• Published 28th Sep 2016
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Achieving Divinity: Dragon's Deception - The Joeker



After finally settling in to his surroundings in Equestria, our hero,Tyrath Kyelinth is sent through time by Erlking, the traitorous Goblin! When the 'reunion' goes horribly wrong can he reclaim his memories and past life? Hell, does he even want to?

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Chapter 24: The Camping Trip

Author's Note:

Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity and their sisters(and Scootaloo) All go on a camping trip, joined by Tyrath and Creature who are out scouting for Black Ring. After multiple scary campfire stories, problems arise in the dream world that then spill over into the waking world...

As I took a stroll through Ponyville, I breathed in the fresh crisp air. I waved to the Cakes, who were preparing some confectioneries for later, they waved back with a smile. I continued my walk and was greeted by everypony that passed.

"Lord Tyrath."

"Prince Tyrath."

"Lord Dragon."

"My Lord."

"My Prince."

Everypony I passed bowed to me or greeted me in some way as I walked. They truly did think the world of me, they thought of me as their saviour, their hero. I would try to live up to their expectations. As I passed, I heard the familiar buzzing of wings... Only one little filly's wings beat like that...

Scootaloo. I used my magic to see what she was up to. I saw her speeding along, in between two Ponies, who gasped as she sped past and were spun around. She dodged in between multiple Ponies as she zoomed past. As she went, Granny Smith positioned herself perfectly for Scootaloo to leap over her with her scooter going under her. She then eyed an upturned cart in her way. Rather than deterring her, this spurred her on and she used it as a ramp, shooting up off of it, lifting in the air.

"Whoo-hoo!" She yelled. It brought joy to my heart to see her enjoying herself so. I enjoyed walking among the Ponies. Their lives fulfilled mine, in a way. I looked up and saw Rainbow Dash fly by. I gave her a non-rude two fingered salute and she saluted to me in turn.

"Nice moves, kid." She complimented, flying nonchalantly past, taking a sip of a drink, she nodded with a wink at me as well.

"Nice moves? Rainbow Dash thinks I've got–" She stopped as she literally stopped moving in the air due to her excitement. Teh lwas fo pshyics hree rae bornke... Just like that sentence. She landed in a pile of hay a cow was munching on. The cow got a shock when she accidentally grabbed Scootaloo's tail. "...nice mooves...!?" She asked, seeing the cow and wearing a confused look.

...

"You alright Scoot?" I asked, walking over with an amused smile, she had landed near where I was so I decided to check on her.

"Yeah, I'm good!" She exclaimed with a smile, flapping her wings and gaining enough air to get out of the hay pile before landing on her hooves. I actually had to hold in an 'awww!'. Why so cute?! She retrieved her scooter and I began clapping.

"Sweet moves." I nodded.

"You really think so?!" She beamed.

"Of course." I chuckled with a nod and a slight smile.

"Thanks!! I've gotta tell the girls!!" She exclaimed, mounting her scooter.

"Gotta tell them..." I began as she sped off. "What?" I asked nopony. I looked to the cow who shrugged. Suddenly, a letter appeared before me... I began to read it... Well, time to get to Sweet Apple Acres. Creature seems to be bugging AJ for cooking lessons. I began the trek there, which took all of about 5 minutes as I wasn't that far away. I saw her outside the Farmhouse, bringing some apples in.

"AJ?" I asked.

"Ah! Ty! Good ta see ya!" She exclaimed, hugging me.

"Problem?" I asked as she let go, dropping back her hooves.

"Nah, not really. Creature really IS buggin' me fer lessons, an' ah don't mind givin' 'em! I just wanted ta let ya know that our annual campin' trip's a comin' up soon." She informed me. "An' I wanted ta know if you were comin'?" She asked.

"Sure! Why not? Creature and I needed to scout the wilds anyway." I agreed.

"Well, that's settled then! Say... Could ya..." She began, looking back at the Farmhouse, and the multiple items flying out of the kitchen...

"Flour?" I asked.

"Please." She chuckled, before giving a worried look as a crashing was heard. She quickly ran inside as I gave a chuckle and went out to get some more flour... I'd have to help AJ with cleaning the kitchen when Creature was done, the poor guy... I passed the CMC HQ as I walked.

"...Then, all of a sudden, I'm airborne! And Rainbow Dash looks over and was like, 'Nice moves, kid.' then the Prince himself came over to see if I was OK, and he was all like 'sweet moves!' it was sooo cool!" She exclaimed. I really have an effect on Ponies around here...

"Woooow." Admired Apple Bloom.

"They really said that?" Asked Sweetie.

"I mean, it's like she practically told me she wanted to take me under her wing, teach me everything she knows, and become like my big sister! And the Prince totally wants to teach me ultra-secret like, Dragon stuff or somethin'!" She exclaimed... Well, I would, but there is no 'secret Dragon stuff'... We fly, breathe fire, eat our enemies... Horde gold and that's about it unless you're a Unicorn... The magic stuff is sorta secret and interesting I guess...

"I dunno about all that." Spoke Apple Bloom.

"They were really nice compliments and all, but..." Sweetie Belle trailed off.

"I know, I know. But all that stuff I said could happen, right?" Asked Scootaloo with a hopeful smile.

"Sure." She nodded.

"Absolutely." Agreed Apple Bloom.

"I just need to find a way to spend some time with her, y'know, so she can see more of my awesomeness." She said. I saw Dash clearing the clouds in the distance. "And the Prince? He's here all the time! He's bound to see my coolness!" Nodded Scootaloo

"Well... Applejack and I are supposed to be campin' up at Winsome Falls this weekend. Maybe I could get my big sis to invite Rainbow Dash, and then you could come, too!" Exclaimed Apple Bloom.

"Really?!" Exclaimed Scootaloo happily.

