• Published 27th Feb 2012
  • 3,967 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 6

“I’m extremely sorry mister Firestreak, but my sense of where Spitfire could be is quite weak,”

The day was slowly fading away and Luna’s night was set to take over. Firestreak and the rest of the Wonderbolts’ had searched all of Ponyville and Canterlot for any signs of Soarin’ and Spitfire. Every answer was the same and every hour that past only stirred up more thoughts and ‘what if’s’ about the two Wonderbolts’ situation. They had avoided the Everfree forest as long as they could, but had eventually made their way in as a group to find any signs of the lost stallion and mare.

“Did you see Spitfire with a stallion with her?” The fire-red coated stallion asked, as he entered the hut with the Zebra.

“As far as my memory can go, I have to say no. When Spitfire was here, I could sense no one near,”

“Horsefeathers…” Firestreak chided in disappointment, “We haven’t seen them the night before and they had failed to show up at work today. We’ve been searching for them darn near in every corner of Equestria. We’re thinking they’re somewhere around here, considering that Spitfire had to come here to receive medicine for her sickness,”

“I can assure you she was here, but to where she is now is unclear,” The Zebra said, using a big spoon to mix a green boiling potion in her cauldron, “Tomorrow I’ll keep an eye out for anything I see, to be lost in this forest is dangerous indeed,”

“Thank you, Zecora. This is very appreciated,”

“Come again anytime, young Wonderbolt friend of mine,”

And that was it. Firestreak was unwilling to delve deeper into a forest he had never been in. The clouds cut off what little remaining sunlight there was, which would endanger them if they went in too far. It wasn’t a risk they were willing to take, they would have to come back the next day. Firestreak called everypony over to him, all of whom were in his vicinity, and told them that they would return the next day.

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Spitfire’s eyes darted open at the sound of something walking nearby. She had just been in a deep sleep, and was unsure whether the sound was just something she had heard in her dream. It was another absurdly vivid one, and the events before they went to sleep had influenced it again.

When the dim light revealed the sleeping stallion in front of her, she couldn’t help but smile as a warmth filled her heart.

This feeling was short lived when she heard low pitched grumble not ten yards from their shelter. She tensed up and her heart beat increased.

When the unknown creature started walking, the sound of snapping twigs hinted to the idea that it was some wild animal. Each step it took was loud and it seemed that it was slowly walking closer to Spitfire and Soarin’.

Spitfire bit her lip in order to prevent herself from making any noises that could give off that they were there. A combination of fear and anxiety flew through her body as she lay still, her ears perking up at any sign of movement near her and Soarin’.

The cold darkening night made this encounter go by excruciatingly slowly. She had no clue what time it was, she only could guess that it was still too early in the morning for the sun to be out.

Every second that passed felt like an eternity. She stared towards the stallion next to her and focused her hearing as well as she could. Each twig that snapped didn’t help her determine where the beast was at.

Suddenly, whatever was standing so close to them, started running in the opposite direction, the stomping of each step quickly growing distant.

She lay there silently until she could hear nothing but the distant voices of owls that inhabited the area around them. The encounter was suddenly over, though it certainly scared Spitfire and influenced her thoughts. It only took the sound of something walking near them to bring up the terrifying fear from when she was first attacked by the Manticore. It was a feeling she could never possibly forget. The mare clutched the stallion just a little tighter for comfort and warmth, letting the fear she had slowly drift away as she closed her eyes.

She sighed, probably louder than she should have, but it helped her calm down. Spitfire was wide awake, and really wanted to talk to Soarin’. However, she knew she couldn’t wake him up. They both needed their sleep. Spitfire rested her head on the pile of leaves that was her pillow and closed her eyes to try and sleep through her hunger and thirst.

<><><><><><><><>

When the mare finally woke up again, the first thing she noticed is that she actually was able to fall asleep even through the short ordeal she had gone through in the middle of the night. The second thing she noticed was that Soarin’ wasn’t in the shelter anymore and that there were a pile of berries on a leaf next to her. Spitfire smiled warmly, grabbed a few and put them in her mouth. The delicious juices from them jump-started her stomach and quickly reminding her that she was parched and famished. The Wonderbolt quickly ate what she assumed was her half of the berries.

She poked her head out from the shelter to see that the sun >was up from the light ??? shining through the thick clouds above. It was a dim light, but was lighter than the day before.

Carefully crawling out from where she had slept, she immediately noticed a nauseous feeling just from the act of standing up. She had felt fine lying down, but standing up has made it clear that she had only gotten sicker through the night. She waited for her vision to come into focus, and through the trees she saw Soarin’ picking berries from a nearby bush.

She walked over to him, ignoring the half dry mud that clung to her hooves she walked through it.

