The human sat up in a tree sipping on his flask as he tried to fight off the chill that threatened to send him into a shivering fit.
The tree he occupied was in the middle of a large grassy field, which he found to be an excellent vantage point.
He was a hunter by trade, but he found that capturing run away ponies was becoming a very profitable venture, and his location was perfect.
Ponies would come to this field to graze or rest on the grass, which gave him an opportunity to catch them when they were at there weakest.
He took another slug from his flask before he brought his binoculars to his face so he could look out onto the moonlit field. Suddenly something gripped at his leg and yanked him down from his perch, he called out in pain as his back slammed into a branch before he hit the ground with a 'thud'.
He groaned in pain as he twisted on the ground trying to figure out what had happened. Two large shadowed figures in silver and gold armor loomed over him as he looked up. In the shadow of the tree he could only make out that they were both of equine make, with the addition of having horns and wings.
The shorter one moved up to him as he cowered in fear beneath it, a single strip of light shined on its eyes, and the man saw an ocean of hatred and contempt reflected in its moonlit aqua marine eyes.
"Good evening to thee, parasite." The figure said before his head was covered with a sack.
The sack came off and he saw that he was tied to the tree with what looked like tree vines. He struggled a bit but found that he was securely fastened to the trunk.
The larger of his captures approached him as his mind reeled with what they were about to do to him.
"We must apologize for our harsh treatment of thee, but we couldn't take the chance of thou running off before we could ask some questions."
The human squirmed against his bindings, the result of which caused a sheathed knife to fall from his belt.
"Filthy beast! Release me now, and Ill sell you both to a decent farm!"
The shorter captor got up close to his face as she snarled at him.
"Thou art in no position to make threats, thou blood sucking maggot!" The captor was about to strike him with a hoof when she was stopped by another hoof on her shoulder.
The shorter captor looked to the larger one who gave her a look that said she should wait in the wings.
The younger one noded with a dejected look before trotting off over a small hill.
The larger captor looked back to her prisoner who stared daggers at her.
"We must apologize for our sisters…….enthusiasm. She has yet to learn proper decorum."
The human remained silent as he continued his ocular assault.
"We shall cut to the quick, our sister and I have been sent under orders of the United Ponies of Equestria, and well, we have knowledge that thou hales from a village where our fellow hoofed brethren are being held against there will. We were hoping that thou might save us a lot of searching and tell us where your village is."
The human spat at the ground before his captor while trying to break his bindings again. The tall captor sighed as she removed her golden helmet to let her pink mane breath in the night air.
"We thought as much, so, hears what we will do. We shall ask thee three times. First we shall ask thee politely, the second time we shall ask more harshly, and the third time…..well, let us just say it shall not be as nicely as the first two."
The captor sat down before the bound man and cleared her throat.
"Would thou please tell us where thine village is?" The captor asked in her sweetest inflection.
The human said nothing.
The captor stood upon her hooves and looked at the man with a harsher glare.
"Tell, us, where, thine, village, is…….NOW!" She bellowed to the unflinching human.
The captor moved up close to the human who showed no sign of talking. She slammed her hooves against the tree on either side of his head.
"WHERE ARE THEY! WHERE! WHERE ARE THEY BEING HELD! TELL ME NOW!" The earth shook at the captors bellowing, but the human didn't even flinch.
The captor sighed as she backed off from the human. With her magic she levitated a full sack of a special kind of seed.
"Thou hast disappointed us this night, and we had such high hopes for thee."
The captor dumped the bag of seed over the mans head before she turned to leave.
"Give the birds our regards, we art certain that they will leave thee with some special "favors"."
The captor glanced down to see a knife laying in the grass, she picked it up with her magic before leaving the squirming human to his fate of being covered with bird excrement.
She returned to where her sister sat looking up at the moon, she took a seat next to her as she looked over the knife.
"The worm said nothing, didn't he sister?"
The pink maned pony merely nodded as she continued to ponder the knife.
"We cannot understand for the life of us why thou dost not interrogate these worms more harshly, my sister."
The shorter mare removed her silver helmet before looking at her sister with narrowed eyes.