"Sure!" Agreed Apple Bloom excitedly. "Plus, the Prince could be goin'!" She exclaimed.

"Double cool!" Cheered Scootaloo.

"I wanna go..." Pouted Sweetie Belle.

"Well, duh, of course you can go!" Exclaimed Apple Bloom.

"And I'll get Rarity to come too! Rarity loves camping!" Assured Sweetie, earning incredulous looks from the others. I shook my head and took the flour back to AJ at the Farmhouse.

"Here you go." I chuckled, seeing Creature's most edible batch yet.

"Where're the girls goin'?" Asked AJ, seeing them leave Sweet Apple Acres up the path to Ponyville.

"Carousel boutique to convince Rarity to come on the camping trip." I pointed behind me with a grin.

"Well, if she wants to come she can. But I doubt she'll wanna." Laughed AJ.

"True." I nodded.

"Shoot, can ya follow the girls? I need somethin' pickin' up from the Boutique." Asked AJ sheepishly. "I'd go, but-" She cut off as a plate came flying at us. I caught it and placed it down with a chuckle.

"It's fine. I'll go." I said, shaking my head as I left. I walked the short distance to Ponyville in no time at all. As I entered the Boutique, I could tell Sweetie had just broached the subject to her sister, judging from her response.

"I despise camping! All of that..." She shuddered. "...nature." She said as she prepared Applejack's order for me to take.

"Applejack's going with her little sister. But, y'know, if you don't wanna spend time with me..." Sweetie used her cute as hell eyes to full effect on her sister, who caved.

"Oh, all right! Ooh! Of course I will need to find an outfit more appropriate for 'roughing it'. Ooh!" Exclaimed Rarity in a slight huff, heading upstairs after passing AJ's order to me. The other two Crusaders poked their head out of a closet...

"See? Told you she'd wanna go." Said Sweetie smugly. Damned sly filly... I returned AJ's order, which was her repaired boots. She told Creature and myself to get ready to leave. She insisted that the mess would hold until we got back, so we accepted.

I donned my Wild Dweller's outfit. (Same outfit as in Hard Truths.) And grabbed a bow, arrows and spear as we headed off. Creature had some daggers at his side. We headed to the starting point of our trek to Winsome Falls. I had the bow string around the front of my shoulder, holding it with my quiver of arrows slung on my back. I held the spear in my right hand and was planning to use it as a hunting tool and walking stick to draw arrows on the ground the way we were travelling.

Scootaloo and Bloom ran over, bags packed and ready to go. They both hugged me as we saw each other and then hugged Creature.

"You packed bug spray?" Asked AJ. In response, Apple Bloom flipped the bottle in the air and caught it in it's slot.

"Eeyup. You got the canteens?" Asked Bloom. AJ flipped the container to reply, also landing it back in it's place.

"Eeyup. Looks like we're all set then." She nodded. We suddenly heard something trundling along, and saw a huge shadow. I had my mouth open...

"Hey!" Greeted Rarity, running along. Poor Sweetie was being made to pull her stuffed cart.

"Gee, Rarity, did you remember to pack?" Asked Applejack, looking at the over-stacked cart.

"Oh, well, let's see who gets the last laugh when you're absolutely desperate to curl your lashes, and you realise you didn't bring your eyelash curler." Replied Rarity. Applejack just looked confused...

"Couldn't imagine life without it." I chuckled. The others except Rarity joined in.

"Well, looks like we're all set now." Sighed Applejack and we got ready to move out.

"But what about Rainbow Dash? Isn't Rainbow Dash coming?" Asked Scootaloo in a panic.

"'Course she is, sugarcube. She's gonna meet us up at our first campsite." Replied AJ.

"Oh." Said Scootaloo in disappointment.

"Wait! Before we go..." I said, crouching, pulling my bow and preparing an arrow. I pointed into the brush... And fired! Hit! I recovered my prey and saw a Cockatrice in my hand. Tasty! "Dinner!" I beamed to Creature, who licked his lips. "Shall we?" I asked. AJ nodded.

"Alright, y'all, let's move 'em out!" Exclaimed AJ as we began to move at a steady pace. I expected the fillies to crack and begin asking the age old question... But nope... It was Rarity. The fillies were mostly having a good time. Apart from poor Sweetie Belle who was struggling. Unfortunately, I couldn't help her as I was hunting for my dinner and scouting for signs of Black Ring...

"Oh, are we there yet?" Asked Rarity for the billionth time...

"The last thousand times you asked that, the answer was no." Said AJ with an annoyed expression. "This time, it's actually yes. There's Rainbow Dash up there right now." Pointed Applejack with a smile, we saw a rainbow streak moving through the treeline. She gathered wood and built a fire quick as a flash.

"Hey, ya think...?" I smirked, aiming my bow with a blunt arrow. "Won't hurt her, just daze her." I grinned.

"Try it!" Laughed Applejack. I fired and it knocked her out of the sky as she flew. She crash landed in a daze in front of me, I had slung my bow back on my back and was smiling. She had a frown but was trying to hold in a laugh.

"Not funny Ty!" Exclaimed Rainbow. I shook my grinning head and held out my hand. She took it and pulled me down. We rolled a few times, laughing our heads off as we went down a slope and into water. We both splashed around for a minute, laughing still. I picked her up bridal style and carried her out of the water. I put her down atop the slope and nudged her with my elbow, and she me with her flank. We both brought our laughter under control.

"You OK?" Asked Applejack with a grin.

"Me? Fine." She shrugged. She couldn't take flight due to her water-logged wings.

"Alright, Scootaloo, just play it cool..." Scoots whispered to herself... "Hey Rain–" She began before tripping over a log, flying around all over the place, landing on her back. "Hey, Rainbow Dash! What's up?" She asked, holding back tears. I felt sorry for her...

"So, what took you guys so long?" Asked Rainbow Dash, shaking out her mane.

