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Rambling Writer

Our job is not to give readers what they want; our job is to show them things they never imagined. --Walt Williams


  • TUrban Wilds
    One's an impulsive bounty hunter with a thirst for adrenaline. The other's a reformed necromancer given a second chance at life. Together, they fight the necromancer's self-doubt (and also crime).
    Rambling Writer · 75k words  ·  246  3 · 1.6k views

Beyond Equestria, the lands to the north are hostile and unforgiving. Ponies eke out a subsistence in uncontrollable weather, separated by mile after frigid mile of snow and mountains. A land where only the hardiest survive is no place for civilization.

Yet civilization encroaches from time to time. When a colossal bounty is placed on the head of a unicorn deep in the arts of necromancy, a motley crew of bounty hunters assembles and gives chase. It’s too good a chance to pass up. They’ll bring her to justice, no matter what stands in their way. Not her dark magic. Not the inhospitable environment.

And certainly not each other.

Other entries in this series:

Chapters (17)
Comments ( 176 )

Daaamn. I'm liking this already. I'll be keeping my eye on it.

For all the princesses’ bleating about “friendship” and “harmony”, ponies could be remarkably backstabbing.

I can't help but think that Twilight's going to take this scandal as a personal affront. And that's before she learns that maps of the North aren't accurate.

Probably best that these mares all stay in the North, because all of central Equestria may burn purple for the next few months.

In all seriousness, you've definitely set an imposing stage, to say nothing of the actors. Looking forward to the performance.

Seems pretty good. I'll be keeping an eye on this.

*Devours chapter* May I please have some more?

Can't wait for more, I hope this is a trend for stories on this site, interesting stories with good premises and engaging writing are not terribly common

She collapsed into a puddle of her own blood, and with one last gasp, Polar Sun died.


Welp... that happened.

Well up until his point i had faith in amanita, now i hope shhe gets whats coming to her

Cool Ranch Pass.

Which forms a hidden valley.

In all seriousness, that's certainly one way to establish our antagonist. Now to see how well the team can follow her after a night of the trail growing cold.

Well that escalated quickly.

aw, rip. I can't wait to find out what her motivation is.

Is she the antagonist? I assumed she was going to be the Protagonist. Even when she killed Polar I still thought that mostly because she didn't do it maliciously.

It's like everything in the world except ponies is trying to kill Amanita. Fortunately, Cobbes or no, she can always rely on the kindness of strangers.

Also the corpses of strangers. If there's anything a necromancer can appreciate, it's the value of reuse and recycling.

Expertly written, this chapter. Plenty of subtle hints to draw out questions and suspicions.

There's definitely more to this on both sodes. The question is what, and how much they aren't telling their allies. Eagerly looking forward to more.

Artemis walked into Bitterroot’s personal space and pressed their muzzles together. “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” she whispered, “or maybe I’ll cut you outta the reward.” She followed Trace without another word.

Not sure if this is the best line for this situation as it almost guarantees that Artemis is hiding something, but for some reason this doesn't set off red flags in Bitterroot's mind.

Fascinating to see the various tensions at work. Teammates, uncertain information, the environment... There are so many springs getting pulled so very taut. It's only a matter of time before something snaps.

You know what? That bit on lichdom really struck home. It has moved down 4 place on my proffered immortality list.

What a bizarre form of friendly fractiousness. Let's hope the balance stays even there, or that Artemis grows up a little. (Small chance of the latter, but still.) Those four seem to face more danger from the blizzard and each other than Amanita.

Speaking of whom, she definitely has some history with ghosts on a theoretical level. I suppose that theory might be "If they did exist, some would definitely be haunting me right now."

Also, the tragedy of Mystic was quite well-crafted indeed. It's one thing for a boomtown to pop up and wither away just as quickly. It's quite another for that fate to befall a preexisting settlement. :fluttershyouch:

Looking forward to more.

