A journey into the Everfree turns into the adventure of several lifetimes
Cover art by me Other tags include: Drama and slight mystery If you're worried about the sex tag don't be. This isn't a clop nor will it ever be.
Fluttershy's trip into the Everfree as she comes face to face with something she's never seen before. this chance meeting quickly turns into an adventure that will bring all the ponies (and dragon) to their absolute limit. They will discover new emotions, make new connections, go through trials they never would have imagined and discover the true secrets of the world.
Can they make it?
Just a couple things to get clear: - This is an alternate universe so there will be quite a few things different from canon, but the characters should overall be like their canon selves - So there is no confusion on age, the Mane 6 are in their mid-late 20s and the CMC/Spike are in their late teens/early 20s. All other characters are aged up appropriately to match those standards.
This story is still my first attempt at series writing (even after making a butt load of changes) so any and all constructive criticism is welcome
It was a beautiful Sunday morning in Ponyville. The warm summer air carried a feeling of peace and harmony as Celestia’s sun did its job of warming up its little ponies with a sense of safety. Even the mysterious Everfree forest that chilled the hearts of the citizens could fight off the warming embrace of Celestia’s light.
It was on this lovely morning that Fluttershy found herself in deep thought. On the surface she seemed like a mare that had everything she could ever dream of. She had a job she loved in caring for all the little animals of Ponyville, she had the most supportive friends she could have ever dreamed of and that’s not mentioning that she was an Equestrian hero. She even managed to overcome her debilitating shyness without losing herself. By all intents and purposes she had nothing to complain about.
“Is this really all there is?” she muttered to herself while looking into the light brown liquid filling her cup.
“What was that, Fluttershy?” asked a posh voice, shocking the canary mare out her thoughts.
Speaking of friends…
“Sorry Rarity, I’ve just had a lot on my mind lately.” she explained to the alabaster mare. She had decided to have tea with the fashionista to catch up and have some “mare time” before they had to go on with their days.
The fashionista in question gave her friend an understanding look, “Would you like to talk about it?”
“W-well…” Fluttershy was hesitant to say anything, not wanting to bother her best friend with her most likely trivial worries, but looking into Rarity’s understanding eyes let her know that it was alright, “…do you feel…content with your life?”
Rarity was caught a bit off guard by the question but quickly collected herself, “I don’t really have anything to worry about and I’m quite proud of the success of my boutiques so I would like to say yes, however…”
Rarity’s expression suddenly became much more somber, “I really thought I would have found my special somepony by now.” She really was happy with her life but the fact that she still hadn’t found her Prince Charming prevented her from being fully satisfied.
“Oh Rarity, I’m sure you’ll find a nice stallion soon.” Fluttershy said, trying to bring her friend's spirits back up.
Rarity looked up at the pegasus and gave an awkward, fake smile, “R-right, of course, a nice… stallion.” She shook a lingering thought out of her head and got back on topic. “Darling, am I safe to assume that the reason you ask is because you are having your own grievances?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Care to elaborate?”
Fluttershy took a deep breath to try and calm her nerves, to little effect, “It’s just that I have everything I could ever ask for but I still feel…empty? Unfulfilled? I’m not completely sure how to describe it.”
Rarity seemed to be in deep thought at Fluttershy’s explanation. It was admittedly not much to go on and eventually she just got up and gave her best friend a comforting hug. One that the shy pegasus graciously returned.
“I’m sure you will find that missing piece one day, darling. I’m sorry I don’t have any better advice to give you.”
Fluttershy ever so slightly tightened her embrace. She loved all her friends but she always felt a little bit closer to the alabaster mare. Yeah she could be a bit prissy sometimes, and definitely a bit of a drama queen, Fluttershy could always count on her to listen to her problems and help her as much as she could. Maybe it was just because kindness and generosity go together so well.
“It’s ok Rarity, just having you listen is help enough.” she said with a soft smile.
The two mares broke off the hug and Rarity gave Fluttershy the same soft smile.
“I’m glad. Oh! Why don’t we go to the spa today? I think we could both use a bit of relaxation.” Rarity enthusiastically said.
Fluttershy couldn’t help but giggle a little bit at how giddy her friend got at the mere mention of the spa, “That sounds lovely, but I have something I have to take care of first so would you mind if we went later this afternoon?”
“That’s fine, but what is it you have to do?” Rarity was a bit curious as she knew that Fluttershy had already fed her animals, and if there was a sick critter then she wouldn't have even come to the boutique.
“Oh, the Dragon Lilies are blooming so I’m going into the Everfree to harvest them. Me and Twilight were going to do it together but then she got called on that royal investigation in the south.” Fluttershy explained.
“Dragon Lilies?” Rarity asked, having never heard of the herb before.
“It’s a flower that only blooms every twenty years. Its petals have incredibly powerful medical properties and they never wilt. Twilight wanted to run some experiments on it and I wanted to have some for emergencies.”
Rarity nodded in understanding, “Ah yes, I can see why you would want some, but are you ok in going into that dreadful forest by yourself?”
Fluttershy slightly gulped. She was admittedly still a bit intimidated by the Everfree. Even though she had become braver through all of her adventures she still felt something off about her dark wooded neighbor. But she had a job to do so she wasn’t going to let a little apprehension stop her!
“I’ll be fine. The flowers aren’t that far in the forest so the worst I should run into are timberwolves, and ever since Twilight got her own royal guards and Spike hit his growth spurt they stay away from us ponies.”
Rarity seemed reassured by Fluttershy’s words, “Alright, I trust you. I’ll come by the cottage around 1:00 and we can have our spa day.”
“That sounds delightful Rarity.” Fluttershy said in her soft voice.
“Wonderful! Well I shouldn’t keep you any longer, darling.”
“Alright, thank you for the tea and I’ll see you later.” Fluttershy said as she walked out of the boutique and made her way to the Everfree, unaware that her life was about to change forever.
Maybe I shouldn’t have come here alone. Fluttershy thought as she was making her way through the forest. Against her best efforts, she still found herself on edge being amongst the dark trees, whose canopies almost completely blocked Celestia’s sun. She knew she didn’t really have anything to worry about. This was a generally quiet part of the forest that rarely, if ever, saw monster activity and even if something like a manticore were to come up she knew how to handle those. By all logic she had nothing to fear.
Unfortunately, none of that mattered to Fluttershy. Her eyes would dart between the dark demented faces hidden within the trees. If she didn’t know better she would have sworn that the shadows themselves were watching her. She suddenly heard a bush rustling and, against her better judgment, went to investigate. She approached the rustling bush with quiet trepidation.
“H-hello?” she questioned, unable to completely hide her fear.
The bush stopped moving at her question and she just stood there in an awkward silence for a minute. It was only when she had decided to start leaving did something suddenly jump out at her.
“AIIIEE!” she let out a high-pitched scream before dropping to the ground and covering her eyes with her wings. After a second of cowering she decided to uncover her eyes to see what great and terrible beast was about to make her its lunch. She slowly looked to find that the evil creature of the bush was…
She let out a breath of both relief and frustration.
“Get a hold of yourself Fluttershy.” she scolded herself before walking up to the squirrel and asking it about the Dragon Lilies, which it was happy to point her in the right direction. After thanking the squirrel she said goodbye and went on her way.
Thankfully it didn’t take her much longer to find the elusive flower. She came to a small clearing in the forest. It was probably about ten feet in diameter which made it just big enough to let a little bit more of the sun’s warm rays through to the ground. And there at the edge was her prize; ten Dragon Lilies.
The flowers were beautiful. Their petals were an iridescent black with reddish-orange borders that made them almost seem like they were on fire. They also had a pleasant summer aroma with a hint of smokiness. Before she could get too distracted with the beauty of the rare flowers, she got to work harvesting them. She figured this group of ten would be enough for her purposes so she carefully placed them in a special compartment in her saddlebags so that they wouldn’t get damaged. The whole ordeal only took her about five minutes.
With her work done she started to make her way out of the clearing but stopped when she felt the ground tremble slightly. Thoroughly confused, she stopped and looked around to try and find the source, all the while the trembling got worse. It wasn’t long until a sudden cacophony of wildlife spooked her and she barely reacted in time to fly out of the way of a massive stampede of Everfree animals. It was composed of animals of all shapes and sizes, from small rodents to large buck deer. She was shocked to even see timberwolves and cockatrices among the stampede. However, none of that mattered more than the look in every single creature’s eyes.
It was the look of pure fear.
Now Fluttershy might not have had a mystical seventh sense like Pinkie, but she did understand animals better than any other pony. She knew there was only one thing that could spook a collection of both predator and prey so thoroughly; an apex predator.
Fluttershy was also, though at that moment she wished was, not blind, and could see with her very much functioning eyes the cause of the stampede. It towered over everything else at thirty feet tall with yellow scales. It had two powerful legs with wicked sharp claws, but the true indication of its identity were its four serpent-like heads on four long, flexible necks.
It was a hydra, and it had all eight eyes trained on the canary pegasus.
Oh dear. That was all she had time to think before jumping out of the way of a strike from one of the great predator’s heads. Fear turned into adrenaline and Fluttershy started galloping as fast as her hooves could take her from the multi-headed monster, not caring which way she went. The hydra chased after her but its bulk was making it hard to catch the far nimbler pegasus through the trees, though it still kept her in its sights. Fluttershy was weaving through the trees, survival and fear the only thing on her mind. She wasn’t even thinking about why a hydra of all creatures was this far into the Everfree and not in the bog. She was too focused on getting away.
She was so focused in fact that she didn’t notice the stray root poking out of the ground or the ledge next to it.
She hit the root at full speed and started tumbling down the ledge, hitting one of her wings against a rock on the way down. By the time she hit the bottom she could see that she was now in another clearing, this one a bit bigger than the last at about twenty feet in diameter. She could also feel the pain in her wing and leg. While her leg definitely hurt, her main concern was her wing which, going by its bent and mangled from, was probably broken.
I need to get out of here and see a doctor before this gets worse, she thought to herself. However, she was brought out of her thoughts by a certain mass of scales and bad attitude crashing into the clearing. With her wing broken and her adrenaline finally running out there was no way for her to get away from the hungry predator. Even the Stare, probably her most powerful trump card, would be useless due to the hydra’s multiple heads. As Fluttershy kept backing away she came to a horrible realization.
She would die here.
Having no more options she just closed her eyes and waited for the end, tears flowing freely.. Having finally cornered its prey, the hydra prepared its heads to strike the yellow pegasus. It would all be over soon…
The hydra stopped its strike, now wearing a confused look on all of its faces. Fluttershy, equally confused, opened her eyes grateful to still be in one piece but wondering why the hydra stopped.
She felt it that time, as if the Earth itself was shaking beneath her hooves even more than from the stampede earlier. Whatever it was that was coming was big…
… very big.
The hydra, remembering its prey, shook its heads and let out a hissing roar, gaining Fluttershy’s attention once more. It started approaching her once more, small amounts of drool dripping from its mouths.
Fluttershy was just fast enough to get out of the way as one of the mighty trees of the Everfree fell into the clearing. The hydra slowly backed away from the fallen piece of lumber and Fluttershy was surprised to see a look of fear on its faces. It was then that Fluttershy looked behind her and then up…
… and up
… and up
… and up until she found herself staring into two silver orbs that were larger than her entire body.
The shadows of the Everfree were able to hide most of the details of the giant but Fluttershy could tell it was well over one hundred feet tall, probably closer to two hundred. As it kept staring at her she couldn’t help but tremble at the sight of the colossus. When it began to take a step forward she curled up into a ball on the ground, expecting to be squashed like an insignificant bug.
When the giant set its foot down and shook the earth enough to actually lift Fluttershy off the ground an inch. It was quickly followed by the second leg, and a second earth shaking stomp. It was then that Fluttershy realized that she hadn’t become a bloody smear on the ground and, still trembling, stood back up. She was surprised to see that the forest giant was standing over her in an almost protective stance.
The hydra had managed to shake off its fear and stared down the giant before letting out a hissing roar that caused Fluttershy to shiver in terror. The giant, however, was completely unfazed and let out a sound that shook her to the very soul.
It wasn’t loud. Nothing that low could ever be loud. It was not meant to be loud. It was meant to be felt. Its low, rumbling roar shook the entire area as well as the bones of both the hydra and the canary pegasus. It was setting off every alarm telling Fluttershy to run, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it.
While the hydra was also trembling, it somehow was able to still hold its ground and weakly snarl at the titan before it. It was then that the giant did something Fluttershy wasn’t expecting and stood up on its back legs. This new stance nearly doubled its height, putting it on par with an Ursa Major. Fluttershy, while still scared, couldn’t help but be curious as to what it was doing. She didn’t have to wait long.
The mighty colossus slammed its front legs back on the ground.
The tree falling had caused a small tremor. The giant’s steps had caused the earth to shake. The display of power she just witnessed?
Caused an earthquake!
Where its front legs came down were large craters and the vicious shaking of the earth caused entire chunks to shoot out of the ground at sharp and odd angles. It was violent enough to fell several more of the massive trees surrounding them and it was when the minor apocalypse subsided did the hydra finally wise up and run off with its tail between its legs.
Fluttershy was in shock to say the least. On one hoof, she was standing underneath what was probably the single largest creature she had ever seen, that could cause earthquakes with only its sheer weight. While it seemed to be protecting her, it could have easily done so just so that it wouldn’t have to fight to eat her. On the other hoof, it still hadn’t turned to attack her, even with the hydra gone. Actually when she thought about it, she realized that her giant savior hadn’t moved at all. Concern now replacing her fear, she took a step forward to check on the creature.
She stopped when she stepped in the wet patch of grass. That’s weird, she thought, she didn’t remember this patch being wet before. She lifted her hoof to her face and gasped at the crimson liquid staining it. Immediately looking to the ground, she could see that there was a steadily growing puddle of blood. She let out a louder gasp when she saw that the blood was originating from the giant of the forest.
“Oh my goodness, you’re hurt!” she yelled out before being silenced by the explosive crash the giant made when it hit the ground.
Apparently the universe wasn’t quite done with giving Fluttershy surprises because she could only stand there slack-jawed as the earthquake causing giant that had saved her life started shrinking. It kept getting smaller and smaller until instead of being the size of an ambitious hill, it appeared to be just a bit larger than Princess Celestia.
It took her a second to come back to her senses and remember that size-shifting aside, the creature was still injured and needed help. She ran up to it and had to fight to keep the contents of her stomach from making a return to the outside world. It was bad. Morbidly bad. It was covered in cuts and slashes of various sizes, all bleeding, but by far the worst was the massive gash running from the base of its neck to its flank. The huge wound almost seemed to be pulsating and she had seen enough injured animals to know that if she didn’t get it back to the cottage to stitch it up the giant probably would not make it to the end of the day. She was starting to panic. She attempted to lift the now smaller giant onto her back but found that he was, unsurprisingly, much too heavy for her to lift even if she didn’t have a broken wing. She was about to lose hope until she looked up and saw a familiar robin and had an idea.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Robin” she began, “I don’t mean to bother you but my friend here is horribly injured and I need help to get it back to my cottage. Could you go get Harry? Y-you know, if you don’t mind” she asked timidly.
The robin looked into the concerned eyes of the kind pegasus that had always helped her and her family and gave a chirp to accept her request.
“Oh thank you so much! Please hurry though, I don’t know how much time it has left!” she added with slight worry.
With a final nod the robin was off. While Fluttershy was relieved that she was getting help, she still needed to find a way to stop the bleeding. It was then that she felt her saddlebags and remembered the reason she was in this situation in the first place. She quickly dug into her bag and brought out one of the fiery, black flowers.
“The Dragon Lily.” she said to herself before getting a look of determination. She ran up to the mighty beast and helped it chew and swallow the powerful medicine. After the longest couple of seconds of her entire life she saw the flower take effect. The bleeding completely stopped and some of the smaller cuts completely closed. The larger wounds, especially the massive gash, wouldn’t completely close and would still need medical attention as soon as possible.
It was another ten minutes before Harry burst into the clearing. Now with the help of a large brown bear, they got the giant on Harry’s back while Fluttershy held up its head and neck. They started on their way back to Fluttershy’s cottage. They were about half way there when the creature started making noise.
“…must…save…have to…protect…the angel…” the creature mumbled in a deep, masculine voice.
Fluttershy nearly stopped in her tracks. It, no He had just talked. This was not just some strange animal that decided to protect her. He was sentient. A cavalcade of questions suddenly burst into her mind but she shook them away.
I can ask questions later. Right now he’s hurt and I’m the only one who can help him, she thought to herself, fear and confusion replaced with resolve and determination.
She would not let her savior die.
Fluttershy burst through her door with her mysterious savior draped over her and Harry’s back. After helping the bear quickly, but gently, set the giant down on her couch, the piece of furniture straining under the weight, she went straight to her medical cabinet and grabbed the stitching equipment, as well as rubbing alcohol and gauze to properly mend his wounds. With the necessary equipment in hand she got to work.
As she was cleaning the large gash she was both surprised and relieved to find no sign of infection. With the worst wound cleaned she got to work stitching it closed and wrapping gauze around his torso. With the adrenaline seeping away she started becoming painfully aware of her own injuries that needed attending to. Seeing nothing left to do with the giant she looked to herself.
Overall she wasn’t as bad as she had thought; some minor cuts and bruises and a sprained hoof. Even her wing, while most definitely broken, wasn’t nearly as bad as it could’ve been. That didn’t stop it from hurting like hell though. Being friends with a pegasus like Rainbow Dash since fillyhood had taught her quite a bit about treating pegasus wings, though doing it to her own wing would prove more of a challenge. The most painful part would be setting the bone so, taking a wooden spoon to bite down on, she took her wing in both hooves she set it with a quick jerk.
“MMMMMM!” she let out a muffled scream through the wooden spoon in her mouth. The pain was incredible but thankfully only lasted a second. With a few tears in her eyes she wrapped the wing tightly enough so it wouldn’t damage itself more.
Now that everything seemed to be winding down, and nopony was knocking at death's door, she decided to take a closer look at what this giant of the Everfree looked like in more detail.
She walked into her living room and couldn’t help but crease a small smile at the giant peacefully slumbering on her couch. The first, and most obvious thing, she noticed was his size. While it was a bit difficult to guess his true size due to the position he was laying in, she could tell he was somewhere around Celestia’s height. However, unlike Celestia’s slender frame, he was covered in massive muscles that would put Bulk Biceps to shame. At first she would have likened him to a wingless dragon, but now that she could get a closer look at him she realized that wasn’t exactly the most accurate description. For one thing, now that she was up close she could see that instead of the large, keeled scales that dragons were known for, he was covered in small polygonal scales that she would have never been able to see unless she was as close as she was now. Said scales were also a lovely shade of dark crimson. His front legs looked similar to those of a large earth pony, though instead of ending in a hoof it was almost like they ended in fleshy stubs. They also had large spikes where thumbs would theoretically be. His back legs looked more like traditional dragon legs, even ending in large claws, though they were much stockier than any dragon she’d ever seen. His tail was extremely long, nearly as long as his neck and torso combined, and seemed to end in a whip. The neck, like the tail, was also of extraordinary length. It wasn’t flexible like a snake’s but instead seemed to be thick and muscular like a giraffe’s. Finally, she looked up the long, muscular neck to look upon the giant’s head, and was surprised to find that it looked similar to that of a pony stallion.
She stood there staring, mesmerized by the strange creature laying on her living room couch. She had never seen anything like him before and wondered if anypony else had. He was also sentient so it was probably important to find out what he was sooner rather than later.
She thought about asking Spike for help, since Twilight was currently out of town, when another thought occurred to her. What would her friends think of him? Pinkie Pie and Applejack were in the Crystal Empire at the moment, though Fluttershy didn’t think it would be difficult to explain the situation to them. Applejack had a good head on her shoulders and was always willing to listen while Pinkie would probably just want to throw him a party. Rarity and Rainbow Dash didn’t exactly have the best histories on getting surprised by strange creatures so if they saw the one here…
Knock knock knock
She was broken out of her thoughts by someone knocking on her door. She started to panic a little, she had no idea who could possibly be at her cottage. It was then that she glanced at the clock and noticed that it read 2:00 and suddenly remembered her conversation earlier.
“Rarity!” she whisper screamed in realization. With all of the craziness that had just happened she forgot all about her and Rarity going to the spa, and she was now a whole hour late.
Knock knock knock
"Fluttershy, are you home, darling?" Rarity asked through the door.
"Y-y-yes, I'll be there in one moment" Fluttershy replied meekly before making her way to the door.
When she got to the door she opened it just enough to reveal one of her teal eyes and a bit of pink mane, "H-hello Rarity…"
"Oh thank Celestia, I came here earlier but you weren’t home so I figured I’d just wait for you at the spa. After nearly an hour and you still hadn’t shown up I began to worry and decided to come back here." Rarity explained, the worry clear in her voice. She then noticed how much Fluttershy was trying to hide behind her door and mane. While this wouldn’t be too out of the ordinary usually, she never did this with Rarity, which caused said mare to raise a brow, "Are you alright darling?"
"I'm s-sorry for worrying you Rarity but I'm fine, I just got…um…lost?" Fluttershy said through the door.
Rarity had known Fluttershy for a very long time. They were extremely close, considering the other to be like a sister, and Rarity knew Fluttershy was many things; kind, sweet, shy. A good liar was not one of those things.
"…lost?" Rarity asked incredulously.
"Lost." Fluttershy lied.
"You never get lost in the Everfree." Rarity truthed.
"W-well there's a, um, f-first time for e-everything, right?" Fluttershy said unconvincingly.
Rarity's face became hard and her voice had a soft authority to it, "Fluttershy we've known each other for a very long time now and I consider you my very best friend so believe me when I say that I know when you’re lying." Her hard glare then softened considerably, "Please darling, I just want to make sure you are alright and I can't very well do that while you hide behind a door."
