• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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It was hazy at first, like a brown flea clinging to a dog's rocky nose. But there was no denying that it was pony-made. As Rainbow Dash flew closer, the wooden cabin came into focus. It stood on the eastern promontory of a jutting mountain, one of the last few peaks of the ridge dividing the rough topography of the west from the sloping terrain stretching comfortably in front of the pegasus. What was more, the cabin wasn't alone. There stood a tall wooden tower to the side of it, complete with a red flag that billowed in the wind. It appeared to be a lookout post of sorts, but as Rainbow Dash touched down, she discovered that the tower was deserted.

With dull anticipation, Rainbow Dash trotted around until she was peering into a faded blue panel of glass in the north side of the cabin. Sure enough, nopony was inside. Regardless, this hardly depressed her. She was certain that she'd stumble upon further evidence of civilization beyond the peak, and soon she would be in the company of things that were slightly less boring than snow-covered mountains.

Without a second breath, Rainbow Dash kicked off the wooden building and flew under the midday sun. The clouds were heavy here, but they were hardly ominous. A gentle, silken quality embodied them, causing them to drift like translucent balloons over the enormity of the outstretched plains.

Rainbow Dash was coming upon the largest valley she had witnessed in her life. Instead of being arid and dry like the deserts of Appleloosa, this place was teaming with grass and bushes. The landscape had a moist, teal color to it, as if the morning dew never evaporated from the floor of the world. Whatever this “Emeraldine” was, it not only lived up to its name, it surpassed it. A tangy freshness filled Rainbow's nostrils as she coasted lower and lower across the landscape. The air was still cold, but not in an excrutiating way. She enjoyed the full breaths she was able to afford suddenly, skimming over the last of several rocky barricades as she came upon the full depth of the enormous valley.

As she soared past a final cluster of stone, she heard the thick trickle of cascading water and glanced down. She was startled to see a flat wooden roof, followed by a slowly revolving wheel of oaken panels.

It was a mill, and a waterwheel had been erected at the neck of a rapidly gushing waterfall. What was more, there were four-legged figures trotting back and forth between instruments and workstations. They were earth ponies, Rainbow Dash surmised with a prolonged, yet smiling groan. Instead of leather, many of them had their front halves and lower legs bundled in wool. A glittering sheen of moisture danced off the fabric of their sweaters as they briskly worked to make meal out of a thatched collection of harvested wheat.

Unlike the grim inhabitants of Windthrow, these ponies bore a relatively pleasant complexion. They'd frequently pause in the middle of their own work to greet other ponies and share a happy little conversation. Several ponies laughed, others nuzzled each other, and as soon as the disparate bits of discussion ended, the workers went on their merry way. Overall, they were as happy and resplendent as the immense land they worked off of.

Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow. She heard shouting sounds ahead of her. Facing east once again, she discovered that she was gliding over several rooftops of a tiny little wooden village lying at the foot of the mountains. The place was tinier then Ponyville, and it hugged the smallest, quietest of lakes that was collected at the far end of a creek beyond the mill. Still, the dwelling felt as densely populated as from where Rainbow hailed. Ponies formed busy clusters in the marketplace, took their pets for walks, chatted with their loved ones, and escorted their foals to and from school. If Rainbow Dash tried really hard, she imagined that she could even hear singing.

Attracted once again to the sound of shouts, Rainbow Dash glanced to her left. She saw a wide open field between a triad of large buildings. Within it, several ponies had lined up into two groups, and several more ponies were spectating as the teams fought for control of a bouncing ball. Rainbow spotted netted goals on the far ends of each field, and was swiftly beginning to figure out the rules without even asking anypony.

Not a single soul glanced up at her as she circled lower and lower around the field. She imagined that it was because these earth ponies—much like the norther populace of Wintergait—just weren't familiar with pegasi. Stifling a tiny snicker, Rainbow Dash flew down and settled atop a wooden shed just behind a line of cheering bystanders. Relaxing her wings, she squatted low and listened in on the ball game...

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