• Published 7th Sep 2013
  • 16,573 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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Deep within the Everfree lived a pony the likes of which were rarely seen in Equestria. Neither Earth pony nor pegasus nor unicorn, the Zebra shaman known as Zecora lived within a hollow tree, where she had ready access to some of the most magically active and rare plants in the world for her potions.

Of course, living in the most dangerous forest known to ponykind meant one had to be quick on their hooves. Zecora was no stranger to the dangers of the Everfree. She knew how to avoid hydras and manticores; how to fight off the timberwolves that would sometimes stalk her; how to ward cockatrices away from her home and pathway. She knew, neigh, expected, that dangerous creatures would hound her, but she had prepared herself against such threats.

She had not prepared herself for this.

Zecora, frazzled with stress, kept a close eye on the opposite wall of her small tree home as she quickly dumped the ingredients she needed into the simmering cauldron in the middle. The masks that had once held welcoming and friendly faces now held nothing but terror and-

She started, dropping the ingredients as she hid herself behind her own cauldron. A thrumming buzz came from the wall of masks as the insect, larger than both her hooves together, darted from out from behind a mask. Snapping with blue energy, the insect scuttled to another mask, causing them to rattle ominously. As the rattling died, Zecora warily peeked out from behind the cauldron.

“A more fearful creature I have never seen. Even the timberwolves could not be so mean! Quickly- a dash of thyme and a bit of honeycomb, and soon this abomination will be gone from my home!”

Zecora tip-hooved to get her final ingredients, an ear cocked to track the buzzing of the pest. It was an anti-vermin potion, one of the most potent and rarely brewed; unlike the potions she had spread to discourage insects and mice from taking up residence, this potion killed on contact- insects, mice, rats, it made no difference; if they were pests, it would kill them. Which was, of course, the reason why it was not often used.

That said, her normal anti-vermin potions she kept bottled on the shelves had done nothing more than irritate the beast- it had viciously chased her out of the house when she had tried it the second time, with no better results than the first.

It pained her to have to brew this potion, especially in such quantity, but she could think of no other brew in her extensive list that might defeat this insect.

Zecora carefully added the last ingredients to the cauldron. It was almost done. It had to be allowed to simmer for several minutes, more if she wanted it to be potent. And she needed it to be potent.

For nearly half an hour, Zecora waited, her ears twitching with every rattle of her masks as the bug moved. The potion was nearly complete… when the door to her home opened. Zecora’s head whipped around… and saw that nopony was there. Zecora studied this for a few moments, wary, before a buzz brought her back to her senses.

“I must focus on this evil first,” Zecora told herself. “Then may I find out if everything has gotten worse.”

Buzzing sounded from behind the masks- Zecora backed away, the buzz sounded angry, like when it had begun to chase her.

A thump sounded, hitting the wall- the masks all fell to the floor, revealing the insect. It took off, sparking blue, and headed towards the zebra. Gasping, Zecora scrambled away- but the insect never reached her.

It buzzed suddenly to the side, before quickly charging towards a random open spot in the room. Halfway through, it jumped to the side again, as though avoiding some unseen attacker. It buzzed around inside the tree, high enough that she could not reach it even if she had jumped, as though stalking something.

Zecora kept well clear of the insect, spooked by its strange behavior.

It paused, then charged again towards a random spot in her home.

This time, it did not make it. It was blasted backwards halfway though, as though it had been hit by the Ponyville Express. Falling to the ground, the insect hit, then bounced, and came to a final rest on its back, legs in the air. The legs curled in on themselves before the insect exploded into a blinding light, forcing the Zebra to look away. When she opened her eyes again, it was gone.

Zecora tentatively looked around, expecting it to pop out somewhere like Pinkie Pie. Checking around, she found no sign of it anywhere in her home. Sighing, she began to set the traditional masks of her people back on their hangings.

“I do not know what just happened, but I am so very glad that insect has been flattened.”


Applejack fixed a wooden plank over the window, the sharp sound of a hammer striking nail and wood sounding throughout the house. It was not alone, as Rainbow Dash boarded up some on back while Mac finished the other side of the house.

It was an old farmhouse, built well before Applejack was alive, and was spacious enough to fit the entire Apple family of old- grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, nieces and nephews, all had once had a place under this very roof. The Apple Clan was a bit more wide spread out these days, but the house remained, even though there were only four ponies currently living in it.

That, of course, meant lots and lots of windows that needed to be boarded up.