Fluttershy knew that she had no way out of this, and she also knew Rarity was right and felt horrible for lying, but before she could say anything the giant let out a low, rumbling growl from her living room, causing her eyes to widen as she hoped Rarity hadn't noticed it.
"What was that?" Rarity asked a bit frantically.
"Oh, that was a…um…um…a surprise! Yes, a surprise, no peeking!" Fluttershy blurted, desperation seeping into her voice.
"Fluttershy, it may be a bit uncouth of me but if you do not open this door by the time I count to three, I will let myself in!" Rarity nearly screamed.
"Um…" Oh no.
Is she serious?
"THREE!" Fluttershy jumped out from behind the door as Rarity charged through the door and into the living room. She froze, eyes wide and jaw nearly hitting the floor, when she saw the crimson giant resting on the couch.
Fluttershy walked in and, preparing for the chaos that was inevitably about to unfold, could only manage to say a single word.
Fluttershy couldn’t bare to see Rarity’s reaction so she was standing there, eyes sealed shut and holding her breath, waiting for Rarity to scream at her for not only hiding a possibly dangerous animal in her home but also lying to her about it. After about a minute of continued silence she slowly opened her eyes to look at Rarity and was surprised by what she saw.
Rarity was completely silent, though it appeared that her shock had faded away. In fact she seemed to be fascinated by Fluttershy’s giant houseguest.
Maybe a bit too fascinated.
Still no answer.
Fluttershy started poking Rarity’s shoulder to get her attention, “Rarity, are you alright?”
“…his scales are such a lovely shade of red.” Rarity finally answered.
“I mean look at him Fluttershy! It’s not like Big Macintosh’s bright red coat, his are more deep and rich. It’s just so natural! Why, I could make an entire line up of dresses based on this color alone, maybe even a couple of suits!” She then walked up to the giant and ran a hoof along his muscled body, a noticeable blush on her cheeks, “Not to mention he is quite handsome, and those muscles…”
“Rarity, you're drooling.” Fluttershy deadpanned, though there was a slight blush on her own face.
That seemed to break Rarity out of her insanity. Her blush intensified while she wiped her mouth and cleared her throat, “Y-yes, quite sorry about that darling. I may have gotten a bit out of hoof there.”
“It’s alright, this is a bit of a strange situation.”
Rarity looked over at Fluttershy and for the first time noticed her bandaged wing.
“Darling you’re hurt!” Rarity gasped out. She then shot an accusatory look at the unconscious giant, “He didn’t…”
“Oh no, no, no!” Fluttershy cut in. “He was actually the one who saved me…”
“Dear,” Rarity started, her face softening, “I think it’s about time you told me everything that happened to you in that nasty forest.”
Fluttershy nodded and began. She told Rarity about the stampede, the rogue hydra and her tumble down the hill that caused her to break her wing. She was finishing up explaining how the giant saved her from the hydra when they were interrupted by a loud crash.
Looking over they saw that one of Fluttershy’s birdhouses has been knocked over by the giant’s whip-like tail. Looking closer they notice that he appears to be extremely distressed; his entire body was shaking and his tail was swinging around erratically. Fluttershy started to become worried that something was wrong and jumped forward to try and comfort the giant while Rarity tried to limit the damage done.
“It’s ok, I’m right here.” she started comforting him, unaware that in the chaos that his wounds had started to reopen.
Everything was dark. Why couldn’t he see anything? For that matter, where even was he? He tried to remember but everything kept coming up blank, he couldn’t even seem to remember his own name. As he started to get frustrated he looked around the dark void he had found himself in, as if that would magically give him answers.
“Hey there!” a perky feminine voice suddenly called out.
Jumping in surprise, he turned to the source of the voice. Before him was quite a strange creature. She was small, about five feet tall, and was covered in dark, navy blue feathers that caused her to almost seamlessly blend in with the void around them, if it wasn’t for the fact that they seamlessly transitioned into a mellow white on the edge of her tail and wing feathers. She had long, curly feathers on her head tied into a long tail that fell over her shoulders. It too was edged in a mellow white. She was looking right at him with amber eyes and a wide smile on her face. Looking closer he noticed that her teeth were small, but sharp and pointed. He recognized them as the teeth of a carnivore. He could also tell that in addition to the wings on her arms she also had a pair on her legs, giving her a total of four wings. Underneath the wings on her arms he could see sharp claws. She had the same sharp claws on her feet, though he noticed that one claw was slightly larger than the rest on each foot. She looked almost like a weird bird and was, in a word, absolutely adorable.
“Who and what exactly are you?” he asked, having trouble keeping a small smile from forming. He didn’t know why but he felt compelled to feel happy around her, almost like he recognised her.
She giggled, “Well to answer your first question, my name is Lucimena, Lulu for short. At least, I’m the memory of her, and I know she’s very important to you. As for what, I don’t know!” she explained, never losing her perkiness.
“How do you not know?” he asked a bit incredulously.
“Well because you haven’t remembered that yet silly.” she said with her hands on her hips, as if it was the most obvious thing in the universe.
“…right…so basically you’re a manifestation of Lucimena…”
“Lulu.” she interjected.
“…Lulu, and you’re apparently important to me but you don’t know why because I don’t know why?”
“Yepperoni!” she exclaimed, fluttering in the air a bit.
I guess those wings aren’t just for show. Well, considering he couldn’t remember anything else and every fiber of his body was telling him he could trust this adorable little creature, he decided to do just that.
“Ok Lulu, I trust you. Is there anything else you, or I guess it would be myself, needs to tell me?” he figured he’d get as many answers as possible out of her.
“Hmmm…” she fell back down to the ground with a thoughtful expression. Suddenly the entire void started to shake and LuLu started fading away.
“Oh damn, I guess I’m out of time. Don’t worry Terra, you just have to be strong and you’ll get your memories back. I may not be there physically but I’m in your head now and that also means I’m with you in spirit.” Her face softened considerably as she said this when her eyes widened in realization. “I almost forgot! Don’t forget to look after the angel, you’ll know her when you see her…” she got out before fading away completely.
Angel? He thought to himself what she could’ve meant by that when he noticed that the void, which was still shaking violently, seemed to be filling itself with large trees. He also noticed that he was also growing in size. By the time the shaking finally subsided he now found himself in a dark foreboding forest and several times his previous side.
He nearly doubled over in pain.
He was suddenly stricken with unimaginable pain, which made him aware that in addition to his new gigantic size he was also covered in injuries, including a very large gash that he would much rather not think about. As he was wondering what just happened he heard a high-pitched scream in the distance, followed by a much louder roar.
He knew whoever was screaming needed help so, gritting his teeth and ignoring the pain, he started making his way in the direction of the scream as fast as possible. Due to his new weight he couldn’t really run, but the sheer size of his steps meant that he still made it to the source of the screaming relatively quickly, all the while shaking the earth. He made it to a clearing and finally saw the source of the screaming and paused at the sight.
Standing before him was a pegasus, how he knew that he wasn’t really sure. Her fur was a buttery yellow, which was accented amazingly by her rosy mane and tail. She had a slender build with larger flanks, said flanks having three pink butterflies embezzled on them. Her wings were large and seemed fluffier than Lulu’s, though one was definitely broken. He couldn’t help but find her beautiful.
The hydra closing in on her was not.
Knowing what would happen if he didn’t do anything, he went to help the beautiful pegasus but found that all of a sudden he couldn’t move. He tried to move again but to no success. He was completely stuck somehow, not even able to close his eyes or move his head.
Which meant he could only watch as the hydra approached.
As the multi-headed predator got closer he continued to try and fix his sudden imitation of a statue, until it was looming over the canary pegasus. When the hydra reared its heads back to strike he let out a scream to stop.
No words came out of his mouth.
He could only watch as the pegasus was ripped apart and devoured by the beast. He felt something wet on his face as the hydra left, its belly full.
The forest, along with the now blood-stained grass, started fading away until he was left alone in a black void again, though this time he still had his injuries. However, the pain of his wounds was nothing compared to the pain he felt in his soul for failing to save the pegasus.
“How pathetic…” a voice called out.
He looked up at the voice and saw nothing. The voice was definitely a female’s voice, but he could clearly tell it wasn’t Lulu. While Lulu’s voice was filled with joy and perkiness this voice was filled with menace and condescension. It sent a horrible chill down his spine.
“Do you want to know why you couldn’t protect her, my little fool?” she asked with a chuckle.
“Because you’re weak.” she hissed right into his ear.
He tried to say something to argue with the voice but once again nothing came out. While he couldn’t see the source of the voice, something told him that it was smiling.
“I mean really, you just stood there and watched as the poor mare got ripped apart. I wonder if it hurt when that beast tore off her wings and legs? I wonder if the last thing she saw before it bit her head off was you, someone that could have saved her from this horrible fate, just watching?” she kept asking with obvious glee.
The words were hitting him like a freight train. He should've been stronger damnit! Why couldn’t he just move? He could have easily fought off the hydra but he just stood there. He didn’t even have the decency to try and scream at it to stop. He just stood there and watched her die like it was some sort of late-night entertainment.
The voice was right. He was weak.
“You know, I think you need to be punished for your inaction, but what should the punishment be?” the voice asked itself. “Oh, I know! What better punishment than to leave you here alone, stewing in your own guilt until nothing is left except an empty husk.” the voice proudly stated.
He could only agree with the voice. His inaction had caused the painful death of an innocent and he deserved punishment. He sunk to the ground and started slowly closing his eyes, not even noticing the voice chuckling of the black smoke encircling him.
“It’s ok, I’m right here.”
His eyes shot open at the new voice. It seemed to be driving off the chill coming over him, as well as dispelling the shadows. This new voice was also that of a female but this one was soft and filled with warmth, as if it were the voice of an angel.
‘Don’t forget to look after the angel’ Lulu’s words suddenly rang through his head.
“NO!”the antagonistic voice screamed out before being silenced by the angelic voice.
“Everything will be ok, you helped me so let me help you.”
As the angel kept speaking white light started to overtake the black void until he was completely blinded. When the light faded he found himself in what appeared to be a cottage.
He also found himself locked with a pair of beautiful teal eyes.
Fluttershy had managed to calm down the giant and was surprised to find herself staring into a pair of silver eyes. She wanted to ask if he was ok but found that she couldn’t get the words out. Rarity, who had just noticed the giant was awake, was the one who finally broke the silence.
“Goodness darling, you gave us quite a fright. Are you ok?” Rarity asked.
Her question broke them out of their impromptu staring contest and Fluttershy took a few steps back while hiding behind her mane. The giant, instead of answering Rarity’s question, lifted his head up a little bit to get a better look at the two mares. One was a unicorn with a white coat and purple mane. She looked like she put a great deal of care into her appearance, but he had a sneaking suspicion that there was an underlying natural beauty that the make-up only enhanced as opposed to covering up. She also had an air of professionalism to her. When he looked over to get a better look at the other mare his eyes went wide in shock and his mouth went slack.
A yellow pegasus with a pink mane.
‘You'll know her when you see her’ he now understood what LuLu’s words had meant. This pegasus was the one he had to protect.
The two mares were about to speak but then he stood up to his full height and their jaws dropped at the specimen before them. While they could tell that he was large when he was laying down they still weren’t prepared for his actual size. At 7’6 he was easily a full head taller than Celestia herself. He stood with a powerful aura that would make Shining Armor jealous, but it was also warm and protective. Even covered in bandages they could see his large, chiseled muscles that gave him his powerful build. The two mares found themselves blushing at the sight.
And then he finally spoke.
“You’re the one from the forest, the one getting attacked by the hydra. The angel.” he said, looking straight at Fluttershy. She could feel her cheeks heating up even more from being called an angel. They burned even more when he added, “I’m so glad you are safe.”
Rarity was surprised by just how deep his voice was, but also that it had a large degree of warmth to it. Like that of an older brother or father. It gave her a feeling of safety and trust. She shook her head and started fanning herself to focus on the task at hand. She still had questions.
“Excuse me sir,” she said, getting the giant’s attention, “I had a few questions for you, but I believe introductions are in order before we get to all of that.”
She gestured to herself and Fluttershy, “My name is Rarity and this shy beauty that you graciously saved, which I still must thank you profusely for, is Fluttershy.”
Fluttershy. So that was the angel’s name. He thought it was quite appropriate. With a warm smile he looked at the two mares.
“It is a pleasure to meet you Miss Rarity and Miss Fluttershy, but,” he used his tail to gesture at his own bandages, “I believe I owe you two just as much thanks for helping me.”
“My, what a gentlecolt, but I must admit all the thanks should go to Fluttershy. She was the one who patched you up.” Rarity said, giving Fluttershy a sly look.
“I-i-it was th-th-the least I c-could do.” Fluttershy finally stuttered out.
He looked at her and with a tone filled with warmth said, “Well thank you anyway Miss Fluttershy.”
Something in his voice calmed her. She didn’t quite feel like she had to hide from him. She felt safe. “You’re very welcome.” she said, a small smile on her face.
“Well now that we have introduced ourselves, how about we put a name to dear Fluttershy’s hero?” Rarity said.
“Oh yes, I would very much like to know your name!” Fluttershy said excitedly. “That is, if you don’t mind us asking…” she added, slipping back into her timid voice.
His name? Right, of course he needed to tell them his name. He remembered that LuLu had called him something in his dream, but what was it? Oh yeah! She called him…
Rarity couldn’t help but smile. The giant standing before her, who she now knew to be named Terra, had in a very short time proved himself to be such a gentlecolt. She would be lying if she didn’t admit that his size was a bit intimidating but she couldn’t find it within herself to be afraid of him. Was it the warmth in his deep, rich voice? Was it the gentle aura he gave off despite his intimidating size? Or maybe it was the simple fact that he had saved her best friend without even knowing her? Whatever the reason, she was pleased, and slightly relieved, with the chivalrous knight standing before them.
She looked over at Fluttershy and noticed that she seemed to be staring at Terra with slight awe and couldn’t help but giggle a bit.
I wonder what she thinks of him. Rarity decided she would have to ask Fluttershy about Terra later. As for right now there were still questions that needed to be answered. She cleared her throat to get their attention.
“Well let me be the first to say that it is a pleasure to meet you Terra,” Rarity began, “but now that we have gotten introductions out of the way I would still like to ask a few questions if you don’t mind.”
Terra looked over at Rarity and nodded, “Not at all. Though I’m not actually sure how much help I’d actually be.”
The two mares noticed his nervous tone and were now even more curious, “Whatever do you mean by that, darling?” Rarity was the one to ask.
Terra rubbed the back of his neck nervously. While things had seemed to be going quite well so far but he wasn’t sure how they would react to his answer. He remembered how scared Fluttershy looked when he had first appeared in his larger form and he was afraid that if he was not able to tell them exactly what he was then they would just get scared and paranoid. It was at that moment that he felt a soft hoof on his leg, not quite making it to the shoulder. He looked down to see Fluttershy giving him a reassuring smile.
“It’s ok, you can tell us.” she said in her soft, kind voice.
He gave her a thankful smile and took a deep breath, “I don’t know how much help I’ll be because I don’t remember anything aside from the forest and my own name. I don’t know how I got here. I don’t know how I got these injuries. I don’t even know what I am or where I came from.” he said, progressively getting more dejected.
This caught the two mares off guard to say the least, though their surprise was quickly overcome by concern.
*gasp* “Oh my goodness, that’s horrible!” Fluttershy exclaimed in shock.
“Indeed it is, I’m so sorry darling.” Rarity quickly agreed.
He shook his head, the warm smile returning to his face, “Thank you. I appreciate your concern, but you have no reason to be sorry, it’s just an unfortunate event out of our control.”
“Still though, to not know who and what you are… I don’t think I could handle it.” Fluttershy said softly. She was surprised by how calmly he seemed to be taking it. She knew that if she were in his hooves right now she’d probably be sobbing like a little filly. She had to wonder if he truly was that calm about it or if he was just putting up a strong front so as not to worry them.
“Well that rather unfortunately answers a majority of my questions, though I do still have to ask what you were seeing while asleep. It seemed like quite a nasty nightmare.” Rarity said, trying to change the subject. They would definitely discuss his apparent amnesia in more detail later but for right now she wanted to make sure everything else was ok. A quick glance at Fluttershy proved that she agreed.
Terra was internally thankful to move on and told them about his dream. How he had awoken in a dark void and how he was met with a strange bird-like creature named Lulu that somehow knew his name and was also the one to explain that he currently didn’t have his memories. Fluttershy and Rarity giggled at his description of Lulu and couldn't help but think of their own hyperactive pink friend. It was when he went on to say how he found himself in the Everfree that Fluttershy spoke up.
“Is that what was causing you to panic so much?” she asked.
“No.” Terra said almost harshly, surprising the mares. The mares wouldn’t have called the new face he wore as angry, but it was definitely upset. Fluttershy hid behind her mane, scared of the new shift in mood while Rarity took a step back. Terra, noticing that he had unintentionally frightened the two mares, immediately softened his features.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you.” he apologized.
“It’s ok but, um, w-what did cause you to panic then, unless you don’t want to answer of course.” Fluttershy asked timidly.
He took a deep, long breath. He couldn’t just tell them that what caused him to freak out was watching the yellow pegasus currently standing in front of him get violently ripped apart limb from limb. She probably wouldn’t take that well. Taking another deep breath, and a quick glance at Fluttershy, he simply stated, “I had to watch somebody die, not even being able to move to help them.”
Fluttershy could tell there was great pain in his tone, even if he was trying to hide it.Rarity, who had noticed him taking a quick glance at Fluttershy, knew he wasn’t telling them all of the details. However, she could also hear the pain in his voice and figured he had a good reason for being vague and so decided to not press the issue. She and Fluttershy decided to give him some space and excused themselves to a different room.
They started discussing what they should do. It was quite the conundrum that they found themselves in. It was obvious to both of them that contrary to his intimidating size and physique Terra didn’t seem like a danger to anypony, though they knew how some Ponyville residents overreacted to new things so were still reluctant to bring him into town. His amnesia was also an issue that complicated things. For all they knew he could be some sort of terrible villain and just didn’t remember it, though neither of them thought that was very likely due to how genuinely kind he acted.
After putting their heads together they decided on what they believed would be an appropriate course of action and went to discuss it with the crimson giant in the living room. Walking in they noticed that he didn’t seem as upset anymore, though his smile still had yet to return. Rarity walked up to him while Fluttershy remained further back, hiding behind her mane once more.
“Well darling, me and Fluttershy were talking and we think we have an idea of how we might be able to help you figure out who and what you are, as well as maybe fixing your little bout of amnesia.” Rarity explained to him. He just raised his brow in interest and gestured to her to go on. “You see we have a very intelligent friend named Twilight Sparkle, if anypony would be able to help us it would be her.” She continued with a certain note of pride for her friend present in her voice.
“However,” Fluttershy spoke up timidly, “She won’t be back in town until tomorrow.”
Rarity’s smile fell away for a second before returning as she added, “Yes, she is still out of town investigating some sort of attack in the south, but her assistant, Spike, is still here and while he may not be as scholarly as Twilight he is still quite intelligent himself. Not to mention, he knows his way around that massive library better than anypony I know.” She was practically beaming at that point while talking about her other close friend and gem-hunting buddy.
“He can also let Twilight know about our situation so she can help once she gets back.” Fluttershy added, trying to keep things on track.
Terra seemed to agree with the idea, “They both sound like wonderful individuals, and neither of you have really given me a reason not to trust you.” ‘Especially Fluttershy’ he thought to himself, “Since I don’t have any better idea on how to fix this, I think I’m on board with this plan.” It was then that he noticed that both mares were shifting uncomfortably.
“Is something wrong?”
“Well… I’m sorry darling but I believe that it might be better for you to remain here while we meet with Spike.” Rarity said.
Terra raised a brow, “And why is that?”
Rarity took a deep breath before answering, “Because, to be frank, you are an absolute giant of a creature with enough muscle mass to probably bench press a castle. Me and Fluttershy may have reacted well but there are many residents that probably wouldn’t react well and throw the whole town into a panic.” she grumbled the last part, knowing exactly which three mares she was talking about.
Terra blinked his eyes a bit before looking down at himself as if noticing for the first time that he was, in fact, much larger than the ponies before him. He was brought out of this utterly surprising realization by Fluttershy’s voice.
“You’re also still injured, and I don’t feel comfortable with you moving around while you heal, so I am going to suggest that you stay here and rest.” She said much more sternly than he was expecting.
“Ok, ok I get it, I’ll stay here and rest.” he said as he laid back down which caused Fluttershy to smile.
Now with everything in order, Fluttershy and Rarity went to leave but right before going out the door, Fluttershy turned back to Terra.
“Actually there was one other thing. I’m a complete stranger to you. Why did you save me?” she asked her giant savior.
Looking right back at her with his silver eyes, shining like two full moons while his warm smile returned, “Well I couldn’t very well sit back and watch an angel die, now could I?”
Fluttershy’s face went completely scarlet when he said that and her smile grew even larger.
“Thank you” she said before leaving, failing to notice the sly smirk on Rarity’s face.
The slight orange tint in the sky and the steady sinking of Celestia’s sun were clear indications that evening was fast approaching. The hottest part of the day had already passed and now the two friends were greeted with a pleasant warm breeze. It was beautiful evenings like this that would have been perfect for a leisurely stroll or a day at the park. Unfortunately this was all lost on Fluttershy as her thoughts were on other things at the moment.
She couldn’t get her mind off of Terra and just how horrible his situation was. She still couldn’t even begin to wrap her mind around just how horrible it must feel to have no memory of who you were or where you came from. She then realized that he probably couldn’t even remember his own family. Did he even have a family to remember? That thought alone nearly brought her to tears.