"What would thou have us do, little sister? Use our magic to crush his skull until he talks?" The older sister asked as she turned the knife over to inspect it further.
"We would have thee return in kind to them what they have done for years to our fellow equines, not to mention…." The younger sister fought to swallow the lump in her throat. "Not to mention…..our father." The young pony said through gritted teeth.
The older sister looked over to the younger, she extended her wing and wrapped it around the young mare to ease her anger.
"We understand thine feelings in this, little sister. But we are in agreement with the council on this matter, violence and vengeance are not the foundations upon which we will build this new nation."
The younger sister looked down at her hooves, she knew that her sister was right, but she couldn't let go of the anger in her heart.
"We have been given a sacred task, little sister. We will free our fellow hoofed brethren, and we will do so without death or bloodshed."
The younger sister looked back at the older mare, she wanted to retort, but knew that she had nothing to come back with.
"Then we will need a miracle, my sister. The worm gave us nothing, and without a heading we will only fly around aimlessly."
"Hmmmm, true, little sister, he didn't tell us anything. But he may have given us a clue." The pink maned pony said holding up the humans knife.
The younger sister looked with confusion at the weapon her sister showed her.
"Pray tell, my sister. What clue dose the weapon of a leach give us?"
"Look closely, little sister, the wood of the sheath."
The younger sister raised an eyebrow as she looked at the sheath.
"We only see a knife, sister."
The older sister rolled her eyes.
"The sheath is made of black rose wood. Has thou forgotten the lessons that mother imparted to us?"
The younger sister looked offended at her sisters implication that she would forget anything that there mother taught them. The older sister saw this in the young mares eyes, and instantly regretted what she said.
"Apologies, little sister. We meant nothing by it."
The younger sister nodded in understanding.
"Tis all right, sister. What of the wood?"
The older sister looked again at the knife, a smile cresting her muzzle.
"Black rose wood, a tree that is uncommon in the arias around Equestrian boarders. But very common in a hoof full of arias to the east and west."
The younger sisters eyes widened as she realized what her sister was saying.
"How manny arias, sister?"
The older sister looked to the younger, her smile becoming serious now.
"Four, two to the east, and two to the west."
"Then we should split up. Thou can take the east, and we shall take the west."
The older sister placed a hoof on her sisters shoulder to give her pause.
"No, if something were to go wrong then thou would be alone. I will not leave my little sister to be captured or killed by the humans." The older sister smiled to the young mare before she ruffled her mane with a hoof.
"Not that we think that our sister cannot handle thine self against uneducated villagers."
The young mare smiled, her sisters occasional lac of faith in her abilities did anger her from time to time. But she knew in her heart that her sister was only looking out for her.
"Then we must away, the thought of our fellow ponies suffering whip and chain for another day makes our stomach churn."
The older mare stood as she put her golden helmet back on and let her wings spread out.
"What of the parasite, big sister?"
The older mare looked back at her sister with a smile.
"Fear not, little sister. Those vines will dry up and break before the sun goes down tomorrow. But by then he will be in desperate need of a bath."
The two sisters took off into the night sky, they soared west to begin there search.
The sun beat down on his head as he yanked at the plow around his neck. This summer had yielded a drought that had made the ground hard, he might as well have been plowing rock.
He peered over his shoulder to see the human overseer leaning against a fence post, in his hand he held a bull whip with a jagged metal spur at the end.
He went back to pulling the plow, knowing full well that the human wouldn't hesitate to use the whip if he thought for a second that he was slacking off.
The sound of hooves pulling a cart caught his attention, he looked to the road at his left to see a wooden cart being pulled by two ponies and being led by a human overseer. On the back of the cart sat a lumpy burlap bag that was stained red with blood, the contents of which he knew to be a pony who had tried to run.
"That didn't take long, runner put up much of a fight?" Asked a human to the one leading the cart.
"Nah, dame beast twisted its leg on a rock tryin ta run. Nag with a broken leg means no work, so I put the thing down, least the dogs ill eat good tonight. Heh heh, should've seen the thing squirm when it saw me come at im with the rock." The human took a dipper of water from a barrel and drank it with a loud slurp. The ponies pulling the cart looked at the human with thirst as water dripped from his fat double chin.
