied as his magic gripped the baskets and held them aloft.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her stick out her tongue at his retreating back. He fought back against further comments and simply walked away from her.
The next morning Oblivion watched as Applejack left them in the kitchen to go and help Rainbow Dash. Next to him Big Mac also had a look of concern etched on his face. Oblivion said nothing as the mare toddled out of the house and he gave a low snort as he shook his head.
“Ya’ll gonna follow ‘er?” The roan asked him.
“No,” Oblivion replied as he held up the paper from that morning. “She needs to realize that her actions will be affecting more than just us.”
Mac looked at him for a moment before he nodded in agreement. “Ya’ll still sleepin’ on the floor?”
Oblivion set the paper down in front of him and nodded. “Yes.”
“Me too,” Mac said to him.
“It’s not fair to have to wash sheets every day just because we are too tired by the end of the day to take a bath. I’d probably fall asleep in it anyway.” Oblivion commented and Mac chuckled. “I do expect a nice long bath after this is over though.”
Mac nodded in agreement. “Ah hear there is a spa in town that maybe we should go ta.”
“A spa.” Mac went on. The ponies there take care o’ ya and ya get ta relax there. They do it all so ya do nothin’ Ah hear.”
“Might be worth it.” Oblivion groused and looked at his dirty fur. “We should make her pay for it.”
Mac barked a loud laugh and nodded. “Oh yeah.” Mac reached out and hoof bumped him in praise as they both got up and left the kitchen to begin their own work.
Oblivions ears flicked as he paused mid buck and listened. His keen ears were able to make out what sounded like his name being called. He turned his head to follow the sound and he was able to make out the distant lights that showed him Twilight was the one calling out to him. He could see that there was a second light with her but hers was drowning out the other and he was not able to immediately tell who it was.
“I’ll be back. I can hear Twilight calling out from around the barn.” He said to the red pony who nodded in response.
He took to his heels and loped toward the barn, his stride ground eating as he moved. As he drew nearer to them he saw that the other pony with her was in fact Rainbow Dash. The closer he got to them he could see that Twilight seemed nervous as he slowed to a trot as he came out of the trees. The purple mare smiled as he drew up to them and stopped a couple of feet away from them.
“I know we had we would have you look into helping anypony only if it was dire. Well, Applejack launched Rainbow through the air and she crashed into my balcony.”
Oblivion barked a laugh at the other Pegasus’s expense. “Okay. So what is broken?”
Rainbow cast her eyes to her wings for a moment before she looked back at him. “Nothing is broken. At least I don’t think anything is broken.” She said as he looked at her. “My wings hurt really badly though.”
Oblivion stared at her for several seconds before his mind caught on to what she had said. “You’re serious?” She nodded. “Twilight. This does not count as an emergency case.”
Twilight looked away from him and to the ground for several seconds before she raised her head. “I know and that’s what I told Rainbow, but…”
“Look. If you can help me you should. I’m one of your friends.” Rainbow jabbed.
Twilights head spun to look at the Pegasus mare. “Rainbow Dash! That is really out of line. You know that he cares about all of us but he’s right. I told you that being sore is not a reason for him to try to heal you. You’re being selfish and you’re trying to take advantage of him.”
Rainbow looked at the mare as she was scolded. “But…”
“No,” Oblivion growled as he glared down his snout at the mare. “You are a child in the form of an adult mare. You think yourself above simple things and believe that another can solve your problems for you. Your injury is minor and will heal in days not weeks or more. You speak as if we are the closest of friends Rainbow Dash. We aren’t.” He said and her eyes widened. “You and I have nothing in common aside from both being a Pegasus. And I have decided that I do not have time to spare for a selfish, self-centered filly.”
His voice fell silent as he spun on his heel and walked away from the pair of them. He could hear Twilight start talking quietly to her as he left them behind and walked into the orchard. He broke into a trot and was soon back with the roan stallion. Mac looked at him as he growled and said nothing in reply to the unspoken question in Mac’s eyes. Seconds passed as Oblivion turned and backed up until he was close to the nearest tree.
“Ya’ll okay?” Mac asked him.
“I am fine.” He replied. “I am… Aggravated nothing more. Rainbow got thrown into Twilights balcony by Applejack. Though I am not sure how it happened, to be honest, I did not ask.” He said as Mac opened his mouth to question but then closed his mouth. “I had spoken with Twilight about trying to heal the ponies affected by Applejack’s folly and have her bring them here. Rainbow was told about it and assumed that I would heal a few pulled muscles for her.”
“That’s all? No broken bones?” Mac asked.
“None,” Oblivion replied. “She may be loyal but she is acting like a selfish filly.”
Oblivion raised his hind legs and kicked the nearby tree. He looked back as the apples fell to the ground and he cringed at the deep hoof prints in the bark of the tree. He looked at the smirking red pony and shrugged in apology.
“It’s all right. Ah’ve kicked ‘em harder than that afore.” He assured the black Pegasus as he patted him on the shoulder and dropped the subject.
He looked up as he came out of the northern orchard with baskets hovering around him, with Mac at his heels. AJ was leaving the farm to go and help Pinkie Pie in town and he almost felt dread rear up within him as he wondered how that task would go. He looked over his shoulder to the roan, who looked uncertain.
“She always has been good at bakin’.” He said to him.
Several hours had passed and his ears perked as the sound of a voice calling caught his attention. He turned to face back toward the farm and he saw Twilights spirit out past the orchard. He looked back over his shoulder at Mac who nodded and motioned for him to go ahead.
“Miss Twilight callin’ ya?”
“Yep.” He breathed as his magic picked up a couple of baskets. “I get the feeling that baking did not go well.”
“Hopefully it’s nothin’ serious,” Mac replied.
He gripped several baskets in his magic and made for the barn. His stride was hurried enough to get him there quickly but not enough to tire him. The closer he got the more clearly he could see Twilights spirit and he could see that she was badly upset. He sent the baskets into the barn and quickly turned to address her.
“Are you all right?” He asked her as his eyes went over her, searching for anything that had harmed her.
“I’m okay.” She assured him. “A bunch of ponies in town aren’t though. Applejack helped Pinkie make muffins to be given out as samples this morning. The ponies that ate them are really sick.”
He bit back a groan as he shook his head. “How bad?”
“None of them can keep anything down. Not even water.” She explained. “I’m not sure what you can do to help them since we are keeping your ability to use magic out of the public eye but I figured it can’t hurt.”
He considered their options as he stood in front of her. He looked at her and she was clearly waiting patiently for him to choose their options.
She looked thoughtful for a seconds before she replied. “Ten to twelve I think.”
“Okay, I have an idea.”
“Can I help?”
He was about to tell her no when his eyes fell on her horn. “Actually I think you might be able to help me.”
“Anything.” She said to him as his magic flowed from him.
His saddlebags appeared on the ground in between them. He flipped them both open and began to rummage through them, pulling out several empty vials as he found them. He held one out to her and her magic gripped each one and held it aloft as he found them. He pulled out the twelfth one and Twilight held it aloft as he pulled out a bottle of Alcohest and set it on the ground beside the saddlebag. He continued to paw through the bags as Twilight watched him.
“What are you looking for?”
“White Myr… What?”
“It’s an herb.”
“Why do we need it?”
“If eaten or swallowed before it’s been treated it’s poisonous. But if used correctly it can be a powerful healer.” He explained as his hoof came out of the saddlebags holding a large clump of the herb.
“How much do you need of it?” She asked as she stared at the herb.
“Not this much.” He admitted and pulled out a smaller section of it and set the rest back inside.
He paused when he recalled that he simply needed to think of the item he needed and it would appear in his hoof. He managed not to roll his eyes at his own stupidity before he began to search for another herb. He focused on calling on Celandine into his hoof and he pulled out a small clump of the flower and set it in Twilights magic as well.
“And this one?” She asked as she held it aloft.
“Celandine.” He replied. “Used in some potions as a healing agent.”
“So you’re going to make a potion for them? They can’t even keep down water.”
“I know. This is absorbed almost immediately. It’s a simpler version of a Witcher Potion called Swallow. This is the version that I developed many years ago to aid somepony else.”
“Why did they need it?”
“They were attacked by a Harpy and it had carved open their abdomen.” He replied and looked up to find her looking horrified at him. “They ended up surviving.” He quickly replied.
“No.” He replied as he pulled out a large potion vial that held the essence of Drowner brain. “I need a few drops of this.”
“What is that?”
“It’s Drowner Brain technically.”
“It’s fine. It will be enough to counter the effects of the poisoning but not enough to turn it into a Witchers potion.”
“Please tell me you’re joking!?” She gasped at him as he set it down with the others. “You can’t use the brain of a creature.”
“It’s a Necropahge technically.” He replied as she stared at him.
He set the bottle back into the saddlebags and his hoof took hold of the Alcohest and poured a small amount into each vial that the mare held, even as she kept staring at him in revulsion. Her magic fluctuated and he looked at her as he spilled a bit of the liquid.
“Sorry.” She replied and looked sheepish. “I’m still having trouble with the brain in a vial thing.”
“It’s fine.” He replied and went back to his work.
He crushed the Celandine in his hoof and placed a few petals from it into each vial and did the same with the White Myrtle. Each vial now held a mixture of herbs and Alcohest within it and he looked back at the mare as her magic held the vials completely still for him to work on. He picked up the Drowner brain and poured a small amount into each vial and she stared at the mixture as it began to bubble and hiss in the vials. He watched as she pulled one of the vials closer to her so she could look at it and pulled her head back at the smell.
“I was about to warn you about the smell.” He admitted.
“Yeah. That was my own fault.” She admitted and giggled at the look he was giving her. “What makes it do that though?”
“There are enzymes in the brain that give it the acidity that would normally fuel the enhancement of a Witcher's body. Without it its useless herbs and Alcohest.” He replied as he watched the vials. “This one we will temper with magic, normally I would have used flame but with you here this will be simpler.”
“So it will do what, exactly?” She questioned.
“It should cleanse them of the poison from the food they had eaten.” He replied. “I have not tested it recently but if it doesn’t work they will just throw it up and we try again.”
“How do you know this?”
“I was trained to know all of this.” He replied.
“You called it by a name earlier?”
He looked at her as the liquid in the vials began to change color. “Oh, you mean Swallow?” She nodded. “That’s what we call a Witchers potion. Its purpose is to help us heal faster and our wounds will begin to close at a much higher speed.”
“Wow.” She replied and looked at the vials. “Okay, are they supposed to turn purple?”
“Yes. It means that I have gotten the measurements right and now we just need to finish them and they will be ready for use.”
“What do we do now?”
“Now it’s your turn.” He said to her. “I would have normally heated them and then spun them to mix them fully but we have you here so that is much simpler.”
“You want me to heat them?”
“Yes. Just enough to get the liquids inside to boil. Then you need to spin them in one direction to mix them.” He explained.
