• 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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Lowblow

Lowblow
August 12th, 2014

I sat on the bed within one of the Canterlot Royal Castle's guest bedrooms, Bridgette staying by my side as she lied down. It was late in morning. All I did today at the time was get up, brush my teeth, and I've just been sitting on the bed for an hour and a half. I denied breakfast, my appetite completely nonexistent.

I can tell that Bridgette senses the sea of negative emotions my paranoid mind is drifting through. Wether it being sadness, fear, or anger, just to name a few, she's doing her best to make me feel happy. At first, I noticed her nuzzling me, then giving random kisses, and now she lays next to me. Twilight then walked in my room and cracked a warm smile to the display of a relationship between human and dog.

"She's a good doggy." I said, rubbing my hand across Bridgette's head.

"I can definitely see that. I just came in to let you know that Princess Celestia and Princess Luna are offering to brief you on our situation." Twilight said.

"Oh, okay. Hold on a sec." I said.

When I got off my bed and walked over to the door, Bridgette followed close behind and slipped from in-between my legs. I gently grabbed her by the collar to slow her down.

"Hey, hey. Don't start running off in the castle," I said, Bridgette staring up at me as her tail wagged. "Good Bridgette. Let's go."

After planting a kiss on her head and receiving a lick on the cheek, we now walked along the many hallway of the lower level and up to the second floor.

"Did the E.U.P find anything?" I asked.

"They did find the house in Batchu territory." Twilight said.

"Good God, I hope they're okay." I said.

Upon entering the meeting room, there was a long rhombus table that sat in the center and Celestia and Luna both gazed out a window, turning their attention towards me.

"You staying?" I asked.

"I've already been briefed. I'll be right out here waiting for you." Twilight said.

"Alright."

As Twilight closed the door, I pulled out a chair and sat down across from Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, Bridgette lying underneath the table. We all intensely stared at each other in the eyes. Its safe to say we had a mutual threat on our hands.

"What did they find at the castle?" I asked both alicorns.

"Nothing, to say the least. The Castle of Friendship was virtually untouched and all quiet. This hostile creature was nowhere to be seen within the vicinity of Ponyville or the Everfree Forest." Celestia said.

"Yes. But the garrison had reported sightings of strange things for the duration of the night." Luna added.

"What kind of things?"

"Would you like to list off the reports?" Celestia asked her sister.

"Yes, indeed. Firstly, the ground forces have reported sightings of what they dub as 'Dogmen'." Luna said.

"They saw Dogmen?! What the-- what the hell even is a Dogman?" I asked, disturbed by the name alone.

"They describe it as what appears to be a dog-like creature with a face of your species. There was a pack of four entering Ponyville through the town square. A pegasus guard by the name of Air Watcher managed to get close enough and provided an illustration." Luna said, levitating a drawing that gave me chills.

This Dogman was stocky, bare, composed of human skin, and could either walk on two legs or all fours. Once bipedal, Air Watcher sketched how the arms were short, stubby, barely resembling a hand, and the hind knees were inverted, much like a canine. The head was definitely human and resembled a bald male but severely misshapen with peering eyes. In terms of appearance, the Dogman truly looks like a horrifying mutation or experiment gone wrong.

"The squad who discovered these abominations were attacked, but it would appear that the Dogmen like to cling near the Everfree Forest at night. That's why the garrison had to wait until daytime in order to investigate." Luna said.

"Their weapons had no effect." Celestia added.

"No effect. Well that's not good," I sighed. "What about the house? Did they find anything of major significance?" I said.

"No, unfortunately. They discovered the cryptic symbols and numbers scribed on the walls, as well as the remnants of aged bodily fluids. Some witnessed unexplained flashing lights within the corners of the home, disembodied voices that ranged from both male to female, and abnormal ice-cold pockets of air that would come and go." Luna replied.

"And nopony was even attacked?" I asked.