The human took notice of the ponies look of thirst, he took a big drink of water before turning and spitting the water from his fat lips onto the ponies.
"Properly hydrated now are we?! Get yer arses over ta the shed, ya filthy nags!"
The ponies hurried off to the shed, shaking the backwashed water off of there faces as they went. The fat human walked off with the other to the masters house, no doubt to eat and drink until they were even fatter.
An hour latter and the stallion was now able to rest, he dipped his muzzle into a bucket which was lower than half full with warm dirty water.
Another stallion approached him at the bucket which caused him to look up from his drink.
The stallion was called Grey, from his grey coat and mane. The stallion nodded his head to the other as he looked up from the water bucket.
"What they call you, new hoof?" The grey stallion asked as he leaned against the wood fence.
The black maned stallion wiped the water from his muzzle with a foreleg before answering.
"Fang, why, whats it to you?" The black maned stallion asked with distaste.
"Nothin to me, new hoof, just noticed your new and wanted to be friendly." Fang went back to take another drink before taking a hoof full of water and wetting his mane.
"Ya see that pony they wheeled in? Shame it is, he was a strong one he was. Ya ever think of tryin it?"
Fang looked down at the bucket as the dirty water sloshed and sifted. He then looked to his back hind leg, the small round scars that peppered his back legs were a constant reminder of his first and only escape attempt.
It happened when he was a younger stallion, he was strong, and the swiftest of all his fellows. His master had even made mention of putting him in the races when he was older.
One day he felt the wind on his face, and for the first time he looked off into the forest and felt something in his heart that he had never felt before. Like an irrefutable hunger that he couldn't ignore.
Without hesitation, he jumped over the fence and galloped to the forest that was calling to him. He galloped as hard as he could, but he only got within three meters of the wood line before the dogs grabbed hold of his back legs.
For ten excruciating minutes, a human watched as the dogs gnawed at his legs, the punishment that followed would stay with him for the rest of his life.
For a month he was forced to pull a burlap bag of rocks around in a circle, he was only given a handful of oats and a bucket of water to nourish him before getting three hours of sleep. For thirty days this went on, he lived through it, but he wasn't the same pony after.
He was broken, in every sense of the word. Never since that day did he even think of the word "escape".
The humans branded him with the name "Fang", as a reminder of the pain he suffered at the drooling jaws of the hounds.
"No", Fang replied, Grey blew a raspberry out of disbelief.
"Aw, come on, new hoof, don't ya got any hope for the future?" The gray stallion asked.
Fang looked at him with a blank expression that showed neither interest nor care.
"I *hope* that the humans don't run out of food from this drought and start eating us. I *hope* that my back or legs don't give out and I'm fed to the dogs. Oh, and I *hope* that when I reach my last day, that the humans put me down quick, and don't decide to watch as the dogs tear me apart slowly."
Fang dipped his head into the bucket to cool his head off from the un-forgiving sun.
"Guess you make a point there, new hoof. But I heard from one of the new lot that theres some ponies far off that av freed themselves. Word is they're makin some sorta country."
"And how does that affect us?" Fang asked with no small amount of annoyance.
"You aint heard nothin, av ya? There sayin that there goin around freein ponies in villages. Maybe they come here."
Fang scoffed at the idea, he would have laughed if it wasn't such a stupid thought.
"Yes, maybe a pegasus will come and fly around while the humans throw spears and shoot arrows at it. Or maybe a unicorn will come and put on a nice little magic show for us before its caught and given as a gift to some humans child."
Fang pushed the bucket to Grey who leaned down to take a drink.
"Those ponies are living on borrowed time. One day the humans will come, the lucky ones will be sold off, the unlucky ones will be killed to set an example for the rest of us. I stopped thinking about a life beyond the fence, ponies call it admitting defeat. I call it self preservation."
Grey brought his head up and shook the excess water from his muzzle, he looked over Fang as he got an excited look in his eyes.
