• Published 13th Dec 2011
  • 6,869 Views, 539 Comments

Far From the Tree - Rust



A mysterious pony turned to stone 1000 years ago is revived by the denizens of Ponyville.

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An Overdue Homecoming

Note: I do not own My Little Pony.
Honestly, I'm getting tired of having to admit that.

CHAPTER EIGHT


AN OVERDUE HOMECOMING

A steady drizzle was falling over Ponyville. If one looked carefully, and from a distance, it would appear that a faint mist had covered the town, blurring straight lines of architecture and softening the sharp corners. The thatched-roof buildings took the rain in with a muffled, stacatto rapport that faded into the background. The cobblestones produced a static-like hiss as the soft sheets poured down from above. Streams of clear rainwater collected at the sides of streets and in various depressions, funneling through grated sewer entrance ways.

At the Ponyville town library, Twilight sat watching the fat drops of water plummet from the leafless, overhanging boughs of the tree-building from the kitchen window. Princess Luna joined her at the table a while ago. Neither pony spoke; both had too much to think about. The mugs of tea in front of their hooves had long since grown cold. They sat alone in the kitchen, as Applejack and her sister, Apple Bloom, had departed with their recently thawed forebear from a thousand years ago to Sweet Apple Acres to show him what his former abode had become.

In the library, the other Elements of Harmony and the remaining Cutie Mark Crusaders were keeping busy, making small talk, playing games, or browsing Twilight's extensive collection of knowledge. Princess Luna had summoned them once the Apples had left. They had then been filled in on what had happened after they had exited the library earlier to give the Twilight, Luna, and the Apples some space. At this point, all were simply staying indoors, reluctant to venture out into the rain or depart from where their friends were.

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The downpour had caught the Apples halfway to Sweet Apple Acres. Electing instead to continue on rather than seek shelter, the three plodded gamely on down the path to home through the rain. Apple Bloom walked beneath her new uncle's massive frame, taking advantage of the moving dry spot the stallion created. The dark teal knight had acknowledged her presence by widening his legs slightly and slowing his long stride, accommodating the small filly seeking shelter from the weather like a tiny plane might be housed in a hangar used to store passenger jets. Applejack was walking on the right, her hat tilted down to prevent any rain from getting in her eyes.

Buck's mane was plastered to his skin, but that didn't bother him. The rain felt soothing. It was like somepony had rubbed him with mint leaves and sprinkled a mist over his coat. He felt strangley aware of himself, feeling each individual drop as it impacted against his large body. Buckshot had always loved the rain. He loved any kind of weather where other ponies opted to stay inside. He remembered how he had spent days like that with his long-dead family. The Apples of ancient times had lounged on the porch of the ranch home when the weather prevented them from working, watching the world go by. Actually, Buckshot had never stayed on the porch, he preferred sitting out from under the roof, letting the snow, rain, or wind, buffet him like a welcome breeze in the middle of summer. His wife had never understood why he did that, and often scolded him fiercely when he came back inside. But she always had a hot bowl of soup and a towel to accompany the verbal lashing. Buck had loved that the most about his wife. She knew he'd come back inside because he'd missed her company, not because he couldn't take the weather.

But now she's gone. For one thousand bloody years she's been six feet under.

Apple Blossom had joined him out in the weather sometimes. He could remember the feeling of her sitting next to him, her small body a prick of heat pressing up against his side.

Blossie always knew what I needed. Sometimes before I needed it.

But they're both gone now.

He looked at Applejack, striding along next to him, focused on the path ahead. She had the same stubborn glint in her eyes as Leafdapple. Buckshot could tell that trying to win an argument with this mare could only result in failure. He stopped looking at his orange coated descendant to glance down at Apple Bloom, walking underneath him. Apple Bloom noticed him looking at her and smiled.

Crikey. She smiles like Blossie. The apple never falls far from the tree, eh?

Buckshot chuckled quietly at his joke, returning the smile warmly before looking back up at the road passing by. His hooves made thick, muffled thuds on the wet dirt path. The trio had made it out of Ponyville by this time. Buckshot could remember the way to the farm, the route hadn't changed very much in in the milennia he'd been gone.