She was now even more convinced that he was only putting on a facade. While he seemed to be an unyielding mountain of stoicism she got a glimpse of that mountain cracking when they asked about his dream. Then there was the whole angel business. Why had he called her that anyway?
Actually, now that she thought back to it, he seemed to be paying more attention to her even though Rarity was doing the majority of the talking.
Maybe she was overthinking the meaning of a simple word. Maybe it meant something that even Terra himself didn’t know. Or maybe… he was trying to compliment her. She felt her cheeks warm up a bit at this realization.
“Eep!” She was broken out her thoughts before they could get more heated. She looked over at the deadpanning unicorn completely red in the face.
“Excuse me darling, but you appeared to be lost in thought. Am I to assume that you had a certain chivalrous red giant on the mind?” Rarity said with no small amount of amusement and a knowing smirk.
“No! I mean yes, but it’s only because I’m worried about him.” Fluttershy frantically said. Rarity could swear she could see steam coming off the shy pegasus’ cheeks.
Rarity was a known gossip. It was a title she accepted nowadays, mostly because she tried her best to not go overboard and kept it to harmless fun. Now what not everyone knew was that gossiping had a close relative that Rarity loved just as much. That close relative was teasing, and her best friend was giving her the perfect opportunity. Not wanting to waste this opportunity she playfully bumped into her slightly taller friend with a mischievous smirk.
“Oh I know you are darling, but you can’t stand there and tell me he isn’t just an absolute hunk of a… well I guess stallion wouldn’t technically be correct now would it?” she said in mock contemplation.
“W-what?!” Fluttershy exclaimed, completely frazzled and nearly passing out from the heat coursing through her body.
“Don’t try to hide it, I saw you staring at him. You know you aren’t very discreet, darling.” Rarity teased, “I can’t say I blame you though. I mean he’s tall, handsome, not to mention how much of a gentlecolt he is and those crimson scales and deep, powerful voice just give off this aura of a knight in shining armor.” she said while fanning herself with a hoof, a blush of her own forming on her cheeks. She then leaned into Fluttershy’s ear.
“And then there are those muscles…” she whispered.
“RARITY!” Fluttershy squeaked out, her whole body now doing a fabulous impression of a cherry tomato.
Rarity burst into snorting laughter that was most definitely not lady-like.
Once she finally stopped laughing she started walking again, “I’m sorry darling, you know I’m only teasing you. I do have to admit though that it is a bit surprising to see you warm up to somepony so quickly.”
Fluttershy, her blush starting to disappear, quickened her own trot to catch up, “It’s ok, and I know it’s weird for me but I don’t really know how to explain it. It’s almost like I can feel an actual energy coming off of him that makes me feel I don’t know… safe? Comfortable? He did save my life after all. Oh I must sound so silly.”
Rarity shook her head, “Not at all, I don’t know about some kind of ‘energy’ but he seemed to seem quite nice, though I will say that him saving you has definitely earned him quite a few points in my book.” she said as she put a comforting hoof on her shy friend’s withers.
Fluttershy graciously accepted the comfort, “Thanks Rarity.”
“Of course, darling.” Rarity suddenly perked up as she remembered something, “I just realized that there was something I meant to ask before our attention was focused on his memory problems.”
“Yes?” Fluttershy inquired.
“I couldn’t help but be curious, Terra no doubt has the strength and size to make Big Macintosh look like a newborn colt in comparison, but I find it hard to believe he could drive off a full grown hydra. Even Twilight couldn’t do that with all of her magical talent, though I guess she was still a unicorn the last time she faced one.”
“Oh, well he was a bit bigger when he rescued me.” Fluttershy said rather calmly.
Rarity raised a brow in fascination at that, “Bigger?”
“Oh yes!” Fluttershy seemed almost weirdly excited, “He shrunk down to what I assume is his normal size after he passed out so I think he must have the ability to size-shift.”
“You seem quite excited about this.”
“Well the only creatures I know that can shift size are dragons so I figure that might give us a lead as to what Terra is.” Fluttershy said with hope present in her voice.
“I suppose that does make some sense and we can definitely ask Spike about it.” She only had one question left, “So how much larger was he?”
“Do you remember that dragon we had to ask to leave all those years ago? The one that was blocking out the sky with his snoring?”
“Maybe twice his size, probably more considering when he stood up on his hind legs he was as tall as an Ursa Major” Fluttershy said nonchalantly.
“WHAT?!” Rarity’s jaw hit the ground faster than Rainbow Dash going to pick up a new Daring Do book and could only stare at her clearly crazy friend.
“Are you ok Rarity?” Fluttershy asked in a concerned voice.
Rarity shook her head to get rid of the shock, “Y-yes, sorry let’s just get to the castle so that we can hopefully get some answers.”
Fluttershy nodded her head in agreement. They continued to talk, their conversation turning more casual, as they made their way into Ponyville.
Ponyville, like most small towns, tended to start closing down its shops and market in the evening. While cities like Manehatten may never sleep, the citizens of Ponyville loved their quiet little town and were saying their goodbyes to their friends as they got ready for the night.
Red Horizon was no different and loved this part of the day. He was a bit short by stallion standards, standing 5’8, with cloudy blue eyes. He was a unicorn with a sky-blue coat and orange-red mane that gave him a resemblance to his namesake. While a bit on the short side he was a very attractive stallion in the prime of his life that all the mares, and even a couple of stallions, couldn’t help but steal glances at. The only thing that seemed strange was his cutie mark; a swinging pocket watch in front of a glowing unicorn horn.
He hadn’t been in Ponyville long, only having moved in about a week ago to take a job as a psychiatrist at the Ponyville hospital, but he found he quite enjoyed the small town. Its natural air was like Celestia’s gift to his lungs, and he adored the gentle breeze blowing through his coat and mane. The town was also, thanks to the resident Princess and her obsession with knowledge, home to one of the largest libraries in all of Equestria and as both a unicorn and a doctor he knew he could take great advantage of a resource like that. But as a young, handsome stallion he was most interested in the mares, and Ponyville absolutely didn’t disappoint in the pretty mare department.
Speaking of which, at that moment he could see two mares walking down the road. The first one, a unicorn mare, stood about 5’5 and her coat was as white as snow. Both her mane and tail were a deep, royal purple and were perfectly curled. Her eyes were like two sapphires that matched the three gems on her toned flank and were accentuated by light blue eyeshadow. She was obviously a mare who took great care of her body and appearance and her confident trot signified that she knew it.
“Hm, she could be fun. Probably hides a wild side.”he muttered to himself before looking at the other mare where his jaw dropped.
“Sweet wings of Celestia!” Red whisper screamed when he took a closer look at the pegasus. She was a bit taller than the unicorn at 5’7 and had a lovely butter yellow coat and a long, flowing mane with a rosey pink hue. Her tail was the same rosey pink as her mane, and just as long and elegant. He could only imagine how soft any of them would feel against his own coat. Her legs were long and slender, she could very well be a model with legs like that. While one of her wings was wrapped up, probably from an accident though he didn’t really care, the one he could see was large and fluffy. He figured they probably were not great for flying but they would probably feel amazing wrapped around him. He usually didn’t go for pegasi as they tended to have more muscle than he preferred, but this mare didn’t have that problem. In fact she seemed naturally thin. Well, except for what he was quickly deciding was his favorite attribute. Her flanks. Dear Celestia, those flanks. They looked like big yellow pillows with pink butterflies emblazoned onto them yet still somehow didn’t seem out of place on the rest of her slender frame, and Red bet they probably felt absolutely amazing.
She was perfect.
Deciding that he had had enough of simply staring he decided to walk up to the two gorgeous mares. He might as well take his time and have some fun.
“Excuse me,” He began, “I hope I’m not bothering you two but I was just curious what two such lovely mares such as yourselves are off to this lovely evening.” He was putting on the charm almost immediately.
Fluttershy squicked and hid behind her mane. Rarity let out an exasperated sigh at her shy friend before turning to the sky-blue stallion while putting on a friendly, yet suspicious smiling, “It’s quite alright, darling, we were just on our way to the castle library to meet a friend, though I’m sorry to say we are in a bit of a rush.”
Her voice was just as elegant as her looks. She reminded Red a little bit of the snobs in Canterlot, though the alabaster mare before him seemed less full of herself than them. What he also noticed was the barely hidden apprehension at his presence. She would definitely be a tough one to crack but he always enjoyed a challenge. Yes, she would definitely be fun.
“Oh I understand, actually do you mind if I tag along?” He asked in his most innocent voice. “I haven’t been in town too long and have been meaning to visit the library.”
Rarity slightly narrowed her eyes while keeping her friendly smile. The look actually sent a slight chill down his back. “I… suppose there wouldn’t be any issue in doing that, what do you think, darling?” She said looking at Fluttershy.
“I don’t m-mind.” Fluttershy said, still hiding behind her mane.
Red creased a small, almost predatory smile as he realized something else about this stunning specimen of a pegasus.
She was shy.
Confident mares were one thing. It was always so entertaining to take that strength and confidence and completely shatter it. It was something that made him feel a bit giddy. However that was nothing compared to breaking a shy mare. Contrary to what one may think, shy mares were just as difficult to break as confident mares, if not more so. They were usually untrusting and built up thick, strong walls in their mind. It was those walls that Red found the most joy in breaking down.
And he was currently in the presence of what was probably the most shy and innocent mare he had ever laid eyes on. He had to play his cards right though. While he figured she’d probably be relatively easy to manipulate, he needed to try and get her trust first. That could take time, so for now he would just have to lay on the charm and then he would strike. Of course if that didn’t work he had… other ways to get what he wanted. This was going to be the most fun he’s had since Manehatten!
“Excellent, by the way my name is Red Horizon but please just call me Red, may I get your names?”
Rarity gave him another suspicious look before answering, “Of course… my name is Rarity Belle, but please just call me Rarity.”
“My name is… F-Fluttershy”
“It’s alright dear, I know I may be a stranger but there’s no reason to be afraid, just take your time.” Red said softening both his voice and facial features, a tactic that always seemed to work wonders on shy mares.
Apparently Fluttershy was no different as she came out from behind her mane, “T-thank you.” She took a calming breath, “My name is Fluttershy.”
How fitting “A lovely name for a lovely mare.” He said with a soft smile, though Rarity could have sworn that there was something hidden behind that smile, something she didn’t like.
Fluttershy, however, blushed slightly at the compliment and then noticed his cutie mark. It was a bit strange to her and sparked her curiosity as she wondered what it could mean. “Excuse me Horizon, I don’t mean to be rude but I couldn’t help noticing your cutie mark and um, if you don’t mind, what does it mean?”
“Yes, I’m quite curious myself.” Rarity added, also noticing the strange cutie mark.
Red smiled, “It’s no problem at all, my mark represents my expertise with the mind and psychology.” That wasn’t the complete truth but they didn’t need to know that. It’s not like it was a complete lie either. “I actually moved to Ponyville to take on the psychologist position at the hospital.”
“My, my, darling, that is quite impressive.” Rarity said a bit passive-aggressively. She still couldn’t help but feel suspicious of this stallion.
“Yes, you must help a lot of ponies.” Fluttershy chimed in, more genuinely impressed.
“Oh in ways you would never even imagine!” And when I’m done you won’t have to imagine. “But enough about me, how about you two? What do you do?”
Rarity brightened up, always happy to talk about her work, “I am a dressmaker, I run the boutique here in Ponyville as well as a couple in Manehattan and Canterlot.”
“That’s quite the accomplishment Miss Rarity, and I’m sure if the dresses are even a fraction as beautiful as you are you must be quite successful.”
“Flattery will get you nowhere Mr. Horizon.” Rarity said through a fake smile. “Though I’m sure if you came by the boutique sometime I could make you an absolutely fabulous suit.”
“I’ll have to take you up on that offer sometime.” He said, though he didn’t ever intend to go there for a suit. He was not blind to Rarity’s barely hidden suspicion and was a bit surprised. He had pegged her as a pretty face with a somewhat strong will that would be fun to break but not exceptionally difficult. He had apparently not only underestimated her strength of will but also her intelligence. He would have to be careful around her. With that in mind he turned to the true prize; the slender yellow pegasus with pillowy flanks. “How about you Miss Fluttershy?”
“Oh n-nothing special, I’m just the animal caretaker of Ponyville, and I also act as a second veterinarian.” Fluttershy said in her usual shy manner.
Red was actually surprised by this, “That’s not nothing at all, I was led to believe that was a position generally held by earth ponies so to do so as a pegasus must mean you are quite good at your job.”
“Oh it’s not that difficult, I just like helping all of the animals.” She said with a small smile.
He was about to say something else when the words got caught in his throat and he could only stare in awe at the sight before him.
He had failed to realize that they were coming up to the castle in their conversation, and it was truly a sight to behold. It was a massive tree as tall as the castle in Canterlot though it had obviously been augmented with magic as it had four large oak towers coming off of it as well as large, stained-glass windows and massive iron doors guarded by two of Twilight’s royal guards. The armor of the guards was golden and enchanted to give them lavender coats and eyes to match Twilight’s, signifying they answered to the Princess of Friendship above any of the other Princesses.
Rarity couldn't help but smirk at his reaction, "I see you've noticed the castle of Princess Twilight Sparkle, quite lovely isn't it?"
"It's incredible." He said, still in awe.
"Yes quite, you see when Twilight ascended to become an alicorn and Princess she didn't want to leave the library. So with some help from the other Princesses, and a great many unicorns and earth ponies, they moved the Golden Oaks Library out to the edge of town, grew it to a larger size and molded it into a proper castle that also houses one of the largest libraries in Equestria, second only to the Royal Canterlot Library." Rarity said with great pride, always ready to brag about her friends and their accomplishments.
Red was actually impressed with Rarity's knowledge, "Miss Rarity, you seem to know quite a lot about this."
"Well of course darling, me and Fluttershy are some of Twilight's closest friends after all." Rarity said with a smirk, though it almost felt like a veiled warning to Red.
"How fascinating…" His current marks were close friends with the Princess of Friendship herself. The more he learned the more difficult it seemed like he would have with these two. However, instead of being deterred he was practically giddy with excitement. Oh how he loved a challenge.
The two guards standing guard at the door were a mare and stallion that were only a bit older than Fluttershy and Rarity. The stallion was a burly earth pony that stood to be 6’0 and his cutie mark was a castle wall made of metal. The mare was a slender yet toned pegasus that stood taller than the average mare at 5’10. Her cutie mark was a feather crossed with a lance.
As they approached the iron doors they were stopped by the burly earth pony guard who had a booming voice only slightly higher in pitch than Terra’s, “Halt! What busi… Oh! Lady Rarity and Lady Fluttershy it’s good to see you both, how are you this evening?”
The mares gave two guards a warm smile before Rarity answered, “It’s good to see you too Iron Bastion, and we’re doing just fine but you know you don’t have to be so formal with us.” she said to the large stallion with a playful smirk.
Iron Bastion let out a string of booming laughter, “Hahaha! Right, sorry, force of habit.”
The mare gave him a mischievous look, “You know the Princess is going to give you another lecture if she hears about you being too formal again right?” she said teasingly, Red was surprised by the tall mare’s voice. Contrary to her appearance her voice was soft and warm like Fluttershy’s, though a bit deeper. Iron Bastion, on the other hand, went pale at what his fellow guard had said as if she just threatened him with execution. All three mares burst into laughter at his plight. Red was even more surprised to see that, after their laughter subsided, Fluttershy walked up to the taller mare and gave her a loving hug.
“It’s always great to see you Silver Lance.” Fluttershy said while nuzzling the guard, who quickly returned it with a nuzzle of her own.
“It’s wonderful to see you too, baby sister, though I wish we could do it more when we’re not both working.” They tightened their embrace a bit before separating, it was there that Silver Lance noticed that one of Fluttershy’s wings was wrapped up in bandages and she immediately went into protective sister mode.
“What happened to your wing!?” the tall mare exclaimed, causing Fluttershy to blush awkwardly.
“I kinda of fell in the Everfree and broke it, I’ll explain more once we’re in private.” she explained sheepishly. Silver leveled a scrutinizing glare at her little sister before letting out a sigh of defeat.
As they were having their conversation Red Horizon had gone very pale. Sister?! He was caught completely off guard by the fact that his current mark had an older sister in the royal guard. If he thought it was going to be difficult before this just completely changed the game. He obviously wouldn’t give up that easily but he now knew he needed to plan a little bit before doing anything. It was then that he got everyone’s attention.
“Excuse me.” he said.
“Ai, and who might you be?” Iron Bastion said, his stoic authority returning while Silver Lance gave him a curious look.
“How rude of me, I am Red Horizon, the new psychiatrist at the Ponyville Hospital. I came here with these two lovely mares to see the castle, but now I think I must take my leave.” he walked up to Fluttershy and lifted her hoof to give it a quick kiss, causing her to blush, “I hope we meet each other again soon, my dear.” he said before taking his leave. Both Rarity and Silver gave him soft glares as he left while Fluttershy fanned herself and Iron Bastion simply raised a brow.
“I don’t like him.” Silver finally said once he was out of ear shot, earning her a nod of agreement from Rarity and an appalled look from Fluttershy.
“Sister! That’s rude, you barely know him!” Fluttershy scolded her older sister, who immediately gave her a look of guilt.
“Sorry sis, I guess I’m just being protective. Still, just please be careful.”
“Of course I will.” Fluttershy said before they heard Iron clear his throat to get their attention. Silver gave her an approving nod before looking at Iron Bastion with a proud smile, “So did you two hear how Iron here got promoted to captain?”
“WHAT?!” they both yelled out in surprise.
“Well temporary captain, I’m holding the spot while they get the actual captain. Twilight did offer me the official position but I declined saying that I knew someone better for the position.” Iron explained while rubbing the back of his neck.
“Who did you recommend?” Fluttershy asked.
“Can’t say, that would ruin the surprise.” Silver said in a teasing tone. Fluttershy simply gave her a pouty look while Iron simply rolled his eyes and Rarity giggled.
“Anyway, not that it isn’t wonderful to see you ladies but I’m sure you came here for more than just catching up with us two.” he said, reminding the two of their original reason for coming to the castle.
“Right, we actually came here to ask Spike a few questions. We can explain a bit more inside if that is fine with you.” Rarity said. While she and Fluttershy trusted the two guards like family, which in Fluttershy’s case they actually were, they didn’t feel quite comfortable discussing Terra outside. The two guards seemed to pick up on this and Silver spoke up.
“Understood, the little drake should be in the private library right now so he should be able to meet with you.” she said before she and Iron opened the doors and led them all inside. As they walked in Silver pulled Rarity to the side a bit.
“What’s the matter, Silver?” Rarity asked, more than a little confused.
“Hey Rares, I could see the look on your face. You didn’t like that Red Horizon guy either did you?” the tall mare asked.
Rarity’s face got serious, “No, I can’t quite place why but he gave me the same dirty feeling that I get around stallions like Blueblood.” she answered, almost spitting Blueblood’s name.
“That’s what I thought, can I ask you to watch over my little sister? She’s a smart mare and I trust her but sometimes she can be too trusting for her own good.” she asked, a bit of Fluttershy’s own timidness leaking out.
Rarity put a hoof on the taller mare’s withers and gave her a reassuring smile, “Of course, darling. She’s my best friend and I would never let her be her.”
Silver gave Rarity a thankful smile, “Thank you.”
Rarity simply nodded as they made it to Twilight’s private library.
They found Spike sitting there reading one of his comic books. Once the drake noticed that he now had guests he set the comic down to greet them.
“Hey guys, to what do I owe this surprise visit?” he said while giving his two friends a welcoming hug, which they happily returned.
‘Little’ wasn’t exactly the best word to describe the drake anymore. Him being Twilight’s advisor was already unpopular with the nobles due to his species but it only got worse when he hit his growth spurt. The pudgy little dragon hatchling was no more and was instead replaced by a handsome young drake that turned the heads of all the girls, pony or otherwise. He now opted to walk on all four legs instead of two but even on all fours he stood 6’2, as tall as Princess Luna. His neck and tail had become longer and more serpent-like while his head had elongated so that it now looked more pony-like. He wasn’t bulky but his muscles were still well defined giving him the appearance of a big, reptilian cat. His scales were a brilliant purple that almost seemed to shine in the light while his underbelly and spines had darkened into a more emerald green that more closely matched his eyes. By far the biggest change though were his wings. They were massive, even larger than Celestia’s, and resembled a bat’s. Like the rest of his body the back of the wings were purple while the underside was green.
He used said massive wings to bring in the two guards to join the hug.
“Don’t think you two are exempt from this greeting.” he said with a smirk, causing them to laugh a bit.
“Oh Spike, I’m always so glad to see that big heart of yours.” Fluttershy said. While she hated to admit it, when Spike had first started growing she had been a bit scared. While it had gotten a lot better she did still hold her fear of dragons and Spike had started to look more and more like the ones she feared. However, instead of hiding it she and Spike actually discussed it and it didn’t take long for her to realize that it was still the same Spike, just bigger and a bit more mature.
“I could say the same for you Flutters,” he then looked at Rarity and smirked, “not to mention it’s always a pleasure to see you, Miss Rarity.” he said in a teasing tone while Rarity gave him a good natured eye roll. He then felt a rough shoulder bump and looked to see Iron Bastion at his side while Silver Lance had a hoof to her muzzle to subdue her giggling.
“And what about us lad? Not happy to see us?” Iron said while roughly patting the young drake’s back, who could feel the stallion’s great strength even through his tough scales. He gave a hearty chuckle before grabbing both guards around the withers.
“Of course I always love seeing my two favorite guards! You still down for OnO this Tuesday Iron.” Spike asked as he released the two.
“Ai, as long as the Missus is still alright with.” he said with a chuckle when Silver walked up and gave him a peck on the cheek.
