• Published 1st Jun 2014
  • 13,292 Views, 2,052 Comments

Equestrian Epona - Shritistrang

What does a horse do when it finds out that it's actually from a world inhabited by intelligent equines? And when she gets the choice, where would she decide to live?

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A pony named Epona

Let me tell you something about the hero of time.

No, I'm not talking about how the common Hylian sees him. Let's talk about him from a completely different point of view. Not from the people he saved, not from his friends, not from the princess who governs Hyrule. Not even from the eyes of his enemies.

Let's talk about how the hero of time is viewed by the individual who sees herself as his closest friend and ally, his trusted companion and the one who considers herself closer to him than anyone else has ever been. The young boy named Link who grew into a man during his long and arduous adventure… he never had any family to speak of. He never met his parents and the closest thing he had to a sister was forced to part with him as soon as they realized their destinies were different from each other. He never fell in love and never had that many friends. Not even that annoying, bug-winged ball of light could claim that she was as close to him as I was.

I was the one who was constantly at his side. I was the one who carried him through thick and thin. I was the one who came running whenever he played that beautiful tune on his instrument. And even though I never could follow him into the depths of all those dangerous dungeons he ventured into, I loyally waited for him to come back out, all the time. I even came with him when he set out to find that stupid fairy… Only Nayru knows what he sees in her. Of course, I regretted that decision as soon as that mischievous imp jumped on my back and startled me so much that I ran away as fast as my little legs could carry me. Curse my muddled little horse brain…

But still, he came back for me. That moment alone showed me how much he cared. It doesn't matter that I'm a completely different species than him. It doesn't even matter to me if he thinks I'm nothing but a common, unintelligent beast of burden. As long as I can stay at his side, I'm happy.

Now don't confuse these feelings with love. This is nothing like it. I don't feel any physical attraction to him. And it's not sibling love either. I don't know how to call it, but every time I run towards him, every time he rides into battle on my strong back, I feel the strong bond between us. A bond of loyalty and friendship.

I understand completely if most of you are confused by now. Yes, you might have guessed it already by my words: I'm a horse. My name is Epona, and I'm the loyal mount of Link, hero of time. I can already imagine how some of you might scratch your heads and think: An intelligent horse? How in the worlds can that be? All of you, feel free to think that way. It is completely understandable. Every person in Hylia, Termina and many of the other countless worlds that seem to exist would think like that. Horses are not supposed to be intelligent. Sure, this is a magical land with fairys and magic and talking scrubs… but horses are horses. They never talk.

Well, let me use this chance to tell you about a different topic: My dreams! Yes, horses do dream. However, they usually are nothing special. Your common workhorse dreams of nothing more than a warm stable, a caring owner and a tasty carrot now and then. A warhorse might dream of carrying her master into glorious battle. But my dreams are different.

In my dreams, horses can talk. Or more importantly, ponies can talk.

In my dreams, I'm in a completely different world. It's a world as magical and fantastic as Hyrule, but it's much more colorful and lively. While Hyrule is beautiful, it can also be dark, creepy and dangerous. Stalchilds roam the plains at night, graveyards are haunted by Poes and man-eating Dodongos inhabit the mountain.

Sure, there are dangers in my dream world too. But you don't see them that much. They are hidden away in their own small dark corners of the world. Everything else is bright and happy and full of sunshine and rainbows. And there are no bipeds anywhere. Not counting the occasional minotaur or rupee-eating canine. The predominant species in this world are equines. Ponies, to be exact. They talk, they laugh, they work, they play, they do magic and fly through the sky.

This is Equestria. And in my dreams, I live there, among others of my kind. I'm not seen as the dull-minded animal, but as an equal among equals.

I don't know when these dreams started, but I know I had them before I met Link for the first time. At first, life on the farm was as dull as it could be. I was a lively little filly and felt imprisoned within the boundaries of this fence, these high walls. Sure, the farmer's little daughter was nice and caring and had the most melodic voice I ever heard, but it was still a prison. Only after meeting Link, after becoming his companion, would I begin to experience true freedom.

But before that, Equestria was my only escape. Before meeting Link, it was the only place I found joy. I was a pony among ponies. Like in Hyrule, I was working on a farm. But unlike here, I actually owned it. My family owned it, to be precise. Yes, I had a true family back then. Here at the Lon Lon Ranch, I only have the Hylians who take care of me. But in Equestria, everything was different. My family was not only big, we were proud. Proud to be part of this family, proud to be farmers, proud of being an earth pony.