"Well bein at this farm does come with one perk." The gray stallion said as he pointed behind Fang.
"The mistress is takin er pet unicorn out to her pen."
Fang turned to look at the pet, and he would remember the sight to his dying day.
She was more beautiful than any field of flowers or sunset he had ever seen. She was an ashy white unicorn mare with a midnight blue mane, both her tail and mane looked as though they were brushed and groomed by a team of hand maids. She was being led to a smaller pen with a fancy little red house, which Fang assumed was exclusively for her.
A pudgy human woman pulled her along by a white leash attached to a diamond incrusted white collar around her neck.
The mare trotted as though she were walking on clouds, her chest was out and her head held up. She was slim, but looked very healthy, (most likely from eating the best foods from the humans).
Fang realized that his mouth was open when the mare glanced over at him, she smiled and fluttered her lashes at Fang before she was put into the pen. The human woman petted her on the head before going back to the house.
"What do they call her?" Fang asked, finally closing his mouth which was now dry again.
"That little filly's name is Shimmer. Told ya there were perks."
Fang felt something warm in that moment, he wanted nothing more than to run to her and tell her that she was beautiful.
"I know that look, new hoof. You get caught going near er and the master al whip ya until the skin comes off."
The human overseer banged his whip against the fence which caused both stallions to look up at him.
"Ay, thats enough talking, back to work, nags."
Fang took one more glance over at the unicorn who was laying on the grass inside her pen. He knew that he wouldn't be able to rest until he had a chance to talk to the beautiful mare, and he would wait for nightfall to do it.
Fang looked through a hole in the stables at the farmhouse, once the last light was out he was off. He quietly climbed over the fence and weaved his way around the pens. The human who watched for run aways wouldn't be looking at the farm since he would be focusing his attentions on the outline areas of the farmers property.
He looked through the slats of the mare's pen, she was laying asleep at the entrance of her little house. Fang carefully climbed over the fence, but caught his leg on a loose nail causing him to fall flat on his face.
The mare's ears twitched at the abrupt thud, her head shot up as she looked to see what had fallen into her pen. Her eyes blinked as they adjusted to the lac of light. Fang looked up at the mare who looked back at him, he expected for her to scream, but she just smiled cheerfully.
"Hello there," she said waving a hoof at him.
"Uhh, hello," Fang replied as he corrected himself and stood on his hooves.
"You're that new pony that came last month, right?" The mare asked in a kind and gentle voice.
Most unicorns (especially mares) were prissy and stuck up. They believed that because they were pets and not work horses, and because they ate better and lived in houses that they were somehow better than average ponies. But this mare only looked at him with kindness and curiosity.
"Yes, I came here last month. How long have you lived here?"
"I was born here, my mistress bought me when I was a foal from a farmer on the other side of the village."
Fang moved closer to the ramp that led up to Shimmer's house, he sat down on the lush grass that filled the pen as he thought of something to say.
"Do you like living at this farm?" He asked feeling good that he was speaking so easily to such a beautiful mare.
"Mmmmm, most of the time I do. My mistress and I sometimes sit out in the garden. Oh, and sometimes my mistress brings her books, and sometimes she even lets me look at them."
Shimmer looked excited at the topic of books, Fang had always thought that books were stupid things that humans owned, like rings, or hats.
"Books huh, I sometimes wonder what those are about."
Shimmer suddenly looked like she was going to burst from excitement as her magenta eyes sparkled in the moonlight.
"Oh there just soooo wonderful. I even know how to read a few words and phrases," the unicorn stated proudly sticking out her chest. "Its especially great when they have pictures in them."
Fang batted an eyebrow at the mention of pictures. Normally a conversation like this would bore him to tears, he was a work horse, and thats what he knew about. But in the company of this mare he felt like he could talk to her for hours.
"Really, what kind of pictures?"
Shimmer brought a hoof to her muzzle as she remembered some of the pictures she saw in her mistress's books.
"All kinds of things, I've seen flowers, and animals, and mountains. Oh, oh, one time I saw this big lake of water called the, uh….oten? osen?…well, something like that."
