• Published 24th Mar 2013
  • 12,671 Views, 400 Comments

A Hairy Problem - BlueBastard

Strange things are happening with Applejack after a mysterious wolf-like creature attacks her when she looks into the aftermath of another CMC incident.

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Ch.21: Dark Purpose

Chapter 21: “Dark Purpose”

It was pretty late at night when the Mane Six, Lyra, Sandalwood, and the rest of the Apples had found themselves once again inside Golden Oaks Library to discuss Applejack’s lycanthropy. Except this time it was Lyra and Sandalwood who had to do some explaining after Twilight retold the story of how Cadence kept failing to send letters via dragon magic.

“So, let’s just start this off by saying that Sombra was a completely twisted and sick individual” cried Sandalwood, “and that he really didn’t know what the hell he was doing when he created werewolves.”

“Well, don’t that bode well for me,” sarcastically commented Applejack, resident werewolf representative.

“It gets worse, sugarcube,” replied Lyra, unwittingly using Applejack’s own endearing term to refer to the farm pony, “from what we could learn up at the Crystal Empire, all ponies who contracted lycanthropy from the first generation of werewolves, the ones actually turned into the monsters by Sombra himself, would eventually degrade both physically and mentally until they incurred a one-way transformation to become full wolves, having no memory or giving off any signs they had been ponies before up until their deaths, in which case they reverted to their original forms.”

Rainbow Dash, already having squicky reactions to that fact, noted Applejack’s legs were beginning to jitter. She was scared, and Rainbow couldn’t blame her. To comfort AJ, Dash unfurled one of her wings to wrap it around the poor werewolf, an action AJ appreciated with a glance and a small smile before both earth and pegasus ponies focused on the speaking mares.

“We did find there to be one exception to this rule, however” Sandalwood noted, slightly perking up Applejack, “in extremely rare cases, a specific blood mutation on the pony-“

“You mean a blood quantum?” corrected Twilight.

Sandalwood just gave Twilight a look before continuing; “Er, yes, a ‘blood quantum’ as Twilight so helpfully points out. Anyway, in the event the victim pony has the trait in question, they will not eventually turn into a full wolf, but will instead remain as a werewolf who also has immortality.”

“Wait” interjected Applejack, “so what yer sayin’ is that Ah’m either gonna end up becomin’ somethin’ no better than a timberwolf with flesh, or ah’m gonna effectively be a dog version of an alicorn? As much as ah want to remain as mahself, who wants to live forever?”

“I’m afraid that’s what it is, Applejack,” Lyra stated. “Sombra never seemed to bother finding a way to revert the curse he created, so unless there’s some kind of catch-all cure that can cure any kind of long-lasting spell, I’m afraid you’re out of luck.”

“What about Zecora?” piped up Apple Bloom. “She knows all kinds of potions and cures for just about anythin’. It would be worth a shot askin’ her tomorrow, wouldn’t it?”

“I guess we don’t have much of a choice, do we?” said Rarity.

“Well, there is one other thing that may or may not be in play” added Sandalwood, “if this Sable Loam is still around, then he may already have some kind of control over you.”

“Control over me?! Like what?” exclaimed Applejack.

“Well, also in Sombra’s notes, he gave Sable a special power no other werewolf had due to his insistence on being the leader of the werewolf soldiers at Sombra’s employ. It was sort of vague, but from what I could make out it’s that Sable can magically amplify a howl such that it calls all werewolves he’s turned into followers to rally at his side, regardless of where he is. Since we have to believe he’s the same werewolf that turned you Applejack, you may not be able to resist such a howl.”

“Yeah, right! Like Ah’m gonna unwillingly-“

As if timed perfectly for some cosmic punchline, a vicious howl could be heard echoing across miles of the land, especially Ponyville. It shook all ponies down to their cores, as some immensely evil creature wished for its presence to be known. For Applejack, she’d reared up and clutched her ears, inadvertently knocking off her hat in trying to not hear the sound. But to her, it was like a siren’s song, and as her eyes glazed over she almost mechanically turned and headed for the door.
With surprising speed, Big Mac moved to intercept and block her way. However, he couldn’t keep up with his sister’s werewolf agility and she deftly leaped over him and out the door before he could compensate.

Resting inside the cave, just a short distance away from Winsome Falls, Sable smiled. He knew Applejack had heard her master’s call and was on her way. Maybe later he could convert the rest of her friends, having the whole set of elements to turn against the princesses was oh so tempting. But he had to secure the original one first.