“Of course I’m still ok with it honey, I want you to have fun with your friends. It also gives me an opportunity to have family time with my favorite baby sister.” she said while tightly hugging said sibling, who gave her a nonplussed look.
“I’m your only baby sister.” Fluttershy deadpanned.
“Doesn’t mean you can’t still be my favorite.” the tall mare said before booping her sister on the nose. She then gave her husband and Spike an authoritative glare that chilled them to the core, “But if I find out you guys blew up another town then I’ll show you a wrath that makes Celestia look like a firecracker. Am I clear?”
“Yes ma’am!” They both squicked out.
Fluttershy giggled at her sister’s nagging, remembering what it was like when they were younger, when Rarity walked up to her.
“Um, what exactly does she mean by blowing up another town?” she whispered, a bit nervous.
Fluttershy leaned in and whispered back, “Last week they accidentally blew up Hoofington, nopony was hurt and Discord fixed the damage but sister and Twilight were furious.”
“Do I even want to know how they managed that?”
“Probably not.” Fluttershy said before they were brought back into the conversation by Spike loudly clearing his throat.
“With greetings out of the way, what’s up girls?” Spike asked.
“Yeah, I think you promised me an explanation for that wing of yours.” Silver said, which made Spike suddenly notice Fluttershy’s wrapped up wing.
“Holy crap, how did I miss that?!” he exclaimed as he ran over to Fluttershy, “Are you ok, what happened?!”
Fluttershy gently pushed him away while Rarity answered, “That’s actually why we’re here.”
Spike sat on his haunches while giving them an upset expression and crossing his arms.
“Explain.” he said simply. Silver and Iron sat by him, their looks indicating that they were also ready for an explanation.
Both Rarity and Fluttershy nervously gulped as they began. Fluttershy began by telling them how she went into the Everfree to look for Dragon Lilies when she was nearly caught in a stampede caused by a hydra. She explained that while she was trying to get away from the massive predator that she had fallen down a small cliff and managed to break her wing on a rock. Silver immediately ran over and gave her sister a hug while Iron and Spike were wondering what a hydra was doing so far away from the bog. It was when they asked how Fluttershy got away from the hydra did she explain how Terra rescued her. She explained his size, the rumbling roar he produced and how he was able to cause an earthquake. All jaws in the room hit the floor, even Rarity who hadn’t known about the part about him causing an earthquake.
“That would explain the shaking earlier…” Silver mumbled.
Spike shook off his shock, “Wait, wait, wait! So you’re telling me that some creature the size of an Ursa Major, sounds like a demonic subwoofer and can cause freaking natural disasters just randomly decided to help you and you, our resident creature expert, have no idea what it is.” Spike said frantically. He then found his jaws forcefully closed by a blue aura. He looked over to see Rarity giving him a deadpanned look.
“Are you quite done?” she asked, to which he nodded and she let him go. “Good, because there’s still more.”
With the interruption out of the way, Fluttershy continued with her story. She told them how after he ran off the hydra that Terra had collapsed and shrunk down to a much smaller size. Spike’s face went a bit pale and even Iron and Silver felt a little nauseous when she described the injuries he had. She then explained that she got Harry’s help to bring him back to her cottage to patch him up, as well as her wing. It was here that Rarity took as she explained how she had gone to check on Fluttershy and after seeing her act suspicious ran in to discover Terra. They then went on to say how he had a terrible nightmare about being unable to protect someone, his meeting with the strange Lulu and, most concerning, that he had lost all of his memories aside from his name. Once they had finished, Spike, Silver and Iron took a minute to absorb all the information just given to them.
“Oh, the poor dear.” Silver muttered, her tone sad.
“Yeah, I feel kind of bad about freaking out about him now. This Terra sounds like a good guy.” Spike said.
“He most definitely is, he was so sweet when he was talking to us.” Fluttershy said with a faint blush on her cheeks.
“Anyway, that’s why we came here. We figured you might be able to help us with discovering what he is and maybe a way to regain his memories.” Rarity said, giving the young drake a hopeful look. Spike sat in thought for a bit before answering.
“Well I can tell you right now that he isn’t a dragon. The only dragons that get that big are elder dragons like Torch, and even then no dragon has the ability to size shift on command, we can only do it under the effects of greed sickness. With that being said, I know a book I can lend you that has a detailed list of all creatures ever documented on Equus, that may help.” Spike explained before flying up to find said book.
Fluttershy was a bit disappointed by the news, she couldn’t blame Spike for not knowing anything.
“What about his memories?” she asked, hoping for better luck with their second problem.
Spike shook his head, “Sorry, that would be more of Twilight’s department, though the good news is that she should be back tomorrow morning so I can let you know when she’s back and we can go from there.”
“Ok, I guess that works.” Fluttershy said. Her disappointment was clear and she couldn’t help but let out a frustrated sigh. She then felt a hoof on her shoulder and looked up to see Silver giving her a reassuring smile. She tried to return the gesture to her sister but didn’t do very well.
While this was going on, Rarity, also quite disappointed with the turn of events, looked over to see Iron Bastion deep in thought. She then realized he hadn’t said a word since they finished their story.
“Everything alright there, darling.” she said, getting his attention.
“Sorry lass, of course I feel bad for the lad but something else is bothering me.” he said with a troubled look on his face.
“What is it hon?” Silver asked. She knew her husband well and she could tell that something was seriously troubling him and that made her nervous. It took a lot to get to Iron Bastion.
“It’s just that this Terra lad seems to be quite a mighty individual. I mean even we royal guards would have trouble taking on a full grown hydra yet he sent it running like a common mouse. So my question is…” He looked at everyone in the room with a dead serious expression.
“What kind of monster could injure him?”
Somewhere deep within the Everfree
With the sun finally setting the darkness became almost palpable. This was no issue for the hydra as it was used to not being able to see in murky bog water.
It got by more off of its sense of smell and hearing anyway.
This specific hydra was far from its usual home. It had felt danger in the bog and escaped further into the Everfree, where it thought it had found an easy meal when it came across a pegasus pony. However, when it had cornered its prey it had suddenly found itself being intimidated instead by some unknown creature. Hydras were relatively smart by wild animal standards and it knew it should have left quicker than it had but the creature had confused it. Aside from the rare Ursai, the hydras were the largest predators in the forest, and yet this new creature had shown up to drive it out.
What confused it the most however was that the creature wasn’t a predator, but an herbivore. This confused and worried the hydra because that meant that the creature that scared it from its prey was not the same one that had scared it out of the bog.
The hydra froze as it suddenly heard a twig snapping. It was also then that it could feel the ground slightly rumbling. Its instincts were screaming at it to run but it couldn’t move. Something was near and its four heads started looking around frantically. The rumbling stopped all of a sudden and something told the hydra to look forward.
That’s where it saw the new predator.
Due to its poor eyesight the hydra couldn't make out any details except that whatever it was easily dwarfed the hydra, being twice its height, and that one of its eyes was glowing blood red. The terrifying predator started slowly approaching and stopped when it was only a few feet in front of the hydra. It stood there for a few deadly silent seconds that felt like an eternity.
Then it roared.
The roar was horrible, like something pulled right out of the depths of Hell itself. It sounded like some unholy mix of a wolf’s howl, a tiger’s roar and a child’s scream. And underneath it all was the same low, bone-shaking growl that the other giant creature had produced. It all added up to make it impossible for the hydra to move, as it was frozen in sheer terror. The hydra knew there was no escape.
This is where it would die.
The last thing it ever saw was the horrible giant smiling, revealing its massive, blade-like teeth.
After Iron Bastion’s ominous inquiry, everyone decided to leave. Rarity decided to go ahead and head home to Carousel Boutique, asking Fluttershy to wish Terra a goodnight on her behalf. Fluttershy was about to head home herself when she felt Silver stop her.
“Hey Shy, how about I walk you home?” she asked.
“Oh you don’t have to, I wouldn’t want to bother you while you’re on duty.” Fluttershy said shyly.
“Don’t worry about that, our shift is over anyway. Also I want to see Terra for myself.” she said, hiding a sly smirk.
“Well in that case I don’t mind.” Fluttershy smiled at the prospect of spending even a little time with her sister but then noticed that Silver still had her armor on. “Um, don’t you need to get out of your armor first?”
Silver looked down, also forgetting that she had her armor on, and nodded, “Yeah, just give me and Iron a few minutes to put it up.”
And that’s what Fluttershy did. After about five minutes the couple walked out, now free of their enchantments. Iron Bastion was revealed to have a light beige coat and a chocolatey brown mane that was cut relatively short. His eyes were the same brown as his mane. Now that Silver Lance was without her armor it was very apparent that she and Fluttershy were related. Mostly because they looked like carbon copies of each other. Silver had the same butter coat, flowing rose mane and soft teal eyes as her younger sister. If it wasn’t for the fact that Silver was noticeably taller and had a different cutie mark one would think they were twins. Fluttershy still wondered how she was able to fit all of that mane into her helmet.
“Are you coming with us too, Iron?” Fluttershy asked.
He simply shook his head, “No, I’m gonna go ahead home and start on supper. You two have a good night.” he said before pecking his wife on the lips.
“Alright honey, I shouldn’t be too long.” Silver said before she and Fluttershy went off to her cottage.
As they were walking the two sisters decided to take the opportunity to catch up. The sun had fully set and Luna’s moon was on full display. It was a truly beautiful night with no clouds to block out the stars. Unfortunately, Fluttershy found it difficult to focus on the night, or even on the conversation she was having with her sister, something that didn’t go unnoticed by said sister.
“Hey Shy, what’s on your mind?” she asked, though she already had a pretty decent idea as to the answer.
Fluttershy jumped a little at the question and then asked sheepishly, “Am I really that obvious?”
Silver nodded, “You’ve never been very good at hiding your emotions. So what’s up? Is it Terra?”
Fluttershy let out a defeated sigh, “Yes. I’m just worried, Silver, and I don’t know what to do.”
“Hey now, it’ll be ok. It’s only the first day, remember.” Silver said reassuradly.
“I know but I just hate to think about how much pain he must be in. I couldn’t even imagine if I couldn’t remember you.” she said as tears started wetting her eyes and her voice becoming shaky. She truly didn’t know what she would do if she couldn’t remember Silver, her parents or the rest of her friends and that was the exact situation that Terra was in. The other thing bothering her was what Iron Bastion had said. She had seen first hoof how powerful Terra was, but she had also seen the severity of his injuries. Terra had power on par with an adult dragon, if not more.
And something had nearly killed him.
She felt a deep chill spread through her body at that realization. It was a very real possibility that whatever did that to Terra was still out there and may even be looking for him. Part of her hoped it was just a dangerous animal. That would at least be easier to deal with. However, a deep part of her, an instinct she didn’t even know she had, told her that whatever it was was far more sinister. She started to hyperventilate as more and more dark thoughts about Terra’s mystery assailant when she felt a strong pair of hooves and two fluffy wings embrace her. She looked up to see Silver wearing a worried expression. She didn’t use words, Silver never had to, something about her embrace always brought Fluttershy comfort.
As Fluttershy started to calm down the dark thoughts left her mind and were instead replaced with different, happier ones. She remembered her thankfulness at Terra saving her and how kind he was when he finally spoke to them. He had been her savior and she believed that, even in such a short amount of time, she could consider him a friend.
“Aiieeee!” Fluttershy suddenly screamed out as a horrible pain shot through her head like a crossbow bolt. Silver immediately started panicking but the pain was so great that Fluttershy couldn’t even hear her. If she hadn’t had them squinted shut, Silver would have noticed that her sister’s eyes were glowing. As quickly as the pain appeared it then subsided and Fluttershy let out a sigh of relief while Silver continued to worry.
“Fluttershy, are you alright?! What was that?!”
“Sorry, I guess the stress of today finally got to me and gave me a quick migraine. It’s gone now.” Fluttershy reassured her sister.
“Ok… if you’re sure.” Silver said, though she still had a strange feeling that it was more than just a stress migraine. She decided to just ignore it for now and the two went back to walking back to Fluttershy’s home. Once they calmed down, Silver looked back at Fluttershy with a coy smile.
“Soooo, there was something you failed to mention when you were telling us about Terra.” she said innocently.
“Oh? What was it?” Fluttershy asked.
Silver leaned right into her ear before asking in a teasing tone, “Is he handsome?”
“SILVER!” Fluttershy exclaimed, her whole body going beet red. Silver collapsed to the ground in laughter.
It didn’t take much longer for them to reach the cottage. Fluttershy’s cheeks were still flushed and slightly puffed out in a pout. All the while Silver was doing her best to stifle her laughter and failing miserably.
“Sorry *giggle* Shy, but it’s just too easy to tease you, not to mention how *giggle* adorable your face is when you pout like that.” she said while giggling like a madmare.
“I am not.” Fluttershy muttered while leveling the most scrutinizing glare she could manage at her sister. She couldn’t hold it for long though as the corners of her mouth twitched into a smile and she was quickly joining her sister in laughter.
When they got to the door Fluttershy was about to open it when Silver suddenly stopped her.
“Wait, do you hear that?” she said, her face had instantly shifted to a serious look.
Fluttershy was a bit confused but she knew to trust her sister’s instincts, one didn’t become a royal guard without reason after all, so she shifted her ears to better listen and she started to hear something. It was soft yet low and seemed to be following a consistent rhythm. She actually found it quite pleasing and that’s when she realized what it was.
“It’s… singing?” she whispered. The two siblings gave each other confused looks before slowly and quietly opening the door. They made their way into the living room as quietly as they could, their hooves barely making a clop. When they saw the scene taking place their jaws went slack.
In the middle of the living room was Terra. He was lying on the floor surrounded by all of Fluttershy’s little animal friends, even Angel was sitting calmly on his back. The animals were all attentively listening to the red giant and the mares were quite aware as to why.
Terra was singing.
Hush now sweet child
Don’t make a sound
Fear not dear child
For dreams will be found
Sleep now sweet child
I will give lease
Listen dear child
To my song of peace.
His voice was smooth and low, a lovely basso profundo. His pitch was nearly perfect and Fluttershy found herself swaying a bit to his soothing voice. She couldn’t help but blush a little, he was just full of surprises.
“Wow.” Silver said a bit louder than she meant to. To her credit she was actually masking her shock at seeing Terra in person quite well. Though on the inside she was squealing like a school filly. Fluttershy’s description had not done him justice now that she could see just how heavily built he was. She was also pleased to see that he was indeed handsome.
Terra had heard her and managed to finally realize that his host had returned. He slowly stood up, making sure that he didn’t accidentally step on any of the smaller critters, and greeted them while Angel remained on his back.
“Welcome back, Fluttershy.” he said with a smile, then he noticed Silver and his brows raised at what appeared to be a second Fluttershy. He looked back and forth between the two mares before he found his voice.
“Um, Fluttershy? I think the blood loss is still messing with my head because there’s two of you.” he said which caused the mares to giggle.
“Actually Terra, this is my older sister, Silver Lance. She’s one of Twilight’s top guards and wanted to meet you.” Fluttershy explained. Terra nodded in understanding and took a closer look at Silver. He quickly started to see differences between the siblings. The most obvious was that Silver was taller, but he could also see that her muscles were more defined and gave her an attractive, athletic look, obviously from being a guard. While it was barely noticeable, he could also see that her mane was cut slightly shorter, though it was still long and elegant. However, even with all of those differences she had the same kind, motherly eyes that Fluttershy had. Terra couldn’t help but smile.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Silver Lance.” he said while giving a slight bow, causing Silver to smile in approval.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you as well, I’m glad to see Rarity wasn’t exaggerating about you being a gentlecolt.” she said, causing Terra to chuckle slightly. She then walked up and started slowly circling the red giant. She was still slightly mesmerized by him. He was like nothing she had ever seen before! As she continued to circle him, making him feel just a bit awkward, she paid closer attention to his build. He held himself with purpose and discipline and she could tell that his muscles were chiseled from work and training and not just from a few too many days at the gym.
“Wait a minute.” she muttered as her eyes went wide with realization and she rushed back to Fluttershy’s side.
“What is it Silver?” Fluttershy asked, a bit confused at her sister’s sudden shift.
She pointed toward Terra before answering, “You’re a soldier!”
Terra and Fluttershy’s eyes went wide in surprise but quickly shook it off, “What do you mean?”
“Sorry, I mean that he’s a soldier, or at the very least an ex-soldier. The way you hold yourself is how me and my comrades hold ourselves, not to mention your muscles are built in a way that you just can’t get from weights alone. I should know. I’m married to someone with the same build.” she said with a smirk. She then gave Fluttershy a coy look.
“I guess the mares in our family have a type.” she said coyly, earning her a glare from the canary pegasus.
“Not the time, Silver.” Fluttershy hissed through gritted teeth, a light blush on her cheeks.
While Silver chuckled at her sister’s embarrassment, Terra was still very confused.
“Wait, but I don't remember anything about being a soldier.” he said, slightly flustered.
“Right, Shy told us about your dilemma. The thing is that no matter how much your mind forgets the body will still retain what it was trained to do. It’s how I assume you’re still able to speak, walk and breathe.” she explained.
Terra thought about it and he couldn’t help but agree with her a bit. While being called a soldier didn’t feel quite right he felt like he was something similar. He felt the need to protect those that couldn’t protect themselves and he would admit that it had felt good to face off against that hydra. It felt even better to protect the angelic pegasus currently still giving her sister an annoyed glare. Was it him or did her coat seem more red than usual?
Everyone was ripped out of their thoughts at the sound of Fluttershy’s stomach rumbling, causing her to forget her annoyance at her sister.
“Sorry, I guess it has been a while since I last ate.” she said sheepishly while Terra and Silver chuckled.
The entire cottage shook, as well as the two mares inside, from the sudden rumbling and once it subsided they directed their shocked looks at Terra, who had a sheepish smile and a barely noticeable blush strewn across his face. Angel, who had been shaken off Terra’s back, was giving the giant an angry glare.
“…I guess you’re not the only one who's a bit hungry.”
“Bwahahahahahaha!” they all suddenly burst into loud guffaws. After a while of laughing and a few tears shed they quieted down.
“I think that’s my cue.” Silver said while looking at the two, “It was great to meet you Terra, but my husband did say he was making dinner for me so I should get going.” She went over and tightly hugged Fluttershy, them saying their goodbyes, before she walked to the door. However, before she opened the door she turned back to look at Terra and both he and Fluttershy were surprised to see her eyes glistening and emanating a look of both sadness and gratitude.
“Thank you for saving my baby sister. I… don’t know what I'd do if something had happened to her.” she said all of this trying, and failing to keep her voice from cracking. Terra simply nodded in understanding, a warm smile on his face. Silver nodded back before giving a final goodbye and flying off to her own home.
“You have a wonderful sister.” Terra said after a second.
“I know, she’s always been there for me and I lover very much.” Fluttershy said.
They would have sat there longer but their stomachs demanded attention, causing them to both chuckle. She was about to go make them some dinner when she had a realization.
“Um, Terra?” she asked a bit nervously.
“What exactly do you eat?” She had spent the whole time assuming he was an herbivore, or at most an omnivore, as that was the diet of every other sapient species aside from dragons, who were lithovores that occasionally ate meat. But he was something completely from all the other sapient species so he could very well be a carnivore. If he was it wouldn’t have really bothered her, she had plenty of carnivorous critters she took care of, but she knew that not all ponies would be so accepting when they inevitably brought him into town.
He started chuckling, calming her nerves a bit “If you’re worried that I eat meat you have no reason to fret. I’m a vegetarian.” he said and she let out a silent sigh of relief.
At that she started making dinner. She made a relatively simple salad with some lettuce, red onions, shredded carrots, croutons and some shredded cheddar cheese. She made Terra’s serving nearly three times the size of hers, figuring he needed the extra food due to his size, and served it with ranch on the side. While Fluttershy practically drenched her salad in the white dressing, Terra was far more reserved in his application.
They ate in silence for a while and all the while Fluttershy was stealing glances at the red giant. She noticed that he used his whip-like tail to hold the fork and eat, surprised by its dexterity. After what Silver had said earlier she was less surprised to see that he ate with a subdued discipline that she usually saw the guards eating with. As she kept looking at him, unaware that she had unintentionally started staring, she couldn’t help but once again take in his strong frame. Even wrapped in bandages she could see the muscles flexing ever so slightly. She followed those muscles up his thick neck until she got to his strong, defined jawline and found herself blushing.
He really was quite handsome.
“Eep!” she squicked out, not prepared to hear his low, velvety voice. She looked back at him to see a concerned look on his face. She noticed that he had also finished his meal.
“Uh, you ok there?” he asked with a raised brow.
She shook her head to rid it of her previous thoughts, “Yep, all good here! Nothing wrong whatsoever.” It didn’t work.
“Okkkk… anyway, I was going to ask if you and Rarity were able to figure anything out with your visit with your friend.” he said, a little put off by her current behavior. However, being reminded of her original purpose for meeting with Spike brought her back to her senses.
“Unfortunately, Spike didn’t know anything, though he said he was pretty sure you weren't a dragon, and neither did Silver or Iron. But he did say that Twilight would be back tomorrow morning and he would let me know when she arrived at the castle. Also,” she got up from the table and approached her saddlebags that she had left by the door. From them she pulled out a truly massive book that had The Creatures of Equus written on the front cover in an elegant, golden cursive, “Spike gave me this. It’s the most up to date and extensive list of creatures that live on the continent of Equus and we figure we might find your species in here.” she said hopefully.
Terra was staring in awe at the massive tome. It looked like it had to be at least fifty pounds! He was even more shocked by how easily Fluttershy was carrying it around, almost like it was nothing. Her slender frame obviously hid a deceptively strong mare. A slight shiver went down his spine when he realized that if she was this strong then how strong was her much more muscular sister? He was brought out of his thoughts when Fluttershy dropped the dead tree on the table, causing it to creak a bit from the strain.
