• 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?

  • ...

Three Sides

Okay, so we went to the Everfree Forest. Apple Bloom had gathered up Scootaloo and me, and we made our plan to go and watch Nocturne, in case we could learn something about him. You see, we wanted to help Nocturne—you know, be his friend, so he wouldn't be a monster anymore. That way, nopony would be scared of Nocturne or worried about Fluttershy anymore . . . we only wanted to help . . . .

W-well, anyway . . . so, we went inside, and we had a plan to find Nocturne quickly. We needed to find a high point, so Scootaloo suggested we climb a tree, and Apple Bloom said, “Okay, let's git awn up inta that thar tree, y'awll!”

So, I said, “I don't think that's a very good idea.”

But Scootaloo just started pushing me up into the nearest tree, and Apple Bloom said, “Don't y'awll worry, Sweetie Baylle. We're raht behahnd ya!” So we climbed up into the tree, but it took such a long time! Do you know how hard it is to climb a big tree with hooves? Especially our little tiny hooves? I scratched my leg, and Rarity gets really upset with me if I mess up my coat—oh, yeah, sorry, the story.

Well, we got up into the tree, and I felt something move up there with us. So I said so, like, “Girls, I think there's something up here!”

And Scootaloo was like, “That's your imagination.”

But then I felt it again. It slithered past my rump, and it felt so creepy! So I turned around and kinda panicked a little bit, but Apple Bloom was like, “Don't panic, Sweetie Baylle. Jest grab one o' us if ya fawll.”

I felt better for a minute, but then I saw it! It was a snake! I screamed and backed up, but Apple Bloom and Scootaloo were behind me, and we all fell over each other and tumbled out of the tree. And Scootaloo landed right on her bottom, and she started crying.

“For the last time,” Scootaloo groaned, “I was not crying! And it wasn't even that big of a snake! It didn't even have any fangs!”

“Scootaloo, please don’t interrupt,” Fluttershy said before allowing Sweetie Belle to continue.

Okay, so then we're dusting ourselves off, but that's when we heard something moving in the trees. We all turned all over the place, but we didn't see anything. Then, we all panicked when we heard a scream, but it was just Apple Bloom. She'd got bitten on the flank by a mosquito.

Well, after that, we heard something move again. We looked, but there was nothing there. We all stood close, flank-to-flank, for a while, trying to find out what was in there with us. Then Apple Bloom said, “Hey, y'all! Maybeh that's Nawkturne out thar!”

Then Scootaloo stepped up and said, “Hey, Nocturne. That you? We just wanna talk, that's all.”

Then I said, “Scootaloo! He's not supposed to see us, remember?”

But he did see us! He jumped out at us and roared, “You look delicious! And I'm hungry! Raaaaa-raaaa-raaar!!” He spread his big bat wings like this, and kept roaring, “RAAAAAAAAAAAAR!!” Like that, but scarier!

And then we all screamed and ran away. We thought we could hear him coming after us in the woods, but I think we lost him right before we got out.

“You’re not good at getting to the point, Sweetie Belle,” Scootaloo muttered.

“I don't even sound like that!” Apple Bloom whined. “You made me sound like some kinda bumpkin!”

“I'm sorry, but I can't do accents very well,” Sweetie Belle replied.

“Funny, you sounded an awful lot like that after the mosquito,” Scootaloo snickered.

Apple Bloom frowned, with a hint of a blush. Sure enough, on her left flank was a small, red bump where her cutie mark would be (if she had one). “I wish you'd left that part out,” she muttered. “Ya left out the part where you tripped on that branch.”

“Girls, enough bickering,” Twilight stepped in before glancing at Fluttershy. “Did you hear that? Bat wings. Sound familiar?”

“Sweetie Belle, are you sure that's what you saw?” Fluttershy asked, having paid Twilight almost no mind. “You're absolutely, positively sure you saw big bat wings?”

“Well, I guess . . .” Sweetie Belle mumbled, downcast. “B-but we were all really scared. I'm lucky I remembered anything!”

“That's for sure!” Scootaloo stood up straight. “You messed that whole story up! That's not even how it happened!”

“Is that so?” Twilight asked, intrigued. “Well, why don't you tell us your side of the story, Scootaloo? What do you remember seeing in those woods?”

Well, first of all, we weren't even in the woods for ten seconds before Sweetie Belle tripped over a branch. We heard her yelp, and we looked over at her. Apple Bloom was all worried and stuff, but I knew everything was fine.

So, I helped Sweetie Belle climb a tree so we could get a better view. Apple Bloom helped a little, though. We had to push Sweetie Belle all the way up there, too. We looked around, and Sweetie Belle said that there was something up there, but we thought she was just panicking. And of course, she was, 'cause she started screaming at this tiny little snake up in the tree, and she started freaking out and pushed us all out of the tree—

“It was an accident!” Sweetie Belle squealed, “and it was not a little snake. It was gi-normous!”

“And don't forget Scootaloo cryin' when she landed on her backside,” Apple Bloom added.

