• Published 23rd May 2012
  • 1,274 Views, 54 Comments

Quest for the Silver Crown - Lycan_01

Applejack and her friends journey into the Everfree Forest to find the cure for Winona's illness.

  • ...

Snake in the Grass

Twilight involuntarily tensed when she heard the hissing. "Sn-sna-sn-sna-sn-s-s-sna..." she began to stutter, shivering with fear. She was extremely terrified of snakes. In fact, she was too scared to look behind her, but too paralyzed with fear to run. "Sn-sn-sna-"

"Sssssserpent," a crisp and high-class-sounding voice suddenly stated from behind her. "I would prefer to be called a sssserpent. Sssssnake is too... mundane."

Twilight's terror was almost overridden by confusion and curiosity. Almost. But her fear-paralysis was broken by the sudden distraction, at least. "Huh? What? Oh, I'm sorry!" she yelped, whirling around to apologize to whoever, or whatever, was correcting her language.

Her pupils promptly shrank to the size of pinpricks as she found herself staring eye-to-eye with a massive snake coiled up amongst the tall grass, only yards of space between them. Once again, fear-paralysis kicked in.

"Apology acccccccepted," she snake said, idly waving its tail in a flippant gesture, probably the snake equivalent of a shrug. The serpent was easily twenty feet long, and was a mottled green color with various darker and lighter patterns running up and down the length of its back. "What bringsssss you to my little ssssswamp?"

"Anaconda..." Twilight weekly whimpered, oblivious to what the snake was saying.

The verdant reptile narrowed its eyes in annoyance. "Reticulated python," it corrected her. "You really ssssshould read more."

Oh. Oh no it did not just say that.

"Hey!" Twilight suddenly barked. Now it was her turn to be annoyed. "I do plenty of reading, thank you very much!"

"Right..." the snake rolled its eyes dismissively. "And yet you can't tell the differenccccce between a Python reticulatusssssss and membersssss of the Genusssss Eunectussssss. Sssssimpleton."

"I am not a simpleton!" Twilight stomped her hooves defensively. "I am Princess Celestia's prize pupil! I've probably spent more of my life reading and studying than sleeping! I know quite well you're not a Eunectus murinus, but it is hard to be scientific when you're terrified out of your mind!" she growled.

The snake's mouth seemed to curl into a smirk. "Oho, it actually knowssssss what itsssss talking about."

"I'm not an it," Twilight frowned. "I'm a unicorn named Twilight Sparkle." The purple pony then arched an eyebrow. "Hey wait, how are you so smart? I figured a sn- serpent in the middle of a swamp would be far from chatty, let alone highly educated.."

The snake gave another flippant tail wave. "I'll forgive your ignorancccccce in thissss regard. Many would no doubt be sssssurpirssssssed to know that I actually went to college."

"College?" Twilight raised an eyebrow.

"Yesssss, college," the snake replied with a smirk. "I even got a degree."

Twilight smiled. "Oh really? What did you get?"

"Bachelorsssss of Sssssscienccccce in Psssssssychology," the snake answered.

"Psychology?" Twilight asked. "Why psychology?"

"The anssssswer, my little pony," the snake hissed factually, "Isssss quite ssssssimple."

"Oh? What is it?"

"Mind games."

Twilight's blood froze. She suddenly realized that she'd been unintentionally staring into the snake's eyes for most of the conversation.

And the distance between them had shrank, without her knowledge, from several yards to only a few inches.

Twilight opened her mouth to scream, pure terror overwhelming her. The snake opened its mouth to strike, its jaw unhinging widely.

And out of nowhere, Applejack suddenly drop-kicked the serpent right in the face.

"Y'ALL LEAVE MAH FRIEND ALONE, YA VARMINT!!" the rugged earth pony roared as she bucked the python away from Twilight.

"Applejack?!" Twilight asked incredulously.

"Well it ain't Nightmare Moon!" Applejack smirked as she landed next to her friend.

The snake recoiled, its eyes spinning. It shook its head, then spat out a few teeth. "Ouch! Who are you sssssupposed to be?" the snake glared harshly, coiling up aggressively.

"Like she said, mah name's Applejack," the orange mare replied with a smug smirk and a tilt of her hat. She then pointed up. "An' tha's Rainbow Dash."

The snake looked up just in time to come face-to-hoof with Rainbow Dash's hind legs. "That's for trying to eat my friend!" the blue pegasus yelled as she bucked the serpent, sending the python flailing backwards a bit.

"Ow... Ow... Ow..." the snake muttered, shaking its head and working its jaw back and forth. "You dissssslocated my jaw. Not that it really matterssssss..." it muttered. "But if you think I'm going to let you get away with thisssss, you-"

"An' tha's Zecora..." Applejack nodded off to the side.

The snake looked over to where she had gestured, and was rewarded with the sight of a dark-cloaked zebra suddenly flipping out of the tall grass, spinning through the air, and landing in a fighting stance with a long staff clutched in its mouth. The snake stared for a second, and then shook its head. "Nope. Nope. Forget thisssss. I'm out of here..." it stated as it turned to slither away hastily. "I'd rather try my luck with the alligator gar..."

And with that, the massive python slithered into the tall grass, and disappeared.

Dead silence followed. Eventually it was broken, not by a voice, but by a hug.

