• Published 7th Sep 2013
  • 16,575 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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Eternal Twilight

Just outside the city limits of Ponyville, the great black wall stood, rippling slightly as though it were made of liquid instead of stone. The red arcane lines glowed brightly at times, but in the sunlight they appeared dimmed and diminished.

Celestia and Luna stood before the wall, both horns aglow with golden and blue light as they inspected the barrier. Around them, guards milled about, conducting their own investigations or tending to the Royal Chariot, waiting upon their rulers. Celestia sighed as she let her spell go, shaking her head.

“I have never seen magic such as this before,” she told her sister quietly.

“Nor have We,” Luna replied absently, her horn still ablaze with magic. “But… there is something familiar here, sister…”

“What do you mean, Luna?”

Luna extinguished her horn. “We- I, cannot put my hoof on it,” she confessed. “But.. it feels…familiar, like We- I have felt it before… but not?”

Celestia lit her horn and magically examined the wall again, attempting to see what her sister saw. She ‘felt’ the magic… and Luna was right, now that she was looking for it… the magic was all at once familiar, and yet not. Like an old friend you had not seen for many years.

“You are correct,” she said, puzzled.

While Celestia and Luna debated among themselves, a young pegasus guard by the name of Wind Waker landed near the wall. Curious about the flowing nature of the monolith before him, he gave it a poke with one hoof, and watched, fascinated, as the black wall rippled from his touch.

“Don’t touch it, Wind!” his wingpartner, Storm Wall, hissed at him.

Wind Waker was about to respond when a giant black hand grabbed him by the throat, cutting off his response and his air.

“Princess!” Storm Wall cried out.

The Princesses, and indeed the entire guard detachment, whipped their heads around just fast enough to catch a glimpse of a monstrous black hand pulling Wind Waker through the wall as though it was a sheet of water. Storm Wall dove, but was too late to do anything more than grasp at his wingpartner's tailhairs.

“Wind Waker!” he cried out, beating his hooves against the great black wall.

“Private, GET BACK!” the Guard Captain shouted.

A golden glow enveloped the pegasus, yanking him backwards. Moments later, a black hand, thin, long, and fast, whipped out of the wall right where Storm Wall had been, grasping at air. It retreated just as quickly.

A heartbeat later, a lightning discharge that Luna had unleashed hit the same spot, scouring and blackening the ground but doing nothing more than splashing harmlessly off the wall itself.

“Captain, cordon off the wall. All of it. Do whatever it takes, but nopony is allowed to go within fifty feet of this wall without permission from Luna or myself,” Celestia ordered, her voice hard as she trotted over. The Captain saluted and began barking orders to his men.

Celestia coolly eyed the wall, now smooth and nondescript, as though nothing had ever happened. Beside her, though, Luna fumed.

“Ponyville is lost, now it hath kidnapped one of Our Guards!” she glared. “We cannot let this pass unanswered!”

“How, Luna?” Celestia mused. “You said it yourself- it is impenetrable. It would likely exhaust both of us just to open a small breach. Though apparently, one can be… invited… in.”

“We cannot do nothing, Sister!”

“No. But neither can we act without information. We must wait until the wall has been thoroughly examined and a weakness identified. But for now, Wind Waker, and all of Ponyville, are on their own.”

---

It hadn’t taken long for Rainbow Dash to catch up- she was too awesome, even grounded, to be outrun by anypony, even Applejack!- and together the two ponies barreled down the path towards the Crusader Clubhouse, where Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle had been working on their next plan to get their cutie mark. The screams only grew louder as they reached their destination. Applejack was the first there, and the first to ascend the ramp and barrel into the clubhouse, followed closely by Dash.

Inside the clubhouse, three young fillies cowered in the corner as an enormous bug, snapping with blue energy, buzzed ominously. Suddenly, it darted forward, causing all three Crusaders to scream at the top of their lungs and duck; the bug missed all three fillies by a hair. The three galloped away from the corner in a panic.

Applejack had seen enough. She grabbed the filly-sized table in her mouth and threw it with all her strength. Without her Earth pony magic, her throw was not as strong as it once was, but years of applebucking nevertheless gave her enviable results as the table smashed against the wall and the bug, breaking into splinters.

“Applejack!” came a distraught cry. In the next moment, Applejack was bowled over by two sobbing fillies, one yellow with a bow in her hair and the other white with a horn on her head. Scootaloo had instead chosen Rainbow Dash as the target of her tears and was currently sobbing into a cyan foreleg.