“Good morning, handsome,” She said with a smile, “Thanks for the breakfast,”

It was the morning after they had kissed and began their relationship again. Old feeling had resurfaced and caused their hearts to flutter and their cheeks to redden at the site of each other. They hadn’t felt that way since they had dated years ago as teenagers. They had shared a past of failed shots at a relationship, but something seemed different the moment they kissed, and they couldn’t quite put a hoof on it.

“They’re all yours, did you enjoy em?” He asked, handily picking out more berries he could hold in the tiny crevice of his hoof.

“Well, I had half, I thought that the rest were yours…we should eat together,”

The fact they were in a forest trying to find a way home didn’t seem to distract Spitfire from considering this their first date.

The blue stallion nodded, and filled his leaf up with berries and met the mare outside of the shelter he had built. He placed his leaf on the ground in front of hers which still had berries from earlier. She had brought it out in preparation for his return.

Sitting while facing the stallion, Spitfire spoke first, “Why do we also always seem to end up together huh?” She said with a chuckle, but was clearly happy that they were.

“I don’t know, but and I don’t care…I’m just glad we are,” The stallion responded simply, shoving a hoof-full of tiny red fruits into his mouth.

“I heard a noise last night and it woke me up…I couldn’t really go to sleep…I kinda…” Spitfire took off her the mask she had had on for the past several days because it had annoyed her. The cool air touching her face was very relaxing for her, considering the mare still had a fever from her sickness.The fact she was blushing became much more obvious without a mask, “I kinda um….I kinda wrote a poem about you. About us…”

“Whoa, I forgot about your poetic talents…” The stallion said with a grin, “Lemme hear it,”

“Don’t judge it please, it’s not that good,”

“I’m sure it’s great,” Soarin’ said.

“I-I’m still working on it,” The mare sidetracked, “I’ll tell you when I finish it, okay?”

Soarin’ chuckled, “Okay, I’ll be patient,” He craned his neck to his right to examine the mare’s wing, “How’s your wing looking?”

Her heart sank being reminded of her injury, “I-it’s…it’s okay…I don’t really feel anything anymore, it’s almost numb,”

“How sick are you?”

“I…I feel worse than yesterday. I-I’m actually a little nervous about walking so far today. I felt woozy when I woke up,”

The stallion grimaced, but had good news to share, “Well, I guess I have some good news. Did you notice that we could see the sun this morning? All we have to do is go east and we’ll be able to find Ponyville… So, depending on how good or bad we did these past few days on finding our way back, we should be able to find our way home before tonight, but I’m not sure,”

“That’s amazing to hear…I really just can’t wait to lay in a nice comfy bed and sleep for days,” She said with a labored chuckle, “I can’t wait tell everypony about how you saved me,”

“Do what you want, because all that matters to me is that you’re okay,” Soarin’ mused, giving the mare across from him a smile, “Maybe in a way you saved my life too?”

“How so?”

“If you hadn’t had gone to the forest, I may have had been the manticore’s first target and I wouldn’t have been found by anypony,”

“So, I guess it was a good thing I came to the forest…kind of,” Spitfire said, releasing a small chuckle, “Well, I’m happy you’re alive too. You could have died trying to save me…”

“If I had died, as long as you still lived, it would have been worth it,” The stallion said genuinely.

The touching statement from the stallion across from her caused tears to well up behind Spitfire’s eyes, “We’ve been through so much together, even before all of this…maybe we were meant to be together?” She ventured, finishing up her breakfast of berries.

Soarin’ had always thought that way about them, and to hear her say that, made him elated. He had to ponder his response, “Well, we’ll just have to wait and see. But I-I think we have something a lot of ponies may not have, and that’s because we’re alike in almost every way. Except your poetic talents, I’m a terrible poet,”

They both smiled lovingly at each other as they spoke, “I think that instead of poetic talents you have the talent of loving pie more than anypony else,”

“I still think you’re crazy for not liking it!” Soarin’ said, both enjoying a moment of laughter, “We can meet in the middle. You can write a poem about pie, and I’ll eat it,” Soarin’ joked, causing the mare across from him to burst out in more laughter.

“So…” Spitfire started, though having to pause to cough, “D-D you think anypony is looking for us?”

The stallion took a moment to think, while finishing the berries he had collected, “Well, we’re Wonderbolts, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were. Let’s keep an eye out for anypony while we’re on our way back today,”

Through their remaining hunger and thirst, and numerous wounds, they started towards the rising sun that they could see through the dull grey clouds. It had occurred to Soarin’ that he could fly through the clouds to see the direction they should head in. However, the puffy clouds above still had some deep blackened spots that still threatened to strike him with lightning if he flew through. He knew that if he injured himself, he could doom Spitfire in the middle of such a terrible area.