Fang chuckled at the excitement of the unicorn as she regaled him with stories of her books.
"Well, that sounds…..neat." He said halfheartedly with a goofy smile.
Shimmer giggled at how cute and awkward the gruff stallion tried to fame an interest. Until now the only stallions that would talk to her were other unicorns she met when her mistress went to her monthly card game with the other housewives. But she didn't care for all those stuffy, up tight unicorns who only talked about fancy parties and there new outfits.
"By the way, my names Shimmer. Whats yours?"
Fang stood up before taking a polite bow before the elegant mare.
"Im Fang, its nice to meet you, Shimmer."
Shimmer felt her cheeks flush at the unnecessary (but still very polite) gesture from the handsome stallion.
"Its nice to meet you, Fang. You know, your very easy to talk to."
Fang was about to respond when he heard the sound of feet moving on dirt.
"I-Im sorry Shimmer, but I better go. I don't want to get you into trouble." Fang hopped onto the fence to begin his return when he heard Shimmer clear her throat.
"Fang, would it be to much if I asked you to come see me tomorrow night too?"
Fang looked over at the unicorn who now had a worried look on her face, he smiled back at her as he got half of his body over the fence.
"Count on it."
The next day was as hot as the last, but Fang found that he had more energy as he pulled the plow over more hard ground. Every so often he would look over to see Shimmer prop herself on her back legs against the fence of her pen. She smiled at Fang as she gave him a small wave, Fang would return the gesture by nodding his head slightly.
It was like the plow weighed nothing at all as he pulled. His mind was more occupied with the unicorn who was eagerly waiting for his return. Fang had never cared much about mares, to him they were just a distraction from his work. But something was different about this mare, like something invisible had drawn him to her. All he had to do was get through this work day.
Nightfall couldn't have come soon enough, Fang sat tapping his fore hooves on the dirt floor of the stables waiting for the lights in the house to go out so he could see Shimmer.
Once the last light was out, he jumped the fence like it was a stump, and once again he quietly snuck his way to Shimmers pen.
"Im glad to see that you're a stallion of his word, Fang." Shimmer observed as Fang took a seat in her house next to her.
"I would never lie to a pretty mare like you." Shimmer giggled from Fangs flattery.
Shimmer then caught a glimpse of fangs back leg, she flinched slightly at the sight of the many small circular scars that covered his appendages.
"Fang, please forgive me, but can I ask how you got those scars?"
Fang looked back at his legs, he felt somewhat uncomfortable that Shimmer had seen such ugly marks. But for some reason he didn't mind the idea of telling her about them.
"When I was younger, I tried to run. Dogs got a hold of me, and…..well, you can guess what happened next."
Shimmer put a hoof to her mouth as she felt a tear come to her eye. In her life she had seen many times what happens when a pony tried to escape, and she had never heard of one that made it.
"Im, sorry for bringing it up, Fang. I didn't mean to make you remember something so painful."
Fang moved his tail to cover his leg as he chuckled lightly.
"Its ok, after so long it feels good talking to somepony about it."
Shimmer rubbed a foreleg with the other. He said that it wasn't a big deal, but she still felt bad that her curiosity had caused him pain.
"I've thought about it sometimes, escape I mean." Shimmer said as she looked out the window at the night sky.
"Sometimes I dream about going to a place where I can go and do as I please. I would read books all day until it was time for bed."
Fang knew exactly what Shimmer was talking about, he had felt the same thing himself in his life. But he had to deter her from even thinking that word, the thought of what happened to him happening to her scared him to his core.
"Listen to me, Shimmer." He said placing a hoof on her shoulder.
"Forget about it, your mistress likes you now. But believe me, if you ever attempted it, she wouldn't even bat an eye at punishing you without mercy."
Shimmer looked down at her hooves as she nodded her head solemnly. Fang realized that he had made the conversation go sour, so he thought of something to change that.
"Hay, um, you said you could read some words?" To this Shimmer looked at him with a bit of her pep back.
"Yes, and some phrases too." She said sounding a little perkier.
"Do you think that you could teach me some of those words?"