"It flew in through the window an' started chasing us!"
"I hit it with my book and nothing happened!"
"It was HORRIBLE!"

"Now, now," Applejack told the pair of fillies sobbing into her mane. "S' all right you three, s' alright, we're here, we're here now..."

Beside her, Rainbow had a wing wrapped around her own filly and was whispering her own reassurances.

The pile of kindling buzzed.

Applejack was back on her hooves in an instant. "Get to th' house. Run!"

Three fillies barreled down the ramp at a panic driven pace and galloped as fast as their little hooves could take them towards the farmhouse. Behind them, Rainbow Dash and Applejack ran side by side, ensuring the fillies were safe.

The insect, snapping with an angry red energy, buzzed its wings and gave chase.

Both adults heard the buzzing. Applejack looked back just in time to duck as the insect dive bombed her. It came back for another pass at her, forcing her to dive sideways to avoid it. A third attack forced her to abandon her run to the house as the insect hovered menacingly in her path.

“Rainbow, get Applebloom an’ her friends to the house!” she shouted at the pegasus, who had stopped uncertainly as the fillies continued to run.

“But-”

Applejack dodged another attack run from the angered insect. “Don’t you go arguin’ with me now! Get them to the house an’ let Mac know to start boardin’ up the place! Now git!”

Applejack didn’t wait for an answer- she didn’t have time, what with the maddened insect attempting to latch on to her face. She ducked and dove, dodging left and right- her rodeo skills came in very handy in staying one step ahead of the irate bug- making her way to the barn. Applejack dashed into the wooden structure and slammed the doors shut, breathing heavily. There was a thump, and Applejack felt her hooves slide against the ground, but the doors held. She breathed a sigh of relief.

Now t’ get rid of that varmit fer good.

Applejack skipped the small can of bug killer they had on hoof- the can was only about half the size of the bug that was still attempting to get into the barn! No, she needed something big enough, hard enough, to smash through that bug’s carapace. Her eyes lit upon the sledgehammer on the tool rack.

“Watcha doin’?”

Applejack let out a startled scream and swung the long-handled sledge at the sound. Air, barn door, multicolored mane, barn door-

Applejack rolled her eyes as she arrested the momentum of the tool in her mouth.

“Hey, watch where you’re swinging that thing!”

“Rainbow Dash, I thought I told you to git yourself into that house and stay there!”

“Hey, I wasn’t about to leave my best friend hangin’! Besides, you never said ANYTHING about staying there, you just said get them to the house and tell Mac some stuff.”

“An’ did you?”

“Of course! You know how awesome I am, AJ!” Applejack just rolled her eyes.

“Sugarcube, I’ve got me a bug that needs smashin’, so if you don-”

Wait. Where is it?

“Uhh… you alright there, Applejack?”

“Did you see where that bug went, sugarcube?”

Dash shook her head. “Last I saw it was chasing after you.”

“An’ last I heard it was tryin’ to break down these here doors,” Applejack said cautiously.

“So…. where’d it go?” Rainbow asked slowly as she glanced around suspiciously. Applejack grabbed the sledgehammer as she looked for the missing equicidal insect.

The ground at their hooves exploded upwards in chunks of earth and a sparking-red bug.

“HOLY HORSEAPPLES!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed. She jumped into the air with a beat of her wings, and even though they did no good for flying anymore she still hit her head on the barn door frame.

Applejack was just as startled as Rainbow, rearing her front legs and whinnying in fear. Then she remembered she had a sledgehammer in her mouth. She grinned and put all her strength into the blow.

The hammer swung in a deadly arc, perfectly leading the angry insect as it charged her, and hit with a metallic ring.

The next moment, Applejack was on the ground, her eyes spinning. Grabbing her head, she forced her eyes straight, and wondered why her jaw ached so much. A glance at the sledgehammer showed her why.

The metal sledge head was cracked and split down the center, along with a good chunk of the wooden handle.

Before her on the ground, the bug struggled to right itself, extremely annoyed but clearly unharmed from a blow that should have thoroughly smashed it.

With a buzz, it righted itself. It was no longer sparking red, it was glowing red. Applejack struggled to get to her hooves. It buzzed into the air, then darted forward- all Applejack could do was stare stupidly.

“Watch out!”

Rainbow Dash tackled Applejack, causing the insect to miss once again. Both ponies scrambled to their hooves and shot out of the barn at breakneck speed.

“What happened?!” Rainbow demanded.

