• Published 9th Mar 2014
  • 1,366 Views, 135 Comments

Valley Of Rainbows: Seeking Solutions - Sparx

Rainbow Dash must seek out the lost Elements of harmony to aid in the potential threat of coming war, with the aid of some strange allies

  • ...

Raise The Hammer

Raise The Hammer

“Applejack!” Rainbow Dash called out in joy to see her friend standing over Rover.

AJ helped the dog back onto his feet. “Great to see you, Rainbow,” she chuckled. “Gotta admit, ah wasn’t expectin’ ta see you ‘round here.”

Rainbow Dash flew over and grabbed Applejack in her arms. “We’ve been looking for you!” she exclaimed.

Applejack ran a forehoof through Rainbow Dash’s mane as she smiled. “Well Ah’m right flattered, but why the hay would you be doin’ that?”

Rover shook his arms and wiped what blood he could off his face. “She has been tasked with recovering you and the other po-nees. The ones who came to rescue Miss Rarity from us dogs,” he explained as he cracked his neck and knuckles. “The po-nee princess believes war approaches.”

“War?” Applejack was taken aback at this information. “Twi said that?”

Rainbow let go of her friend and let out a sigh. “It’d probably be better if we told you with everyone around.” She suddenly became very alert and looked to the south. “They’re still busy fighting! They have a bugbear to deal with! We need to hurry back!”

Applejack nodded and turned to Rover. “You still got enough in ya ta fight?” The dog gave a determined nod as he swiped a thumb across his nose. “Right! Rainbow, you lead the way back!” Dash gave a salute and readied herself to go. AJ turned back to Rover. “Grab that blade an’ hop on mah back. Yer takin’ a ride!”

Rover grabbed hold of Foki’s blade, bringing the bones of his hand to crumble and fall to the ground. In his hands, the weapon ignited into flames of bright emerald. He ignored the splendor for now and mounted himself upon Applejack’s back with his new sword in one large paw. Rainbow Dash sprung herself forward with Applejack carrying Rover following close behind. They sped off from their position to return to the battlefield where Lyra and the dogs continued to make their way through throngs of angry goblins.

When they returned, they saw much fewer goblins standing and running around. What was standing as he tossed and flung screaming goblins into the air, was Fido, Spot, as he leapt from goblin head to goblin head, sinking his blades into their skulls, and a very frightening Lyra with three gory weapons floating around her head.

Rover jumped from his seat atop Applejack and landed into one of the retreating creatures, swinging his new blade and cleaving through a line of five with one cut. AJ herself ran into the battle hooves first, using the hefty circles of metal under her hooves to crush and stamp them into puddles of red and green goo. Dash flicked her blades free and rapidly flew about as she swiped into goblin flesh.

The goblins were terrified to see reinforcements for their enemies, especially when they saw a dog wielding the blade that their leader once held, and the orange mare that they quickly identified as—

“The Hammer!” a goblin squeaked in fright. They had heard of this pony. She wandered these lands and squashed and smashed creatures of her ilk. To see her running full force into their numbers with the blade of their master not in his hands, they all shrieked in fright and sprinted as far as they could manage on their tiny legs. The only words that the companions could understand among the shouts in goblinoid were ‘Hammer, Foki dead’ and ‘Run!’

Every goblin threw down their weapons and fled the battle, leaving unfortunate stragglers to be met with the crush, slice, or pummel of a weapon. The party took their time to catch their breath and cheer in victory as the remaining pests cleared from view. Fido, Rainbow, and Rover all laid onto the ground to rest, having exerted themselves the most in the battle.

“WHOO!” Lyra yelled with cheer as she let the axe and Morningstar fall to the ground, tucking her blade back into the belt around her waist and thrusting her forelegs into the air. “That was incredible! Oh, I have missed this!”

Applejack chortled. “Yeah, Ah gotta admit, it is pretty entertainin’. What brings you round these parts though, Lyra?”