“Okay. Hang on.”
She backed up several feet and his medallion began to shake as her magic grew stronger and he could see the liquids slowly beginning to bubble in the vials.
“Just a bit more.” He said to her and she nodded.
She watched them closely as they began to boil and then she let the heat fade to nothing and he watched as her magic began to spin the twelve vials around her at a slowly increasing speed. He watched closely to ensure that the mare had control of the vials and none of them were loose in her magical grip. She spun them for over a minute before he waved a hoof and she stopped them slowly and held them out to him. He scanned each vial and he picked one up in his hoof and spun it in his hoof to watch the contents. He slowly moved the contents and he nodded that they were ready. He reached back into his saddlebags and pulled out several small corks and began to cork each vial.
“So when was the last time you used this?” She asked as he finished putting the corks in place.
“Uhh. It was a few years ago.” He admitted, even though it had been nearly twenty but she didn’t need to know that part yet.
“And it worked?”
“Yes.” He replied as he began to set each vial into his saddlebag. “We tended to the original wound as well but this was able to help her heal and contest the poison that came from the infection.”
“Oh.” She looked much happier now that he had explained the process. “I have to admit I have never heard of what you used to make it but I‘m glad you confident it will work. Shall we?” She said as he got his hooves and buckled the saddlebags in place under his swords.
She broke into a lope and he fell in at her hip as she led him to town. His hooves were silent on the dirt as he moved and he didn’t feel any anticipation of the potion's ability to work on ponies. Anypony else would have been concerned just in case it did the opposite of what he had designed it to do, but he felt nothing. The purple mare looked over her shoulder and smiled when she found him still at her hip.
“Almost there.” She said to him and he nodded in reply.
They came upon a tent that had been set up and the Unicorn mare slowed to a walk as they neared it. He looked ahead and a familiar light stood out from the others and he shook his head. “Figures that she ate a few of them.” He muttered and Twilight shrugged.
A creamy white pony came out of the tent and opened it for the purple mare and himself. She had a red cross on her flank and a nurse’s hat adorned her head and she smiled at the sight of the purple Unicorn.
“Thank you for coming back Twilight. We need all the help we can get.” She said as she looked over the mare's shoulder to the thin black Pegasus with her. “Does he need us as well?”
Twilight started and looked back at the Pegasus. “Oh no. He’s just built really lean. He’s here to help. He has mixed up a… medicine that will help them.”
“Some herbal remedy I assume?” The mare sneered.
“Kind of. But it has been used in the past with great success where he’s from. I promise you it will help.” Twilight quickly replied to her tone.
The mare looked skeptical as the stallion walked past her and into the tent. Each bed was occupied by a sick pony that had a bucket close by for them to use. He managed not to wrinkle his nose at the smell of the tent and his hoof went into the saddlebag and pulled out one of the vials with their purple contents. He went to Pinkie first since if she drank it then the others would follow her example.
“Drink this.” He said to her and she looked dubiously at the vial and its contents. “It will help.”
The pink mare looked from the vial to him and then back to the vial, he could see the uncertainty in her eyes as she reached out and took the vial from him. He watched as she leaned back and pulled the cork off the vial. She gave him a small smile and downed the liquid in one gulp. She scrunched her eyes shut and waited for something to happen. He looked over his shoulder to see Twilight watching her intently. He looked back at the pink mare who was beginning to open her eyes as a smile began to cross her mouth. He moved to the next bed and gave each pony one of the vials that held the same mixture Pinkie had used.
“Wow!” Pinkie exclaimed and jumped from her bed and bounced in place. “I feel so much better.”
“Take it easy Pinkie,” Twilight said to her and moved to stand close by her as the other ponies began to drink down the purple liquid.
He watched as each spirit began to recover and he could tell that each of them was feeling much better than they had been. Each of them was now moving on the beds and getting off of them to stand in the center of the tent with the exuberant pink mare.
“I don’t know what you did but…” The nurse said to him as she came into the tent. “But… Thank you. I’m sorry I didn’t believe that you could help when you came up to us.” She apologized as she neared him.
“It’s fine.” He assured her. “I was not upset by it and I do not hold it against you.”
“He’s pretty hard to upset,” Twilight assured her with a laugh.
“I can see that.” She said as she smiled warmly at the stallion.
“Is there anything else?” He asked her and she shook her head. “I advise eating lightly for a day or so and taking it as easy as possible. While it stopped the pain and illness it is still derived from herbs so watch out for anything that lingers.” He advised and made for the tent's exit.
“Wait up,” Twilight called out to him. “I’m sorry I had my doubts about how well it would work.”
“It’s fine.” He replied and stopped to speak with her. “I do not blame you for doubting.”
“I should have had more faith in what you made though.”
“It’s fine.” He replied, his voice a bit sterner.
She smiled and patted his shoulder. “Try to not wear yourself out too much okay. I’ll keep you updated with anything else that happens with Applejack outside of the farm.”
“Thank you.” He said to her and turned to head back to the farm.
He broke into a gallop and headed back to the farm. His hooves carried him through the farm's front gate and his magic flared as he sent his saddlebags back to the wardrobe in his room. He loped the rest of the way into the orchard and rejoined Mac.
“How did it… Go?” Mac asked as the black Pegasus sat down heavily.
“That mare is going to be the death of me.” He cursed as he got to his hooves after a few seconds.
“What did ya need ta do?”
“Applejack helped make muffins and then they were given out to ponies as samples. Twilight came to me when it was found that each pony was now ill and was not able to keep water down.”
“Oh by Celestia.” Mac cursed and shook his head. “How did ya help? Ya don’t use yer magic where others can see.”
“There is more than one way to help. I did not need to use my magic in this case. I was able to use a potion that I had concocted years ago and it was able to act swiftly enough to heal them.”
“Yes. It contains herbs, Alcohest, and… Other ingredients.” Oblivion replied as he stopped just before mentioning the Drowner Brain to avoid the shock that was sure to follow.
Mac nodded and seemed to accept it at face value. “Ah’m glad ya were able ta help out. Ah think ya outta have a laydown and rest fer a bit.”
“I’m fine,” Oblivion replied as he turned to go back to the farmhouse to deposit his saddlebags back where they belonged.
He saw Mac reach for him out of the corner of his eye as the roan caught hold of his tail. Oblivion growled and looked back as Mac pulled his tail and was able to pull him off his hooves. He sat heavily on the ground and he glared at the red pony.
“Have a rest fer a bit.” Mac pleaded.
Oblivion sighed and laid down in place to placate the other stallion. He laid his head down and closed his eyes to rest for a few minutes. He chose to rest for a little while since Mac was not wrong in saying that he was tired. He could see the exhaustion in the other stallions' gaze and he knew that at the pace they had been setting both of them were in danger of burning out quickly. His ear flicked as the sound of hooves caught his attention. He raised his head as Applejack came around the corner and her eyes were wide at the sight of him on the ground.
“Oblivion! So yer over here nappin’?!” She shouted out. “Apples don’t lay down on the job!”
The angry mare stormed over to him and he was about to get to his hooves when she lunged forward and her teeth sunk into his ear. He was surprised by her choice to bite him when she began to pull on his ear, intent on pulling him forcefully to his hooves.
“Applejack! Let go of me.” He barked at her as the pain went through him originating from his ear. His magic flared and he used it to pry her jaws off his now sore ear. He looked back at her and his orange eyes gave off a stronger glow than was normal for him. “Do not do that again.” He growled as he rubbed his ear.
“Ah told ‘im ta take a minute ta rest. E’s been on the run all day.” Mac explained.
Applejack shifted her gaze from the Witcher as his magic faded from her and she focused on her other brother. “Well, he needs ta make sure mah apples are moved.” She argued.
Oblivion watched as the pair descended into an argument and he sighed. His magic flared as he teleported to Applejack's side and he scanned the area and found the baskets that she had gotten her knickers twisted over. He nearly growled at the sight of the five baskets that were sitting on the ground away from where it looked as though she had left off. His magic gripped them and he galloped back through the orchard with the baskets in his magical grip. He set them inside the barn and galloped back to where the siblings were still arguing. He gave a loud snort as he slid to a stop close by them and they did not seem to have noticed his arrival. He reared up after waiting for several seconds and brought his hooves down heavily as Aard rolled over the ground and pushed them apart.
“That is enough!” He said to them both. “I moved the apples from your side Applejack. You are busting my ass over five baskets that I would have had no issue getting to on my own time?” He said to her and she blinked as he went on. “Mac is correct that he had given me the option to take a moment to rest and I took him up on the offer. You need to get all of the facts before you fly off the handle at the wrong pony. This discussion is over and you need to go back to the Southern Orchard and get back to work.” She opened her mouth to argue with him. “Now!” He barked and she closed her mouth and fled from him.
Mac watched as the mare fled and he looked at the Witcher as Oblivion growled under his breath. Oblivion sat down in place and ran his hoof over his face in exasperation. Mac came to sit down close by him.
“Was it really only five baskets?” He questioned.
Oblivion nodded as he put his hoof back on the ground. “I almost brought them back here with me and dropped them on her. I chose not to since its sellable product technically, wouldn’t want to damage it.”
Mac chuckled and nodded. “Thank ya fer stoppin’ that. Ah just didn’t think it was fair ah her ta be attackin’ ya like that.”
“Your right,” Oblivion replied. “It wasn’t fair of her. I was hoping to scare her enough to go back to her own side to avoid her noticing the almost finished state of this orchard.” Oblivion explained. “She is helping Fluttershy tomorrow now that I think about it.”
Mac looked away for a moment before he nodded. “Ah hope it works out okay. Miss Fluttershy is a sensitive, caring pony.”
Oblivions ears perked at his words and he looked sideways at the other stallion, a slight grin tugged at one side of his mouth. “Some pony hoping she will come around?” He teased.
Mac jolted and his back went rigid. “Well she’s helped us plenty o’ times and she always asks about tha’ farm and mah family and…” Mac caught the look in the black Pegasus’s eyes and he realized he had been teased. “That was low, Oblivion.”
Oblivion barked a laugh. “Not really. That was pretty tame considering what I have done to my fellow Witchers.” He quipped. “Look Mac, if you’re interested in the mare you’re going to have to say something to her. We both know Fluttershy won’t say anything if the feeling is mutual.” He advised.
Mac looked at him and he swirled one hoof on the grass as the Witcher got to his hooves. “Can ya keep that ‘tween us?”
Oblivion shook his head and nodded. “I’ll keep what I know to myself.”
His magic picked up the baskets that were strewn around them and began to carry them back to the barn. He felt the medallion shudder on its chain and he stopped to look around him. After several seconds he realized that it was not the medallion that was trembling it was the Element that surrounded it. He looked down at it and his magic called on the breast collar of the armor and it flowed into place on his body. He waited for anything more to happen but the Element was now still. He felt strength flow into him from the piece of armor and he breathed deeply for a moment as his body recovered.