Oh, excuse me. You probably don't really know what that is. Earth ponies, they are one of the three dominant pony species in Equestria. Pegasi have wings and control the weather. Unicorns have horns and weave magic spells. Earth ponies don't have horns and wings, but they are strong. They are tough. And they are stern. They take care of the earth they walk upon and the earth gives them back.

In my dreams, I was an earth pony. And I couldn't be happier. But every time I woke up, every time I had to bid this wonderful land farewell, it felt like waking up from a dream. Which it was. I'm not an earth pony. I can't talk. I'm just regular old Epona.

But I shouldn't complain. I have something other horses don't have. I am the companion of the hero who saved Hyrule and Termina. And I wouldn't want it different. Not for all the carrots in the world, not for all the free land to roam and not even for Equestria would I ever want to leave his side. I would be his house, his mount, his friend. Forever.

And for the longest time, I believed it would always be like this.

And just when I accepted my place, my place alongside my friend, my place in Hyrule… that's when my true story started. Listen closely, and I will tell you about it.

It happened after Link and I returned from Termina. We never did manage to find that annoying fairy, thank Farore. We came back to Hyrule, the land we left after Link defeated the King of Evil and was transported back through time, back into his own childhood. Don't ask me how all that works, my little horse brain is confused every time I try to think about it. Anyways, Link was back and everyone was glad. He started a new life and became older, naturally, aging over the years, as he was supposed to. The boy became a man. And me? Well, the filly became a mare. But did our lives change a lot after this? Not really. We still roamed the country in search of adventures, we assisted the people of Hyrule whenever they were in trouble and I carried Link into battle against monsters. Sure, Ganondorf was no more. But there have always been monsters in Hyrule and there always will be.

I still remember how Link and I rode across the wide plains of Hyrule Field. Like always, I enjoyed the freedom. Back at the farm, I was never able to run this fast. I was so enthralled by the speed, the adrenaline, the wind in my mane… I almost didn't notice the giant shadow approaching us. Not until it blocked out all of the sun.

It was a giant bird, bigger than any of the monsters I had seen Link fight. It swooped down on us, razor-sharp claws spread. And it was aiming for Link. Yes, I could see it clearly: The beast wasn't just attacking randomly, it didn't attack because it was hungry, it didn't pick a random Hylian. Its enormous eyes were focussed completely on my rider and I realized it was here for him.

I couldn't let it take him.

Link shouted an order, but I didn't listen. With a shrill whinny, I bucked as hard as I had in my entire life. I used all my power to throw Link off my back, to get him out of that bird's reach. I know he survived worse falls, this was nothing. And I knew I just put myself in the most dangerous situation a horse could be in. But I didn't care. As long as he was safe.

The last thing I remember was the pain when the enormous claws closed around my body, squeezing the life out of me. I couldn't even tell if the monster was lifting me off the ground or not. The pain was worse than anything I felt before. It was so unbearable that I lost conciousness.

The first thing I noticed after waking up were the voices. The voices of the only two Hylians I ever cared about.

"She's waking up."

"Do you think she'll make it?"

"Of course she will! Don't be stupid. What I'm worried about is why she looks like this. Are you sure that song did what it was supposed to do?"

"Hey, I used it four times, once on me. It always worked."

I opened my eyes. What confused me right away was how big everything seemed to be. I realized I was lying on a soft straw bed in the stables of Lon Lon Ranch, but even while lying down, Link shouldn't be THIS tall.

I wanted to give them a small nicker, to show them I was fine. Instead, I started talking in a soft, sleepy sounding voice: "What's the matter, y'all?"

Link and Malon looked at me like I had grown an additional head. "She TALKS!" Malon gasped. "How can she talk? Link, what have you done? Your stupid song messed everything up." She grabbed Link by his tunic and started shaking him. She always does that when she's angry.

"I d-d-don't know, seriously! I have no explanation for any of this. I don't know why she looks like this, why she talks and why she has that thing on her flank."

"Huh? What thing?" I muttered and turned my head. I was still sleepy, so the fact that I just spoke like a Hylian wasn't too clear to me yet.