She fixed another board in place and began to hammer that one in next to the first, boarding up the window to the kitchen. As she hammered, she kept an ear cocked towards the front of the house, where her younger sister Applebloom stood guard with her three friends, watching the storm cellar and the orchards for any sign of movement. A job harder than it sounded; the confounded twilight twisted and distorted shapes at a distance and made it hard to see colors. Still, they had to have at least some sort of warning against more bugs… or the bug breaking free… or anything else that showed its face, and with the set of lungs those three had-


Speak of Tartarus. Applejack dropped her hammer like it was on fire and ran to the front porch like demons were nipping at her hooves.

“What is it?!”

“Look!” Sweetie pointed.

The cellar doors were opened, the burning red insect was loose, but… it wasn’t coming after them. It was… dancing?

The insect dove left, right, forward and backward, buzzing with a furious intensity. Sometimes it would burrow into the ground… only to burst back up and continue the dance. It was like it was attacking something… but there was nothing there!

“Rainbow, what d’ ya make of that?” Applejack asked, scratching her head beneath her Stetson.

“I have no idea,” Rainbow swore as the insect dove again. This time, though, it seemed to hit something, as it came to an abrupt stop in front of nothing before flying away again.

It came around for another pass… only for it to be swatted out of the air. For a moment, Applejack though it was just going to right itself again, madder than a nest of yellowjackets… but instead, it keeled over and died! That thing took a SLEDGEHAMMER and kept coming, then something invisible just kicked its flank! What the hay…?

“I get the feelin’ we’re missin’ somethin’ here,” Applejack muttered.

“Eeeeyup,” Mac drawled behind her.


Rarity Belle, proprietor of the Carousel Boutique, maker of fine dresses and suits, eyed the supply room cautiously as she made her way across her own showroom floor with a rescued dress.

Business had been slow today, so she had been working on a few orders that were due weeks down the line when the… whatever had fallen. The first she noticed was when all the pins and scissors in her telekinetic grasp had clattered to the floor. She had found that she could not pick them up again, or even light her horn. A single look outside had informed her of the most likely reason.

She had been about to head over to Twilight’s library, certain the magically inclined student had some theories or a plan (likely a list, knowing her), and had just opened the door when it had happened. A huge bug had buzzed over her head and into her Boutique, eliciting a short scream. When she had turned around, horror awaited her.

A great big, black, ugly insect had invaded her home and landed upon one of her dresses! Worst, it had thrown off the stitching on the incomplete fabric and torn the hemline! It was -gasp- ruined!

Before she could regain her wits, the insect had taken off and flown into the storeroom, to her horror. She had rushed over and attempted to shoo the ugly thing out, but an angry warning buzz had made her stop. So she let it have her fabrics, and gems, for now, until she could get her friends to help her chase it out.

She had been about to leave, a second time, when a chance glance through the window had made her re-think such action. Great black creatures, larger than Celestia herself, covered in tattoos, some of which glowed with an eerie light.

The way they moved, they way they looked… unnatural, predatory…. there could be no mistaking their intentions. Going outside suddenly had much less appeal- galloping to Twilight’s would mess up her hair and maybe chip her hooves! Oh, and likely get her killed. Mustn't forget that part.

With her only escape gone, trapped in a building with an abomination of an insect intent upon destroying her supply of fabric, Rarity did the only thing she could think of and began to discretely take her dresses to somewhere she considered ‘safe’- in this case, her bedroom upstairs. As the insect appeared quite thoroughly happy in the storeroom, things had so far gone well, with many of her stock upstairs. Now, she merely had to rescue her showpieces.

Tiphooving as quietly as she could, she made for the relative sanctuary of her bedroom, laying the work in neat order with the others. Another dress saved! On to the next!

Making quite certain to close the door behind her, Rarity headed towards the stairs once again to save some more of her hard work. She was in the middle of tip hoofing gracefully back down when the bell above her door chimed.


Rarity caught herself before she could say anymore of her distinctive greeting. Now, who would would have braved the monsters outside to come to her fabulous shop?

A few more quick steps saw her far enough to see the door- open!? Who in their right mind would leave it open with dangerous things roaming the streets!?

Rarity rushed over and shut the door, a ding signaling its close, before turning and sighing with relief.

Who could that have been? She was more than willing to give shelter to any poor soul wandering the streets, but now that she was looking around, it seemed as though nopony had come in.

