• 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.7: Lo the Mighty Hunter

Chapter 7: Lo the Mighty Hunter

In the capital of the Minotaur Kingdom; Heiferton, a very frustrated self-help instructor was finding himself having to deal with his parents as he spent some self-allowed vacation time in his native country.

“Mom, Dad, Iron Will doesn’t understand why you guys don’t think being a self-help motivational speaker isn’t paying the bills! Outside of that one incident in Ponyville with that timid pegasus pony, which considering Iron Will’s successes afterwards with his ‘No Means No’ angle of speaking, Iron Will doesn’t even consider that much of a setback, the money has been more than enough to keep Iron Will and his assistants well sustained on my lecture tours!”

"Will, it’s not the money we’re worried about,” answered his mother, “but we simply want to know: when are you going to settle down and find a cow of your very own?"

"Iron Will doesn't have that kind of time!"

"Son,” intoned his father, Maximum Strength, “when are you going to stop referring to yourself in the third person, complete the ritual and earn yourself a mate?"

Iron Will facepalmed. The “ritual” his family spoke of was an ancient cultural norm all male minotaurs were to engage in when they reached the legal age of consent, to prove that they were worthy of representing their race and also to attract those of the opposite sex to take their hand in marriage. Most of the ritual revolved around simple ceremonies and basic demonstrations of strength, but the final requirement was the doozy. In order to fully establish themselves as a true minotaur, the males had to go out into the world and bring back the body of the most savage animal that they could kill. Iron Will’s problem was that he’d never actually killed anything in his life, because something more important had come up.

“Iron Will has told both of you why that is: the book deal had been approved and the ritual had to be overlooked if iron Will was to make it big as a motivational speaker!”

“Well, now that you say being a motivational speaker is so lucrative, then you should have all the time in the world to hunt down that creature and get hitched to an attractive mate. Who knows, you might even encounter a werewolf!” replied his father.

Iron Will’s pupils shrunk. While in normal circumstances a male was more sexually attractive to potential mates based on how big the corpse was, the modern record was held by the minotaur named Steel Grip who had managed to drag an entire Quarry Eel from the land of Equestria all the way to Heiferton; pretty much every single female candidate in the kingdom had been trying to break the poor guy’s door down to propose marriage ever since. But the one exception to the rule was the legendary werewolf. Due to a savage attack from one that had killed the minotaur queen centuries ago, the distraught king had declared that any minotaur who brought him the corpse of a werewolf would instantly become engaged to the princess. To date, no minotaur had ever killed a werewolf as it was believed they were extinct shortly afterwards (apparently they’d all been involved with the losing side of the Equestrian Civil War at the time), with some believing the king himself had made the whole story up to justify killing his wife. But recently the current princess, Circe, had come of age and her father, a big believer in tradition, had made the announcement that she was fair game - as well as the granting of a dukedom - for anyone who became “the Werewolf Slayer”.

“Yes,” interjected Will’s mother, “that Princess Circe certainly would make a fine mate for you; she is of marrying age after all. Plus, it would also boost your social status beyond a mere ‘motivational speaker’ or whatever it is you do.”

Iron Will blushed. It was true that he’d had a crush on the beautiful Princess Circe since he was a small calf, but it wasn’t out of an unwillingness to actually marry her that worried him.

"Mom! No-one's seen a werewolf in hundreds of years. How can Iron Will hunt a creature that almost certainly is extinct?!"

"Well, that just means you're certain to get a cow when you kill a werewolf, now doesn't it?
Besides, if you can't slay a werewolf at least catch yourself a banshee or helicoprion. While it’s been announced the old declaration still holds, I’m sure something of equal rarity and ferocity would suffice."

Iron Will knew better. A banshee was technically already dead, so they didn’t count, and no way in Tartarus was Iron Will going to learn how to swim simply to hunt a stupid looking shark thing that was also probably extinct. But having run out of options, Iron Will decided he’d have to extend his vacation and take up being a “werewolf hunter”, dragging along his assistants Willy and Nilly if they still wanted to be paid.

“Okay, fine, Iron Will shall go track down a werewolf. But where would Iron Will even start to look for one?”

Then it hit him. While he’d never met her, Twilight Sparkle was well known throughout the world for her intellectual capabilities and as the de facto leader of the Element Bearers. She’d know where to start looking and, if what he had learned during his stay in Ponyville was correct, she was the town’s librarian.

