• Published 31st Mar 2017
  • 3,166 Views, 93 Comments

The Mare that eats The Monsters - Skijarama



She is known as no more than a myth, a legend, a bedtime story to scare little foals. Her name is Moonrise Drifter, and Twilight Sparkle is going to learn more about her than anypony has in a long time...

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Chapter 5 - Burned Desperation

HELP ME.

The square patch of cloth was covered in front with frost and the words had been burned into it with magic. Spike had felt his eyes shrink at the message that had torn him ruthlessly from his sleep. It was from Twilight; it had to be. Spike could feel a cold sweat start to run down his back and face. For Twilight to burn such a minimalistic message into a patch of cloth… it screamed desperation.

Something terrible had happened.

Spike had wasted no time in rushing out of the castle to get the others. He had started with Rarity, then went for Pinkie Pie while she went to get Fluttershy. Pinkie, upon hearing the message, went to get Rainbow Dash. Soon enough, they were all in the castle, sitting around a small table and staring at the cloth with varying responses.

“And yer sure this came from Twi, Spike?” Applejack asked uneasily, shifting from side to side as she looked at the fabric.

“Who else could it be? Nopony but the princesses know the spell to send me letters like this!” Spike said, gesturing at the cloth. “It has to be her! She’s in danger!”

“Then what are we waiting for?!” Rainbow demanded, slamming a hoof down onto the table and making it shake. “Let’s go help her!”

“She took the friendship express on its route to the Crystal Empire. We’ll need to wait either for it to return, or for the Crystal Empire train to come here to take us there.” Rarity added wistfully. “And who knows how long until then?”

“Then we can take the hot-air balloon!” Rainbow snapped, glaring at the fashionista. “I’ll pull it happily!”

“It won’t move as fast as the train, RD. It would also wear ya out pretty quick to carry all FOUR o’ us that far.” Applejack pointed out with an unhappy grimace on her face.

“Indeed. Waiting for the train will almost certainly give us better time overall.” Rarity said, though nopony missed how she was trying to hide the doubt in her voice.

“I can’t just sit here and do nothing! I’ll go crazy!” Pinkie said finally, her own agitation quite visible in her partially deflated mane. “Twilight needs our help, you guys!”

“Uh, girls…” Fluttershy spoke up, drawing everypony's attention. “Twilight’s train shouldn’t even be in the Crystal Empire yet…”

Silence filled the room. She was right. The time Twilight’s train had left meant that it still had at least three hours before it arrived if all was going well. Applejack’ ears wilted.

“So… that means…?” Applejack started, unable to finish the sentence.

“Her train was stopped…” Rarity breathed out despondently, her own fearful expression matching that of everypony else.

“Which means it probably won’t be coming back.” Rainbow snarled before lifting into the air with a flap of her wings. “I’m going to go prep the balloon.”

Everypony sat in uneasy silence as Rainbow shot from the castle in a flash. Spike looked between them all, rubbing his claws together fearfully. “What do you think happened to her…?”

“Ah hope nothin’...” Applejack said in response, adjusting her hat so it sat over her eyes a little more. “But… ah don’t think Twi would send us a message like this if that were true…”

Nopony had mentioned it, but they were all very aware of the small blood stain on the corner of the cloth. Spike watched curiously as Applejack turned to Rarity.

“Rares, what do ya think? Do we send her a reply sayin’ we’re on our way?”

“We definitely should. She can help us find her if we keep a line of communication going between us.” Rarity said before turning to Spike. “But we would need to keep Spike with us for that when we’re on our way…”

“Yeah, I’ll go along! I’ll do whatever I can to help Twilight come home safe!” Spike said pumping up his chest with enthusiasm.

“It will be dangerous, Spike…” Rarity pointed out solemnly. “If Twilight had to send us a call for help like this…” she gestured to the cloth with a forehoof. “...then I imagine it’s nothing like anything any of us has faced before.”

Spike wilted as she said this. “So… you don’t want me to go with you?”

Rarity smiled softly before patting Spike on the head. “That’s not it at all, Spikey-Wikey. I would absolutely love it if you came along; but I want to make sure you understand the risks before signing up.”

“Rares, ah don’t think we fully know the risks yet.” Applejack reminded her, looking at the cloth again.

“We know it’s going to be very dangerous if nothing else.” Rarity replied with a frown.

“I’ll come.” Spike said simply, nodding his head firmly. “I’ll do whatever I can to help.”

Rarity nodded. “Very well, then. We should start by letting her know we got her message and will get to her as soon as we can.” Rarity lit her horn in magic and pulled a stray sheet of paper off of a nearby stack, along with an inkwell and quill. “Applejack, Pinkie, you two should probably go make sure we have sufficient provisions for this trip.”

The two nodded before turning and galloping away without so much as a word. Fluttershy sat still, gazing fearfully at the cloth on the table. “I hope Twilight is okay…” she whispered to herself in a trembling voice.

Rarity nodded before wrapping a foreleg over her shoulders. “So do I, darling.. So do I.”

While she comforted Fluttershy, Rarity set about writing down their response.