"Heelllooo?" she called out as loudly as she dared. There was no reply.

A thump from the storeroom startled her and sent her hiding behind one of her own ponyquinnes. She cautiously peeked over her cover... And watched in utter shock as the insect tore out of her room, followed by a ragged cut of forest-green fabric that was floating in midair.

The fabric got closer… closer… then it leapt up at the bug, but the bug dodged. Instead, the fabric headed right for a portable dividing wall- and knocked it down! There was no way her fabric was chasing the bug away! That was something very distinctly real, something pony sized, something invisible. Looking closer at the wall as the fabric once again set off in pursuit of the bug, she noticed claw marks marring the surface.

Something invisible and predatory. She gulped.

She watched as the insect buzzed around erratically, followed closely by the floating fabric and the invisible predator beneath. Right towards the ponyquinnes who were modeling some of her best showpieces.

“No!” she gasped. Her hooves shot to her muzzle as she imagined horrifying scenarios in her head.

The fabric leaped again, no doubt in another attempt to attack the bug, but once again the bug dodged.

Rarity gasped in horror as Fluttershy’s Gala dress, something she had managed to convince the mare to loan her as a window article, was hit and toppled by whatever invisible force was carrying the fabric. Moments later, the fabric was flung aside violently, drifting slowly to the floor.

Now there was some invisible predator loose in her Boutique. But, worse than that, Fluttershy’s beautiful dress was on the floor! The only thing stopping her from running over to it right that second was where the insect was now.

Her fitting area. With a dress, incomplete, that could not be moved.

A dress for the Pony of Pop herself.

The insect was hovering right over it.

“NO!” she screamed. She could guess what was coming. And she wasn’t wrong.

The insect attempted to dodge, but this time it did not succeed. It blasted out of the air as though hit by a battering ram, but Rarity had no eyes for it. Her attention was on the dress.

It did not move. Whatever had been chasing the insect had gone right over it. Rarity breathed a sigh of relief. It was quickly followed by panic.

“Oh my goodness!” she rushed over to Fluttershy’s dress, ignoring the disappearing insect and the invisible predator. There were more important things to worry about.

She righted the ponyquinne and threw the dress back on, examining it with a detailed eye. Said eye began to twitch.

Across the back of the dress, three slashes ran from one flank to the other.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Rarity screamed to the heavens.

Unnoticed by the distraught fashionista, the front door opened and the bell above the door dinged.


The General surveyed the battlefield with a practiced eye. The enemy was not within her limited range of sight, but the General was not fooled; it was there. Lurking. Waiting. Preparing. Soon, it would attack, and it would lay waste to everything and everyone she loved.

The General clenched the unlit cigar firmer between her teeth. She could not let that happen. She would not let that happen. She had to take the upper hoof; it was time to lead her troops into battle.

General Pinkie Pie, Four-Star General (according to her helmet), sharply about-faced and headed back to friendly territory.

"Private Cake, Private Cake," the General saluted her troops. "Is everything ready?"

Both Cakes, wearing strange bowl-like, acid-green military helmets that Pinkie had gotten somewhere, nodded.

"We've got a little bit of everything. Cakes, muffins, cupcakes, euclairs, pies..."

"Good. Private Gummy, is the party cannon ready?”

The little alligator, wearing a small military helmet of his own, said nothing. Nevertheless, Pinkie seemed to know what he was thinking.

“Yes, that might be a problem. But is it ready?”

The little alligator’s eyes flicked two separate ways, then back again.

“Good. Troops, prepare to attack!"

“Pinkie, no smoking around the twins,” Ms. Cake said absently.

“Oh, don’t worry Mrs. Cake, it’s a joke cigar! See?” Pinkie promptly chomped down on the end, only for it to blow up in her face, blasting her hair straight backwards and blowing her helmet off.

From their crib, hastily moved and stuffed into the corner, the twins Pumpkin and Pound giggled. Catching a reflection of herself in a pan, Pinkie giggled too.

Mr. and Mrs. Cake stared for a moment, before shrugging to each other.

With a quick shake of her head, Pinkie's hair was back to its normal, frizzy state. She slapped another four-star helmet on her head (you just never knew when you would need a good helmet, so she kept them handy, hidden in various strategic positions around Ponyville in case of emergency) and grabbed a pair of pies for ammunition. Together, the three ponies, and one alligator, crept from the kitchen to the main dining area of Sugarcube Corner, and took up positions hidden behind the counter. Even the alligator that was riding the a self-propelled party cannon. The Cakes chose not to question.