"Well, some of us didn't pack as light as the others." AJ glared at Rarity. "So we were slowed down a bit." She informed as Sweetie stumbled along with Rarity's cart. Gods, I felt sorry for her... I lifted the harness off of her and picked her up, laying out a sleeping bag and letting her rest.

"You deserve it Sweetie." I smiled.

"Thanks..." She panted, her hooves looking sore. Poor filly...

"Don't worry. Just lay down for a while." I said.

"Yeah... I will." She nodded. Everypony began setting up their tents, with AJ and Apple Bloom pulling together to set theirs up. Creature and I made a slightly larger tent to accommodate our equipment. AJ and Apple Bloom finished setting their tent up. It looked really good. Ours wasn't too shabby either. I placed my bow against the tent and threw my spear into the ground outside of it.

Scootaloo and Dash sat by the unlit fire, next to each other. I took a seat across from them.

"Looks like you'll be sharing a tent with me, huh?" Asked Rainbow, bumping Scootaloo with her elbow. I saw Rarity and Sweetie taking some things off of their cart not far away...

"Heh, if that's okay with you." Shrugged Scootaloo, acting like she wasn't bothered...

"Sure! Long as you don't snore." Said Rainbow, ruffling Scootaloo's mane. She looked at her hind legs for a second before turning serious... "You don't snore, do you?" She asked.

"Nope. No way. Not me. Never snored a day or night in my life." She laughed nervously.

"Then you and I are gonna get along just fine." Smiled Rainbow. Suddenly, a massive gust of air hit us as we heard a pop... Suddenly, a tent began inflating out of a box from Rarity's cart... And it was gigantic!!! We all gawked at it...

"You have got to be kidding me!?" Exclaimed Rainbow, seeing the mansion-like tent.

"Sweetie Belle, do be a dear and see if you can find some fresh flowers for my bedside vase." Said Rarity, dropping the vase onto a cover over her door and it bounced into Sweetie Belle's mouth, who walked off.

"Scootaloo, do be a sweetheart and see if you can gather some firewood." Rainbow mimicked Rarity. We all laughed but Rainbow turned serious again. "Seriously though. Can you get us some wood for the fire?" She asked.

"Of course!" Exclaimed Scootaloo and ran off.

She came back not long after with plenty of firewood. We set it up and Applejack began setting up some contraption to start the fire...

"No, no. Here." I said and got some flint out and began skimming the rocks against each other, the sparks then lit the fire.

"Coooollll!!" Gasped the fillies.

"Old hat, but still effective." I shrugged. Creature placed our spit over it with a few Cockatrice's on and we began to spit roast them. I also began boiling some herbal tea I had put together from the plants I found.

"Okay, everybody get comfortable!" Called Dash. I saw Rarity had a lounger to sit on... Sweetie poured her some tea and took a seat with the other three fillies on the log. " 'Cause I'm about to tell you the best story you've ever heard." Said Rainbow Dash.

"Is it about the time when Rarity had wings, and then they got ruined, and then you saved her from plummeting to her doom?" Asked Scootaloo.

"What?! I need to hear that one!" I exclaimed as Rarity blushed and Rainbow looked at her.

"Okay, maybe it's the second best story you've ever heard." She said But probably still the scariest. You like scary stories, right?" Asked Rainbow, flying over the fillies and scaring Apple Bloom and Sweetie. Scootaloo gasped...

"Mm-hmm." She nodded with a nervous grin.

"It all happened on a night just like this one, in a forest, just like this..." She began... I won't recount the tale, but the fillies were all shaking by the end of it. Suddenly, Creature grabbed onto me as he was also shaking... I glanced over to him bemusedly. I gave Applejack and Rarity some of my tea that was now ready.

...

"...And then, The Olden Pony asked, 'Who's got my rusty horseshoe?'" Asked Rainbow, mimicking an elderly voice...

"Not me!" Exclaimed Sweetie as the Crusaders huddled together.

I bit into my roasted Cockatrice that I had smothered in some home-made BBQ sauce. The last of our prey we had cooked tonight.

"You do!" Exclaimed Dash, pointing at Scootaloo. Sweetie and Apple Bloom screamed and fell from the log, and Scootaloo started to scream but stopped. Rainbow Dash began laughing.

"Something in my throat. I wasn't scared at all, heheh. Good story." Smiled Scootaloo after clearing her throat, waving it off.

"Knew you wouldn't be scared." Said Dash and ruffled Scootaloo's mane. "The way you jumped that cart the other day, you're like me – fearless." Said Dash, perching on Rarity's flagpole on her tent. She floated down and cupped some tea for herself. "Holy hay, this is good stuff!" She said and drank it with a moan and a pleasured expression.

"Yeah. Fearless." Laughed Scootaloo nervously, her teeth chattering.

"Don't worry. Rarity is here to keep you safe and sound. Ooh!" Rarity comforted her little sister. "Thank you for the tea, dear. It was delightful." Smiled Rarity.

"Think it's about time for me to hit the straw." Yawned Applejack. "I agree with Rarity, that was some amazing tea you made! Got me all sleepy." Smiled Applejack.

"You guys go. I'll finish up out here." I said. I saw Apple Bloom clutching onto her sisters back and trembling...

"Don't you worry, little sis. There's no 'Olden Pony' in our tent." Said Applejack, patting her sister and calming her down.

"I'll remain on watch for a few hours. Wait for the fire to die down. After that, I'll head to bed." I nodded.

"Haa, that sure was funny, wasn't it? Heheh. How they were all afraid of The Olden Pony? Heh, but not me, heh!" Scootaloo laughed nervously.

"That's because you're tough, just like when I was your age!" Said Rainbow, bumping Scootaloo's foreleg. "You may as well sleep now, nothin' else out here." Shrugged Dash and doused the fire in water. The splash scared poor Scootaloo.

