• 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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Mountain Dwellers

Mountain Dwellers
June 1st, 2013

Night Hunter and I walked up to the entrance to the Crystal Castle, where two crystal guards stood at. Both were sparkly, like every other crystal pony, but their armor was a bit more decorative than the royal guards up in Canterlot. They eyed us as we stood in front of them. Night Hunter and I concededly showed them our badges.

"Oh! We'll take you right up to Princess Cadance and Prince Shining Armor." one guard said.

"Thank you." Night Hunter said.

The guards led us throughout the castle until we stopped at meeting room's door.

"Just head on right in." the guard said.

When we walked into the room, Shining Armor and Princess Cadance were looking out the window that allowed a view to the arctic, but turned once they noticed us walking in. Night Hunter and I did a short bow in respect before walking up to the table to discuss with the two rulers.

"Good morning." Night Hunter greeted.

"Hello, Agent Night Hunter. I'm sure that you and Caleb have everything you need for the expedition?" Shining Armor asked.

"Yes. We loaded everything in Caleb's vehicle and ready. All we need is your guy instructions and we will be good to go, your highness." Night Hunter replied.

"Very good. I'll let you take over now, Cadance." Shining Armor said.

"Thank you, dear. Can I have you two come over here?" Cadance said.

She then laid out a map of the arctic that surrounded the Crystal Empire. Night Hunter and I scooted over to her and checked out the map with her.

"This is where we want for both of you to patrol." Cadance said as she traced her hoof around the ten mile radius circle. "To start off, we want you both to start where the radius ends; near the rocky mountains further up north."

"If something were to be living in the arctic, it's a good chance it'll be up there where it is more secluded." Shining Armor added.

"And if we find something?" I asked.

"Get a picture of the creature so that we at least know what we're dealing with, and then study it, if you can. See how it behaves. Once you've covered all of you ground, report your findings back to us." Cadance said.

"Sounds like that might take a certain amount days if you want to be through in the expedition." I remarked.

"Yep." Night Hunter said.

"But I'm fully sure you two can't handle, right?" Shining Armor teased.

"It's why we're here." I said with a shrug.

"I figured. Well, I think that's all we really have to say to you. Anything else to add, dear?" Shining said.

"Yes. You both already know this, but I just want to repeat that you should use your weapons only in the case if anything has the intent to attack. I don't really believe it's right to petrify a creature just from the way it looks." Cadance said.

"We understand what you mean, princess." Night Hunter said.

"Thank you very much, you two," Cadance beamed. "You are now dismissed to your duties."

Night Hunter and I didn't say much as we walked all the way through the castle. At the time, both of us had no idea if there was anything even in the arctic.

"Do you really think there's any monsters in the arctic?" I asked.

"Caleb, I have no idea. We might see some penguins and polar bears, though," Night Hunter joked, causing me to give a stifled laugh. "But honestly, I don't think anything would be able to survive for such long periods of time in daily sub-zero temperatures. We most likely won't see much. But I will admit that I have been wrong about stuff before."

"If we don't find anything, at least we got the chance to explore a piece of the arctic. Am I right?" I said.

"Sure, we can look at it in that perspective. Y'know, I haven't gone camping for quite some time, but I would've never guessed that I'd be planning to camp in the arctic." Night Hunter said.

"But you still want to do it, right?" I asked.

"Defiantly." Night Hunter replied.


Today, the arctic north was playing a bit more brutal than the last time. It was nearly a blinding snowstorm and I could barely see out the windshield of the Land Rover. The ride up to the rocky mountains was very, very slow and tedious. It took us almost an hour to travel ten miles just because of the extreme lack of visibility. And believe me, the windshield wipers were going as fast as they could.

"How the heck are we going to find anything in this crap?" I asked Night Hunter as I drove horizontally to the mountains.

"We aren't going to have a good chance on finding anything out in the open. See if you can find an opening, or something." Night Hunter said.

"Like, a crevice between two mountains?" I suggested.

"Anything that'll get us even closer to the mountain range." Night Hunter said.

We continued onwards for about half of a mile before Night Hunter started shifting his head a little bit.

"What do you see?" I asked.

"Look to your left. I think I see an opening to the mountains." Night Hunter said.

Sure enough, the mountain we were currently driving past came to an end and an opening could be faintly seen within the blizzard.