Lyra was taken unaware as she had begun drawing her cleaver from her saddlebags. She hesitated before shrugging with the cleaver at her side. “Taking samples!” With a disturbing grin, she darted back into the field of goblin corpses and began studying their hands. As the group looked on in confusion, their expressions contorted with disturbance whenever Lyra would find an ‘exemplary specimen’ and sever the bony grippers from the wrist.

“Uh… Not exactly what ah meant,” Applejack said. “But seriously, what’re y’all doin’ here? Ah’m hearin’ talk o’ war, an’ ya come on up ta find me…Rainbow, sugarcube, we’re gonna have ta talk.”

Dash let out a long exhale before giving an understanding “Yup!”

Lyra trotted along with joy as she looked through her, ‘hand sack,’ as she called it. The dogs nervously kept their paws behind their backs. They had spent the rest of their daylight hours searching the bodies and tents of the goblins for loot, food, tools, and Lyra added hands to the list.

Most of the food was rotten, the tools rusty and filthy, and the cash was few and far between. However, they did find a number of well-made hobgoblin weapons intact that AJ suggested they try and sell. After looking through Foki’s tent once again, they found pouches of coin and gems hidden under his bed, and in hidden doors that Spot had sniffed and searched out.

They had also taken their time to bury the unfortunate minotaur heifer the goblins had been carrying along before the ambush. They didn’t know her name or her reason for coming this far, but they had done what they could to leave her a respectable burial ground.

By the time they had actually made their way to leave, the moon had already shown itself. Applejack insisted that they make camp for the night instead of taking the hour to get back into town. “Jus’ right around here,” she said. She led them to a hill with a large pine tree in front of it, pulling at the branches to reveal a cave with an abandoned fire pit. “Ah used this one ‘round sometime last week. We should be nice an’ safe from any critters still runnin’ about from in here.”

They all made their way into the cavern as Applejack covered the hole back up. The dogs went about to setting a new fire in the pit while Lyra went to admiring her new collection.

“So yer sayin’ that we gotta go find Rarity, Pinkie, an’ Fluttershy, or else this Gallows fella is plannin’ on struttin’ on into Equestria ta set up shop?” Applejack asked Rainbow Dash.

“That’s pretty much the gist of it, yeah,” Rainbow answered.

“An’ somethin’ about a squid an’ some rats?” Applejack continued.

Dash shook her head. “Not really a part of what we gotta do, but they’re what we were dealing with before we got here,” she explained. “So, we’ve told you pretty much what we’re doing here… what about you?”

Applejack smirked. “Wanted to try out the adventurin’ thing. It’s why ah suggested you get goin’ too. Made mah way west ta this continent… on ship… didn’t really like that bit…” She shivered. “But once ah got here, ah began findin’ mah way around an’ makin’ a name fer mahself. Ah had to make some form o’ profit, so ah figured Ah’d give pest removal a try. Started out pretty easily, stampin’ out a few bugs n’ such. Then ah came across the mountains ta Minos. Heard about them goblin varmints stirrin’ up trouble. One o’ them minotaur fellers heard what ah’d been doin’ and offered me these,” Applejack stamped her hooves, the thick steel she stood on rang through the cave. “Squashed goblins pretty darn good if’n yer askin’ me.”

Rainbow nodded in agreement. “From what I saw, I think I’ll vouch for that.”

Applejack chuckled. “Was just a small demonstration, ah assure ya. Anyway, ah happened ta be trackin’ Foki an’ his gang fer a while, ‘til you five show up and tear into ‘em.”

“I guess that means we get a cut of the profit for doing your job then, eh?” Rainbow Dash laughed. “But no, seriously, you were thinking of taking that guy on alone? Plus his buddies?”