"Ahh!!" She yelped. She then recovered and leaned against the log like it was nothing.

"I'm hitting the sack. Come in whenever you feel like it." Smiled Rainbow and entered the tent. The sounds of the forest suddenly became amplified in the silence...

"It's, it's nothing... Just my imagination..." Said Scootaloo, looking scared...

"And that isn't the thundering stomp of The Olden Pony..." She tried to convince herself... Suddenly, a wolf howl rang out and she made haste into her tent. I heard Dash snoring loudly inside...

"Well, come on Creature. Time to bed down." I said and we entered our tent. I got into my sleeping bag and fell asleep...

...

The dream world. There was unrest. Somepony is unhappy, maybe scared? I saw the door that signified the Pony in distress. It was Scootaloo... I decided to observe her. She exited her tent to multiple sounds in the distance... Like an old person grumbling. There were no other tents and she was surrounded by trees in the clearing...

"I-Is anyone out there?" She asked. As she heard hoof stamps she took off at speed. She ran as fast as her little legs would take her.

"Who got my rusty horseshoe?" Asked the 'Olden Pony'.

Scootaloo backed into a tree branch and jumped, letting out a neigh and snapping the branch. When she realised what it was she sighed. She turned and there was the Olden Pony.

"Who's got my rusty horseshoe?" It asked... Scootaloo screamed and began running again, back toward the camp. She entered her tent and tried to wake her sleeping companion.

"Rainbow Dash–?" She began, but the Olden Pony shot up in the bed.

"You do!" It said. The dream ended. I awoke and heard Scootaloo yell out... It was only about 2 hours later... I fell back asleep, acutely aware of Scootaloo's reluctance to do the same...

...

;4 hours later;

I awoke bright and early, it was still a bit dark out. I heard Creature stir as well.

"Creature, look up at the stars. Now tell me, what that mean to you?" I asked.

"Well Master, if every star is surrounded by a solar system, then there could be hundreds, or billions or more of other lifeforms out there... Waiting to be discovered..." He sighed, looking up at the sky.

"No Creature, you fool, it means someone stole our tent!!!" I exclaimed. He shot up and saw our tent was gone... Our equipment was intact though... I looked around and saw that it had blown into the river... I retrieved it with magic and let it dry out...

Everypony began to wake up and get to work packing everything for the next step of our trip. I decided to wake Rainbow and Scootaloo. If the latter even slept... I heard Scootaloo making a weird noise...

"Dash? Scoots? Come on, we're hauling ass." I said. Rainbow noticed the strange noise as well. She actually look quite nice with bedhead...

"What's that noise? Is there a bug in here?" She yawned. "I dunno about you, but I slept like a filly." She said, bumping Scootaloo on the back. "Mornin' Ty." She smiled.

"Morning Dash. Hey Scoot, you have a good sleep?" I asked.

"Best night ever." She said nervously, turning around with bags under her eyes and a twitch... I left the tent at that point.

"Glad you're rested up, because we've got a long trek ahead." Said Rainbow and opened the tent. "Totally gonna be worth it when we get to Winsome Falls." She said, looking out.

"Yeah... Totally..." I saw Scootaloo smile, twitching again...

We managed to pack our stuff and get moving. Creature and I had found minimal signs of Black Ring. They had been observing Ponyville, sure, but no attack. Every now and then they'd meddle in our affairs. But nothing serious yet... We kept going and poor Sweetie was still pulling Rarity's cart, not only that but she had to push Rarity on her lounger... I bit of Sweetie's sweat dripped over Rarity...

"Ohh... Am I sweating? Oh! I think I'm sweating!" She panicked... "Oh, uh, but it's absolutely worth it to get to spend time with my little sister. It's just that this cart feels like it's getting heavier all the time!" Complained Rarity... I saw Scootaloo had fallen asleep on the back of it...

"I don't care if that's cart's as heavy as a pack of mules. If we don't get a move on, it'll be dark before we get to the campsite!" Exclaimed Applejack.

"Don't want to be out here after dark. Poor visibility for you Ponies." I said. I heard Scootaloo wake up.

"Dark?!" She asked herself. "I'll just ride ahead and make sure the path is clear. We don't wanna be out here after dark, right?" Asked Scootaloo with a smile.

"Doesn't matter to me." Shrugged Rainbow.

"Well, y'know, it's for the scaredy-ponies, heheh." She whispered to Rainbow, who nodded her approval.

"Creature, I'm going to follow on, you stay here..." I said.

"Right. Keep an eye on her and I'll keep an eye here." Agreed Creature. I followed Scootaloo discreetly... I saw her head lull to the side...

"Don't fall asleep now... We've got to get to that campsite before dark..." She said, but fell asleep anyway. I saw her about to go over a cliff, but she managed to skid to the side, even asleep... She went over a river and bonked a Crocodile on the head... She then headed toward a bear, about to chow down on a fish. She ended up with the fish on her head... She entered a log that spun around violently... It stopped on the other side of the canyon and she kept going... The fish from before stopped her scooter and she went flying... She curled up midair, landing on a bush. I had already teleported there, and heard the others coming...

"That's why it's always important to bring your own trunk on any public outing." Came Rarity's voice... They looked over and saw Scootaloo...

"Um... don't come this way! Take the path! It's, heh, way better than going through the bushes." She said. I also came out of the brush.

"She ain't lying!" I chuckled. We all continued on to the next campsite... I caught a few more animals for dinner on the way so, bonus! As we walked, I took the lead and took a look at the map... I saw Applejack walking side-by-side with Scootaloo. A twig snapped and she flew up high, grabbing onto a cloud... The piece of cloud fell off and she crashed through the ground...

"You're more nervous than a worm in an apple on cider making day. What gives, Scootaloo?" Asked Applejack. Scootaloo popped out of the hole...