“So, should we begin?” she asked.
He nodded. “Let’s get to reading.”
A few hours later
They had spent the last couple of hours reading through the massive book, to the point that it was well past midnight, and they had found nothing. They thought they had found the answer a couple of times when they read about the basilisk, behemoth and mokele-mbembe, none of them fully matched Terra’s description and they just kept finding themselves in more dead ends. Fluttershy was starting to get incredibly frustrated. She was so frustrated that she could just kick something, so she did. With all the unyielding force of a pissed off dust bunny, she kicked her couch.
“Fluttershy are you ok?” Terra asked, having seen her most heinous act. He was a bit surprised when she spun around and saw great pain in her eyes.
“No! We keep finding nothing to help and every idea I have just leads to another dead end. I’m just so…so…USELESS!” she screamed out the last word, an actual scream, as her eyes started to water.
Terra was shocked. Not only because of the sudden volume in her voice, but because of what she was saying. His shock quickly morphed into determination. He didn’t know how to fully calm her or make her feel better, but there was one thing he knew for damn sure.
“Fluttershy, you are NOT useless” he said sternly.
“Oh please,” she said in between whimpers, “I can’t do anything to help you *sniffle* anything to pay you back for saving me in the Everfree.”
“You don’t owe me anything” he tried to placate the distressed pegasus.
“YES I DO! If it wasn’t for you I would have been killed, Terra!” She screamed at him before the frustration became too much and she just curled up into a ball and devolved into crying hysterics.
Terra could only stare sadly at the weeping mare at first. He knew she was right to a certain degree. If his nightmare before was any indication then she would have definitely died if he hadn’t shown up. He also knew she was being far too hard on herself. It was only the first day so it was unlikely they would’ve found any solutions anyway, but he knew that wouldn’t be enough to convince her. He needed some other way to prove that she wasn’t useless and that's when he looked down at his bandages and had an idea.
“Fluttershy?” He tried to get her attention.
“Fluttershy, please look at me” he said a bit more sternly. After a couple more sniffles she looked at him and he nearly cringed at how puffy and red her eyes had gotten. However, now that he had her full attention he decided to continue with his idea.
“You say you’re useless and that you haven’t been able to help me but look at these.” he gestured to the bandages all across his body. “You did this.”
“It wasn’t anything special…” she said before he softly shushed her..
“Of course it was. I remember how bad my injuries were, and how much blood I was losing. If you hadn’t stitched me up I would most likely be dead myself. Not to mention the kindness you’ve shown me by letting me stay at your place and immediately trying to help me with my memory problems.” he said, all with that warm smile of his.
Fluttershy found herself being comforted by his words but before she could say anything she was surprised when he wrapped his tail around her and brought her into an embrace, careful not to hurt her damaged wing. She felt herself against his slightly pebbly scales and solid frame, but was surprised to find that his body was very warm like a pony or griffon, unlike the colder bodies of dragons and changelings. She found herself looking up into his caring silver eyes and smiled as she was overcome with a feeling of warmth and safety.
Terra, meanwhile, found that her coat was as soft as velvet and her rose mane was so smooth he almost thought it was a liquid. He also found that his theory earlier was correct as he could feel some very defined muscles underneath her slender frame. None of that mattered though as he found himself staring into her large, kind eyes and smiling.
They stayed like that for a little bit until a yawn from Fluttershy signified that they should probably go to bed. Before that, Fluttershy led Terra to the guest room where he was surprised to find a bed that he could comfortably sleep on. When he questioned her about it she said that after a series of very strange events that she always kept a bed large enough for an adult manticore. He was too tired to question further.
Terra made himself comfortable on the large bed and in an instant was already asleep. Fluttershy giggled a bit at this and went to head to her own bed. As she closed the door she looked back at the sleeping giant fondly.
Fluttershy’s eyes shoot open as she is abruptly awoken by the entire world violently shaking and a loud boom in the distance. With her eyes now wide open, she notices just how bright it is, as if the sun had intensified tenfold. What’s going on?! She thought frantically to herself before being knocked out of bed by another violent tremor. After gaining her footing she galloped over to her window and when she peered out her pupils shrunk to pinpricks. Instead of another nice summer day she was expecting, she was greeted with what could only be described as absolute Tartarus. The sky was this horrible mix of blood-red and orange, as if the sky itself were on fire. It matched very well with the Everfree which actually was on fire. What was left of it anyway. Most of the forest was just gone, being replaced by hundreds of craters, some larger than her entire cottage, with what trees that did remain being burned to charcoal.
Then there were the animals.
There were hundreds, strewn all across the ground. It was an absolute bloodbath. Some had been burnt to a crisp while others were just indistinguishable pieces of flesh and bone, but most of them were simply lifeless corpses, still twitching as if the world were playing a sick joke on her. The smell of burning flesh and blood was nearly enough to make her vomit.
She couldn’t handle looking at it anymore. She backed away from the window and plopped down hard on her rump. The tears were now flowing freely and she became a hysterical mess.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
She was brought out of her balling by harsh slamming on her door. Even though it had brought her tears to a stop, she was still shaking horribly, and this time it wasn’t from the tremors that continued to come in waves. Her mind was swirling with ideas. What if whatever had caused all of this death and destruction was there for her now? She cowered in the corner until whatever was at her door slammed on the door again.
“Fluttershy! Come on, we need to go NOW!”
Silver! Recognizing the voice of her older sister, she bolted down the stairs and opened the door, “Oh Silver, I’m so ha-”
She stopped dead in her tracks when she noticed the state her sister was in. Silver looked like she was at death’s door. She was wearing her armor, at least what was left of it, and it looked like it had almost melted to her body. Half of her mane had been burned off and her scalp was a charred mess. It looked like her wings had been completely ripped off, the stumps still leaking blood. In the place of her left eye was an empty socket, though she barely noticed it past the blood covering that side of her face. Her right front leg had been broken so badly that the bone was jutting out of the skin. Fluttershy had gone so pale that her coat had practically become as white as Rarity’s.
“Silver, w-what’s going on? What happened to you? Where’s Iron?” Fluttershy was starting to get frantic, her mind unable to process anything at the moment. Her sister looked at her with tears streaming out of her good eye.
“Iron’s dead Fluttershy. Whatever that thing was, it completely destroyed us and ripped Iron apart. He’s nothing but a pile of flesh now!” Silver had started screaming in sorrow, she was only being held up by pure adrenaline at the moment. She forced herself to refocus, though the tears were still flowing like a raging river.
“Fluttershy, you’re the only one I have left and I had to make sure you were safe so please, just come with me and let's get out of here.” she was practically begging at this point.
“O-ok, Silver, I’ll go but what about my friends? Maybe we can get the Elements and-” Fluttershy tried to say but was interrupted by Silver’s quivering voice.
“That won’t work.” her voice was trembling and Fluttershy was only getting more concerned. She had never seen her sister this scared before. “I don’t know about Rainbow or Rarity, but Applejack and Pinkie are piles of ash while Twilight is spread all throughout town.” Silver was barely able to speak at that point. Fluttershy was doing so much worse. She couldn’t cry, she couldn’t scream, she just stood there completely frozen.
“Please Shy, let’s just-”
They were interrupted and sent flying by Fluttershy’s cottage suddenly exploding by a fireball crashing into it. At first Fluttershy felt nothing, and then she was overcome with unimaginable pain. The blast had sent her crashing hard into the ground. Both of her wings were completely shattered and she had a clear taste of blood in her mouth. When she tried to open her eyes she found that one of them had swelled shut and she could feel large splinters embedded all over her body. She looked and found that her flank had a nasty gash right across her cutie mark.
With a monumental effort she was able to stand back. She slowly made her way to the crater that had once been her home, but when she looked into the center of the crater she finally emptied the contents of her stomach. There in the center of the crater was a charred pegasus corpse. It was burnt so badly that it was almost unrecognizable. Except for the few strands of rainbow colored mane that were left unburnt.
“Fluttershy…” she barely heard the soft whisper and remembered that she wasn’t the only one caught in the explosion.
She started searching as frantically as her injured body would allow her but it didn’t take long for her to find who she was looking for. She almost wished she hadn’t.
“No…” Silver was sprawled on the ground before her, also having splinters embedded in her body. Her previous broken leg had been completely ripped off by a combination of the explosion and rough landing and was absolute gushing blood. None of that was what caught Fluttershy’s attention. What caught her attention was the massive shard of glass in her neck.
“No, no, no, no, no…” she frantically tried to deny the state her sister was in as she rushed to her side, adrenaline subduing her own pain. She tried frantically to stop the bleeding, the only sound she could hear was the gurgling breaths of her dying sister.
It was no use. Fluttershy could only break down into more tears as she saw the life finally leave Silver's eyes.
“Why?! Why are you doing this?!” Fluttershy screamed to the heavens. Her grief had turned to a rare instant of pure rage for the shy mare. She was ready to fight whatever had done this to her loved ones and her home, not even caring for her own life anymore.
“Hmhmhmhmhm.” she heard a low, menacing chuckle and suddenly everything was absorbed into an endless black void. All the dead bodies and apocalyptic landscape were gone, yet Fluttershy felt this place was somehow worse. Then before her a massive shadow formed that was somehow even darker than the void itself. In the shadow were two piercing yellow eyes that peered straight into her soul.
“Poor little pony,” the shadow spoke in a malevolent voice that was low and feminine, “I show you your future and you repay my gift with rage? For shame.” The shadow didn’t actually sound disappointed, if anything it sounded amused.
Fluttershy’s grief and anger were forgotten, as they were replaced by a truly primal fear. Something in the deepest depths of her mind told her to run, to fear this shadow, or more specifically what hid within this shadow, above all else.
“W-what are you?” she was somehow able to mutter out through her fear. Suddenly six silver scythes shot out of the shadow, three on each side.
“Death.” it answered before shooting forward and Fluttershy screamed.
Terra’s eyes shot open at the sound of an ear-splitting screech coming from down the hall from what he could only assume to be Fluttershy’s room. Not wanting to waste a second of time, he shot out of the bed and rocketed his large frame down the hall and made his way to the room the screaming had come from, though at this point it had devolved into equally hysterical crying. He crashed through the door like it was a piece of wet tissue paper on a humid day, any thoughts on politeness left at said shattered door.
“Fluttershy, what’s wro-” He stopped before he could finish the sentence.
It was still a couple of hours until Celestia brought the sun up so it was almost impossible to see anything in the darkness. Yet, somehow, he could see Fluttershy as clear as day as if her body was softly glowing. and the sight made him freeze. She still had tears streaming down her face, though his sudden and maybe just a bit bombastic entrance appeared to have shocked her into silence. He could see her teal eyes were now red and puffy and her nose had been rubbed raw, most likely from her constantly trying to clear it.
“T-T-Terra?” Fluttershy finally spoke out.
Hearing her soft voice broke him out of his shock and he quickly made his way over to her. When he got to her he wrapped her in a tight and comforting embrace, though he was careful with her broken wing. while whispering comforting words in his warm voice.
“Hey, hey, it’s ok, I’m here. Nothing is going to happen.” As he talked she buried her face into his chest and her crying began anew. Even with the traumatic nightmare still fresh in her mind she was able to find some comfort and safety in his strong embrace and warm voice.
He knew it was probably pointless trying to ask what caused her to become so distressed at the moment, so he set himself to just keeping her in his comforting embrace. He figured she would talk when she was ready. After a little bit she seemed to finally run out of tears and her shaking died down to a light tremor. He decided it was safe to talk again.
“Fluttershy, what happened?” he asked in as soft a voice as he could manage.
She pulled away a bit from him so that she could look into the only soft part of his gigantic body; his large silver eyes that seemed to glow like two full moons in the darkness. Her bottom lip trembled as she spoke in a shaky voice.
“O-oh Terra, i-it was just a-awful,” she managed to stutter out, “there was fire and bodies everywhere, my friends were all dead and Silver… she tried to help me but then…” she buried her head in his chest once more as the tears returned in full. He didn’t need her to finish her thought. He had a pretty good guess of what had happened.
“Then everything vanished and I was in this dark void that just felt wrong. And that horrible shadow…” she shuddered, “it was like death itself.”
Fluttershy suddenly felt Terra tense for the briefest of seconds. She looked up to see him staring vacantly into the distance with wide eyes. This was a look she hadn’t expected to see on him and it was enough to shock her a bit out of her distressed state. She was about to try and get his attention and ask what was wrong but before she could get the words out he shook his head vigorously and looked down at her. She could see the familiar warm smile but she could also see a great deal of worry in his eyes?
“Fluttershy, did that shadow… speak to you?” he asked and she could see his smile waver a little.
“Actually yes, why do you ask?” she asked, more than a little confused.
“Did it sound like a female with a low, menacing voice that felt almost like ice?” he asked.
Fluttershy’s eyes widened. “How did you know that?”
He took a very deep breath before answering, “Because I heard the same voice during my nightmare yesterday.”
He began telling her about his nightmare again, except he didn’t leave out any details. As he talked her face only became more shocked. She went a little pale when he explained that she was actually the one he was unable to protect, though he thankfully didn’t go into detail at just how gory said death was. Tonight had been traumatic enough for the poor mare.
Fluttershy was actually handling the information quite well. That’s what it looked like on the outside anyway. On the inside her mind was moving a million miles a second. She had a feeling he hadn’t told them all of the details but now that she had been proven right she understood why he had hid the details in the first place.
“What does it mean?” she finally said after a minute.
“I don’t know, but it can’t be a coincidence.” Even Terra’s stoicism was starting to crack a bit. He thought his nightmare, as horrible as it was, was just that. A nightmare. However, after what Fluttershy had just told him about her own nightmare, he was starting to see some similarities. And he didn’t like that. Memories aside, he still had instincts and they were screaming at him that something was very wrong with all of this.
He then felt a light trembling and fresh wetness on his chest that broke him out of his thoughts. He looked down to see Fluttershy softly crying into his chest again, the stress of everything getting to her once again. His face softened at the sight and he gently tightened his embrace, having decided that the canary mare had gone through enough for one night. It didn’t take too long for her soft sobbing to subside only to be replaced by light breathing.
“Fluttershy?” he asked softly. Not getting an answer he looked down to find that she had fallen asleep.
He smiled at the sight and went to leave, but was stopped when she tightened her grip. He was still surprised by the strength of this mare.
“Please don’t leave.” she softly muttered, still asleep.
Her voice was as soft as a light breeze but it was like roaring thunder to Terra’s ears. He looked down at the butter yellow pegasus snuggled closely against his chest and he could feel the softness of her coat and the warmth emanating from her body. She looked so small the way she was curled up and even though her mane was a mess she finally seemed at peace at that moment. He also found her soft snores kind of cute. As the moonlight reflected off her seemingly glowing body he found a warmth in his heart and he couldn’t help but smile before tightening his embrace.
“I’m not going anywhere.” he said, causing a small smile to crease on the sleeping mare’s face.
As the two succumbed to slumber they couldn’t see that the subtly glowing light surrounding Fluttershy hadn’t been a figment of Terra’s imagination and that it spread to surround the red giant’s body before dissipating. Darkness once again filled the cottage, the soft glow of the moon the only source of light.
As the sun began to peak above the horizon a train rumbled on the tracks to Ponyville. On that train was a familiar young alicorn with a lavender coat and a penchant for making friends.
Princess Twilight Sparkle was staring out the window at the lovely landscape traveling past her at a hundred miles per hour. She was usually an early riser and liked her mornings and how the sun’s light touched the landscape in a warm orange. They usually brought peace to her constantly working mind, but it just wasn’t doing the trick this time. The last few days, and the horrible things she witnessed, were still fresh in her mind.
Celestia had asked her to investigate a small town in the south that had been attacked. This wasn’t the first odd attack to happen, there had been many in the Crystal Empire recently, but it was the first to happen in Equestria proper. Twilight had been sent, bringing a couple of her guards, to the site and had immediately gone pale as a ghost.
The town was in complete ruin. Houses had either been burned down or completely shattered by something of incredible strength. She would have thought it was attacked by a rogue dragon if it wasn’t for one detail.
Dragons didn’t leave bodies like this.
It was a massacre. Dead ponies were everywhere, some in multiple places at once, and blood forever stained the dirt. One of her guards, a unicorn mare named Vital Rose who had only recently joined the guard, had vomited at the sight and Twilight couldn’t blame her. She was surprised she hadn’t done the same. She remembered clearly how many of the ponies had been ripped apart into unidentifiable chunks, almost as if attacked by a massive bird of prey.
They spent the first few days doing nothing but identifying whatever bodies were still intact enough to be identified. They had tried to find the town's mayor, a mare named Starlight Glimmer, amongst the bodies but couldn’t find her and assumed she was one of the dozens ripped apart in unidentifiable chunks. They did however come across something that did spark their interest.
They had found that one of the ponies, a mare they would come to find was named Sugar Belle, didn’t have the gruesome injuries as the others and seemed to have just dropped dead for no reason. This seemed odd to Twilight and she decided to more thoroughly examine the body, a job that she did not enjoy. It didn’t take too long for her to find several puncture wounds in the mare. Due to the similarities the wounds had to those caused by stingers or fangs, Twilight theorized that this mare had been killed by venom. She took a few blood samples to bring back with her as all her equipment was in Ponyville.
After burying the bodies, and giving them their last rights, they got to work trying to find out just what the hell had happened there. It was no mystery that whatever did this was powerful but that’s about all they could figure out. Anything else, even if there was more than one attacker, was left completely in the dark. That is until they found…
“Attention all passengers. We will be arriving at Ponyville Station in approximately 30 minutes.” Twilight was brought back to the present by the train's intercom.
“Almost home.” she muttered to herself before tearing her gaze from the window and looking at the small metal box next to her. It contained blood samples she took from Sugar Belle and was enchanted to keep the blood “fresh”. She scowled a bit at the box that seemed to mock her, showing the heavy bags under her eyes.
“I don’t know what’s happening, but I don’t like it.” she whispered to herself. She then let out an exhausted sigh, quickly followed by a yawn. She hadn’t gotten a whole lot of sleep in the last few days, for obvious reasons, and took the opportunity to get some sleep before arriving home.
She hoped things would be calmer in Ponyville.
The sun had officially risen past the horizon and its warmth felt good against Spike’s scales. The young drake was joined by Silver Lance at the train station as they prepared to greet Twilight. Spike had already been awake for several hours. It might have been Twilight’s influence or him just getting older but he found he enjoyed being an early riser, it also helped him complete his duties as both Twilight’s royal advisor and head of the castle staff. He loved his job immensely, even if a lot of the nobility didn’t take kindly to a dragon holding such an office. He creased a small smile at the tongue lashing Luna had given some of them. He truly did find joy in helping Twilight, even if it did end up making him a bit of a clean freak.
However, right now he was just incredibly bored.
He looked over at his unexpected company. He had planned on coming alone but Silver had caught him and asked to join. She had the day off so he had no problem with it. She actually liked wearing clothes whenever she got the chance and was currently wearing a simple teal sundress and had her mane tied up into a tail. It all really brought out the natural beauty that she and her sister were known for. Even the bored expression on her face didn’t detract from said beauty.
“So I noticed you left with Fluttershy last night, how did that go?” Spike decided to pass the time with some conversation. Silver gave a Fluttershy-esque eep having disassociated and not expecting Spike to say something.
“Huh? Oh, it went wonderfully. We caught up a bit and I even got to meet our big red mystery.” she said, causing Spike’s eyes to widen a bit.
“Really? Well don’t keep me in suspense, what was he like?” he asked, not even trying to hide his excitement.
Silver chuckled at the drake’s excitement. It was hard to believe sometimes that the tall, handsome drake before her was the same dragon as the pudgy little hatchling that barely came to her knee, but moments like this proved that it was still the same Spike. It was these moments that made her long for a foal of her own.
“I’ll tell you this, Fluttershy and Rarity’s description did not do him justice. The guy’s huge! He’s probably got more than a foot over you and twice the girth. He was also very polite, though a bit rigid. I’m pretty sure he has military training.” She then gave Spike a coy look that he recognized all too well.
“I think little sister likes him~” she said in a sing-song voice, causing Spike to roll his eyes.
“You just met the guy and you’re already trying to hook him up with Fluttershy. You have a problem Silver.” Spike playfully admonished her. Silver put a hoof to her chest in mock offense.
“It’s not my fault I have an eye for romance and getting ponies together.”
“Like with me and Rarity?” Spike said sarcastically.
“Ok, so I was wrong about you too, but I guessed Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich right.”
“Yeah, you and everypony else.”
Silver huffed and looked at him with a pout. “At least Terra’s better than that Red Horizon character.”
“Wait, who’s Red Horizon?” Spike asked.
Silver was about to answer but was interrupted by a loud whistle signifying that the train was arriving. They both perked up as the train pulled in and ponies started getting off, including the royal guards that accompanied Twilight who saluted Silver as they noticed her. It didn’t take long for them to find a very tired looking alicorn exiting the train.
“Twilight!” Spike shot toward his older sister and enveloped her in a bone crushing hug. As tired as she was she couldn’t help but crease a small smile.
“It’s good to see you too Spike, but I would also like to breathe.” she said as her face started to turn a bit blue. Spike, realizing his mistake, released her with a sheepish smile and blushing from embarrassment.
“Sorry Twi, I guess I still don’t know my own strength.” he said in a sheepish tone.
“It’s ok, it just means you give really good hugs.” Twilight said before noticing the tall mare standing beside Spike. “Oh Lieutenant, I wasn’t expecting you to be here, how are you?”
“I’m doing fine Twilight, and you know you can just call me Silver. I mean really, you ask us not to use your title, I think it’s fair to ask the same.” she said in an overly dramatic tone, causing Spike and Twilight to laugh. Silver eventually joined in on their mirth and they began to make their way to the castle.
