• Published 5th Jul 2015
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The Phantom Pony of Everfree - LightningSword

Who is the Phantom Pony of Everfree? What is he? And can he be approached with anything but fear?

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The Pony in the Woods

Deep within the sprawling darkness of the Everfree Forest, a place many ponies fear to tread, lies a secret. A deep, terrifying secret that haunts the citizens of Ponyville. Ponies in town while away the hours, forgetting the unbalanced wrath of a monster that once lived among them. An outcast in looks and in temperament, this creature of darkness finally broke away from the society that feared him so, and made his home deep in the shadows of the woods, where nopony would dare find him.

Some say he is over seven feet tall, and powerful enough to rip trees from the ground.

Others say he has a wingspan of fifty feet, and can level entire forests with a single flap.

Others still say that his burning red eyes can pierce the soul of a pony and render them powerless against his fury.

Nopony knows who this beast is or what he is truly capable of. But his story has become legend in Ponyville, lost to time, left behind by memory, inconsequential to all those who are wise enough to stay home with their families.

Those wise enough to not go wandering alone into a particular section of the Everfree Forest.

The territory of “the Phantom Pony of Everfree”.

“Oh, thank you so much for all your help, Zecora,” Fluttershy said with a happy smile as she gathered the jars of herbs. “I don't know how I've gone all this time without all of these lovely herbal medicines for all my animal friends.”

“It is my pleasure to be so kind,” Zecora replied, returning her smile, “as long as you keep their health in mind.”

“Oh, of course. And they can get all better that much faster, thanks to you.” The Pegasus gently lowered the various jars into her saddlebag and made her way to the door of Zecora's hut. “Thanks again, Zecora. See you soon!”

The zebra waved benignly just before Fluttershy opened the door. “Good-bye, adieu, and good day to you.”

Fluttershy stepped out of the well-lit hut and into the darkness of the Everfree Forest. The tall, foreboding canopy loomed above her head, obstructing her view of the horizon. She wasn't scared, though; Fluttershy had had to come into these woods many times in the past, and while still a bit disconcerting, Fluttershy knew there was nothing to really worry about.

A twig snapped in the distance, making Fluttershy jerk her head in that direction. She may not have been (entirely) scared, but the Everfree Forest was still one of the most dangerous places in all of Equestria. Naturally, there was no going in unprepared or unwary. Hundreds of unidentifiable creatures scurried and crawled through the dense foliage and the obscuring shadows; the rustling caused by their movements evoked brief images of terror, even in the most resolute mind. What could be a simple, innocent stroll was almost always a coin toss in whether the stroller would make it back unharmed.

Fluttershy shook her head to will away those nasty thoughts. Oh, don't be silly, Fluttershy, she told herself, there's nothing to fear. It's just like Twilight said, Everfree Forest is no different than any other place in Equestria. It's just dark, and a little cold, and is inhabited by lots more animals than normal. There's nothing and nopony to fear. It's just a forest.

Fluttershy was suddenly unsure of why she'd thought that there was “nopony” to fear.

A sudden recollection answered her confusion: some old stories about a pony that lived in these woods. The town spoke of this pony (Fluttershy wasn't even sure he had a name) with fear and dread. They regarded him as some sort of a phantom, a Boogie-Pony of sorts, that would hunt for poor souls that dared to wander too close to his territory. Nopony knew what he was truly capable of, though—few had ever encountered this so-called “Phantom Pony of Everfree”, but those who claimed they had, had been scared out of their wits and sent running at the mere sight of his silhouette.

Thus, nopony stayed long enough to know what he did to ponies to didn't run.

Again, Fluttershy shook her head, not allowing such dark thoughts to get to her. Silly filly, she scolded herself, those are just old pony tales! Why, there's nothing like that living in here. Just remember, this forest is no diff—

She jumped when another twig snapped in the distance, closer and louder this time. She took a good look around her, straining to see in the dark, and it was at this point that she'd realized that she hadn't been paying attention as she was walking. She'd strayed quite some distance from the path back to town. The narrow pathways between trees were already difficult to tell apart from one another, but this part of the woods looked entirely different and unfamiliar.

And the fear that Fluttershy had so easily repressed before was beginning to creep up on her.