As it was, it would still take her a while to get to his location, safely away from the rest of Ponyville. With his plans so close to fruition and no possible way they could backfire, he allowed himself the rare luxury of drifting thoughts. Those thoughts ended up becoming memories, the ones of when he had met the mare he’d loved for so long, and who had set him down this path.

Baltimare, 250 years ago

It disgusted Sable Loam that he should have to burglarize other ponies homes just to survive. The actual stealing part he didn’t have a problem with, he being of the opinion that those who have the strength should take what they please, regardless of true ownership. No, the problem was that he had to stoop as low as a petty thief simply to survive. A werewolf such as he should not need to resort to that kind of action to feed himself. Yet, he’d been having extreme trouble finding enough game in the wild to keep him fed, so here he was in some pony family’s cottage, ruffling through the kitchen and trying to figure out what was edible. He’d been rather sloppy, as he’d bypassed breaking the front door window to disengage the lock in favor of just leaping through said window. It would take more than just a few glass cuts to harm him.

He suddenly detected the presence of another and snapped his head around, a carrot stuck in his mouth between being removed from the fridge and placed into a pillowcase he’d stolen to be used as a bag.

Staring at him was an earth pony mare. Grass green coat, soft yellow and sky blue mane and tail, and pink eyes, all encapsulated in the creature who stood before the monster. Sable theorized she was a resident of this house, but her actions weren’t adding up. This was the first time he’d been caught in years when he had to forage civilization for food, but in previous raids his discovery was met with screams and cries for the Royal Guards who were stationed in whatever backwater village Sable was in at the time. Here, this pony just…stood there, taking in breaths at a controlled pace. There was fear in her eyes, to be sure, but he could tell there was more than the natural gut reaction of an evolved prey animal. There was wonder…curiosity even?

“W-who…are you?” cautiously asked the mare.

Sable was in shock, then in shock at the fact he was in shock. Here was this mare, looking right at what most ponies couldn’t bear to see, much less try to communicate with, and yet the moment she said those words she relaxed a little. Had he desired to, Sable could have killed her easily at that moment, but this unusual pony interested him, and so he decided to entertain the question.

“I…I am Sable Loam, last of the werewolves. You are the first pony in a long, long time to approach me as a fellow intelligent being, the rest simply scream and scatter. Tell me; are you not scared of my form, not bothered by the fact I am stealing your food right in front of you?”

“Not really” replied the mare, coolly, “you’re clearly also a pony of some kind, so you have to be able to talk, and there’s nothing I can do to stop you from raiding the food stores so why should I care?”

“But you did not answer my first question,” intoned Sable, dropping the carrot and rushing up to the mare, holding up one of his claws to her throat. “I could kill you in an instant, not even giving you time to scream. Why does that not bother you? Why are you not scared of me?”

Her eyes hadn’t changed beyond refocusing on him as she said, “If you must know, I find you interesting. I mean, you’re a living legend. It must be exciting to live like you; not tied down to any social norms, the ability to go and do as you please whenever you want to…it sure sounds better than the boring life of a housewife that I am stuck with.”

“Then if it does not scare you that I could be the bringer of death, then how about I make you my personal slave? Every night filled with your screams as I ravish you over and over until I am satisfied, with no hope of ever returning to this safe haven or anypony that you know, forced into serving me for the rest of your life?”

“You think I care about living with ‘safe’ being important?” retorted the mare, letting out a haughty laugh. “Oh, please, how can one enjoy life if all they do is avoid risk and danger? To be stuck in the same place, seeing the same things, doing the same tasks over and over…”

At that, Sable backed off while raising an eyebrow. He’d already planned on letting this pony go after he managed to get her to admit how scared she was, but much to his surprise she hadn’t faltered, going so far as to imply she was jealous of his life. She was of a strong, independent character who seemed to embody everything he’d possibly have wanted in a companion. A mate.

Then he decided to change his own way of life. For almost 800 years he’d been a lone wolf, only relying on himself and nopony else. But this…this hidden treasure of a mare, he felt something towards. Maybe it was that ‘love’ all those hopeless romantics had gone on about since the beginning of time, but whatever it was he was not going to let this mare go.

“What is your name?” asked Sable.

