• Published 3rd May 2016
  • 758 Views, 72 Comments

Woebegone - Lost_Marbles



The embodiment of bad luck comes to Ponyville, and anypony foolish enough to cross his path meets disaster. And he's very sorry.

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Chapter 7 - Bumble, Stumble, Riot and Crumble

Author's Note:

The latest chapter is finally up! I hope you enjoy this. Only one more chapter to go after this.

For some reason, with these new changes I can’t indent my paragraphs, and my usual spacing habits don’t copy over well, so the formatting in this chapter is different than the previous ones. Shouldn’t ruin your reading experience, but I’ll try to keep this looking as neat as possible.

Applejack had launched herself headfirst into cow stampedes without the slightest bit of hesitance. How she’d describe the experience was “an exhilarating rush;” but now she was absolutely terrified. She wasn’t the one in danger, and she knew if she slipped up, she couldn’t walk away battered and bruised with her pride holding her together. The fate of the innocent Woebegone would hang on her conscience forever. As she sprinted past the mob into the eerily empty streets of Ponyville, she heard doors and windows slamming shut, locks and tumblers clicking into place, and her rough hooves clopping and scratching against the dirt road. She shot past Sugarcube Corner and veered hard off of Baker’s street onto Royal Way - a straight line to Twilight’s castle. That’s when she saw the smoke. Her heart stopped as her focus was torn in two. She couldn’t stop. She willed herself to turn toward Carousel Boutique and around the back from where the smoke seeped to find Rarity in a harried, tangled mess and a profusely apologizing Woebegone. She could not be bothered with Rarity’s situation and without pause snatched up the apologizer and leapt over her sister and her friends back into the bare streets. She’d let Rarity chew her ears off later.



Woebegone struggled to hold on. He bumped and fuddled about as she ran a straight line towards Twilight’s tilted castle. She focused hard on her destination; safety was well within her sight. The tips of the castle spires shimmered in the noon sun and blinded her. Their brilliance blinded her, and she squinted to restore her sight. Two blocks down was a single naked stallion. “There he is. Get him!” he shouted. Ponies of all shapes, sizes, and shades of pink came pouring out from around every corner, waving about lit torches, makeshift clubs, and pitchforks as they pursued her. She dashed into the nearest alley.



“You there, halt!” cried a voice above her as she turned into another street. Shadows of pegasi flying above swam below her like sharks, closing in to swoop down and snatch up their prey. She slipped to the side to see a blur of purple and white whip by her and she dove back into the shady alley. Furious naked ponies blocked the far exit and charged her while flailing frying pans and rolling pins. Woebegone shrieked in terror and pulled on her mane. She skidded hard and turned around to retreat, but more came rushing in from behind, all of them howling for vengeance.



Applejack looked around desperately as the crowds closed in. In their fervour, they had unwittingly wedged themselves in the narrow passage and brought their assault to a halt, giving her only a momentary reprieve. Her heart was pumping in her ears while she looked desperately about for an exit before the attackers wiggled themselves loose and lunged at her. To her great relief, she spotted a perilous path that would save her, but at a great risk. She whispered a prayer to Celestia that she’d make it. “Hold on!” Applejack shouted to her passenger, then charged the mob. The frontmost ponies in the crowd fell back in alarm and blocked the rest from flooding in. She jumped up against a wall and kicked off with all her might to the opposite end of the alley, then off the that wall, and with the third bound, she was up on the rooftop. Relief rushed through her and the urge to rest came, but the rodeo wasn’t over yet, so she pushed on, running without any idea which way she was headed. Thatched hay kicked up by her hooves fell off the wooden framing of the roof and tumbled to the ground in tufts - a trail for the mob to follow.



“She’s on the roof!” screamed a mare from the ground.



“Halt this instant!” commanded a stallion in the sky.



But Applejack was deaf to it all except for the constant coaxing she repeated to herself in her head. Got to keep running. Got to get to Twilight. Got to keep running. Jumping from rooftop to rooftop while focused mostly on her footing, she stayed sharp for any sign of where she was and where she was going. Suddenly she spied Sugarcube Corner. She was heading the wrong way.