But I was wide awake as soon as I took a closer look at myself and saw just how much I had changed. Not only was I a lot smaller, I also had a shorter and probably also cuter muzzle. My body proportions were different and my eyes were WAY bigger than before. But what stood out most was the thing I saw on my flank, the symbol I've grown used to see several times on my journey with Link. Heck, I've seen it often enough on the back of his hand.

It was the image of the Triforce. Courage, Wisdom and Power, put together to form the symbol of the gods.

And it was my cutie mark.

Now just what are cutie marks? A cutie mark appears on a pony's flank as soon as she or he found that very certain something that makes her or him special. Basically, it shows the pony's destiny.

The only problem is: Cutie marks only exist in Equestria. Which is a place that only exists in my dreams.

Yet here I was, a pony. With a cutie mark showing the Triforce on my flank. What exactly that meant for my own destiny was a whole different story altogether. What I was more worried about was the fact that I looked exactly like I did when I was dreaming of Equestria.

I looked back up at the two Hylians that were still watching me with worry. Link hesitantly reached out with his hand. "E… Epona?"

"Um… howdy," I replied.

My Hylian partner certainly did not know how to react to that. In all fairness, neither did I. Link reached out with his finger, continuously poking the three golden triangles that now adorned my side. He continued doing so until it got on my nerves.

"Would you cut that out?" I snapped.

"Um, sorry," he sheepishly said and pulled back his finger. "I just don't know… is it really you?"

"Uh… yeah," I said. "And before y'all ask me, I have not the slightest clue how this happened."

"This is incredible," Malon gasped. I nearly forgot she was there. "My little Epona, the same filly I raised on my own here on the farm… and I'm able to talk to her." She seemed giddy all of a sudden. "Eeeeeee!" she squealed as she hugged me. "You're soooo cute!"

"Would you knock it off already?" I said in annoyance. "Honestly, you two are acting as if you've never seen a talking pony before."

"Well, of course we haven't," Malon said, still wearing that silly grin. Of course, she didn't let go of me either. "Ponies don't talk."

Oh, right. I forgot I wasn't in Equestria at the moment. Strange, being in this form almost made it feel like… wait a minute.

"Oh my gods!" I gasped. "It's true! It's all true. I thought it was just a dream, but it's true."

Link and Malon exchanged a confused glance. "Ehm… just what is true, exactly?" Link asked.

"My dreams! They were true all this time. I was living in this other world, as a pony among ponies, and… I had family there." The severeness of the truth hit me hard. "Dear Farore… no, dear Celestia… whatever… I really AM a member of the apple family."

"Epona, dear," Malon softly said. "Would you mind terribly to tell Link and me just what the hell you're talking about?"

I took a deep. "Okay… I will. But only if you let go of me already."

"Fine…" she muttered as she reluctantly pulled away her arms.

So I told them. I told them everything. About Equestria, about the three kinds of ponies that lived there, about my family. About the husband I suddenly knew I had, the lovable children we had, the parents that passed away way too soon and the many brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces. About the festivals we had together, the Apple family reunions and the Equestrian holidays we celebrated together, such as Hearth's Warming Eve and Nightmare Night. I talked and talked and talked. And the more I talked, the more all of this stopped seeming like a distant dream to me, but as the honest truth. And I started to realize that my dreams were more than that… they were memories of my former life. Of my life as Epona Apple.

My story went on late into the evening. During my story, Malon's father Talon had entered the barn to see why she wasn't preparing dinner. After seeing me and hearing me talk, his eyes went just as wide as the two younger Hylians. But instead of interrupting me, he quietly sat down next to them and listened as I continued. When I was finally finished, the three of them stared down at me, eyes wide with disbelief. I certainly could not blame them. It didn't happen a lot that someone you thought you knew turned out to be someone completely else.

"But wait… that doesn't make any sense," Link said. "You said you had this huge family in Horsewhatsia…"

"Equestria…" I corrected him with a frown.

"Right. That. You said you're from that land and not Hyrule… but how come I met you when you were a filly? Malon raised you on this farm. You were born here, right?"

"That's not exactly true, boy," Talon spoke up. "Epona was not born here at Lon Lon Ranch. We raised her here, true, but none of the horses we own is her mother. I found the little filly in front of the main gate, back when Malon was a baby. She was wrapped in a blanket, completely alone."

"Someone left a baby horse at your doorstep and you never found that weird?" Link asked.

