• Published 19th Feb 2019
  • 2,144 Views, 74 Comments

Death has a Cutie Mark Problem - The Mountaineer Brony

Death Himself seeks out the Cutie Mark Crusaders for help getting back in touch with his special talent.

  • ...

Shivers Down Your Spine

The muscular mare took tentative steps backward, muttering nervously.

"Ah knew Ah shouldn't-a left y'all unattended... I've seen y'all do some off-the-wall stuff, but little fillies summonin' demons in their treehouse is some absolute road apples! GRANNY!!!"

"AJ, relax. That was just Ogres and Oubliettes. It's just a game! See, we were helping this filly--" Scootaloo began.

"AH DON'T MEAN THAT!" Applejack said, raising an accusatory hoof. "AH'M TALKIN' ABOUT THAT!!"

"But Applejack, that's just Mister Death. He's the newest client of the Cutie Mark Crusaders!" Sweetie Belle stepped forward with a smile, putting her forehoof gently on Death's.

"What kinda crazy are you talkin' 'bout, Sweetie Belle?!"

"I had the same reaction, Sis." Apple Bloom said, stepping forward with her head lowered slightly. "But it's jest that simple. Death came here with a Cutie Mark problem, and we need to help him."

Applejack, though still greatly confused, could sense the honesty in her sister's voice, and so allowed her to briefly explain the situation thus far. Death, wisely, said nothing, but did occasionally nod along to add veracity to Apple Bloom's claims. The orange farmpony rubbed her temple and sighed.

"Ram me in the barn..." She scolded under her breath quietly enough to evade the fillies' sensitive ears. "Alright, Crusaders, Ah s'pose that Ah can let'cha go on with this, but Ah still gotta let'cher sisters know---and probably Twilight too. She's the one what knows about..." she vaguely gestured a circle at Death with her forehoof "... woo-woo magic stuff."

"I don't suppose there's any way we could... charm our way out of that?" Sweetie Belle gave her best little filly eyes and a winning smile.

Applejack was not amused. "NO." She closed the door behind her.

The Crusaders sighed. "Well," continued Scootaloo "I suppose we'll just see what we can get done before she gets back."

"Are you three sure I'm not being an inconvenience?" The tall skeleton asked from his uncomfortably small chair.

"Nah, it'll be fine." Sweetie said, scratching her neck. "We get in trouble more often than you think."

"Though it ain't nothin' near like it was back before we got our Cutie Marks!" Apple Bloom said with a chuckle.

"Yeah!" said Scootaloo enthusiastically. "You wouldn't believe how many times we ended up covered in tree sap!"

The three fillies weren't able to experiment with different talents but for a few minutes before the frantic beating of hooves and flapping of wings approached their humble treehouse. Applejack rushed forward and opened the door first, stepping inside before allowing her friends to do the same.

"They're in here!"

"Applejack," Twilight's calm, studious voice drifted from outside "I think you might be overreacting to--HOLY MOTHER OF THE PRINCESSES!"

Of all the things Twilight was expecting to see inside that treehouse, she hadn't even fathomed the gaunt, undead creature reclining in the floor as the Cutie Mark Crusaders played charades around him, struggling to guess Sweetie Belle's mimicry, which, to Twilight's eyes, was clearly a penguin caught in quicksand.

Rainbow Dash and Rarity entered the room at about the same time. The young Wonderbolt stuck her head in from the top of the doorframe.

"What's going on in--HOLY SH-" The alicorn in the room quickly cast a silencing spell over her friend's muzzle to protect the children's ears. Rarity's response, meanwhile, was much more befitting a lady: she swooned, then fainted. Applejack rushed to catch her, fanning her with her hat to try and revive the fair unicorn. From across the room, the Crusaders ceased their shenanigans, and Death turned to face the gathered mares.

"I am sorry to have caused you such fright." His deep gravelly voice echoed from within the heads of all present. "As Applejack has likely explained to you, I am Death Incarnate, and I seek the help of these three fillies with an issue pertaining to my Cutie Mark."

"It's... an honor?" Twilight turned her attention from Rarity and asked unsurely. Death shifted his gaze to portray a change in countenance; if he possessed eyebrows, he would've cocked one.

"It is an honor" Twilight said, this time more gracefully "to meet an ancient being of such great power. I am Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Friendship, Leader of the Elements of Harmony, and personal protégé of Princess Celestia, co-ruler of Equestria."

Death lifted his chin, regarding Twilight from a loftier position. "...You know the princess?"

"Both princesses, yes. I've known Celestia on a personal level since I was a filly. She is both my teacher and dear friend."

"A great privilege, I'm sure." The old one replied. "And what of Luna?"

"Well, my friends and I used the Elements of Harmony to purify Luna when she returned from her banishment as Nightmare Moon, nearly a decade ago now." Twilight said, gesturing towards Rainbow, Applejack, and a slowly-awakening Rarity with her horn. "All but two of us stand before you now. Meet Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Applejack."

"I have heard of you from the other world, but have neglected to keep up on your exploits; for that, I apologize. Clearly you all have had quite an impact on the history of Equestria… if my meeting with the Storm King last year says anything."

Twilight jumped momentarily at the mention of the Storm King, and the memory of the tense battle where Tempest Shadow struck him down. Twilight had gotten used to her enemies either running off or being reformed over the years; she wasn't accustomed to thinking of one being dead.