She answered without hesitation: “Fair Vista.” As she said it, she turned slightly, giving him a glimpse at her cutie mark. It was of a sun peeking over a horizon.

“Alright, Fair Vista, what if I was to tell you I could offer you a new life?” She did not verbally reply, but her eyes widening at the mere suggestion confirmed what he’d suspected, prompting him to continue. “As you seem so…uncaring about this life you currently lead,” he continued, “and hold mine in such high regard, what would you say to throwing it all away and becoming my companion…my mate?”

“It sounds dangerous and not in the least bit safe…what’s the catch?” She was probably going to agree to this no matter what the conditions were, which Sable liked.

“As I told you, I am a werewolf, so if you are to have any hope of keeping up with me in any capacity, and I mean any, I will have to turn you into a-“

He didn’t even get the chance to finish before she somehow tried to position her neck right in front of his mouth.

“The stories about you werewolves say you can transform ponies into your own kind with bites to the neck, right? Then go ahead and do it! I want to go with you, to actually live life and not be stuck in this stupid town. Hell, even the prospect of not being fully pony anymore sounds good to me, anything to start over!”

Grinning, Sable obliged Vista. As his fangs were driven into her throat, she of course screamed from the pain, blood cascading from the punctures down into Sable’s mouth and then the floor. He let go after a few minutes, a sizable pool of blood having formed on the ground, next to it now laying the twitching form of Fair Vista.

Then, to both his and her surprise, the twitching quickly turned into thrashing and convulsions as Vista started to change. The bite wounds on her neck instantly vanished as she bit down on her lip to resist the screams. Her entire body felt like it was stuck in a raging fire, but after a few minutes, the new werewolf stood up on shaky legs. She surveyed herself, seemingly pleased with the results, then dashing over to Sable and planting her lips on his, surprising him once again.

When Fair Vista’s husband and daughter returned home that night after a day selling at the market, they found a broken home. The front door was shattered, the front window having been smashed and then the whole thing broken off its hinges. The interior was an even bigger disaster. The kitchen was a complete loss, with all the food having been stolen, but the heart-shattering detail being the large pool of blood on the floor. More of the blood could be seen smeared all over the rest of the house, over furniture and the expensive pictures of the family. The inquiry by the investigating Royal Guard determined something from the neighboring Everfree Forest had broken into the house in search of food, and then after being seen by Fair Vista had viciously attacked her, destroying the interior of the house and letting her bleed to death, before finally taking her corpse as even more food back into the forest.

In reality, Fair Vista had assisted Sable Loam in destroying her former house, taking pleasure in casting away the chains of her former, ordered life. They busted the door together, bag of stolen food in tow, as they raced off into the Everfree. She may have belonged to Sable Loam now, both in mind and soul, but now as a werewolf herself she could always live life as she desired, always seeking something new and exciting without the constraints of society or morality. She would be Sable’s faithful companion for over 200 years following, without having ever left a clue to her grieving family as to her chosen fate.

Sable smiled as he recollected possibly the best decades of his eternal life. True, they had been ended relatively recently in comparison, but that was all about to change. The glory days were going to be here again.

“Oh, this is bad, so very, very bad!” wailed Fluttershy.

While Fluttershy was the speaker, she voiced the concerns of everypony in Golden Oaks.

Big Mac was especially disturbed. Repressed memories flooded back of his father having the same glazed look in his eyes that the red stallion had seen in his sister’s eyes just a moment ago. He also vaguely remembered hearing that same howl the night everything had changed for the Apple Family.

“What happened to her?” asked Apple Bloom. “She’s not herself…Ah mean, she forgot her hat!” The youngest Apple gestured towards the abandoned Stetson, which nopony had noticed after it had been dislodged in Applejack’s flight. “She always wears that hat, since for as long as Ah can remember!”

“Where did she get that hat, anyway?” inquired Rarity. “I’ve always admired the craftsmanship and durability it’s demonstrated and not once during my visit to the finest hat shops in Canterlot have I ever seen a headpiece quite like it.”

“It was Appleseed’s hat,” said Granny, “Ah got it for him when he was just about Applebloom’s age.” She sighed, memories of a happier time coming back to her. “It’s been so long Ah can’t remember where Ah got it from, but he never asked for that info. He loved that hat, it was like a faithful companion comparable to a dog. We’d thought it was lost in the great blizzard ten years ago, the one he and Cornflower went into, but it must have chosen Applejack as she gave me quite the heart attack when she suddenly started wearing it. She said she’d found it resting on its usual peg on the headrest. But now that she’s forgotten it due to werewolf business, the same reason Appleseed left it behind, Ah fear we may lose mah granddaughter to that monster out there just as Ah lost mah son and daughter-in-law.”

