• Published 31st Jul 2012
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A Link to Equestria - Wandering Quill



The Hero of Time's arrival to Equestria bears more consequence than anyone expected: the discovery of a common History... and of common enemies.

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Rise of the Stalponies

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The sheer endurance of the armed creature that walked ahead of Twilight was, in her eyes, plain simply incredible. Observing him with the quietness of a hunter targeting its prey, Twilight had already drawn a mental map of his physical limitations. Whenever she came to a conclusion, though, he always found surpassed her expectations by some bizarre coincidence where a skill was necessary.

Craftsmanship, while not necessarily a hindrance, was not exactly at everypony’s reach. Granted, hooves took their toll in such chores, such as handling some of the objects that required greater precision. Magic was indubitably a blessing from above to those whose passion rested in such an arduous occupation.

Such tools were, for example, simple, rather sharp stones that the unicorn was certain had been randomly picked. She’d witnessed this kind of dexterity in her draconic assistant. Utensil in hand, the Hylian had set off for the forest in her sleep, a hefty log rolling by him when he returned. Jab after jab, the trunk began to lose its size, and before long, a handmade sword made of wood had been created, and was now swinging loose in its provisional scabbard.

Trailing over a path of beaten earth under rainwater that refused to stop pouring from the pitch-black skies above, she’d long since recognized their current location, if the poorly melded fences and sporadic arrow signs stumped on the ground were any indication. They had been forsaken in the Whitetail Woods. Where exactly, she couldn’t tell. She found sufficient solace in the fact that at least one of these paths, scarred as they were with hoofmarks, would lead to Ponyville proper.

If not, then, well, she was basically dooming herself to wander aimlessly in the wide open plains around the forest with the depressing company that was a creature that may as well be mute for all the words she could understand.

Coat drenched and mane drooping over her eyes, she began to feel the delayed effects of constantly walking while a storm ravaged the lands. Taking a step no longer felt safe, as if the ground would be swiped from beneath her hooves at any moment, and her eyesight was beginning to blur and weaken – though perhaps she could attribute the blame for that to her muddled mane.

Yet again, however, the Hylian exceeded her expectations with a steady demonstration of endurance and determination, as no amount of water or wind seemed enough to deter him from achieving his goal. He marched against the tempest with the implacability of a stone wall (and the personality of one as well), always choosing the path to take for her.

“H-How do you… you…” Twilight still mumbled. It was only when she spoke that the realization of just how exhausted she was struck her, words but lowly croaks that escaped her sore throat. This night was definitely not being kind for her. “…you…”

The loud splatter her head made upon hitting the mud succeeded in what her voice could not, as the Hylian was swift on his feet to turn and throw his arms around her to lift the mare’s limp figure off the pool of dirt.

“I-I’m fine…”

Her companion simply shook his head in reply, gaze surveying the forest surrounding them in hopes of finding shelter. His search was interrupted by the violent cough spilling from her mouth, shaking her damp body. His impenetrable expression was shattered to fragments by apprehension. He was genuinely confused, trapped in a situation where he was reduced to his weapons and the company of a pony.

But when Twilight closed her eyes and drew a long breath silence quickly consumed, something neither had ever expected –for entirely different reasons – happened.

As if stirred by the urgency of the situation, a golden blaze enveloped the unicorn’s horn, bathing the woods in a newfound radiance and nearly blinding the boy with its might. A sudden warmth appeased the frigid temperatures they suffered, and Twilight felt the familiar sensation of the sun’s touch on her face.

This power…

Do you like it?

Princess…

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“It’s… pretty…”

The princess simply smiled as Twilight walked into the room, an uneasy expression upon her after being caught prying. Naturally, she was expecting some form of punishment, but the younger ponies are always like that, afraid of the consequences regardless of what they did wrong.

“Why don’t you join me?”

The question had obviously caught the purple unicorn off-guard, if her surprised look was to be trusted.

“I-I… I don’t know how to play anything, Princess…”

“Oh!” Celestia spoke a little louder than she’d wanted, mentally chiding herself for it. “Well, I appreciate a good company just as much.”

The filly’s mouth contorted into a circle as astonishment dawned on her. Her mentor always did know what to say when she needed it.

“Of… of course! I’d love to, Princess!”

With the silent giggle of a contented mother, the regal alicorn moved aside, allowing her student to sit right next to her. Thinking back to it, her eyes shimmered with nostalgia as she quietly observed the filly.

“Alright, now listen carefully…” The first chords of the magnificent, gilded harp before her were strummed, producing a short prelude to her piece, she reckoned. “This song means very much to me… I used to play it with a very important pony once…”

“Was he your special somepony?”

“Oh no, nothing like it,” the princess couldn’t help but chuckle, effectively infecting the pony beside her with laughter. “No… she was just a great help when times were difficult for me.”

“What is… what is the song?”

“We called it ’The Ballad of Harmony’.” She paused before lowering her head to Twilight’s level and gently nuzzling her on the cheek. “One day, you’ll be a very, very important pony. But with importance comes great responsibility and work.”

