Bronnie sat up in a flash. His chest rose up and down as he breathed heavily.
"Careful, Bronnie, you almost knocked it over!" Bronnie shook his head to clear out the fuzziness and reached out. His hoof touched a round, smooth stone surface. It was a stone pot on top of a tripod made of logs. A pile of charcoal was situated below the pot. Wilson stood by the pot.
"I made a crock pot while you were sleeping." Wilson explained.
Bronnie got to his hooves. "Okay, I see." He blinked. How long had he been asleep? "What time is it?"
Wilson looked up and squinted at the sky. "Judging by the sun's position, I'd say it's about noon. You were pretty tired, so I decided to let you sleep in." Wilson sat down by Bronnie, he was a short man, but he was still almost a head taller than Bronnie. "Hey Bronnie, do you mind if we take a trek back to my old camp site today? I want to see if we can salvage some supplies."
"Why not, I can't think of anything else to do today." Bronnie straightened his garland, and then he and Wilson set off.
Wilson and Bronnie went north into the woods. A gentle breeze flowed through the trees, picking up the muddy scent of the grass. Bronnie's mane flapped around his neck, being blown about by the wind. A short walk later, the two came to a small gravel trail.
"This way!" Wilson said, pointing to the left. After a minute of walking on the trail, the trees looked black and burnt, and the normally muddy grass smelled smoky. Bronnie coughed a few times because of the smoky scent. At last, they came to a large clearing.
"We're here." Wilson said, and they stopped. Black and twisted ruins lined the clearing. A cracked and broken crock pot sat near a burnt out fire pit. The ruins of a science machine, and a few other machines which Bronnie could not recognize were visible just a bit beyond There was a cracked thermometer sitting in a burnt, collapsing wooden frame. Red liquid leaked out on to the blackened grass. Scattered around the camp were smoldering chests.
Wilson sighed. "What a waste. Well, no reason in standing around, let's search for anything we can still use." Wilson and Bronnie opened the chests trying to find any items that had survived the fire. Bronnie couldn't find much except the last three nuggets of Wilson's gold nugget collection, some marbles that had melted together, and a few blocks of cut stone. The nuggets and stone were perfectly ordinary, but the melty marbles had all the colors fused together in a sort of rainbow blob, which was very beautiful to look at. The marbles were translucent, so the sun shone through them, making a pretty shadow. He also found a mysterious gold ring. It hummed quietly Wilson was pleased to find that his icebox had survived the blaze, and the foods inside were still fresh. However, everything else was lost. Wilson and Bronnie met up in the middle of the ruins.
"Well, it could have been worse." Wilson said. "At least the food survived, right?"
"Yeah, and these," Bronnie held out what he had found. Wilson smiled. Then Bronnie took out the ring. "You know what this is?"
"I don't." Wilson replied. "I am not sure what the purpose of that thing is, but it seems like it's important. I found it in a circle of Evil Flowers." Hold on, how can flowers be evil? Bronnie thought. Wilson began walking back down the trail. "We should hurry back to your camp, it's getting late." Bronnie agreed and he caught up with Wilson as they headed back down the trail. When they came back to where they should head south, Bronnie pointed down the rest of the path.
"What's down there?" He asked.
Wilson shrugged. “I don’t know.” He said. “I tried to go down there once, but I was chased by some spiders back to my camp, while I still had a camp that is. Let’s explore it tomorrow.”
That night, Wilson and Bronnie spent their time by Bronnie’s science machine. The fire pit was burning up plenty of wood for the night. Wilson had thrown some of Bronnie's berries into the crock pot and was now making a spear for the journey tomorrow while Bronnie used the knowledge of the science machine to make some boards and cut stone. He placed the board and cut stones together to make a sort of scepter. Bronnie took the gold from Wilson's Camp and molded it around the scepter, with a knob at the top. He used a piece of flint to etch out his face on the knob. He took one of the cut stone blocks and whittled it to the point The final result was a long golden rod. Bronnie's head was carved out of the gold on the top knob, and the bottom was studded with a sharp stone. Wilson walked over to Bronnie, his crude spear in hand. He looked enviously to Bronnie's scepter. It was rather impressive compared to Wilson's barbaric spear.
"Wow," Wilson stared. "Where did you come up with that thing?"
"I don't know." Bronnie shrugged. He examined his handiwork. "Once I get started on an idea, I intend to finish it. Usually these ideas come from nowhere. This thing is nice and durable. And the best part is I can hit things with it!"
"I know the feeling." Wilson said. "That's probably how Maxwell got me to come here so easily, because I worked on that machine of his day and night." As he said this, the sun came up. The plains lit up aglow with sunlight. "Ready to venture on into the unknown?" Wilson said.
Bronnie readied his scepter. "You know it." And once more, our two heroes set out into the forest to face whatever was waiting at the end of that path.
The two reached the path, and this time, they went right. Wilson was looking around nervously, eying the woods as if something was lurking in the darkness and was waiting to jump out at them. This wouldn't have surprised Bronnie one bit.
"I can't remember exactly when and where the spiders attacked," Wilson started. "We need to be on guard." Soon, the crunchy gravel gave to a sticky surface. Bronnie looked down. A squishy sticky substance had covered the ground. A loud raspy growl came from the woods to their left. Two large spiders emerged from the trees. They had many eyes and large mouths. Wilson and Bronnie raised their weapons. "Get ready. These things bite hard!
