• Published 7th Apr 2012
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Scion of Chaos - SilentBelle

Sweetie Belle plans on learning the basics of magic, but what she discovers is so much more.

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Chapter 5 - The Wilds

Scion of Chaos – Chapter 5: The Wilds
By: SilentBelle

The white unicorn moved at a slow pace through the forest as she carefully placed each step. Burrs, scratches, and tangles marred her appearance, but now that she had had a moment to collect herself and view her surroundings, she found herself quite surprised at how easily she could forget those trivial facts. In fact, she felt more at ease than she had since she had woken up. Perhaps it was just the scenery distracting her, but after being in the forest for over an hour, the eeriness had all but disappeared.

There were still a few sounds that spooked the filly, but her sense of fear was subdued, she knew she wasn't alone in this endeavor. In a forest as foreboding as the Everfree, it was quite reassuring to be able to have a response to anything she said; with the amount that Scoddri would say when he began to talk, it almost felt as though her fellow crusaders were with her. Sweetie Belle figured that Scoddri must have a cutie mark for going off on tangents with his conversations, for she was quite certain that she would never hear him tell the same tale the same way twice.

“It's amazing,” Sweetie Belle whispered in awe, as she pushed her way past a small bush. “The plants look like they are glowing. I can't believe I didn't notice it earlier, I guess I was too worried about Twilight to think about anything else.” She stopped moving for a moment. "I hope she's alright."

“Oh, I wouldn't worry about her, she's a lot tougher than she looks,” Scoddri responded nonchalantly. “I'm certain it's not the first time that studying has caused her to lose consciousness. Can't you picture it? She must have stayed up countless nights reading until morning, or even past that, letting her eagerness get the better of her. And then she would nod off in the middle of an experiment. It must have been so frustrating for her to wake up to a finished chemical reaction, only to look down and see a blank page of notes and realize that she missed the whole experiment.”

“Huh.” Sweetie Belle considered his words as she passed a nearby leaf, half the size of her. “You know, you sound like you've met Twilight. Did you two meet before?”

“Oh yes,” Scoddri said with a chuckle, “I've met the mare before, though it may not have been on the best of terms. I don't believe we share the same appreciation of humour, her and I.”

“So, you made fun of her then?” Sweetie Belle concluded, as she began inspecting the impressive leaf, the glowing light that ran through it was fascinating. Before her eyes, like all the forest, it shimmered with the strangely beautiful, energetic glow.

“Not quite, Sweetie,” the laughing voice replied. “All we did was play a game with simple rules. She thought that she should have won the game, and when she didn't, she accused me of cheating. But I simply laughed and pointed out how incorrect she was in her assumption. That mare could learn to smile when she's been bested.”

“Oh, so you won the game and gloated about it?” Sweetie Belle rolled her eyes then sighed. “Well, I guess I wouldn't really like it if I lost a game and was laughed at..." the small unicorn trailed off as she quickly became distracted by the plant in front of her.

“Say, Scoddri,” Sweetie Belle began as she turned all her focus to the sizable piece of flora before her, “why are the leaves glowing so brightly? It certainly makes the forest a lot less creepy than the last time I was in it.”

“Magic,” Scoddri responded offhandedly, “and as you can tell, just from its brightness and the size of the plant-life in this forest, there's a formidable amount of magic here.”

“But why does this forest have so much magic in it?” Sweetie Belle asked, as she started walking again, leaving the abnormally sized plant-life behind. “I didn't see nearly as much magic when I was leaving Ponyville, everything just looked a little brighter, that's all. But here, it almost looks like there are small patterns all along the plants.”

“Have you ever asked yourself what makes the Everfree different from other forests?” the voice questioned, “I wonder... what could be the cause of giant trees, dangerous monsters, and weather that moves all on its own?”

“Your saying that magic causes all of this?” Sweetie asked, as she indicated the whole forest with a sweep of her hoof. “The big trees, and plants and stuff? And that If we had magic like this in Ponyville, it would become a forest full of monsters? Then shouldn't places like the Everfree only appear where lots of unicorns live?”