I was not crying!

“Girls!” Fluttershy spoke up over them. “You’re fighting again.”

The fillies gave a guilty chorus of “Sorry, Fluttershy,” before Scootaloo resumed her perspective.

Well, we shook off the fall, and that's when we all started hearing sounds. At first, they came from all around us, but then we heard something else. Apple Bloom yelled out to us, but when we turned, she was scratching her flank and whining about a bug bite.

Then we starting hearing more sounds, and whatever was moving around in those woods was coming closer. Apple Bloom thought it was Nocturne, so I walked up to settle the situation, and of course, Sweetie Belle was all worried something was gonna happen. But I guess she was right to worry, 'cause that's when Nocturne jumped out at us and threatened to eat us! Gross, right? I'm pretty sure I could've taken him if he hadn't taken us by surprise, but I was with Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom and all, so I thought it was best to split. It followed us for a while, but we lost it! I don't remember seeing wings, but I think I saw red eyes before we left. Yeah, like these big, creepy red eyes that you could see even in the dark!

“Well, that ain’t much better at all!” Apple Bloom argued. “An’ I wasn't whinin'! It was a real big bug! And it stung so bad!”

“Apple Bloom's right,” Sweetie Belle added, “she wasn't whining. I've lived with Rarity long enough to know what whining sounds like.”

“Come on, guys, can't you just tell what happened without fighting?” Spike asked.

Twilight, however, turned to Fluttershy with another stern look. “Red eyes, Fluttershy! Red eyes! We all know Nocturne has bat wings and glowing red eyes! What more do you need?”

“Well, okay, I admit, it does seem like it’s him . . . but I can’t believe Nocturne would threaten to eat another pony. All ponies eat veggies, and we couldn't eat so much as a bug, let alone another pony. A-and as far as I know, the only bad thing he ever did to another pony was that he beat up Rainbow Dash, and that’s pretty tame compared to eating a pony . . . would you . . . say? Twilight?” Fluttershy gave a sheepish grin while Twilight’s eyes narrowed.

“They didn't glow, though,” said Sweetie Belle, “At least, I don't think they did . . . .”

“Yeah, ya left that out too, Scootaloo,” griped Apple Bloom. “In fact, ya went through that story way too quick! You left out a bunch o' things!”

“I didn't leave out your new cutie mark, though,” she snickered, pointing to Apple Bloom's mosquito bite.

Sweetie Belle added, “And what about when you fell out of the tree and started cr—”


“Apple Bloom, your turn!” Twilight spoke up quickly over the bickering. “You haven't told us what you think happened yet.”

Apple Bloom nodded. “Okay, then. Let me tell y'all what really happened.”

We went into the forest, ready to solve the mystery of Nocturne. It was plenty dark, but we weren't scared, least not at first. But we couldn't see too much, so that’s when we started the plan, and looked around for a big tree.

We stopped for a minute when we heard Sweetie Belle yelp. Unfortunately, that's the one part of the story Scootaloo got right—she did trip on a branch. She was okay, though, so we moved on.

So I said, “Let's try that one,” and I pointed to this big ol' tree nearby.

Sweetie Belle was a little nervous, and she was like, “I don't think that's such a good idea.”

But I said, “Don't worry, Sweetie Belle, we're right behind you.” And so me'n Scootaloo helped her up into the tree. Took us awhile, but we made it, and we started lookin' around.

Then Sweetie Belle said somethin' like, “I think something's up here with us!”

But Scootaloo was like, “That's your imagination.” But then she started hollerin', and we saw the snake she was worried about. She freaked out and shook the tree, and we all tumbled out—

“Don't say I cried!” Scootaloo stopped her, now glaring more intensely than before. “I wasn't crying! I really wasn't!”

Apple Bloom sighed, “Fine. I'll forget about the cryin' if you let me forget about the mosquito bite.”

Scootaloo put a hoof to her chin for a minute, then shrugged. “Okay, fair enough.”

“What about the branch, and the snake in the tree?” Sweetie Belle asked, upset.

Scootaloo patted her shoulder. “Don't worry about it,” she soothed, “none of that stuff really mattered to the story anyway, I guess.”

“Yep,” said Apple Bloom, “it's all behind us, now. Okay?” Sweetie Belle beamed, and nodded her compliance, and Apple Bloom continued, “Okay, so the thing about the branch, the snake, the tree, and the mosquito didn't happen . . . .”

But once we got out of the tree, we started hearin' real creepy sounds. At first, they came from all around us, but then we saw some bushes movin', and I was pretty sure we'd found Nocturne.

So Scootaloo went up and said, “Hey, Nocturne, that you? We just wanna talk, that's all.”

But Sweetie Belle remembered the plan and said, “Scootaloo! He's not supposed to see us, remember?”

