• Published 23rd Jun 2017
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The Ones Who Returned From Stone - Skijarama



Equestria has fallen. The Crystal Empire is all that remains of organized pony society, and the survivors want their home back.

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Chapter 4 - Retrieval

Wonder gasped sharply before collapsing once more, her good forehoof reaching up to the slice marks along her neck and opposite foreleg. From where he stood, Blackberry watched with wide-eyes as the fresh wounds bled profusely, sending streaks of blood down Wonder’s body. Cursing under his breath, Palmwood swiftly brought himself over to her side in an instant, shooting a glance towards Drifter, who had flinched slightly. “Go on ahead; the princesses won’t thaw themselves. We’ll catch up.”

“Alright.” Drifter nodded before turning and unfurling her wings. She shot a glance over her shoulder at the two before taking off into the air with a mighty flap and sailing away towards where their quarry waited. As she vanished into the fray, Palmwood gently nudged his sister’s hooves away from her wound so he could look. His face twisted into a disgusted grimace.

“Gh! How b-bad is it?” Wonder gasped out in pain, her voice strained and her body shaking.

“You’ve had worse, but still bad…” Palmwood replied grimly, replacing his sister’s hoof on the wound and then joining his alongside it, applying pressure to the gaping slash. He looked over at Blackberry intensely. “Hey!”

“Uh?” Blackberry seemed to snap out of whatever kind of trance he had been in upon hearing his name, shaking his head and then making eye contact with Palm, who wore an expression as cold as ice.

“Wonder’s saddlebags. Get them and bring them over here. Quick!” Palm ordered sharply before returning his attention to his little sister to speak with her in hushed words. “Deep breaths, okay? Deep breaths. Stay calm.”

“I’ve done this- ACK! ...Done this before, bozo.” Wonder groaned out, her words somewhat muffled from the set of hooves on her neck and chest. Despite her pain, she managed to slip Palmwood a small smile.

“Yeah, well, I’m reminding you anyway. Blood loss can cause delusions, remember?”

“I know.”

In short order, Blackberry came shuffling back while lugging Wonder’s saddlebags in his mouth. The pouches sounded like they were filled to the brim vials and glass bottles full of liquid as he sit it down, the bags clinked and clanking. “Thanks.” Palmwood nodded simply before flipping up one of the flaps and sifting through the contents within.

“You sure you have anything that can fix that?” Blackberry asked with a cringe as some more blood spurted past Palm’s hoof, painting a series of lines down his chest..

Wonder shot him a glare. “I’ve had worse and fixed much worse. Yes. We’re sure- ACK!” she grumbled before yelping in discomfort from Palmwood’s shifting.

‘Shit, sorry!” Palmwood apologized before, at last, he procured a vial filled with a murky red liquid. “Alright, open up.” he commanded gently while bringing the vial to Wonder’s lips. She opened her mouth obediently and slowly tilted her head back while the bitter liquid burned its way down her throat. Her face folded in disgust from the foul taste before Palmwood gradually removed his hoof from her wound. Already, the bleeding was starting to slow down.

“Woah… that’s some potent stuff…” Blackberry whistled, impressed.

Palmwood shot him a look. “It has to be. We’d be dead by now if it wasn’t.”

“Speaking of dead,” Wonder said, sounding a bit drowsy as she rose to her hooves. She wobbled a bit upon reaching her max height, prompting Palmwood to reach out and support her. “Guh… We need to go help Drifter take out the fiends.”

“Yeah, we do…” Palmwood nodded before shedding his cloak in favor of the more mobile and agile state of being unclothed. He then looked back to Blackberry. “Okay, I think you’ve done your part. You can wait here for us to get the princesses and go back to the empire with us, or go ahead to catch up with your family. It’s your call.” he explained shortly before turning back to gaze ahead. They could all hear the angry and even frightened shouts and howls of the fiends where Drifter was.

“Let’s go, Palm.” Wonderboom said before breaking into a gallop, looking like her wound was no longer hindering her in any away.

“Right behind ya!” Palm shouted, galloping behind her and eager to rend some fiends.

Stab. Slice. Tear. Shred. Duck. Dodge. Weave. Stab. Repeat.

Drifter ducked low and rose her claws into the fiend that had just pounced for her. The tips of said claws poked out through the creature’s back before, with a battle cry, she turned and hurled the dying creature into one of it’s oncoming comrades. Already, two more were upon her, fangs bared and claws ready to disembowel her. Acting fast, Drifter lifted herself into the air with one of her hind hooves rising to connect with the first fiend’s face. The claws on said hoof snapped free and burrowed into the face and throat of the monster, ending it’s life instantly.

The second took advantage of her momentary entanglement. It rose up and clamped its teeth on Drifter’s tail before yanking hard, bringing the hybrid into the ground with a considerable amount of force. Drifter gasped in pain from the impact before rotating herself, her other hind-leg stabbing it’s claws into the shoulder of the fiend that had dared to violate her tail. The monster shouted and let go of her. An opening was created.

Demonstrating her unnatural agility, Drifter pivoted in the air, bringing her other set of rear claws into the creature’s other shoulder with her sitting atop it, straddling the scruff of it’s neck. The fiend then began to thrash and scream in agony and fear, trying to buck Drifter off. She glanced up, spotting another fiend charging at her, this one aided by having extra long, muscular legs. It launched itself at her atop it’s friend’s back, roaring in rage.

