• Published 7th Sep 2013
  • 16,621 Views, 1,249 Comments

Courage - scion



Evil has come to the Everfree and Ponyville. The Elements must stand against it... but they will not be alone. The mysterious blue-eyed wolf will aid-or hamper- their efforts to bring harmony back to Equestria.

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The Town

Applejack waved goodbye to the Princess, Twilight, Rainbow. They were headed into the forest looking for somethin' or other, and frankly, after all the noise and excitement with the Everfree recently, Applejack was more than happy that they didn't need her.

Heck, she was already gonna have her hooves full with Epona, if what the Princess told her was true.

She is more animal than pony, like a cow; her instincts are close to the surface, and while she is not dumb, she is not what a typical pony would consider smart. Her body is very different despite its similarities- she will not be able to shake your hoof, nor manipulate a fork and spoon with them. Likely she will not be able to open many doors, not that it will matter- her great size will likely prevent her from entering most buildings.

Applejack sighed. Well, horse or no, that mare deserved a roof over her head, food in her belly, and a nice bed to sleep on. With applebuck season still months away, and the trees just blooming, Applejack had time on her hands. And with the barn, and the wide-open spaces, she had the perfect place for the mare to stay. It wasn't a hard decision.

It was made even more official by Princess Luna, who charged Applejack with her care and told her that all expenses would be paid by the Crown. All she had to do was give Epona a place to stay and help her out.

A friend.

Applejack could do that easy enough.

She set off at a light trot back towards the fields, thinking idly about what to do first. Food wasn't going to be a problem, they had more than enough feed for the cattle and if what Luna said was true, Epona'd appreciate that as more than enough. Though Applejack was also sure she wouldn't be opposed to the occasional treat. They all had plenty a' water too. 'Fact, the only real problem she could see was goin' ta be-

"Hey Applejack!"

Applejack jumped nearly a foot in the air as Pinkie stepped out from behind an apple tree.

"Landsakes, ya scared me there Pinkie!" Applejack said as she picked herself up off the ground. "What the hay are you doin' sneakin' around ma orchard?!"

Pinke wore an unusual expression of concentration on her muzzle.

"I was baking cupcakes yesterday afternoon when all of a sudden, out of NOWHERE, I got a twitchy hind leg! And you know what THAT means..."

"New pony in town?" Applejack said. She'd been to enough Pinkie Pie parties to know that one pretty well. And she had a sneaking suspicion as to who it was...

"EXACTLY!" Pinkie exclaimed. "So I went straight down to the trainstation to see who it was so I coud start planning their surprise party, but there wasn't a train coming in! So I went and looked at all the roads into Ponyville and nopony had seen any new ponies in town! And then I thought to myself, 'Pinkie, you know what, maybe it wasn't an earth pony or a unicorn and somepony flew into Ponyville!' So I went to Twilight so I could get her to cast a cloudwalking spell on me but she wasn't home, so I just went with my cloudcopter, and boy was that tiring, but I searched and I searched and I couldn't find any new ponies in the clouds! And then I thought to myself 'Pinkie, this new pony is REALLY good at hiding- wait a minute, that means I'm seeking!' So I spent all night looking EVERYWHERE for this new pony but I couldn't find them-"

Pinkie continued to talk with Applejack's hoof in her mouth. Applejack considered it a victory, as her brains no longer felt like they were leaking out of her ears, even if the pony was still talking. She took a moment to process everything the pink motormouth had said, and arrived at one conclusion.

"Pinkie, ya mean ta tell me the reason we couldn't find you yesterday was 'cuz you were looking for the new pony in town?"

Pinkie nodded rapidly, hoof still in her mouth.

Applejack facehoofed. The irony was astounding. They hadn't found Pinkie yesterday to introduce her to Epona, because she was too busy looking for the new pony in town.

Well, that would certainly help things along, she supposed.

"Now Pinkie, ah think ah can help you out. Ah found the new pony in town," Applejack began.

Pinkie's eyes got comically wide as she began blabbing again. Fortunately, Applejack had had the foresight of not to remove her hoof.

"-an' if ya stop talkin' my hoof off ah'll take ya to her!"

The blabbing stopped immediately. Applejack cautiously removed her hoof, ready to slap it back on the pink motormouth at any second.

Pinkie smiled impossibly wide, but made not a sound.

"Right. C'mon, this way," Applejack started walking. Pinkie began bouncing along beside her, barely managing to keep her excitement in check.

"She's gonna be stayin' on the farm with us, so feel free t' use the barn fer the party. There she is."

