• Published 2nd Mar 2017
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Land of Equines - Daddy Joe

Who would've thought that being at the wrong place at the wrong time would bring something so surreal.

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The Unmarked Village

The Unmarked Village
June 12th, 2014

"Caleb, are you busy in there?" Twilight asked on the other side of my bedroom door.

"Uh, no. Whatcha' need?" I replied, Twilight now opening the door alongside Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash. "Are we going on an adventure or something?"

"In a way. But its more of a mission that involves us six. Come downstairs and I'll explain everything." Twilight said.

"Alright..." I said, following Twilight's lead.

When we started heading downstairs and into the throne room, where the seven seats for each element was located, I immediately assumed that Twilight was going to give me a huge explanation through book text, but this was different. Instead was a newly formed, circular table that displayed a holographic map of Equestria, spanning from the Crystal Empire to the unknown lands of the south. When the girls surrounded the table, examine the map as well, each of their cutie marks manifested and hovered above a tiny village further up north.

"Woah! That's unreal! Where'd did it come from?" I asked, phasing my hand through the hologram.

"It came right up from the floor when all six of us sat in our seats." I asked Twilight.

"Kinda like the chest when we turned the keys, actually." Applejack added.

"That's right. So, through my deduction, I believe this map is calling us to this village for some particular reason, hence our cuties marks." Twilight said.

"Oh, so you have no idea what it really means?" I asked.

"Not entirely in context, but with everything the Tree of Harmony has done for all of us and Equestria, this is something we shouldn't theorize over." Twilight said.

"It couldn't possibly be some sort of trick." Fluttershy said.

"Oh, I'm sure about it. So what do you need me for?" I asked.

"Since the Friendship Express isn't due back at the station for another hour and we want to check out the situation as soon as possible, I was wondering if you'll be willing to drive us up north." Twilight said.

"Sure. Does the rail system go all the way up there?" I asked.

"Partially. The village is so isolated that even the train doesn't stop there." Twilight said.

"I do so wonder whoever lives in such desolate part of Equestria." Rarity said, inspecting the desert environment where the village was located.

"Somepony who definitely likes it dry and warm." Rainbow Dash said.

"So, I'm guessing fish people are out of the question?" Pinkie said.

"That's what it seems. So you'll drive us, Caleb?" Twilight said.

"That's fine with me. Let me just fill Bridgette's food and water bowl for her dinner and we can get going." I said.

"Thank you so much. We knew we could count on you." Twilight said.

"It's the least I can do. Head out to the Land Rover, I'll be with you guys in a moment." I said, heading off to the kitchen and calling Bridgette.

By the time we left, we had to be on the road for about thirty-five minutes. I cruised along the Northern Plains at 80 kilometers an hour with the windows down. Pinkie had her head out the window, her mane flapping in the wind while the others chilled in their seats and watching out the window.

I noticed Rainbow Dash leaning over and getting a peek at the speedometer. When I looked at her, she just smiled and scoffed, planting a hoof on her face. Rolling my eyes, I pressed the accelerator and putting the 300tdi engine to work. There wasn't really much to look at because this part of Equestria I was driving through was untouched and completely natural plains, but there was a few tall mountains to gaze at along the way.

"Check it out, girls. Its Neighagra Falls!" Twilight exclaimed to the oncoming series of waterfalls, a subtle mist surrounding it.

"Such a majestic, natural landmark." Rarity said in awe.

"It sure is. You ever been there?" I asked.

"Only a few times during the summer when I was just a little filly. There was always long lines to get out onto the lake, but it was all worth it." Rarity replied.

"Sounds similar to way it goes on Earth. You had to wear ponchos?" I asked.

"Absolutely. Nopony wanted to get their coats and manes wet." Rarity replied.

"Figured." I said.

"Hey Caleb, you know what would be good right now?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"What?" I asked.

"You should put that Van Halen guys CD in the radio player. His music was pretty awesome." Rainbow said, shuffling through a previous owners box filled with various CD albums that I recovered from the Dragon Territory.

"Oooh! Let me check those out." Pinkie said, snatching the box and inspecting the contents. "This one looks good! Let's listen to Running with Scissors by Weird Al Yankovic."

"Sounds like a rather unsafe title." Twilight said.