“Well, that helps me keep going for now.” He whispered as he began to move towards the barn, as the armor poured energy into him.
Morning rolled over the farm and Oblivion and Mac headed toward the northern orchard while Applejack headed out, her dog Winona on her heels. Oblivion looked at the stallion with him and he could see the nervousness in his gaze as the mare left them behind.
“Easy Big Mac. She’ll be fine.” He assured him and patted his shoulder as he turned to the orchard.
“Yeah, Ah know.” He replied and fell in behind the black Pegasus.
Oblivion came out of the barn as Applejack trotted back through the front gates. He set the apples down beside the barn and waited as the mare vanished into her orchard. He watched as the dog walked to her usual place on the side of the barn and settled down to rest. He could see that the dog was tired but not by very much. He was about to go back into the orchard when he saw Twilight coming through the gate. He could see the annoyance written on her face as she trotted up to him.
“This has to end.” She stated.
“Yes.” She stated and she shook her head. “She terrorized a bunch of baby bunnies, they went through town and ate every piece of foliage they could find and, though I’m not sure how they scared a few ponies.”
“Scared by bunnies?” He asked and she nodded and then shrugged as she sighed. “I see.”
“Yeah. I don’t understand it either.” She said and shook her head once more. “Granted some ponies will faint at the slightest little thing but still. Please tell me she has learned her lesson by now?”
Oblivion shrugged. “She got herself into an argument with Mac and me last night. But I highly doubt that taught her anything. Mac and I will finish in a bit so if you wish to feel free to speak with her. Bring her to the barn when you’re done and she can see how a team works instead of going it alone.” He said to her and the purple mare sighed and started for the orchard.
Oblivion went back to Mac and helped to clear out the last few trees and both of them shouldered the last few baskets and headed for the barn. Oblivion looked out and he could see that Applejack had about a fourth left. If you were inside the orchard then it would be difficult to see the hidden part of the southern edge. Plus in an exhausted state and not thinking clearly, it would be easy to miss. He looked up to find Applejack trotting in front of Twilight.
“Ah did it.” She declared and stomped her hoof as she looked at the two stallions. “How do ya like them apples?” She said as she posed with her head high.
Mac walked over to her and turned her to see the empty trees and then the full barn. “How do ya like them apples?”
She blinked, not comprehending as Oblivion walked up to her and spun her to see the part of the Southern Orchard that she had missed. “What about those apples?”
Her eyes narrowed to pinpricks as she started to stumble out words. “Where did all the apples, what, how?” Her eyes rolled back in her head as she fainted.
Oblivion caught her before she hit the ground and set her down gently. “Okay. Who wants to explain to her that she has been fooled?”
“Ah will. It was mah idea.” Mac said as he stepped forward.
Oblivion nodded as Twilight went to the mare and put her own muzzle a couple of inches from the oranges mares. “Applejack.” She said and then waited for any response from the other mare. “Applejack.”
The orange mare slowly opened her eyes and looked up at the purple Unicorn. “Huh?”
“Oh good. You’re okay. Now Applejack. I completely understand and respect Apple Family traditions. But. You always help out any pony who needs it and never ask for anything in return. You need to put aside your stubborn pride and let your family and friends help you.”
Applejack looked away from her and at the trees that still remained on her side of the orchards. “Okay Twilight, yer right.”
“Now I insist… What?”
“Yes, please Twilight. Ah could really use yer help.”
Twilight sighed deeply and helped her to her hooves. The orange mare was on her hooves and she looked at the two stallions had been silent as the mares spoke.
“Ah’m so sorry Ya’ll. Ah said things that weren’t true and Ah acted like a fool. Oblivion ya were right Ah was actin’ like a filly and Ah should have noticed that yer wearing some of yer armor. Ah should have noticed it since it helps keep ya on yer hooves when yer tired. Ah’m sorry.” She said as she walked up to the black Pegasus.
Oblivion sat down as she wrapped her forelegs around his neck and hugged him tightly. “I know your sorry, AJ.” He said to her. “I forgive you for your foolish pride. Just stop and think next time.” He said to her as she sniffled. “Now I think Mac has something to say to you.”
Mac stepped forward as she turned her gaze to him. “The reason Ah finished mah side so fast was cause Ah asked fer help.”
“Ya what?” She asked as his eyes went wide as she released the black Pegasus and he backed up from her.
“Ah asked Oblivion ta help me finish the first cuz Ah knew ya were gonna go crazy with this here contest a’ yers. Oblivion went around behind ya and helped anypony that got hurt.”
Applejack startled and stared at her brother and then at the black stallion. “What ponies?”
Twilight came forward and explained what they had meant. “Rainbow strained and pulled a few muscles when she crashed into my balcony. Pinkie and a bunch of ponies ended up with food poisoning from those nasty muffins you made.” She explained and the orange mare’s mouth dropped open. “Oblivion was able to make a potion that helped heal them and allowed them to eat and drink again.”
Applejack looked back at the black Pegasus. “And ya have lost some weight as well.” Applejack lamented. “What kinda sister am Ah if Ah didn’t even notice till now?”
The Pegasus shook his head. “It’s fine. It’s nothing I can’t easily recover from.”
Mac stepped up and put a hoof on her as well. “Ah do have an idea though.”
Applejack bolted up and looked to him. “Anythin’.”
“Y'all mentioned that spa thing.” The mare nodded. “Well, he’s been laying on the floor to keep from gettin’ everything dirty so that Granny’s not washing all the time.” He was about to say more when Applejack caught on.
“Ah, course. Ah’ll take ya there myself. Both of ya, mah treat. Ya need ta have yer fur washed and yer mane trimmed. They’ll take care ya.” The mare stood up but stumbled. Twilight went to her side and helped her stay standing.
“I think somepony needs to rest.” The purple Unicorn commented.
The two stallions agreed and stepped back to let her help the mare inside. Oblivion and Mac moved to the barn and shuffled things around to ensure they were stored properly. Oblivion used his magic to shuffle things around as Mac muscled things into place. When they finished both of them made for the farmhouse and walked into the front room to relax for a few minutes. Mac flopped onto the couch and Oblivion stretched out on the floor and he gave a low sigh. His ear flicked to listen as Twilight came into the room and chuckled at the sight of the two of them.
“You two look comfortable.” She giggled as they both look at her.
Oblivion rolled over to look at her and his orange eyes gazed back at her. “Could be worse.”
“Eeyup.” Mac agreed.
“Well. It does seem like she did learn her lesson.” Twilight said to them as she stood close to the doorway to the front room. “I may not have completely agreed or liked the way you went about teaching her but I can’t argue with the results you got. But are you sure the both of you are okay?”
“I think I can speak for both of us when I say we are both a bit drained but otherwise in fair condition,” Oblivion replied while Mac nodded at his words.
Twilight smiled and shook her head as she came into the room and sat down close by where he laid his head down on the carpet. “I’m glad you're both okay. Tomorrow the girls and I will be here to help out with what is leftover. You two can relax and take it easy while we do the rest of the work.” She said to them and both stallions nodded. “Oh. That does remind me though. Oblivion?”
“Rainbow mentioned that she wanted to apologize to you for how she acted. She will be with us tomorrow so that will be the perfect time for her to apologize to you. I did give her quite the lecture after you left us.” Twilight explained.
“Good. She needs to learn that just because I might be able to do something for her does not mean I have to.” He replied.
Mac nodded as the black Pegasus closed his eyes and laid silent. The breast collar of his armor moved with him and he was pleased when it didn’t dig into his neck as his head was down. He was fairly certain that the glyphs buried within the armor were also working to keep him on his hooves. The Greater Mending Glyph was constantly healing him and refreshing his muscles as the day wore on. His ears flicked as Twilight cleared her throat as quietly as possible and he listened as she began to whisper to the other stallion.
“So how has he been doing Big Macintosh?” She whispered.
He heard Mac shift on the couch and he assumed he had moved to allow him to speak to the mare more easily and look at her directly.
“He’s been doin’ well, Miss Twilight. E’ works hard and is not afraid ta speak up and set things right. Even though his magic seems limitless he doesn’t use it very often. He seems to be able to teleport as far as he wants with it since he’s been usin’ it ta move around the farm.” Mac replied.
“Hmm.” She replied and he heard her shift her weight. “I only recently started being able to teleport. Hess far better at it than I am though since he is able to teleport to Canterlot and back in the same day.”
“Ah thought ya were a student o’ the Princess?” Mac questioned.
“I am.” She replied quickly. “But I don’t think even Princess Celestia can teleport that far.”
“Really? How can e’ be better at magic than an Alicorn?” Mac asked her.
He remained still with his eyes closed as they began to talk over him. His own abilities with magic were not something he knew a great deal about. He only had his Signs before he awoke here in Equestria. He had been perfectly content with his Signs and then to awaken and find magic was now at his disposal had been a bit of a shock to him. Magic was not something he had ever wanted to have it now he did have it and he was ensuring it remained unknown aside from a few induvial that he chose. He tuned back into the conversation as Twilight set a hoof on his mane.
“I’m glad he has a family around him now. When I was speaking to him before I got the impression that he did not have that where he is from.” Twilight explained.
“Ah agree. When we mentioned it ta ‘im he seemed ta be uncertain about it and he looked like e’ was gonna bolt.” Mac replied. “He did flinch a few times when we called him brother but he seems ta have gotten used to it.”
Twilight giggled and ran her hoof gently over his mane. “That sounds right. He had mentioned that he never had friends either before now. It’s good to hear that he is getting used to all of us.”
“I can hear you both you know,” Oblivion said to them as he brought his head up and opened his eyes to look at the both of them. “You might want to ensure that a pony is asleep before you gossip about him over his head.”
Twilight sputtered and pulled her hoof back from his mane and looked frantically around the room, looking anywhere but at him. Mac's eyes were wide as he stared at the smirking Pegasus.
“You looked asleep,” Twilight said, her voice quiet.
“I can look that way if I so choose.” He replied.
He gave a quiet chuckle at their expense and got to his hooves. He shook himself and he heaved a sigh as dust fell off of his body. He grumbled under his breath about the dirt as he looked down at the breast collar he wore. He brushed the dirt off of the armor and set his hoof on the carpet as he sighed again. He looked to the front door as Apple Bloom came inside with Granny Smith on her heels. The elder mare had been the one taking and picking up the filly from school. The elder mare looked at him and gave a quiet smile as she made sure the filly was inside and then she turned and went back outside to her front porch. Oblivion said nothing as the filly trotted toward them.
“Wow, that’s a ton o’ apples out there. Did ya’ll finish it all?” She asked.
He shook his head at her question. “No. There is some left but it will be finished tomorrow.”
She came into the room and he saw her eyes fall on the silver breast collar around his shoulders and chest. “Is that part of yer armor?”
“It is yes. It normally looks better than this though.” He replied and looked down at the dirty armor.