“It broke my hammer!”

“WHAT?! How?!”

“I don’t know!”

“Well that’s just great! What do we do now?!”

As the pair raced around the barnyard at frantic speed, Applejack had to admit she didn’t know what to do. That insect had been smashed by a table, then taken a sledgehammer without even blinking. As a matter of fact, the only thing that had really given it pause was the barn doors…

Applejack chose to ignore how it was stumped by a door after taking a sledgehammer and just run with it. Fortunately, she had the perfect place to shut the little bugger up.

“Dash, this way!” she called, veering hard to the left. Rainbow was right behind her. The glowing red insect buzzed after them.

“We got a storm cellar over here,” she explained as they galloped. “Yer gonna open th’ doors, ah’m gonna lead it into the cellar, then we’re gonna slam the doors shut before it can get back out, got it?”

“Got it!”

Rainbow Dash bowed her head and ran. She instinctively beat her wings, and with that little bit of effort pulled ahead of her friend just far enough to carry out the plan. She hit the cellar doors and used that momentum to pry up one side enough for a pony to enter.

No sooner was the door open than Applejack barreled through it, rushing full tilt into the storm cellar with the abominable insect hot on her tail. Half a second later she was out- her rodeo skills were getting a real workout today. Rainbow slammed the door and both ponies leaped upon it.

The insect hit the door hard enough to jar them, but not enough to escape- it was trapped. If they could keep it that way.

“Rainbow, hold it shut!” she told her friend before darting away.

“WHAT!?” She was interrupted from screaming more at her friend by another thump against the door, jarring her. Another thump almost threw her off.

“Oh no you don’t!” Dash threw herself against the storm doors.

“Move!”

Applejack slammed a plank of wood through the door handles. A moment later, another thump tested the integrity of the makeshift lock.

It held.

Applejack let out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding.

“Heh… heh heh heh…”

Once Rainbow started laughing, neither could stop- sheer adrenaline made it impossible. The two fought to keep from rolling on the ground as their sides stitched with laughter.

“Heheheheh heh heh … landsakes, I think I needed that,” Applejack finally said, wiping tears from her eyes.

“Meeee too,” Rainbow agreed with a grin on her face. The storm door thumped again. They both ignored it.

“C’mon, we need to get the girls together,” Rainbow said. Applejack shook her head.

“Firs’ things firs’, Dash. I need to make sure ‘Bloom's all right, then help Mac board up the house. Then we can go an’ get our friends,” she stated, turning for the house.

“But AJ-”

“Ain’t changin my mind, sugarcube. C’mon, it’ll get done faster if ya help me.”

Rainbow swore under her breath, but set off at a fair trot for the farmhouse.

---

Ponyville was deserted. In a town that somehow saw catastrophes every month, the populace was quite keenly aware of what their response should be in an emergency situation. That response was ‘go inside and bunker down until the Element Bearers sorted it all out’. While Twilight would have normally prefered if they did something useful, or at least something rational, right now she was thanking Celestia that the response of the townsponies was to hide.

Because that meant that none of them were outside with the monsters.

They were big, black, lanky, and dangerous looking. Flat-faced as though they had run into a wall, covered in tattoos, some of which glowed a menacing red, the creatures were larger than even Princess Celestia. But that wasn’t the worst part.

No, the worst part about these creatures was that they weren’t in a single one of the books she had on mythical creatures in her library!

And she should know! She’d memorized all the dangerous ones after the incident with the cockatrice. She even had them all on a list- List of Dangerous Creatures to Avoid- and THEY WEREN’T ON THERE!

On the bright side, this also meant that they must be a new species and that she would be the first to document them! So while Spike ran around the library compiling all the monster books he could find in, Twilight studied them.

From a distance.

Through her telescope.

Poked through the curtains.

Both Spike and Twilight had agreed the moment those things had come into town that they weren’t going near them unless Spike was a giant dragon AND Twilight was an alicorn. Or she had her friends to back her up. Preferably the latter. Though the latter with the former would be even better. In the meantime, magicless Twilight would lay low, study the monsters, and find some way to defeat them. She turned away from the telescope.

“Spike?” she whispered. “Have you found anything?”

“No, nothing,” he whispered back, flipping through the book with his claws. Something Twilight envied right now. “And this is the last book, too.”

“Even Mysterious Monsters of Myth?” There were only thirty copies of that book ever made- the only reason she had one was because Celestia had gotten it for her when they had been studying the creatures of Tartarus.

The young drake nodded his head.

