• Published 23rd May 2012
  • 1,277 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.

  • ...

Wisdom of the Ancients

Just as Dash said, the turtle turned out to be quite ancient. His dark green shell was massive, easily five times the size of a large stallion, and covered in countless marks, scratches, and other signs of weathering. The turtle itself had dark grey-green skin, which was wrinkled and loose with age. His arms, leg, and head were all extended from within his shell, though he didn't seem to actually be doing anything when Twilight and Zecora entered the clearing. In fact, he didn't even seem to notice them.

Cautiously, the pony and zebra approached the elderly reptile. His eyes were shut, and as they closed the distance, the two equines realized that he was actually snoring.

"I believe he is asleep," Zecora whispered.

"Let me see if I can wake him up without scaring him..." Twilight softly replied back. She took a few more steps closer, then coughed to clear her throat. "Ahem. Excuse me?"

"Hrr? Hum?" the old turtle jumped slightly. It blinked its small, black eyes a few times, before squinting at Twilight. "Oh, another one of you young whipper snappers..." he rasped. "Askin' about them durn lollipops again..."

Twilight blinked twice. "Huh?"

"I already told you folks that I ain't ever been able to eat one without biting down..." the turtle rasped, a hint of irritation in its old, shaky voice. "Why d'you think I got no teeth?"

"Do turtles even have teeth?" Twilight asked, even though she already new the answer in the back of her mind.

"That's not the point. Ask the durn owl about your fancy-shmancy candies!" the turtle spat.

Twilight took a step forward. "But I'm not asking about-"

"YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN!!" the old turtle suddenly exclaimed.

Twilight sighed. "This isn't going quite as planned..." she muttered.

"Durn it Twilight, why'd ya have to pack all these dadburn technological doohickeys?!" Applejack snarled as she dug through Twilight's camping supplies. "Ah've found a hatchet, some fishing line, some water purification tablets, a GPS system, a portable generator that shouldn't even FIT in here... but Ah STILL can't find the galdurn instructions for the tent!"

Sure enough, Twilight had packed several modern, advanced-model tents. Rather than old fashion canvas, rope, and wood stake kits, these were made of nylon, plastic, carbon fiber, and other fancy things. Long plastic tubes had to be connected, inserted into the nylon tent, bent and positioned, properly reenforced... and if done right, you would end up with what was basically a big bubble.

Applejack preferred tents that didn't need instructions. A good old lean-to and/or sleeping bag was just fine and dandy for her. Unfortunately, the guidelines for these tents had gone missing among all the other gear. Her patience was starting to wear thin.

"Just wing it," Rainbow Dash flippantly advised with a shrug. She was kneeling over a pile of firewood and kindling, smacking a flint stone and a small piece of metal together, in hopes of creating a spark and starting a fire. "I mean, it's a tent. Seriously. Just a tent. How hard can it be?"

Applejack sighed. "Ah guess you're right. But if this goes badly, I'm blamin' you..."

No less than five minutes later, Applejack was rolling around on the ground, tangled up in the nylon tent fabric, which had several plastic rods stuck in it - some had punctured through the fabric itself. The stubborn earth pony had apparently bitten off more than she could chew, and her rolling around was only making things worse. "Dadburn consarn galdurn rasafrassin dedgum..." she growled under her breath. Rainbow Dash's cackling was only making things worse. With a sigh, Applejack stopped rolling and asked: "Ya think things are goin' any better for Twi and Zecora?"

"And that's how Equestria was made!" the turtle proudly proclaimed.

Twilight blinked a few times, snapping out of her stupor. Zecora was asleep on the ground beside her, sprawled out in the grass and drooling slightly. Twilight gave her a soft nudge, and the Zebra quickly leaped back to her hooves, wide awake. Suppressing a yawn, Twilight smiled awkwardly and said: "Thank you very much for telling us that story. And the five that came before it. But I think it's time me and my friend got going. We're looking for some Silver Crown flowers, and-"

The turtle gasped. "You seek the Silver Crown? Dark and dangerous is the path before you! Do you even know where you're going?!"

Zecora smiled. "Do not worry yourself, my reptile friend. I know the path to find our journey's end."

"Oh," the turtle replied. "Well, how do you intend to get past the Crabomancer?"

Twilight and Zecora stared. "Crabomancer?"

