• Published 27th Feb 2012
  • 3,966 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 7*

Soarin’ didn’t want to open his eyes. He knew he had fallen asleep against his own will and he knew that that rest would only make it harder for him to exert the energy to will them forward.

When he did open his eyes, he was met with the almost pitch-black darkness of the night. He rubbed his eyes, then squinted to see Spitfire still sound asleep in front of him. Her breathing was dangerously uneven, and this scared him.

How long did we sleep?

Soarin’ sat up slowly, then surveyed the area based on what he could see. It was as silent as it was dark, no wind, rain or thunder to interrupt the blissful silence of the forest they were.trapped in.

This silence is good…just in case something tries to attack us

The stallion found himself conflicted on whether or not he should wake the poor mare beside him. He glanced over at her for a few seconds. She was still in her ripped up Wonderbolt uniform, though she had removed her mask the day before.

“Poor girl…” He whispered solemnly.

During the silence, he noticed that Spitfire made the tiniest noise with every breath she took. It was barely a vocalization, barely a voice at all, though it seemed to stick in Soarin’s mind for an odd reason.

He decided to let her sleep, knowing that she needed the rest. He took the time she was asleep to contemplate how they could make it out of the forest while still in such darkness. Neither of them were unicorns, so illumination was impossible without fire. Fire was near impossible because the rain made everything damp a few days ago.

Everything seemed to be going against them. The impending doom thoughts nagged at the back of his brain, the guilt of not being able to save her nagged at his soul, and everything seemed to just be going so slow.

Even though he had just slept an unknowable amount of hours away, the time seemed frozen and merciless. At first he had just wanted everything to go by fast so they could get back and make it to the training, which they had missed this day. Now, his priorities changed dramatically. Even with them both having sustained injuries, he had been confident that they would escape the forest and live. His confidence now was shaken, which is never good when trapped in such a terrifying ordeal.

Soarin’ laid back down on his side, facing the mare once more. He moved her mane out of her face once more, it had been obstructing her breathing.

She moaned a little, a sign that she was finally awake, though her eyes didn’t open for a few seconds.

“Hey,” Was all that Soarin’ could say, as she revealed her orange eyes in the dim moonlight.

“W-what time is it?” Her voice was hoarse and stressed from just waking up, “Wait, nevermind,” She quickly corrected, with a little chuckle.

“Guess we fell asleep…” Soarin’ commented, half-jokingly, “Which is okay, I guess, you needed your rest. How are you feeling?”

Spitfire sighed, still laying on her side. She used her forehoof to lift herself up into a sitting position, taking a considerable amount of effort.

“I…I feel terrible, Soarin’,” She said, slightly struggling to keep her balance as she gazed off into the distant forest.

Soarin’s heart sank drastically. Just the stressed way she had said that bothered him; hearing her sound so…weak, was absolutely saddening for him. Seeing what was such a strong, able-bodied mare in front of him in such a state was frightening. He needed to do something.

“Can you stand?” He asked, as he lifted himself up into a sitting position too.

“I don’t…know!” Spitfire exclaimed, her voice cracking in despair. She hung her head as a few tears dripped down her cheek.

“P-please don’t cry, Spitfire, I-I’m doing my best,” Soarin’ said, his heart breaking in two, at the sight of his mare crying.

“Why not?!” She exclaimed in desperation, “I-I’m holding us back! I’m holding you back! Just look at me, I’m beaten to a pulp! It hurts to breathe, Soarin’!” She took a few breaths as she recovered from the effort it took just for her to lash out in such a way.

She lifted her head up, a tiny gleam of moonlight spotlighting the tears pouring from her orange eyes, “I-I’m dying Soarin’… I can’t… I…”

The words she said really tore at Soarin’s figurative heart. Without a word, he calmed the mare down by hugging her, his hooves wrapping around the injured mare’s body. She felt frail in his upper-legs, though she did return the hug. With each exhale, the yellow Pegasus released a desperate short cry, as the stallion whispered comforting words into her ear.

“Stay strong, Spitfire…I-I need you as much as you need me. You’re not a burden, you’re not holding us back...you’re not going to die,”

Soarin’ felt a chill creep down his spine, knowing how uncertain he was about the last thing he said to her.

“I-I hope so… I… I’m sorry for this, I shouldn’t be crying…we…we should probably get going,”

Soarin’ wiped a tear away with his hoof, “Yes, we should,”

The two ponies kissed, something that calmed them both down quite dramatically. It was a quick peck, but it reminded them of how they’re in it for each other.

“Can you walk?” The stallion asked, slowly getting up into a standing position with a groan.

Spitfire stood up too, though with a shaky sigh. After a few seconds, she nodded her head.

