• Published 27th Feb 2012
  • 3,963 Views, 106 Comments

Roar of the Manticore - solsticebrony888



Two injured Wonderbolts survive a Mantcore attackin the Everfree forest, but can't find a way out.

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Chapter 3

Luna’s night had taken over by the time Soarin landed at the mouth of the Everfree forest. The only light to guide him was the moonlight, which was absolutely dismal in the forest. The wall of trees before him threatened him, with their height reaching up to the blackened clouds and deep blue sky. Facing the forest, he looked to his sides as if he would somehow see the orange Wonderbolt nearby. His heart beat anxiously as he started the slow walk into the forest.

“Spitfire?!” He yelled, “Ya out here with that Zebra?!” His vooice oddly didn't echo.

He followed the path that the minuscule amount of moonlight showed him. The light barely shone through tiny cracks in the black clouds above him.

“Spitfire! Are you here somewhere?!” He exclaimed louder, receiving no response from the blackened wilderness.

One hundred yards in, he started contemplating going back, as if Spitfire could be somewhere else. The malevolent atmosphere from the forest eerie, and distant animal voices caused his thoughts to race. It was everything he would expect from walking into a forest at night, but it didn't change the fact he didn't feel very safe.

He could barely see ten feet in front of himself, the sloshing of his hooves in the mud was the only indicator that he hadn’t run into the shrubbery parallel to him. Then the moonlight shone through the clouds sometimes gave him a short opportunity to raise his speed.

The stallion paced his own breathing and kept his mind on the task at hoof. He decided not to call out for the Wonderbolt anymore because it had occurred to him that he had been drawing a large amount of attention to himself, which couldn’t be good in such a Celestia-forsaken forest.

It started to sprinkle as he looked behind himself to see how far he had trotted. He barely could see the entrance to the forest. That scared him enough to have him once again consider high-tailing it out of there. However, he mustered up his resolve and pushed forward.

The faintest, flickering light could be seen a hundred yards ahead of him. Soarin’ assumed that it was the hut. Suddenly, the mud deepened and it caused him to exert more effort just to suction his hooves from the mud with each step.

Focus, Soarin’…look for any sign of her

Using the hut’s faint light to guide him, Soarin’ then concentrated his hearing to listen for any signs of his friend. Nothing could be heard but the sloshing of his hooves for a good minute. Then, he heard the quietest of noises, a peculiar noise he wouldn’t expect from a wild animal. It was high pitched and stressed, and definitely in the distance.

Soarin’ stopped in his tracks, the surrounding darkness and silence penetrating his mind with menacing thoughts. He stood there, in the muddy pathway, silent as he ever had been, listened for that quiet, distant voice once again. Against his own better judgment, he closed his eyes to focus his hearing. The stallion replayed the distant voice in his mind, each time he did this, it seemed different from the previous time, until he decided to dismiss it.

He opened his eyes slowly, and to his dismay, the light in front of him had been extinguished.

He sighed to prevent himself from panicking. Soarin’ knew that he needed to be strong if he were to still find the hut and question Zecora about his friend. The Zebra would be the only one to be able to at least help him figure out whether Spitfire had made it to the hut or not.

The Wonderbolt pressed on slowly, again having to use the infinitesimal amount of moonlight to guide him towards the Zebra’s hut. Through the peripherals of his vision he spotted black figures flying about in the massive trees, however when she shot his head towards them, they just disappeared. Soarin’ was soon convinced that the forest was causing him to be slightly paranoid.

Soon, the moonlight revealed the hut, and it was clear that the Zebra had just fallen asleep. Once he trotted over to it, and was tempted to knock on the door, he surveyed the area around himself. He wiped his dampening mane off of his face as he looked back to where he had come. He couldn’t see the entrance anymore, and the black clouds were filling in the gaps from which the moonlight had shone through.

Then to his dismay, he heard a petrified scream, much more prevalent than the one he had though he heard already, come from somewhere distant in the forest. The scream was labored and bloodcurdling, however, it was also unmistakably Spitfire’s, and instantly Soarin was wide-eyed and fearful, a vision of the distressed mare sending chills down his spine. Adrenaline instantly causing him to react on his first thought, he burst into that direction, narrowly avoiding the trees in his path. He galloped at full speed, hoping to hear another vocalization to pinpoint where she could be at.