Scoddri chuckled to himself lightly before responding. “As grand as the idea of unicorns creating extremely dense forests and monsters to inhabit them is, I do believe you have misunderstood me. When I was talking about magic, I was talking about true magic, the kind that dwells in this forest. Primal, potent, natural and chaotic, not the controlled energy that unicorns draw out from themselves for their day-to-day chores.

“There's different kinds of magic?” Sweetie Belle asked, stopping in surprise. “I thought only unicorns had magic.”

“Which is understandable, as they are the only things that you have ever seen using magic as you know it,” Scoddri soothed. “But surely you know that magic resides in all things, not just unicorns. After all, that is what you have been seeing in those glowing leaves, and in every plant in this forest, and even in the very soil you are stepping on. My dear, everything has magic in it, even when it's not being used consciously. And magic always has a great effect on its surroundings; whether it causes trees to grow overly-large, gives plant's unusual properties or alters creatures over a long period of time. Magic causes these changes, not the unicorns who play with it every once in a while.

“But regardless of these facts, it's also well known what happens to little fillies who stay in the forest past dark,” Scoddri chided in an amused tone. “It might be wise to keep moving, it's already past noon, and you've barely walked more than a mile.”

“It must have been more than a mile,” the filly reasoned, “my legs are already getting tired. And how would you know how far I've walked anyways? You aren't the one doing all the walking.”

“And right now, you are doing as much walking as me,” the faceless voice countered, “you don't have to stop walking just to hold a conversation.”

“Humph,” was the only response Sweetie Belle gave as she began walking again, her mind now occupied by thoughts of magic, and how everything worked together. It was topic that she never seriously considered before. She had always been fine with the assumption that magic didn't need to be understood, after all it was magic. But that reasoning no longer held the same charm as it had in the past.

* * *

The next half hour of travel passed in a relative silence as Sweetie Belle weaved her way between the thick underbrush and into a small clearing formed around the base of a gathering of towering trees. Despite being within an hour of noon, this dense canopy of branches cast even darker shadows than the previous parts of the forest had. As if for emphasis, the only sound that she could hear, apart from the distant swaying of branches, was an owl's lone hooting off in the distance.

In spite of the dimmer lighting, Sweetie Belle sighed, relieved to have a small reprieve from the obnoxious bushes that had plagued her journey thus far into the Everfree. She wouldn't have to keep her eyes trained to the ground anymore, at least while she stayed within the clearing.

Once she had gotten to the base of the trees, she paused to look up at the towering giants above her. They were ancient trees, fully leafed, their bottom most branches so distant, they would have been lost amidst the green backdrop if the bark didn't glow so brightly with magic. The entirety of the trunk and its enormous limbs shed a light that made the rest of the forest seem dim in comparison.

Before today, the largest tree I knew of was Twilight's library, and now I see a dozen that make the library look like a sapling. I wonder how long it takes for a tree to get that much magic inside of it.

After a moment of reflection, Sweetie Belle found herself quite surprised that Scoddri hadn't piped up about her stopping to gaze at the scenery. In fact it was almost as if the voice had abandoned her altogether.

“Scoddri?” she called out gently, bringing her sights back down to a more horizontal view.

Sweetie Belle began growing frantic and she pivoted sporadically around the glade, as if she could find the bodiless voice. Some of her fears bubbled up to the surface of her mind as her nerves were set on edge. What if Scoddri's gone? I don't know where I am. I don't even know which way I came from.

“Scoddri?” she called, louder this time, as her nervousness betrayed her. “Answer me, please.”

The only answer she received was a resounding hoot of the distant owl, which sparked a suddenly pertinent question.

Where are all the other animals, and why did they stop making sound? Up until this point all of the timid forest fauna had paved her journey with a steady stream of vibrant dissonance. Although now, when all she could hear was the lone echo of an owl's call, did she notice just how much she longed for something to break this new-found eerie silence.