“Hold on!” exclaimed Twilight, “are you saying she’s worn that hat every day for almost a decade straight?”

“Yeah, she loves that old thing, it’s the only connection to her father she really has.”

“Then we still have a chance to save her!” declared the unicorn, grasping the heirloom in her telekinesis. “I know a spell that can track down anypony regardless of location, but it requires something belonging to the pony in question that bears their essence in a sufficient strength to be useable. If Applejack has has worn this hat for a full decade, then it should be filled with her essence!”

Her horn flared with magic energy, before lashing out at the hat. The magic seemed to be absorbed by the inanimate object, before being blasted out of it and towards the maps section of the library. From there, a single rolled up map of the immediate area around Ponyville emerged, moving in front of Twilight before unfurling. On the map were two blinking magic dots; one purple and one orange. The purple one sat in the middle of Ponyville, while the orange dot was moving slowly across the map away from Ponyville.

Rainbow quickly realized where AJ was going. “Uh-oh, she’s going straight for-“

She was interrupted by Pinkie suddenly launching from a standstill towards a bookshelf like a missile. Since the start of the meeting, she’d more or less looked like she suspected somepony was listening in to the conversation. Everypony figured it was Pinkie just being Pinkie, a reasoning that everypony dropped when Pinkie opened up a secret compartment concealed behind some old encyclopedias and from a space no larger than a small cupboard she pulled out Iron Will in his entirety.

“How…what…who…” sputtered the stunned Minotaur, unable to figure out how he’d gone from stalking the exterior of the tree library to being pulled from a space smaller than the total surface area of his rock-hard abs.

“WHAT DO YOU KNOW?!” Pinkie screamed into his face, not giving Iron Will the chance to regain composure, “WHY WERE YOU SPYING ON US?!”

Normally, Iron Will would have asserted his superiority to the upstart pony through one of many methods that he made a living giving lectures about. However, he remembered this particular pony from his last trip, the one that gave him the idea for the “No means No” circuit of speeches. Not only had she done things in front of him that defied all sense of logic or reasoning, but during this specific visit he’d heard that this pony had invented a way to weaponize parties, the so called “Party Cannon”. Iron Will couldn’t even fathom how a pony could fit a social gathering into a portable version of castle defense technology. And then the rumors of this pony’s dark side where she turned a different, more murderous kind of psychopathic compared to her normal psychopathy and also involved turning individuals into cupcakes somehow. So, as a result, he feared this pony, and he was not about to give her an excuse to turn him into a cupcake.

“Okay, okay, Iron Will knows all of it! He knows your friend Applejack is a werewolf and you’ve been helping hide her secret!”

“And how long have you known this!?” accused Rainbow, dashing right up into the minotaur’s face.

“Yeah, and what were you planning to do to her, you ruffian?!” added Rarity, having taken up a book titled Magical Compendium, Vol. 1-36 that looked far larger than any book should have been. Twilight looked similarly angered, not happy at all that the individual she’d help get any kind of clue towards hunting werewolves was now possibly aiming to turn her best friend into a rug.

“Now hold on!” boomed Iron Will, deciding to go for broke and asserting himself. The fact everypony else in the room, including the pink nightmare, took a step back, meant he’d succeeded. “Look, Iron Will is here to hunt werewolves, and unfortunately it seems your friend has become the very thing Iron Will is hunting, but he doesn’t want to kill her.
“Just so you know, Iron Will was only told about Applejack’s lycanthropy earlier today, and the threat she posed to the town due to her lack of control over her, erm, ‘powers’ so to speak.”

“Lightning Dust…” seethed Rainbow Dash. There would be talking between her and LD later, once this whole business here was settled first.

“Hey, look,” argued Iron Will, “she only told Iron Will her concerns because she doesn’t want the town to suffer from a hidden threat that you can’t say was fully under control.”

“Riiiight” sarcastically agreed Rainbow.

“Um, girls?” spoke Fluttershy timidly, usually not put in the position as the voice of reason, “shouldn’t we be more concerned about Applejack right now?”