Right, should be right around this hill. I wonder if the house is still there, or if it's been replaced by-

Buckshot's thoughts were interrupted as he came within view of Sweet Apple Acres. He stopped dead in his tracks. Apple Bloom carried on a few steps further before realizing that her cover had vanished. She emitted a cute little squeak of surprise as the rain claimed another victim before scurrying back underneath the oldest Apple.

Before him sprawled several acres of farmland, slightly hazy due to the drizzle. Apple trees beyond number stood tall in neat rows that stretched off into the distance. It was winter, so Buckshot could see the leafless knobbly branches stretching up in salute to the sky. Never having seen this amount of growth before, he was speechless. The orchard he'd established back in his time had contained only fifty trees. This orchard easily contained thousands.

Applejack noticed his astonishment with a proud grin. "We like t' plant a few more every year. Been at it fer a while, as ya can see."

Buck nodded, and with his vast intelligence and education, replied in the most dignified manner he could muster. "That's a lot of trees."

Apple Bloom could be hear slamming her hoof to her face from underneath her uncle.

The trio walked through the orchard, Applejack filling Buckshot in on some recent family history. The droplets of water raining down on them were thick and fat, due to the overhanging tree branches providing many places for droplets to collect. They eventually emerged from the rows to be greeted with the current Apple family ranch house.

It was a lot bigger than Buck's house. The home was three stories tall, and painted a rough burgundy color that Buck assumed had originally been red. A puff of smoke was coming out of it's ramshackle chimney. It had a large wraparound porch in the front. Buck particularly liked the new porch. It put his old one to shame. A cavernous red barn stood off to the side of the house, and a tall silo could be seen poking out from behind it.

"Good onya, I like what you've done with the place," complimented Buckshot.

"Thanks, we here at the Acres put a lotta hard work into what yer seein' now," Applejack pulled ahead towards the house. "C'mon, ya'll need t' be introduced to the rest of yer kin."

"More? Crikey, I thought it was just you two lovely sheilas."

Applejack laughed. "There's many, many more. We'll show ya at th' family reunion in a few months. But as fer those of here at Sweet Apple Acres... Trust me when Ah say this, there's no way in hay we could run this here place without the ponies yer about t' meet."

Curiosity aroused, Buck followed her close behind, Apple Bloom keeping pace beneath. When they reached the porch, she moved off to Buck's right, behind Applejack.

Applejack reached the front door and held it open. "Welcome home, Uncle Buck!"

With a deep breath, the oldest Apple stepped through the threshold of his family's abode for the first time in a millennium. He was greeted by the sight of a large eating room, faded wood paneling the floor. The walls were of an indiscriminate cream coloration, but it seemed faintly green to him. Sitting smack dab in the center of the room was a large slab of a tree trunk, nicked and scored by generations of Apples eating on it. Buck walked up to the slab and rubbed his hoof on it tenderly. He bent his great head down and took a whiff of the scarred wood.

Pine. Well, at least the bloody table's still here.

He turned to Applejack and Apple Bloom, and pointed at the slab. "I made that," he said proudly. Apple Bloom gazed at the table with a new found reverence. She'd no idea it was that old.

Applejack grinned. "There's a lotta good memories mah family and Ah have had at that there table. Speakin' of them, lemme fetch 'em." She headed out of the room, and the sound of hooves on stairs could be heard as she climbed upwards to fetch the rest of her kin to meet their newest (and oldest) member. Apple Bloom bounced out after her sister.

Buck suddenly had doubts. What if they didn't believe Applejack? What if they didn't like him? He began to pace, looking down at the floor.

If somethin' like this had happened to me, I don't think I would've believed it. I'd probably 'ave sent that poor sot who claimed it to the loony bin, wrapped in a happyjacket.

Buck continued to look down, increasing the speed of his pacing.

There's so much I've missed out on. How could they accept me with that in mind?