"Yes, the Crabomancer. The dark crustacean sorcerer who wields blasphemous powers and controls an army of crawfish! He rules the swamp with an iron claw, and-"

"We already went through the swamp," Twilight shrugged. "There wasn't a Crabomancer. Just alligator gar and a big snake."

The turtle stared for a moment. Then he flashed an embarrassed grin. "Ooooooh riiiiiiight. The gators got him at the turn of the last century. Silly me, gettin' mah dates and times all mixed up... heh heh heh..."

Twilight laughed nervously. "Right. Well, I guess we'll be going then."

Zecora nodded. "Indeed. Thank you for sharing your stories. We also quite enjoyed your company."

"Thanks, y'all come back anytime," the ancient reptile smiled. It then roared: "NOW GET OFF MY LAWN!!"

Night had finally fallen when Twilight and Zecora returned to the campsite. And they arrived just in the nick of time.

Applejack had finally wormed her way free, and had bundled together the tangled mess that had probably once dreamed of becoming a tent. She was now standing on her hind legs, the camping gear abomination raised up over her head, with a demented grin adorning her face as she prepared to throw the tent into the roaring fire Rainbow Dash had eventually managed to create.

Naturally, she froze in place and smiled awkwardly at Twilight upon seeing her. "Oh. Uh. Hi there Twi," she said, before grinning nervously. "Ah was... uh... Ah was just-"

"She was about to burninate the tent," Rainbow Dash deadpanned. "It was too 'dead-gum' complicated for her to figure out."

"Stool pigeon," Applejack glared at her friend.

Twilight sighed. Her horn began to glow, and the tent was lifted out of Applejack's hooves by a soft aura of purple light. "I'll fix the tent and put it together. I'll handle the other ones, too. You gals can take care of dinner."

Applejack grinned. Dinner she could handle. "No problem! Ah'll get right on it!"

As Twilight began to telekinetically put the tents together and Applejack began to sort through the cooking supplies, Rainbow Dash turned to Zecora. "So what'd Old Man Tortoise have to say?" she asked.

Zecora rolled her eyes. "He regaled us with his ancient wisdom. I was quite quickly subdued by boredom."

"Not what you were looking forward to, huh?"

With a neutral expression, Zecora factually replied: "Nope."

"So he didn't have anything useful to share?"

"Yes, if this were a century prior," Zecora sighed. "When Crabomancers ruled this swamp empire."

"Crabowhat?" Dash tilted her head, clearly confused.

Zecora smiled and shook her head. "Do not worry about it, Rainbow Dash. Those days have come, gone, and are long since past."

Dash shrugged. "If you say so. Hey, AJ, how's the food comin' along?"

"Ah'm 'bout done fixin' up the flapjack mix," Applejack replied factually. She was stirring a large bowl of batter, and she'd already set a cast iron skillet on a metal rack over the fire. "Shouldn't take me too long ta make 'em. Then we can have s'mores afterwards."

"Oh yay! I love pancakes," Rainbow Dash grinned.

"Flapjacks," Applejack replied with an exasperated glare.

"Whatever," the cyan pegasus shrugged. "They're still awesome."

"Can't... move..." Twilight muttered. She was sprawled out on the grass in front of the warm camp fire. An empty plate lay forsaken beside her. "Too... much... food..."

"I have... no... regrets..." Rainbow Dash grumbled from nearby. She'd been sitting on a log, but now she'd somehow wound up on her back, with her legs still strewn over the fallen tree. "Except... not being... able... to eat more... of the... delicious... awesomeness..."

Zecora was sitting on a rock near the campfire; between the warmth of the flames and the cloak she was wreathed in, she was quite comfortable. And unlike Dash and Twilight, she hadn't eaten enough to make herself sick. With a cheerful smile, she quipped: "It seems you've learned an important lesson, about eating things in moderation."

Applejack, meanwhile, simply munched on the last s'more. "Well, nice to know y'all like mah cookin'," she mused with a hint of smugness.

"All hail Applejack, queen of campfire cuisine..." Twilight mumbled.

"Hooraaaaay..." Dash weakly cheered. She gave a haphazard wave of her hooves for emphasis.

"I must agree with their observations," Zecora stated. "Your cooking deserves its exaltations."

"Thank ya, thank ya," Applejack grinned playfully, taking a few mock bows.