“It’s really shiny.” She said to him as she reached him.
Twilight stood up and used her magic to lift Apple Bloom onto her back so she could look at the armor more closely. She reached out and ran her hoof over it, brushing away a layer of dust.
She wrinkled her nose. “Okay, it is dusty. Oh, Ah know. Ya want me ta wipe it off fer ya?”
Oblivion shook his head. “It's fine, Apple Bloom. I will tend to it later. Though I appreciate the offer.” He said as he started for the kitchen.
Apple Bloom jumped off Twilight’s back and followed behind him. “Ya sure?”
He nodded to her and he walked outside.
The filly didn’t follow him outside. She went back into the family room and looked at the two adult ponies. “How did he get so dirty? He hates that.”
“It’s been a very long week, Apple Bloom. We are all dirty and tired.” Mac explained. He was about to continue when the house shook, then a roar of anger came from outside.
Twilight looked to Mac.
“Oblivion.” They both sounded off and took off outside. “Stay, Apple Bloom.”
Twilight reached the kitchen door first and saw that the baskets had fallen over and the apples scattered. Oblivion was standing in front of them, his back arched, and his teeth bared. Twilight searched around frantically. She started to yell to the black Pegasus when he charged forward and raced, at a full gallop, past the barn and into the field behind it. Twilight took off after him with Mac on her heels. The mare raced after him and saw a sword emerge from the air and she saw him hold the hilt in his teeth. Even in the sun, the blade glowed silver. Twilight dug in and tried to catch up with him. She had to skid to a halt when the black pony suddenly stopped in his tracks. Twilight heard Mac coming up behind her, then heard him yelp. She looked back and Mac rolled into her.
“Oh no!” Twilight rolled forward and found herself underneath Oblivion, who looked down at her, he blinked a couple of times, sword in his teeth. “I am so sorry.” She flushed and tried to crawl out from under him. “Eep.” The mare stopped when she realized that Mac was right behind her on the other side of Oblivion's legs.
She looked back at him and found that he didn’t seem angry, more amused.
He jumped a few feet ahead of them and turned to help them get untangled. He slid the weapon back into its scabbard and reached out to help them. He picked Twilight up from under her forelegs and pulled her out from her place half under Mac’s flank.
“Are you all right?” He asked her as he set her on her hooves.
“I’m okay. Just… Mortified.” She said as he backed up from her.
He pulled the red stallion to his hooves as well after he moved back to where the pony was still prone.
“Sorry bout that. Ah slipped on the grass. Mighty sorry, Miss Twilight.” He said to her with an apologetic look.
“It’s okay Big Mac. Accidents happen.” She replied to him and smiled. “Anyway. So what happened Oblivion?”
The black Pegasus said nothing for a moment as he looked over his shoulder to the field and then back to the pair of ponies. “It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.”
Twilight reached out and slapped his shoulder with her hoof. “We can’t help if you don’t talk to us.”
He started at the hit to his shoulder but he then shook his head. “That's the thing Twilight, you can’t help. What I sensed is not able to be felt by any of you. Not that you are not capable, it's just that I am trained for it. I sensed something that reminded me of a creature from where I am from. It’s happened a few times now. Just as I get close to it the feeling vanishes. I keep chasing my tail and it's becoming… more aggravating.” He explained.
The mare looked thoughtful as she seemed to consider her options. “Do you have any idea what it might have been?”
“A wraith, most likely.”
He watched as she looked to the red stallion who shrugged. “A what?”
“A wraith.” He replied and then a sigh pulled from him as he looked at the pair of questioning ponies. “A spirit that has departed this world under bad circumstances and is connected to something that they left behind. They can be cleansed, but you have to find the item or person they are attached to. If you burn it that will attract them to you and you can fight them as needed after that.”
“Why in Equestria would you want them to come to you?” Twilight as Mac nodded.
“That is the only way to free them. You have to then defeat them to cleanse their spirit and allow it to move on. Otherwise, they will continue to plague and kill those that get too close to them.” He informed them.
“And you defeat these often?” Twilight asked him.
“They're actually very common where I am from. Ponies attack and kill each other, which can create a wraith. There are many different types so it can depend on what kind they are and when they will appear. If I’m right, the one I was after is a Noonwraith. A Noonwraith is the spirit of a young mare that has died in a violent way right before their wedding. They are driven mad with pain and anger so they wander the fields close by where they died searching for their unfaithful husbands or lovers.” Oblivion stopped and looked to the two ponies, who looked nothing sort of horrified. “Anyway they have the ability to kill ponies and they need to be removed from an area to prevent bloodshed. But unless I see it I can’t be truly sure.” He explained.
He watched as Twilights spirit shifted its color and he prepared himself for what he had learned signaled a shift in her demeanor to one of pure curiosity. “That is so interesting. I never thought that there could be so many types of monsters. How many types of wraiths do you know of?”
“I know of five to ten or so depending on the area.” He replied as he leaned back onto his haunches as she leaned forward.
She leaned forward, intent on listening to what he had to say. He cast a look back and Mac nodded in understanding and he reached out to grip her long tail and pulled her back. She looked back at the pull and she blinked as the realization came over her and she looked sheepish.
“Sorry about that. I got a little carried away.” She admitted as the roan released her tail. “Anyway. Umm, so it’s gone now?”
He looked at her and nodded. “Yes. I can’t sense anything nearby and they are hard to track without a clue as to who they once were.” He admitted as he began to lead them back toward the barn and farmhouse.
Twilight kept turning her head to look at him as she was also picking her way through the tall grass. “So a Wraith is the ghost of a pony?”
He glanced at her from the corner of his eye for a moment before he looked ahead once more. “No. They are the spirit of a pony that has been driven mad with pain and betrayal before they died. Usually, they have a pretty sad tale that comes with them. I have seen mares that were killed by lords they rebuked or by common stallions that pursued them. The mare cast them aside for another or to remain on her own and they lashed out at her for her choice.”
Twilight seemed to consider what he had said before she shook her head slowly. “That is sad.” She whispered. “It’s hard to believe that another pony would do that to another.”
“Where I am from it’s not out of the ordinary. It’s common enough during times of war and conflict. My homeland is far away from Equestria’s peaceful borders so it seems that the war has not crossed the borders.” He lied easily top the mare as he walked on.
“It sounds like a very cruel and violent place.” She said to him.
“It is that’s true.” He agreed. “Equestria is very nearly the direct opposite of where I am from. I will fall asleep here and expect to awaken back in the Northern Realms and find that this had been a dream that I have woken from.”
“It is real though,” Twilight said to him, her voice insistent.
“Perhaps. Or I could simply awaken in the morning to find that it was nothing more than a pretty dream.” He chuckled as he spoke back to her.
He kept walking forward and he realized that the purple Unicorn had stopped and was now several feet behind him. He looked back over his shoulder as she stared at him. Her purple eyes stared at him and then she blinked and looked down at the ground between her hooves. He gave his head a slight tilt as she stared at the ground. Mac nudged his shoulder and he looked at the roan. The farm pony motioned for him to go back and see to the mare that was still behind them.
“Why?” He asked.
Mac rolled his eyes and a short sigh pulled from him. “She’s sad. Ya need ta fix it.”
“How am I going to do that?”
“Ya comfort Apple Bloom all the time. Same thing.” Mac said to him.
Mac moved to the front of the Pegasus and spun him around and gave him a shove back toward the mare. He huffed under his breath and walked back to the silent mare. He looked back as Mac began to walk back to the house ahead of them. The roan left them behind as he moved through the grass, leaving the black Pegasus and Unicorn alone. He walked back to her and lowered his head to her level and his orange cat eyes searched her face. He leaned slightly forward and gave her a gentle nuzzle, similar to what he would have done with Apple Bloom. The mare suddenly hiccupped and lunged forward to wrap her forelegs around his neck and shoulders. He sat down in front of her and held her as tightly as he dared. He ran his hoof gently over her mane and tried to calm her as best as he knew how. Her hooves gripped his fur and mane as she snuggled into his neck.
“You are real and you belong here.” She hiccupped. “You have to be real. Your one of my best friends.”
“I admit that was meant to be a joke.” He assured her. “I may not be very good at joking though. Lack of emotions and expressions do make it more difficult than it should be.”
She sniffled a laugh as she buried her face in his mane. “You’re not just saying that to make me calm down?”
“I did not mean to upset you, Twilight.” He said to her as he ran his hoof over her mane. “I simply meant that this place is so different than my homeland that it is shocking. Where I am from and this place is such a contrast to each other that this place seems like a paradise in a desert.” He explained and she huddled against him. “Besides. When I dream I am not covered in dirt and mud so this cannot be a dream.”
She giggled and nodded into his mane. “That’s true. It’s hard to end up filthy in a dream.”
“It’s impossible.” He argued gently.
She backed up and sat down in front of him. He put his hoof under her chin and lifted her head to face him directly. He ran his hoof under her eyes to brush away any remaining tears. She smiled slowly as he leaned back and she looked at him.
“I just never thought it was so different.” She whispered. “The kingdom you’re from sounds like…”
“Hell?” He said for her and she rolled her eyes. “You can call it what it is and nopony will blame you.”
“I wouldn’t go that far.” She argued. “You just keep so much to yourself and refuse to allow us to help. Well… Refuse is the wrong word. You brush it off and make it seem so small.”
“Where I am from an injury can prove fatal in more ways than one.” He clarified and she listened and he put his hoof down and went on. Infection can be secondary to those that would prey on those who show an injury. Ponies that would seek to rob and kill for what I carry in my saddlebags prowl the roads and prey on those they can. Even an armed Witcher is not immune to their attempts.”
“Why in Equestria would they attack an armed Witcher?” She asked him, her eyes wide with surprise.
“I have no idea.” He said to her as he shrugged. “They will always try to take what is not theirs. They will take even if it means covering their hooves in the blood of others. Showing pain or injury can be a fatal mistake. Showing weakness can prove fatal.” He explained. “It’s like in a wolf pack. A wolf will not show pain since that means the wolf under them could attack them and take their place in the pack. It’s similar to that.”
Twilight looked at him as he finished explaining and she nodded as she understood him. “It sounds so frightening but at the same time… It makes sense the way you explain it. You avoid showing anything to keep yourself safe. Even though we would never dream of hurting you that doesn’t mean we can change how you act just by asking you to.” She said to him and he nodded.
“Come.” He said as he got to his hooves and held out his hoof to her. “I will walk you home.”
She smiled and reached out to grip his hoof and he pulled her to her hooves. He turned to walk at her side as she began to walk forward and he matched her pace. He contemplated how else he could have reacted to her actions but decided that he had handled it well considering his experience with crying mares was almost nonexistent. The mare bumped his shoulder and he bumped her with his hip and she yelped as he nearly knocked her down. She laughed as he watched to make sure she did not fall and she bumped him harder to try to stagger him. As they walked into town she seems to have given up trying to knock him from his hooves and her smile remained on her muzzle. They reached the Library door and she opened the door and turned to face him before walking into the Library.