His train of thought was interrupted when he crashed into a certain red workhorse. Both stallions sat down hard. Buck looked at him hard, and was astounded. The red pony looked almost exactly like him. They both stared at each other in shocked silence. The red reflection eventually stood up and offered him a hoof. Buck accepted, and stood up face to face with him. They were almost the same height, although the scarlet mountain had a few inches on him, Buck was slightly more toned.

The dark teal knight broke the awkward silence. "Er.... G'day. Name's Buckshot Apple." He extended his hoof.

Buck's counterpart shook his hoof forcibly. "Big Macintosh. Yer an Apple?" he asked in a slow, laconic drawl.

Buck was still in shock, so he answered with a weak "...Eeyup."

Big Macintosh's ears laid back in amusement. "Ah c'n tell."

"I'm, uh, a bit of a..." Buck searched for the right word. "... a distant relative."

"Ya look like ya could be mah brother, providin' Ah ever had one."

"I'm a little older than that, mate..."

Big Macintosh's eyebrows rose, but he said nothing. Buckshot liked this one. A stallion of few words.

Applejack returned to the room, followed by her sister. "Granny's still sleeping, so... Oh! Ah see ya met Big Macintosh!" She walked up to the big stallion and threw a hoof around his neck. "This here's mah brother, the proud owner of Sweet Apple Acres! Big Mac, this here's the one and only, Sir Buck Apple!"

Big Macintosh's eyes flew open. "THE Buck Apple? AJ, Ah know yer the element of honesty and everythin', but that's a little hard t' believe. Buck Apple wuz the original owner of this here farm, an' that was hundreds and hundreds of years ago. That'd mean this feller here is over a thou-"

"Don't use yer fancy mathematics t' muddle the issue!" Applejack butted in. "Ah think we need to have a talk about this. Uncle Buck, Apple Bloom, lets take a seat around th' table. Ah think we got a story fer mah brother here."

And so, the Apples sat around the table and recited the events of Buckshot's unfortunate circumstance. It was long into the night by the time they finished, but Big Macintosh was now up to date, and more importantly, just as welcoming to Buck as his sisters had been. He offered Buckshot a room, which Buck gratefully accepted. The Apples, now with their newest member, went upstairs to bed. Buck was shown into the first room on the left. It was a spare bedroom, with aging wallpaper and a lumpy bed, but to the dark teal knight it looked like paradise after the long and eventful day.

The second his head hit the pillow, he was fast asleep, entering the shifting world of dreams...

...Where a certain midnight-blue alicorn was patiently waiting for him.

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He was floating, that much was sure. A strange, dark void surrounded him like a black velvet screen. His immediate surrounds were impossible to decipher. Translucent, smokey images of places and things flickered by. Things he had no name for, and places he'd never been. He glanced down, to find that his body had vanished, replaced by a dimly glowing vapor.

Ugh. It's been a while since we've done this, Luna. Gimme a sec ta get me bearings.

A monolithic shape cut through the fog. It reared up before him, dwarfing the little puff of smoke many times over. Black as pitch, with the exception for two humongous eyes that housed the reflection of a full moon, the leviathan's figure emerged into the visage of the Princess of the Night. From her head came her mane, that starry waterfall which shimmered lazily in some unknown breeze.

Greetings, Sir Apple. We have much to discuss with you in the following days to come. The voice shook the very substance of the realm.

Well, you know where ta find me. I'll be waiting for you, yer Highness.

Do not address us in such a way. You have proven yourself to be far above one of our mere subjects. You were our first real friend, sir knight, and your company served to stave off a fate almost worst than death.

I'm not sure what you mean by that. The only thing I can think of that's worse than kickin' the bucket is being taken away from everythin' you ever loved for a thousand years.

You were not the only one who served an involuntary exile.

I think you need to explain yerself, right now.

This recounting will take some time, Sir Apple.

We've got till mornin' Luna. And it's not like I'm goin' to be dissapearin' anytime now, either.

Very well. It all began after your disappearance. Our descent into jealousy began to accelerate...

Author: BUM BUM BUMMMMMMM!
Oh, this is just too much fun, you know? Cliffhanger after cliffhanger... Anyway, I have a surprise for every pony on Christmas day! be sure to check in for a special chapter...