On second thought, contemplated the speaker-turned-hunter, maybe this won’t be so bad after all…

In Golden Oaks Library, the studious lavender mare was busy engaging in her favorite hobby: reading. Having already put a good dent into her to-read pile, it took a moment for her to realize Spike was calling for her attention.

“Twilight! Twilight! Something’s going on outside!”

“Alright, I’ll be down in a moment!”

Bookmarking her place in her current book, a recent sci-fi thriller titled Razorblade Angel, Twilight left the comfort of her bed and descended down to the ground floor of her library home. She could hear the crowd making noise halfway down the steps, causing her to think Oh no, this better not be Trixie coming back to challenge me again. I thought all of that was water under the bridge between us…

Upon opening the door, she did not find Trixie, nor a crowd being angry at the subject of their attention. Instead, it was a giant, blue minotaur wearing a headset and flanked on either side by two goats, also wearing headsets. The crowd was also cheering, which meant whoever this individual was they certainly had a good impression of him.

“Hello, Miss Twilight Sparkle! Iron Will is my name, monster hunting is my game!” declared the minotaur, giving her a million-bit smile and a thumbs up. At the thumbs up sign, a certain mint unicorn started foaming at the mouth at the back of the assembled crowd and had to be dragged away by her two earth pony friends for medical treatment.

“So, you’re Iron Will?” asked Sparkle. While she hadn’t been in town the last time the minotaur had visited during his lecture tour due to royal student business, she’d heard about what had happened between him and Fluttershy, or rather “New Fluttershy” and what that entailed. Still, the kind pegasus had no mean words to say about him and implied they had parted ways on acceptable terms, so Twilight had to go on her friend’s intuition and not treat the minotaur as a potential problem. “I’ve heard about you. Is there something I can help you with?”

“As a matter of fact there is!” he declared, “Is it alright if, ah, we talked in private?” Having no discernible objections, Twilight let him into the library along with his goat assistants. Once the speaker and his entourage were inside, the crowd quickly dispersed, giving silence as the backdrop for the meeting going on inside the library.

However, the moment Iron Will thought he was out of the public eye, his demeanor quickly changed from that of a confident speaker to somebody who was way in over his head about something. “Look, Iron Will desperately needs your help with something and you’re the only one that can assist him”

Third person, great…thought Twilight, really hoping the similarities between him and another certain blue individual Twilight and friends had had trouble with before ended there. “Okay, Mr. Will, how can I be of assistance?”

Smiling at the fact the unicorn hadn’t tried to do something rash like instantly murder him (along with her reputation for intelligence, her powers when she was mentally driven off her rocker were legendary), he asked the first of what would be many difficult questions; “Well, this is kind of complicated, so Iron Will may take awhile to explain. Is that alright?”

Judging him to be sincere with his request, while his goat pals appeared to be just living statues that didn’t even need to breathe, Twilight answered in the affirmative before having Spike set about preparing some tea and snacks. If the minotaur was going to be cordial then she should be hospitable.

“So, this problem of yours, what does it entail? Don’t skimp out on any of the details, mind you.”

“You have no idea how much iron Will appreciates this, Miss Sparkle. Anyways, Iron Will should explain his current situation in regards to the rituals we minotaurs have in terms of selecting mates…”

It had been about a week since Applejack had come clean about her strange behaviors, to which she was relieved nopony ever tried inquiring about again, and for her part she’d done her best to try and control the wolf-like mannerisms that still showed through during the day. After that night she had forced herself to remain in her pony form to keep up appearances, almost every night since she’d found the urge to transform into her wolf like body. She’d been thankful none of the rest of her family ever walked into her room when she was decidedly more frightening in appearance, plus her repeated transformations had gotten significantly less painful to the point where she could almost do it by will without feeling anything, even during the day.

On top of that, she was feeling on average even more energetic than she had been before she’d been bitten. Her productivity in apple harvesting had gone up a fair bit due to her increased speed, so much that she was able to finish earlier, which in turn allowed her to work on other things around the farm. Such as painting the barn before the CMC decided to try using the red paint for something else to make it go three times faster or something and helping granny with the cooking of more things to sell at market.

In fact, she’d noticed a lot of things about her that seemed to improve upon fully embracing her new status as a werewolf. Her hearing had gotten a lot sharper, so listening for danger had become a lot easier. Her sense of smell was also greater, to the point that even as far as the edge of the far fields she could still smell the fresh baked apple pie scent coming from the kitchen. She lamented the fact such a smell no longer made her mouth water as much as it used to, but at least she hadn’t completely lost a tasted for the family’s namesake fruit, heck it even still tasted good to her, which was better than suddenly finding them disgusting.