"Heh, nothing, just thought I heard something, aheh." She waved Applejack off, leaning on the hole... Suddenly, an owl hooted and she shot off backwards, moving through the ground itself...

"You sure you're okay? You seem a little jumpy." Stated Applejack..

"You don't say?" I asked.

"Just getting my exercise! You know how important it is to stretch out those hindquarters every so often, aheh." She waved Applejack off again. A frog croaked and Scootaloo darted forward...

"Uh, d-do you need a little help?" Asked Scootaloo to Rarity and Sweetie.

"That's so sweet, thank you." Smiled Rarity, picking Scootaloo up in her magic, fastening the harness to her in place of Sweetie...

"Um... what are friends for?" She asked, struggling to pull the cart...

A few hours of walking later and I was picking up more trails of Black Ring... They were camped out here somewhere... It wad getting dark out now. I looked up to Luna's beautiful moon and blew it a kiss.

"No need for tents tonight, y'all. We'll just take shelter in that cave." Pointed Applejack.

"In my world, caves are usually inhabited by Goblins that don't take kindly to outsiders, Demons, Necromancers, dead Dragon-Knights or Ancient Dragons... Sometimes Ghosts." I admitted.

"G-g-g-g- Ghosts???!!!" Asked Scootaloo. Everypony looked at her.

"Pffttt, bring 'em on!" She exclaimed.

"I doubt there're Ghosts here, but we should be cautious nonetheless." I said. I got my spear ready...

"All right! A deep, dark cave! Perfect for the story I've got for tonight. All we need is a campfire, and we're good to go." Nodded Rainbow Dash, looking to Scootaloo.

"Uh, of course..." She nodded with a gulp... "I'll be right back with lots of firewood from the deep... dark... not-scary-at-all forest!" She whimpered.

"Thanks." Nodded Rainbow Dash. I lit the end of my spear on fire with magic and entered the cave. It wasn't too deep. But Black Ring had been here. Campfire embers, a shrine to Damien, walls were carved with images of Damien and Demons...

"It's safe!" I called. Everypony entered.

"Woah... What the hay is that?!" Asked Applejack, seeing the black shrine.

"A shrine to Damien. The Black Ring worship him for the Demon he is. The power he had, I don't blame 'em. Anything with that amount of destructive power could be considered a God." I said as we walked out of the cave and set up the firepit...

;2 minutes earlier;

As Creature watched the young filly, he saw her tentatively take a step toward the forest, but quickly threw her back against the cart...

"Okay. I can do this. On the count of three, I get those branches. One... two... Three!" She exclaimed but remained still. She sighed and crawled a little toward the branches. "Here, branches branches branches..." She tried to coax them.

"Bbbbrrr! Hoo-wee! It's colder than a timberwolf's toenail. Bbbrr! Where's that Scootaloo?" Asked Applejack, shivering.

Creature watched as he saw Scootaloo sob as she sprinted into the wood, get to the branches, run on the spot for a second, grab the branches and run back to the fire.

"Here you go!" She said with a laugh.

"That's it?" Asked Rainbow...

"It's all I could find, 'cause, y'know, there aren't that many trees around here!" She chuckled nervously. Well, let's say there were plenty of trees... Rarity and Sweetie Belle looked at each other.

"It's all we need. Why don't you sit with Rainbow Dash for a while?" Suggested Applejack. Faster than anypony I've ever seen move, she was beside Rainbow. I was as well, while Creature was beside Rarity. I let Applejack use her contraption to start the fire this time. I put a different flavour of tea on tonight and began cooking again.

"Now, where was I?" Asked Rainbow. "Oh yeah, the scary part." She said and gave an evil laugh. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle looked at each other excitedly.

"Hey, I have an idea! How about I tell tonight's story?" Asked Scootaloo. Rainbow looked taken aback at first but agreed.

" Alright, just make sure it's a horrible one." She said and lay across my lap. "You're my pillow." She said to me.

"Yes ma'am." I chuckled. I put a hand over her midsection and one on her neck. She sighed and snuggled against me. The other two ponies pulled their sisters close and grinned.

"There once was a really really nice pony who lived in a bright and sunny land..." She began. Sweetie and Rarity looked at each other confused. "Where there are rainbows every day, and lots and lots of happy friends, and–" She was cut off by Rainbow's hoof. Rainbow got up/

"No offense, but it's not a real campfire story unless somepony's shaking." She ruffled Scootaloo's mane and cast a shadow over her own face... "I've been told that these very woods are haunted..." Started Dash. Scootaloo gulped.

"...by The Headless Horse!" She said and used the shadows to create charades. "It gallops only at night–" She began.

"If it doesn't have a head, then how in tarnation does this pony know where it's goin'?" Asked Applejack.

"It's headless, not brainless." Said Rainbow Dahs in a 'duhh' voice.

"Kinda like you..." I mumbled. Everypony laughed.

"Alright alright! To continue... " It's out... looking for little lost ponies–" She began again.

"So where's its brain?" Asked Applejack with a smirk.

"Ugh." Rainbow Dash ignored her. "Fear was dripping from the air..." She continued...

;later;

"...and they were never heard from ever again!" She finished, using the light of the moon to cloak herself in shadow and only her dark pink eyes were visible. Everypony had open mouths... Except me. I was sipping tea with an empty plate next to me, full and satisfied. Even Creature was enamoured with the story. I suppose I've actually lived worse than these stories so they don't affect me. Sweetie Belle gasped.

"Never?" She asked.

"Never." Repeated Rainbow. The fire let off a spark and Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle screamed but then burst out in laughter, holding onto their sisters. Scootaloo was taking cover behind the log, trembling..

"Don't worry, you'll be safe with me tonight." Smiled Rarity to her sister. Makes me wish I had a sibling. No wait, nevermind... Our dad would either have turned them or they'd likely be dead by now... Or they'd just hate me because of Drace. Yeah, probably a good thing I don't have siblings.

