• Published 19th Oct 2012
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Eljunbyro - Imploding Colon



Bellesmith must perform experimental tasks in order to keep herself and her beloved safe.

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Foxtaur Four

"Unngh... Who ordered the anvil with wings?" Phoenix grumbled, bracing his skull as Eagle Eye leaned in with a healing salve, dabbing it against his bruised cranium. The mustached unicorn winced. "Easy there, eh, Princess?"

Eagle Eye took a deep, fuming breath. "I am being easy on you, ya sissy."

"Some talk," Phoenix whimpered, glaring across the forest clearing. "She didn't even get to lay on hoof on you, ya lucky sap."

"True." Zenith marched past the two, stretching the kinks in his neck and shoulders. He flung an errant smirk in their direction. "But Eagle did get her good with the shield."

"Heh..." Eagle Eye glanced up, brightening. "I did, didn't I?" He blinked, then winced upon feeling a dagger-sharp glare from his peripheral vision. He returned to his treating of Phoenix.

Rainbow Dash hovered several feet away besides Crimson, who was flexing the muscles in his aching jaw.

"So, like, you weren't here to rob, kill, and mutilate my friends?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"I would certainly think that we'd be past that by now," Crimson muttered. He raised his hefty hammer and sheathed it along the back of his vest. "We simply didn't know what your companions were doing here. So we approached from up high until we could ascertain whether or not they were a threat."

"So, like, why were you crowding around them and stuff?" Rainbow Dash asked, still glaring.

"They did no such thing!" Belle exclaimed with a frown. She trotted over and rested a hoof on Crimson's shoulder. "I am so sorry, sir, that you were beaten so senselessly."

"Hey! Don't apologize!" Rainbow Dash barked. "You certainly seemed freaked out at the time! This side of the country is wicked scary! I didn't know what to expect when I saw these creeps bearing down on you!"

"We weren't freaked out!" Belle retorted.

"Ahem." Pilate cleared his throat and nervously smiled. "On the contrary, darling. I recall being... physically shaken upon their arrival."

"You were just wanting to protect me, Pilate."

"And I wasn't?!" Rainbow's voice cracked.

Belle sighed and closed her eyes. "I didn't mean to suggest that—"

"And who's to know that we're still safe?" Rainbow Dash frowned and hovered closer to Crimson, squinting in his face. "How do I know that you and your bosom buddies aren't plotting to slit our throats in our sleep now that you know that we're in this forest?"

"I rightly don't blame you for being suspicious," Crimson said. "If you've been exposed to Ledomaritan forces as much as we've been—"

"And, for real! Why the lack of berets! That... That's just confusing!" Rainbow Dash shrugged her forearms as she scoffed, "Are you soldiers or aren't you!"

"If life was as simple and black and white as that, then my comrades and I wouldn't be on the run to begin with," Crimson said, trying to keep his voice calm.

"Just why did you go AWOL?" Pilate asked, his ears twitching towards the muscular stallion. "Typically, such desertion is punishable by death."

Crimson took a deep breath. He turned and gazed back at the other three soldiers.

Zenith paced about, studying the fresh dents in his polearm. Phoenix winced as the last square inches of his bruise were tended to. Eagle Eye glanced over, shifting pensively. As soon as he made eye contact with Crimson, he pretended to look away.

Crimson exhaled heavily. He swung his head towards the group and muttered, "For years, we've done what the Council of Ledo told us to do. We slew Xonans, captured hills, and burnt down forts. Then, one day, we were asked to push the front full force into Xonan territory. There were over five hundred other soldiers in our group. We were far from the nearest base and low on resources. During our march, we stumbled upon a Xonan village beyond enemy lines. The storehouses there were full of rations, but there was one problem: dozens of unarmed citizens stood in the way."

Belle stared, her mouth agape. She gulped and murmured, "You... you didn't..."