As they made their way through the small town Twilight looked around, taking in the atmosphere she loved so much. It was early so the only ponies out were the merchants and guards, but it wouldn’t be long before everyone else got up to begin their days. They were walking past the little stone houses when Twilight suddenly froze. The quaint little town disappeared and it was replaced with death. Houses were rubble and painted red with pony blood. Bodies were ripped apart and all over the place, and right before her was a massive three-toed footprint.
“Twilight!” She was brought back to reality by Spike and Silver’s frantic screams. She looked around and everything was back to normal. She was hyperventilating and she realized her cheeks were moist from tears. She jumped a little when she felt a big, leathery wing drape across her withers. She looked up to see Spike with a concerned look in his eyes.
“Twi, what’s wrong, you kind of just froze up there.” Spike asked.
“Yeah, it’s almost like you saw King Sombra or something.” Silver added, being concerned herself. What Twilight just did reminded her of when new recruits would freak out seeing their first violent crime, and she knew how unpleasant an experience that was.
“Sorry, I guess I’m still just exhausted from these last couple of days. It was a lot of work.” It wasn’t a complete lie. That little cat nap she took on the train did next to nothing for her exhaustion, it was a miracle she was even standing, but she wasn’t ready to talk to Spike about the horrors she witnessed. She was even less ready to relive them.
Spike, having seen Twilight overwork herself more times than he had claws to count on, simply nodded in understanding. Silver, however, was less than convinced. She had been in the guard for a long time and she recognized when somepony was reliving a traumatic experience. She had seen enough recruits, and even veterans, go through it to know. She decided it would be best to confront her about it once they were in private and she got some rest.
“So did I miss anything while I was away?” Twilight asked, hoping to bring the attention away from herself. Her two friends tensed up a slight bit and Spike cleared his throat before answering.
“Actually, something did happen yesterday. You know how you asked Fluttershy to grab those weird flowers?” Spike asked cautiously, not sure how the lavender alicorn would handle the information.
“The Dragon Lilies? Yeah, why? Was there an issue?” Twilight asked.
“W-well you see, while harvesting the flowers she may or may not have…” he was sweating nervously now, “…got attacked by a hydra.”
“SHE WHAT?!” Twilight screamed, accidentally channeling the Royal Canterlot Voice and bursting the eardrums of all nearby and waking those who were still asleep. Silver wasted no as she rushed to calm the alicorn down.
“Twilight it’s ok! Fluttershy is fine.” she said frantically, which seemed to work somewhat.
“Yes. Aside from a broken wing she’s perfectly fine.” Silver reassured her. Twilight took a sigh of relief before something occurred to her.
“Wait, not that I’m not glad she’s ok, but… how?” Twilight asked which caused the other two to give her confused looks.
“How did she get away from a hydra? No offense to Fluttershy but that seems like a bit of a stretch for her.” Twilight explained.
“Well that’s the other thing we needed to tell you.” Spike said before looking at Silver, who gave him a nod of approval. He looked around to make sure there was no one listening in and went on to explain what happened. He explained Fluttershy’s meeting with Terra in the Everfree, his strange powers and appearance, and his amnesia. Silver chimed in saying that she actually got to meet him and explained how he was in person as well as her theory of him being a soldier of some sort.
Twilight was completely enthralled with what they were saying, having completely forgotten her exhaustion and trauma for the moment. She was astounded with the power this creature apparently possessed and her scientific mind was in complete overdrive. There was a part of her that was cautious but Silver gave her mark of approval and she trusted her lieutenant’s judgment. She was curious as to what this new arrival could be, though she was concerned for him as well. Losing one’s memory was a hard thing to go through, and even more difficult to fix.
“You said this ‘Terra’ is at Fluttershy’s right?” she asked, getting confirming nods, “Alright, I think I should speak with Fluttershy about this.” They finally made it back to the castle and after greeting the guards in front made their way inside.
“Spike, take a letter.”
As the doors closed none of them realized that they were not as alone as they thought. Somepony had been listening and heard their entire conversation. Somepony with a red mane and blue coat.
As the morning sun snuck in through the window and tickled her face, Fluttershy snuggled into her bed with a satisfied sigh. She couldn’t remember the last time her bed felt this comfortable. It was so soft yet firm, and had a warmth that she might have thought uncomfortable any other morning but only felt relief on this one. Her favorite part was how it rose up and down at a steady pace, as if it were breathing.
This wasn’t her bed.
Fluttershy’s eyes shot open to see what exactly she was sleeping on but her vision was completely obscured by crimson scales. It was at that moment she realized what, or rather who, was wrapped around her and her whole body did a lovely imitation of the same scales she was staring at. Memories of last night came flooding back. The nightmare, the crying and Terra bursting into her room and comforting her. She recalled his firm yet comforting embrace and smiled fondly. He had only known her for a day and he was so quick to comfort her, make sure she was ok, make her feel… special.
“Thank you.” She whispered, snuggling deeper into his large chest. She was kind of surprised at how peaceful and silent he was while sleeping and giggled when she noticed his tail wagging a bit. She didn’t want this moment to end. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be as green flames burst in front of her to reveal a letter. She screamed at the surprise which made Terra shoot up and smack his head into the ceiling, leaving a large crack.
“Oh my goodness, are you ok?” Fluttershy asked, her face bright red from embarrassment.
“Y-yeah, just got a little spooked.” He said while rubbing the top of his head. He cringed a bit when he saw the crack he left in the ceiling, “Sorry about that.”
Fluttershy couldn’t help but giggle a little bit, “Oh it’s ok, it’s kind of my fault for overreacting,” she grabbed the letter and read it out loud.
I just got back to Ponyville and Spike and Silver informed me of the situation with you and your special houseguest. I have to say, the whole thing interests me greatly and I would like you to come to the castle as soon as you can to give me more details.
I would like just you to come for now, I will come to the cottage to meet Terra personally later. While he has my thanks I’m not quite ready to bring him into Ponyville proper just yet. I hope he understands.
I hope to see you soon.
Fluttershy was happy with the news. She wasn’t expecting Twilight to message her so quickly but hoped that she may actually be able to figure something out about Terra and his situation.
Terra also seemed pleased by the news. He wasn’t really heartbroken by having to stay behind again, it was a weird situation they were in, but after what he heard about the Princess he was excited to eventually meet her. He unwrapped himself from Fluttershy, much to her disappointment, and looked over the door which was still all over the floor in pieces. The sight made him visibly blush from embarrassment as he remembered who was the cause of said destruction. None of this went unnoticed by Fluttershy.
“I may have gone a little overboard last night, I can fix it while you visit Twilight.” he said. He looked over to see Fluttershy barely holding in her giggles at his flustered state. “What’s so funny?”
“Sorry, it’s just,” she tried to say in between giggles, “something about watching the same stallion who scared off a hydra being flustered by a broken door.”
Terra put a foot to his chest in false offense, “Well I’m sorry that I care about your doors.” His face then transformed into a devious smirk that immediately made Fluttershy worried. Unbeknownst to her he had begun to reach his long tail toward her.
“Um, Terra, w-what’s that look for?” She asked nervously.
“Oh nothing, just curious about something…”
“What are you…” Was all she was able to say before he started relentlessly tickling her ribs with the tip of his tail, causing her to burst into full-blown laughter.
“Ahahahaha, T-Terra stop! Ahaha, that’s not f-fair!” She could barely get a word out between her laughter. He eventually stopped his tickle torture when he nearly fell to the floor himself from laughter.
As her laughter subsided, she walked up to Terra and playfully shoved him but only managed to move herself backwards while he didn’t move a single inch.
They burst into even louder guffaws, tears now forming in their eyes.
“Well I guess you are ticklish there.” Terra finally said as his laughter died down.
“Y-yes I am.” She said, still giggling, before looking back at him with a devilish look, “You know, I’m going to have to get you back for that.”
He brought his head closer to her with his usual warm smile on his face, “I look forward to it.”
She felt the heat rise in her cheeks at how close her face was to his, but still kept her own smile. They stood there for a second just staring into each other's eyes when, out of the corner of her eye, she noticed something and came to a realization.
“Oh goodness, I should really switch those bandages with some clean ones before I go.”
Terra looked down at his side, having also forgotten it was covered in bandages, before giving her a questioning look.
“Are you sure you have time? Twilight did say she wanted to see you as soon as possible.” He reasoned.
She shook her head before answering, “She would understand, and I would feel a lot better knowing you were healing correctly,” she shrunk down a little, “though if you don’t want me to…”
“No, you make a good point.” He then gave her a sly smile, “I have to say, it feels kind of nice having an angel as a nurse.”
Fluttershy’s coat did a wonderful imitation of Big Mac’s. There it is again. She thought to herself before shaking away the blush and saying in a flustered voice, “O-of course, you’re my friend and have already done so much to protect and comfort me, it’s only right that l do the same for you. Now please lie down.” She sounded far more confident as she finished her statement.
Terra complied with her request, though he did so while trying to hide his surprise at her change in tone. He made a quick mental note not to argue with her on things of a medical nature. He also had the sneaking suspicion that he probably shouldn’t make her legitimately angry either.
Fluttershy, oblivious to what was going through her patient’s head, went to work removing his bandages when he was settled down. They weren’t as bad as she originally thought, but many were still soaked in enough old blood to warrant replacing. As she cut away more and more of the bandages she couldn’t help but feel that something was off. It wasn’t until she unwrapped the largest wound, the only one that had required stitches and worried her the most, that she realized what was wrong and fell back on her haunches in surprise, dropping the dirty bandages.
“Fluttershy, what’s wrong?” Terra asked.
She pointed a shaking hoof at his large barrel, “Y-y-your injuries… t-they’re gone!”
He raised a brow at her statement before craning his neck back to look for himself, only for his own eyes to go wide in surprise.
“What the hell?” Just as she had said, the same deep cuts and slashes that had only yesterday threatened to end his life were now no more than barely visible scars that would probably disappear completely soon. The only injury that could still be called that was the massive gash along his barrel, and even that had healed to such an extent that the stitches probably weren’t necessary anymore. It shouldn’t have been possible. What should have taken weeks to heal had somehow taken a single night. He looked back at Fluttershy, who was still frozen in shock, when he took notice of her bandaged wing. A question popped into his head.
“How does your wing feel?”
The seemingly random question jolted her out of her surprised state. She gave him a confused look before moving her wing around as much as the bandages allowed her to and her confusion only got worse. It still stung quite a bit, but not nearly as much as it should have. It should have taken about six weeks for her wing to heal completely but the way her wing felt at the moment was as if she had jumped forward about two weeks in the healing process. None of this should have been possible, even unicorn magic couldn’t speed up the healing process this much.
*ahem* Terra cleared his throat, bringing her out of her thoughts, a slight blush came to her face as she realized that she hadn’t actually answered his question.
“Oh, um, it s-still hurts and I probably need to keep it wrapped up for a little longer, b-but it’s definitely better than it should be.”
“Hmm, interesting…” He settled into a contemplative look that slowly contorted into a look of frustration.
“Do you have an idea of what could have caused this?” She asked, hiding her concern over his seeming frustration.
He let out a frustrated sigh, “I feel like I should but nothing is coming to me. I guess this is just another mystery to figure out later.” He then gave her a playful smirk, “Now, I do believe you’ve kept your friend waiting long enough.”
She let out a little squeak, “Oh goodness, you’re right! I should get going.” As she turned to head out she thought of something and turned back to Terra, “A-are you sure you’re ok with staying behind again?”
He gave her that same warm smile that seemed to cause her heart to beat ever so slightly faster. He had to admit, the way she hid behind her mane and slightly stuttered her speech when she was nervous was kind of… cute. Even so, he shook his head.
“It’s fine, as was pointed out yesterday, even without being injured I do have something of an intimidating presence. While you, Rarity and Silver accepted me rather easily, there is no guarantee that the townspeople wouldn’t just panic at the sight of me. I think for right now it would be best for me to stay here.”
She was a little disappointed by his answer, but she had to admit that he had a point. “O-ok, well if you want to get some fresh air while I’m gone I live far enough away from town that you shouldn’t be seen if you go outside.”
“Thank you Fluttershy, but I really think you need to head over now.” He gave her a very light push toward the door.
“R-right, I’ll be back later with Twilight and Spike so that they can meet you.” With that they said their goodbyes and she made her way to Ponyville. As he watched her leave his smile fell a bit. He couldn’t figure out why but he had the sudden feeling that today was going to be a bit more eventful than either of them expected.
He shook the thought out of his head and decided to get to work on the destroyed door. He was probably overthinking anyway.
Fluttershy trotted into Ponyville with a large smile on her face. She couldn’t help it, she had been thinking about the events of the morning and just felt so happy. Even if it created more questions, she was glad that Terra’s injuries had healed, but what really had her in such a good mood was how he had acted toward her. He had treated her like the grown mare she was instead of the timid, fragile filly everyone else seemed to treat her like.
As that thought crossed her mind her smile gained a hint of sadness. She loved her friends dearly and appreciated what they did for her, but a secret she had never told anypony was that a little bit of her resented how they treated her like the slightest gust of wind could shatter her. She wasn’t an idiot, she would be the first to admit that she was scared of a great many things and she couldn’t always handle things on her own, but then again neither could any of her friends. They seemed to forget that she was capable of great things too. After all she did stare down a cockatrice and win and she was the one that reprimanded a full-grown dragon and it was the dragon that fled in tears. She was even the only one that didn’t get corrupted by Discord and in fact turned his manipulation around on him and put the first spark of reformation into him. Now they weren’t all bad about it, Rainbow Dash and Applejack were the worst about it while Rarity was probably the best about not treating her like glass, but it was still there. Even her sister fell into treating her like that on occasion.
She took a quick breath. She appreciated Terra comforting her last night, she really did, but there was something in the back of her mind that feared that he would treat her like all the others did. That fear had greatly diminished this morning. He had treated her with care but also respect. He even joked around with her! Only Rarity really did that and even she usually kept it tame around her, and she had overheard Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash talking once about how she was apparently off limits when pranking because she couldn’t handle being pranked. Her friends seemed so afraid of hurting her that it made her feel like a burden, and yet Terra had actually tried to have fun with her.
Her smile returned with earnest. Maybe if the rest of her friends saw how Terra was treating her, and that she was enjoying it, then maybe they would stop treating her like she was a glass figurine so much.
She was so deep in thought that she had stopped paying attention to where she was going, which means she didn’t notice the sky-blue stallion before bumping into him.
“Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry!” she yelled out, a tint of red on her cheeks.
“No worries mi- Oh Fluttershy! I didn’t realize it was you.” Red Horizon said in mock surprise. He had seen her coming earlier but figured this would be a convenient way to talk to her.
“Oh Red Horizon, how are you?” Fluttershy said, happy to see her new friend.
He gave her a smile, “Well I was doing pretty well, but now that I’m speaking to such a beautiful mare I think now I would have to say I’m doing fantastic.”
She smiled and blushed at the praise, “Oh my, t-thank you.”
Seeing her reaction he decided to take the opportunity to try something that might be more simple.
“Actually Fluttershy, while I have you here, may I ask you a question?” He subtly readied a spell as he asked his question. Unlike most unicorns, whose field color generally matched their eye color, his was completely clear and practically invisible unless a pony actually knew to look for it.
“Of course, what did you want to ask?” This of course meant that Fluttershy was completely oblivious to him casting a mental spell on her. However, he didn’t notice that her eyes glowed slightly, and it wasn’t due to the spell.
“Well I was wondering if you wanted to grab lunch with me later.” He said confidently, he knew what the answer would be and he would be one step closer to his prize.
“O-oh, I’m sorry Red, but I’m afraid I can’t. I have far too much to do today, I hope you understand.” she said, trying not to hurt his feelings.
Red Horizon, however, had barely heard the second half of her response. He was just standing there slack-jawed. He had never had a pony not only resist one of his mental spells but pretty much nullify it completely. It was impossible! His magic was strong enough to bend an alicorn with some effort, yet some timid pegasus from Hicksville pushed through it like it was nothing! No. No, he must’ve just cast the spell wrong! While he’d never done that before either, it was still more believable than some backwater mare nullifying his spell. He just had to recast the spell…
“FLUTTERSHY!?” a raspy voice suddenly yelled out, breaking Red Horizon out of his thoughts and also causing him to cancel his spell. In an instant there was a cyan pegasus mare with a rainbow mane between him and Fluttershy. She was a short mare, probably about 5’, but the clearly defined yet lithe muscles were clearly those of an athlete. This mare clearly spent a great deal of time training.
She was also very clearly angry.
“R-Rainbow Dash?” Fluttershy said, just as surprised by the sudden appearance of one of her best friends.
Rainbow Dash gave her timid friend a glare before pointing a hoof at her bandaged wing, “What the hell happened to your wing!? Did something attack you? Did somepony?” she spun around and directed an accusatory look at Red Horizon, “Was it you? I swear if you were the one that hurt her…”
“Rainbow Dash!” Fluttershy screamed before pushing her way in front of her irate friend, “Red Horizon didn’t do this, we were just having a nice conversation.” She softened her features a bit, “Now if you’ll just calm down a bit I’ll tell you what happened.”
Rainbow Dash kept the scowl on her face but Fluttershy’s words seemed to have calmed her enough to at least listen. Red Horizon sat back and watched the interaction with great interest.
Fluttershy took a deep breath before beginning, “I was in the Everfree looking for some special flowers for Twilight when I was attacked by a hydra. I got away, but I took a tumble over a small cliff and that’s where I broke my wing.” She decided not to mention Terra. With the state Dash was in right now she probably would’ve bucked first and asked questions later. She would tell her later.
Rainbow Dash was still fuming even after the explanation, “You went into the Everfree ALONE!?” Seeing Fluttershy shrink back from her angry tone, Dash shook her head and took a calming breath before continuing in a softer tone, “Why didn’t you ask one of us to go with you?”
“W-well the part of the forest I went in wasn’t supposed to have any of the large monsters in it.” She explained, then under her breath so Dash couldn’t hear, added, “I still got out safely anyway.”
“Well apparently there were. Listen Flutters, I’m really glad you’re ok but next time just ask one of us to come with you so you don’t get hurt.”
“Ok…” Fluttershy relented, hiding her irritation from Rainbow Dash’s blatantly condescending tone.
Rainbow Dash wrapped her front leg around Fluttershy’s withers, “See that wasn’t so hard. Anyway, I have to go. I was on my way to do some training before I saw you but now that everything is ok I gotta make up for lost time!” With that she was gone in a rainbow colored blur.
Once Rainbow Dash was just a cyan dot in the distance, Fluttershy turned to Red Horizon, “I’m sorry about Dashie. She means well but she tends to overreact to things.”
“It’s quite alright but I also should probably be going. I’m sure you have places to be as well.”
Fluttershy’s eyes widened as she let out a gasp, “Oh goodness, Twilight! Oh I’ve kept her waiting so long.” She said her goodbyes and then galloped off to Twilight’s castle.
Red Horizon watched her go and smiled. He was still concerned as to why his spell had failed, but that was never the main plan anyway so he decided to forget about it for now. His face fell as he thought about what he overheard earlier. Fluttershy had something powerful in her corner. Something he had to get rid of, no loose ends and all that. Something that was currently all alone and vulnerable.
A wicked smile began to crease across his face as a plan started to form. A plan that involved a certain prismatic pegasus with anger issues.
By the time Fluttershy got to the castle she was out of breath. She didn’t really use her wings that often but she really wished they were in working order at the moment. In any case, as soon as she was able to breathe correctly again, she greeted the guards on duty and knocked on the doors. She was expecting Twilight or Spike to answer but was surprised to see that it was actually her sister at the door.
“Silver? I thought you would be at home today.” Fluttershy said. Seeing Silver had immediately brought back the memory of last night's nightmare, and specifically her sister’s fate.
“I thought it would be more worth my time to be here, considering the information you plan on sharing with the Princess. Come on, she’s actually in her lab at the moment.” Silver said, gesturing to Fluttershy to follow her inside.
“Ok, sorry I’m late, this morning has been a bit more… eventful than I was expecting.” As she said that she found herself staring at Silver’s neck, the image of a large shard of glass protruding out of it seared into her mind.
If she noticed her staring, she gave no indication, “Nah, it’s fine. Twilight’s been busy in her lab pretty much since she sent the letter, and it’s not like she gave a specific time anyway so technically you can’t actually be late.”
“I guess…” While she had to agree with her logic, she still found herself feeling a bit guilty for leaving them waiting for as long as she did. She didn’t have long to think about it though as they quickly made it to Twilight’s laboratory and there standing next to Spike in her lab coat and safety goggles was the lavender mare herself. She was currently studying a couple of vials filled with red liquid. When Twilight noticed Fluttershy walk in she immediately shot up with a wide grin on her face.
“Fluttershy, it’s so good to see you!” She embraced the butter pegasus in a tight hug, careful to avoid the bandaged wing.
Fluttershy gladly returned the hug, “It’s good to see you too Twilight.”
As the two mares separated, Twilight gave her friend a more serious look, “I’m sorry to kind of cut to the chase but Spike was telling me how you came across a strange creature yesterday. His name is Terra right?”
“Yes, that is correct.” Fluttershy confirmed.
“Right.” Twilight levitated over a quill and parchment. “Spike told me a little bit, but what can you tell me about him?”
Fluttershy proceeded to tell Twilight everything from the previous day, doing her best not to leave out a single detail. As she was explaining, Silver made her way to Twilight’s side while Spike was listening intently just in case she said something that he missed yesterday. Fluttershy unconsciously glanced at Silver’s neck every so often, but Twilight was so engrossed in her note taking that she didn’t notice. Once Fluttershy had finished reciting yesterday’s events, Twilight spoke up.
“So did you find anything in that book Spike lent you?” She asked, this whole situation being very interesting to her.