"It's not time for bed yet, is it?" Asked Scootaloo, leaping over the log.

"'Fraid so, Scootaloo." Smiled Applejack.

"Uh, but we haven't even sung any campfire songs yet!" Grinned Scootaloo.

"You don't have to ask me twice!" Cheered Sweetie Belle... "Ninety-nine buckets of oats on the wall, ninety-nine buckets of oats!" She started singing we all sat back down. Rainbow lay down on me again as we all groaned in anticipation...

;20 minutes later;

Applejack and Rarity were almost asleep back to back. Apple Bloom was resting on her sisters hind leg... I had taken to absentmindedly playing with Rainbow's mane... Scootaloo was bobbing her head... Creature was curled up by the fire, snoring.

Eventually Rarity had fallen asleep, slightly curled up and Applejack was leaning backward over Rarity, also asleep. Apple Bloom was asleep in her sister's lap. Rainbow was lightly(surprisingly) Snoring, still in my lap. Scootaloo was almost unable to keep bobbing her head...

"...buckets of oats! Take one down, pass it around, you've got zero buckets of oats on the waaaaaaaalllllll!!!!" She finished, waking everypony up with a start. Sweetie then collapsed, passing out from exhaustion. I had to hold in another 'dawwww!'. Rarity picked her up in her magic and we all entered the cave.

"Good night, Sweetie Belle." Said Rarity.

"Good night, y'all." Said Applejack and Apple Bloom.

"Sleep tight." Said Dash.

"Oh, just one more song! Anyone?" She asked, darting around. "How about a dance contest? I know you love to cut a rug, so how 'bout we mess up a cave floor? I have a brilliant idea! Hide and seek! Who's with me?" She asked, wayyy too energetic to be up so late at her age.

"Maybe tomorrow." Yawned Apple Bloom and collapsed asleep.

"Aww." Moaned Scootaloo in disappointment.

"Seems like you don't really wanna go to sleep tonight. Is there some reason why?" Asked Applejack, with her hat off. She actually looked quite cute.

"Pfft, of course not!" Denied Scootaloo. "I just love camping and hanging out with Rainbow Dash so much that I don't wanna waste a single minute with sleep!" She said and yawned. "Heh, silly sleep." She waved off.

"That's cool and all, Scoot, but this pony needs her shut-eye and she needs it now!" Exclaimed Rainbow, putting ear plugs in and turning to face me. I was on her left and Creature was on mine.

"Right, this guy is saying good night!" I exclaimed and lay down.

"Ugh, this is so unfair..." Said Scootaloo, sitting on her bed. "I'm falling asleep..." She moaned before also collapsing.

...

Ah, the dream world. Scootaloo's having nightmares again. I actually saw Luna this time.

"Hey Luna." I smiled. We kissed. It felt real, but I knew it wasn't. It was actually her, but we weren't kissing in the waking world.

"Hello Tyrath." She smiled as we walked among the doors to dreams.

"Scootaloo seems to be having trouble." I said as we walked.

"Indeed. You have seen it? It is rare for beings to have abilities such as ours. Usually it runs in families, which is why Tia also has it. However, you are unique in many ways." She said.

"A compliment? Why thank you madame." I bowed.

"You are most welcome Sir!" She squealed in delight as I picked her up and kissed her. "Oh, you do know the best ways to make me feel better." She laughed.

"So, are you going to help Scootaloo?" I asked.

"I already am. You have already witnessed my plan in action." She smiled.

"Ah, you smart mare." I chuckled.

"A thousand years of experience at it's finest. I'm trying to make up for my past misdeeds, but I'm afraid I never can..." She said.

"Don't talk that way Luna. You have nothing to be sorry for. It was not your fault. I promise." I said and lifted her head to meet my gaze. "If I could go back in time without negatively effecting the present, I would help you any way I could." I said.

"You're doing enough." She smiled at me, engaging me in a kiss. I still felt something... Off. But I put it down to her sadness.

"Shall we check on our subject?" I asked.

"We shall." Nodded Luna, opening the door with her magic. We made ourselves invisible and observed. Scootaloo was back in the forest. She gasped as she heard running hoofsteps. She began running as well, very fast.

"If The Headless Horse catches me, I'm never gonna be heard from again!" She cried out. "And I wanna be heard from!" She insisted. She then tripped on a vine and fell down a cliff... "Woah, woaaah! Ugh! Woah!" She grunted. She saw the Headless Horse run down the cliff and began rearing up, kicking its forelegs out...

"It's all over!" Cried Scootaloo.

"My cue!" Said Luna. She appeared in the moon, making the Headless Horse vanish.

"You go mare..." I chuckled to myself.

"A warm welcome to you, Scootaloo." Echoed Luna, gliding down gracefully.

"Princess Luna! I thought you were The Headless Horse!" Exclaimed Scootaloo.

"You were mistaken, but I hope not disappointed." Spoke Luna with a smile.

"You are so, so much better than The Headless Horse." Smirked Scootaloo. "But what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be in Canterlot?" Asked Scootaloo, looking confused.

"I am the Princess of The Night. Thus it is my duty to come into your dreams." She said. "Tyrath? My love, do show yourself. It is rude to observe pony's dreams." She grinned. I made flames shoot from the ground and I walked forwards, making my shadow visible, and then I emerged from the flames.

"Apologies, we both share a fondness for dramatic entrances it seems." I chuckled. Luna bumped me for that. "Especially when dreaming." I smiled.

"Oh, yeah... Wait, is this just a dream? But it feels so real!" Exclaimed Scootaloo. She reached her hoof out and hit an invisible wall, looking confused.