“Thanks for walking me home. I’m sorry I cried on you like that.” She said to him, her tone sheepish.
“It’s fine. It happens.” He assured her. “I’m here if needed.”
She continued to smile and nodded at him. “Thanks again. Be careful on your way home.” She said and then giggled. “Though if anything did try to come after you I admit I might feel a bit sorry for them.”
He chuckled and nodded in agreement. “Just because I am here now does not mean I have lazed in my training.”
“Sleep well Twilight.” He said to her and spun on his heel to leave the Library behind.
The black stallion walked the silent road in his own silence and he looked down at the breast collar that sat around his chest and shoulders and he sighed. He could see that it was filthy but he also knew that as soon as he sent it back to rejoin the other pieces of the armor it would be clean the next time he called on it. He stopped and looked back at the Library and he shook his head.
“It was foolish of me to think that she would not be upset by what I said. Ponies are much more sensitive to things that are common on the Continent.” He berated himself under his breath as he moved to walk down the road once more.
He broke into a trot and the road fell away as he moved back to the farm. The Pegasus soon trotted through the front gate and headed for the farmhouse. He moved to go up the stairs and he could see the light to Apple Bloom's bedroom was on and he moved to look inside to check on the filly. He walked up to the doorway and leaned into the room to find that the filly was sitting at her desk. He watched as she erased a line on her homework page and a frustrated sigh pulled from her as she leaned back in her chair. She leaned her head back and her eyes fell on the Witcher standing in the doorway. She blinked rapidly at the sight of him and her eyes suddenly went wide.
“Yer just the pony Ah need.” She leaned her head back forward and motioned for him to join her by the desk.
He walked into the room and looked down at the blank paper in front of her. She looked at him, her smile wide. “All right. I’ll bite. Why do you need me?”
The filly beamed at him. “Whats a troll look like?”
He tilted his head at her for a moment. “Why?”
“Ah need ta draw an animal from another place. A troll is perfect. It’s not from here and it's sure ta get me an A on this paper.” The filly explained as she bounced in her seat.
“Why not choose something that you know what it looks like?”
“Cause every pony will be drawing somethin’ from here. Ah want it ta stand out. Ya don’t; need ta draw it fer me, just tell me what it looks like.” She explained.
He sat down beside the desk and pointed one hoof to the top of the paper. “Draw a line there.” He instructed.
“Just do as you’re told.” He said to her and she nodded and did as he instructed. “Now put another one directly in the middle of the page.” She was now giving him a confused look but he persisted. “Now put the last one on the bottom of the page.”
“Okay.” She said and did as he had told her.
“Now I will teach you how to draw a troll on your own.”
“Ya can draw?”
“I can, yes.”
“Can ya show me?”
He was silent as his magic flowed and he summoned his sketchbook for her to see. He let her look at a few pages and her eyes were wide as she looked over the drawings. He pulled the sketchbook away from her before she saw monsters or people that she shouldn’t. He set the book down on the floor by his hooves and looked at the paper in front of her.
“Ya are really good.” She gushed. “Will Ah be that good when yer done teachin’ me?”
“You won’t be able to draw just like that with just one lesson.” He said to her. “I have been drawing for a very long time so I have had a great amount of practice. You will develop your own style as time goes on. It will be different than mine if you practice.” He assured her. “Shall we start?”
The filly bounced in her seat and nodded happily. He began to tell her what to do and time ticked past as he instructed her. The filly made her mistakes but he was able to teach her how to use her mistakes to avoid erasing the whole project. His ear flicked back as the sound of hooves on the carpet drew his attention for a moment. He glanced quickly over his shoulder to see Applejack looking into the room. He went back to focusing on Apple Bloom when the filly called his name and he gave her further instruction. He gave her the final direction and she finished and gave a shout of joy.
“Apple Bloom.” He scolded. “It’s late.”
She cringed at his scolding as he had waved a hoof at her to lower her volume. “Sorry. Ah’m just so excited bout it. Is it really what they look like? Can ya draw one?”
“I can show you the one I have drawn before.” He said to her and she nodded happily.
He picked up his sketchbook and began to flip through the pages until he found what he was looking for. He turned it around and showed her the drawing. It was one of his older drawings and it was faded but it was still clear what it was. She stared at the drawing and he could see her face droop a bit as she looked at her own drawing and then back to his.
“Remember that I have been drawing for many years and have had time to practice.” She had started to hold up her own drawing to hold it next to his but he put a hoof on it to prevent her from comparing them. “This is quite impressive considering you did this in under an hour.” He said to her. “You are much better than one of my fellow Witchers. He would not be able to draw his way out of a bag.”
She giggled and held her drawing to her chest. She leaned forward and wrapped one foreleg around his neck as much as she was able. She nuzzled his neck and he patted her back as she leaned back into her chair and set the drawing on her desk.
“Yer the best big brother in all o’ Equestria.” She said as she beamed happily at him.
He could see her spirit burning brightly as he got to his hooves and picked up his sketchbook. He set the book on his back and backed up from the desk.
“Time for bed little one.” He said to her and she jumped off the chair and put the drawing in her saddlebag.
He watched as she went from the chair to her bed and hopped onto the plush quilt and pushed herself under the blanket. He walked to the door as Applejack ducked away from the door jam and he stopped by the door and put his hoof on the light switch.
“Night Oblivion.” Apple Bloom said to him.
“Good night little one.” He said as he turned off the light and closed the door behind him.
He turned to find Applejack standing close by and she smiled as he walked toward his room to set his sketchbook on the desk. He moved into his room and set the sketchbook down and turned back to the orange mare.
“That was sweet o’ ya ta help her. Ya didn’t have ta stay up and teach ‘er how ta draw.” She said as she smiled at him.
The stallion said nothing for a moment. “There is a saying where I am from. Give a pony a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will never go hungry.”
Applejack blinked. “Tha’s true Ah suppose. Though Ah don’t know any pony that eats fish, ‘cept maybe you.” She chuckled. “Yer pretty wise.”
“Every pony where I am from eats what they can get their hooves on. You’re the second pony ta tell me I am wise.” He said as the mare moved past him toward the stairs.
“Who else told ya?”
“And everypony eats fish?”
“If they can fish for it yes.” He replied as she stopped at the top of the stairs to keep speaking to him. “The Princess said ya were wise as well?”
“Yes. During our conversation. I told her my opinion of her and she informed me that I was wise. She mentioned that I reminded her of her teacher.” Applejack motioned for him to keep going as he paused. “A pony named Star…. Something.” He paused as she tried to recall the full name of the pony. “I’m getting too old to recall everything. Star Swirl.” He said to her and she shrugged.
“Ah don’t know the name, but Ah bet Twilight does.” She commented. “That's what happens ta ya when yer over a hundred years old. Ya start fergettin’ things.” She teased and he shrugged. “Yer birthday cake would be an inferno if we put all those candles on it.”
“Yer birthday cake.”
“Why would you be putting candles on it?” He questioned as she stared at him.
“It’s ta celebrate the year ya were born. We put a candle fer each year. Ya don’t have those where yer from?”
“No. There is no reason for such a thing. I don’t even recall the day I was born on. I have no desire to celebrate such a thing anyway. I have been in this world for over a hundred years, there is no need to celebrate that.”
“We could celebrate the day ya came to Equestria.” She pointed out and he shook his head.
“There is no reason.” He said to her. “I do not even know the exact day I arrived here. I know the general season but there is no need to celebrate that.” He commented as he looked at the mare. “You should be resting anyway Applejack.”
“Ah’m getting’ a sandwich. Care ta keep me company?”
He started to say no to her but then he motioned for her to lead the way down the stairs. “Very well.”
She led him down the stairs and into the kitchen. He sat down in his usual place as she made herself a couple of sandwiches and came to sit down across from him. He said nothing to her as she sat down and began to eat her food.
“Ah hear ya took Twilight and Mac on a merry chase into the fields behind the house.” She said through her dinner.
He leaned his head back in exasperation before he replied. “It was not intentional.” He assured her. “I saw something in the field and went hunting it down. Nothing more than that.”
“Ya made Twilight cry.” She accused.
He sighed and looked at the orange mare. “That was even more of an accident.” He said to her as she grinned through her sandwich. “She asked me what I was looking for and I explained it to her. She was clearly not ready for my reply and it upset her.”
“Ya shocked her ta tears?”
“Basically.” He replied. “Ponies in this area are much more trusting and considerate of each other than here I am from. I did not realize that explaining what a Wraith was would have the effect that it did on her.”
“It’s typically a mare that has been murdered or abandoned by a love she had or by a spurned stallion.” He explained and she cringed. “It was a shock that I did not anticipate.”
“Well, ya stayed behind ta comfort her?” He nodded in response. “Then ya did the right thing.”
“I am glad to hear you think so.” He replied, sarcasm in his tone.
She scowled at him for a moment at his tone but her scowl didn’t last on her face. “Ah hear ay met up with Prince Blue Blood.” He raised one eyebrow and she went on. “Ah heard from Rarity. Ah needed ta ask her a question earlier and she was bust writin’ a letter to somepony. She said who she was writin’ and that she would be over tomorrow to have ya send it fer her.”
“I will send it to her when she brings it to me, then.” He agreed.
“She said ya were helpin’ ‘im.” She went on. “Ya went out of yer way ta reach outta him.”
“I truly did not know who he was until further in our conversation. I remembered that she wished to meet him at that gala. I am helping him but that was not my intention to seek him out for her.”
“Ah know. Ya act how ya want when ya need ta. Yer his first friend.”
“Ya didn’t have ta help ‘im but ya are. He sees ya as his closest friend and ya don’t expect nothin’ in payment?”
“No. I expect nothing in return.”
“Do ya expect Apple Bloom ta pay ya fer the lesson ya gave ‘er?”
“Of course not. Pay me with what?”
“Exactly. Yer a givin’ pony when it’s needed fer ya ta act. Ya may not be from Equestria but ya belong here with us.” She said and bit into her food.
‘How did she draw that conclusion? I helped a couple of ponies and that is all I have done. Granted I admit it’s more likely to be treated as admirable here rather than in the Northern Realms. I have taken it upon myself to protect them from the monsters that seem to be bleeding into this world from my own. Does that make me one of them?’ He thought to himself as the orange mare finished her meal.
“I‘m not from this area. How can I be one of you when I am nothing like you at the same time?” He asked her.
“Ya don’t need ta be born here ta be one of us.” She reasoned to him. “Yer a pony just like any other. If yer hurt, ya bleed just like we do. Yer one of us and the Element of Spirit wouldn’t have chosen just any pony. That connects us together, the seven of us.”
“Hmm.” He made a noise as he considered her reasoning.
“Yer mah brother and nothing can change that.”