The forest seemed almost devoid of any animal that could be of threat. It was so eerily silent that they almost had been comfortable with not checking for any danger around them, which is something Soarin’ knew he couldn’t forget to do.

The massive wilderness around them smelled of a concoction of leaves and rain. The miniscule amount of moonlight that peeked / shone through the clouds gave them a general clue as to where they had been heading before they dozed off. Upon standing up, they noticed a slight breeze going nearly the same direction they were headed.

The two walked down the hill they had slept on. The ground was dryer than they had expected, though it had been raining.

Then they started their walk, once again, into what seemed like an endless amount of bushes and trees.

Soarin’ was certain that during those few seconds when he was above the clouds, He saw ponyville in the distance and hoped that they were heading that direction. His back still ached terribly from the fall, thankfully his wings were able to lessen the impact.

They walked slower than they had the past few days. Spitfire had to pace her breathing. Though they didn’t drink or eat much the past few days, her sickness was thriving and she felt nauseous. However, she felt oddly calm having Soarin’ by her side. As they walked further and further, she couldn’t help but feel proud of Soarin’.

Things felt different for Spitfire as she walked next to the stallion. She glanced over at him while walking, his coat as dirty as it could be, his eyes weakened, his injured hind legs, and yet, he was still able to keep going. She didn’t know what he was thinking, but it seemed as if he could keep going much longer than she could.

Spitfire knew that she wasn’t going to be able to last much longer. The humidity caused her coat to itch uncontrollably, her wing was held in an awkward position since first being attacked, during the night she’d roll over on it and send a jolt of pain down her spine. Above all, her legs felt heavy and her body felt empty inside. She yearned for water and food, though there was none, not even berries to be seen anywhere near them. Her eyelids felt heavy, as if the mere act of putting the effort into walking made her tired all over again.

Spitfire didn’t know what to do. Soarin’ had tried to convince her she would be okay, and as she looked up at him, she gave a little smile, but her conscious thought otherwise.

After an hour of walking, her breathing became manual. The stallion would stop and ask her if they needed another rest, because he could hear her loud breathing, but breathlessly she would force herself forward.

The yellow coated mare could feel her own heart beating, and her muscles tensing up whenever they reached a slight incline. She could feel the force through her body each step of the way up.

Time went by painfully slow for the two. They pushed on, forcing their bodies to cooperate with their minds. The stallion would say empty words of encouragement consistently, though neither of them believed it.

The blackened-greenness of everything that was in front of them didn’t heed any clues as to whether they were near Ponyville. The clouds, mercilessly unwilling to break apart to reveal sunlight seemed as endless as their ordeal has become.

Soarin’ spoke to himself and Spitfire, “Just keep going…j-just keep going…” A stutter left almost every syllable, his words shaken by the effort of walking. Their hooves were encrusted by a thick half-dry mud. It felt like twenty pounds on each hoof to the poor sickened mare beside him.

“S-Soarin’…” Spitfire said suddenly, her voice raspy. She stopped, and instantly her body was shaking almost violently.

The blue stallion quickly trotted back to the mare, who was leaning on a tree.

“What, w-what is it?” The stallion asked, instantly concerned.

Spitfire’s stare was almost blank, seemingly staring straight through the panicked stallion above her. Her mouth opened, but no words came out.

“Spitfire…p-please…are you okay? Do we need to rest?” Soarin’ asked, his voice higher pitched as her worsened condition alarmed him.

He could feel his heart break, almost physically, “Please answer me…please…”

Suddenly, the whole plan to even get back to Ponyville wasn’t his primary concern. His heartbeat increased, as he only received a gasping response from the mare, her eyes widened as if she had just seen a ghost. Her gaze continued to pierce through Soarin’ as if he wasn’t there.

The stallion lent a hoof to help her stay up. Suddenly, the sick mare’s eyes rolled to the back her head as she collapsed to the muddy earth in one quick thud.

The stallion could only release a petrified yell in terror as he saw the mare collapse, his hoof not coming in any help.

He quickly scanned the area as his own yell echoed back to him, he then quickly bent over and wiped the mare’s mane from her face.

“S-Spitfire…I-I….please!” His voice made a crescendo as panic truly set it, “Wake up! Wake up, please!” His voice cracked through the sudden stress put on him, he was barely able to think straight as everything fell apart in front of him.

He chin quivered, and his eyes felt as if a dam was about to burst, “Spitfire! Somepony, help! Wake up! I-I…Please!” Soarin’s voice cracked once more in desperation tears streaming down his cheek.

He forcefully calmed himself down. After a few seconds of letting his focus on the injured mare, he could tell she was still breathing.

