• Published 10th Mar 2013
  • 3,366 Views, 136 Comments

Appletheosis - DuncanR



Just your average, garden-variety talking snake. In an apple tree. What could go wrong?

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We’ll have to call in a professional

Applejack sprinted down Main Street with Applebloom on her back, jostling her violently. Everypony they passed looked at her in shock: when they heard what she was shouting, they dropped what they were doing and ran indoors.

“Snake! Snaaake! Sah-naaaaayake!!”

“Would you jes calm down already?” Applebloom said, holding onto her mane. “We’re in town now! Can’t you at least slow down a bit?”

Applejack continued screaming all the way to the library. She kicked the front door open with both hind hooves, rushed inside, and slammed it behind her. “Twilight! We gots us a genuine emergency!”

Twilight peeked down from the second floor balcony and, with a flash of light, appeared beside her. “What happened? Tell me everything!”

“Snake!” Applejack threw Applebloom on a nearby beanbag chair. “Applebloom wandered off while we were surveyin’ the everfree forest, and there was a giant snake! You gotta check’er for bite marks or poison or somethin’!”

“Would you quiet down?” Applebloom said. “Ah didn’t bump into no snake. And besides, you were the one who wandered off! I turned around for jest a second, and you were nowhere to be—”

Applejack pointed a hoof in her face. “I don’t wanna hear no excuses outta you! You coulda got hurt real bad!”

Applebloom leaned back slightly, staring cross-eyed at Applejack’s hoof as it pointed at her nose. “Think you can talk some sense into her?”

Twilight nudged Applejack’s hoof aside. “Can you describe this snake for me?”

“Huge!” she said. “Positively gi-normous! Coulda swallowed somepony whole! It was all orange and scaly and the face was all armored, like a dragon!”

“How long was it?”

“Can’t say for sure, on account of it was all coiled up in a tree... but it musta been at least fifty yards long! You shoulda seen it! It musta been one of them annie-condas!”

Twilight arched an eyebrow. “Anacondas aren’t venomous.”

Applejack’s eyes darted to her sister. “Y’sure about that?”

“They don’t even have fangs.”

Applejack stamped a hoof. “Well this one did! He flashed ’em at me when he spoke!”

“That’s... odd.” Twilight turned to one of the bookshelves. Her horn glowed, and a selection of books slid off the shelves and hovered into the air in a circle around her head. “The largest fanged snake in the world is the Bitis Gabonica, or Gaboon viper, but the longest one on record was still only two meters, five centimeters. That’s eighty-one inches.”

“I know what I saw!” Applejack shouted. “We gotta get the word out! Close off the forest! Build a fence or somethin’!”

Applebloom scowled at her. “You really think a fence is gonna keep one single snake out of Ponyville?”

“Hush you! It’s to keep curious little fillies like you out of the forest. We can’t let folks wander around with a giant snake on the loose!”

Applebloom climbed out of the beanbag chair and marched towards the door. “This was all your idea from the start. I’m goin’ home.”

Applejack pointed a hoof at her and opened her mouth to speak, but Twilight tapped her shoulder. “I need you to take a deep breath, Applejack. We’ll look into this right away, but it’s not an immediate threat. Your family is safe.”

“How can you be so calm with that thing on the loose? Aren’t you the least bit afraid?”

“Of course I’m afraid of snakes.” Twilight set the books back on the shelf, except for one with a coiled serpent engraved on the cover. “But I’ve learned enough about them to know how to react to them: Constrictors of that size aren’t poisonous, and they generally don’t attack anything that’s too large for them to swallow whole. It probably threatened you because you stumbled into its home: It was just scared of you.”

“It!?” Applejack’s eyes widened. “Scared of me!?”

Twilight smiled at her. “You’d be surprised.”

Applejack pawed at the floor. “Well... gosh. Now I just feel silly.”

“I’m not saying it wasn’t dangerous... just not as dangerous as you think. We’d better look into this anyways, just to be sure. A fanged serpent of that size is quite unusual, and—” Twilight frowned, and turned to look at her. “Wait a second. Did you say this snake... spoke to you?”

Applejack nodded. “I swear it did. Right to my face.”

Twilight bit her lower lip and looked away. “This… changes things a bit.”

“For the worse?”

“Not sure. It might be a magical creature of some sort. We’ll have to call in a professional.”