"Please don't take him away, Twilight!" Sweetie Belle said suddenly, trotting forward and throwing a foreleg around Death's. "We still need to help him with his Cutie Mark problem!"

"Yeah!" Scootaloo added, buzzing her wings long enough to lift herself to Death's back. "We wouldn't be doing the CMC name justice if we didn't pull this one off!" Death uneasily shifted his scythe away from the orange filly, not wishing her to touch it, and while he didn't like the close proximity of the two fillies, he chose not to move them and potentially offend them or their sisters.

"Princess Twilight?" Death asked politely. "Would it be too much trouble to perhaps visit Canterlot? I feel as though the princess might wish to know of my presence here before rumors start flying... you know, one cosmic being to another?"

"I've already sent word to Princess Celestia that I might be visiting her, though admittedly, I didn't know what exactly was going on here at the time. If you'd like, we can try and sneak you to the train station, then have the Royal Guard meet us in the city."

"This is wise." Death remarked, his bones rattling slightly under the weight of a Pegasus filly. "I might be a little difficult to disguise, but if--"

"Hey!" Sweetie Belle once more piped up and stepped forward. "If Death is going to Canterlot, we're coming with him!"

"The Cutie Mark Crusaders have a duty to uphold!" Apple Bloom added.

"We won't leave his side until his Cutie Mark problem is solved!" Scootaloo said, hopping down from Death's rickety old spine.

Twilight cast her gaze towards the fillies' three guardians for approval. Applejack sighed. "Well... Ah guess Ah can't argue with that kinda conviction. Ah'll letcha come along, but don't do nothin' out-o-bounds while we're seein' th' Princesses."

"And stay within our sight at all times, dear." Rarity addressed her younger sibling.

"You got that, Scoots?" added Rainbow Dash.

The Crusaders quietly cheered among themselves, frolicking in a little circle on the wooden floor. Meanwhile, the four mares and one skeleton in the room huddled to plan out how to stealthily get to Canterlot. Twilight's managerial side quickly manifested itself.

"I'll have Spike write ahead to the Princess to arrange an escort by the guard. Rainbow, go get Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy as fast as you can; let them know what's going on and bring them to the train station. Applejack, I want you to scout out a path through or around Ponyville that will have us seen by as few ponies as possible. I would just teleport us to the station, but I don't know what kind of effect, if any, my magic might have on a being like Death."

"And I don't use such magic myself." The profound voice of Death sounded through the ponies' skulls. "I have my own mode of rapid transit that really only works if you're dead or me."

"Rarity," Twilight glanced back at the snow-white mare. "think you can fashion some sort of temporary disguise for our old friend here?"

"I'll get right on it, Twilight. Sweetie BELLE can help me, can't you dear?" Rarity spat a little frustration out of her system. Sweetie sighed, but resigned herself to the task if it meant helping Death.

The group of mares broke up, and it didn't take long to put their plans into action. Rainbow waited with Pinkie and Fluttershy at the train station, Twilight quickly gathered some things from the castle that might be necessary, and Applejack navigated a route through town that wouldn't take them past too many townsfolk. Meanwhile, Rarity, Sweetie Belle, and the other Crusaders had encountered some difficulty in crafting a suitable ensemble for the Reaper of Souls.

Given the frail, skeletal proportions of their model, baggy clothing was going to be the best bet at a disguise, something that went with boots as well, to hide his bony hooves. In the end, a frumpy dress with a large skirt seemed like the best option, and Death deigned to agree, saying that he'd worn worse. Rarity had initially wanted to do something in a bright pink, but Death refused, both for the attention a bright color might draw, and also, in his own words, "I wouldn't be caught alive in pink." So, Rarity had to go for a more subdued color, a dark violet; this, along with a wide-brimmed sun hat and having his scythe disguised as a parasol ironically made Death look like a funeral attendant. Unfortunately, they couldn't do much to hide his skeletal head and neck, apart from tying a dark silky scarf around it and hoping nopony looked.

"How do I look?" The Grim Reaper asked, clearly unamused.

Sweetie Belle restrained herself from saying "like my grandma," instead replying "Fine."

Applejack's pathfinding skills had actually proven far more apt than she herself expected: Death's escort encountered next to none of Ponyville's residents along the backroads, at least none that the disguise didn't convince from a suitable angle, and for those with keener perception, there was usually something of fitting size to shove the skeletal being behind.

In fact, the only close call they had they didn't even notice, and the witness wisely decided to keep what she'd seen to herself. At the train station, the blue-maned unicorn known as Vinyl Scratch stood waiting on the two o'clock to pull in, completely absorbed in the world between her headphones. She was nodding her head along to the music, quietly singing to herself, as the grave entourage passed.

"Seasons don't fear the reapeaaAAAAAAAAH!" Vinyl's jaw dropped as she shared an awkward glance with a skeleton in a sun hat waiting to board the train. As the music blared on through her headset, the unicorn slowly stepped backwards away from the platform as the old steamer came to rest on the tracks before it, ready to ferry the ferryman to Canterlot.

Author's Note:

I had to massively resist the urge to spell Applejack's "Twilight" as "Twailaight". I think it's cute, but I know from growing up in Appalachia that writing out a country dialect as it's heard can make your English nigh unreadable. :ajsmug:

Also, the band is Blue Öyster Colt. Great group. Vinyl has good taste.