"By the way, don't go upstairs. There's some sort of huge bug in our bedroom."

Twilight sighed. She couldn't say she was surprised, not after seeing similar insects flying around Ponyville. She considered herself fortunate that the door between the public part of the library and her bedroom was normally closed- she shuddered at the mere thought of meeting one of those bugs up close. She'd studied one through her telescope and that was as close as she was willing to go.

"Twilight?"

She turned to her number one assistant.

"What are we going to do, Twilight?" The baby dragon looked tired and scared. It broke Twilight's heart to see him like that.

"Come here, big guy," she said with a tired smile. Once he waddled over, she wrapped the little drake up in a great big hug.

"Now, I know this is all scary, but I'm here for you, okay? I promise I won't let anything hurt my little assistant," she assured him with a nuzzle. The little drake burrowed deep into her hug.

"Pinkie Promise?" he asked, muffled by purple fur.

"Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye," she told him softly. "Celestia will send help. Then me and my friends will use the Elements, and this will be nothing more than bad dream. So you be brave, alright?"

"Ok Twilight."

She nuzzled him one last time, nipping lightly at the spines on his head. "Good! Because I need my Number One Assistant to take some notes for me!"

"Right! I'll go get some parchment!"

While Spike was off getting parchment and a quill, Twilight reflected on her situation. Of the fears she herself held. For Spike’s sake, she put on a knowing front, but deep down… she was just as scared as he was.

Celestia hadn’t gotten their message. Even if she did send help, there was no guarantee they could get there- having studied the wall closely, she saw no cracks, no flaws, nothing that could be used against it. Given that help hadn’t already arrived, it must have been able to block magic as well. And to block off the entire Everfree, it must have taken as much energy as Celestia and Luna combined! The only thing that could stop this, whatever it was, was the Elements.

But the Elements were in Celestia’s hooves, outside the wall.

Even inside the wall, she couldn’t get to her friends. The creatures outside- they were too fast, and too aggressive. She had watched one of those giant bugs fly into Cherry Blossom’s house. Moments later, Cherry came tearing out. The monsters saw her immediately, and chased her with unnatural speed. Only the fact that she was going across the street at a full gallop saved her- those things were fast! But they also only seemed to go after ponies that showed themselves-

“Ready!”

Twilight shook her head, then arranged her thoughts. As she began to dictate them to Spike in a precise and organized manner, she wondered how they were going to get out of this situation.

---

Deep within the corrupted Everfree, the light above the spring flickered as it struggled to maintain conscious thought. It had failed; the dark magic of old now held this land by the throat, twisting and corrupting the creatures within. The ponies, which it had watched over for so long, were embroiled in a battle that they were unaware of, indeed, should never have been aware of. After all, that was the purpose of setting this spring so far in time and space from the others; then, if evil returned, it would not be able to reach the final spring to complete its domination over the land.

Obviously, this logic had been flawed. Now, powerless, deposed, the light held on to the consciousness that would be so easy to let go. It had hope, as dim as it seemed. Darkness had ruled at times in the past. But it had always been beaten back, even when it appeared evil had won and all hope was lost. A Hero would appear. It must. Such was fate. And so it waited.

Out of the woods slunk a ghostly figure. A wolf, lithe and powerful, standing nearly as tall as a pony, emerged from the underbrush around the spring. The wolf had black fur, with a white underbelly that spilled out slightly on his sides and up over the shoulder in a whorl, and a shaggy section of longer dark fur about the head and neck that could be mistaken for a mane of sorts. An intricate pattern of white fur adorned the wolf’s head, unusual and beautiful in its own right. Fixed around the left forepaw was an iron cuff, with a small length of chain attached that clinked softly every so often. Blue eyes, wild and powerful, fixed themselves on the ball of light.

On the wolf's back rode a small impish creature, black with a white underbelly and face. Green patterns traced across the small creatures’ arms and legs, glowing brightly in the twilight. It wore a stone crown of sorts, broken, partially covering one eye. The other was unnatural, with a red pupil and yellow sclera. An orange thing flowed behind her, almost like hair… yet not. A grin with a single snaggletooth fang adorned its face as it sat bareback upon its mount.

The wolf padded to the edge of the spring and sat, black and white tail flicking every so often. The light could not smile. But it knew.

The Hero had come.

Author's Note:

Moved the last bit from the end of last chapter to the end of this chapter- it just felt right.

This has been seen by my eyes, and my eyes alone. So please, let me know what you think.