“Ah was gonna try an’ get ‘im when he wandered off on ‘is lonesome, smack ‘im from behind like he would have the biggun do. Thought if’n ah smacked ‘im hard enough, he’d pass on out an’ ah could separate ‘im from that weapon of ‘is,” Applejack explained, motioning to the sword on Rover’s back.

“Seemed like they knew you,” Lyra called over as she was studying the fingers of another green hand.

“Eeyup!” Applejack exclaimed proudly. “Apparently, the varmints began spreadin’ stories about me. Callin’ me The Hammer. Now whenever ah come stampin’ through, they start screamin’, or even just give up an’ run away.” She took a pleased pose, crossing one foreleg over the other.

“That’s freakin’ awesome, AJ!” Dash smiled and bumped a hoof against Applejack’s shoulder.

“I’ll add ‘Notorious Goblin Hunter’ to the roster of characters for our tale then,” said Lyra. She continued sorting through her assortment of appendages. “Oooh! This one is surprisingly tidy! No burn marks, no scars. This was a careful goblin.” She grinned wide as she placed it aside, away from what she considered discards.

The rest of the party gave her an odd look. Rainbow shook it off. “She’s provided us with a lot of help, actually, she's the main reason we were able to find you,” Dash said.

“Speaking of which,” Lyra started. “We should probably see where we’re heading to next. Anyone grab something reflective?”

“Reflective?” Applejack asked.

“Spell focus,” Rainbow Dash explained. “We can get a general area of anypony whose name we call into a reflective surface when Lyra casts a spell.” Applejack’s face looked no less confused. “We’ll show you,” Dash chuckled.

Spot chimed in, “I did find something.” He produced a thin piece of metal attached to a small stick. “I had no idea what it was, but I remembered that Mrs. Lyra said we needed reflective things for her spell. Figured that, since we found Miss Applejack, we’d need to use the spell once again.”

Lyra looked over the metal. “Looks like some sort of attempt at making a mirror. This should work well enough.” She looked back up to Applejack and Rainbow Dash. “Welp, who do we go after next?”

Rainbow Dash took a step forward. She had thought of this before and had come up with an answer. “Let’s look for Fluttershy next. She knows more about animals than we do, perhaps she’ll help us avoid a situation like the one we had with the squid.”

“Makin’ sense ta me,” Applejack added. “So where do we start?”

“That’s what we find out,” Rainbow answered. She turned to Lyra and nodded.

Lyra returned the nod and retrieved her lyre. “Wait, why do we need the harp?” Applejack asked.

Rainbow opened her mouth to answer, before realizing that “I don’t honestly know.” She looked to Lyra for an answer. “What is the harp for?”

Lyra gave a look of disapproval to the both of them. With a sigh, she gave her explanation. “As you’re aware, I tend to dance from one topic to the next rather quickly, sometimes too quickly for my own good. I can perform some basic spells like levitation, light and simple projectiles just fine, but some more difficult spells require more focus than I have time for in this set of mind. The one thing that keeps my focus is my playing, and so I put two and two together and began using my LYRE as a way to concentrate my mind and horn into the more challenging spells. I even found out that I can perform slightly higher than an average unicorn when I apply focus this way, pulling off spells beyond my usual level.”

Rainbow smiled smugly to Applejack. “Exactly!”

Lyra could only roll her eyes and snicker. "Just say the name when the ripples appear.” She closed her eyes and played her lyre. She gave a low hum as her horn grew brighter.

Applejack watched in wonder as the metal sheet began to swell and flow like water after a stone was dropped into it. Rainbow Dash approached the imitation mirror and beckoned Applejack to her side. Dash spoke “Fluttershy,” and the ripples began to give way to a landscape. It was an eerie scene; dead trees and rolling fog were the only things they could identify. Life was absent from the image, the only motion was leaves twirling along as the wind blew.

Once the spell’s time expired, the metal was replaced entirely with rust, the edges disintegrating into nothing more than red-brown dust. Everyone paused in wait for someone to speak up.

