• Published 7th Sep 2013
  • 16,608 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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Final Days

Life slowly settled back into the normal rhythm of spring in the small and traumatized town of Ponyville. Over the course of the next week, the papers slowly began to print something other than analysis and news of Luna and the nobility shakedown that continued; the townsfolk slowly began to come out of their houses for more than work; and slowly but surely, the paranoid atmosphere receded from the minds of everypony, and life continued.

The hype about the upcoming annual rodeo in Canterlot was perhaps the first major thing to break everypony out of their rut. With the fence along the Everfree now mostly updated, Applejack was now practicing for the rodeo that was a little over a week away, letting Big Mac and Epona finish the fence work. She was Ponyville's best chance at winning, and everypony in town knew it, to the point where Mayor Mare was planning an official send-off when she left to go to Canterlot.

Even with her vigorous regimen, she still found time for her chores around the farm, and some of the ones that weren't. Epona, after all, wasn't always at the farm.

"Why are you running around barrels?" Epona asked as she walked towards the town.

"Practice, fer the rodeo," Applejack replied as she trotted next to the large horse.

She had her new Rarity-made saddlebags on, and they had fair days' wages for the last few weeks of work in them. Applejack had made a promise to pay her for her work, and she wasn't about to back out on it. As a result, Epona was now richer than she had ever been in her entire life, and when informed that she could collect her money, had asked if they could go and buy a raspberry croissant.

Applejack just had to chuckle at that. This mare knew where her priorities lay.

"What is a rodeo?"

"It's a competition," Applejack told her friend as they entered town. "All sorts of contests, strength, agility, speed, ropework- anythin' ya do on a farm, really. Best pony gets a trophy an' a big prize."

"Oh."

She'd been around intermittently, leaving nearly every other day to go wherever she went to help Link. He'd been around just as seldom; only a few hours in the last week or so, just staying long enough to do one thing or the other before disappearing back to wherever it was that he went. He'd raced Rainbow Dash again, visited Fluttershy's, stopped by Sugarcube Corner for a cupcake, and she'd even heard that he had visited Zecora once or twice, usually with the little imp on his back. Usually he would stop by the farm to see Epona during these visits, even if only for a few minutes (though he had stayed the night at least once, sleeping with her in the barn), so Applejack had likely seen him the most out of anypony. But still, he appeared quite busy, and unlike Epona seemed to have no interest in staying near town.

"Do you think I could go?" Epona asked as Applejack trotted towards the Corner.

"What, ya mean t' watch?"

"I can run around barrels just like you."

Applejack chuckled at the thought. "Ah'm not sure what they'd make of you, Epona. Most events ain't meant fer somepony yer size. An' there's a few events tha', no offense, you woudn't be able t' do. But yer free t' come and watch."

She thought about this for a minute.

"Okay."

---

Far from the mundane and ordinary day that was taking place in Ponyville, a battle was unfolding. It was not a clash of armies; indeed, involved less than a half-dozen figures. Nevertheless, it was a battle that would decide the fate of an entire world: the final confrontation between the ruthless and ambitious Power, and those who would stand against him.

The Guardian of the spring was the first to feel it. A call, a cry for help. But not from the Hero. No, this was not from Courage, this cry was from Wisdom. There was a fight, something that they could not win on their own; a weapon was needed to defeat Power.

The Spirits of the Light congregated in the Spirit realm, pulling Wisdom and Courage there to protect them from Power. The first time mortals, even those chosen by the Gods to wield the pieces of their power, had ever been to the realm. Then, with the combined might of the spheres of the Spirits, a weapon was forged.

The Arrows of Light. Only Courage could stand against Power and bring him to heel, but the Arrows, wielded by Wisdom, could weaken Power. And when he was brought to his knees, then Courage could finish him with the Sword of Evil's Bane.

But Courage would need his faithful steed before this was over. Fortunately, the Guardian knew just where to find her.

---

Getting in to Sugarcube Corner was, as usual, an ordeal for Epona. She was forced to take her saddlebags off to squeeze in, but squeeze she did.