But it was too late. Nocturne jumped out at us and roared, and he said, “Mmmm, you look delicious, little fillies! Time for a SNACK!” We freaked out and ran, but we were worried he would catch up to us. We heard 'im gainin' on us for a while, but once we got out of the woods, we didn't hear nothin', so we thought it was safe. You shoulda seen 'im, the big wings, them sharp claws, those red eyes, the—

“Wait, what?” Spike stopped them. “Claws? Since when do Pegasi have claws?”

Apple Bloom’s eyes swiveled as she backtracked. “Uhh, well . . . I guess they don't. But, what other Pegasus has big ol' bat wings?”

“Actually, I saw claws, too,” Sweetie Belle said, nodding, “but I didn't really think about it. I guess it was 'cause I was so scared.”

“Hey, yeah!” Scootaloo called. “He did have claws, didn't he? Maybe he just . . . I don't know . . . grew them while he was living in the woods?”

“Was it wearing a hat?”

Everypony gazed wide-eyed at Fluttershy after this question—especially in response to her use of the 'it' pronoun.

“Oh, that's right!” Apple Bloom declared. “Nocturne wears a fedora, doesn't he?”

“A fedora?” Scootaloo retorted. “Psh! Lame . . . .”

Sweetie Belle smiled. “I don't know, I think fedoras are kinda cool.”

“Girls, focus,” Twilight spoke up, “did you see a fedora, or any kind of hat on his head?” All three girls shook their heads.

“See, Twilight?” Fluttershy asked, “it couldn't have been Nocturne. Whatever this thing was, it wasn't wearing a hat. I always see Nocturne wearing it, so it couldn't have been him.”

Twilight cocked an eyebrow at Fluttershy. “You don't think he could have taken it off for a minute?”

“Isn't there anything else you guys can remember?” Spike asked.

The fillies were silent for a moment, until Sweetie Belle finally answered, “Well, I thought there was something weird, but I didn't wanna bring it up, 'cause it didn't really make a lot of sense . . . um, well . . .” she seemed to struggle to put it together in her head, but pressed on, “. . . he looked like he walked funny. Like, he didn't walk on four legs, you know? Like . . . he had no legs.”

Apple Bloom and Scootaloo looked back at her with wide eyes, more awed than confused. “Yeah, I remember that, too!” Scootaloo replied. “In fact, I didn't even hear the clip-clop of his hooves when we were running! It was like he was . . . gliding.”

“And he couldn't have been flyin'!” Apple Bloom added. “There wasn't enough room to flap his giant wings! It really did seem like he was glidin', or hoverin', or . . . well . . . .”

“Slithering?” Twilight asked, and the Crusaders all agreed. A wide-eyed look suddenly flashed over Twilight's own face, and she rushed to a bookshelf, pulling a book from it with her magic.

“What is it, Twilight?” Spike asked with a slightly quivery voice. “You on to something?”

“You bet, Spike,” Twilight replied as she flipped through the book (the title read The Behaviors and Habitats of Amazing Creatures). After a few seconds of flipping through pages, Twilight suddenly declared, “Here it is!” She walked back toward the group, carrying the book with her, and held it up in front of the girls, “Is this what you saw?”

The girls stared at the page Twilight found, reading the information printed on one side:

Of all creatures that exist in Equestria, few are as deadly and cunning as the Lamia. A bizarre creature with the head, chest and front legs of a wildcat and the waist and tail of a serpent, the Lamia can be found in dark forests, mountains, or deserts. Able to travel quickly by sliding on its tail or taking to the air with its enormous bat-like wings, the Lamia's versatility makes it a deadly predator. It is capable of great feats of strength, speed and reflexes, and is known for taking enemies or prey by surprise before shredding them to pieces with its feline claws, or strangling them with its powerful tail. For centuries, the Lamia's diet has made it a particularly reviled beast, as it only seems to desire—

The Cutie Mark Crusaders stopped reading and saw the picture on the opposite page—the picture of the Lamia, exactly as the book described it. It was a monstrous sight, a furry, spotted coat matted with muck and Celestia only knew what else, that extended all the way to the waist, until the fur quickly morphed into reptilian scales. From there, the feline body morphed with it, a slow gradation from wildcat torso to snake tail. The gargantuan, draconic wings bore the same greenish-black scales as the serpentine tail. Its red eyes had the characteristics of both snakes and jungle cats, and seemed to glare back at the readers with malice.

“THAT'S IT!” the Crusaders all announced at once. “THAT'S WHAT WE SAW!!”

Twilight stared blankly as she closed the book. “Amazing . . . the Lamia is exceptionally rare. For one to show up here in Ponyville, I—” she stopped, then turned to Fluttershy, her eyes forlorn. “I . . . so sorry, Fluttershy. You were right all along . . . .”

“It's okay, Twilight,” Fluttershy replied placidly. “I understand. Nocturne's still a mystery to us all, and you feared the worst of him. But now we know what happened for sure.”

“Besides,” Spike added with a smile, “the Cutie Mark Crusaders are safe, and like they said, that thing stopped following them after they got out. And I doubt it knows where they are now. What's the worst that could happen?”