Rainbow noticed Applejack shaking her head. “You know something, AJ?”

Applejack didn’t sound very happy when she exhaled. “’Yup. Unfortunately ah do. Ah was tryin’ to avoid goin’ through that place when ah came here. What Fluttershy is doin’ in there, ah can’t imagine.” She scratched distractedly at her head. “Ah came up to Minos from the south o’ the land. Passed them dead woods on mah way. Locals were callin’ it by a number o’ names, none of ‘em pleasant.”

“Any examples?” Dash pressed.

“‘Troll Town, Dragon Bone Bog, Sinking Swamp, an’ a whole host of others,” Applejack groaned. “The real name ain’t much better neither. On the map it’s called Reject’s Garden. It’s a forest where, if’n a critter walks through, they best have teeth ta bite, claws ta scratch, an’ the stomach fer toxins an’ decay. Monsters litter the place like apples in the orchard, an’ goin’ by that analogy, that would make poisons like leaves.”

Everyone seemed uneasy when they heard the description, everyone except Lyra of course. She beamed wide from ear to ear. “A perfect quest to add to our chronicles! ‘Entering a forest of certain doom, death and despair, the heroes were unsure if they could ever exit, as a single sniff gone wrong could spell their end!’ It’s just like the epics!” she said with immeasurable elation rising in her eyes. “I’ve heard of the Reject’s Garden before, I never imagined traveling to such a place!”

“Of course you haven’t! Nopony sane would!” Dash countered. She had heard of the forest as well. It was a place that even Daring Do regarded with fear. “What the hell could have possessed Fluttershy to go to such a dangerous place?”

Applejack frowned. “Ah haven’t a clue. Don’t know how we’re gonna make our way through there either.”

“Underground?” Spot offered. The three ponies looked to him as if he were being stupid and returned to their conversation. The downtrodden dog’s face dropped to the cave floor as he began tracing circles in the stone.

“There are worms under the ground from what ah hear,” Applejack continued. “Bigguns too. ‘Tain’t no path Ah’d recommend.”

Rainbow Dash nodded. “We’ll need to learn more. All we’re running on at the moment are stories and legends; they can only take us so far. I say once we head into town tomorrow we begin asking around. Someone must have been in there at some point right?”

Lyra and Applejack nodded in agreement. The three ponies continued forming a plan as Spot continued to sulk around the fire, Fido and Rover nodding off to a much deserved rest.

Crusha walked away from the battlefield, spilling blood as he went on. He ignored it all; the pain, the weariness, the ill feeling that built in his stomach as his plasma stained the grass. He only focused on the numb feeling he now housed in his mind, this foreign emotion of defeat. Nothing in all the highlands had put up such a fierce fight, had dared to knock him from his pedestal.

If he could grin he would. Finally he had found the thrill he had sought all his life. His chin was now the trophy to one who had proven themselves greater than even he. Crusha could easily find despair, throw away his life and surrender to the depths of hell like he knew that many a creature would. But why should he? Something had proven stronger, shown itself to be his superior, and ripped away a piece of the bugbear as proof. If living to surpass this being wasn’t a reason enough for Crusha to live, nothing would be.

His tongue waggled against his neck and chest like a tie in the wind as he uttered what was now considered his laughter. At last, boredom had been lifted from his life.

He walked along the upturned dirt path that the pegasus had dragged his former master through. At the end of the ditch, he saw the ashes of the one he once called ‘lord’ lying in the earth. In the dark of the night, it was difficult to see his charcoal chest rise and fall with shallow breaths. Perhaps the two of us will meet once again, would-be god, the beast thought towards the charred remains, if we both take advantage of this free pass death has offered onto us.

Author's Note:

So here's a bit of information for you AJ fans at home. If you ever see a chapter that has something to do with a hammer in the title, it's most likely going to be Applejack based.

So, now we add the mighty farmer pony in her steel warhammer boots to the party! One gained, three to collect.