"Hheeeyy!" Pinkie greeted enthusiastically from behind the counter. The place was moderately full, but empty enough that Epona could move around freely. She made a beeline for the display case, Applejack thanking Celestia there wasn't a line at the moment. She likely would have trampled anypony in the way.

"Hey Epona! Here to get some tasty-licious treats?" Pinkie asked.

Epona nodded. "I want a raspberry cros-sont!" she said proudly.

"Celestia have mercy, Epona, ya brought all these bits just for one?" Applejack asked. The bags over her shoulders, comically over-sized on the pony mare, were filled with bits. The Equestrian Government had made good on their promise to pay Epona's upkeep, on top of the bits that Applejack had paid her, and it appeared that she had brought everything she could find.

"Is it not enough?" Epona asked sadly.

"Celestia's sake, no! Ya' probly brought enough bits t' buy every croissant they have, and all the muffins, eclairs, donuts, brownies, cookies, and pieces of fudge too!"

"Wow, really?" Pinkie zipped over, opening the oversized bags. "Onetwothreefourfivesix-"

"Pinkie, get outta there!" Applejack flailed, trying to close the bag.

"-fourhundredseventysix! Wow, you were right Applejack!" Pinkie zipped back behind the counter, prepared to take an order.

"So... I have enough bits to buy a raspberry cros-sont?"

Applejack facehooved.

"Sugarcube, you got enough bits to buy as many raspberry croissants as you want."

Epona looked elated at the news.She screwed up her long muzzle in concentration, then pressed her wet nose against the glass.

"I would like TWO raspberry cros-sonts!" she declared.

Applejack facehooved again as Pinkie began getting the order.

"One and two! Seven bits please!" Pinkie said, ringing it up. Epona looked at Applejack in askance.

Applejack sighed, then put the saddlebags down and began counting out bits. She was so focused that she almost missed the sudden light that emanated from the mare.

It started with her hooves; light glowed beneath them, almost as though she was standing upon it. By the time Applejack noticed, the light was climbing, both in intensity and vertically up Epona's legs. Everypony in Sugarcube Corner stared at the horse even as she looked down with curiosity at the light that becoming brighter by the second.

"Link," Epona breathed, barely loud enough for Pinkie and Applejack to hear. Then the light became blinding, making Sugarcube Corner shine like a star as everypony was forced to look away.

When the light cut out, Epona was gone.

"Epona?" Applejack asked hesitantly. She honestly wasn't expecting an answer- whatever had just happened had looked an awful lot like Twilight's teleports. That, and it wasn't exactly easy for somepony of Epona's size to hide.

"But... you forgot your crossoints!" Pinkie called out.

"Ah'll take 'em back t' the farm, Pinkie," Applejack sighed. "Ah bet she went t' help Link again, she did mention his name."

She sighed.

"Whelp, ah'll go get Twi. She'll wanna examine this place fer magic somethin' or other ah'll bet."

---

As with all the other times that Epona had run into the forest to go help her wolf friend, it was several hours before Epona returned. Applejack heard her approaching through the orchard at a light trot as she practiced with her rope, and went to meet her. She found Epona tired, and with a few scratches that were turning to scabs, but in a happy mood.

"You helped Link?" Applejack asked as she fell into step with the mare.

"Yes," she replied.

"What happened this time?"

Epona was silent for a moment.

"There was a fight. In a big field. A bad creature, with hair like fire, in black metal with a glowing white sword." She shuddered a little bit. "I didn't like him. He was bad. But Link needed me. He and a female rode me. She shot arrows at the bad pony and I got Link close to the bad pony so that he could use his sword."

An image of a wolf riding on Epona's back, hanging on for dear life with a sword of his clutched in his teeth, made for a truly ridiculous picture. The little imp, which must be what she meant by 'female', must have been riding on Epona too; though she seemed a little small to be using a bow that could do any significant damage. Under less serious circumstances, seeing such a sight may have even made Applejack laugh.

"An' you and Link an' the imp defeated this pony?"

"Imp?"

"That little black creature with the glowing lines an' that weird orange mane."

"Oh. No. It was not her. She was white, and like Link."