“Stay calm, Fluttershy,” she told herself firmly, getting a hold of her emotions before they could run away from her. She even took a deep breath and put a hoof to her chest, then let it out slowly, extending that foreleg at the same time (she'd seen Twilight do it often, and thought it would help). “Okay, you may be a little . . .” she hesitated to use the word “lost”, and settled for, “. . . misplaced. But you were going the right way before, and you couldn't have gone too far away from the path.” She approached the nearest tree, a gnarled, weak-looking thing hanging on a thread of remaining trunk, and saw a patch of moss growing on the shredded bark. Her bearings restored, she remembered the direction back to Ponyville, and proceeded to trek through the woods to the southeast. Already, she started to relax; there really wasn't anything to be afraid of. In fact, she even started to giggle a bit at the ridiculous thoughts she'd been having. She glanced around her as she walked, sure to keep track of where she was this time; nothing to see but a bunch of trees, a few bushes, some cute little animals, a pair of glowing red eyes, some broken branches—

Wait, what . . . . ?

Fluttershy froze and saw them creeping closer to her from beneath a copse of rotted trees. They gave off an infernal reddish glow, and blinked at Fluttershy as they approached. Fear kept Fluttershy rooted to the spot; all she felt were her legs buckling beneath her. The owner of the wicked orbs finally stepped fully out of the foliage. It was a pony, but as far as Fluttershy could tell, it was a pony in shape only. It was tall and slender, with a misshapen head and large growths on its sides that could only be wings (at least Fluttershy hoped they were wings).

She knew who this was. She didn't know how she knew, but somehow, it was clear to Fluttershy that this was him. This couldn't be anypony but the phantom pony the town always talked about, the pony relegated to mere ghost stories told around a campfire.

This was the Phantom Pony of Everfree.

“Who are you?” the Phantom growled in a chillingly high voice. “What are you doing in my forest?”

Fluttershy's body remained frozen with fear, but she struggled to form a response. “Umm, I was j-just passing through . . . I d-didn't mean—I just got lost . . .”

“I don't like trespassers,” he continued to growl, his red eyes glowing ever brighter, “and I don't take 'getting lost' as an excuse.”

“Umm . . . uhh . . . . I'm really sorry?”

The Phantom crept closer, suddenly allowing Fluttershy to discern some vague features of his face. The red glow from his eyes illuminated a blocky, yet soft-cornered snout, curved, pointy ears, and a wild black mane beneath what appeared to be a hat of some kind. The glow continued to pierce Fluttershy, as if this Phantom were expecting a better explanation, and quickly.

“You thought you could just walk right into Nocturne's territory?!” the Phantom snapped, his eyes burning brighter. “You thought you had the right to enter my home without expecting consequences? I don't care if you're lost! You have no reason to come here! Understand?! None!!

The Phantom was only a few inches away from Fluttershy now, only adding to and intensifying her fear. By now, all she could do was stutter, “Umm . . . I-I . . . I'm r-really, r-really s-s-sorry . . . ?”

“Get out.”

His voice had gone dangerously low, sending a chill through Fluttershy's spine. Whether or not she had a good explanation for disturbing the Phantom Pony of Everfree was irrelevant. At this point, he seemed clear in his intentions if she did not obey his wishes. And it would not end well for her.

Fluttershy's stalling seemed to agitate the Phantom, and his low, ferocious growl slowly built up to a roar.


He suddenly propped himself up onto his hind legs as he screamed, and unfurled the growths on his sides to display a pair of wings—and the sight was terrifying, indeed. In the stories, the Phantom's wings were said to be unusually large; here and now, they were far more than that—they were obscenely large. Completely unfurled, they looked more than twice the length of his body, and were also not cute and feathery like Fluttershy's. They were hideous, curved lengths of bone covered in ugly, scaly black membranes, making Fluttershy immediately recollect the sight of the wings of a full-grown dragon. This, combined with his increased stature, the boom of his voice, and the glow in his eyes pulsating with rage, gave the Phantom Pony and incredibly wraithlike visage.

He looked like a demon from the pits of Tartarus itself.

Fluttershy's shrill scream reverberated through the forest with a haunting echo. Finally able to free herself from her own petrification, she pried herself away, burst into tears, and raced southeast toward the edge of the woods.

She had to get out. Now.