"Stop the car. Let's check this out on foot." Night Hunter instructed.

"Nice." I grumbled.

We both added hats and gloves to our arctic attires before exiting the heated vehicle. The strength of the wind was so strong that it blew my hat right off the top of my head.

"My hat!" I exclaimed, chasing after it.

"Make sure not to lose your head." Night Hunter said, raising his jackets hood over his head.

"I'll try not to." I replied, also putting up my hood once my hat was back on.

Night Hunter levitated and holstered his own Igneous in a side pouch that wrapped around his body as he adjusted his winter jacket.

"Huh. So that's how you guys use firearms." I noticed.

"Yeah. I've only seen unicorns use ranged weapons because levitation manipulation does the work. It's nearly impossible to use these for a non-unicorn unless they have an attachment to their body." Night Hunter said.

"I see what you mean. The Igenous isn't much of a problem with hands." I said.

"Lucky you. Now let's get moving." Night Hunter said.

The snow quietly crunched underneath us as we trekked through the deep snow. There wasn't much to look at, but Night Hunter and I noticed that the ground was getting slippery. I removed my glove and felt the ground, turning out to be ice.

"Look like were standing on a body of water that got froze over." Night Hunter said.

"Good thing for us because we know it's nice and thick." I said.

"The arctic conditions do that." Night Hunter said, digging in the snow.

At that moment, the snow storm began to gradually let up. My visibility started to get better, and that's when Night Hunter and I discovered that we entered a valley, a u-shaped valley, to be exact. The rocky mountains were all around us, so we were essentially in a bowl. At the best estimate, it was a mile long, so we had some ground to cover.

Our search for any creatures wasn't exciting at all. We walked alongside the rocky mountains for a little bit. There was a lot of rocks piled at the bottom of the mountains. This was most likely from the mountains crumbling and breaking off over the years. I'm not entirely sure if mountains do that, but that's my best guess. Over time, the snowstorm cleared up as we continued, giving us full visibility of the valley. That gave Night Hunter the idea to climb one of the small mountains in order to get a better view of the valley, but not the whole way up because that would obviously take forever.

"See anything?" I asked as Night Hunter looked through his pair of binoculars.

He remained quiet as he looked all around the valley like a prairie dog on high alert.

"No."

With nothing to see, we headed back down the mountain to resume our on-foot search.


12:27 PM

"Caleb! Come over here!" Night Hunter yelled from afar.

I then ran to Night Hunter, who seemed to be inspecting the snow for some reason. I soon found out what he was looking at when I felt my right foot drop off into the deep snow. When I stopped to look down, my foot was in small hole that was nearly filled with the fresh snow from the snow storm. But as I looked closer, I noticed an outline of a footprint that dwarfed my own foot, and my foot is relatively big. It had to ten times my foot size. I was both astonished and a little disturbed because the footprint itself looked just like a humans, but it appeared to be more wide and bumpy.

"Looks like I was wrong on any creatures not living in the arctic." Night Hunter said, grinning.

"Sure seems like it," I said while taking a picture of the footprint. "What do you think it is?"

"Something with human characteristics by the looks of this track." Night Hunter said.

"You don't think its, like... a giant human?" I wondered.

"Oh, no. Probably not. If these were to be giant humans, wouldn't they be smart enough to leave the arctic and find place somewhere warmer?" Night Hunter said.

"Oh, right, I suppose. We don't exactly have a lot of body hair, but we do have big brains." I said.

Night Hunter then examined the tracks a little bit more before they suddenly came to end twenty feet away from the first. This was most likely because the snow storm covered up most of the tracks with fresh snow, so that sucked for us.

"How big do you think they are?" I asked.

"I don't know. But they do have long walk strides." Night Hunter replied.

"Should we follow the direction the footprints head off to?" I asked.

"Might as well. Just be sure to stick close and not wander off too far." Night Hunter said.

We headed off in a north-west direction, which is where the tracks lead before disappearing in the snow. Both of us knew that we didn't have a lot of distance between us and the top of the valley, so it made us wonder why this creature would walk to the end of the valley. Our question was answered once we reached the end of the valley as well, only to be met with a towering mountain. At the very bottom of the mountain was a wide opening to a cave. Although it was light outside, I could see that it was pitch black way inside the cave. Night Hunter and I stood in our tracks and stared into the omninous cave.