The two got off of the webby ground and backed further down the trail. The spiders gave out a loud hiss, and they advanced toward the survivors. Bronnie swung his scepter at one of the spiders, hitting it on the head. The other spider got in closer and bit him. Bronnie cried out. The venomous bite hurt very much, but the pain went away quickly, and the venom dripped out of the wound and pooled on the ground. Wilson stabbed at the second spider until he killed it, and Bronnie finished beating the first spider to death. The spiders bodies dropped a pinkish gland and a bundle of webbing. Wilson stowed the spoils in his backpack.
"We could use these for something later." he reasoned. Wilson held up the spider gland. "Hmm." he examined the gland. "I think I can use this to heal you up a bit. He took out some ash and a rock from his back pack. Wilson fashioned a salve by crushing up the venom and the ash. "Here, Bronnie," he said. "Use this where it hurts." Bronnie applied the salve to his wounds. It stung at first, but he felt much better after a minute.
"Thank you Wilson," Bronnie smiled. "Let's keep going!"
The trail went on for a bit longer. Eventually, the rough gravel path lead to a smooth cobblestone road. The road branched off in two directions. Bronnie reached down and touched the stones. They were more or less neatly cut.
"Do you know what this means?" Bronnie said. He felt the stone cobbles some more. "Roads mean civilization-"
"And civilization means people!" Wilson exclaimed. "What are we waiting for, let's go! I bet they will have a nice big feast for us there! With hot food! And a roaring fire, and clean beds!" Bronnie set a hoof on his friend. Then the two sprinted up the left road will-nilly, without another thought on what lied at the end of the road.
When Bronnie and Wilson reached the end of the road, they collapsed on the ground in a big panting mess of floppy limbs. Gently, they pulled apart from each other and stood up. "What... is this?" Bronnie mumbled as he and Wilson gazed upon the sight before them. The "civilization" consisted of a few small houses clustered around a small clearing. Bipedal pig-like creatures walked around the village. They wore nothing but some crude shorts made of grass clippings. There was also a very fat pig with a grass crown sitting on a floor of wooden boards. He was surrounded by four obelisks and four small pyramids. "Oh... okay... Pig-men" Bronnie was disappointed. He expected that there would be a more advanced people based on the nice road that lead to the village.
"Yeah." Wilson seemed equally disappointed. At least the residents seemed peaceful enough. The Pig-men milled about the town. They looked curiously at the man and the stallion, but didn't react more than that. The two walked up to the fat Pig-man. The Pig King looked at them and grunted. Bronnie wrinkled his snout. The Pig King smelled of feces and mud. Mainly mud, but whoever was the unlucky Pig-man to care for the King's personal hygiene obviously did a sub par job.
"Well, you have to admit, that's a man with his priorities in order." Bronnie commented, eliciting a laugh from Wilson. The king smiled and grunted happily. "We should give him a peace offering, or something." Bronnie suggested. He and Wilson would need as much help as they could get if they were ever to escape Maxwell's world.
"Do you have anything?" Wilson asked. "I don't think I have anything that would be considered much of a peace offering." Bronnie looked through his pack. The only thing he could find that wasn't of too much value were the melted marbles that he had found in Wilson's chest. He took out the marbles. They glistened in the sunlight. Bronnie presented them to the king. The king smiled wide and took out a bunch of gold nuggets from under his crown. He threw them up in the air and squealed loudly in delight. The gold nuggets fell around the two. Wilson began picking up the gold and put the nuggets into his pack. The sun began to go down once more and the Pig-men ran back to their homes.
"HOME HOME! HOME TIME!" they grunted as they went inside the houses and shut the doors. The King yawned and waved the two explorers away. Wilson went up to one of the houses. When he got too close, the light was hurriedly turned off.
"I know you're in there!" Wilson yelled. Bronnie came up to him.
"I don't think we are welcome here after dark." Bronnie said. "Let's go back to camp."
"So what do you think of that village of Pig-men?" Wilson asked Bronnie.
"It wath... pwetty weeid, *gulp* I'll admit" Bronnie replied, his mouth full of sticky jam. The two were by the campfire at Bronnie's camp. Wilson had used the berries he had made in the crock pot to make some succulent and surprisingly filling jam. Bronnie and Wilson were eating this jam now, as they both had little to eat all day. Their respective hooves and hands were rather sticky from stuffing themselves full of the sticky jam. Wilson went and wiped his hands off on some grass. He brought some back for Bronnie. Bronnie wiped his hooves and leaned back, placing them behind his head. "This place sure has plenty of surprises doesn't it?"
"No doubt," Wilson replied. "I learn something new everyday here." Bronnie hugged close his scepter. The cool metal felt good against his fur.
"Guess it's time to get ready for tomorrow." he said, for the most part, satisfied. Wilson lay down on the other end of the campfire and fell asleep rather quickly. His snoring was barely heard over the crackling campfire. Bronnie, however, had a more difficult time. As interesting as this place was, he missed home. He missed his job and his house, and Princess Luna. He had been so close to winning her over, until Maxwell intervened and tricked him into coming here. He missed his old life and his old friends. As he drifted off to sleep, he heard a familiar sinister voice whispering in his mind.
"You really shouldn't worry about your love, Mr. Chloride." Maxwell's voice snickered into his ear. "You'll have bigger problems to deal with soon enough. Ha ha ha!"