“This is your last warning!” A pegasus dropped out of the sky to snatch her, but his hooves only brushed through her tail as she jumped to the side and slid down the hay roof. Woebegone’s fingers lost grip of her mane, and he fell off her and tumbled down alongside her. Applejack landed on her hindquarters with a solid thud and fell on her back. Above, Woebegone was dangling over the edge of the roof. The sky behind him was a menacing shade of dark grey. In the back of her mind, she just wanted to sit there, recuperate. Take a breather and think things out. She wanted to stop. But she couldn’t. She willed herself to her hooves. A loud aluminum clang rang in the alley, and Applejack turned to see Woebegone lodged upside down in a garbage pail, kicking violently to no effect. His muffled blubbering reverberated within his metal chamber. She grabbed one of his long feet and pulled, but he kicked her sharply on the snout. “Stay still!” she yelled before knocking the tin over and giving him another pull. He popped free, and she threw him carelessly over her withers and took off in the direction that had fewer angry voices. When she came out of the alley between the two houses, something metallic smashed into her front legs, and she skidded on the gravel. She scrambled to get herself back up, but an invisible force pulled her legs away from her body and stretched her out like a rug. She looked up from under her hat and saw the dented lyre and a small contingent of the mob had surrounded her. One unicorn with golden eyes looked down at her under her glowing horn.



“Lyra!”



“Applejack, why are you protecting him? He’s the bad guy!”



“You’re making a mistake!”



“No, you are. Don’t let her get away.”



Several unicorns with glowing horns held her down as the mob swarmed in from every corner and alley, cutting off any route for escape for the two of them. The burning smell of torches filled her nostrils. The wind that blew through her mane grew stronger as the mob grew bigger, the townsfolk spitting with rage. She felt moisture splatter on the back of her neck. She looked up above the crowd, expecting to see muzzles frothing with rage, but instead, high in the sky, a huge storm cloud had loomed over the entire block and everypony around it. Lighting flashed in the sky, and rain poured down in buckets. Her mind was racing for a solution. An out. What could she say to convince them to stop? Visions of what would happen to Woebegone if she didn’t horrified her, and already, just the thought of the guilt and shame from failing to save somepony tore her heart to shreds.



A pony pointed to the sky and cried, “Look! He’s summoned a storm to rain on us and give us all colds. We’ll be sick for days!”



“Oh no, he won’t. Let’s get him!”



“Yeah! Let’s give him noogies!”



“And bison rubs!”



“And purple nurples!”



The mob closed in on Woebegone, curled up into a whimpering ball while apologizing over and over again. Applejack opened her mouth to utter one last plea, but something crashed from the sky like lighting in the middle of the mob. A royal pegasus guard threw himself into the den of lions. His tail and feathers whipped madly in the growing wind. “By order of the royal guard, you are all under arrest!”



The mob went still.



“Arrested?” said one pony.



“What!? I’ve never been arrested my entire life!” cried another.



“A criminal record and a cold!? What bad luck!” cried the mob.



The wind blew off Applejack’s hat. She tried to grab at it instinctively, but her legs were being held down, and she could only watch as her hat blew away into the forest of pony legs around her. But then a glint of gold in the corner in her eye caught her attention. She turned her head and saw that Lyra’s lyre was lying on the ground, just within her reach. She thrust forward off her stomach and bit down hard on the metallic instrument. With a twist of her neck, she flung the metal instrument as hard as she could at the one of the distracted unicorns holding her down. The projectile clanked on the boney horn, and the stallion screamed in pain. The magic holding one of her front hooves vanished. Applejack focused all her strength in her free leg, and threw herself off the ground and onto the next unicorn beside her, giving her horn a hard smack; she went down with a shrill cry. Two more legs were freed, and she bucked at the last unicorn behind her. The hoof only nicked the stallion’s shoulder, but the threat of a broken snout was enough to make him bolt.



Freed, she charged forth, knocking the screeching Lyra aside, and snatched Woebegone by the scruff of his jacket and threw him over her back. Naked ponies from all sides rushed in, but Applejack’s legs, revitalized with renewed hope in her mission, pushed against the muddy ground and soared over the mob and toward safety. She landed hard at full sprint, dashing left and right to avoid everypony that got in her way. Each obstacle she overcame eased the weight on her spirit and further strengthened her resolve.