Twilight hurled herself at Applejac, and tightly hugged her friend. "Oh, thank you thank you thank you!" the purple unicorn exclaimed, tears welling in her eyes. "You saved my life! I was so scared, and it tricked me by talking about reading and science, and-"

Applejack placed a hoof over Twilight's mouth, shutting her up before she got hysteric. "Its alright now, Sugarcube," the orange pony smiled. "Think nothin' of it."

Twilight shook her face away from Applejack's hoof. "Nothing of it? You saved my life! And you too!" she looked up at Rainbow Dash, and then over to Zecora. "You all rescued me!"

"Well, what else were we gonna do, let you get eaten?" Dash smirked, fluttering in a circle over Twilight's head.

"Why would we all do nothing and sit back, when our friend is about to be a snack?" Zecora asked with a smile.

"Exactly. Of course we saved yer life. What else are friends for?" Applejack smirked, before returning Twilight's hug.

"Thank you..." Twilight whimpered, wiping tears from her eyes. She sniffed a few times, then smiled weakly. "Okay, I think I'm alright now."

"Coolness!" Dash grinned. "Now we can tell you about how we awesomely fought our way through waves of bloodthirsty gator gar on our way to rescue you!"

"You did what now?" Twilight blinked.

Before long, the group of friends was on the move again. Twilight had recovered her nerves, and Rainbow Dash had bragged and boasted about her she, Zecora, and Applejack had made their way across the swamp, fighting off hungry alligator gar, and even a couple of actual alligators. Zecora and Applejack had hopped, skipped, and jumped from object to object in the water, while ducking attacks and occasionally bucking their attackers. Rainbow Dash, meanwhile, had flown interference, swooping in to buck or distract the attackers when Zecora or Applejack were leaping around or otherwise distracted.

Eventually, the trio had made it to the other side of the swamp. And once on dry land, they heard Twilight's voice somewhere nearby amongst the tall grass. It had sounded like she was arguing with somebody, and by some miracle, they'd found her just as the snake was about to strike.

"Thanks again..." Twilight muttered at the conclusion of the tale, trotting along between Zecora and Applejack.

"You need not mention it again, Twilight," Zecora smiled. "We have already said that it's alright."

"Beatin' the tar outta that snake ain't that big a deal," Applejack said with a smirk. "He had it comin' to him."

"And how many ponies can say they beat up an anaconda?" Dash grinned, hovering overhead.

"Reticulated python," Twilight corrected her with a wistful smile.

Rainbow Dash shrugged and idly waved a hoof. "Eh, whatever."

"I believe that we should prepare camp soon," Zecora observed, looking up at the sky through the trees above them. Now that they'd left the swampy areas, the trees and foliage had become dense again, and only the occasional glimpse of the sky could be seen through the thick branches. What little sky was visible was beginning to darken in color, though the difference down in the light-deprived woods was not too noticeable yet. "The sun is trading places with the moon."

"Yeah, we don't need to travel when its dark," Twilight observed. "The Everfree Forest is dangerous enough during the day..."

"Sounds good to me," Rainbow Dash said as she landed next to Twilight and flexed her wings. "My wings are killing me."

"Walking is a viable mode o' transportation too, ya know," Applejack deadpanned. "Y'all should try it some times."

"Eh," Dash shrugged. "Why walk when you can fly?"

Applejack and Zecora both shared a look of mutual annoyance. Twilight didn't have the right to say anything - she knew how to teleport.

"So where should we set up camp?" Applejack asked, changing topics before a playful argument or something ensued. "Y'all see any good places?"

"Let me scout around a bit. I'll see if I can find a clearing or something," Rainbow Dash said. She proceeded to fly off before any of her friends could say anything.

For a moment the three remaining equines stood in silence, before Zecora finally asked: "Would either one of you like to wager, how long it will take her to find danger?"

A minute or so later, Rainbow Dash suddenly zipped out of the branches overhead and skidded to a halt in the air above her friends. "I'm back!" she proclaimed with a triumphant grin. "I found a couple of clearings. And a giant turtle."

"Excellent!" Twilight proclaimed with a smile, before her face suddenly went blank. "Wait, what?"

"Yeah, a giant turtle," Dash shrugged in the air. "He was just chillin' in one of the clearings. I don't think he saw me, though. Dude looked ancient."

"An aged and weathered tortoise is nearby?" Zecora asked, her eyes lighting up. "I wonder if he would converse with I."

"You... wanna talk to a giant turtle?" Applejack raised an eyebrow.

"Oh yes!" Zecora nodded enthusiastically, eyes closed with delight. "Such ancient knowledge he must hold! Creatures like him can live to be quite old. No telling is there to what he may know. Arcane lore, legends, tricks to make crops grow..."

"I must admit, I'm quite curious to hear what he has to say, too..." Twilight observed.

"Alrighty, how 'bout me and Dash go start settin' up camp, and y'all go chat up the old turtle?" Applejack shrugged.

"Sounds good to me," Twilight nodded, before telekinetically loosening the straps on her heavily-packed saddle-bags. "All the gear we need should be in here."

"Got it!" Dash proclaimed with a smirk, swooping in to lift up the saddle-bags. As soon as she picked them up, though, Twilight released her magically hold on them, which had been keeping them from weighing too much. As a result, Dash let out a surprised yelp as she was instantly dragged to the earth, where she wound up in a tangled mass of feathers and camping supplies. "Okay, maybe I don't got it..."