Was the ranger enthralled at all? Probably. Why else would she shoot at strangers? Although this wasn’t Equestria; you couldn’t just assume that a stranger would be smiling and friendly to you. Still, to go straight for the gun…

"Someone we're shooting at shot back at us! That's crazy!" - Bitterroot, 2019 :rainbowlaugh:

Why else would she shoot at strangers?

Hmm, could it maybe be because your group shot at theirs first perhaps??:ajbemused::facehoof:

I'd comment about Bitterroot's questionable logic, but I see others have beaten me to the punch. In any case, the blizzard should definitely make this a lot more interesting. And I do wonder about Catskill's vital and mental status. When you're constantly surprising yourself with your actions while in the company of a necromancer, that's rarely a good sign.

So much trouble caused by mutual panic. And a unicorn who failed to consider the downside of a highly visible flare. Giving Catskill further context should definitely prove interesting, to say nothing of Amanita's uncertain vital status. Looking forward to more.

A surprisingly great story. Sadly for this fandom, this is becoming very rare. Im not just saying that, it is sadly very true.

You have managed to spin a tale with an intriguing plot line and premise, while engaging the readers. I like your story telling style and you have done quite well at avoiding many of the common mistakes that befall many hobby writers.

After weeks of reading ridiculous stories where the main character is a complete asshole, or where the OC is so ridiculously stupid and dense that Im astounded that they can bang two rocks together. To be honest, I never realized until recently just how much the quality of the Authors has dropped in the last year or so.

So when I came across this well thought piece, with well thought out characters who actually make reasonable decisions, I was thrilled.

Looking forward to more.

The Monk
“To say that Twilight Sparkle went bugfuck would be like saying the Incredible Hulk had some mild anger management issues.” -DustTraveller

Catskill could easily see her snow goggles,

Should be Bitterroot. :twilightsmile:

Oh I love this story, but why this cliff hanger! Anyway I love this and can't get enough.

I caught one, too.

Grunting, Amanita grabbed a half-rotten board and shoved it under the crossbeam to hold it shut.

This should probably be Catskill.

I love the forshadowing on this. Catskill realizes that something is off, what with her talking to Amanita, something she normally wouldn't do. However, her new UNDEAD POWERS prevent her from disliking her creator. Very well written! There are so many ways this can go. I cannot wait!

Artemis sneered. “Really?” She put a hoof to Catskill’s neck and waited. “That why your heart ain’t beatin’?”

C'mon Artemis, the poor mare is dead and that's how you break the news?

Bug report: Revived corpse retains ability to surrender.

Well now. The next few minutes will be very interesting indeed. Catskill's in for one heck of an existential crisis.

The pegasus abruptly stood up and imposed herself between Catskill and Artemis. “Artemis,” she said quietly, “I swear to Celestia, Luna, Cadance, and Twilight together, if you don’t shut your sunblasted mouth in the next ten seconds, I’m going to drag you out into that blizzard, fly you a mile up, and drop you.” She started tapping her hoof on the ground. “Ten.”

What about Flurry???? If this takes place before or after season 8, then Flurry would at least be named right?

Whoo boy, everypony's emotions are running hot now. Also, wow do I feel bad for Catskill.

Calling it now: Artemis is another Necromancer, trying to kill her apprentice/ex-girlfreind/whatever before she reaches society and blabs about... something. I mean, its an obvious plot twist at this point, but someone had to call it for the internet points.

Also: How the H*** does this story only have 44 likes?!? This is some quality stuff.

That theory makes more sense than it should if it's a coincidence especially since Gale, Artemis' servant, does not sleep, eat or speak, and does whatever she asks without question. Sounds like a thrall to me.

To be honest, I’m dying to know what’s inside her.

Probably not the best thing to say about a mare whose entrails are currently visible.

In any case, yeah, Catskill didn't seem especially enthralled, and Amanita does give a sense of the mad scientist who was expelled for her radical theories, not one who was chased out with torches and pitchforks. I hope she survived. There are a lot of questions worth asking here, and she's the only one who can answer them.