“That’s another thing I do not understand. I’m an outsider, I always have been.”
“That doesn’t matter. Yer family.” She stated bluntly and gazed back at him.
He pulled one hoof up and scratched the back of his head with his claws as a sigh pulled from him. She got to her hooves and moved past him, stopping to pat his shoulder as he considered what she had said. After a moment's delay, he got to his hooves and followed her up the stairs. She looked over her shoulder at him as she moved past his room and went further down the hall.
“Good night Applejack.” He said as he pushed the door to his room open and walked inside and shut the door behind him.
The Pegasus stood in the middle of the room for several seconds before he sighed once more and unbuckled the baldric from around his body and laid it on the ground beside where he would be laying. He picked it back up and checked the hilt of his silver sword to see if his teeth had left any marks. He was pleased to see that there was no evidence of his sharp teeth in the wrapped hilt. He laid the baldric back down and he moved to lay down next to it. He folded his legs under him and he left the breast collar in place on his body as he let it keep replenishing him as time went on. He flicked his tail so it would curve around his body and he laid his chin down on top of the strands as he breathed out a deep breath as he closed his eyes to allow himself to sleep.
He awoke to the sound of the rooster crowing. He growled under his breath as he pushed himself up. “I hate that bird.” He muttered and he cast a glance out the window that was next to the bed. The Pegasus leaned his head to the side and let the bones crackle as he pushed himself to his hooves. He picked up the baldric and buckled it into place around his body. His eyes fell on the state of his fur and he grimaced at the caked-on dirt. He gave a deep sigh and went to the door and opened it to allow himself to leave the room. He went down the stairs and out into the front of the house and found Applejack standing in the middle of the front yard. Her eyes fell on him as he approached her.
“Mornin’.” She greeted.
“Morning.” He replied with a slight bow of his head.
He looked up where she was watching and he could see a group of familiar spirits coming toward them. His orange eyes focused on the mares as they came through the front gate and he saw Applejack smile out of the corner of his eye.
“Thanks, fer comin’ Ya’ll.” She shouted at them as they drew closer.
“Well, at least you’re greeting them.” He quipped at her.
“Ah course Ah am. They're gonna be helpin… Oh. Haha. Now yer a funny Pegasus.”
“Only when you make it that easy.” He replied as he began to walk away from her.
The orange mare reached out and grabbed his tail and he stopped in response to the mares grip. “Ah got an idea fer ya.”
He backed up as she tugged on his tail and she gripped his mane and pulled his head down to hers. “Yeah. Ah heard Rainbow is gonna be apologizin’ to ya. Ask her ta help ya with that memory spell o’ yers. Ya can’t be a Pegasus that can’t fly.”
He tilted his head slightly as he considered what she had suggested. “True.” He replied simply.
The mare chuckled as she released his mane and patted his shoulder. She moved up to welcome the mares as they stopped a few feet away from him. He watched as Rainbow dropped to the ground and her eyes fell on him for several seconds before she seemed to groan silently. She inhaled and held the breath for several seconds before she released it and approached him.
“Hey, Oblivion. Can I talk to you?” She asked.
He looked at her and he saw Twilight look over as the mare’s words had caught her ears. “Sure. Over here.” He said as he led her off to the side.
“Okay, so umm… I…” She looked away from him and swirled her hoof in the dirt in front of her. “Look, what I’m trying to say is…”
Oblivion looked away from her as she stared at the ground and he caught Applejack waving a hoof at him, telling him to wait for her to speak further. He looked back at the light blue mare as she finally seemed to figure out what to say to him.
“Ugh. What I mean is, I’m sorry. I was a jerk to you and you didn’t do anything to deserve it. I deserved to be called selfish and I was wrong to try to use our friendship against you.” She panted when she had finished speaking. “Friends?” She asked as she held out her hoof.
He looked down at the offered hoof and then back to the mare. “On one condition.”
The mare jumped into the air, a smile on her muzzle. “Name it.”
“Help me test out a new spell.” He said to her.
She stiffened and looked at him. She floated slowly to the ground as she looked at him. “How new is it?”
“I have used it once before.” He informed her. “All you would need to do it concentrate on your knowledge of how to fly. For a strong flyer like yourself, this should prove to be simple.”
She looked at him and then to the wings that sat pinned against his sides. “Why?”
“I do not know how to fly.” He explained and her eyes widened at his admission. “I was trained by Earth ponies and Unicorns. Flight was never involved.”
“But how come ya don’t know? What about yer parents?”
“If I knew how to fly before the Trial of the Grasses then I forgot it after it. All memory was wiped clean during the Trial.”
“Oh. So you need to know how to fly? I could just teach you.” She replied.
“Or I can test this spell on Fluttershy. She is such a sensitive and helpful mare. I’m certain she would be able to help.” He said as he looked away from her and to the butter-yellow mare. “Twilight already helped with the creation of the spell so I am sure Fluttershy would help as well.”
He saw Twilight and Applejack holding back grins as he spoke just loud enough for the pair of them to hear him. He started to walk back toward the other mares as Rainbow reached out and grabbed his tail and yanked it back.
“Ow.” He growled and backed up to stand by her.
“No.” She said to him. “So Twilight already helped with this?” He nodded. “Okay, this must be really easy if Twilight can do it.”
He saw Twilight frown as the Pegasus spoke. “It is fairly simple.”
“Then this should be easy. What do I need to do?”
“Focus on your knowledge of flight. Such as how to navigate, angles, hovering, etc. Nothing too difficult I assure you.” He said to her as she released his tail and the long strands fell back into their normal place.
She spread her hooves slightly and stared at him as he came to stand in front of her. “All right focus.” He said to her and she nodded in response. “Granted last time I used his I did it on a Unicorn so I am not sure how another Pegasus will respond.”
He said quickly as the magic flared and he pushed his mind into that same meditative state that it had been in before. He saw her eyes widen before the meditative state held her as well. He closed his eyes and he held the magic in place for several seconds before he felt it flow back on him and he slowly rescinded the magic and let it fade out. He opened his eyes and he watched as Rainbow slowly came out of the same state he had been in. Her eyes flew open as she stared at him, her eyes slowly glaring at him.
“You said that just to rattle me.” She accused.
“Yes.” He replied simply. “You earned a few jabs for how you acted. Since the information I gained will prove useful I will forgive your previous actions.”
He turned to walk away from the stunned mare as he flicked his tail and it slapped her in the face as he walked away. He reached the other mares and he felt Applejack bump his shoulder.
“That flick of yer tail was fer her nearly pullin’ it out?” She asked and he gave her a sly wink in reply.
She chuckled as she turned to the girls. “All right. Ah need yer help finishin’ tha harvest. There’s not much left but we need the help, okay maybe more help than I first thought.” She said as she turned to look at the barn.
He looked over his shoulder and he saw the spilled apples and their barrels. He grimaced as magic began to flow over him. He commanded it to cover the spilled apples and they were lifted up and the baskets and barrels were set down in long lines and the apples placed inside of them. He used magic to find the bruised apples and he held them off to the side in a pocket of magic. He looked at the orange mare and she stared.
“What do I do with the bad ones?” He questioned.
She pointed to a large bin off to the side of the barn and he dropped them inside of it. He recognized it as the bin that the pigs were fed from. The black Pegasus stood in place and looked at the mare as she broke out laughing.
“That makes feedin’ the pigs easier.” She laughed and then went quiet.
He watched as the mares all gathered as they began to decide who was harvesting what spot and he saw Rarity leave the group and come toward him. Her magic held up a letter and he nodded in understanding as he took it from her. His magic flared once more and the letter vanished in a flash of aqua light and mist. He gave her a nod as he confirmed that it had been safely delivered and she went back to the group with a smile. He took the weight off one hind leg as Mac came to join him where he stood. The two of them went to stand by the nearby picnic table and they watched as the mares went about taking care of baskets and harvesting apples.
The black Pegasus watched as Applejack came out of the house with a tray balanced on her back. He could see that she was being more careful than normal as she was carrying glass bottles instead of plastic cups.
“How bout ya’ll take a little break?” She hollered out as she neared the picnic table that the two stallions were sitting close by. “Ah got some fresh apple juice fer ya!”
Oblivion said nothing as the orange mare set the bottles down in spaced spots around the table as the girls came up to the table and eagerly sipped their drinks.
“Ah can’t thank ya’ll enough fer this help. Ah was acting a bit stubborn.” She admitted with a sheepish look.
“A bit?” Oblivion jabbed from a few feet away from her.
She cringed at his tone and she glanced over to him as the others giggled. “Okay, a mite stubborn. Ah’m so very sorry. Ah know the town gave me a prized pony award, but the real reward is havin’ all of you as mah friends and family.”
Rainbow Dash leaned back on her haunches and sighed deeply. “That Apple Bucking sure makes you hungry.”
Spike came out from the shade of the house as she spoke. “I have just a snack for all of you.” He said as he held up a tray with muffins on it.
Oblivions eyes went slightly wider at the sight of dead worms in the muffin's outer shell. He assumed those were the muffins that had made so many ponies sick before. He blanched at the sight of them and he looked over as Mac gagged.
“Spike, I threw those away. Where did you get them?” Pinkie asked him as she cringed away from them.
“From the trash.” He replied merrily.
Every pony cringed away from them as he held them out for everypony to reach for one if they wished. He watched as Spike held them out further and the ponies backed up.
“Sure you don’t want a nibble?” The baby dragon asked.
Oblivion was silent as he caught a pleading look from Twilight and he gave a slight nod in response. His magic flared and the aqua aura covered the muffins and held them aloft. Magic flowed as he incinerated the muffins in place and Spike looked horrified as they were destroyed. Aqua mist still flowed as the muffins were reduced to nothing and then faded as there was nothing to sustain it when he dropped his aura. Applejack sighed off to the side as she looked up at the black Pegasus.
“Thanks fer that Oblivion. Ah don’t need ta be reminded bout mah mistakes.” The farm mare said to him.
He nodded at her in reply and walked away from the mares and up to a pile of hay. He flopped down on top of it and laid his head down between his hooves as Mac joined him and did the same thing. The red pony was quiet as he laid close enough to the black Pegasus to have reached out to touch him should he have wished but not close enough to be warmed by his fur. The pair of them watched as the mares went back to work and slowly filled the baskets and barrels that remained. Applejack went past them and she chuckled as they lounged in place.
“Comfy?” She asked them through a laugh.
“Eeyup,” Mac replied and Oblivion said nothing in response and let the roans words stand for the pair of them.
The mare walked away from them and back to the orchard. Beside him, Mac raised his head and looked over at the Pegasus. Oblivion said nothing as he closed his eyes for a moment and let his senses reach out to tell him if anything moved.
“So ya gonna take this time ta go huntin’ or are ya okay fer a while?” Mac asked him.
“I might,” Oblivion replied as he opened his eyes and glanced to the roan next to him.