“Oh, shoot, you’re right!” realized Rainbow, turning mid-air to face the assembled ponies. “The map indicated she’s heading towards the direction of Winsome Falls, at the rate the dot on the map seems to be indicating she’ll be at a clearing we used as a campsite during our hike there in about thirty minutes!”

“But that’s a full day’s hike, there’s no way we’ll be able to catch up with her in time, that brute Sable might have made off with her then and even knowing her location will not mean we can save her!” cried Rarity.

“Not so, Rarity! Lyra shouted in triumph. “The car Sandalwood and I built can make that distance in only a couple of minutes, the only problem is that we can’t take everybody as excluding Dash because she’s a fast flyer, there’s ten of us who need to get a ride including Spike, and the car only has room for five ponies!”

“Ahem?” interrupted Iron Will. “As much as Iron Will knows this is awkward, he would like to come along with you ponies, as even though the exact details will need to be told to him later on, especially who this ‘Sable’ pony is, if you need to restrain a werewolf Iron Will is probably going to be able to do it much better than any of you.”

“Okay, eleven individuals who need to ride in a five seat car,” corrected Sandalwood. “Some of us are going to need to stay behind, and although you probably would be a good bet to take along , Iron Will, I’m not sure the car can handle your weight in addition to five other ponies.”

“What about mah own car?” suggested Apple Bloom. “Yeah, yeah, Ah know if Ah hadn’t had the help of mah friends and built it then wrecked it in the Everfree none of this woulda happened, but we can’t argue about that now. Ah’m sure it would be easy to fix with all of us, and it could allow at least Iron Will to come along since it’s built off of a super-strong cart.”

“Well, we don’t have much of a choice, now do we?” reasoned Twilight. “Big Mac, is Apple Bloom’s car still at the apple farm barn where I put it?”

“Nopony that Ah know of has touched it” replied Big Mac.

“Then come on, everypony, we don’t have a second to waste!” ordered Twilight, motioning for everypony to head out the door. “Lyra, Sandalwood; you two go get your car and meet us at the farm. Iron Will, you come with the rest of us to the farm. We’re going to need your strength.”

“Iron Will’s strength is yours!” answered the minotaur, as the herd moved out to try and fix up the machines they’d need to save their friend. Along the way, Big Mac picked up Applejack’s Stetson and placed it on his own head, he figured it would help later on in keeping Applejack sane if she had something tying her down to her family roots.

When Applejack finally came to her senses, she found herself sliding to a halt in a familiar location. Even though she’d been here only once, she instantly recognized it as the first campsite she, RD, and Rarity had taken the CMC camping on their trip to Winsome Falls.

“But how did Ah…?” asked the werewolf to nopony in particular. The last time she’d done something without any memory was when she’d somehow walked from Golden Oaks all the way to The Meatery and didn’t come to her senses until half a meat burger had gone into her gullet. Although now she was practically eating two meat patties a day, the feelings she’d had at that moment still gave her the shivers, and only reminded her of how far gone she’d ended up in her current state.

Which, on that subject, she noted placed her currently in her wolf form, when she clearly remembered being a regular pony back at the library. That meant there was a worryingly long period of time where she was in her more vicious, feral form and not in control at all. She could only pray nopony had crossed her path and been maimed or killed by her own hooves…paws…whatever they were. Her father’s hat was also missing from her head, but she vaguely remembered seeing it fall of her head back at the library, so it was in Twilight’s possession at the very least.

The question remained, however, of what had caused her to run all the way to this spot, a distance of a day in a normal hike but something she’d covered in just under an hour’s solid running. The answer soon presented itself.

“Ah, there you are, my sweet…” spoke a deep, slightly gravelly voice from behind Applejack. She stiffened, her fur momentarily standing on-end. She had never seen the creature behind her beyond a single encounter months ago, but the feeling she had now was the exact same as of when he had sunk his teeth into her throat. She then turned to look at the other presence, eyes narrowed with a slight golden glow. He may have been a terrifying werewolf, but she was one now as well, a fact she kept in mind as she spoke to him directly:

“Ah don’t know what you want with me, but after all you’ve put me through, if you expect me to be easy to wrangle, then you had better be ready for a ride!”

Author's Note:

Apologies for the late update, I spent most of the day yesterday traveling to a relative's house for a family reunion and I was dead tired when I finally arrived at some point after midnight that I didn't get my laptop unpacked until this morning.

Still, happy 4th of July!