The conflict seems a bit off. If Amanita knows she's being followed by Artemis, and has some general knowledge of Artemis-the-bounty-hunter, it's entirely feasible (from the pursuit team's point of view) that the bear may have been spelled to specifically kill Arty (or any pony matching her approximate description). Bitterroot's confusion on the matter comes across as somewhat forced and existing purely so Artemis can over-react in a suspicious manner. And I'm a little surprised that Arty herself wouldn't pass it off with something along the lines of "We tangled; she knows it's me after her; no surprise she's targeting me specifically."

Yeah, I had a feeling Catskill was actually undead ever since the hill scene, and that Amanita needed a friend, not a slave.

Not to mention there's also the parallel that Gale is supposed to have some kind of permanent damage (her wing), mirroring Catskill's unhealing wound. And there's that scarf which is always around her neck (and constantly being mentioned in the text), and we've already had one pony killed by a slash across the neck - the kind of wound which might destroy the ability to physically speak even if the body was still walking around. Not to mention that Gale is presented as being remarkably strong, or at least able to carry significant loads. I'm just waiting to find out if we're going to get a Dorothy character arc, with Gale getting resurrected. (Or Gale might turn out to be a voodoo-style zombie, who just thinks they're dead.)

I do like the names, too. Each one fits the character's role in the story, as well as other aspects of their existence. Amanita is a great one for a character who is 95% expected to be death on sight, but may possibly actually be harmless or even beneficial. And one sub-species of amanita is the Destroying Angel... then there's the wonderful effect of both Catskill and someone with a name possibly derived from Amanus traveling through mountains. Likewise, Artemis is associated most strongly with the hunt, but also with the bow and arrow, mountains, shooting, and... bears. And, interestingly enough, with assisting with bringing life into the world...

Not necessarily. Even if Bits knew about Flurry, she might only be swearing to figures of political power, who had clearly-defined roles.

So, Artemis is a lich isn't she.

Sooooo... Why is Necromancy outlawed, again? From My understanding, It's a h*** of a lot better than medical spells.

And now it all makes sense, carefully laid pieces falling into place. Artemis is Circe. The bear was programmed to attack her, she's an asshole, and she's by far the most desperate to kill Amanita. Gale is almost certainly her will-bound thrall, much in the same way Catskill is but with added muteness, given how she never seems to tire or sleep.

I'd already begun to suspect what was going on here. Now I'm certain, and in agreement with the various spoiler blocks.

It's a shame; I honestly really like Amanita's approach. Hitting zero hit points is no reason to give up on healing spells.

I just hope she loves long enough to say something after Artemis sees her.

Now I could give you a detailed review and analysis on the immediate problems that are likely to occur as a result of recent events in chapters to come. But really why waste anyone's time with that when I can say all that needs to be said in only two little words, namely;

Uh Oh.

My guess would be that it's banned because it was used for a lot of bad things in the past (and quite possibly present). To the point where trying to have a state-sponsored necromantic educational path, even one focused on healing, wouldn't be accepted by the general populace. So all the state can do is ban it completely to stop (or at least severely hinder) ponies attempting to learning it on their own without oversight.

True, the state could try and rebrand approved necromancy with a new name, but I'm betting that in order to learn necromantic healing properly, a mage pretty much has to learn necromancy proper, including all the potentially bad bits, even if they would never use them to harm anypony. Not to mention that you couldn't have necromantic magic of any form cast anywhere that a magically sensitive citizen could pass by, as (at least in this universe), such magics are very detectable and (apparently) not easily concealed, and make ponies feel sick - always a bad thing if you're trying for positive PR. You'd have to have casters also have some reliable method for scrubbing the thaumic residue away.

Really, what necromancy needs is intense study in order to improve its capacity for good, reduce it for evil, and make it in general more magically and memetically acceptable to the general populace. But that would require training ponies in its use... and we're back where we started.

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