Pinkie motioned for the others to keep out of sight, then slowly peeked over the counter. She spotted her enemy sitting agreeably still on top of one of the tables. Ducking back under the counter, Pinkie shot the Cakes a series of gestures involving a square, her back stroking through midair, a tube of toothpaste, and a cupcake doing the wave.

The Cakes shared a long-suffering look. Gummy blinked.

Pinkie rolled her eyes before giving some more incomprehensible gestures, this time including some hoof puppets dancing around.

The Cakes shared the look again. Gummy's left eye shifted.

Pinkie facehooved. Sliding across the floor on her belly, Pinkie got muzzle to muzzle with her troops.

“it’s on the table over there. I’m going to make a run to distract it, then you throw everything you have at it. Including the kitchen sink- you brought the kitchen sink, didn’t you? No? Well alright then, not the kitchen sink, but everything else. Gummy is your backup, if that thing gets near you-blammo! He’ll take care of it. Ok, ready?”

Both the Cakes nodded. This was likely the most serious they’d ever seen Pinkie Pie. Not the craziest, that belonged to the Pinkamenia incident, but the most serious. And when Pinkie Pie got serious….

The door creaked open.

General Pinkie motioned for her troops to stay hidden, then peeked over the counter. She was just in time to see the door close. But nopony had entered…

Pinkie ducked back down, pondering this new turn of events. Could the enemy have received reinforcements? This could throw off her cunning plan…

A buzzing was heard. Alarmed, all the ponies stuck their head up.

The insect was off the table now, and buzzing around erratically. What made it strange was that chairs were shifting and tables were getting scratched on a direct path from the door to the bug. The three watched, wide-eyed, as the insect suddenly dodged- and the table behind it was knocked over by some invisible force.

Pinkie’s mane exploded outwards, blasting her helmet off.

“Yea! Get ‘im! Show ‘em the good ol’ one-two!” Pinkie shouted. Standing on her hind legs, Pinkie enthusiastically boxed empty air with her hooves.

The Cakes stared at her like she was crazy. Or like she was Pinkie Pie. The only real difference in their mind was Pinkie could be counted on to save the world with her friends as the Element of Laughter. That, and bake a mean batch of cupcakes.

The insect made another dodge in midair.

“Aw, so close! Don’t worry Wolfy! You’ll get him next time!”

The Cakes quietly crept back to the kitchen while Pinkie continued to shout encouragement to something only she could see.

The great chase ended quickly enough, with the insect being swatted out of midair before bursting into light. When Pinkie looked back, the insect was gone.

“YAY! Wolfy defeated the big mean bug!” she cheered loudly. “Go Wolfy, it’s your birthday, go Wolfy, it’s your birthday…”

If one listened closely, one could hear a confused whine in the emptiness of the room.


The monsters had congregated. Right outside her treehouse, there were five- FIVE!- fast, scary, huge monsters milling about. Twilight had locked the door and piled every bit of furniture she owned up against the door to her library. If she had still had her magic, she would have conjured several locks on the door as well, or fused the entire thing into the tree itself! If they saw her… she shuddered to think what would happen.

In the corner of her eye, she watched anxiously as Spike lifted the barest corner of curtain to peek out the window. One second. Three seconds. Six seconds.... Too long!

"Spike!" She hissed desperately. "Get away from the window! They'll see you!"

"I think they're a little tied up right now, Twilight," Spike said aloud. Twilight hurried over to her assistant at the window and peeked out. She immediately forgot about berating him.

There was something that looked like a cage just outside her home. Pillars had appeared, covered in red-glowing arcane patterns. Between each pillar, a red semi-shield extended, appearing to trap the monsters. The academic in her eagerly wanted to study this, as it appeared unlike any magic she had ever seen. The more primal, survival oriented side of her noted something else.

Two of the monsters was lying motionless on the ground. The others were congregating around a single point and taking large swipes with their forelegs at.... Something, she couldn't see between all the bodies.

Just then, one of them reared onto its hind legs as though struck. It convulsed and batted weakly at its neck area before going limp and falling heavily to the ground. Twilight's critical eye could not find its attacker. Maybe an invisibility spell? But the power and focus required to maintain one meant one couldn't really fight! Or so she thought....

