• Published 1st Sep 2012
  • 855 Views, 15 Comments

The Fateless - Finnfinn

When your Cutie Mark is your prison, only those without talents are free.

  • ...

Return to the Refuge

Chapter 2: Return to the Refuge

Night Owl yawned and threw a glance at the border of the forest with teary eyes. Yawning again he turned around on the wooden wall walk and continued his patrol. "I'm walking back and forth on the palisade, how is that a patrol?" he asked the wooden floor. An amused voice answered in its place: "Like you said, you're walking back and forth. I'd call that a patrol, no matter how long the walk." Night Owl raised his head to find his path cut by a young, gray unicorn mare. "Here, take a sip of this." She shoved a wooden bowl under his nose. "It'll awaken your sleepy head in no time, promise!" He looked at the murky liquid in the bowl and sniffed, instantly regretting it as the scent of moldy wood insulted his nose. He sneezed, almost knocking the bowl out of the mare's hoof. "What in the hay is this? It smells disgusting! How can you expect me to drink this, Soothing Cup?" She rolled her eyes. "It's tea and it won't kill you." The mare pouted playfully. "I cooked it just for you, how can you do this to--" "ALRIGHT, I'll drink it!" Night Owl interrupted her. Soothing Cup looked at him in excitement. Holding his breath he opened his mouth and drank the whole bowl in one big gulp. The mixture had a bitter taste, with the slight flavor of pine needles.

"Sooo?" Soothing Cup leaned towards him with an expectant expression on her face. "What do you think?" He looked at her with a tortured smile. "It's...delicious. I...love mold. Thanks." The unicorn's smile faded. "I know it doesn't taste good, you silly colt. It's supposed to wake you up! You know, like coffee!" Night Owl blinked. Actually, he felt pretty lively right now, like after a good night's sleep. He looked at the mare with an astounded expression, summoning the smile on her face again. "It did! How did you... Thank you ver--" He was cut short by a howling sound in the distance. He looked into the forest, every muscle in his body tensed.

"The timberwolves have spotted prey..." The mare looked at him with a worried expression. "But...who could they..." Cold fear gripped Night Owl's heart. He nudged the mare by his side. "Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom, that's who! Go tell Zecora and try to find whatever weapons are left." The mare jumped down from the wall walk and looked up at him. "You are not going out there, are you?" The stallion shook his head. "No, but we need to be prepared when they return. The Fateless won't try and fend off the timberwolves. They will be back soon and we better be able to provide some cover for them once they're here!"

A second howl cut through the night, this one sounding like the creature was in agony. "GO, Soothing Cup! Hurry up!" The mare flinched at his stern voice and sprinted towards the small wooden huts that were encompassed by the palisade. He looked at her until she had disappeared in the camp and then galloped along the wall walk, shouting orders. "Grand Torch, light those beacons! Blade Wing, wake up every single pegasus you can find and scout the area! Find those three crazy mares as soon as possible! Everypony else help Soothing Cup scavenge for everything we can use as weapons!"

He turned to stare into the dark forest again as the ponies hurried to execute his orders. Please, Luna, don't let the creatures of your night get them!


Sweetie Belle could hear the timberwolves behind her and Apple Bloom to her right as they dashed through the forest. The filly on her back cried in fear, clinging to her mane. Occasionally she could see Scootaloo with the basket flying above the canopy of leaves, visibly fighting with the weight of her cargo. We are almost there, come on! "Hey, Sweetie Belle!" Apple Bloom shouted. The white mare turned her head. "How come you don't trip when we're sprintin' like this?" Sweetie Belle ignored her and concentrated on her spell instead. The blue light her horn emitted was just enough for her and the earth pony not to collide with trees. Her legs hurt more and more, the trees clawed at her with branches and twigs as if they were determined to supply the wooden predators with the food that the mares stole from them.

"Hold on tight, little filly!" Sweetie Belle shouted as she leapt over a trunk in her path. Said filly squeaked, but managed to stay on her savior. Sweetie Belle could see the light of torches and beacons through the forest and pegasi soar the skies. She sent a beam of light through the tree crowns above her to announce their arrival. I hope they are prepared for us. Sweetie Belle could now see the gates of the Refuge as the forest got thinner in front of them.

Suddenly, a hot liquid bewet her cheek and a desperate scream from her friend made her turn her head. She definitely heard her friend running, but the light was too dim to see more than a scheme tearing through the undergrowth.

Moments later, the forest ended and they walked onto the clearing that was the Refuge. A great palisade with a gate was right in front of them as Scootaloo handed the basket to another pegasus and dove down to support her friends. Sweetie Belle levitated the furry ball on her bag and handed her to one of the guards, then turned around to face the timberwolves. Apple Bloom was right next to her, the three mares panting for breath as they got ready for battle once more. The predators hesitated to step onto the clearing. They knew that they were no match for a determined pony once their natural camouflage was useless to them.

"Scoots! Belle! AB!" A shout from the palisades caught their attention. Night Owl, the captain of the guard, waved down at them. "Why do you always invite guests to our Refuge? We are short on food without a bunch of pony-devouring wolves, you do know that, right?" The white-coated unicorn cringed. Oh no, the food! Scootaloo yelled back: "Yeah, Sweetie Belle invited those." She grinned at her friend. Sweetie Belle rolled her eyes. "Actually, I think they like the smell of fresh chicken." Night Owl laughed, then pointed at the forest. "No matter the reason, here they come!" His head disappeared behind the palisade and reappeared moments later, he had picked up a bulgy bottle containing some orange liquid with his mouth, holding it by a leathery looking cord. "New mixture by Zecora, watch this!" hissed the captain through his teeth, moving his head back and forth to ginger up the flask.

One brave timberwolf stormed on the clearing, only to be hit by the flask Night Owl had thrown his way, splashing the liquid all over the creature. For a little moment, nothing happened. Then, suddenly, the wooden body of the wolf caught on flames that devoured the wood with astounding speed only leaving a little pile of charcoal and glowing ash. The other guards threw similar bottles and soon the three mares were surrounded by a wall of flames. "Best of all, the flames don't burn anything the liquid hasn't touched. No forest fires!" As Sweetie Belle inspected one of the fires she noticed that the fire did not spread. Another miracle from Zecora's soup kitchen.

The gates to the Refuge opened slowly as the fires got smaller. "They won't burn forever, get in quickly!" Night Owl shouted as he jumped down from the wall walk to greet the white unicorn with a hug. Suddenly she heard a small sob from behind her. Scootaloo landed and approached Apple Bloom, whose tears moistened the ground. "Hey AB, what's the matter? We rescued them, aren't we supposed to be celebrating?" Apple Bloom was now crying and threw herself into Scootaloo's embrace. The orange Pegasus looked at Sweetie Belle, her eyes expressing only confusion.

The white mare remembered what happened during her escape and cold fear took control of her heart. She slowly raised a hoof and touched the liquid on her cheek, then looked at it. The small drop of red liquid mirrored the stars and the dancing light from the torches around them. Blood? Apple Bloom looked at her with teary eyes, still hugging Scootaloo. The understanding came moments later and Sweetie Belle's vision blurred as her own eyes filled with tears. Scootaloo looked at her and then at the little filly they rescued. A red pegasus put down the basked with the foal next to the filly. Scootaloo closed her eyes as Sweetie Belle joined them in their embrace, seeking comfort in the closeness to her friends. The sobs of the filly filled the silence as Soothing Cup hugged her lovingly and even the foal started crying.

The little colt, so eager to protect his siblings, was nowhere to be found.