Applejack glanced at the royal scrolls arranged on Twilight’s desk. “You mean, like, the royal guards or something?”

“They aren’t prepared for this sort of circumstance.” Twilight gazed out a window. “This will require something much more serious.”


Fluttershy pranced along the rough, beaten path that led through the outskirts of the Everfree forest, humming to herself with a smile. On her back she balanced a wicker basket covered with a red-and-white checkered cloth. She came to a rickety wooden archway and looked up at the sign.

“Paradise Estates?” she said. “Well isn’t that sweet!”

She opened the gate and stepped through, carefully closed it behind her, and walked to the circular clearing. “Are you home, mister snake? I’ve brought you... some...”

She stood and stared, slack jawed, at the gently swaying tree. The crown was puffy and round and resplendent with bright pink blossoms, and a soft rain of petals filled the air like snow. The clearing all around was divided by a network of babbling brooks, adorned with elegant hardwood bridges painted bright red. Spherical paper lanterns hung all about, filled with glowing insects.

But... Applejack said...

Fluttershy strolled into the clearing and walked down one of the many meandering pathways. There were gardens all around her, filled not with flowers but white sand that had been raked into whorling patterns and decorated with round, black stones. She came to the foot of the tree—it looked more like a very large shrub, really—and peered up at the fruit.

...Peaches?

She heard a hissing noise and spun around. She briefly caught sight of a sheath of gleaming jade scales and long feathery whiskers that trailed through the air and curled at the ends.

“Hullo?” The serpent said.

“Eek!” Fluttershy flinched away. As soon as she blinked, the garden was gone. The perfume of flower petals was no more, and the clearing was a field of smooth, plain grass.

“I-I’m sorry. I thought—” She turned back to the serpent: a perfectly ordinary constrictor. “Nevermind. I thought I saw something, but it was kind of... day-dreamy.”

The serpent tilted its head. “You shouldn’t believe everything you see, I suppose. Why are you here, if I might be so bold as to ask?”

She smiled. “I came to say hello, and to learn more about you! One of my friends stumbled into your home by accident and I hear she gave you a terrible fright. I’m here to make amends.”

“Amends?” the snake said. “With me?”

“Well why not? There’s no reason we can’t be good neighbors.”

“I’m not frightened of your friend,” he said. “At all.”

“Oh. Well, I can still apologize for the misunderstanding.” Fluttershy set her basket at the foot of the tree and removed the cloth. “Are you hungry? I brought you some yummy eggs! Um-num!”

The serpent eyed her up and down. “In trade?”

“No, they’re just a gift. A housewarming gift, if you will. Have you been living here long?”

“Not... exactly.” The snake nodded towards the trunk. “You’re not here for this, are you?”

“The tree? Oh, not at all. I just wanted to visit you.” Fluttershy sat down on the grassy hill. “My name is Fluttershy. Pleased to meet you!”

The snake slithered further out of the tree, hanging low enough to meet her gaze without scraping against the ground. His tail also lowered into view nearby, coiled around the trunk of the tree. The snake watched her in silence.

“So,” she said, “do you have a name?”

“You really aren’t afraid of me?” he asked. “Not even the least little bit?”

Fluttershy rolled her eyes. “I know, I know... there’s only two things all ponies are afraid of—thunder and snakes—but I’m different. I’ve always had a special way with animals. My friends sent me to meet you because they’re all afraid of you, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reach an understanding.”

“I see.” The snake looked at the clearing all around. “Tell me, Fluttershy... does any of this seem familiar to you? The garden, the tree... myself. Does it remind you of anything?”

“Not really,” she said. “Should it?”

“You haven’t heard any stories about this sort of thing? Any at all, no matter how old or obscure?”

Fluttershy shook her head. “We’ve got lots of stories, but I don’t think we have any about snakes and trees... though I’m not an expert on the topic. I have a friend who could probably tell you more.”

“Hm. Well. I must thank you for the gift you’ve brought me, but I’m afraid eggs aren’t exactly a staple element of my diet.”

“Oh? What do you eat?”

The snake’s eyes drifted to the end of it’s own tail, distracted. “Not... much of anything, really. If I can help it.” He looked away.

“Oh.”

“But it was still a very kind gesture on your part. Perhaps I can offer you something in return.” One of the serpent’s coils wrapped around a lower branch and bent it down low, dangling a lumpy, green fruit in front of her nose. It looked nothing at all like a peach. “Would you care to eat of the fruit of the tree?”