"Dreams, like so many other things, are an illusion my dear." I said and flipped my hand, making seem as though the world were upside down. "Fear, is another illusion." I said and re-flipped my hand, returning us to a more normal orientation.

"Indeed. I assure you that you are asleep. But when you awake, the thing that frightens you most will still exist." Informed Luna.

"Eh... The Headless Horse?" Asked Scootaloo.

"No." I answered.

"The Black Ring?" She asked.

"Well... Yes, they do exist..." I had to agree, placing my hand on my chin. "Oh! Speaking of which, look over there." I said. I saw a Black Ring Scout watching us. He was huge, had horns and a large sword, Scootaloo's overactive childlike imagination... He began charging us, sword drawn..

"Prince Tyrath...!" Pleased Scootaloo as he ran at her, looking to me and she was backed against a wall.

"This your dream. Control it!" I exclaimed with a grin, clenching my fist. She clenched her eyes shut and when she opened them, the Black Ring was the size of a doll, poking Scootaloo's hooves with a miniature sword. She began dancing and giggling.

"That tickles!" She laughed and kicked him away.

"As fun as this was, it was real. He was here to hurt you. You need to be strong in the days to come, controlling your dreams will be important." I said.

"He was pretty scary..." She admitted.

"Hmmm... Is the Black Ring really what frightens you the most?" Asked Luna. She had this expression I can only describe as motherly on her face. Scootaloo thought for a moment before sitting down and rubbing her left foreleg with her right hoof.

"While they rank pretty high, mm-mm." She shook her head. "I'm afraid Rainbow Dash will find out I'm not as tough as she thinks I am." Admitted Scootaloo.

"Everypony has fears, Scootaloo. Everypony must face them in their own way." Said Luna, lifting Scootaloo's head with a hoof so she could look at her. "But they must be faced, or the nightmares will continue." Explained Luna. Scootlaoo whined nervously.

"Dreams are like your fears Scootaloo. You control them. If not, they shall consume you." I warned. The ripple effect started again, signalling it's time to awaken... Luna took flight backwards

"Face your fears!" Said Luna.

"Control them! Before they do, you!" I called as I turned into a Dragon and took flight away.

I awoke with Scootaloo, although it was still nighttime.

"–Princess Luna, Prince Tyrath?!" Exclaimed Scootaloo. She sighed. "It was just a dream." She moaned. The water from the stalactites dripped... "But The Headless Horse isn't!" Gasped Scootaloo, leaping out of bed. "Rainbow Dash said it lives here, in these very woods!" She panicked. She began to go into complete panic as a sound rang out. "It's the wicked whinny of The Headless Horse!" She jumped on her scooter and rode off... I jumped out of bed myself and followed as fast as I could.

"Dammit, kid!" I mumbled as I gave chase wearing nothing but a pair of greaves.

"So it's a horse without a head... which means it doesn't have a mouth... and if it doesn't have a mouth, then... it's not a horse-eat-pony kind of horse... but still... it's a horse without a head!" She yelped. She then veered out of control, went flying off her scooter and slipped down a ravine. She managed to grab a branch with her teeth and held on.

"Whoa, whoa!" Whined Scootaloo. "Hello?! Is anyone out there? Anyone except The Headless Horse?" She asked, clutching the branch. I burst through the clearing at that point.

"Prince Tyrath!" She exclaimed, trying to pull herself up, but the branch began snapping. I took a breath and leaned down.

"Grab on!" I went to grab her but an arrow came flying and I pulled away, letting go of her hoof just in time for her to dodge an arrow...

"Well well well, what have we here? A Dragon and his pet." Sneered Keara. She had a squad of archers with her... Shit...

"Damned crazy bitch..." I grumbled, picking up my bow I dropped when I reached for Scootaloo.

"Kill them. The Dragon first. Then, drown the Pony." Said Keara. I already had four arrows primed and I shot them, instantly killing 4 of them. If I tried to get Scootaloo, I'd get her killed by leaving her exposed... At least if she fell I could dive in after her... The other Archers took cover but still fired off shots...

"Heellllp–" She screamed as she fell.

"SCOOTALOO!!!" I yelled. I went to dive after her but I saw Rainbow Dash in the distance, flying to catch her...

I leapt across the chasm and the remaining three Archers all swung around from their cover at the same time. I let out my fire breath and fried them. They began screaming in agony and fell down, dead.

"I gotcha!" I heard Rainbow exclaim.

"Rainbow Dash! Is that you? Thank you, thank you!" Thanked Scootaloo, I headed to where they put down and leapt across the water to them.

"Ty, you OK?" Asked Rainbow, seeing me holding the back of my left shoulder. An arrow had hit me as I jumped back. Keara maybe. I had yanked it out and was applying pressure to it.

"It's no problem." I groaned.

"What were you doing out here in the middle of the night?!" Asked Rainbow angrily... Tears stained Scootaloo's eyes. I looked up and saw Luna in the moon...

"It is time for you to face your real fear, Scootaloo!" She informed. Scootaloo let out some tears and sighed. She stepped forwards and began sobbing, talking quickly.

"I'm so, so sorry, Rainbow Dash! I just wanted you to hang out with me and see how cool I was so you'd take me under your wing, teach me everything you know, and become like my big sister!" She took a breath. "But then you started telling those spooky stories and I got scared! I thought I heard The Headless Horse so I ran out here by myself, and..." She explained frantically.. "...well, I guess you know the rest." Said Scootaloo, removing her helmet. I saw Dash grin and she sat in front of Scootaloo.

"Hey, I'm gonna tell you something, but if either of you ever tell anypony else, I'm gonna deny it." She warned. She looked around to make sure nopony else heard. "First time I heard those stories... I was scared too." Admitted Rainbow.

"You were?" Asked Scootaloo with a sniffle.