Twilight, we got your message. Where are you, exactly? Where should we try to meet you at? What should we keep an eye out for? If you are able, can you explain what happened to you? We’re taking the hot air balloon and are taking Spike with us. Do let us know you’re safe, please.

-Rarity.

Rarity rolled it up and bound it with a simple string. “Send it.” She said simply, levitating the scroll to Spike. He nodded and did as was told, breathing the green fire that converted the scroll to smoke and sent it to Twilight for reforming and reading.

Rainbow Dash came back in only a few minutes later. “Okay, the balloon is filling up. If anypony needs anything, go get it now. Once we leave, I’m not turning around or stopping.” She made sure everypony still present was aware of her statement before shooting back out, presumably to get some items of her own from her home.

“A Garden? Horizon?” Twilight asked with mild confusion in response to Drifter’s statement.

“Gardens. It’s what I call them, anyway. They are places established by a powerful spell. With a base component, Horizon uses magic to turn a large area into a place that fiends are born in. They grow like plants and then leave to do what most fiends do; kill and eat ponies.” Drifter spat the last part out in absolute disgust. “As for Horizon… his full name is Luminous Horizon. He leads the fiends; presumably, he’s the first of the bunch.”

Twilight nodded slowly, waiting for Drifter to continue.

“Beyond that, though, I don’t actually know much about him. I’ve been trying to track him down for the last five hundred years, but everytime I catch up to him, he plants a garden and leaves. I then have to stay in the same area as the garden long enough to call for assistance in removing it permanently. I don’t have magic, so I can’t undo the spell that anchors it. I can only make sure I keep the number of fiends as low as possible.” She looked up at Twilight.

“Which is where I come in?” Twilight asked nervously, shifting uncomfortably.

“Yes. It’s an incredibly powerful and well warded spell. Undoing it is beyond most ponies. The princesses are the only ones I know for sure can manage to pull it off without bursting a blood vessel.” Drifter replied before standing and testing her legs. “We’ll need a day or so to rest up before we can really do that, though. The salve on our wounds should heal them by then.”

Twilight nodded and looked at her own wounds, wincing as she was reminded of them by a sharp sting. She then looked back to Drifter curiously. “I have a question, actually…”

Drifter looked to Twilight as she set herself back down. “Oh? What is it?”

“How did you know I was in trouble? I was all the way in the middle of nowhere when everything… happened…” Twilight said, cringing and shivering as she recalled the sights of the train wreck.

“You would be amazed at how quickly word spreads when the train carrying Princess Twilight is over an hour late for the border station.” Drifter said with a thankful smile. “I was lucky enough to catch wind of the train’s absence early enough to find the wreck and help you out.”

Twilight nodded and opened her mouth to say ‘thank you.’ The words caught in her throat, however, when she felt a tingle in her horn and on her ears. She instantly perked up and looked towards the mouth of the cave, through which another snowstorm had started since they got here. A wisp of green, sparkling smoke swirled into the cave, gathered over Twilight’s head and then ‘poofed’ into a scroll bound by string.

Drifter raised an eyebrow. “I’ve never seen mail delivered like that…”

Twilight ignored her, plucking the note from the air and tearing it open to read it. She scanned it for a few moments before looking back to Drifter. “Drifter, do you have a sheet of parchment and a writing utensil I can borrow?”

“Not at this hideout, I’m afraid. Those would be at my main base in this region.” Drifter replied with a slow shake of her head. “I was going to suggest we go there anyway. I have more supplies and even weapons there that we can make use of when we head for the garden.”

Twilight gave a slow nod, sighing dejectedly. “Alright…”

“Your friends, I take it?”

“Yeah. I called for their help last night. The distances involved mean that they only got my message and were able to send a reply an hour or two ago. It only now reached me.” Twilight explained, looking at the page with a longing look coming over her.

“Well, if we set off now, we should be able to reach my main base before nightfall.” Drifter muttered as she stood up, trotting over to one of the supply crates she had scattered around the room. “Here, wear this.”

Twilight glanced up before a thick, furry coat was flung over her face. She let out a muffled grunt before pulling it off of her with her magic. It would definitely keep her warm, there was no doubt about that. She went about getting it on while Drifter filled up her hoof-made saddlebags with medical supplies.

“We ready to go, then?” Drifter asked as she slipped the bags over her back. Twilight gave a grunt, her wings not fitting comfortably in the coat. It had evidently been designed for thestral wings. Drifter giggled slightly before stepping forward. “Hold still.”

Twilight squeaked in surprise as Drifter leaned down and widened the wing holes with a swift bite on each one, her sharp teeth swiftly allowing them to open to a comfortable size. Drifter stepped back to let Twilight flap her wings a few times to make sure it was a good fit. When she was satisfied, Twilight pulled up her coat’s hood with her magic and nodded. “Alright, I’m as ready as I’m going to be… let’s go.”

Drifter nodded before turning and trotting for the mouth of the cave. “Okay. Go ahead and put that fire out then follow me.”

Twilight nodded. With a simple spell, she reduced the flames in the fireplace to nothing more than a subtle warmth, plunging the entire cave into darkness. With a tired sigh, Twilight turned and followed Drifter in the freezing cold of the Crystal Mountain snowstorm.