Now Applejack had the image of a pair of wolves, one white with a bow held in her canines and another black with a sword in his mouth, both riding on Epona as she charged down a huge creature in black armor. Strange, perhaps. But she almost felt sorry for that evil black armored thing. Almost.

"Well, glad t' see ya came out of it in one piece, Epona."

"Mmmhmm. It is all over. Time to go home."

"Wait, what?"

Applejack sputtered for a moment. Just like that, she wasn't going to be at their farm anymore? It would be nice to get the barn space back, she really didn't deserve to live there, but it was all rather sudden. Pinkie was going to have a fit when she found out. And...

"Ya don't want to stay? Ponyville would welcome you. You don't have t' go back, if'n you don't want to."

Epona smiled. "It is nice here. I like it. But it is not home. I belong with Link." She stamped and shook her mane. "It will not be long, before I have to go. But it is not right now. Link has some things to do, so I came back until he is ready. I never got my cross-onts. Can we go back to Sugarcube Corner?"

"Uh, sure, sugarcube," Applejack replied. Her croissants had been victims of Applebloom and her friends when it became clear that she would not be returning before they got stale. Getting some more would be good opportunity for AJ to tell Pinkie the news, and from there, word would spread.

---

Once somepony got Pinkie Pie on the case, word would spread faster than the speed of light. Especially if there was a party involved. By the time Applejack and Epona had gotten a few more croissants (just two, despite once again dragging all her bits down there) and walked back to the farm, there were party invitations waiting for them.

Linky and Smokey and Epona are leaving us! Come wish them a happy goodbye!
The Barn, Sweet Apple Acres
Tomorrow, 6PM

There were, of course, two things confusing about this. First, who was Smokey, and second, why was it tomorrow night instead of tonight, if Epona didn't know when she would leave? Still, long experience with Pinkie Pie let Applejack push such concerns aside. She would no doubt meet Smokey at the party. And there was no doubt at all that Epona would be there; Pinkie would make certain of it.

The next day, Epona went into town and did not return until it was nearly time for the party. Applejack caught up to her just as Pinkie headed into the barn to set up.

"Ain't seen ya all day, Epona. Been enjoying yer last day?"

"Yes! But it is not my last day, is it? I don't feel bad..."

Applejack scratched her head. "Ah didn't mean it literally. Pinkie-"

"Lit-er-al-y?"

"Ah didn't mean it was yer last day alive, jus' yer last day in Ponyville. Anyways, Pinkie Pie ain't usually wrong. Don't know how she does it, but she just knows these things."

"Oh."

"So, whatchya been up to all day?"

"Well, I went into town to get another raspberry cros-sont," she started.

An' thank Celestia ah managed t' convince her t' only take three bits in a little pouch this time.

"I saw Applebloom, Sweetie, and Scootaloo there. They wanted to go and get their painter cutie marks."

Well, could be worse.

"I went with them, I thought that maybe I could get a cutie mark too. But the only one we got was the one they painted on me at Rarity's."

"Oh? And what cutie mark did you get?"

"I don't know. I couldn't tell. Scootaloo said it was a cutie mark for bravery, but Applebloom said it looked more like Rainbow Dash's cutie mark. Then they had a paint fight. Rarity didn't like it when she came home to find us in her dressing room with the paint. She grounded Sweetie and gave them all a bath. Then she took me to the spa. She said she wanted to give me the best impression of Ponyville. So I got more baths and another mud bath and a massage and had my mane and tail braided. It was nice."

"It sure is," Applejack chuckled.

"Fluttershy came with me and Rarity, and after she invited me and Rarity to tea at her house. Rarity said she could not go, but I went. She had more cros-sonts, and tea, and I learned how to drink tea, and then we said goodbye."

"Fluttershy ain't comin' tonight?"

"What?"

"She said goodbye, that means she ain't goin' t' see you again," Applejack explained patiently.

"Oh! No, she was saying goodbye to the big cat with the strange tail. He was leaving. Something about how she was safe now."

"Ah. So what'd ya do next?"

"Twilight came by the tea party. She asked me a lot of questions, but I couldn't answer many of them." She paused. "I think she was frustrated. Her mane kept springing up hairs."