In all the madness around her, she couldn’t stop to find her bearings. The storm overhead rumbled loudly, tearing the town to shreds as it turned into a terrible typhoon. The nonstop, disorienting screaming of the angry mob and shouting guards were hushed by the whipping winds. She didn’t know in what direction she was going until she found herself at the front of Town Hall, and all around her the mob was packing around her tightly, while more guards appeared from the sky and alleys, adding more excitement and urgency in the mob’s frantic hunt. With no other option available, she kicked open the front doors of the town hall and slammed them shut behind her and threw the latch, locking the door to the rioting nude. Almost immediately, the door began to bend and buckle under the weight of the ponies trying to get in.



Woebegone threw his arms around Applejack’s neck and kissed her on the cheek. “Oh, you saved me! Thank you, thank you, thank you!”



She gently pushed him away and gave him a tired but proud smile. “We ain’t out of the woods yet, Sugarcube.”



A third voice shrilled out from behind both of them, frightening them both. “I say, what is going on here!? Not only have the pegasi started an unscheduled storm, but now all this commotion at my front door. Please explain yourselves.”



The two turned and saw Mayor Mare marching out from her office door.



Applejack rushed over her. “Mayor! Finally, a pony of some sense!”



“Applejack? Explain to me what is all that racket about.”



“There’s a full-blown riot out there, ma’am! Ponies out there are spittin’ mad. You need to talk some sense into them.”



The mayor looked over at the locked door and the angry faces looking in at them. The many fleshy-pink faces pressed against the windows, furiously screaming at them through the glass. One more noticeably angry individual was too angry to show his face, so he presented his butt.



“You expect me to talk sense to them? What in Celestia’s name has got them so worked up?”



Woebegone took off his hat and held it to his chest while weakly waving. “Hi. They’re angry because I’m my bad luck.”



The single-sentence summary took less time to deliver than process. When the mayor finally understood what was said, she laughed but quickly suppressed it. “Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude, but everypony is worked up into a tizzy because of bad luck?” She held up a hoof to keep back her chuckles. “Oh, I’ve had to deal with fallout from monster attacks, Twilight’s manic episodes, and bunny stampedes, but bad luck?”



“So you’ll calm them down?”



The mayor nodded. “I certainly shall! Now let’s restore some order!” A brick crashed through one of the windows and clunked the mayor on the head, knocking her unconscious.



Applejack felt her innards twist as if jabbed with a knife. “Oh, horse feathers!” She tugged Woebegone with her out of the lobby and into the Mayor’s office as the front door began to splinter. She only had enough time to close the office door before behind them the front doors gave and the building was flooded with the rioters.



“Oh no! The mayor has been hit on the head on a brick!” cried one.



“What bad luck!” replied the mob.



“Fan out! Find the cursed one!” Lyra’s voice sent shivers down Applejack’s spine, and she fastened the lock on the door. The click was followed by an unbearable silence.



“They’re in there!” called out somepony, and the door bent and cracked under the sudden battering. Applejack cursed under her breath and whipped around, frantically looking for a way out. Several windows at the other end of the office were just big enough for her and Woebegone to squeeze through.



“Through there!” she commanded, and Woebegone rushed over to one window. He opened it up and got a leg up on the windowsill before he let out a blood-curdling scream and an outside force pulled him forward. The shock ran through Applejack’s legs and sapped her of her strength. She had to will herself to stand as Woebegone anchored himself to the walls with his big feet. She grabbed him by the jacket and with a single tug jerked Woebegone back into the office. Hooves reached in after him and snaked around her mane and neck before tugging her out instead. She cursed and kicked and spat at the attackers. “Let go of me! Let go of me, consarnit! You don’t know what you’re doing!” Tears of frustration welled up in her eyes and her throat grew sore, but no matter how hard she yelled, she couldn’t get them to listen.



Then one of them cried out in pain. A stapler flew out from the window and whacked a pony in the eye. He let go of Applejack and tumbled back into the mob. A mug full of hot tea cracked against the skull of another rioter and splattered its contents on the faces of all around her, and they all fell back and wailed. More and more projectiles came flying from behind Applejack, and the holds on her weakened. She pulled again and successfully escaped.