"Oh, I remember that guy! I listened to some of his songs when I was twelve.

"What's he like? Does he live up to his name or waaay down?" Pinkie asked.

"He's a funny human, I'll tell you that." I said.

"Sounds like my kind of guy. Thank you very much, Mr. Weird Al." Pinkie Pie said, tossing the album to me.

"Well, I guess I can go for some humor every now and then." Rainbow Dash said, kicking her hind hooves up on the dashboard.

Once we passed by Neighagra Falls and listened to Alfred's parodic music, the railroad led up into a tunnel that went through a mountain and out onto a wooden bridge, following into another mountain. This eventually led us into a more drier environment; the ground was more dusty, mostly dead grass, and desert rock formations were scattered across the land. Our time in the Land Rover came to an end when an obstructive abyss proved impossible to cross. Fortunately, there was a narrow wooden-plank and rope bridge that allowed us straight across, so we all went of foot from then on out.

"How much further to the village?" I asked Twilight as we trekked up a rocky mountain path.

"We should be able to see it once we get up there. This cliff right here should give us a good vantage point." Twilight said.

"Nice. I hope it's not as cold as it is up here once we get down there." I said, putting a sweatshirt on.

"At least your leg hair is keeping you warm." Pinkie said.

"Not a whole lot." I said.

After reaching the edge of the sloped cliff that stood at an elevation of a few hundred feet, the village could easily be seen down below. The village was simply two rows of houses and a single house at the north end.

"That's it! That's the place on the map!" Twilight said.

"Right. Let's get down there and find the spa." Rarity said, proceeding down the path that led to the village.

"Wait," Twilight said, stopping in her tracks. "We don't know why the map sent us here. We shouldn't just walk right in. It could be dangerous."

"Yes!" Rainbow Dash said with a burst of enthusiasm.

"Stay back, everypony. I'm on it." Pinkie said, now rolling down the cliff and up against a rock down below.

When Pinkie gave the all clear, Twilight teleported her and the rest of us down to her postion. Pinkie continued to stay low and hid under various rocks and a boulder. She got crushed, but her magic kept her unharmed. Finally, we reached another good vantage point that gave us a straight ahead view into the village. There was a decent amount of ponies standing around and talking to each other, but the one thing I instantly noticed was that their coats and mane were drained of vibrant color.

"This is where the map sent us? It looks like the most boring place in Equestria." Rainbow Dash said.

"It's just an ordinary village full of ordinary pony folk." Applejack said, much to our relief.

"It's pretty bland looking, but it is a desert village." I said.

"And any architectural flourishes would be a drastic improvement.

"I think it's lovely." Fluttershy said, kind as always.

"I don't like it. I don't like it one bit. I know smiles. And those smiles? They're just not right." Pinkie said, brining my attention to their wide, toothy smiles that everypony seemed to be doing. Just a little unsettling.

"Forget the smiles. Look at the cutie marks." Twilight noticed.

Every single pony in that village didn't have a different or unique cutie mark on their flank. Surprisingly, each pony had equal signs for their cutie marks.

"Okay, that's weird." Rainbow Dash said.

"It is. An entire village with the same cutie mark? How can that be?" Twilight asked.

"Who knows. It sure didn't happen naturally." I said.

"My best guess is that it has to be some sort of spell casted upon the village." Twilight said.

"I bet there's some sort of horrific monster behind it." Rainbow Dash said.

"Why do you say that?" Twilight asked.

"Because fighting a horrific monster would be super-awesome!" Rainbow Dash replied.

"I reckon we just ought to head into town and talk to some locals, find out what's goin' on." Applejack suggested.

"Great idea, AJ." Rainbow Dash said.

"Well if that's the plan, I should probably stay here and keep watch. I have a feeling the villagers have no idea who I am." I said.

"I suppose that's logical. Not having a complete village panic would be nice in regards to finding out information." Twilight agreed.

"But if you need help, I'll come down there." I said.

"I doubt we'll encounter any hostility, Caleb." Twilight said.

"Believe me, Twilight, those smiles are bad news." Pinkie said, walking down the hill by herself.

We all shrugged to Pinkie's warning. And so, Twilight and the girls then headed down the rock hill and into the village, leaving me up there and to myself, hiding behind a rock and occasionally peeking to the side.

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