They could feel the humid, warm air stick to their coats and the mud dried in their coats from the rain just a few nights before. Their muscles ached and Spitfire’s sickness had only gotten worse overnight.

As they walked, the forest once again slowly returned to its usual darkness. The clouds were black as coal and they could only use their own sense of direction to trust that they were heading towards Ponyville. They could only trust their sense of direction to guide them.

Now a couple once again, they felt more bonded. They felt closer in a sense that they trusted each other more than had ever before. They had a past of ugly streaks of dating, but they both bonded on the idea that this time would be different. They were both strong-minded ponies, but Spitfire was able to let the stallion lead knowing her own condition. They trusted each other with their lives, which is something they hadn’t done before, even as best friends.

There’s always a short time of slight-awkwardness when a new relationship arises; both need to adjust to life with somepony by their side and need to adjust to the time they feel they should devote to each other. The time passed quickly for them. It felt natural for them to label themselves as a couple. It felt right. Even in such a dire situation, they found comfort and confidence in each other.

Though conversations about their emergence as couple helped the time pass by steadily, the hours that went by caused a striking fear to meander at the back of their minds as they slowly started doubting their hopes to return to Ponyville. Their hunger returned quickly and their thirst only grew. They endless greenery only added to their growing nervousness as they gazed into the distance. No sign of anypony else could be found, not even a hoof print or a sign of freshly picked berry bush that Zecora may have used for her potions.

Despite her efforts, ever so often the two would have to take a break so Spitfire could gather herself. Soarin’ went out to scrounge for berries to help her regain energy, but it was clear that she was fighting a losing battle. Soarin’ stayed strong and confident for the mare near him, but his thoughts increasingly became disheartening.

He stood by her as she finished the berried he had gathered for her. Spitfire breathing was labored.

“You alright now?”

After a few more audible breaths, she groaned and stood up, “Y-Yeah…”

He studied her figure struggling on deciding what he should do. He looked up towards the grey clouds. They were a lighter shade than they had been during most of their walk that day.

He flew up slowly, Spitfire eying him as she guessed what he was doing. It hit her quickly as he was halfway up, “No, Soarin’! I don’t want you to hurt yourself…”

The stallion looked down and flew idly, “Spitfire, I can survive a shock…I can’t bear the idea that we could be going the wrong way…”

“Be c-careful!” She shouted, the act of yelling putting stress on her weakened body.

Soarin’ looked straight up. Through the outreaching branches of the tall creeping trees and grey clouds, he could see no sign of electricity through them that could endanger him. Having only been a part of the weather team for a short time before becoming a Wonderbolt, he didn’t know if that meant it was safe or not.

He took a few deep breaths, and then flew up as fast as he could.

From the ground, Spitfire watched in horror as a blinding light sent lightning through the stallion’s body. He fell in a spiral towards the ground, a plume of smoke following his descent to the ground.

Anything that could have went wrong, went wrong in his pursuit to see where Ponyville was. He was barely able to slow his descent with his wings, and landed with a loud thump, and an immediate vocalization of the pain he felt throughout his body.

Spitfire immediately rushed to his aid, adrenaline preventing her body from collapsing from the effort of running.

The stallion’s eyes were clenched shut as he moaned from the terrible pain he felt through his back.

“Soarin’!” The mare exclaimed breathlessly, “Are you okay?”

Her heart beat faster than she could ever remember as the sight of Soarin’ lying in agony sent terrifying chills down her spine.

“I-I-I’m okay…” He stammered, “T-That w-was pretty s-stupid of me…and I mean really stupid…but I did see something…”

“W-what’s wrong, where are you hurt?” Spitfire asked, keeping calm against her own urges to panic. His coat was singed from the shock and he was breathing heavy after such a failure.

“My back…but it’s okay…I’ll be okay, just give me a minute,”

The mare backed off for a second to give the stallion his space. He had fallen from high above Spitfire and was only able to stifle the fall with his wings in the last half of his fall.

Spitfire looked around in despair. Everything seemed to be going wrong, everything seemed to show that they had no chance of surviving. She was striking with a deep feeling of hopelessness that only hindered her sickness and her will to survive.

Spitfire could feel herself losing hope on their dire situation. She surveyed the area once more as everything came into focus. She had never been in such a situation before, and it was almost impossible for her to keep an optimistic outlook on it.

The stallion rolled over onto his side, then slowly got up with a helping hoof from the yellow Wonderbolt.

“I shouldn’t have let you do that…” She said, still gazing through the blackened trees around them, “Can y-you stand?”

“I’ll be fine,” He persisted, “Let’s just go. I saw a glimpse of Ponyville….we’ve been going the right way….somehow,”

“At least we know now…but that was a bad fall, are you sure you don’t need a break?” She asked sympathetically.