“Please wake up…I-I…”

“Soarin’, I…” The mare whispered, her voice weaker than ever, “I just need to rest… it feels so good… good to close my eyes…”

“No, no, Spitfire, we need to go,” Soarin’ said, his voice wavering in relief that she was conscious, though barely.

“…and forget everything…” She spoke over him, her eyes slightly opened, though she clearly wasn’t able to see anything, “Soarin’….”

His mind predicted her words before she said them, “I’m not going to leave without you, Spitfire!” He said adamantly.

“I can’t….” The yellow mare tried to move herself up, though through major struggle, could only get herself into a sitting position. She rested her head on her front hooves and closed her eyes again.

“We need to go Spitfire…we need to survive, we need to get to Ponyville…I could never leave here without you…get on my back…”

She opened her eyes to look at the stressed stallion standing above her, “Soarin’, you’re too weak…I’m…I’m only getting in the way…leave,”

“Spitfire…” Soarin’ dropped down in a sitting position in front of her. His voice was deep and solemn, “I promised you I would get you out of here…” Tears continued to stream down his cheek, his throat closing between sobs, causing his voice to waver, “It’s a promise I can’t break,”

Spitfire’s eyes widened once more, revealing tears of her own that glistened in the moonlight that surrounded them.

“Please…I can do this…I can carry you…I’ll do anything…” The stallion continued.

Without another word, the mare slowly got up. Her breathing intensified, she made groaning noises as she used what felt like the rest of her strength.

Soarin’ got up and sat in front of her, facing the same way.

“I can balance you, I’m big strong? enough…”

Through her shaking, she was able to balance her legs at Soarin’s sides until she was above him. She then laid down on top of him, each groaning through the effort. The relief she felt was immense.

“I’ll get you out of here,” Soarin’ said, as she rested her head against the side of his neck.

She lifted her muzzle against his ear and whispered ‘I love you, Soarin’… never forget me”

The idea that she had prepared to die filled him with adrenaline. He lifted up Spitfire on his back, with a roar, as the effort put massive strain on his already injured back. The soreness hurt Soarin’ terribly, but adrenaline pumped through his veins and he finally started walking with the sick mare balanced on his back.

Each step through the maze of trees took twice the effort, and the lack of water caused his whole body to feel heavier than usual. He couldn’t allow himself to stop, though his body seemingly begged for it. He wasn’t going to quit, no matter how much his body struggled.

He felt the mare swarm weak breaths against the side of his neck, as he quickly noticed he could feel her heartbeat on his back. He could feel the weakened pulse that was being sent through her body, which worried him. Her heart seemed to beat a bit slower than any healthy pony’s would, which wasn’t surprising, but still very worrying. As long as he could feel a heartbeat and hear her breath, he was motivation to put forth the effort into getting them both out safely.

The stallion’s back nearly felt numb with the weight being pressed on where he was injured during his fall. He had to work a little harder to keep Spitfire balanced on him.

The air felt colder. Though it probably was a bad sign, it was calming and cooled him down after being in such humid and warm air for such time.

He couldn’t help but wonder if it was a sign that they were getting closer to safety.

“Spitfire, I need to keep you talking, I can’t let you go unconscious again,” The blue Pegasus said through grunts from the effort of walking with her on his back.

“O-okay,” She responded, her muzzle right under his ear.

Come on…think of something to talk about

“Remember…remember when we first met back in flight school? And you were becoming a Wonderbolt before me, and I was so jealous?”

The mare chuckled just a little, “Yes…you wouldn’t talk to me because you wanted to join before me,”

Despite the situation and the pain he was going through, Soarin’ smiled at the nostalgia, “I remember when you joined and they invited us to the ceremony thing where they introduced you to the team, and Lightning Streak forced me to go, I was such a foal back then!”

Soarin’ was only met with silence, so he spoke again, “Spitfire…you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m sorry…”

“You have to stay awake…I can’t let you sleep more, I’m sorry,” Soarin’ said, as he started walking up a very slight incline, though it made him use much more effort.

Once again he received no response.


He could still feel Spitfire’s heartbeat on his back. It made a faint, yet noticeable sound that he focused on.

Knowing that it probably wasn’t smart to keep making her use energy by having her speak, he decided to let everything fall into silence again and focus on saving the mare on his back.

The stallion gritted his teeth as the incline increased sharply before leveling out. The temperature dropped again, and he could feel Spitfire shake a little on his back. The trees somewhat seemed a little farther spaced out, though still dark. The black branches clawed at the clouds above.


He suddenly noticed how bright it had become. They just have slept much longer than he had thought, or they simply lost their idea of what time it had been due to it always being dark. He still couldn’t see the sun, but the clouds were a lighter shade of grey. He looked down at his hooves and the numerous cuts and dirt in his coat.


