• Published 5th Jul 2015
  • 3,876 Views, 325 Comments

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?

  • ...

A Hero After All

“Twilight, please, don't strain yourself. I'm fine, really.”

“Are you sure?” Twilight answered her as she continued to check Fluttershy for injuries. She had come to only a few minutes ago and was still a bit sluggish, but she didn't appear to need any serious medical attention.

Or the serious attention Twilight was giving her.

“Yes, I'm perfectly sure,” Fluttershy soothed, “but we should be more worried about the girls. I hope the others found them safe and sound.”

“Well, if you're okay to walk or fly, we need to join them. That thing was strong and fast, and even the five of them together might have trouble with it. And Spike’s just a kid, himself. He couldn’t stand a chance against it. If he's smart, he'd be on his way back here after he gathered the others—”

There was a sound at the hole where the door was, and Twilight and Fluttershy glanced toward it. Spike and Pinkie Pie walked in first, followed by Applejack and Apple Bloom, Rarity and Sweetie Belle, Rainbow Dash, and Scootaloo. Spike and Pinkie were belting out a rousing, celebratory chorus of some kind: “Here they are! The heroes of Everfree . . . .”

“You found them!” Twilight gasped and ran to them, with Fluttershy following them, and all nine ponies (and Spike) converged for a massive group hug.

When the group separated, the air suddenly soured as Applejack and Rarity looked down on the Cutie Mark Crusaders with admonishing stares. The trio saw this and immediately began to shuffle awkwardly in place. Apple Bloom sheepishly traced a circle on the ground with her hoof, Scootaloo rubbed the back of her neck with a hoof, and Sweetie Belle crossed her back legs where she stood, eying the ceiling.

“Heh-heh . . .” Apple Bloom choked out, “. . . well, uh . . . I guess that wasn't Nocturne after all, huh?”

“I think that’s the least of your issues, girls,” said Rarity, frowning. “You still need to explain why you were in there.”

“It’s okay, Rarity,” Twilight soothed. “They may not have done it in the right way, but they had the best intentions. They wanted to help Fluttershy befriend . . . Nocturne . . . .” Twilight heaved a guilty sigh and turned to Fluttershy. “I'm so sorry. I just can't say it enough. I should've known that you knew what you were doing. I just . . . I feel ashamed that I frowned on the idea friendship. It shouldn’t matter what Nocturne is or where he comes from. Friendship is what’s important. Always has been . . . if you believe that friendship really will help Nocturne, then I won't interfere with that anymore. I . . . only hope you can forgive me . . . .”

“Oh, Twilight,” Fluttershy answered, her eyes growing misty from Twilight's consideration, “you were worried about me. I understand. I don't need to forgive you for being a little protective. You were just being a good friend to me. You . . .” she trailed off for a second before continuing, “. . . you just let it keep me from being a good friend to Nocturne, that's all.”

“Hey, speaking of him,” Spike stepped in, “we saw him after we saved the Crusaders, Fluttershy. He, uh, mentioned you, too.”

“Really?” Fluttershy asked, her eyes widening and a small smile creeping in a bit on her face. “Nocturne mentioned me? What did he say?”

“Something about, 'We're even now'.”

Now, Fluttershy’s expression softened, and her brow furrowed.

“We're . . . even?” she repeated.

“Oh, yeah, you didn't see!” Scootaloo announced. “You should've seen what Nocturne did to that Lamia! He totally crushed it! He was awesome! Not nearly as awesome as Rainbow Dash, but still pretty up there . . . .”

“He saved our lives, Fluttershy,” Apple Bloom added, smiling warmly. “I think you were right about him.”

“I wouldn't be too sure of that, sugarcube,” Applejack shook her head, “Nocturne did the right thing, sure enough, but I'm gettin' the idea he did it for the wrong reason. He specifically asked us to tell ya that the slate's clean. I'm thinkin' it wasn't out of the goodness of his heart.”

“And the way he brutalized that Lamia!” Rarity recounted as though the memory was still fresh in her mind. “I mean, surely the beast deserved justice, but it could have lost its life! What Nocturne did was completely unnecessary!”

“But didn't you talk about all the horrible things you'd do to that Lamia if it ever hurt Sweetie Belle?” Spike asked, prompting a disapproving stare from Rarity. “I-I'm just saying . . .” the dragon backpedaled gently, blushing.

If there was any doubt in Fluttershy's mind before, today's events cast it away forever.

If Nocturne really wanted me to leave him alone, she thought, he would have left, found another place to live in the forest, or at least would stop intimidating ponies so quickly in his part of the woods. And if he really was so bad, he wouldn't have thought about saving the girls. He would have just ignored them and gone after the Lamia for trespassing.

But this went beyond a simple kind act for a squirrel almost crushed by a falling tree. Today, Nocturne saved lives, and he wasn't even asked to. Whatever reasons he may have had, or shown that he had, he still did something heroic and selfless for ponies he didn't even know. And one way or another, Fluttershy was on his mind today.

She was getting to him. She was revealing to the world who the “Phantom Pony” really was deep inside.

“Nocturne really is a good pony.”

Nocturne sneezed, almost slipping with the herbs he rubbed over his body, and continued the process. Living in the forest for so many years had provided him with a wealth of knowledge on the healing properties of certain plants and herbs, and considering the days he had—like today—he used them quite often. It came with the territory of being feared as the “Phantom Pony of Everfree”.

Nocturne's thoughts wandered as he bore the sting of the herbs he spread on his wounds. He thought back to the warning he'd given to the pony rescue team that had assembled to save those three fillies. The kids, he'd never seen before, but Nocturne recognized the others as Fluttershy's friends—the prissy white Unicorn, the obnoxious pink Earth pony, the orange Earth pony in the cowgirl hat, and the gutsy rainbow-maned Pegasus he had taught a lesson to three days prior.

Why is it always those six? he thought angrily to himself, also remembering that purple Alicorn who'd told him off four days ago. They come here, they always come here . . . why? Why is Fluttershy so obsessed with me?

He could hardly answer the question anymore, but he found he was thinking more and more that the reverse was true, as well—even truer. Fluttershy was just as mystifying to him as he was to her, and his thoughts on her no longer stopped at her reasons.

Why does she do what she does? Why does she think the way she thinks? Why is she so dead-set on getting to know me?! Why doesn’t she just run away from me, like everypony else?!

“GAH! She’s driving me crazy!” Nocturne’s voice interrupted his own thoughts, annoyance at the sting in his injuries mixing with the annoyance of the very thought of Fluttershy.

One thing he couldn't understand, the lasting question at the end of every encounter with her and her friends: why wouldn't he just forget about her? He could easily pick up and leave any time he wanted. At this point, he was certain he’d do anything to get away from her.

“Ridiculous,” Nocturne grumbled as the sting began to settle, meaning his wounds were no longer in danger of infection. “I’ve held on to this territory for years. I worked hard to be the pony I am today. I won’t let some shy little sweetheart ruin it for me. Next time I see her, no mercy.”

One quick thought across the past week, and Nocturne already sighed in shame over the excuses he made. One way or another, something about Fluttershy kept him where he was.

“I feel like such a fool . . . .”

Nocturne hoped his “we're even” warning for her friends had been enough to keep them away, but he knew deep down that it wouldn't be. Whatever it was about her that kept him rooted to his territory made him sure he'd be seeing Fluttershy again soon.

As a fresh wave of aches washed over his wounds, signaling the start of their healing, the better question, the final question, returned to Nocturne’s mind:

“Do I want to?”

Nocturne glanced around to see bits of yellow fabric and white cotton still littering the forest floor.