“Spitfire!” He shouted, his voice echoing back as he nimbly ran through the mud. He wasn’t flying because the speed would cause him to slam into a tree.

Suddenly, he tripped and landed in a puddle of mud as his hoof caught on something. He landed with violent thump and 'oof', the vile liquid soaking all of his mane and tail instantly, as he recovered from the fall. He cursed his terrible luck.

He quickly found what he had slipped on. Through the limited light, it looked like some sort of broken cup.

The blue stallion tossed it on the ground as he once again began his decent into the unknown forest. Instantly he was aware of every single noise around him, and every single object in front of him. His senses were sharp and his heart was racing faster than it had ever before.

“Spitfire!” He shouted through his own heavy breaths. A few seconds after, an extremely massive roar rattled the trees around him and wiped his confidence away with it. It came from less than fifty yards in front of him.

His eyes widened in fear at the idea of following the noise. He wasn’t even sure whether Spitfire was there, and by all means it could be the last choice he’d ever make.

Adrenaline fueled his decision to go forth, towards the beast that awaited him. He had no clue where he was, and knew it was his only choice now that he heard the scream of the fellow Wonderbolt.

Through the patch of trees in front of him, he dashed into a sudden open clearing, the moonlight much more prevalent.

He shook his head left and right until he saw the lifeless body of Spitfire being flung around violently by a massive Manticore, who had her wing in its jaws.

No words could describe the terror Soarin’ felt in his heart at that very moment.

In the midst of its rage, the Manticore locked eyes with Soarin’. Instantly, it had a new target, dropping Spitfire on the ground carelessly. It started a bull-like run towards Soarin’, who instantly jumped into the air, barely able to escape the paw that was swiped below him.

“Spitfire!” Soarin’ screamed in midst of his panic, “Wake up!”

He was met with no response, and quickly had to return his attention to the raging Manticore below him. The Wonderbolt could almost feel the beast’s breath during a horrifying roar it released. All Soarin could think about was keeping it away from the mare that he presumed was unconscious because she had just screamed a few minutes before he arrived.

The time he was taking to think of a plan wasn’t enough, because the Manticore leapt into the air and swiped his sharp claws over the bottom of Soarin’s hind legs almost being able to take him out of the air. The monstrous animal landed on the ground with a thunderous ‘thud’ and pain shot through Soarin’s legs. Soarin had forgotten that Manticores had wings. He couldn’t get much higher or he could lose the beast’s attention and it could return to Spitfire.

The panicked stallion considered his options as the Manticore released a thunderous roar once again. However, this time the Manticore changed direction and started running towards the motionless Spitfire. Soarin’ had to act fast.

In an instant, the blue stallion was running full speed on the ground towards the beast, which was facing the same direction he was. A massive pain shot through Soarin’s leg as he ran, from where he was cut by the Manticore’s claw, however, he ran full speed and headbutted the beast in the ribs, sending them both into a tumble, only feet from the injured Wonderbolt. The rain had quickly escalated from a sprinkle into a full-fledged downpour.

Spitfire was laying on her side with her mouth slightly ajar. The new danger of her drowning put a time limit to Soarin’s rescue effort. After slidding into a tree, hitting his back, the blue stallion narrowly avoided another massive swing of the Manticore’s paw. If the massive creature wasn’t enraged before, it certainly had been after being tackled. However, it was clearly in some pain. After tenderly feeling its ribcage with its paw, the beast gave Soarin’ a deathly look.

“Spitfire!” He screamed one last time, a desperate attempt to get her attention through the relentless noise of the pounding rain. He checked his hind hooves to see a concoction of blood and muddy rain dripping from where the beast had hit him.

Once again, the mare didn’t even move a muscle. The water around her was rising sharply. Flying in midair, soaked and scared beyond words, Soarin’ about fifty yards from the Manticore, and lowered down until he was standing on wet ground. He moved his mane out of his face with a swift move of his hoof, and eyed the curious beast down.