The silence seemed to slip in around her in an engulfing embrace. It's suffocating, she thought, as her breath quickened. “Scoddri say something!” she demanded with a shout.

“Quiet, you foolish girl!” Scoddri's voice rebuked in a harsh whisper; a tone which Sweetie Belle had never heard him use before. “You don't know the danger you're in. You have to get out of this glade now, slowly and calmly. Just head to the nearest thicket and walk through it.”

With those words, the filly only grew more nervous. “What do you mean, I'm in danger?” she whispered back, as her mind began to imagine up what creatures might dwell in the confines of the surrounding shadows. “What's out there? This isn't another one of your pranks, is it?”

“I pull many pranks Sweetie Belle, but I assure you, this is not one of them.” the voice whispered curtly. “Remember, I have never told you a lie. Now walk, girl!”

Sweetie Belle quickly made her way towards the edge of the clearing, as the owl's soft call echoed her every fourth hoof-step. It was getting louder, she turned her head every which way as the hooting continued and she couldn't pinpoint its origin.

She was a mere half-minute away from the thick undergrowth when she saw it off to the side, the sheen of two golden orbs flashed for a moment in the corner of her eye. Something was there, something big. With a jolt of fear she sprang forth and broke into full gallop.

Sweetie Belle tumbled into the thicket, tripping into a prone position as she heard a roar erupt from behind her. She twisted her head around in her panic so see the monster that had given the terrifying bellow, only to wish she hadn't.

The beast stood towering above her, its body a mass of ragged fur and feathers. Its golden eyes glowed ominously as it stood on its hind legs, its fore-claws extended viciously. Framed between those massive claws, and below its eyes was a savage curved beak, so large, Sweetie Belle was certain it would have no trouble eating a small filly like her in a single bite. Strands of saliva glistened as the creature opened its maw.

A resounding bestial roar shook Sweetie Belle to her core. She couldn't move, she couldn't think. Helplessly she shook as she watched the monster preparing its claw for the single swing it would need, all the filly could do was let out an earsplitting shriek.

The monster flinched in mid-swing and settled back onto all fours as Sweetie Belle's shrill voice issued forth. The beast responded by letting loose another roar to drown out the keening noise. In that moment the young unicorn's instincts took over, she rolled away from the beast, and scrambled back onto her hooves.

She ran as fast as she could through the dense, grasping plant-life, just barely avoided being snagged. Sweetie Belle could hear the plants she left in her wake being uprooted and crushed as the massive creature gave chase. The reverberating tremors of the beast charging nearly caused the filly to trip as she tried to stay ahead of the fast monster.

She slipped through tight paths between series of smaller trees just as the beast brought its claws down, severing the saplings at the trunk instead of her.

With wide eyes Sweetie Belle jumped out from a thicket to see her path come to a steep riverbank. Small patches of sunlight fell upon the narrow river's churning waters, revealing an assortment of jagged rocks that broke its surface. Sweetie Belle stopped in her panic, looking left and right, she didn't know what to do.

“Quick girl, downhill! Run downhill!” Scoddri issued. “The beast moves slower down than it does up!”

Blindly she followed his command and slid down the river bank to the shallows of the river. With a gasp, the cool waters immersed her legs, nearly to her underside, and she almost lost her footing to the current as she landed in the shallow churning waters.

A roar drew her attention up to where she had just slid down from. The beast ambled back and forth as it searched for a viable route to reach the filly.

Sweetie Belle knew it was only a matter of time before the creature found a way down to her, and she had nowhere else to run. She couldn't hope to swim across such treacherous waters, she would be pulled under the moment she got any deeper, she could feel the current was strong. I'd have just as good a chance as fighting off that monster. She let out a slight gasp as she found her solution. That's it!