"Let's take a look." Night Hunter said, walking with his Igneous unholstered.

"Alright." I said, also unholstering my weapon.

When we passed through the cave's mouth, we both slid down a slanted pile and rocks and gravel since the entrance dropped down about fifteen feet. This pile seemed to act like primitive set of stairs because it allowed accessibility to the inside and outside of the cave. Night Hunter and I then switched on our attachable flashlights and proceeded further in the cave.

The cave was just as cold as it was outside, and giant patches of snow coated near the entrance before the ground was nothing but rocks. I got intense chills when the wind from outside would blow in and emit an eerie howl throughout the cave that would drone on for about seven seconds at a time. The rocks below us shuffled and crumbled beneath our feet with each step we took, causing our footing to become off balance. It got really dark once the light of the outside faded as we proceeded further.

"This is fun, right?" I whispered.

"Meh. Do you have the X-ray Sensor with you?" Night Hunter asked.

"No. I left inside the Defender." I replied.

"Dang it. Oh well." Night Hunter said, sounding a little frustrated.

"Sorry."

We continued to slowly proceed throughout the cave, which was completely silent and free of any outside noise contamination. And it seemed odd when Night Hunter and I both heard a high-pitched noise somewhere further down in the dark cave. We both stopped and listened if it would happen again, but it didn't

"Did you hear that?" I asked, my breath fogging in the beam of the flashlight.

"I did. Sounded like somepony doing a short whistle." Night Hunter said, shining his flashlight all around down ahead of us.

"I don't know. I think it sounded like a snore. Y'know, when someone snores and they do a short whistle afterwards." I described, giving a quiet example.

"Whatever it was, it didn't sound very far away, so let's really move with caution now." Night Hunter said.

"Got it." I said.

It then begun to smell funny the further we went. There was a large, open tunnel that led to the right and the scent grew stronger. It smelled like wet dog, for a good description. More sounds began emitting from some other part of the cave, but they sounded even closer. For example, some were gurgles mixed with grunts. It was clear that there was something alive in the cave.

When the tunnel came to an end, we entered an open room that went down a ways. But further down was a orange glow that illuminated on the cave walls, and on four barely distinguishable, bulky figures. One was sitting up, hunched over, while the other three seemed to be lying down. We quickly turned off our flashlights to the sight and ducked down to become less obvious to these creatures.

"Oh, what the hell are those supposed to be?" I questioned.

"I can't tell. We need to get closer," Night Hunter replied. "You stick to the left wall and I'll stick to the right."

"Okay." I complied, moving into my position.

We both crept alongside the cave walls while still crouching. But of course, my foot had to slide down on the sloped rocks and caused them to tumble. This created a good amount of noise.

"Shush!" Night Hunter hissed.

"I can't help it. I'm much heavier than you!" I hissed back.

The amount of noise being made was just enough for the creature to hear. It didn't growl or roar, but made a curious hum instead. The one that was awake stood up on its two stubby legs and ran towards us with short, awkward strides. Each footstep emitted an audible thump and the ground vibrated.

"Uh oh!" I exclaimed, aiming the Igneous at the creature.

"Hold on! It's not a threat." Night Hunter said, calmly.

"How the hell do you know that?" I asked, looking at Night Hunter beyond belief.

"Just look." Night Hunter replied.

The tall creature slowed down, creating softer thuds, and lumbered towards us at a walking pace. It shifted its body to the left and right as it tried to get a better look at us.

Right when it was about twenty feet away from the both of us, Night Hunter switched on his flashlight to get a better look at it, as well. When the light shined on the beast, it instantly let out a squeal of displeasure and shielded itself with its gigantic hand while rapidly shaking its head. Night Hunter wasted no time to turn off the flashlight and that made everything better for the creature. Once it calmed down, it stood in front of Night Hunter and I, but still kept its distance. We could only see the silhouette of it because of the fire's lighting. But at the time, we could tell that it was big. It deeply sighed and smacked its lips or tongue before turning around and walking back to the others. It turned around and looked at us again when it realized that we weren't following it. And so, it quickly scooped up and tossed a pile of rocks in the direction of the fire.

"Should we really go with it?" I asked Night Hunter.

"Well, it hasn't eaten us yet and it's inviting us in a friendly way. Let's just go see what's what." Night Hunter said.