“Ah... thank you,” she said, eyeing the fruit. “But what kind of fruit is it? I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Power,” the serpent said. “Power everlasting.”

Fluttershy stared at him quietly.

“And... what does power everlasting taste like? If you don’t mind me asking?”

“It’s juicy, and sort of sweet and tart at the same time, and... well, it’s not actually...” the snake paused to look at the fruit. “Have you had strawberries before?”

Fluttershy nodded, slowly.

“It’s basically like a watered-down strawberry, but crunchier. It’s technically a melon.”

“And... you mentioned power?”

“Everlasting,” the serpent said. “Yours for the taking. Immortality, knowledge, the whole nine yards.”

“And you’re just going to give it to me?”

“Well, perhaps it would be an exaggeration to refer to it as a gift. But I’m sure an arrangement can be made...” The serpent slithered down from the tree and coiled on the ground around her. “You’d just have to do something for me, first—just one tiny little thing, inconsequential really—and the power everlasting is yours for the taking.”

Fluttershy bit her lip and leaned away from the serpent. “What’s that?”

He drew closer, flicking his tongue in the air. “All you have to do... is murder all your best friends.”

Fluttershy glared at the serpent for some time.

He nodded, matter of factly. “So. What do you say?”

Fluttershy stood up. “That’s the most monstrous thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life, and you ought to be thoroughly ashamed of yourself for even suggesting such a thing.”

The serpent flinched back, eyes wide. “No way! Seriously?”

“Good day, mister snake.” Fluttershy stepped over his coils and walked away.

The snake slithered over the ground and reared up in front of her. “You aren’t even going to consider it? Not for a second?”

She tossed her nose in the air with sniff. “Good day mister snake.” She walked around him.

“My goodness. You’re much further along than I expected. I’m terribly—” He turned, and saw her halfway across the clearing. He bolted across the smooth grass like an arrow and reared up in front of her again. “No-no-no, wait! Don’t go yet!”

Fluttershy set her jaw and turned her head away.

“There’s been a terrible misunderstanding, Miss Fluttershy. I’m so very sorry.”

“Well I should hope so. What do you have to say for yourself?”

“I can’t really go into the details of it, but suffice to say I deal with a very wide variety of people in my line of work, and I never know what to expect from any of them. I think I made an assumption about you and your kind that was completely unwarranted and I apologize deeply for that.”

“Assumption?” Fluttershy pursed her lips. “You asked me to murder my friends! How did you think I’d react!?”

“Well now we know where we stand on the issue,” he said. “I’ve known people who weren’t bothered by murder in the slightest! In fact, I knew the guy who came up with the idea in the first place. It’s kind of a funny story, actually: he and his brother got into an argument about—”

Fluttershy tossed her nose in the air with sniff and walked around him.

“All right all right!” he said, “so it wasn’t that funny. In fact it wasn’t funny at all! I meant it more in the sense of being quirky and unusual. Not ha-ha funny.”

The serpent darted out again, but snapped taught mere inches short of her hind leg. He glanced back at the very tip of his tail, still wrapped around the tree. He looked back at Fluttershy as she strolled to the edge of the clearing.

“No, wait!” he shouted. “Can’t we just sit and talk about this like civilized beings?”

She paused to look back at him.

“Well? Can’t we?”

“...I’m listening,” she said.

“Ah. Yes. So you are.” The serpent rested his chin on the grass. “So! Murder: bad. And not at all funny. Right? We’re in agreement?”

“Is there something you actually want to talk about?”

“Well, now that you mentioned it... this whole murder thing.” He gazed up at the sky, idly. “Did you ever wonder if there were circumstances—hypothetically, of course—where it might be acceptable to murder someone?”

“What!?”

“Or even necessary? What if you were given the opportunity to save the lives of ten ponies, but would have to murder one single pony to do it? I mean, it’s also wrong to steal things—less wrong, of course, but still fundamentally wrong—and yet it’s considered acceptable to steal food if your family is poor and starving. So what if we apply the same—”

Fluttershy tossed her mane and walked out of the clearing.

“No, wait! What if you could save a hundred ponies? And what if the pony you had to murder was really bad, like a criminal or something?”

The serpent watched her disappear into the foliage.

“You’ll be back!”