Mac fell silent at his side as he watched the orchard. He could see the spirits of the mares as they moved further into the orchard. Minutes ticked past him as he considered whether going out into the Everfree now or later would be better. As time ticked past him he got to his hooves and shook himself free of any straw. He jumped off the pile and looked over his shoulder as Mac nodded in understanding. He walked away from the roan and broke into a trot as he went into the orchard. His hooves carried him easily as he pushed himself into a gallop. He galloped past Twilight and he saw her wave to him as he went by but he did not respond.
He galloped hard until he was into the Everfree and then he slowed down to a trot. He felt his wings shift as they flicked against his sides. While he now knew how to use them he was not in a hurry to do so. He came to a stop close to a clearing that he had used for hunting before and he brought the formerly injured wing up to his face for him to look over. He was pleased to see that feathers were already growing in and the patch that he had plucked was gone. So far as he could tell there were not any scars that had lingered from the gash and he let them hang loosely against his sides as he looked out over the clearing as he started his hunt.
Applejack looked around her as the other mares came back to join her by the barn. Twilight was levitating several baskets in her magic as she set them down by the barn. The purple Unicorn smiled as she looked at her.
“That’s the last of It Applejack.” She said as she waved her hoof at the baskets.
“Thank ye Twilight!” She replied.
The orange mare looked over the orchard and grinned. She was pleased to see the empty trees and that signaled the end of the harvest for the apples. She sighed as she turned to where her brothers had been lounging. She saw Mac still in his place on the haystack but Oblivion was missing. She was concerned for a moment before she reminded herself about who she was worried about. She felt bad for anything that tried to harm him. She trotted over to the haystack and her brother opened one eye sot look at her as she stopped close by him.
“Where’s Oblivion?” She asked.
Mac’s voice was quiet as he replied to her. “Went huntin’.” He informed her.
She nodded as she looked out at the orchard and past it toward the Everfree. “Well, least he’s getting’ a good meal. Ah still feel awful fer how Ah treated him and you.” She said as she hung her head. “Ah was so focused on mahself that Ah didn’t see how ya were hurtin.”
Mac got to his hooves and stepped down the haystack and joined her. He put a hoof on her shoulder and nodded. “We all make mistakes. Ah know he ain’t holdin’ a grudge against ya.”
She sighed. “Ah know he ain’t. He’s not that type ah pony. Even though Ah wouldn’t blame him if he did.” She said to him.
Mac opened his mouth to speak when a familiar black pony emerged from the orchard ahead of them. The Pegasus paused for a moment as he glanced quickly around him and then to the siblings.
“I see everything has finished already.” He stated as he joined them.
Applejack nodded. “Ya feelin’ better?”
The black Pegasus nodded. “Yes, thank you. A good run and a meal will do that for a pony.”
She was relieved as she looked at him. “Ah’m glad yer feelin’ better. Been a long week and ya worked hard.”
The Witcher was silent as the other mares began to gather by the picnic table once more. He walked over with both siblings at his side and joined them.
“Thank ya again girls. Ah know Ah haven’t been a very good friend this week. But Ah’m glad ya’ll’re here ta help out.” Applejack said to them as she looked at each of them in turn. “Ya’ll’re welcome ta stay fer dinner and Ah’ll make ya the best apple pie fer dessert.”
The girls cheered at her statement and thanked her for the offer. They began to separate to accomplish other tasks as the day wore on. The two stallions were chased away from doing any kind of work despite their attempts. Oblivion gave up after a rake was thrown at him and he chose to settle down under his normal tree and relax in the shade. Mac joined him several minutes later after taking a broom to the flank, courtesy of Applejack. Both of them lounged in place while the afternoon wore on.
Oblivion opened one eye as the bell for dinner sounded and the stallion next to him rose and went to the house for dinner. His magic flared and he summoned his book and propped it up and chose to read instead of going inside to sit with the others. He was not sure exactly how long it had been since dinner was called but he looked up as the front door was opened and he watched as Twilight came outside. Her purple eyes fell on him and she smiled as she trotted toward him. He waited for her to reach him before he closed the book and gave her his full attention.
“I wanted to ask you a few questions about your homeland.” She said to him as she laid down close by him.
He looked at her and nodded. “I will answer as best as I can.”
“You don’t have any family? I mean besides your fellow Witchers, who are your brothers.” She amended and he nodded in reply. “So you don’t have any foals of your own?”
He snorted a laugh and shook his head. “No. I’m a Witcher. We’re sterile.”
Her eyes widened as he spoke and her mouth dropped open slightly. “So you can’t sire your own foals?”
“No. None of us can. A Witcher is not born. We are made. It takes years of training and a Trial that we call the Trial of the Grasses to make a Witcher.”
She looked stunned for several seconds before she gave a slight shake of her head. “Applejack mentioned the Trial when I asked her if she knew anything about Witchers, but she said she didn’t know more than what it was called. What exactly is the Trial of the Grasses?”
Oblivion looked away from her as he thought it over. Twilight waited as he paused. “The Trial of the Grasses is an incredibly painful trial which young Witcher apprentices are subjected to. It requires the consumption of special alchemical ingredients and affects the physiology of each candidate. It’s how we get our signature cat eyes, agility, and reflexes.” He explained to the mare. “I and a few others were put into further tests to enhance our abilities further. I took to the Trial easily and recovered quickly from it. So I was put into a trial to further enhance my body and skills. There were six of us on the trial and only two survived it. Myself and one other. It took a few days to come around, but I slept it off thankfully.”
“So you managed to survive it?” She asked and he nodded. “I thought it was a physical test, but in reality, it’s an experiment that is done on you that alters your body.”
“It can also affect the mind. For example, I don’t really remember anything from before the Trial. Bits and pieces perhaps but nothing concrete.”
Twilight looked startled as she stared at him. “You have no memory of your parents or any siblings?”
He shook his head. “I didn’t even recall my name. I was told that I had one but it was not written down and I was fairly new to Kaer Morhen when the Trials were done. So my name was not well known to anypony.”
“So… How are you named Oblivion?” She asked.
“I was given the name by my instructors. I was in a sparring match when I hit my sparring partner hard enough to knock him out and he didn’t wake up for a few hours. Our Arms instructor thought he was teasing me when he called me Oblivion. At first, I didn’t appreciate his humor, and because I complained it ended up sticking.”
“What about your surname?”
“We had one instructor that was pretty cocky when I was there. He was certain no student could sneak up on him or catch him unawares. I took it as a personal challenge and went out of my way to try to sneak up on him. I got caught most often and he teased me about it. But what he didn’t know was that was the plan. It got him thinking that I was inept at the art and he would always be able to sense me.” Twilight giggled and he went on at her urging. “I was able to move into the shadow of the keep and sneak up on him and steal the crossbow off his back. I crept out of the shadow and started using the crossbow right in front of him. He stopped as he caught sight of the weapon and reached behind him for the one on his back and found it gone.”
“Oh no. Did you get in trouble?”
“I thought he would have been furious with me. But he simply started to laugh and commended me for what I had done. He clapped me on the back and asked for it back. I thought about trying to keep it but decided that I had no desire to clean every sword in the keep and gave it back. He started calling me shadow just to try to confuse me with my name and it ended up sticking as my surname. So I ended up getting a full name from the Witchers of Kaer Morhen.”
“It’s definitely a unique way to earn a name.” She chuckled. “But that’s the thing. You earned your name while the rest of us are given one. I guess that’s the difference between them.”
“That’s one way to look at it.” He agreed. “It’s one of many things I earned in Kaer Morhen.”
She paused as her smile seemed to falter. “You lost a lot to become what you are.”
“That’s true. But I gained so much more in kind.”
“Do you remember what you looked like?” She asked.
“No. But I did ask Vesemir once. He said that I had dark brown hair, blue eyes, and came from a small village at the edge of the Northern Realms.”
“So very different from now.”
He nodded as she fell silent. “How did you end up with the other Witchers?”
He barked a laugh at the memory. “I was brought to Kaer Morhen by another Witcher when he opted for a different payment method instead of coin. I was told that he invoked the right to call upon whatever my father first saw upon returning home with the Witcher in tow. The first thing he saw was me. So I was forfeit to the Witcher and taken to Kaer Morhen. According to what Vesemir had been told I did not really argue and went with the Witcher easily and didn’t fight it.”
“So he took you as payment?” Twilight asked him, disbelief in her voice. “Why?”
“He had saved my father from a pack of Drowners, I think, and at the time tradition demanded that the Witcher could name his reward. I was that reward. That Right is no longer used since no School trains Witchers any longer.” He replied.
“You said that before. That no School does the training anymore. Do you ever wish you had not been taken?”
“No. I am fine with how I am. I have no memory of who I was once and I have no desire to search it out. This is all I have ever known.”
“So what about this Trial you talked about. Did all of the foals with you get through it?”
He cleared his throat and looked away from her for a moment before he spoke. “No. Typically only three in ten foals survive the Trial. The rest either die in agony or have to be put down.”
“That may not be the best subject to broach with you.” He said to her.
She looked indignant for a moment before she spoke to him. “I am not a foal. I can handle what you are going to tell me.”
“The last time I did that you ended up in tears.” He countered.
She opened her mouth to speak but a blush went over her cheeks as she recalled the last time he had spoken plainly with her. “Oh… Right. It’ll be fine. I’m ready for it this time, so I can handle it.” She assured him with a determined look on her face.
He gave a slight tilt of his head at her and went on. “Very well. It means we put them out of their misery. A dagger to the heart is effective.”
She bit back a gasp and put a hoof to her mouth. “You have to kill them?”
“Would you rather we left them broken husks? Understand this Twilight the Trial breaks a colt and then works to rebuild them. Some can’t handle the Trial itself and those that do can still die later. We began tailoring the Trial in later years but when I did it, it was the same for each colt no matter how big or small you were.”
“It was the same for all of you? What if you were smaller than the others?”
“It did not matter. And I was smaller than the others.” He said to her and she cringed. “Death is a mercy for those that fail the Trial. Those that do not wake up and move on are left broken and dead inside. So ending them is a mercy.”
“So when you told Nightmare Moon that you had broken once was a reference to the Trial of the Grasses?” He nodded as she went on. “It sounds like several made it through the advanced Trials with you… No.” She said as he began to shake his head as she spoke.
“Only two from my original Trial group made it and for the advanced trial, there were five more that were added to it. For the advanced trial, I was the youngest at eight years old and the eldest was twelve. From that group, only two of us survived it. Myself and another who was eleven years old.”
“You were so young. What made them think it was a good idea to do that to a colt?”
“I never asked for the reasoning behind it all. I assume it is better to change us before the training to avoid wasting time.” She looked at him as he went on to explain. “If they spend years training us and then have several of us die in the Trial that’s years of effort wasted. So do the Trial first and then train us.”