"Sure! I mean, I got over it because I realised pretty quick that if there was such thing as a Headless Horse, I could totally take it on." She smirked. "So, you're looking for somepony to take you under their wing, huh?" Asked Rainbow. Scootaloo nodded.

"Mm-hmm."

"Yeah, I might be up for something like that." Agreed Rainbow, pulling Scootaloo close with her wing.

"Really?" Squealed Scootaloo...

"As long as you don't go falling into any more rivers in the middle of the night." Rainbow Dash grinned.

"It's a deal!" Giggled Scootaloo.

"Yeah, as much as I enjoy seeing you two hug, this guy needs some help..." I groaned. Both of them widened their eyes in realisation.

"Oh sorry. Got caught up in the mushy moment." Chuckled Dash and I began to walk back to camp... I saw the others all waiting.

"What in tarnation happened to y'all?!" Asked Applejack as we strolled back into camp.

"Midnight stroll gone awry. Creature, Ginseng and Earth Root, STAT." I groaned and sat down on a log. He nodded and rushed back into the cave.

"Let me see that." Said Rainbow. I removed my hand the blood gushed from the wound. "Geez this is bad." She said. She grabbed a cloth on her wings and began cleaning the wound.

"Ah! Sensitive!" I exclaimed with a grin.

"Oh grow up!" She exclaimed and slapped the wound with her wing, a grin on her face. I winced.

"Rainbow! He's been seriously hurt!" Scolded Applejack. Rainbow stuck her tongue out in response.

"Master? Ginseng and Earth Root." Said Creature and dropped them at my feet. I re-lit the campfire with magic and put the Ginseng in the pot with some water. I boiled it and sipped it straight from the pot. Not all of it though.

"Doesn't that burn!?" Asked Rainbow.

"No. I breathe fire, remember?" I asked.

"Oh, yeah." She laughed sheepishly, rubbing her hoof on the back of her head.

"Bandage?" I asked. Rainbow passed it to me. I tipped the concoction onto the bandage. I quickly drank some more, cleansed the remaining water and boiled the Earth Root. Once that was done, I sipped that as well before pouring the remainder of the liquid on the bandage. I wrapped it around my arm and shoulder. "Right, crisis averted. Let's get some Godsdamned sleep." I grumbled.

"You're gettin' old before your time, Ty." Laughed Rainbow.

"Yeah yeah..." I mumbled as we all lay down and went back to sleep.

...

No more dreams to invade tonight...

...

I woke up with a yawn. With no fuss and a fully rested Scootaloo, we all packed up and continued the last leg of our journey.

"I call sister teams! Last herd to make it to the falls is a moldy carrot!" Exclaimed Sweetie Belle.

"Ahem." I said.

"Oh and brother teams." She chuckled.

"Ugh, if you insist." Said Rarity and began slowly trotting before glancing slyly at her sister and picking up the pace. "It is so on!" She laughed and took off. Apple Bloom and Applejack joined them.

"They think they can beat the two of us?" Asked Rainbow, she picked up Scootaloo and began flying her around. Oh well, my turn...

She got a surprise as I, in my Dragon Form with Creature riding on me sped past...

;That night;

I observed Scootaloo's dreams again to ensure she was getting a good night's sleep... Well, she was one of my subjects! I needed to make sure she was OK! I watched her stroll through the forests... Suddenly, The Olden Pony beset upon her...

"Who's got my rusty horseshoe?" It asked... Scootaloo cowered for a second but braved up...

"Here it is, for pony's sake. Now take it and stop all your moaning." Said Rainbow, giving The Olden Pony it's horseshoe back...

"Thank you, and have a nice day." Nodded The Olden Pony, walking away. Rainbow pulled Scootaloo to her in a sisterly manner. I spotted another Black Ring... With the same horns, sword and size.

"Scoots..." Said Rainbow, rearing up.

"I got this." Smirked Scootaloo, walking up to him... Rainbow dropped her jaw. He raised his sword... Suddenly, with a poof! he was riding a unicycle dressed as a clown, dream Rainbow burst out laughing and Scootaloo turned to Luna and I, watching from the forest, I had my arm around her. Luna chuckled and winked at her. I nodded and gave her a non-rude two-finger salute...

We exited the dream and were back among the doors.

"You're a very kind Pony to be helping Scootaloo like that." I smiled at her. "It was lovely to watch you work, you are so caring, especially toward your younger subjects." I said. "Maybe even... Mother material, someday?" I asked, glancing sideways at her with a smile. She blushed heavily.

"I.. I... Well..." She stammered. "Someday, that would be nice. But first, we must..." She winked.

"I know. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten." I chuckled and kissed her.

"Oh, how I and my sister miss your company so. Having somepony you love wake up with you is so nice." She sighed, leaning against me as we walked among the endless doors.

"I know. I miss you both as well." I sighed, rubbing her neck with my hand.

"I wish I could wake up right now, and find you there, beside me. Smiling." She let out her own sigh.

"Soon, my love. Soon." I promised, pulling her closer.

"I don't know what I would do without my sister... I love her so and she loves me. She has accepted me back without question. I missed her so much. I couldn't be without her again. We're halves, put together we are whole. Or so we thought, you were the piece we didn't even know we were missing. I never knew love could be so... Life changing." Said Luna.

"Nor I. I never thought about a relationship. Never had time. When I first noticed I was falling for you and Celestia, I denied it. Giving myself excuses, not knowing how to properly deal with it. As much as if I never met you I would've carried on without you... the moment I set eyes on you both, I realised I was incomplete, my fate was joined with yours the moment we met, no way around it. And I wouldn't have it any other way." I smiled, kissing her deeply.

"We were certainly not miserable, but nor were we particularly happy. Now we have something to look forward to every day or night when we wake up. Knowing there is somepony out there we are in love with, who is in love with my sister and I just as much..." Luna nuzzled me.

"I do love you..." I promised.

"And I you." She said...