Driven by reflex and instinct, Drifter stabbed her front claws into the sides of the neck of the fiend beneath her, then pulled up with a great flap of her wings. The now dead fiend reared up onto it’s hind legs, prompting the one that was charging Drifter to tackle it’s dead ally in the chest. It didn’t stop, continuing to push the corpse along towards a tall spear of stone that jutted up from the soil like a finger, with Drifter still pinned on the back of the fiend she was stabbing.

“Shit!” Drifter swore, bracing herself and covering herself with her wings. The stone came forth to meet her at alarming speeds before she was slammed into it with the weight of a corpse aiding the impact, along with the impressive strength of the burly fiend on the other side. Drifter gasped, breathless, upon impact. A small smattering of blood slipped from her mouth and speckled the stone in front of her muzzle.

The burly fiend tore it’s dead companion away from the stone, leaving Drifter there to fall to the grass below. Her vision swam somewhat before she turned her gaze up towards her assaulter. The beast, having now discarded it’s friend, bared it’s fangs and lunged for Drifter’s throat.

Drifter screamed in pain, having just been able to raise her forelegs in front of her face and head in time to avoid losing it to the ravenous monster before her. It growled and clamped its jaws even harder while shaking it’s head back and forth. Drifter felt her skin being torn away and the bone underneath bent and cracked under the pressure. Finally, she managed to kick out with her hind legs, creating several long slices along the fiend’s underbelly.

The creature howled and backed away, blood splattering along the ground wherever it went. Drifter collapsed into a heap, gasping in pain. She turned her eyes away from the still recoiling monster to where she had come from. A small smile came to her face when she saw Palmwood and Wonderboom charging the burly creature, both of them having just dispatched fiends of their own. With a unified shout, the two sprang into action. Palmwood lunged and stabbed his steel claws into the shoulder of the fiend, drawing another pained roar from it.

As he was doing this, Wonderboom made use of the fiend’s pinned condition. She ducked low into a slide just as she reached it and, using her momentum, shot by while slashing her own claws through its throat. Blood and severed pieces of tubing splattered along the ground in a vile, gory mess before the creature collapsed, lifeless. Palmwood yanked his claws from the creature before turning, eager to see if there were any others.

There weren’t.

Already, Wonderboom was at Drifter’s side, looking over the hybrid’s thoroughly mauled forelegs. “Yikes… okay, try not to move until we get you a potion, okay?”

“Right… ugh… great timing, you two.” Drifter replied with a small smile, earning a nod in response.

“Don’t mention it,” Palmwood nodded to her with a smile of his own. “I think we’re in the clear.”

As soon as he said that, everypony went stiff and quiet. For a moment, nopony breathed or moved a muscle. A stiff breeze washed over the area, rustling trees and bushes as it passed. Another boom of thunder sounded, though it was more distant, now. Grunting, Drifter lifted into the air on her wings, opting not to put any weight on her wounded legs. “Wh-where are they?”

“I dunno… come on. They can’t be far.” Palmwood said before cantering off, looking around. Wonder opted to stay by Drifter’s side, in case she needed help.

For a time, the group searched the area around the overhang. After a few minutes, they began to wonder if they had been too late, again.

Thankfully, that was not the case.

“OVER HERE!” Palmwood suddenly called out, not far away. Turning, Drifter and Wonder made their way over to Palm’s location without hesitation. Their route took them into a small, albeit very dense, patch of trees and shrubbery. Drifter couldn’t help but hold her breath, the twigs snapped under their hooves and the leaves sounding as if they were whispering as the two trotted by.

At last, they slipped into a small section where the bushes along the ground had been cleared away to make room for the two alicorn statues that were the occupants of this spot. Drifter’s wings failed her and her heart skipped a beat. There they were… Princess Twilight Sparkle and Princess Luna. Luna was standing rigid and tall, her eyes wide and her wings flared open in defiance. Twilight was leaning back on her haunches, recoiling in fear with her ears splayed back against her head.

“We… we found them…” Drifter whispered, her eyes locking onto the statue of Luna.

“...We’re halfway there,” Wonder said quietly in assurance before smiling warmly at her brother and Drifter. “Come on. We need to move them somewhere safe.”

Palmwood nodded. “Right. I’ll work on getting them out of this shrubbery. Wonder, go get your potions and fix Drifter up. Once we’re all back at a hundred percent we can get a proper move on.

“On it!” Wonder gave a sharp nod before turning to leave, shooting Drifter a small smile before breaking into a full gallop to where they had left Blackberry and their supplies.

For her part, Drifter simply looked at the statues in shock, not sure if she should believe what she was seeing. They had finally done it… finally found Princesses Luna and Twilight. They found them and rescued them. Or, at least, they had started to. They still had to be thawed out of their stone prison, but that did nothing to disrupt the feelings of awe and relief Drifter felt.

Palmwood glanced back at Drifter and smiled softly. “...Heh. Yeah, I feel you. It’s kinda surreal… seeing them again after so long… even if they’re just statues right now.”

“They won’t be statues for long,” Drifter said firmly before rising to a sitting position on her haunches, smiling at Palmwood, then at the statues. “We’re going to make sure of that.”

Palmwood grinned widely and nodded. “Yeah, we are.”