The Manticore lowered its head and began a mad dash towards Soarin’. The thundering of the Manticore’s claws was loud even in comparison to the pouring rain. Soarin’s hooves were several inches deep in muddy water.

Soarin’ waited until the last second, then darted into midair, unfortunately unable to avoid another slash at his legs, causing him to cry out in agony as he flew above the bewildered beast. The Manticore had slashed the back of his legs a second time and adrenaline wasn’t helping him through the pain.

Fighting through the pain in his hind legs, Soarin’ flew to the opposite end once more, glancing over at the injured Spitfire who was less than ten feet away. Her eyes were still closed, and her wing was clearly broken. If she had any cuts, the rain had wiped away any evidence. However, Soarin’ noticed the slight rising and falling of her chest.

Spitfire’s alive…!

He turned his head to see the Manticore charging at him again, and he safely flew in the air before he could get swiped at again. He could only hope that the Manticore didn’t decide to use its wings again in pursuit of him.

The Wonderbolt returned to the other side, flying down and once again waiting for the Manticore. Soarin’ quickly noticed the sharp rise in water. Spitfire had to be extremely close to drowning.

The Manticore prepared to charge once more. This time, however, Soarin’ wasn’t going to dodge the monstrosity by flying into the air. He was going to swiftly turn around, and aim his hind legs and buck, hopefully making contact, and causing damage to the Manticore. He didn’t have much time left.

He once again wiped his muddy mane out from where he could see it, and tried to focus through the distracting downpour. The monstrous animal let out another roar, and started running towards Soarin’ once more.

If this doesn’t work…I’m sorry Spitfire…I tried...

In a moment where everything seemed to slow down, where reality met dreams, the Wonderbolt had the time to decide whether he should stay down and attempt kicking the Manticore and hopefully defeat it, or if he should fly up once again and try something else. However, to his surprise, he noticed out of the corner of his eye Spitfire struggling to get up and coughing violently.

The Manticore heard this too, even over its loud running

The beast skidded to a stop, and turned to face the injured mare before Soarin’ could even react. The Manticore was much closer to Spitfire and quickly started running towards her.

“Spitfire!” Soarin’ screamed as he saw the look of fear in her eyes.

In an instant, Soarin’ was airborne, flying as fast as he ever had. Just a few feet from the distressed Pegasus, the blue Wonderbolt crushed in the Manticore once more. The impact shattered the Manticore’s lower ribs and sent them both flailing across the flooding waters. Soarin’ slid into a tree at a high velocity, only causing himself more injuries. He stayed conscious through the hit to the head and cried out in pain once more. He didn’t have the energy to protect himself from another attack. he could only hope that last hit had worked.

When he turned his head, ignoring the flooding water, he saw no sign of the Manticore. Just rain and trees in ever direction. He sat up with a groan, now stricken with a throbbing headache.

Instantly, he jumped up and surveyed the area once more. Nothing but trees surrounded him. He ran over to the Pegasus who was struggling to even lift herself up.

“S-Spitfire…” He said softly through an emotional voice crack, holding the shivering mare up as she sputtered through a round of violent coughs.

Spitfire turned over on her side, and finally looked at Soarin’. Memory hit her like a bombshell, and she started crying immediately.

“You okay?” Was all that Soarin’ could say, he was stunned, elated, and still full of adrenaline. He took a look at Spitfire's mangled wing.

“D-did you…?” Spitfire started, though another round of coughing prevented her from continuing.

Soarin’ looked around their vicinity to survey whether there were any threats. They were out in the open and were still prime targets, both injured.

In the wake of the peril she had just gone through, Spitfire found the strength to give Soarin’ an emotional embrace, as she sputtered out how thankful she was for him.

“T-thank you…s-so much…you s-saved me…I can’t-t believe you d-did this for m-me,”

Soarin’ returned the hug gently, careful not to touch her badly injured wing.

Spitfire slowly got up, her legs extremely weak and wobbly, and her own vision blurred. She leaned on Soarin’ through support as all the many aches and pains caused her to gasp and cringe.