Applejack didn't think it was possible, but Pinkie's smile got even wider as she saw Epona trotting over towards them.

Applejack knew what was going to happen next. Pinkie Pie was going to give a great big -GASP- and impossibly levitate in midair, before turning tail and running off to plan Epona's surprise-!

Uh oh.

Applejack could see it now; Epona, happy at the end of a long day, with Pinkie and the others running interference to keep her away from the barn, trots up to the barn doors and gets the scare of her life when Pinkie fires her party cannon and shouts 'Surprise!'

And given that Discord got his teeth knocked out by a horse, and given the way she reacted to the mere mention of timberwolves... nopony was going to win there.

Beside her, Pinkie gave her signature intake of breath as Epona backed away, slightly alarmed at the very pink pony that was defying the laws of physics by hanging in midair.

Applejack grabbed her friend out of midair.

"Pinkie, listen to me! Ya can't throw her a surprise party!" Applejack whispered furiously.

Pinkie's hair deflated at that. Her eyes got watery and huge, brimming with tears. Looking her square in the face, Applejack felt as though she'd just kicked a puppy.

"B-b-but... everypony deserves a surprise party when they come to town," Pinkie whispered back, holding back tears.

"Pinkie, listen to me," Applejack said, grabbing the pink ponies head between her hooves. "You remember when ya tried to throw a surprise party fer Betsy when ya figured out her birthday?" Nod. "An' ya remember that they all panicked and had a stampede and trampled all over our crops in the east field?" Nod. "An' do you remember why they said they stampeded?"

"B-because they were scared of the party cannon?"

"'Cuz cows are real easy to startle. Well, Epona here's real easy to startle too."

"Oh."

"I ain't sayin' ya can't throw her a party, I jus' don' think surprisin' her is the healthy way to do it."

"Hmmmm...."

Pinkie Pie thought on that for a minute. Applejack could see the gears turning in her mind as her hair slowly re-inflated to it's normal size.

"Is she alright?" asked the distinctive voice of Epona behind her.

"Yep!" Pinkie said in a chipper voice. "Hi, I'm Pinkie Pie, nice to meet you!"

"Hello, my name is Epona," she replied, looking at the proffered pink hoof.

"She can't shake yer hoof, Pinkie," Applejack said. "Anyways, whatcha' doin, Epona?"

"I was going to go and search for my friend," she told them. "I was hoping you would come with me, Applejack."

"You're searching for somepony? Ooo, it's like hide and seek all over again!"

Applejack rolled her eyes. "Pinkie, don't you have a party t' plan?"

"Nope! I've already got it ALL planned out! Here!"

You are invited to Epona's Welcome to Ponyville Party!
7:00PM
The Barn, Sweet Apple Acres
Come and welcome our new friend into town!

"Epona, we're going to throw you a party tonight! Does that sound like fun?" Pinkie asked.

"What is a 'party'?"

"What's a party? Only the bestest thing ever! There's food and drinks and sugary treats, music and fun and games, and lots of other ponies to talk to! We're going to have this one to welcome you to town, so you can make lots of new friends and then you won't feel lonely! Maybe we'll even find that pony you're looking for!"

It looked like Epona didn't understand a lot of that (and given what Applejack knew about her, this wasn't surprising), but she had perked up at 'lots of other ponies', and looked positively excited at the prospect of finding... whoever it was. Ya know, maybe ah should get some more details on who Epona was looking for.

"Okay! I'll go!" Epona sounded quite happy at the prospect.

"YES!" Pinkie exclaimed. There was a small pop, and suddenly Epona was showered in streamers. For a moment, Applejack was scared she was going to panic, but the gigantic mare surprised her by only being slightly startled.

"Nice to meet you Epona! I'll see you tonight at the partyyyyyy!" Pinkie trailed off into the distance.

"Is she always like that?" Epona asked.

"Yep. Kinda gets annoyin' after a while, but she's a good friend, and her heart's in the right place," Applejack told her. She hesitated for a moment, then turned to the huge mare.

"Epona, ah was headin' in t' town today for a little while, and I think it'd be a good thing if you came with. I could show ya around town," Applejack offered. In truth, it was more than that. She wanted the town to get a handle on her and see that she was just another pony. Just like Zecora. Applejack wasn't going to let this turn into another Zecora incident.

"Okay."

---

It was another few hours and a few chores later before Applejack was ready. After a quick lunch (for her size, Epona ate surprisingly little during mealtimes- but then, she was more than willing to eat grass at all other times), the pair of them headed out towards town.