He stopped for a second to help the mare balance on him a little more. Soarin’ could still feel her breath against the back of his ear, but just barely.

He surveyed the area around him. Only the distant chirping of birds revealed any sign of nearby life around them. The trees and dying shrubbery seemed endless. Soarin’ assumed the water had flooded pretty bad around here.


Suddenly, something in the ground caught his eye, but his vision was impaired enough to where he couldn’t figure out what it could be. He squinted as he walked slowly towards an object sticking out of the ground.

He stood over the object and squinted again.

“Hmm,” He vocalized as he noticed that it was a broken cup.

He used his forehoof to knock it to the side to see if the remaining fragments had anything written on them.

Oddly enough, the stallion felt like he recognized the cup.

“Oh my Celes-“ He started, as he realized that the cup he was in front of, was the cup he had tripped on as he raced to find Spitfire as she was being attacked by the Manticore.

His heart beat quadrupled, and he shook with adrenaline once more as he squinted through the distance.

Soarin’ took a few minutes to study the area, Spitfire still on his back.

He looked past the endless amount of trees to tell where the pathway could be, the one that could lead them to safety. He shouted with joy, though having to calm himself just make sure he didn’t make another mistake. Soarin’ focused his vision until he noticed a small opening that seemed signify a pathway. A small clearing where there no trees, and only some dirt where a pathway could be. His eyes widened as if it were too good to be true.

“Spitfire! I-I think we..I might have just found our way out!” He said, his voice cautiously optimistic, using his newfound energy to walk through shrubbery and muddy grass to make his way towards the clearing.

Spitfire didn’t respond.

“Spitfire, now’s not a time to rest, I need you to be awake when I get you to that Zebra’s place,”

Once again he was only met with the chirping of distant birds.

Hmmm….I haven’t felt her heartbeat in a while...

Oh Celestia, no!

Soarin’ stood still. There was no breath on the back of his ear, no heartbeat he could feel against his back. His heart plummeted.


He sat down quickly, letting the mare roll limp off of his back into a small amount of mud.

“Oh Celestia, Oh Celestia, Oh Celestia, Nononono…”

He head frantically surveyed the area around them for any signs of help.

“Spitfire! Wake up!” he nearly screamed, his whole body in absolute panic

His chin quivered and his stomach was twisted into knots.

No! Not now! We’re so close! We’re so bucking close!

He rested his head on her chest, trying to ignore his own loud breathing to hear any heartbeat.

Seconds went by so fast.


It took a few seconds for him to realize it. He lifted his head slowly, tears pouring down his cheeks, his breathing erratic.

He let out an agonizing yell that seemed to echo for a minute. He looked around himself once again studying for anything around them. Anyone that can save them. Anyone that could save Spitfire. Tears obstructed his vision and heartbreak weakened his whole body. The lifeless mare in front of him, the mare he had loved for what seemed like his whole life, may have just lost the battle.

He looked around, shaking his head to rid of the tears. He felt light-headed, but knew what he had to do.

“I’m not going to break my promise,” he said, the tears once again welling behind his eyes.

He laid next to Spitfire. He gave her a kiss on her nose. He tried to say something, but the site of the yellow mare in such a lifeless condition caused his throat to close. He used his forehooves to get her on his back once more. He balanced her as much as he could, then forced himself up, through his aching and weak muscles. His vision was blurred from exhaustion as much as it was blurred from tears.

He started to walk fast through the trees towards the pathway, or what it seemed to be. It was his last hope.

Soarin’ walked as fast as he could, though his ability to stay balanced was deteriorating. He wasn’t going to stop until he couldn’t go any further.

He walked past a few more trees until the pathway was clear, but there was no way he could feel the slightest relief.

He looked right and left, his vision surrounded by creeping black. His lightheadedness was only increasing. He leaned against a tree for a few moments, his breathing heavy. A deep feeling of nausea coming over his body, right as he spotted Zecora’s hut’s silhouette of the hut in the darkness.

In a last ditch effort, he started trotting as fast as he could with the mare on his back.

The stallion swayed, ever so slightly, as he neared the hut.

“Z-Z-Zecora!” He said, gasping for more air.

His vision faded to black, as his body gave in.He and Spitfire fell onto the muddy ground only a few feet from Zecora’s hut.

Get up!

Soarin’ could only think, his eyes open but unable to see, his body feeling the cold air around him, unable to use his sense of sight.

Spitfire…I’m so sorry

Everything seemed to come to an end. After so much backbreaking effort, after putting his life in danger for the love of his life, Soarin’ again found himself realizing that he failed. He quickly started drifting in and out of consciousness, the stress too much for his body to handle.

”Oh my Celestia, could this be?

The two famous missing ponies?

For my own potions, they’re too sick!

I must find help right quick!”

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