Sweetie Belle's brow formed a frown of concentration as the beast fumbled its way down a less-steep riverbank further upstream. It's now or never! She reached for her magic and sent it up and out of her horn, she willed it forward, to the beast, intent on grabbing it with her magic.

The unicorn watched as her magic soared through the air like an emerald whip, quickly wrapping around the beast, tightly, firmly, and efficiently. It worked, she thought to herself in relief, as the monster gave a low growl. Then, with one simple movement, she felt the magical bindings simply shatter as the beast easily stepped forward. Or not. She watched the shimmering light of the dissipating magic fade as the creature pressed on toward her.

“Scoddri,” she shouted out over the sound of the churning waters, “I need you to tell me how to use this magic! I see it in the water, it's glowing as brightly as the trees were, what do I do?”

“Sweetie, do you remember what you did with the book back in the clubhouse?” Scoddri replied quickly and evenly, and she nodded. “Well, don't do that again. Your magic is not strong enough to move the potential energy that surges through this stream. Such an action would be as futile as stopping the stream itself. Run girl, run!”

“No!” Sweetie Belle cried her rebuke, “I'm tired of running from everything! All it ever does is get me in worse situations! I'm going to stop it here!”

The young unicorn reached out with her senses and felt the torrent of magic that flowed beneath both her and the approaching beast. There was enough magic in these flowing waters to drown out the sense of her own, she knew this energy felt wild and uncontrollable, but she wouldn't give up on her decision, she couldn't. The barreling monster was nearly upon her. In an act of pure instinct she lowered her body into flowing rapids, and with her mind, envisioned herself grabbing all of the magic that flowed by her.

To the filly's utter amazement, she felt the magic surging into her own body. She could feel her own magic disappear beneath the sudden deluge of the river's wilder energy. But before she could even start her next plan of action, she began to feel a sharp pain inside her chest as the mass of magic flowed into her and it burned. With a scream, the magic burst forth from her horn.

She watched through teary eyes as the magic erupted with the chaotic energy of a lightning storm, and it whipped forward with the force of a hurricane. As it arched, flashed and surged forth, it collided with the river's water and its bank; though the brunt of it fell upon the beast still charging toward Sweetie Belle.

The beast let out a terrified squawk as the storm of magic, every colour imaginable, rained down upon it. Many of its feathers were torn from it, and its fur was quickly covered in more than a few singed spots. In the next moment the creature bounded away with fearful hoots as it retreated back up the riverbank it had come from, where it disappeared amongst the thick foliage of the forest.

Sweetie Belle was terrified by the horrific storm of raw magic that was issuing forth from her horn. The river issued pillars of steam where the energies met with its surface, and the plant life on the riverbank blackened with every strike of energy that touched down. So the filly willed, with all her might for the torrent to stop. And it did, but only for a second. With a solid flash of bright light, and an explosive peal of thunder, the filly was launched out of the river.

Amidst the pelting spray of numerous drops of water the unicorn felt the flow of magic abruptly cease as she was tossed free from the cascading waters. And in the next moment she hit the river's surface with a splash.

Panic still held its firm grip upon her as Sweetie Belle struggled to stay afloat in the powerful current, it pulled at her with a motion she had never felt before. She was tossed against numerous stones and boulders uncontrollably, and spun about as she quickly lost any sense of direction.

With enough struggling she was able to break the surface for a single breath before she was sucked under once again. No! I can't give up, she told her body, as her lungs burned for another breath of air.

Kicking out with her legs, the young filly was able to push off the slippery rocks that formed the riverbed. Whether by luck, coincidence, or fate, Sweetie Belle felt her surroundings stabilize as she managed to dislodge herself from the chaotic turbulence of the current. She broke the surface of the river and choked some air into her lungs. Sputtering and coughing, she managed to paddle herself to a nearby, gently sloping bank.

Sweetie Belle pulled herself out of the river and onto the riverbank, and collapsed amongst its soft grasses. Never before had the filly been more glad to be on solid ground and to be able to breath such fresh air.

End of Chapter 5