After a few minutes, Applejack settled into a light trot- Epona's stride was so long that it was the only way to keep up with her.

"Ya know Epona, ah don't think you ever told us 'bout this pony you been looking for. Ah mean, ya haven't even told us her name. It'd be a lot easier ta find her if we knew who we were lookin' for."

Epona dipped her head in acknowledgement.

"I guess so. His name is Link." Pause. "He is my best friend and master."

Master?!

"Whoa, whoa, hold on there," Applejack protested, turning to face Epona. "Ya mean yer a slave?!"

Epona looked at her with that simple, quizzical expression she had whenever she didn't understand something.

"Slave?"

"Yea, 'slave'. Ya know, work for free, can't disobey, owned by somepony else... slave! How the hay can you not know what a 'slave' is?!"

"I don't know."

Applejack fumed. It all made sense now- neglecting her education, forcing her to sleep outside, not a bit to her name... how could she be so calm about this!

Why, if ah ever get mah hooves on this 'Link' character, ah'm gonna buck him t' next Tuesday, an ah'm pretty sure ah wouldn't be alone.

"I don't work for free."

Applejack snapped her head up.

"He feeds me and gives me water. He gives me blankets to keep warm. He lets me run free through the forest meadows during the day, and gives me shelter if I want it at night. So I help him, by carrying things too heavy for him, or by helping him herd the goats back into their pen, or carrying him when he needs me to."

Pause.

"I like him."

It took a moment for Applejack to digest that one. On the one hoof, now that she was thinking about it, that still sounded a little bit like slavery- slaves, after all, didn't exactly function well when starved or left to the elements. On the other, Applejack could tell that Epona genuinely believed what she was saying... and genuinely liked this 'Link'.

"Isn't that what I am doing on your farm?"

"O' course not!" Applejack practically shouted, shocked. "I ain't gonna make you my slave!"

"I don't want to be a burden. If you take care of me, I will help you too."

Well, that was a mighty fine offer.... and t' be honest, there were some things around the farm that could use a mare of her strength. But-

"'Taint right! If yer workin' on the farm, then we pay you, in bits! Did Link do that, huh?"

"I don't need bits. But food and a warm bed to sleep on is nice."

There wasn't any arguing with that. It was the kind of simple logic that was undeniably right when you looked at it from their point of view. And if she really was telling the truth, then all this Link had ever done was look after her needs too. Same deal, different pony.

Applejack snorted.

"Well, ah suppose we could use a hoof. But if you ever want somethin' more than that, you tell me an' ah'll see what I can do."

Epona smiled and continued walking.

Applejack resolved to watch this 'Link' character very closely whenever they found him.

---

It caused quite a stir when they entered the town. Everypony they passed stopped and stared at the truly gigantic mare walking next to the Element of Honesty. And when they passed, whispers sprung up as the townsfolk began to gossip about her- her ungroomed appearance, long and unshorn fetlocks, her strange eyes, her massive size, and the absence of a cutie-mark upon her buttocks.

But they weren't panicking. They weren't galloping about, screaming their heads off about how the end was neigh. Part of it was the familiarity- she was huge, yes, but she undoubtedly pony or pony-related. It helped that, unlike Zecora, horses had a general exotic mystique of the Great Sands attributed to their species in Equestria, as opposed to the more shaman-esqe and vodoo reputation that had followed the zebra to Ponyville. The gigantic, horse-like mare was a curiosity, not a curse waiting to happen.

Neither of the pair cared though, as Applejack continued to show her companion around the town, pointing out the various shops, restaurants, and sights around town. For two hours they idly wandered the streets, letting Epona get her bearings as Applejack showed her around town.

"An' this here's Sugarcube corner. It's run by Mr. and Mrs. Cake, an' Pinkie Pie works here. Hmmm... I'm feelin' a mite peckish, what d' ya say we stop in?"

"Okay."

Sugarcube Corner was a larger building, and had even managed to host Princess Celestia herself once, with room to spare. That being said, Epona was considerably larger than even the Princess. With the door wide open, Epona had to duck her head nearly to the floor, and her flanks scraped the frame, top and sides. It was that close. But she was able to get inside, where the ceiling was just high enough that she only had to duck her head a little.

Applejack followed her to find Epona already looking at the confections in their glass showcase, and a fair few ponies staring at her in awe and curiosity. Including Mr. Cake.

"Anythin' catch yer eye?"

"What is this?" Epona asked, ducking her head low to press her nose against the glass.

"One raspberry croissant, coming right up," Mr. Cake said with a chuckle.