"No. And before we move on, the guards stationed at the Castle of Friendship spotted dark silliouhettes of humans walking in the meadow as the sun was going down yesterday. What even puzzles us further is that when they went to investigate, no one was even there." Luna said, herself even sounding confused.

"What the hell... Why is all this weird stuff happening all of a sudden?"

I felt as if I was drifting away from reality and entered a confused trance. Princess Celestia and Princess Luna both noticed my behavioral shift.

"Are you okay?" Celestia asked.

"I don't know. I'm astonished that nothing else attacked the guards, despite the Dogmen. Those I've never seen before." I replied.

"Why so?" Celestia asked, calmly.

"When I heard the house was discovered, I was sure that somepony had to of gotten attacked." I said.

"But why are you astonished?" Celestia repeated her question.

"That house is where The Figure lives. That building is where I first encountered it." I said.

"Twilight informed us on The Figure's doings...... Tell me, when exactly did you have your first encounter?" Celestia asked.

"August of last year. It grabbed my arm and gave me three welts." I replied.

"A year?" Celestia said.

"By the looks of it, Twilight really started knowing about The Figure just days ago." Luna said.

"Why did you keep The Figure a secret for so long?" Celestia asked.

"You're putting me in a very difficult position... but I've already messed up in a way," I said, the two Alicorns maintaining their composure. "The Figure told me it would kill all my friends if I told anypony about its existence."

"What for?" Celestia asked, now deeply concerned.

All I could do to respond was to stare up at the two Alicorns, kept my hands cupped on the table, and gave an unsure shrug.

"Is there even a chance of getting rid of it?" I asked.

"It's possible with the use of the Elements of Harmony." Celestia replied.

"Our real problems are knowing where The Figure is and how to lure it into a trap. The Figure would appear to be an intelligent being that is highly adept in the use of supernatural abilities. Zecora has been our best lead on what exactly The Figure is, aside from our books. She believes it could be a negative spirit from a Netherworld, but it came in from the far-side; the universe of your origin." Luna said.

"It's going to be a difficult task to vanquish The Figure, considering the fact the girls will need to remain still in order to properly wield the Elements against this creature." Celestia added.

"Wait. Why are we even discussing this in the open?! The Figure could be listening in on us!" I frantically whispered.

"I made sure to plan ahead. You probably haven't noticed, but I made sure to encase the room with a protective shield before you sat down. Nopony else is able to pass through and hear us."

My eyesight moved to the tip of Princess Celestia's horn and a tiny amount of magical energy was manifesting at the tip. The feeling in the room felt normal, so that was also a good sign.

"Oh. I just-- I still feel a little uneasy about this. So, what should we do? Should I, like, use myself as bait? Make myself vulnerable to The Figure and you guys catch it off by surprise?" I suggested.

"That's not happening. We do not want you to be put into that position. For now, we will remain at the castle until further notice. You're not alone in this, Caleb." Celestia said.

"Yeah. I sure hope so. Is that all you had to say for now?" I said in monotone.

"Um, yes. That will be all." Celestia said, lowering the protective shield. She probably wished she had some good news for me.

I then headed for the door that was opposite to where Twilight was waiting, Bridgette following behind on cue. With all these confusing revelations added onto my psyche, I just felt the need to get out of the castle and recollect myself. Once outside, I sat down on a set of stairs near the back entrance of the castle and let out a deep sigh. I covered my eyes with my palms and gently pressed down, rubbing my eyelids. As my eyes were closed, I heard hoofsteps approaching me from behind. I turned and my vision was slightly blurred as my eyes adjusted to the brightness of day, but I was able to make out the sight of mutilated, translucent people "Look out!" standing right behind and surrounding me. I quickly backed away in shock and tumbled down the stairs until I reached the bottom.

"Hey, hey, its just us, Caleb." Twilight said along with Spike and the girls.

"No, its not you guys. I just saw a bunch of people, humans, right behind me and staring down at me! They were all bloody and messed up! Didn't you see them?" I asked in disbelief and startled.

"No. We were coming over to see how you were doing. I thought we just startled you. Did any of you see them?" Twilight said, looking back at everyone else.