Fluttershy’s face fell a bit, “Unfortunately, while we found some creatures that were similar, we couldn't find anything that matched him completely, but we did discover something surprising this morning.”
“Oh” Twilight said, gesturing for her to go on.
“W-well you know how I said he was heavily injured yesterday? Well when I went to change his bandages this morning we found that his injuries had almost completely healed.”
Every pair of eyes in the room, aside from Fluttershy’s, widened at the statement, “Fascinating.” was the first thing to escape Twilight’s mouth, “Healing of that speed is unprecedented! I’m pretty sure that only alicorns have magic powerful enough to do something like that, and even that’s a long shot. This Terra seems like a real interesting sort.”
Fluttershy smiled to herself before quietly agreeing, “Yes, he really is.”
“Well unfortunately, from descriptions alone I can’t really say for sure what he is.” Twilight said.
“Oh ok, what about his memory problems?” Fluttershy asked, though she didn’t have too much hope at this point. “Well, amnesia and memories are tricky to work with, not to mention that I’m a little rusty with mental magic, so it will probably be a while before I can really do anything to help in that regard.” Twilight said sadly. She wished she could help more but there was just too little to work with at the moment. “Was there anything else?”
Fluttershy let out a dejected sigh before looking over at Silver, who gave her a curious look in return. This was the part she was dreading the most.
“W-well actually there was one other thing.” She then proceeded to tell them about her horrible nightmare. She didn’t leave out a single detail and she noticed Silver go noticeably pale as she got to the part about her grisly demise, with Twilight and Spike not being much better. They became even worse when she got to the part about the shadow creature with six scythes and a malicious voice. By the time she had finally finished Twilight looked like she was about to empty the contents of her stomach while Silver was subconsciously rubbing her neck with a pained look plastered on her face and Spike just stared off in the distance with a blank look. Twilight, keeping her breakfast inside her gut, was the first to speak.
“Highly disturbing?” Spike interrupted.
“Extremely horrifying?” Silver added.
“All of the above. No offense Fluttershy, but what did any of that have to do with our conversation about Terra?” Twilight asked.
“The thing is Terra actually came to calm me down, which I thought was really sweet, but as we talked about it we realized that he had heard the same horrible voice as I did in his nightmare." Fluttershy explained, "I was wondering if it meant anything."
Twilight thought about it for a second before answering, "It's definitely interesting, and I definitely want to know what that shadow could possibly be, but there's just too little information for me to say any more about it than that."
"O-oh, ok." Fluttershy said in a slightly dejected tone.
Twilight was deep in thought. She had just been given a large amount of new information and the scientist in her was absolutely ecstatic about the prospect of making a new discovery. That same part of her also realized that the information she had wasn't really sufficient to make any real theories. Then there was the other part of her. The part of her that was Princess Twilight Sparkle, one of the four rulers of Equestria. That part of her was concerned about the sudden appearance of a strange creature, even one that seemed to be peaceful, especially with everything that had happened to her as of late. Not to mention she had a bad feeling of what that nightmare shadow creature could entail.
"Twi? You good?" Spike asked, bringing her out of her thoughts.
"Hm? Oh yes, I'm fine, just thinking."
"What were you thinking?" Silver asked, also concerned about all the information given to them.
She turned to all of her friends and smiled, "I'm thinking it's time that I finally met Terra personally."
If anypony were to watch Red Horizon at the moment they would think he was just taking a nice, relaxing stroll through Ponyville. Nothing could be further from the truth however. He was a stallion on a mission and had a very specific goal in mind, and the path to that goal started with an athletic pegasus with a rainbow mane.
He had been caught off guard earlier when his spell had failed to influence Fluttershy but he still chalked that up to faulty casting on his end. Even the best of mages made mistakes now and again after all. In any case, he now found that mistake to actually be a blessing in disguise. When that other pegasus, Rainbow Dash he remembered her name being, had shown up something had become apparent to him. Fluttershy had friends, very protective friends. He shouldn’t have really been surprised, even from their first meeting he could tell she was a fragile mare, of course her friends would be protective of her. It was irritating. Friends were always the biggest hurdles to his goals.
Then there was whatever that creature was that Fluttershy had at her home. Irritating friends he could deal with but this thing was a wildcard and that was something he couldn’t stand for. He had overheard that it was injured somehow and considering Fluttershy was at the castle it was probably alone at the moment. It was too much of a risk for Red to take care of it himself, but that’s where Rainbow came in.
He smiled. He had noticed something about the prismatic mare during her conversation with Fluttershy. Rainbow Dash was obviously a very emotional mare, one that when riled up probably wouldn’t think her actions through too much.
One that could easily be manipulated.
It was honestly perfect. He could easily get the angry mare riled up with his magic and with a little acting get her to take care of the creature. It was a win-win situation. Either she takes out the creature or it takes her out. Either way, that’s one less problem for him to deal with.
He had seen the direction Rainbow Dash had flown off in and was quickly off to find her. It actually didn’t take him long to find her, though honestly it was hard to miss a mane like that. She seemed to be practicing some sort of high speed maneuvers or something, it didn’t really matter. She hadn’t noticed him yet and he took the opportunity to prepare a spell, making sure he didn’t mess it up this time. Time to stretch his acting chops.
“Rainbow Dash! Rainbow Dash!” he started yelling frantically.
His yelling caught her attention and she spun around to find out who had interrupted her practice.
“Huh wh- oh hey you’re the stallion from earlier! Hey listen bud, I’m sorry about earlier but I’m kind of busy right now.” she said while rubbing the back of her neck.
“You don’t understand, it’s an emergency! Someone spotted some sort of large monster coming out of the Everfree!” he said all of this with false fear before subtly firing his spell. He knew it worked this time because he saw the barest hint of red appear in Rainbow Dash’s eyes. This one was different from the one he tried to cast on Fluttershy earlier, it simply took an emotion, this case anger, and intensified it. It also had the nice side effect of causing her to be unable to remember seeing him as a precaution.
He had caught her attention, “What!? Where!?”
He pointed in the direction of Fluttershy’s cottage. He had taken the time yesterday to ask around and find out where she lived, thinking it would be useful later. He was right.
Rainbow Dash’s eyes widened for a brief moment before narrowing. She could feel rage boiling within her, unaware that it was rising much faster than what was normal. She remembered Fluttershy saying she was attacked by a hydra, it must have followed her. She grit her teeth. It was going to try and hurt her friend again, but this time she would be there to stop it. She looked back at Red Horizon.
“Thanks for the info. I’ll take care of it.” Before he could say anything in response she zoomed off. She was going to make that monster wish it never left its stupid swamp.
As Red Horizon watched her disappear in the distance a smile creased across his face and he chuckled.
Terra had quickly figured out that there was no hope in repairing the door as it was so he was outside looking at a tree that he thought would serve him well. It was a relatively large oak with strong wood. It would make a strong, sturdy door. It was also large enough that he figured he could use what was left over to replace the bird house he destroyed yesterday.
He walked up to the tree and pushed on it with one of his front feet. He had looked around and found some basic carpentry tools in Fluttershy’s shed, but no ax. However, that would not stop Terra.
He stood up on his back legs, using his powerful tail for support, which gave him a sort of tripod stance and left his front legs completely free. He came down on the oak and with a mighty push was able to easily topple the arborious titan. He and the tree both came to the ground with a boom, shaking the earth a little. He smirked at his handy work, proud of his strength, and then got to work.
As he started removing the branches and stripping the bark his thoughts were brought to his situation. He would admit that he was a bit frustrated not being able to answer any questions about himself, and the only one who seemed to know even a little bit wasn’t exactly helpful. At least he had new friends that were willing to help him.
This brought his thoughts to Fluttershy. He knew without a doubt that she was special, the ‘angel’ as Lulu had called her, but aside from that he didn’t know what that actually meant. She was a wonderful mare, he was sure of that, and she had shown him incredible kindness and hospitality, but there was something more to her. Something he felt was even more important. Something ancient. He shook his head to rid himself of those thoughts and went back to enjoying the peace of woodworking.
A peace that was interrupted by four hooves slamming down in front of him.
Before him stood a cyan pegasus mare who was significantly smaller than Fluttershy, but with more pronounced and lithe muscles. This was an aerodynamic mare that was built for speed and agility, but what caught his eye the most was her mane. Unlike Fluttershy or Rarity, this mare had multiple colors making up her mane, giving it the appearance of a rainbow.
What also caught his eye was the pure rage he could see in her eyes. He wondered what could have possibly set her off and why she was here of all places. He also thought he could make out a tint of red in her eyes, just adding to his confusion. Before any other thoughts could come to mind, the angry mare spoke, well more growled, at him in a raspy voice.
“Listen asshole! If you know what’s good for you you’ll crawl back to whatever swamp you came from and leave Fluttershy alone! I’m not afraid to fight a hydr-” she cut herself as she took a closer look at him and realized something was off. “Wait a minute, you’re not a hydra, what the hell are you?” she asked herself.
Terra, for one, was even more confused now. Whoever this mare was she obviously knew Fluttershy but how did she know that he was here? As far as he knew the only ponies that had seen him were Fluttershy, Rarity and Silver. Twilight and Spike knew about him but he highly doubted the angry mare was either of them. It didn’t really matter anyway, if he didn’t pacify this mare the situation would quickly get out of hand.
“Listen, I think there has been some sort of mistake. I’m not here to harm Fluttershy.” he tried to explain.
Rainbow Dash was taken aback a bit, but not for the reason he thought, “Holy shit, you can talk?!”
He gave her a deadpanned look.
She hadn’t expected this thing to speak and it caused her no small amount of confusion. Her flashed red and suddenly anger overrid her confusion and she growled back, “Who cares if you can talk, just tell what you are? And what the hell are you doing at Fluttershy’s cottage?!”
“Well she brought me here, and to be, um, honest I don’t really remember what I am. I don’t ha-” He was interrupted by spiteful laughter.
“You expect me to buy that crap?!” she shouted incredulously, “Fluttershy’s afraid of her own shadow, there’s no way she’d bring something like you here! And ‘I don’t remember’ has got to be the worst excuse I’ve ever heard!” She flared her wings, “I’ll give you one more chance to leave before I kick your ass all the way back to whatever swamp you crawled out of.”
Terra let out a defeated sigh before standing to his full height, which was nearly twice as tall as the raging mare. He stared her down with a hard expression.
“I do not wish to fight you, but I will defend myself. Please, walk away before someone gets hurt”
Rainbow actually smiled at his declaration, though there was no happiness in it, “The only one getting hurt here is you.” With a flick of her wings she bolted forward at an unprecedented speed, her front hooves pointed forward. In less than a second she collided with Terra’s large chest with a thunderous crack.
However, as soon as she made contact with him she was overcome with a splitting migraine and her body was glowing slightly. For a split second some sort of power dispelled the rage spell on her, just long enough for Terra to notice the change, before it took control again just in time for her to notice him trying to grab her with his tail. She quickly flew out of his reach, only for her jaw to drop when she saw that her attack had done absolutely nothing to the titan.
Terra, meanwhile, was staring at her curiously. The glowing did not go unnoticed by him, not to mention the red fading from her eyes for a split second. He had a suspicion earlier but now he was positive that this mare’s angry state was not natural. There was foul play afoot.
He was brought out of his thoughts as Rainbow, who’s shock had morphed back into anger, yelled through gritted teeth, “So what if you made it through that one attack unfazed. Let’s see how you handle a hundred!”
With that she became a rainbow maelstrom, swirling around and striking Terra all over, each hit striking with tremendous force. She kept up the onslaught for a couple of minutes while he tried to catch her the whole time, but he found that she was just too fast and nimble.
As she kept on the onslaught he found himself getting frustrated. He hated to admit it but it was obvious that his injuries were slowing him down somewhat and while he was tanking her hits well, there were a few times she had hit his stitched gash and caused him to nearly cry out in pain. He didn’t want to hurt the mare, as he knew she was being influenced by something else, but if he wanted to end this he would have to get a little rough.
He glanced behind him and saw that the fallen tree was still there and had an idea. He had noticed that she would occasionally take larger arcs to gain more power and on one of these arcs he wrapped his tail around the trunk of the tree and, timing it right, swung it down on her like an immense hammer. She hadn’t expected him to hit her with a freaking tree, and was just lucky that a lifetime of training accidents had made her durable enough that the hit didn’t kill her, though she was unaware that he had purposefully held back enough for that not to be an issue in the first place.
As soon as she was on her back he threw the tree to the side, causing another small tremor, and used his foot, as well as his tremendous weight, to hold her down. He made sure to not use so much pressure as to hurt her but she was definitely not moving out from under him any time soon.
He was shocked and disturbed at what he saw below him. She was frothing at the mouth like a rabid animal and her eyes, which had only been tinted red earlier, were now a solid, glowing crimson. He needed to end this now.
“Please, this is just one big misunderstanding! Let’s stop this and just sit down and talk. I don’t want to hurt you.” he pretty much begged.
“SHUT UP!” she roared, before spitting right in his eye.
“Damnit!” The surprise had caused him to lift his foot from her chest and she took to the air.
Her rage had boiled over and she could only see red now. She suddenly flew up higher into the sky until she was a barely noticeable cyan dot. “LET’S SEE YOU STAND UP TO THIS!” she screamed before going into a dive.
As she gained speed a pressure cone started forming around her body.
Fluttershy, Twilight and Spike were on their way to the cottage. Silver had decided not to join them because as much as she would have liked to see Terra again she did have a few things she needed to take care of at home while she had the opportunity. Fluttershy didn’t mind. She knew her sister was a busy mare and was just happy that they spent the time they did together.
As of right now they had just left Ponyville proper and were on the trail to the cottage. That was when they heard a familiar voice.
“Darlings, wait!” Rarity yelled out.
They turned around to see the alabaster unicorn galloping toward them. Once she caught up she was panting a bit.
“Rarity, what are you doing here?” Spike asked.
“I was actually going to meet all of you at the castle but on the way I ran into Silver who told me that you were going to Fluttershy’s cottage. I thought it would be nice to see our special guest again too.” she explained, having caught her breath.
“Oh I’m sure he’d love to see you again too.” Fluttershy said excitedly.
“The more the merrier, well let’s get go-”
CRASH CRASH BOOM
Twilight was cut off by a loud commotion in the distance.
“My goodness, what was that?” Rarity exclaimed.
“I don’t know but it came from the direction of Fluttershy’s cottage! Come on, let's go!” Twilight said before they all started galloping full speed. It didn’t take long for them to make it there and they were surprised by what they could see.
Terra was standing in the yard, looking somewhat tired, next to a fallen tree. It looked like there had been a fight as dirt had been turned up all over the place. They then noticed that Terra was looking up into the sky and followed his gaze, only to find…
“Rainbow Dash?!” they all exclaimed, though Fluttershy noticed something about Rainbow that made her eyes widen.
“Oh no.” she said. She knew exactly what Rainbow was about to do and panic took over. She shot forward, her injured wing ripping its way out of its bandages, and flew as fast as she could to get in between the two fighters, adrenaline dulling the pain in her wing. Her friends tried to stop her but she ignored them.
“Rainbow Dash stop!” she yelled out, but it was too late. The prismatic mare was too far gone. Any other plea was silenced by a tremendous boom and a rainbow colored explosion.
Fluttershy opened her eyes, only to be met with dust and dirt stinging them. There might have been yelling in but she couldn’t hear anything over the insistent ringing. It was starting to give her a headache. Her coat also felt wet for some reason and she had a strange taste in her mouth, it was almost sweet but with a sharp metallic bite that nearly made her gag. She could also swear that the scent of iron was in the air.
She tried to take a step forward and nearly screeched in horrible pain. She looked down at her wing, having to squint a little due to the dust, and saw that the appendage was completely limp and jutting out at unnatural angles. In her panic she had managed to break it even worse than it had been after the hydra. The ringing in her ears started to subside and she could faintly make out the voices in the distance better. She flicked her ears in the direction of the voices in an attempt to hear them better, but she couldn’t quite make out what they were saying. Her head ached and the harsh sting in her wing was almost unbearable.
The dust began to settle and she could see a bit better. She glanced around and froze at what she saw..
Twilight was busy coughing up a lung.
She had had barely any time to analyze the situation before being blinded by a nearly point-blank Sonic Rainboom. The only thing she did see was that Rainbow Dash was apparently fighting a strange creature that she could only assume was Terra.
As her coughing finally calmed down she walked forward in search of her friends, hoping they were not hurt. The thick cloud of dust made it extremely difficult to see where she was going, which meant it was of little surprise when she ran straight into the solid form of Spike. She shook her head to rid herself of the sudden surprise and looked at her younger brother, only to see that he was as still as a statue and his eyes were as wide as saucers. Now even more concerned, she took a step toward him, only for her hoof to bump into something soft. She looked down and let out a surprised gasp at what she saw.
At her hooves was the small, unconscious form of Rainbow Dash.
“Rainbow Dash!” Twilight was able to scream out after getting over her initial surprise. She crouched down to her prismatic friend to make sure she was ok. Aside from being unconscious, she could see a couple of bruises and scratches, but nothing too serious. However, this did not satisfy Twilight as she lit up her horn to scan her for any internal damage. The internal damage was a bit worse, some cracked ribs and a small fracture in her skull, but nothing life threatening. Then she found something interesting…
What the? She could feel some residue magic coming off of Rainbow Dash. Unfortunately, it had dissipated too much for her to get a read on its origins but there was just enough left for her to know that it was localized around her brain, verifying it as mental magic. This alone brought many questions to the forefront of her mind and she looked at Spike to ask for his opinion, only to find that his face hadn’t changed from its shocked expression.
“Spike?” Twilight tried to get his attention, but he didn’t even twitch.
She poked him in the shoulder, her concern quickly growing once more, “Spike? What’s wrong? You’re starting to scare me.”
Spike, not moving his eyes an inch, gently grabbed Twilight’s head and turned it in the direction he was looking.
Twilight was about to protest but the words caught in her throat as she saw what had shocked him.
She froze in place and her jaw hit the ground.
All around Fluttershy was destruction.
Rainbow Dash’s impact had left a verifiable warzone around her. The dust had settled completely now and she could see the shockwave from the blast had managed to shatter many of the windows of her cottage as well as knocking the leaves off of all of the trees in the immediate area. One especially old and damaged tree had been completely toppled over. Out in the middle of the horrible sight were her friends. She let out a small gasp when she saw Rainbow Dash’s unconscious form and what looked to be Rarity laying on the ground. She paused, however, when she saw the utter shock on Twilight and Spike’s faces.
They were staring in her direction but were not staring at her specifically. Instead they seemed to be staring at something above her.
At that moment she realized she was standing in shade. She looked to her right and noticed two strange looking trees. Confused, she then looked to her left and found two more strange looking trees, though these were slightly thicker than the ones to her right. They also appeared to have weird protrusions at the base.
Drip drip drip
She could hear liquid dripping from above her and looked up, where her eyes went wide in shock. Instead of the tree canopy she had been expecting she was instead greeted by a massive and muscular barrel shaped body. It was at that moment she came to a realization and suddenly that metallic taste in her mouth became almost unbearable.
“T-Terra?” she weakly got out.
Terra had grown to his enormous size to protect the canary pegasus from the impact. Unfortunately, in his rush he used his injured side as the shield. He gave her a warm, but pained, smile.
“Are you alright?” he asked her.
Fluttershy was in complete shock and could only nod in confirmation.
“That’s good.” He then squeezed his eyes shut and gritted his teeth. He took a few stumbling steps forward and then, with a mighty BOOM, the giant fell. He shrunk back down to his normal size but somehow was able to remain conscious.
Fluttershy could now see in gruesome detail that the stitches on his side had been ripped open and the wound was leaking blood at an alarming rate.
Her mind was reeling. The destruction all around and the bleeding form of Terra right in front of her made her believe she was back in a horrible nightmare. Still in a state of shock, she reached out a single hoof toward Terra but froze.
Instead of the smooth, butter-yellow fur and hoof she was used to, what greeted her was a leg covered in a dark red liquid. She slowly looked over the rest of her body and noticed that it too was covered in the red liquid. She looked back at Terra and his leaking wounds. She suddenly knew what the metallic taste in her mouth was, as well as the source of the scent of iron.
It was blood.
She let out a scream that chilled everyone who heard it down to the very soul.
Rarity let out an unlady-like grunt as she stood up. She had tried to stop Fluttershy when she darted between the two combatants but was too slow. When Rainbow had made impact and caused the explosion Rarity had been rewarded by a rock to the head. Thankfully it wasn’t too big so the worst it did was cause a cut on her head and the mother of all headaches. While it was bleeding a little bit more than she would have liked, she would live. Though it didn’t help that she was also exhausted.
Now Rarity was by no means out of shape (all claims from Blueblood were nothing but slander!). There was more to keeping up a lady-like figure than proper mane and coat care, at least some exercise was involved. That being said, she usually only did enough so that she had muscles just large enough to give her toned legs and just enough fat to accentuate her curves. All the running she had done today was really putting her body through more than it was used to.
But none of that mattered right now. She had to make sure all of her friends were alright after that explosion.
She was suddenly shaken to the very core of her being when she heard Fluttershy’s horrific scream. She immediately began looking for the source. As she searched she could see Twilight and Spike, both with expressions of utter shock strewn across their faces, standing over an unconscious Rainbow Dash and, a little further away, Terra bleeding on the ground. While all of this was definitely a shock, none of it caught her attention as much as the bloodsoaked pegasus screaming into the sky, the tears streaming from her eyes doing little to wash away the blood.
“Fluttershy!” she managed to scream out as she galloped toward her friend, who had stopped screaming and was now embracing Terra while he was doing his best to reassure her that he was ok. Once Rarity got closer she could see just how bad it was and nearly emptied out the contents of her stomach.