Her horn shimmered, reproducing the comforting presence of the sun in the sky.

“Whenever you think you can’t go any further, think of this song.” Their horns touched, and Twilight’s involuntarily lit up that instant. “That is my gift to you. Never forget that.”

Twilight’s jaw remained hanging for a moment, watching her instructor in awe. Moving away, Celestia giggled again and closed her eyes. The chords were strummed once more, and this time, the melody was longer.

It reminisced what she had heard from the halls, although listening to it when its performer was right next to her granted it an entirely different dimension.

The composition was worthy of accompanying the achievements of the greatest characters in Equestrian history, struggling to maintain that which their sovereign defended for a long time: harmony. Occasionally, Celestia’s humming gave the melody company, but the song remained just as powerful.

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“She’s not waking up!”

“Just leave her here then! We have to go, they’re almost onto us!”

“What?!”

“Hey! Don’t you wanna get out of here?! Well I want it just as badly as you! And I say we haul ass before we get caught! Again!”

“I-I can save her! I can do it! …wait, she’s coming to!”

“Whatever! I’ll just wait where it’s safe!”

“Olivia! You’re a fairy companion, for the goddess’s sake! Start acting like one!”

“Like hay I am! I’d be much better off if I was! At least then all these damn ponies wouldn’t be chasing me for something I didn’t do!”

“And what did you not do?!”

“I’m a changeling!! For them, I’M THE ENEMY!!”

“Change… ling?”

Separating her eyelids with as much sluggishness as she could muster, Twilight already felt the cold sting of the rain on her coat, the wind still wiping at her mane at full force. Surprisingly, she felt okay – more than okay, perhaps, considering that any pain that previously assailed her had been inexplicably vanquished. Her first image was that of the Hylian’s face, sporting a grin that was blemished by distress, his arms under her head to support her weight.

There was something else to it. Right above him, seemingly hovering in place, was a deep green, luminescent orb. If it had eyes, Twilight would have known for certain whether or not it stared directly into hers. In her current state, all she could ascertain was that it seemed paralyzed on its spot.

“What… is that?”

As though he had been struck by realization, the boy’s eyes went wide, and one of his hands hesitated to grab the fairy. That never came to pass, for the sprite was faster, managing to dodge the hand’s grasp and hide behind his hat.

“I-It… it was speaking!”

No reply was given to her again – she didn’t expect one from the swordsman anyways, so she pressed on, ridding herself of Link’s support so she could stand by herself.

“I heard you talking! You said something about Changelings!”

The Hylian raised both hands in an attempt to quiet down the mare, but found it unnecessary as a distant roar made its point in marking the approach of hostility. Shooting his gaze to the path behind them, Link could definitely now spot the turmoil that drew nigh, hurling mud in all directions with the power of a hurricane.

They were many.

Too many.

“Link, we need to go. NOW.”

“Link?” Twilight echoed, raising an eyebrow at the boy, but shaking her head right after to focus on another topic, one requiring a glare to be thrown at the sprite. “I still don’t have your na-”

“Listen up, pony! If you want to live, you follow us! Otherwise, just run someplace else! So put your horseapples behind and helps us outta this!” the fairy retorted in such an unexpectedly violent way that even Link’s head arched back momentarily. The inbound monsters’ howling remark was enough of a reminder of what his mission was right now. Sword and shield at hand, Link stood up, facing the pack. “What?! Y-You’re not going to fight those things, right?!”

“Wait, you can understand what he sa-” The sharpness with which the fairy turned to Twilight was everything she needed to not speak any further. “Okay! I get it!”

Snapping his fingers to call their attention, the boy murmured something to the fairy, a reluctant sigh ensuing before a question was asked:

“…He wants to know if you know how to fight.”

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“Rainbow, on your tail!”

The fury of the multicolored pegasus pony’s back hooves sent the horrid creature planning to ambush her careening across the cave, stopping only when its skeletal frame met the underside of a tipped wagon, where bones were flung across the air at random.

Despite the situation, Rainbow Dash knew she could still score some points against her unofficial rival; so without a moment’s hesitation, she flared her wings and zapped towards the orange earth pony, headbutting an airborne skull pony before it could strike.

Applejack eyed her with annoyance, a reaction cut short by a looming claw that very narrowly missed her side, its failure being rewarded by a precise buck to the cranium, shattering the limb to fragments with its sheer power.

One success was just as quickly evened out by a loss with the clean swipe that landed on her flank during the rebound of the move, temporarily throwing her balance off; but proud as the pony was, she’d never let her foe go away without retribution, which came in the form of a head-first slam and finished off with the fiend’s complete annihilation under her forehooves.

It was that last, more complex strike that made her realize just how surrounded she was, but walking backwards so as to keep an eye on all her opponents revealed only that Rainbow was in a similar situation, the twosome sitting back-to-back while the carcasses swarmed ever closer.

“Ah reckon ya don’t have a plan we can use?”

“Actually, I do!” The pegasus raised a hoof towards a nearly imperceptible entrance atop a heap of rocks, rails snaking from underneath it. “That’s where I came from, and that’s also where Rarity’s waiting; we make it there, we’re off the hook!”