Probably a tryin' to get every last bit of information she can before Epona leaves. Doesn't sound like she got what she wanted though.

"And then she went back to the library to get Spike while me and Fluttershy came over here. Where did she go?"

"Fluttershy? She's probably in the barn waitin' fer ya. Just like the rest of the town."

"But Pinkie only went in there two minutes ago! And nopony went by us!"

"Epona, never doubt Pinkie Pie."

Applejack opened the barn doors to a fully lit and decorated barn, goodbye banner high in the air, with dozens of ponies just waiting for her.

"Surprise!"

---

It had been a long few days for Link.

With the land now safe for travel, organizing the children to get them home had taken quite some time. Especially since one of the mischievous scamps had somehow managed to literally set up shop in town. He knew he was going to be in trouble for that, too, because for some reason, the child was one of the few merchants in business in such turbulent times, and one of the few willing to sell him things for a reasonable price. Despite the fact that he was no more than eight.

Still, he managed to get their temporary caretaker and Ilia to take them back to the village where they belonged. They should be setting out right about now, as a matter of fact. A few hours and they would be home, back where they belonged with their parents. But Link had a few more things to do before he could return home.

He'd spent the morning trekking through the desert, to the temple that housed the now reconstituted Mirror of Twilight. Midna had confessed to him that she had enjoyed her time with him greatly, but as with him, it was time to go home. The goodbye had turned far harder than he had thought though, when Midna, true ruler of the Shadow Realm, destroyed the Mirror of Twilight as she used it to travel back to her home. He had had hopes of meeting her again, somewhen, somewhere, but now that the bridge between the two worlds was closed, the odds were slim.

He found himself rather sad that he would never be able to see her again. But there was nothing he could do about it now.

There was, however, one final task that remained before he could return to his home. He had to fetch his faithful steed.

Across the windy desert, over the great lake, and through the mighty jungle he came, scaling the new boards of the fence that Applejack had put up, heading ever towards his final goal: the barn. As he got closer, it quickly became clear that there was another party going on. Bright light and multicolored ponies spilled out, as did the strange music he had only ever heard here at parties, the kind that almost felt like a dragon was stomping around nearby.

He passed a few headed out, and they greeted him exuberantly. Enough so to draw the attention of the pink one.

"Hey!"

Link jumped out of his fur as a horn blared net to his ears. He suddenly found he was wearing a party hat and had a little streamer thing in his mouth, something that whistled with every hyperventilating breath he took.

He forced his hackles down and spit out the thing in his mouth. He knew better than to paw at the party hat, the pink pony would just put another one on him. The price he had to pay to get some cupcakes, he supposed. Speaking of the pink pony....

"Where's Smokey?" she asked, prodding at his shadow questioningly. Another party hat and streamer thing were grasped in her hoof.

Link whined, bowing his head and tucking his tail in between his legs.

"She's.... she's not coming?" the pink one asked. All he could do was whine.

The music may have been blaring, and the party had barely even noticed him, but the silence between the wolf and the pink party pony was palpable.

"Link! You made it!" The sound of heavy hooves tromping over could only mean one thing.

Link perked up as Epona shuddered to a halt in front of him, party hat on her head, mane partially done into braids, and a huge smile upon her muzzle.

Midna may not be here, but that did not mean that he was alone, or that he couldn't enjoy the party.

Author's Note:

Merry Christmas, everyone! I was contemplating holding off on releasing this, but, well, it is Christmas, and I already had it done and loaded, just waiting for the final set of eyes. For everyone else, er, have a present for December 25th?

Not quite done yet. But most of the way there. Next chapter is probably going to be short and sweet, I'll try my best to get it out before next year.

I know there's a time skip, but I couldn't think of much interesting to write about. Link only really visits for short periods of time, just like in the Adventures. Twilight is off studying magic, though with a healthy dose of caution now, Applejack is tending the farm, Rainbow is tending the weather, Fluttershy the animals, Pinkie the store, and Rarity the Boutique. And Epona is vanishing for most of the day, every other day and for whole mornings/afternoons the rest of the time.

Maybe in the future I'll think of something that can go here, but for now, well, everything is drawing to a close.