Filling up the last of the apple buckets, she re-hitched herself to the cart and began to haul the crop back to the barn once more. At a trotting pace. Sure, it wasn’t as fast as running, but it was faster than walking, and speed had surprisingly become a big part of Applejack’s modus operandi as of late.

But as she arrived at her destination, she noticed Big Mac had suddenly shown up, looking at her curiously. “Somethin’ wrong, brother?” she inquired.

“Your harvestin’ of apples certainly has gone up recently,” commented the stallion. “You sure you’re feelin’ alright? First a period where you’re actin’ all strange like, then all of a sudden you’re at the top of your game? Ah know it’s none of mah business, but you have to admit it does seem a mite suspicious.”

Applejack just smiled. “Mac, Ah told you Ah’m fine. Mah harvestin’ is just improvin’ ‘cause Ah dealt with those problems Ah was talkin about on mah own. Trust me, brother, there’s nothin’ wrong!”

“If you say so,” Big Mac replied before turning and heading off to go milk the cows. Inside his head, the word werewolf continued to blare wildly and loudly in his head, but once again he had little evidence to force a confession. Plus, maybe he’d just been wrong and Applejack was in fact okay. He’d heard from Pinkie it had been a very “private” matter with which Applejack had been having issues, so Big Mac immediately figured out what they’d really been and had to wonder if there was some truth to that claim.

At the same time, Applejack had retreated into the barn and proceeded to start scratching like a dog at some infernal itch that had developed on her side. Thankful that Big Mac hadn’t noticed, she’d allowed herself to give into her new base need just for a second. Afterwards, she stood back up, regained her composure, and stored the apples in the growing surplus in the silo.

Iron Will looked incredulously at the store before him, “Iron Will is not so sure about this.”

Next to him, a giddy Twilight Sparkle was positively ecstatic, “What are you talking about?! This place certainly will have what you need to catch a werewolf! Plus, we might find other things, too! I’ve always wanted to go inside!”

The unlikely duo found themselves in front of Ponyville’s largest store: Rich’s Barnyard Bargains. Allegedly, this was the place where one could find anything for an extremely low competitive price, as promised by the store’s proprietor Filthy Rich. Despite his name, Mr. Rich was a reasonable pony who believed his prices should be backed up by quality, unlike what practices his main competitor Stall-Mart reportedly engaged in, cutting corners every chance they got to make a quick additional bit or two. That was the reasoning Twilight had used to decide everything Iron Will could get that would aid in his quest to seek the hand of the fair maiden Princess Circe would be from this store.

It had been to either Iron Will’s fortune and/or dismay that Twilight’s biggest reason for helping him find a mythical monster was because it might get him married to a princess. The pony herself having been involved in a similar circumstance involving her brother and Princess Cadance, the ruler of the Crystal Empire. Twilight had turned out to be something of a hopeless romantic once Iron Will had explained his story to her, so now here he found himself staring straight into the face of modern pony commercialism, all in a play to please his nagging parents and get married by slaying an ancient horror which may or may not exist. He just secretly hoped he wasn’t going to end up dead or permanently humiliated at the end of this.

Finally entering the store, the two were subjected to a sight that just screamed “modernism”. Aisles upon aisles of fiberglass were lined up before them, each pathway formed by them having giant signs marked above them that listed the kinds of things they contained. Aisle 3: bread, Aisle 5; eggs, Aisle 17: breaded eggs, etc. Iron Will had never seen so much commercial retail in one place, but then again he usually just had things delivered by mail order to his hotel rooms during his speaking circuits or just bought directly from the local street markets. Superstores like this one were practically unheard of back home, where despite recent adoption of modern technology like telephones many minotaur families lives in the old traditional ways of self-sustenance and small market economics.

“Over here, Iron Will!” called out Twilight, motioning for her new friend to follow. Aisle 57 is where she led him, a veritable paradise of hunting gear. Bear traps, sleeping darts, all kinds of things a pony could use to track down wild game. Or a minotaur.

“Iron Will has to question why ponies would need such gear as this. He was under the assumption they were a rather peaceful society.”

“Oh, don’t worry, ponies usually don’t even come over here I’ll bet” responded Twilight, “a lot of this stuff seems geared more towards large pest control for other species who aren’t as in tune with nature as we ponies are. I bet Fluttershy would pass out if she learned this place even had as much hunting equipment as it does!”