“Ya seem mighty confident about that plan.”

“Eh, didn’t hear ya come up with a better one.”

The earth pony tilted her Stetson back, a tiny cloud of dust flying off its folds.

“Point taken.”

“Race ya there!” With that, Rainbow was gone in a streak of vibrant colors, choosing to course directly through the horde instead of flying overhead, effectively opening up a tight path between her friend and their goal.

That pony… Ah swear. On’a these days…

But these thoughts were mere whispers in the back of her mind, the long run and the pressure of its time constraints weighing down on the mare, the walls of skeletal beings closed up and in no matter how fast she ran.

On the other hoof, Dash, who had already reached the top of the mound without the least of concerns, seemed to be taking this as an amusing challenge, literally hovering in excitement as Applejack was forced to run faster and faster.

She met the peak of this enthusiasm when the swarm blocked not her way back, but her way forward. Lowering her head like an enraged bull and hastening her gallop, the earth pony was but inches away from the barrier of enemies when she took off into the air in a magnificent jump, the skeletons naught but a hurdle as she climbed all the way to Rainbow’s side, stopping only to utter a ‘you owe me’ before crawling through the hole to safety.

The pegasus, of course, let out a short snigger. Her friend's annoyance was the trophy for a successful jab.

Her mirth was quickly forgotten in the heat of the escape. She followed her friend while the cursed ponies struggled to reach them like a pack of hungry wolves, never truly succeeding in climbing. Any further attempt was completely cut off with the placement of an object in front of the opening, trapping the fiends in the cave.

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“They’re Stalponies!”

Olivia’s voice was somehow clear over the obnoxious sound of bones clacking against the armor their fiends possessed, their cracked hooves makeshift claws in the battle they fought.

Link was pleasantly surprised to observe just how durable the wood of the log he had picked up was. No matter how many times he smashed the sword into his enemy’s skulls, the weapon never seemed to even fracture.

Unlike certain sticks from the Deku.

Unfortunately, this was not the case for their armor, as a distressing crack rang from the sword’s edge whenever it impacted on the metallic plating. Coupled with their erratic movement, Link was having a hard time striking only what was skeletal about them.

Twilight had proven a very useful asset to the battle at hand; he could best compare her horn to a sort of magical bow given the way it fired off a piercing beam of light that knocked back even the bulkiest of the foes.

However, the swarm never seemed to end. One after the other, more Stalponies would appear from the little bushes on either side of the road or, much to Twilight’s dread, from the mud itself. They had long since picked up their strategy; by surrounding the pair, they could easily overwhelm them, were it not for Twilight’s capability to repel these foes with a potent outburst of magic. Link himself had one or two tricks up his sleeve to deal with this kind of situation: planting a foot on the ground, he would spin over it while his arm was outstretched, delivering the power of a spin attack to his enemies.

“Oh-oh, there’s more coming,” Olivia cried out when their numbers lowered significantly, flying down to her temporary companion’s side. “We can’t handle all these creeps! We gotta get out of here!”

“She’s right!” Twilight concurred, much to the annoyance of both the females. “If we don’t run, they’ll never stop coming in!”

Though the Hylian boy wavered for the briefest moment, he too nodded, not even bothering to ask for the unicorn’s consent before hopping onto her back and having her gallop her way across the growing mud pools, Stalponies hot on their heels at every turn they took.

What happened to Whitetail Woods… Was all she could think as the forest became more devastated the further they went, to the point where entire groups of these evil creatures dotted the territory where once green trees had been torn off the ground and basically chucked away in whatever direction the wind desired.

Nevertheless, their worst fears had not yet been confirmed; that only occurred when the unicorn’s trail ended before her eyes with the gigantic obstacle the mountain between Ponyville and the woods provided. Leaping to turn around, she was met with the gruesome sight that an entire horde of living skeletons under a stormy night sky could constitute, the rain’s water not even capable of cleansing their bare bones of the soil that stained them after spending an indefinite amount of time buried beneath the ground.

Never one to give up, Link stood and somersaulted directly over his steed’s head, landing on the mud with the gracefulness of a bird and receiving the mute complaints of Twilight and Olivia behind him.

Don’t worry. I’ll be care-

“LIIIIINK!”

The boy didn’t take long to process the fairy’s thunderous bellow. An indescribable sense of distress overtook his mind and body when he spotted, from the corner of his eye, a Stalpony that fell directly from above, ready to strike down the stunned swordsman in his moment of weakness.

There was a swish a split second later, and the Stalpony was no more, the dark blue spear stuck through its ribcage keeping it imprisoned against a nearby tree. Not a moment later, their enemies’ skulls were impaled by similar weapons that mingled with the rain itself to punish their foes.

Blinking in bewilderment, Link very nearly had to cover his ears when a voice louder than he’d ever heard boomed from the skies, as though the goddesses themselves had been angered:

THOU WILL NOT HARM TWILIGHT SPARKLE OR HER FRIENDS, FOUL FIENDS!