“Are you okay to walk?” Soarin’ said, through the relentless rain.

“Y-yes…” She replied, her voice shakier than her legs, “Y-you…I’m alive because of you…”

The stallion once again surveyed the area for any new threats, the moonlight shining moderately through cracks in the black clouds above them, “We’re going to need to find shelter…”

Though just surviving such a dramatically horrid ordeal, neither pony could begin to comprehend how much worse it could get.

The rain was still coming down, though it had calmed down for the time being. The muddy water was about 4 four inches deep in the most flooded parts of the forest. The black clouds way above them were thick and could be seen as far as they could see, which wasn’t far to begin with.

Soarin’ looked around and tried to find where he had come from. Every tree looked like a replica of the other, everything just looked the same no matter where he looked. He could see tree upon tree, and no clues to where he had come from.

The stallion sighed, causing Spitfire to look up at him, “I can’t tell where to go…”

Spitfire grimaced, as she once again had to wipe her mane out of her eyes, “The rain isn’t going to help, i-it’s too dark,”

“Horsefeathers…” Soarin’ chided, “Where in the hay can we stay out here? We’re too far to go searching for Zecora’s hut, even worse, we’d probably just end up lost,” He turned to the shivering mare beside him, “You’re still sick, this rain can’t be doing any good, we should find a safe place to rest as soon as we can. How’s your wing?”

Spitfire turned to look at her right wing, which was terribly damaged, “I-I don’t know if I’m going to be able to fly again…”

“Don’t say that,” The stallion responded quickly, before the thoughts could get to Spitfire, “Magic does wonders, I’m sure you’ll be able to fly when we’re back. I’m just glad you’re alive…” The two then started walking close together as they constantly surveyed their surroundings for any possible shelter, along with threats that could come their way. They were both shaken from their ordeal but where grateful for being alive, and wanted to make sure they would stay alive.

“Soarin’…you didn’t have to do what you did back there. This was all my fault for going here in the first place,” The mare said empathetically, "That was s-so heroic of you...."

“It was my fault for even telling you to go here. I would have done anything to save you,”

“H-how did you know?” The yellow Wonderbolt asked, though interrupted by another flurry of coughs, “How d-did you know I was still out here? I thought you’d be at the party,”

It was a long silence before Soarin’ responded, “I-I guess I started to worry a little when you didn’t come to the party, I went to your home and you weren’t there, and I-I guess I took a chance and came here…”

“I-I owe you my life, Soarin’”

They walked slowly; understanding that Spitfire was hurt so badly that she couldn’t walk faster than a slow trot without threatening to hurt herself more.

“You don’t owe me anything,” He said, oddly with a grin, “You being alive is all I wanted…when I first came upon you and Manticore, I knew I wasn’t going to leave without you…”

Soarin’ weaved around what he really wanted to say. In the tense silence after his statement, they glanced over at each other, as if it was the first time they had ever seen each other. They were muddy, bloody and soaked with diluted rain water, but they only saw each other’s eyes. Spitfire’s Wonderbolt uniform was ripped in places, though it was all the protection they seemed to have from predators.

They each spotted a large tree that had a sort of cave-in at the bottom. It was clearly big enough for them to fit in. Without saying a word, they both walked over to it, and once again gauged their surroundings got threats. The stallion then removed the layer of moss that had formed within the little crevice in the tree. The tree had formed on an incline, and there was only a small amount of water in it.

“D-do you think this will be okay?” Spitfire asked, jumping awkwardly when she heard the loud screeching of a distant bird.

“It’ll have to be. We need to get rest,” Soarin’ climbed into the tree, Spitfire taking up the space in front of him. The stallion had to awkwardly lay his head on part of a tree root as a pillow, while Spitfire had his front leg has a pillow. He didn’t mind this one bit.

The mare rested into him a little more, reminiscent of their past.

They both could look out and see the pouring rain, which was oddly comforting. It was constant and calming.

Though they had just barely survived one of the most life threatening events in their life, neither had a clue what was to come.

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