Crimson shook his head. "No. But four hundred and eighty-eight Ledomaritans did." He sighed and sat back, stretching his leg muscles. "My company and I saved a hoofful of citizens while we split from the main group, but there was very little more that we could do. We had directly defied the same orders followed by an entire army. We had decided to spare lives, and for that reason, we've been hunted, we've been slaughtered, and we are now wanted stallions. Eight soldiers have died under my command. I still have three to look after, and by my honor, I shall get them home."

Rainbow Dash fumed. She folded her arms and glanced away. "Yeah, well, we haven't exactly had it easy with Ledomare either. We just came from a place where—"

"Quite frankly, I don't care!" Crimson said, his brow furrowed. "It is of no concern of me where you're from or what crimes the Confederacy perceives you as having committed. And furthermore, I would not bother asking you in the first place to tell us."

"Then..." Pilate leaned his head curiously to the side. "Why did you tell us why you're on the run?"

"Because if that's what it takes for you to trust us, then so be it. My stallions and I are deserters; we deserve to be hanged. If that's our punishment for refusing to commit atrocities in the name of dishonorable bloodlust, then so be it, but I'll be damned if I make things easy for the ponies who are chasing us. And I'm not about to make things any easier for those who want you three dead as well. If you're enemies of Ledomare, then that probably means that you're good of heart, and you deserve a better life than being on the run."

"We're..." Belle bit her lip. "We're not sure there's anything you can do for us."

Crimson turned and pointed towards Pilate. "His mana device still needs to be freed of the leyline entanglement. Between the four of us and our horns, I'm quite certain we can sever that which binds you to your pursuers."

"That..." Pilate nodded with a gentle smile. "That would be greatly appreciated, sir."

"All I can promise to do is try. In the end, it will benefit all of us as a whole to cut the mana trail loose."

"Where do we begin?" Pilate asked.

"If you would kindly follow me," Crimson said, turning and marching east of the clearing.

Belle and Pilate followed. For a moment, however, Belle lingered. She stared up at Rainbow Dash.

The pegasus eventually turned to blink down at her. "What?!"

"Rainbow, I know that you care very deeply about Pilate and me, more than you know..."

"Yeah, and?!"

Belle sighed long and hard, but she punctuated it with a soft smile. "Just... as you get more acquainted with your heart, don't lose track of your head. After all, it's possible to think with them both and not hurt every single pony that so much as breathes on us."

"Yeah, well..." Rainbow Dash fidgeted in midair. Her gaze lingered on a lavender shape to the edge of the clearing. "I'm working on it. I promise."

"For what it's worth, thanks."

"Thanks?!"

"For being so thoughtful and brave—"

"Pfft! Don't you mean stupid?"

"I only meant to say—"

Rainbow waved her on. "Yeah yeah. Go and help Pilate with his unicorn mind delve or whatever. I'll... uh... I'll be right behind you."

Belle eventually nodded, trotting briskly off to join Crimson and her beloved.

Slowly, with icy grace, Rainbow Dash glided towards the other three unicorns. Once she had their attention, she glared liquidly at them and slurred, "I have my eyes on you, dudes. Don't try any funny stuff."

"Believe me..." Phoenix moaned. "If I tried laughing right now, I'd throw up."

"Not while you're facing me," Eagle Eye said.

"Don't tempt me."

"Say, I know you totally owned our flanks and all, but those were some wicked moves you showed earlier!" Zenith stood below Rainbow Dash, glancing up with a smirk. "I've fought Xonans, war manticores, and saboteurs. I thought I had clashed blades with the best of them, but you and your wings? Whew! You pulled off some stunts on us I've only dreamed of!" He leaned on his polearm and squinted up at her. "Where does a mare like you learn to kick butt like that?"

"Mmmmm... meh..." Rainbow Dash shrugged. "Winter Wrap Up." She flew off to join her friends.

Zenith blinked into the depths of Foxtaur. "Winter Wrap Up..." He made a face. "Doesn't sound like any sort of martial arts I'm aware of."

"She must have learned it at Eagle Eye's ballet school," Phoenix muttered.

"Yeah, she must have—Hey!" Eagle Eye pouted.

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