“We can’t afford taking another break,” Soarin’ responded, putting on a strong front, “I need to make sure you get back safe…”

Through the dim light the yellow Wonderbolt was able to see the singed feathers on Soarin’s wings. It reminded her of her own injuries, “Let’s keep going in the direction that you said we should go…I’ll be fine Soarin’,”

After taking a few more moments to catch his breath, Soarin’ started walking once more, with a worried Spitfire by his side.

It was their second day in the forest. They haven’t had nearly enough nourishment to sustain both of them for much longer. As they walked forward, they continued surveying the area around them for any signs of more threats, but were consistently met with nothing but trees and shrubbery.

Hour after hour, they started feeling that they were walking in circles. All they saw were the plethora of trees and dark clouds as far as they could see. However, there was no rain, and they could feel the pit in their stomachs from being parched. Their bodies yearned for water and food, and perhaps most of all, rest.

Soarin’ could feel the pain his hind-legs from the Manticore attack. Every step, he could feel a stinging sensation through his hind hooves. His back was injured because of his earlier fall and he had a pulsing headache. However, he pressed on.

There was a hill they came across. It arched up somewhat steeply, yet had a flat surface on top. They didn’t need to say a word; they climbed up and collapsed on the top.

Their breathing was heavy, and they had no clue what time it was. The blackened clouds still seemingly had no end, and revealed barely enough sunlight for them to know it was still daytime.

Soarin’ looked at the exhausted mare next to him. A feeling of depression struck him.

She looks so weak…I haven’t been able to lead us to safety. What have I done wrong? Is anypony even searching for us? Could I have done something better? I should have traced my steps when I first came here… there’s gotta be something I can do to save us…save her…

He gazed off into the distance, quickly spotting a bunny hopping merrily between trees. He sincerely felt jealous of the bunny. Such a tiny animal could survive in such conditions and still happily hop around, while they struggle to even find their way out. He was tempted to follow that bunny, but he knew it wouldn’t help him since the animal probably wasn’t exiting the forest.

“I’m sorry, Spitfire…” He said, solemnly saddened.

Spitfire’s eyes remained closed while she spoke, “Sorry for what? W-we still have time to get back,”

“I’m sorry…I’m saying sorry just in case….j-just in case we don’t m-“

The stallion was cut off by Spitfire’s hoof on his mouth. She opened her eyes and looked at him, her eyes with bags under them, and slowly tearing up.

Soarin’ would never forget her face at that exact moment. They lay facing each other, their hooves interlocked. Soarin’ used his hoof to move Spitfire’s mane from her face and behind her ear . He then gently gave her a kiss on her nose, making her smile, just the slightest bit.

“We’re going to need this rest…enjoy it. I-I don’t know when the next time we’ll be able to rest again will be,”

Spitfire responded with a soft ‘mhmm’ and closed her eyes. She quickly drifted off into a nap, while Soarin’ just rested and surveyed their surroundings. He couldn’t sleep. His back was in pain from his earlier fall and he couldn’t have them both be sleeping in the middle of the day. They’d be prime targets for another attack, and in their conditions, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

He stroked Spitfire’s mane, and listened to her labored breath.

“The sickness must be really getting to you, huh?” He whispered in a saddened tone. His mouth opened to add something, but no words came out.

“I-I’m fine, Soarin’…” She spoke, though her eyes were still closed.

Soarin’ held her left hoof in his hooves, something he had done during their past relationships. Everything seemed much more silent as they took this short rest. Soarin’ could hear their breathing, he could hear the rumbling in distant clouds, signifying the possibility of rain. Every time he adjusted his position, he could hear the dying grass below him crumble and the dirt rub against his coat .

However, as Spitfire’s chest moved out and in as she fell into sleep, Soarin’ found his vision darkening and his eyelids feelings heavier…and heavier...

The stallion shook his head, trying to force himself to stay awake…it felt good just to close his eyes.

Just having his thoughts to himself caused the whole current situation to materialize. Soarin’ had played cool, promised Spitfire he would be able to find their way out, and get them home. He had had no doubt they were going to make it out of the forest. He had no doubt he was going to be able to get Spitfire to the hospital and get her injuries mended. Soarin’ may have had worries and prepared himself for them, but he never had lost hope that they would escape.

This short time, alone, caused his whole personal outlook on the situation to change. The idea of dying in the forest became almost tangible. The idea of not being able to save the mare beside him sent a chill down his spine. He forced the thought out of his head once again.

There was a light breeze coming from behind them, and it was very comforting in such a humid environment. Soarin’ once again found himself forcing his eyes open after a short period of sleep. However, all it took was one time where he fell into a deep sleep, and soon the two Wonderbolt’s were both sleeping in the middle of the day, in the middle of the forest.

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