As expected, they all shook their heads and seemed unsettled to my claim.

"Are you seeing those hallucinations again?" Fluttershy asked.

"I don't know, but something's happening to me, Fluttershy." I rambled, straying away into the gardens and leaned up against one of the many stone statues.

"Are you okay now?" Twilight asked.

"I don't know anymore." I replied.

"Look, let's just head back inside for now. Where's Bridgette at?" Twilight said.

"Where's Bridgette? She should be right next to me...."

I looked in between the gap of my right arm and the other arm, realizing that Bridgette was no longer by my side. I immediately felt anxiety and called out to Bridgette. She didn't respond. Instead, over inside the vast hedge maze that was next to us, it sounded like a pair of animals were fighting with each, viciously. This went on for a few second before a shivering yelp echoed from a good distance away, as if an animal just tore the flesh of another. I automatically assumed the worse.

"BRIDGETTE! BRIDGETTE, NO!" I hollered.

"Caleb, wait!" Twilight exclaimed as I ran into the hedge maze's entrance.

These canine yelps eventually turned into bloodcurdling screams that caused an extraordinary amount of adrenaline to surged through my body. I've never heard a dog scream in such a way before. With my mind now abandoning the logic of following the maze's path, I now started to ram right into the hedge, creating gaping holes through the walls as I followed the sound of Bridgette's cries. She eventually stopped, but I kept going without hesitation.

The last hedge I destroyed would only reveal what I feared. In a state of mental agony and shock, I remained petrified as I stared at Bridgette, my breathing shortened and segmented. Bridgette was mutilated yet still alive. Blood leaked from the many claw slashes, puncture wounds on her body, and soaked into her brown coat while both her once floppy ears were nothing but red stumps. The broken dog noticed me and weakly got up onto her three legs, attempting to hobble towards me due to her front-right paw being dismembered. She whimpered in pain and instantly collapsed, now laying on her side.

"Caleb, what happe--" Twilight said before she became speechless.

Twilight, Spike, and the girls were now joined by Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. All of them were idle, also in a state of shock. They were now witnessing the scene of a human who was losing one of his bestest friend. I now walked over to Bridgette and sat down. Her breaths were labored and heavy. As I petted her side, I noticed to slightest movement of her tail wiggling from side to side. Her eyelids were slowly becoming more and more heavy as the second went by. Twilight and Spike now walked over to Bridgette and I, silently sitting down.

"No. Don't go!" Spike begged, tears streaming down his face as Twilight comforted him.

"It's alright," I said, softly, without raising my head. "It's alright, Bridgette.

When I did raise my head, I saw how emotional everypony was getting. Applejack removed her hat and sadly averted her sight, Pinkie's mane was half-deflated, Rarity silently cried as she wiped tears off her face, Fluttershy fled the heart-wrenching scene, Rainbow Dash covered her face with her hoof and turned away, her whole body shaking as she quietly sobbed, and Celestia and Luna lowered their heads in respect and grievance.

Bridgette's time was running out. When I had my head gently rested on her warm body, Bridgette's respiratory rate was gradually slowing down. She was trying her best to stay alive, but the irreparable rapid amount of blood loss was taking its toll. My head rose up and down as her lungs expanded and contracted, pacing about eight seconds in between each successful inhale and exhale. Eventually, the last time gap reached twenty seconds before the feeling of her lungs and heart ceased to function forever. Bridgette was dead.

I slowly raised myself up and closed Bridgette's eyelids, resting up against the hedge. The painful, somber moment was mostly silent, the sounds of gardens nature and the wind carrying on being the only outliers. My eyes were hot and the floodgates were opening, but I couldn't sob for Bridgette's death. I was too confused and shocked about why this had to happen to her; sweet, innocent Bridgette. As I dwelled on these thoughts, I looked over to Twilight and she saw the anguish in my eyes. The most she could for me at this moment was to console me, and that she did by hugging me tightly. Even herself was crying.

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