"Of course it was weird, but what was I supposed to do? Leave her alone in the wilderness of Hyrule Field so the Stalchildren get her?"

"It certainly was weird, but I was very happy to see Epona grow older alongside me," Malon smiled. "Even though she's a horse, she was like the sister I never had. I would never question why she was brought to us, I was just happy to have her."

"So, in other words… you decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth." We all groaned at Link's horrible pun.

"But you're right, Link," I then said. "It doesn't make any sense. I remember my family, all of them. I remember my parents. I remember marrying my husband. I remember giving birth to my darling children. I remember every single time my cousin bested me in a lasso contest. But I also remember growing up on this farm. Somehow… I ended up here, in Hyrule, turned back into a foal." I clutched my head with my front hooves. "I'm trying to remember, but… my heard hurts every time I do that. I know that both of my lives are real, but that's it."

"You poor thing," Malon said as she gently stroke my mane. It felt really good, so I didn't stop her. "You must miss them a lot."

"So… you believe me?" I asked.

She smiled. "Why wouldn't we? You are Epona, the foal I grew up with. Besides, what reason would you have to lie?"

"Yeah, why shouldn't I believe the girl who carried me through thick and thin?" Link added with that cocky grin of his. "By the way, I think I never truly thanked you for all those times you helped. Thanks a bunch, buddy."

I smiled up at him. Yes, Link would be the first to believe such a story. How could I be foolish enough to think he would ever doubt me?

I then thought of something. "How exactly did I turn back to normal? All I remember is that huge bird and next thing I know is waking up here with you guys."

"To make a long story short, I pelted that featherbrain with arrows until he let go of you. That seemed to make him change his mind about having us for lunch, because he flew away after that. I didn't go after him, of course. I had to check up on you. And to be honest, I really thought I'd lose you back then." I looked into Link's eyes. They were filled with sorrow while he retold that scene. I could tell how much he really cared and how worried he was back then to lose me. "Your wounds were so severe, it was unlikely you'd survive if I went to get help. And you're really too heavy to carry you around, so I had to help you myself. But what was I supposed to do? I had no red potions left and you know I know next to nothing about first aid. So I did the only thing I could think of: I took Saria's Fairy Ocarina and played the Song of Healing."

Of course! How could I not think of it sooner? The song Link learned from that creepy mask salesman. Capable of healing body, spirit and soul. "I see… the song did not only cure my wounds, but also turned me back into my old pony self." If I needed any other proof that my true form was that of an earth pony, this was it.

Link nodded. "Yeah, I was pretty surprised when you shrank down into a little pony. But at least you're light enough for me to pick you up like this. So I carried you all the way to Lon Lon Ranch, which wasn't that far away."

As I said, many people see their horses only as beasts of burden. As tools to do their dirty work for them. And if they don't work properly, they might even beat them. But people like Link and Malon are nothing like that. For them, a horse is a companion. A friend.

"Thank you for saving me, Link," I smiled.

"Hey, no problem." He returned the smile and gave my head an affectionate pet. I leaned my head into his soft caress and sighed. I always loved it when he did that.

"Now… what are we going to do?" Malon asked.

I hadn't thought of that. I was glad to clearly remember my past life, instead of just seeing it in my dreams. I know I would love to see it again, be with my family… but was there even a possibility to go back to Equestria? Our accidental trip to Termina was nothing either of us had control over, and up to this day, we never really knew just how we were able to travel back and forth. Also, leaving Hyrule would mean leaving Link behind. Is that really what I wanted? On the other hoof, there was another problem. Now that I was a pony, I was too small to serve as a mount for Link. Did that mean no more adventuring at his side?

Then I thought of something. "That blanket you found me in… do you still have it?"

Talon pointed upwards. "I think it's upstairs in that chest filled with old stuff from Malon's mother. Do you want to see it?"

I nodded, and the old farmer got up and left the barn. A couple of minutes later, he returned with the blanket. He laid it down in front of me so I could have a closer look. It was made out of a dark blue cloth and dotted with small white stars and a crescent moon.

The Hylians patiently watched and waited while I tried to remember where I had seen that image before. And then it hit me. I suddenly remembered seeing this very same image while reading an old mare's tale in a book.

"I know this symbol," I said. "It's the mark of the Mare in the Moon."

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