Twilight weakly sat up. "Okay. It's getting late. I think it may be time for bed," she said. A yawn followed, driving home her point. The unicorn shakily got to her feet, and began to walk towards her tent.

Twilight had easily been able to repair and set up the tent that Applejack had mangled, as well as three others. All four of the tents also included a sleeping bag and a small electric lantern. They were decent little shelters, well-insulted against the weather and elements, and roomy enough for two in a pinch.

"Yeah, it is getting pretty late..." Dash agreed, flapping her wings a few times so she could get airborne and land back on her hooves.

Zecora nodded. "The sooner we all get a good night's rest, the sooner we can continue our quest." The zebra hopped up off of the rock she'd been sitting on, and idly trotted over to her tent.

"Eeyup," Applejack observed. Before going to her tent, she turned her attention to the campfire. Putting it out wasn't an option, since they needed it to keep the timber wolves and who-knows-what-else away. So she kicked a few of the rocks that circled the campire, making sure they were properly set up to form a wall around the fire pit. While they were in a clearing and there was no chance of a forest fire starting or anything, she knew it was better to be safe than sorry.

"You sound a lot like your brother when you say that," Twilight observed.

"Eeyup," Applejack repeated herself with a smirk. Her three friends giggled in response.

As Rainbow Dash got to her tent, she paused and turned to look back at her friends. Sticking her lower lip out in a pouting gesture, the pegasus lamented: "Oh, woe is me. I have nopony to share my tent with. These cold wilderness nights can get so lonely." She then looked directly at Applejack, and a playful smirk flashed across her face. "How 'bout it Applejack?" she purred. "Wanna share a tent?"

Of course, it was obvious she was just messing with Applejack. Trying to get an amusing response out of her, as best friends often do. Zecora chuckled softly, already anticipating a funny reaction from the orange pony. Twilight simply shook her head, smirking at the silliness.

However, none of them expected for Applejack to start slowly trotting over to Rainbow Dash with a sly grin on her face. "Alright, Sugarcube, I'll take you up on that offer."

Rainbow Dash's smirk disappeared, and a slight blush tinted her blue cheeks. "Huh?"

Zecora was began to giggle. Twilight had to put a hoof over her mouth to keep herself from laughing at the ensuing awkwardness. Watching the tables get turned on Rainbow was too amusing.

"Though the question is, do we need two sleeping bags, or one?" Applejack asked. She then leaned her face in close to Dash's, and smirked coyly. "Cuz Ah don't mind sharin'." She then waggled her eyebrows.

Dash blushed furiously. "I... uh... You... Um..." she stammered, at a loss for words. Her joke had backfired miserably, and now she was the one being put on the spot. Not cool!

Twilight could no longer hold back her giggles. Zecora wasn't even trying to restrain herself; she was nearly doubled over, laughing heartily at the azure pegasus' misery.

"Single bag it is then. Don't tarry too long, ya here?" the earth pony winked, before sauntering into the tent. As she disappeared into the shelter, she whipped her tail and gave Dash a playful, flirty smack in the face.

Dash's expression of horror and confusion was priceless. 'Help me...' she silently mouthed to Twilight and Zecora, terror etched on her features. The zebra and unicorn, however, offered her no aid. They were both too busy rolling around the ground laughing hysterically.

A few seconds later, Applejack stuck her head out of the tent. "Y'all do realize Ah'm jokin' with ya, right?" she asked flatly, raising an eyebrow. Zecora and Twilight immediately stopped laughing - they wanted to see what happened next.

"Oh yeah! Totally!" Dash exclaimed a bit too enthusiastically, rolling her eyes for extra emphasis. Her attempt to look cool and relaxed was not very convincing. "I was just, y'know, playing along. Didn't want to spoil your fun and stuff."

"Uh huh," the orange earth pony expressed dubiously. "Y'know for all your confidence and 'coolness,' y'all are remarkably easy to fluster."

"Psssshaw," Dash gave a dismissive wave of her wing. "Whatever. I'm not that easy to fluster."

Applejack gave her another playful smack in the face with the tip of her tail. She then started to trot away, while Zecora and Twilight resumed their giggling.

"H-hey!" the blue pony sputtered. "What was that for?"

Applejack shrugged. "Just provin' a point. And 'cuz I felt like it," she replied with a bemused smirk, before slinking into her own tent.