"An' one apple fritter t' go with it," Applejack called out.

"Eight bits," Mr. Cake told them, putting the treats in napkins on the counter. He swiped the bits Applejack threw down on the counter off and into the register.

"Thank you and-"

GULP

The raspberry croissant disappeared down Epona's throat, along with the napkin that had been holding it. Her tongue licked the crumbs off of her lips, though some inevitably fell to the floor.

"That was good!"

Applejack just shook her head. "Thanks Mr. Cake, we'll be seein' ya tonight, ah take it?"

"Yep, Pinkie gave us the invitation first thing before running off to invite more ponies. Nice to meet you, Ms. Epona, me and the missus will be there to welcome you tonight!"

"Thanks," Applejack said as she headed for the door. She idly nibbled on her fritter as Epona repeated the process of getting through the door.

"Well, that's just about it fer the town. Jus' one last place t' show ya, c'mon, this way."

Applejack led Epona to one of the more distinctive places in town; a circular white building, a few stories tall, immaculate and tastefully decorated. Home of Rarity Belle, who upon seeing that Epona had absolutely nothing had insisted on giving her at the very least some saddlebags.

The door dinged as Applejack opened it and held it for the larger mare, who had to squeeze in much the same way she had to at Sugarcube Corner. The ceiling inside the Boutique was much higher though, allowing the mare to stretch her neck a bit.

"Just a mi-nute," Rarity called from the back room. A few moments later, she came trotting out.

"Welcome to the Carousel Boutique, where everything is- oh, hello Applejack. And Epona! I was wondering where you two were, I've been waiting for hours now!"

Applejack rolled her eyes. "Sorry Rares, Princess Luna stopped by an'-"

"The Princess is in town?!" Rarity demanded. Applejack suddenly found herself nose-to-nose with the white unicorn.

"Was," Applejack replied as she took a step back. "She an' Twi an' Dash set out on some expedition into the Everfree, but they stopped by the farm on the way so the Princess could talk a little with Epona. I figger' she'll be at the party tonight."

"Hmmm, yes, I suppose so. Pinkie stopped by a few hours ago with the invitation, though it is most unusual that it is not a surprise party."

"Trust me Rares, that's for the best."

"Perhaps you are right. Either way, it is time!" she said dramatically. "Epona, would you be so kind as to stand over here, in front of these mirrors?"

---

Normally, a pony client would stand upon the small raised platform while Rarity took their measurements, but she had to make an exception for the huge mare- there was no chance in Tartarus that she would fit on the platform. Even so, with her client in place, Rarity set her red-rimmed glasses upon her muzzle and levitated the measuring tape up.

"Tell me, dear, how are you enjoying Ponyville so far?" she asked as she levitated the tape around her legs, making a note on her notepad.

"I like it," she replied happily. "There are so many ponies here and so many things to do! Applejack took me to Sugarcube Corner, they have the best cros-sonts!"

"Yes they do," Rarity agreed. The tape measure slicked its way around her barrel, and Epona twitched a step backwards. "Please hold still dear, I can't get accurate measurements if you move."

"What do you need measurements for?"

"Why, to size your saddlebags, of course!"

Epona thought for a moment. Applejack had given Mr. Cake those shiny little circles in exchange for their pastries, and called them 'bits'. Was she supposed to give Rarity bits? She didn't have any bits...

"How many bits are saddlebags worth?" she asked.

"Normally, I charge around forty bits for a basic saddlebag, and a hundred or more for my more decorated and personalized ones," Rarity said, squinting. This would have been absolutely impossible if she was an earth pony, Epona's sheer size meant that she couldn't reach most of the places she needed to measure. Magic was a considerable help, but that didn't change the fact that the numbers were small and much further away than normal.

Epona shook her head and stamped her hooves a little. "I can't give you that," she said ashamedly.

"My dear mare, merely getting to work with you is payment enough!" Rarity gasped, scandalized. "I must admit, I was hoping to convince you to let me make you something else, it is so rare that I get a true challenge on my hooves! This is all, as they say, on the house, you do not owe me a single bit and I won't hear otherwise!"

"Thank you," Epona replied with a smile. "I..."

"Yes, dear?"

"I could use a new blanket," she said softly, pawing at the ground with a forehoof.

Rarity smiled widely. "Why, I thought you'd never ask. Just let me finish taking measurements and then we can talk about what else you want. And, like I said, all of this is on the house."

"Thank you!"

"Pish posh, it's nothing," Rarity said, her cheeks growing rosy. "You are new here, it would be remiss of me not to help you settle in."