A mind-warping scream tore her from her thoughts. Her hooves went to her ears, but it did not help- it was like it was screaming within her head! Tears leaked from her eyes as she squeezed them shut, desperate for anything to keep her mind from twisting. When the scream stopped, Twilight found herself on the floor of her home, with Spike a mere hoovelength away. Crystalline tears leaked from his eyes as well as he panted heavily, no doubt trying to recover from the same ordeal Twilight had just gone through. Reaching out a hoof, Twilight pulled him close to her barrel in an awkward hug on the floor.

"What... was... that..." Spike heaved.

"I don't know... But I don't want a repeat," Twilight shuddered. Slowly she got back to her hooves and peered out the window again.

Wait, weren't there three monsters lying on the ground before?

Only one was down now.

And she could swear it was in a different position!

As she watched, attempting to puzzle out how the monster could have moved if it was quite clearly unconscious, when another monster once again was attacked by the invisible pony and collapsed, unconscious. The last three congregated around a single area- they must have somehow seen through the spell!

Twilight found herself uttering a small prayer to Celestia, praying for the safety of whoever was out there.

With a piercing wail, all three creatures threw their hands in the air, clearly hurt, before collapsing to the ground.

Thank Celestia that’s over.

She was about to turn away when, as one, the monsters exploded into inky bits before disappearing into the twilight. Sparkle just stared at where they had once been, wide-eyed. She barely even noticed the columns ascend into the sky and disappear themselves.

“Is… is it over?” Spike asked.

The doors to the second floor balcony slammed open, giving them the obvious answer.

The sudden surge of adrenaline gave Twilight speed the bookish mare never would have imagined. Within half a second she had Spike on her back and was galloping for the cellar. She and Spike were through the door in record time, at least for someone used to opening doors with magic rather than their mouths. Spike slammed the door in panic as soon as they were through, leaving them in the murky light their lives had become.

They both winced as they heard -and felt- a thud. Twilight grimaced as her sensitive ears heard the sound of books falling to the floor. But fear stayed her normal impulses. More thumps sounded. Twilight thought she heard buzzing as well, and double checked the lock on the cellar door. With a final few thuds, and the sound of precious books hitting the ground, the library went silent.

After a few minutes of silence, both silently agreed to take a peek. From behind the cellar door, both peeked out as cautiously as they dared. When nothing happened, they risked opening it more.

The library was a mess. Books, precious books, were everywhere. Worse (and the sight brought a twitch to Twilight's eyes) was the fact that a fair few were lying open, face down on the floor. That would damage the spines!


Snapping out of her thoughts, Twilight turned her head to face her Number One Assistant riding on her back.

"What's going on, Twilight?"

It was a simple enough question. One she would normally be able to answer in a heartbeat, with the notable exception of anything having to do with Pinkie Pie. But this time...

"I don't know, Spike," she sighed heavily. "I just don't know."


Deep within the Everfree, the spring began to glow. Every crevice of the spring radiated light, dimly at first, but soon it was as bright as the midday sun.

The spirit of the spring would have smiled, if it could. The Hero had suceeded. The Vessel had been filled with the stolen Tears, restoring the Guardians' power. No longer did it have to struggle to maintain the barest semblance of form; now, with its power returned, it could return to its full form. It could restore the land, this land it had grown to love, back to its original splendor.

Power channeled through the waters of the spring, becoming a fountain of light reaching into the murky twilight. It grew, brighter and brighter, concentrating itself, before bursting forth across the sky. The twilight turned to day in the wake of the blinding light. The Walls of Shadow could not stand against the power of the light and shattered, burned away by the power of the Light. Only the area where the Shadow was strongest was able to stand against the might of the Light, and even then it was unable to prevent a return to the normal land.

The Everfree had been saved.... mostly. There was one last task the Hero had to perform, vanquishing the remaining Shadow from this land. With that in mind, the Guardian once again took corporeal form, leaping from the waters to cradle the Light to its belly. At the edge of the spring, a wolf waited.

"Welcome, blue-eyed beast, to the land of Equestria."

Author's Note:

Another chapter done. If you guys haven't noticed, I'm attempting to keep a weekly schedule. It may or may not continue, what with work taking over more and more of my life soon, but hey, I'll try my best to keep it up.

Once again, no editor or pre-reader has seen this. Hope you guys like it!

After some comments about Pinkie being too omniscient, I found that I agreed. So one line of dialogue (Pinkie mentioning the shadow insect and Tear) has been removed and replaced with something a little more vague. Believe it or not, I do believe that should fix Omniscient Pinkie.