Free of the hooves holding her down, she looked back and saw her savior, heavy at work lobbing anything and everything that was in the Mayor’s office out the window. He cursed and apologized before and after each throw. His little sunken eyes were alight with an angry determination that seemed unusual for his character. When he saw that she was free, he lowered his hand holding an encyclopedia and ran up to her. “I’m so sorry for letting this happen to you! I didn’t mean for my cursed bad luck to put in so much danger. I…”



Whatever he was going to say next he forgot when she took him in for a big hug. “You silly lug! You saved me! That has nothing to do with luck. I’ve told you from the beginning that I don’t believe in your curse, and when we get out of here, I’m going to prove it to you.” She continued to hold him against his chest and enjoy the short reprieve and let herself forget the riot, if only for a moment.



A unicorn wielding a torch stuck his head in through the window. “Bwaha! I got you!” Woebegone threw the book at him. “Gah! He got me!” The unicorn dropped the torch and fell back outside. The curtains instantly caught flame, and the fire spread to the nearby furniture.



“Just my luck,” said Woebegone.



A mean streak of ingenuity hit Applejack as she discovered a way out. She knocked the curtain rod off its rack and picked up the makeshift torch. “Stay close!” she commanded, then kicked open the bolt holding the office door shut, letting in the ponies on the other side. Their faces turned white as bone as soon as they came face to face with Applejack swinging about a three-foot pole of flames wildly in their direction. They fell back onto each other and retreated into the lobby, screaming to all behind them, “Back! Get back!”



With some careful poking and prodding, Applejack was able to make headway into the crowded room. Nopony wanted to call her bluff. While she was able to hold them back with her new weapon, she was terrified of having to use it. Woebegone kept close as they inched closer to the open front door. She would make her escape in the chaos outside where more rioters clashed with royal guards. All those in her way eventually stood aside, except for one unicorn with angry, golden eyes.



“I won’t let you get away,” said Lyra. “Not after what you’ve done to me. To us!”



“Back off, Lyra,” growled Applejack.



“Who are you? What did I do to you?” said Woebegone.



“You know darn well, this lousy smell, and this close cut, you fried my butt! And the worst part, you little tart, you trashed my art--” she held up a bent piece of gold-colored metal “--and broke my harp!”



Applejack huffed. “You threw that at me, you ninny! You can’t possibly blame him for something that you did.”



The logic smacked her in the face like a runaway cart, but it only infuriated her further. She reached out with her magic and ripped away the Applejack’s torch, leaving her defenseless and surrounded. The mob fell on them like hungry timberwolves. Applejack couldn’t even cry out “Run!” before they were upon her. Hooves and magic latched onto her and painfully twisted her until she couldn’t struggle. Her sight was stripped from her when somepony tossed a tarp around her head, and she couldn’t make out any of the madness that was going on around her. She kicked and struggled as much as she could, but to no avail. Trapped in the belly of the beast, Applejack cried for help that may never come. She cried into her makeshift blindfold. She had failed.



Enough!” commanded a thunderous voice, and the world went silent. Unmoving.



The rain outside continued to patter outside while a single set of hooves clipped-clopped on the hard-wooden floor toward Applejack. The blindfold was gently removed from her face, and Applejack saw Twilight Sparkle looking down on her. Her horn glowed brightly with highly-concentrated magic. Applejack looked around and saw that everypony around them was being held still by Twilight’s magic, as they were only moments ago. She let out a long breath and let herself melt into the ground. She could finally relax. “Oh, Twilight, you have no idea how glad I am to see you.”



“And I you, Applejack,” Twilight replied in kind. “I heard you were looking for me.”



“Howd’ya figure?”



Twilight gestured behind her, and Applejack saw Fluttershy and another hairless earth-pony mare. “They told me.”



“Bonnie! My best friend was cursed and betrayed me! What bad luck!” cried Lyra.



“Hush!” shouted Twilight in Lyra’s direction. “You all owe me a big explanation.” That’s when Twilight noticed Woebegone walk up to her with his hat in his hands.



“Hi, I’m Woebegone. I’m sorry for causing you such trouble.”