“Iron Will sincerely doubts that,” replied Iron Will. He was serious, the usually quiet pony had told him about her secret weapon, “The Stare” and, in demonstration, had hit him full force with it in an attempt to be more assertive during her trial period in his self-help program. He knew nothing that lay before him in this store could compete with such mind-numbing power as the piercing gaze of that one pony.

Still, he thought as he handled a strange mechanism marked as a “wolf immobilizing device”, Iron Will may not have the same abilities as that pegasus, but these devices should do just fine in its place.

Tonight was the night, thought Angel Bunny, as he bid his mistress Fluttershy good night. Once he was sure she was asleep upstairs, it was time for him to get to work. Making sure as to not make much noise he hippity-hopped his way all over the house, picking up the materials he would need for his transformation which he had hidden in secret caches all over. Soon, he had everything he required, and setting up shop in the bathroom in front of the sink mirror, he got to work.

First, the battle dress outfit. Having collected all kinds of scraps of fabric from both Fluttershy’s sewing kit and from extremely late night trade sessions with Rarity’s cat Opalesance that saw various foodstuffs traded for cloth bits (that cat would do anything for food that wasn’t the designer brand cat kibble Rarity fed her), Angel got to work in making his uniform. For a bunny that had no prior experience in sewing clothes, he thought he did a fine job in making himself a pair of roomy camo trousers and a matching camo top.

Then, his weapons. While Ponirambo needed nothing but his wings and brute strength to beat into submission the changeling hordes, Angel knew he’d need some firepower to make up for his lack of strength. The armaments were simple enough; a small dart slingshot that fired needles, a pair of reinforced toothpick nunchaku, and a small emergency combat knife for desperate situations. He also crafted himself a pair of reflective goggles to fight off any cockatrice he might encounter in the woods. Ponirambo didn’t need goggles, his stare alone was enough to freeze cockatrice into stone, but as Angel was so hopelessly below the level of badass that was Ponirambo the goggles were a necessity.

Then, the most important detail of all: the beard. Hauling out a 5 oz. piece of charcoal, Angel dirtied his paws as he applied the sacred substance to his face. He couldn’t figure out how to replicate Ponirambo’s ability to have a reserve hoof be able to shoot out of his beard and punch changeling scum in the face, but a fake 5 O’clock shadow made from charcoal was as close as Angel was going to get. Stepping back to get a good look at himself, no longer was he simply Angel Bunny, for he had turned into something more. Faster, craftier, more sexually appealing to all other bunnies everywhere, he had become...Rambun! Fueled by confidence based on his new appearance and weaponry, he quickly made his way out of Fluttershy’s cottage, screaming bloody war cries as he charged off into the Everfree to go kill manticores by the dozens and any changelings that stood in his way.

Queen Chrysalis stood on her private balcony, looking out at the night that Princess Luna had created, jealous of the younger alicorn’s powers. She had almost had that power for herself, along with Celestia’s and Cadance’s, but she’d overestimated the amount of love left in Shining Armor. As a result, here she was back in her hive castle, nursing her wounds. They’d healed up for the most part, only her wings had been totaled in the crash as she’d landed on some sharp rocks and until a new set grew in she was forced to remain here in the wastelands, plotting revenge.

Then a shrill, extremely high-pitched noise greeted her ears as it came from the far side of where she thought the Everfree Forest was, and she tensed. “Ponirambo!?” she whispered, fear in her voice. She then quickly abandoned the charade and laughed. She knew of the movie, having sent her minions to go steal one of the experimental “televisions” and all the movies available for it. She was a queen, after all, and she only deserved the best in modern technology. Speaking of which, she thought as she turned to re-enter her private quarters, I think I’m in the mood to watch Flight School Musical again…

The moon was clear and visible in the Equestrian sky, now a half moon. That didn’t matter to Applejack, though. It had been too long since her last run, too long since she let herself truly go wild and all out. Already she could feel herself give in to her lycanthropy, the changes now all taking place simultaneously instead of one-by-one as they had a few days ago, and no pain this time either. In fact, the only pain she felt was her amplified hearing picking up some weird, shrill cry coming from the Everfree Forest, but she paid it no mind as she let the feeling of her inner wolf alter her body once more.

Her transformation finished, breathing with a slight raspiness that belied her wolfish nature, she grinned eagerly with her emerald eyes aglow as she gazed at the bright half-orb in the sky. Tonight was going to be a good running night.