She nodded as he spoke as she understood what he had meant. “Okay, that makes sense. I don’t like it but it makes sense.” She sighed and shook her head slowly. “It’s such a different place. I never thought such a different place could exist. I keep wondering how we never met ponies from your homeland before but if the borders are so far apart then there’s a chance they don’t even know we are here.”
He quickly nodded in the affirmative to keep her from asking more pointed questions about the distance of his homeland to Equestria. Thankfully she seemed content to drop it and simply sighed in response.
“Thank you for telling me so much. If you need anything please let me know so I can repay you for letting me question you.”
“If I need anything I will let you know. Though I do ask that you keep what you know to yourself for now.” He asked.
She nodded after a moment's delay. “Okay. I can do that.”
He looked over her shoulder as the other mares came out of the house. She got to her hooves and brushed off her purple fur with her hoof. He stood with her and picked up his book and set it on his back. The mares said their goodbyes to them and moved to leave through the front gate. Spike trotted up to the purple Unicorn and vaulted to her back as she moved to the front gate. He started to walk toward the house and through the open door, he saw Apple Bloom run for the stairs. He was silent as he walked in through the front door and into the kitchen. Mac chuckled as he paused at the sound of his laugh.
“Apple Bloom went ta get a bath ready fer ya.” Mac informed him. “We decided that ya should go first.”
He gave a knowing nod and walked up the stairs and down the hall to his own room. He set the book on the desk with the other that he had borrowed and he sighed deeply as he listened around the house. He stretched out his back and he heard several bones pop as he stretched out his wings as much as the room would allow. He reached up and unbuckled his baldric and leaned it against the desk. His claws spread and he folded them back in place as Apple Bloom knocked on the door jam. He looked over his shoulder and the filly smiled brightly back at him.
“It’s all ready fer ya. Mac is gonna take a bath in the mornin’.” She informed him as he turned and moved to go past her in the direction of the bathroom.
“Thank you, Apple Bloom.” He said to her as he moved past her, his magic closing the door and locking it to keep the filly out of the room.
He walked into the bathroom and looked into the mirror as he closed the door behind him. He grimaced at the state of his fur and mane. His fur was matted and his mane was a light brown in color. He looked to the tub and nearly jumped into the warm water as his wings flicked at his sides. He stepped into the tub and laid down and the water sloshed over his back and his wings were covered in the hot water and as he relaxed. The limbs relaxed and fell to the bottom of the tub as he laid in silence. After several minutes he stood up and used the soap to remove the dirt and matted mud from his fur. When he was finished he washed himself off and stepped out of the tub as he used his magic to dry his fur and mane. The aqua mist faded as the magic finished and he let it fade.
“Much better.” He said as he looked into the mirror.
He looked at his now clean body and then moved to the door and walked out into the hall and turned off the light as he left the bathroom. He looked up as Applejack came up the stairs and she smiled at the sight of him.
“Well, yer back to yer normal look. Yer coat looks better and yer mane and tail aren’t brown anymore. She said with a laugh.
“Thank the Gods. Next time we will be doing the whole thing together. No more contests and ridiculous ideas.” He said to her.
“Ah agree. It won’t happen again.” She assured him.
“You learned your lesson and that’s all that matters in the end.” He said to her as he turned to head back to his room. “Oh. Where is the forge in town?”
“Ah can take ya there in the mornin’.”
“It’s fine. Just give me directions and I will be fine. I’ll go after I finish dropping Apple Bloom off at school.” He paused as the mare gave him a bland look.
“Tomorrow we have ta move the apples or they might start ta go bad. So it might be a couple of days now that Ah think bout it.” She said to him.
He sighed and nodded. “Very well. One job comes before another. SO I will do what I can. Perhaps there is a spell that can help keep the apples fresher for longer, that way we do not need to worry about them going bad.”
“Ya think there might be a spell like that?” Applejack asked him.
“I can look.” He said to her. “If not then perhaps I can make one.”
Applejack looked thoughtful for several seconds before a frown crossed her mouth. “If it’s gonna hurt ya then don’t even think bout it.”
“It required very little effort to do the last spell I created so this one should be the same.” He reasoned to her. “Besides I refuse to allow that product to go bad after all the effort that has been invested in it.”
She chuckled as he spoke and finally sighed in defeat. “So long as it don’t hurt ya then Ah’m fine wit’ it.”
The black Pegasus gave an agreeing look as he went to his room and began to scan the magic book he had with him. He flipped through the pages as he searched for the topic he needed and he growled under his breath when he found nothing.
“Damn it.” He growled as he set the book down. “I’ll teleport to Twilights and ask her about it.”
He left his room and went down the hallway to the orange mare’s room. He rapped his hoof on the door jam as the mare spun to face him, startled. “I’m going to go see Twilight about that spell I mentioned.” The farm mare nodded and magic went over his form as he commanded it and he vanished in a flash of aqua magic.
He appeared in the front room of the Library and he looked around as he saw Spike come around the table.
“By Celestia!” Spike shouted and reeled back, dropping the few books in his claws.
“Good evening Spike.” He greeted the baby dragon.
Spike put his hand on his chest as he breathed through the fright as he gaped at the Pegasus. “Jeez. Oblivion you scared me to death.”
“My apologies.” He replied. “Is Twilight around?”
“I’m right here.” She called out as she appeared from the back of the room. “I heard Spike shouting.” She giggled.
“I did not mean to frighten him.” He assured her as she waved a dismissive hoof at his apology.
“What can I do for you?” She asked as he tilted his head and she went on. “Normally you walk or run here so it must be something big if you’re risking a teleport.”
“I have a question for you if you have the time.” He explained. “I figured by this time of night the odds of a pony being here are slim. So I figured a teleport would go unnoticed.”
She nodded in agreement and motioned for him to sit by the table with her. He moved to the table and sat down a couple of feet from her as she sat down and waited for him to explain.
“Is there a spell that enables somepony to keep food preserved longer than its natural life?” He questioned and she looked at him as he went on. “I am asking about preserving the apples for longer than what is normal for them.”
She put a hoof to her chin as he considered his question. She looked at the books on the shelves and considered it as he waited. Her horn lit as she called on several thick books and her magic levitated them to her.
“As far as I know there is no spell like that.” She said to him and he opened his mouth as she held up a hoof to keep him from speaking. “There are short-term ones but they do not last for days on end. They are more for keeping cooked items good for several hours at the longest. I can look to see but I’m pretty sure I’m right.”
He picked up one of the books she had brought down and began to scan it for the spell she was talking about or if there were other ones that fit what he was asking. He finished scanning it and set it next to him and he picked up another as time ticked past them.
He sighed as he set down the last book in his pile and he leaned back on his haunches as Spike began to grumble about putting them all away. His magic gripped the pile and he held it aloft and Spike watched as it levitated close by him. Seconds ticked past and the baby dragon began to point to spaces and the magic deposited the books in their place. Twilight set down the last book she had been checking and shook her head.
“I figured as much.” She said to him as his magic faded as the last book was slid into place. “There is no spell for long time storage like what you’re wanting. Most things that ponies typically eat can be stored and they last for weeks by themselves without help. With the obvious exception of produce, which is normally fresher than hay or oats for example.”
He nodded slowly in reply and his eyes fell to the horse statue in the center of the table as he thought it over. “Hmm. Well, I suppose that answers my immediate question.” He admitted. “I suppose that leaves me with having to look into a way to preserve them myself rather than use a spell that is already in existence.”
Her eyes widened slightly as a smile tugged at her mouth. “You’re going to make another spell?”
“That seems to be my only option.” He replied and she shifted, excitement in her eyes. “Though I am going to need to see if an apple rots in the same amount of time here as it does where I am from.”
“I wouldn’t think they would take differently. Aside from temperature and climate, an apple is an apple.” She replied.
He fell silent as Spike came up to him and leaned against his left leg. The black Pegasus looked down at him as the baby dragon suddenly poked his leg. “Can’t you just give it a timeline? So then it would last as long as you needed it to. Like by stopping time or refreshing the spell?”
Oblivion glanced up at the mare as she was now staring at the baby dragon as well. Oblivion gave a wry chuckle and nodded. “Well put Spike.”
“That’s what I’m here for.” The dragon crowed and then looked uncertain. “What did I do?”
“You pointed out the one thing I had not considered.” He explained. “I had not thought about time as its own entity versus something that exists in the background.”
“Meaning?” Spike asked.
“By using time itself as the catalyst for the spell it will allow me to handle time and how it passes by,” Oblivion explained further. “I simply need to know how to have the spell itself only affect the apples and not the space around it. I would then need to find a way to have time to release the spell individually or if I would need to find a way to refresh the whole or just one at a time.”
Twilight suddenly waved her hooves in the air to stop him from speaking. “Hold up.” She said to him and he fell silent. “You’re talking about warping time itself to slow down or stop so the apples won’t go bad?” He nodded and she shook her head. “That’s insane. Nopony can harness time like that and then focus on it. You’re talking about an aging spell and only the highest level Unicorns can use those.”
He shook his head and she fell quiet. “Twilight, I’m not going to be aging anything. I’m talking about stopping time, not accelerating or reversing it. I have read about age spells and their limits and they are limited to the individual or item you cast them on. I will be stopping time, not altering the apples forward or backward.”
She blinked at him as she processed what he had said and he could see her considering his explanation. Her eyes scanned his face as he waited for her to come to terms with what he had said. She pulled her head back suddenly and he could see the disbelief that was going over her face.
“You don’t know what this could do. Even high-level Unicorn mages don’t mess with time. It could alter the flow of time around the farm and…”
He knew that she was only getting started and his magic clamped her jaws shut. Spike giggled at the surprise that went over the mare's face as she raised her hooves to her mouth and then scowled at the Pegasus. Spike looked up at him and he patted the stallion’s leg.
“Is there any way I could learn how you do that?”
“I doubt it,” Oblivion replied and Spike chuckled at the still scowling mare. “What I will be doing is very small in comparison to what you are probably thinking I will be doing. I understand your reservations but I am certain that I have a firm grasp on the concept behind this spell. If you wish to watch it be performed then you are welcome to come and watch. If I foul it then you can gloat.” He said to her and her scowl broke into a grin as he released his magic from her mouth. “I will be casting it after I drop Apple Bloom off at school in the morning.”
She rubbed her mouth and nodded. “Okay. I will be coming by to see it cast. I think it’s a bad idea, but you have done big things before so I will be pleased if I end up being wrong.” She admitted. “If it gets done then that will be really impressive.”
He nodded to her as he got to his hooves and he nudged Spike off of his foreleg as his magic flowed and he teleported directly to his empty room. His ears flicked as he listened and he could hear that others were already in bed and were asleep. He laid down as well and his mind went over the mechanics that he had to consider for the spell that he had created and he slowly refined its goal and after an hour of direct thought he was pleased that it would work well and would do exactly what it had been designed to do.
“This should be interesting.” He muttered under his breath and closed his eyes.