Terra lay before her and he looked like he had just lost a fight with a woodchipper or a very large sword. Across his abdomen was a nearly four foot long gash that made her stomach churn. The cut was clean, as if cut with a very sharp blade, and she swore if it was any deeper she would start to see his ribs.
“You know *cough* it’s rude to stare, Rarity.” Terra got out in a weak, joking manner that broke Rarity out of her shock. It also caused Fluttershy to spin around and face her friend in a pleading manner.
“Please, help him.” she said, barely holding back sobs.
Hearing the desperation in her timid friend’s voice sparked something in Rarity. She took a quick glance at Terra and could see the immense pain that he was trying to hide. Her expression hardened into one of determination. She needed to help her friends.
All of them.
She spun around to face Twilight and Spike, who were still in shock.
“Twilight! Spike! Snap out of it this instant!” There was an authority in the alabaster mare’s tone that would make Shining Armor jealous.
Twilight and Spike were immediately brought back to Earth.
“Rarity? What’s going on here?” Twilight asked.
Rarity kept the authority in her voice as she answered, “There will be time for that later. For now, Twilight, I need you to come over here and help me stabilize Terra. I can stop the bleeding somewhat with my magic but I do not know the healing spells that you do.” She looked over at Spike, “Spike I need you to run into the cottage and grab Fluttershy’s medical supplies, they should be in the large cabinet in the living room. Make sure the stitching equipment is with it!”
Twilight and Spike, knowing that Rarity was serious about this, shoved the questions they had to the back of their minds and gave her a determined nod. They sped off to their destinations, Spike to the cottage and Twilight to Terra.
Twilight walked up to Terra and was greeted with a smile.
“So I take it you are Twilight Sparkle? It’s nice to finally meet you, though I’m sorry if this meeting is a bit more exciting than what you were expecting.” he said in an attempt to lighten the mood a bit. It managed to bring a small smile to Twilight’s face.
“Shh, we can save the greetings for later. Right now you need to save your strength.” she said before getting to work.
As Twilight was working to stabilize the bleeding giant, Rarity turned toward Fluttershy.
The now scarlet mare was an absolute wreck. She was wrapped around Terra’s neck so tight that Rarity was almost afraid that she was strangling him, and she was trembling worse than Rarity had ever seen. Which, considering the mare in question, was saying quite a bit.
Rarity put a hoof on Fluttershy, not even caring about the still wet blood covering her body, and gently rubbed her back in a comforting manner. She didn’t say anything. No words would help at this moment.
She did this for a little bit until Twilight got her attention.
“Rarity, I’ve managed to temporarily stop the bleeding but there’s a problem.” she looked into Rarity’s sapphire eyes, the worry and panic present in her own, “I can’t use any healing magic on him!”
Rarity’s already pale coat somehow grew a shade paler, “W-what do you mean you can’t?”
“I mean I can’t! I don’t know how or why but it’s almost like his body is resisting my magic. It’s taking most of my concentration just to keep a simple field around his wounds so he doesn’t bleed out!” Twilight yelled out in full panic.
Before they could continue they were interrupted by Spike bursting out of the cottage, the entire contents of Fluttershy’s medical cabinet wrapped in his massive wings. Rarity let out a little sigh of relief.
When Spike got to the two mares he gently set all the supplies down next to them. While not on Fluttershy’s level, they all had a basic understanding on how to apply medical aid due to their many adventures and they quickly got to work patching up Terra. Rarity grabbed the stitching kit and focused on the four foot gash.
They were so busy that they didn’t notice that Rainbow Dash had started to stir.
Rainbow Dash slowly rose and managed to open her eyes, which no longer had any hint of red in them aside from the natural magenta of her iris. Her head was killing her and the rest of her body felt like it had just finished being on the wrong end of a sledgehammer.
“Ugh, what happened…” she muttered to herself while rubbing her head. She took a moment to look around and was shocked at what she could see. She recognized the place as Fluttershy’s property but it looked like a bomb had gone off. It was then that she noticed all her friends and her confusion turned to worry.
Twilight and Spike were a little roughed up but seemed fine overall while Rarity seemed to have a head injury that was leaking blood. What really panicked her was Fluttershy who was covered in blood and one of her wings was nearly dragging on the ground in a broken heap. She noticed that they all seemed to be surrounding some sort of large creature that seemed to be worse than all of them.
“Oh my gosh, what happened to all of you?!” she asked frantically as she stumbled toward them.
However, hearing Rainbow’s voice reminded Fluttershy of who the cause of all of this was. Something suddenly snapped inside the timid mare and her sorrow turned into a pure, primal rage.
She spun around and Rainbow found a hoof meeting her face full force, causing everyone to let out a surprised gasp.
“You happened, Rainbow Dash!” she screamed while leveling a seething glare at the cyan pegasus.
“W-what?” Rainbow stuttered out why rising up, a hood to her aching face.
“All the destruction you see around? You did it. Rarity’s head? Your fault. Terra currently bleeding out. That would be your doing. And this?” she gestured to her shattered wing. “I’ll let you take a guess.” Fluttershy had taken a step closer after each statement and was now looming over the much shorter mare.
“I know how brash you can be but this was just stupid and reckless! Do you have anything to say for yourself?”
“I don’t… I didn’t…” Rainbow was struggling to say anything as small bits were starting to come back to her. She could see herself attacking a big red creature, it smacking her with a tree and her finally using the Sonic Rainboom to hit him as hard as possible. She had done all of this.
“You didn’t what? Didn’t mean to do this? Well that doesn’t help anything now, does it? Maybe if you had thought it through we wouldn’t be in this situation. But I guess I should remember who I’m talking to. You never think things through. In a long list of stupid, idiotic things you’ve done this has got to be one of the most stupid and idiotic. You almost killed somepony Dash! Do you even have a brain rolling around in there? I swear if I didn’t know better-”
“Fluttershy, that is enough!” a deep voice cut her off.
She spun around to glare at the source of the voice only for it to shrivel up immediately under Terra’s own intense glare. While Rarity, Twilight and Spike were in states of shock, he had managed to get to his feet and while the expression he wore was not angry, the sheer disappointment it held felt crushing to Fluttershy.
“Maybe before you do something else you’ll regret, you should take a look at the state your friend is in.” Terra rumbled out. Fluttershy, now no longer in a blind rage, took a good look at Rainbow Dash and nearly broke down into tears again.
Rainbow was a complete mess. She was covered in scratches and bruises, her fur and mane was matted and dirty and there was a little blood leaking out of her nose and mouth. Tears had been mixing with the blood as they streamed from her eyes. She was shaking as if it was freezing outside and had shrunken in on herself. She looked pitiable.
She looked broken.
The part that got to her the most though, the part that shattered her very being, was Rainbow’s left eye. It was a disgusting shade of dark purple, almost black, with spots of sickly green and yellow. It was completely swollen shut, to such an extent that even tears were barely escaping. It was obvious it was causing her more pain than anything else.
Pain that Fluttershy had purposefully caused.
“Rainbow Dash, I-I didn’t mean to…” Fluttershy said while reaching out, but the motion caused Rainbow to flinch away.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…” she kept muttering before flaring out her wings and flying off as fast as she could.
“Rainbow Dash, wait!” Fluttershy opened her own wings as if to go follow her but was painfully reminded that one of her wings was currently out of commission. With tears now freely flowing she felt a claw gently place itself on her withers. Looking back she could see that it was Spike, a sad yet understanding look written across his face.
"Let her go for now."
"B-b-but…" Fluttershy tried to stutter out a protest, but was interrupted by Terra who had made his way over.
“I know. She needs some space for the moment, and we need to get everyone here fixed up before we can do anything.” he said sadly.
"I have to agree with him, darling. As much as I want to check up on her, I don't think anypony here is in the right state of mind to help her at the moment, let's take a second to cool off." Rarity said as she looked over Fluttershy’s body. The blood coating it had long dried and was clumping her fur and mane together in spots. Her wing, however, was by far the worst of it all. It was completely shattered. That was when Twilight walked over and cast a quick spell on it which caused the wing to be wrapped in magical bandages.
“There. That obviously won’t completely heal it but it should prevent any permanent damage.” She shook her head and let out a deep sigh, "Listen Fluttershy, we can handle things out here. I think it would be best for you to go and clean up and clear your mind."
Fluttershy simply nodded and trudged inside. As she left the others could only look on with sad expressions. Spike helped Terra back down on his side and finished stitching him up and Rarity looked over at Twilight with a concerned expression.
“Do you two actually think it’s a good idea to let Rainbow Dash be by herself?” Rarity asked.
Twilight let out a sigh, “Honestly no, but Terra was right that we need to get fixed up before we can really do anything. What has me concerned though is I felt magical residue on her. Specifically around her head.”
This shocked Rarity, “You don’t think somepony cast a spell on her do you?”
“Yes, I do. I think Rainbow was being influenced by an outside party.” Twilight explained, causing Rarity to gasp.
“That would help explain a couple of things.” Terra said. He had been listening to their conversation and that last bit caught his attention.
“What do you mean?” Twilight asked. Terra slowly stood back up, Spike having finished with the stitches and helping support the giant.
“Something felt off about her the whole time, like she was some sort of feral animal. Then the strangest thing was whenever I seemed to get through her eyes would flash red and go right back to feral rage.” Terra explained.
“Wait, did you say her eyes would flash red?” That detail had caught Twilight’s attention and she now had a theory forming.
“Yeah, and at the end they were solid red and glowing. It kind of looked like she was possessed to be honest.” That was all Twilight needed.
“I think in a way she was.” Twilight said, causing all eyes to fall on her.
“What do you mean by that, Twi?” Spike asked, completely lost.
“What I mean is that Rainbow was possessed by her own emotions. I already surmised that some sort of mental magic had been cast on her due to the residue around her head, but what Terra said leads me to believe that it was specifically a rage spell.” Twilight explained grimly. This earned her looks of both concern and confusion.
“Rage spell? That doesn’t sound too pleasant.” Rarity said while slightly cringing.
Twilight simply shook her head, “They’re not. They’re high level emotion amplifiers and are truly nasty pieces of work. What a rage spell does is take even the slightest hint of anger or rage in somepony’s mind and amplifies it exponentially. The best case scenario is the victim gets into a bad fight, the worst case is that they go completely feral. The spell was originally created to make berserker warriors in times of war but was quickly scrapped when said warriors were just as likely to attack their allies as their enemies. Celestia then forbade anypony from ever using the spell.”
“I’m glad she did, that spell is just horrible!” Rarity exclaimed, earning her agreeing nods from both Terra and Spike.
“Unfortunately, that’s not the worst of it.” Twilight took a deep breath before continuing, “The spell had an unforeseen side effect. Any creature around the individual who had the spell casted on them would get infected if they felt any anger or rage themselves, like a disease.”
This received a collection of responses. Rarity was absolutely disgusted by the very notion of such a spell. Spike, however, had a much more concerned reaction. Twilight said that it could affect more than just ponies and while a pony going into a feral rage could cause serious damage, the destruction around them was proof enough of that, what if it had been him under the spell’s influence. He was by no means fully grown yet but he was by far more physically powerful than any pony, not to mention his fire breath. The fact that there was somepony that could make him cause untold death and destruction with a simple spell was making him paranoid to say the least.
He looked up at Terra to see if he had a similar reaction, but instead he found the crimson titan staring at the cottage with concern.
“Something wrong big guy?” Spike asked.
“Yeah…” Terra muttered out. He then directed his gaze at Twilight, “You said it can spread to those who feel anger, do you think it could have affected Fluttershy?”
Twilight’s eyes widened in realization, “That actually would make a lot of sense. She was the most clearly upset about the whole situation.”
“It would also explain why she was so violently aggressive. I’ve never seen her be that downright malicious, not even when she had those ‘lessons’ from Iron Will.” Rarity added in.
“In that case we should probably head inside to explain it to her. It may help to calm her down and then let us find Rainbow Dash and explain that it wasn’t her fault.” Spike said and they all started to head inside, though Twilight stayed behind with Terra.
“Hey, can I ask you something?” she asked.
“Why weren’t you affected by the rage spell? If anypony had a reason to be upset, I would think it would be the one who got attacked out of nowhere. For that matter, why did none of my healing spells work on you? I mean I know some creatures, like dragons, have some level of magic resistance but you were resisting it to such a degree of nearly nullifying it!” She was rambling a bit but she couldn’t help herself. She had never seen something like this before and she was both excited and a little bit worried.
Terra let out a sad sigh, “I’m sorry, but the best I can tell you is that maybe it has something to do with what I am. I just don’t know.”
“Oh, right.” she said sadly. She should have expected his answer to be honest, but all the excitement had caused her to forget the situation he was in. “I guess that’s just going to have to be another mystery we have to solve.”
He gave her a thankful smile and they made their way inside, unaware that they were being watched.
Fluttershy stood under the warm, soothing water of her shower. She opted to take a shower opposed to a bath because she figured the amount of blood she had to wash off would force her to have to drain a bath multiple times before she was down. The steady stream of red going down the drain seemed to prove her correct. She also thought a shower would help her clear her head, but was finding the task difficult.
The only thing taking up her thoughts at the moment was Rainbow Dash and, more specifically, the pain she had caused her friend.
To say Fluttershy felt horrible would not be doing justice to just how bad she felt. She didn’t just feel horrible, she felt like a monster.
She had never felt such rage before. She had been upset before of course, but what happened earlier was something primal and malicious. What was worse was that in that rage she had not only said truly atrocious things to her friend but had actually struck her.
She was a caregiver.
She was the Element of Kindness.
And she had struck somepony.
Fluttershy couldn’t even remember a time when she had been mad enough to lash out violently, she didn’t even think she was capable of it, and yet she had done it. She could still remember Rainbow’s face as if she was still standing in front of her. She could still see the absolute fear on the small mare’s face. The look of betrayal. She could remember the shocked looks on the rest of her friends’ faces, and the look of disappointment on Terra’s.
Everything had come crashing down when she saw the look on Rainbow’s face. It was at the moment that Fluttershy realized that the prismatic mare honestly had no idea what was going on. How that could happen, Fluttershy had no idea, but she knew the fact made her feel even worse for doing what she did.
She shut off the shower when the water began running clear once more and stepped out to dry off. As she grabbed a towel she looked down at her broken wing still wrapped in Twilight’s magical bandages. She would have to properly bandage it later. Or maybe she could just keep it as some sort of punishment…
“Fluttershy, darling? Are you still *ahem* freshening up?” She was brought out of her troubling thoughts by Rarity’s voice.
“Oh y-yes! I mean no! I mean… I’ll be down in just a moment!” Fluttershy called down.
Back downstairs Rarity had a concerned look on her face. Everything had gone downhill so fast. Terra was injured again, Fluttershy was a mess and she herself had a head injury that was really starting to sting now. Not to mention she was worried about Rainbow Dash, the poor dear looked about ready to shatter and was now Celestia knows where.
“You want me to help you with that?” she looked up to see Spike gesturing to her head and immediately understood what he was asking.
“Oh, yes. Thank you, darling.” she said and Spike began cleaning and wrapping her injury.
At that moment Fluttershy made her way downstairs. She had gotten the blood out of her coat and mane but had refrained from brushing it so her still slightly wet mane was sticking up all over the place. Her eyes were also still a bit bloodshot and no amount of washing was going to get rid of it at the moment. The sight pained Twilight’s heart.
“How are you holding up?” Twilight asked as gently as she could.
“I…” Fluttershy looked around the room at all of her friends, who all had their attention directly on her. They had looks of concern on their faces but that’s not what Fluttershy saw. All she could see were eyes. Eyes full of judgment and disappoint.
For the second time that day Fluttershy broke.
“I’M A HORRIBLE PONY!” she screamed out before the dam crumbled to dust and the tears flowed like Rainbow Falls. She wasn’t crying so much as wailing to the heavens. Everything that had happened finally added up and shattered her. She just couldn’t handle it anymore. It was just too much. She was desperate for something to hold on to, something for support.
She got it when she felt a familiar strong embrace.
She looked up to see Terra looking right back at her with a warm and understanding gaze. She froze though when she saw something that she would have never expected.
There were tears in his eyes.
She then felt another embrace and looked over to see Rarity giving her a sad smile. Then there was another embrace, this one also strong and having the tell-tale feel of leathery wings. She couldn’t see Spike but she could feel that he had the same friendly smile as the rest of them.
“Fluttershy, you are not a horrible pony.” Twilight said in a wavering voice, tears were flowing down her face and it took everything within her to stop her own sobs.
“She’s right, darling. You are a kind, loving pony and I consider it a great honor to call you friend.” Rarity added while she and Spike released Fluttershy, though Terra kept her in his embrace, which she greatly appreciated.
“Yeah, it’s not like you or Dashie were in complete control anyway.” Spike said.
Now that definitely caught her attention, “What *hiccup* do you mean? Of course we were.” Fluttershy said, confusion very clear in her voice.
“Actually…” Twilight went on to explain how she found the magic residue on Rainbow Dash, while she explained that she scanned Fluttershy to see if she could find the same and wasn’t too surprised when she found it, though the amount was minuscule. She then explained the rage spell, how it worked and how it can spread to others. It was a lot to take in, Twilight herself was honestly still a little shocked by the whole thing, but as she explained she could see that Fluttershy was starting to calm down. Once Twilight finished, the canary mare had moved out of Terra’s embrace and now sat in silent contemplation.
“So some forbidden spell caused Rainbow to go crazy and then it… spread to me?” she finally said before shaking her head vigorously. “It doesn’t matter. Spell or no spell I still hurt her.”
“You’re right.” Terra spoke out, earning him surprised looks from Spike and Rarity and a very nonplussed look from Twilight.
“You know we’re trying to help her right?” she asked irritably.
“Sorry, let me clarify.” he then looked into Fluttershy’s big, teal eyes. “What I mean is that yes, you did hurt her and while you were being influenced you still committed the act and need to take responsibility for it. What you need to understand however is that one bad action does not make you a bad pony.”
He used his tail to lift her chin a bit. She looked into his silver and saw nothing but genuine admiration and found her cheeks flushing red.
“You healed me when I was hurt, you gave me a roof to sleep under. You laughed with me and gave me the wonderful gift of kindness, a gift I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully repay. Does any of that sound like the making of a horrible pony?” he asked and when he saw her shake her head no he smiled. “Good.”
Twilight and the others found themselves smiling at the scene, though Rarity’s was more of a playful smirk. Whatever lingering doubts Twilight had about Terra all but evaporated. They may not know what kind of creature he was but one thing was now blatantly obvious.
He was a friend.
“So what now?” Spike broke the silence.
Everyone stood around and looked at each other. It was Fluttershy who ended up stepping forward, standing tall with resolve and a face full of determination.
“Now we find Rainbow Dash.”
Deep within the Everfree
A strange creature stood in a clearing. It stood on its back legs, about six feet tall, and had long, grasping arms tipped in sharp claws. Its head was somewhat draconic in shape and had a mohawk of thin, needle-like spikes running down its back. It had a long, whip-like tail that seemed to be covered in sharp quills, sort of like a porcupine. Its skin was thin and a dark pine green. Overall the creature seemed rather thin but its muscles were tight, giving it the appearance of a dragon mixed with a featherless bird.
It scrunched up its nose as it picked up a horrible stench. It looked around with its blood red eyes at the rotting remains of the hydra scattered around the area and grimaced.
“Ugh, I hate clean up duty.” the creature said in a masculine voice. He then walked up to one of the severed heads of the hydra. It stared back at him with its pale, dead eyes.
“Damn thing didn’t stand a chance.” he muttered before chuckling darkly to himself.
He then heard a rustling in the bushes and readied himself for a fight, but relaxed himself when he took a sniff and recognized the smell.
Out from the bushes walked a similar creature. This one, however, was shorter, standing about 5’8, and appeared to be younger. Its skin was a perfect match with the forest around it until it started shifting to its natural dark purple and its eyes shifted to a bright yellow. The older creature smiled at the new arrival, revealing his sharp, needle-like teeth.
“Well if it isn’t Thorn. You back from the scouting mission?” he asked.
“Yes sir.” the younger creature, Thorn, answered in a timid, slightly raspy voice. It seemed like he was a bit intimidated by his elder.
“Well don’t keep me in suspense boy, what did you find?” he admonished.
“R-right, sorry sir. The Knight is recovering from his injuries but it appears that he still has yet to regain his memories. He has also made contact with the Angel, Warrior and Rogue, though none of them know of their importance yet. He has also made contact with one of the Equestrian Princesses.” Thorn reported, trying his best not to look nervous.
“Hm, so he’s already found three of the four. We should count ourselves lucky that our Mistress was able to seal his memories before he got here. The Princess could also be an issue in the future. In any case, we need to bring this information back to base. Anything else to report, Thorn.” he asked.
“One other thing. There was this blue unicorn that was extremely talented in mental magic. He was even able to cast a rage spell!” Thorn explained.
“Really now? That is impressive, do you believe this unicorn to be a threat to us?”
“No sir, quite the opposite actually.” A dark smile then creased the purple creature’s face, “There is darkness in his heart that I believe would make him a valuable asset.”
This caused the older creature to chuckle, “I see they weren’t kidding about you! Only just got here and already scouting valuable soldiers. Good job kid.” he said, giving Thorn a congratulatory pat on the back and nearly knocking him over.
“Th-thank you sir.” he said before taking in the hydra gibbs all around him. “What happened here?”
“Oh, this?” the elder asked while kicking a chunk of hydra to the side, “The big boss got bored and decided to have a bit of fun with the local wildlife.” he chuckled darkly at his statement.
Thorn felt a lump form in his throat, “You mean… he did this?”
The elder then gave Thorn a serious look, “That’s right kid. I’d recommend burning this scene into your memory because if this is what he does for fun, imagine what he would do if you made him mad.”
“Y-yes sir.” Thorn felt a cold chill go down his spine as he followed his superior back to their base.