Rarity continued her measurements at a quick pace, noting them on her notepad as she went. And this mare truly was astounding in her proportions. Her legs were relatively thin compared to her body, and her body was long compared to that of a pony. Rarity had never had the pleasure of catering to one of the horses of Saddle Arabia, but it had been in her mind, and she had some of the relative measurements in a book she had on fittings. Epona had the same relative dimensions, if one took them and scaled them up.

Soon enough, she began to bring out fabrics, and began to size them, idly chatting with the mare while Applejack fell asleep in one of her waiting chairs. A large pair of saddlebags began to take shape in her expert hooves, and as the hours passed, they became more and more customized to the great mare, and nearer and nearer to completion.

But as she continued to work, something bothered her. Something that had been bothering her ever since she met the mare yesterday. She continued her measurements and alterations, but finally she simply had to say something.

"You know dear, you could really use a trip to the local spa. I hate to criticize, but your fur seems to have lost its luster, and your mane and tail are an absolute mess!"

"What is the spa?"

Rarity dropped everything she was holding and stared at Epona in open-mouthed shock.

Applejack chuckled from under her hat. "Yea, Epona ain't exactly been raised the way you an' I were, Rarity."

Rarity shot Applejack a scathing look, one that the farmer didn't see under her hat.

"Well, I will simply have to rectify that," she said, throwing her nose into the air with a 'hmph'. "Well, dear, the spa is a simply heavenly place. They offer a great many treatments that a lady can use to keep herself looking fabulous; massages, beauty treatments, mineral-water baths, hooficures, mane cutting and styling, brushings- the list goes on and on. I know the two ponies who run it quite well-" Applejack snorted at that. Rarity ignored her. "- and I assure you, they are simply the best at their craft. They could have you looking absolutely stunning in no time! Why, we could go over there right now! Oh, this is going to be-"

"Hate t' rain on yer parade there, Rares, but..." Applejack pointed a hoof at the clock.

It read just after 6:00, which meant that the party was going to start in a little under an hour now. It also meant the spa was going to close in a little under an hour, which may have been enough for a normal mare to get some things done, but for Epona... well, Rarity didn't want her first impression of the spa to be lacking, and adding on her already gigantic size, it was going to be far more than an hour.

"Drat. Well, I absolutely insist that you accompany me to the spa at some point, Epona. It would do wonders for you, I assure you. You would feel practically like a brand new mare!"

Epona looked intrigued.

"Well, I hope yer almost done with them saddlebags, 'cuz we all need to head out t' the party soon," Applejack said as she stretched.

---

Epona walked slowly along the road, the sun low and the shadows lengthening, with a small white horned mare and the small orange mare with the hat trotting along beside her.

Today had been interesting, Epona thought upon reflection. She had learned so many new words, seen so many new things! It was just like back at her home, all the small buildings and homes, but bigger, and with ponies!

She felt the weight of the saddlebags on her back, just where Link normally put his saddle. She could even turn her head far enough to put things in them! Rarity was amazing with her blue floaty magic, to have crafted this bag in so little time. And so generous, too, to have given them to her without asking anything in return. She would have to help her sometime, somehow, to make it up to her.

And Applejack. The mare had been so helpful, showing her around town. And that... 'raspberry cros-ont'... had been delicious! Just thinking about it made her mouth water, though the brown papery thing hadn't been quite so good, but Epona wasn't one to complain. It had cost bits, though. She was lucky that Applejack had already offered to pay her in bits for her help, though Epona swore to herself she would only take as much as one... ohhhh, maybe two, raspberry cros-sonts worth every so often. Applejack was already doing enough, like feeding her and sheltering her and letting her run free.

Just like Link.

She was worried about him. He was different now. It was because of all the shadowy stuff, but it hurt her to see him like that. But, he still needed her help, and she would give it. For Link.

As they all approached the barn where she had slept the night, Epona saw lights and heard sounds coming from it. Was this a 'party'?

Applejack and Rarity opened the doors.. to reveal so many ponies! And so much light and color!

She barely noticed Pinkie Pie counting down.

"Three.... Two... One! WELCOME TO PONYVILLE!" the whole barn shouted.

Epona smiled. She liked Ponyville.

Author's Note:

Well, here's the first part. Next part might take some time, I've sworn to myself i'm going to do some work on my other story. Give it a week and a half, two weeks.

Current like/dislike ratio at time of posting: 184:2. Guess i must still be doing something right, hope I continue to impress you guys.