"Alright. Only because you think it's safe." I replied.

We kept our weapons still unholstered as we followed the creature. The cave felt more warmer the closer we got the fire, but still felt a little bit chilled at the same time. When we got the fire set up, Night Hunter and I were shocked to the creatures appearance. Firstly, it had to be ten feet in height. The body was covered in frizzy, grayish-white hair with some exposed skin from hair loss, and the facial features somewhat resembled an elderly man with a big nose. The upper torso took up most of its body while the legs were shorter and had broad arms that hung all the way to its knee. The creatures back and neck was encased with solid rock with tree branches protruding out, so the head looked as if it was coming out of the chest. And to top it off, it had a stubby tail in the back, too.

Two of three that remained at the campfire during the confrontation looked similar, but one had a missing finger on its left hand. The last one was different. This one was a little bit shorter than the others, but had long, brown hair all over it's body, excluding the face, hand, and feet. This one had the facial features that looked more monster, but with a long nose that pointed out two feet in length. This was the only one that decided to go back to sleep.

Night Hunter and I stood at the fire and let the heat warm us up, but still keeping a close eye on the creatures. The one sleeping began to snore loudly while the other quietly breathed, occasionally scratching themselves wherever they had an itch. Everything was quiet for a little bit before one creature decided to stand up and walk into a darkened section of the cave. It came back with a cluster of small boulders in its hand and offered some to Night Hunter and I.

"No, I can't." I replied, shaking my head.

So, it decided to offer the boulders to its cave-mates and they gladly accepted them. They each popped their individual boulder in their mouths and crunched on them with their teeth. After chewing, they gulped the fragments right down into their stomachs.

"Geez. These things must be really hungry." I said.

The same creature then got up again and ran down to the tunnel where we entered from with a makeshift bowl, leaving us me to wonder where it was going. A few more minutes had passed before it came back with fresh snow within the bowl. It then held the bowl over the fire and the snow began to melt into drinking water.

"That's ingenuitive." Night Hunter commented.

The creature then sipped out of the bowl and offered us some again, to which we politely declined. The creatures passed the bowl on to each other before it was empty and discarded it. The first of the creatures we met then randomly leaned down over Night Hunter and sniffed him, sucking his hat off his head and landing right back on. It then let out a loud belch, which released a foul stench of its own breath. I covered my face with my arm and squeezed my eyelids shut tight.

"Huugh! Gah! It's almost as bad as a Bufogren's breath, but shows a hint of mercy!" Night Hunter gagged.

And like that, the creatures went back to their neutral behavior, just sitting down and doing nothing. Night Hunter and I then looked at each other once the stench had faded.

"Now what?" I asked.

"Let's just leave. I don't think they'll mind." Night Hunter replied.

"Hopefully they don't. Okay, we are gonna head out." I said to the creature.

The creature just gave me a blank stare before giving a toothy smile that just seemed all too human, so I smiled back at it. With our visit in the cave finished, we headed back to the cave mouth and back in the unforgiving arctic. I stood still as I tried to piece together on what we just encountered.

"That was weird." I said.

"I know." Night Hunter agreed.

"You think they just sit in that cave all the time? Because if so, that's a sad life." I said.

"I don't think so. From what I saw, they probably only come out at night. Didn't you notice how most of them were asleep when we first saw them?" Night Hunter said.

"Oh, right, you probably got a point there," I said as I shuffled through my equipment until my hand landed on the camera. "Aw, I forgot to take a picture of them for documentation."

"No fret, Caleb. I'm not going back in their to flash those things with the camera. We'll just draw a picture of them." Night Hunter said.

"A picture? You're doing the drawing because I'm not the best drawer." I said.

"I don't care. Remember my drawing of the Equinius?" Night Hunter brought up.

"Yeah, I remember that monstrosity," I said. "Say, we should give those creatures a name, unless if they're already known."

"I don't believe those creatures have been documented before. They remind me a lot of the mud trolls that live way down south because of their height and posture. Come to think of it, they may be a specie of troll!" Night Hunter said.

"Cool! We've got trolls in the arctic! We should dub them as Snow Trolls." I said.

"Ehhh, we'll use that as a placeholder name for now. I bet we can come up something better." Night Hunter said.

"Fine. Whatever you say, Night Hunter." I said.

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