Shimmer's eyes lit up as a big smile spread across her muzzle.
"Of course, I might not be very good, but Ill do the best I can."
Fang felt proud in a way, he didn't know that he had such a way with mares. But he was happiest that he had made her smile.
For the rest of there time together, Shimmer did her best to teach Fang how to read and wright the few words that she knew. Using her hoof she would wright a word in the dirt and help Fang to pronounce it and sound out the word. Fang would use his hoof to wright the word as best he could while Shimmer corrected him with her sweet voice.
Fang never saw the point in learning when all he ever did was plow fields and pull carts. But he found it to be infinitely more interesting when it was with Shimmer.
Fang visited Shimmer every night that the mistress kept her in her pen. Some nights Shimmer would teach him reading or a little math, other nights they would just talk until it was time for Fang to return to the stables.
Everything was going great, Fang had never felt happier in his life.
Until the first best night of his life.
Shimmer had found a few loose pages from an old book while she was in the house, so she and Fang sat in her little house as they read words and sounded out sentences together.
Shimmer enjoyed reading with her stallion friend, but there was something on her mind this night, something that she didn't fully understand yet.
Whenever she looked at Fang it felt like her chest was going to explode. She had an idea about what it was she was feeling, but she needed to talk to Fang about it before she could be sure. But every time she looked at him and opened her mouth she shut it like her body wouldn't allow her to say anything.
Fang couldn't help but notice that Shimmer kept looking over at him while she opened her mouth and closed it again. He wished that she would just say something if she wanted to talk, he had no idea what to do in this kind of situation.
"F-Fang, theres something I want to talk to you about, but I don't know how to….start."
Fang turned so he could look at Shimmer directly.
"Well, the beginnings always a good place to start." Shimmer looked at Fang before she began to giggle.
"Oh Fang, Im serious."
"So am I." Fang said awkwardly.
Shimmer stopped her giggling as she looked at him nervously again.
"Its just that, I think that Im starting to……feel things, about you."
Fang felt his heart beat faster, he didn't know what Shimmer was saying, but it was making him feel nervous and excited at the same time.
"You see, I've never felt this way about a stallion before, and I think tha-"
Before Shimmer could finish she felt something soft and strong press against her muzzle, without knowing what it was she caught herself pressing back.
In the moment there lips connected, she knew what she wanted to tell Fang. Fortunately though, Fang already knew.
Shimmer broke the kiss, she then wrapped her forelegs around him and squeezed him tightly. Tears of happiness fell from her eyes as she swooned into his black mane. Fang held her in return, he couldn't even remember what it felt like when his mother held him as a foal, but this felt so good it was like he could almost remember it.
"Fang, do you…….love me?"
"Ya, I do." He was a simple stallion, always got to the point when it was at hoof.
No other words were spoken, no others were needed. They mated as if they were free ponies, without a care in the world.
Fang had never believed in the goddesses, if they were real then they never helped him with anything, he never prayed, he never believed in anything other than the strength of his own back.
But on this night, he thought for a moment that the moon was smiling down on them.
For the next week Fang felt like he had the strength of ten ponies. In the day he worked like it was nothing, and at night he was rejuvenated by the love of his mare.
Shimmer would wave to him in the fields, and they would speak to each other by reading the others lips. It was never a long conversation, just sweet little nothings.
Shimmer was coasting on a golden wave of pure love, her first time with Fang was more special and wonderful than she had ever thought it would be, and everyday she could hardly wait for night to come so she could balm her stallions weary soul. She wished that they could sleep together, it was hard that he had to leave every night after they had mated and cuddled. She knew that it would be the best night sleep if she could have it in the warm embrace of her stallion.
It was still early morning, but she looked forward to having a silent chat with Fang as she watched his sweaty muscles glisten in the sun. She was about to revel in the thought of his ripped body, when suddenly it felt like her esophagus got shorter and she needed to go vomit.
She wiped her muzzle of saliva after voiding her stomach into a deep trench dug for her use. A sudden revelation popped into her head, one that filled her with both joy, and fear.
She was with foal.
To be concluded.