Dakcka

Open Exploration Team Of Equestria and Beyond

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He had been lost in his own thoughts when Dax approached him. He jumped slightly when he began speaking.

 

"So, you're the 'engineer', so to speak?  I'm glad to hear that - we might be more in need of your skills than the others realize.  I'm Dax... but I think we already covered that earlier.  Anyway, I was wondering if you had everything you needed, or should we stop for supplies?  After all, you'd know better than I would... right?"   ​Well, at least it hadn't taken long for someone to approach him. He smiled slightly, being a bit nervous and all. Dax sounded a little nervous as well because he trailed off, but more confident then he was. He frequently did that if he was nervous.

 

"I..I wouldn't say engineer, more of just a repairman. There a few things that I can make from scratch, but none are very complicated. I'm working on that though" He got a bit more comfortable speaking, because it was just to one pony. "And I'm good on supplies until we reach another town." He smiled. "So if you need anything repaired, just come ask me. But besides that, I heard you were our night guide? That's handy, because we don't have to stop immediately as the sun sets, or if we need to travel somewhere at night. But anyway, how are you? Its going to be a while before we stop, so might as well talk a bit." He grimaced a little.

 

Most awkward way to start a conversation ever.

Edited by ThornFlare

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Most awkward way to end a conversation ever, Dax thought as he heard his own voice squeak at the end.  He wondered if Serenity would even bother speaking to him, after that.

 

"I... I wouldn't say engineer; more of just a repairman. There a few things that I can make from scratch, but none are very complicated. I'm working on that though.  And I'm good on supplies until we reach another town."

 

Relief washed through Dax as he saw that Serenity was accepting of his words.  It seemed as if there wouldn't be any issues here, and no issues is what Dax wanted.  That, and a frie-... well, yes, one of those, too.  There may indeed be some ponies here who wouldn't judge him, and that would be fine with him.  More than fine, actually.

 

Dax nodded as his teammate assured him of not needing parts.  Handy AND prepared - I'm feeling better about this already!

 

"So if you need anything repaired, just come ask me. But besides that, I heard you were our night guide? That's handy, because we don't have to stop immediately as the sun sets, or if we need to travel somewhere at night. But anyway, how are you? Its going to be a while before we stop, so might as well talk a bit."

 

As long as I don't make a fool of myself, I should be fine.

 

"I'm... well, I'm here, aren't I?  I felt the need to help out, so I offered to do just that.  After all, my... job... taught me quite a bit about gems and such, so I figured this would be a learning experience as well.  I don't get too much time away from the work."

 

Job?  Heh, that's cute, but I guess it's better than saying 'my parents own it' - that's when the wrong questions come up.  Talk about something else!

 

"Anyway, the whole Night Guide thing is actually only because I know my stars, to be honest.  Otherwise, I don't think I'll be of much help; I'll try, though.  But I thank you for asking.  I was kind of wondering if you might be able to... create?... something to make the journey a bit easier for our wheeled teammate up there?"   He motioned towards River.  "The easier we can make this trip for her, the better we can make it for Pat, right?"

 

He reached back into his satchel and produced a smooth green apple.  Turning back, he offered it to Serenity.  "Would you like an apple?  They're fresh."

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Midnight Rose gazed around at the other ponies chatting with each other while trotting towards the first step of their journey. She felt as if she was supposed to as well, at least find someone to talk to before they began the trip. But it just wasn't right - Rose felt like she didn't fit in with most of the group, and it was as if after such a short time they already knew each other so well, and she was left out again. She shuddered at the thought of talking to the more outgoing ponies, so she began to trot towards Dax, knowing he would understand her shyness. But she found him in conversation with the brown pegasus stallion, and it seemed rude to intrude on them.

Instead, Rose lifted the top of her saddlebag and pulled out a map of Equestria. It was a large stretch of parchment, and very old by the looks of it. The entire land was spread out in dreamlike color, places labeled in fancy script. The Everfree Forest lay in one corner, painted in dark shades of green. A strange feeling swept through her as she realized something - in this part of the Everfree, they couldn't be more than a few miles away from where she lived. It was almost comforting, knowing that Rose could run home at the drop of a hat, and be safe and sound in her own house, with her own family, in her own bed, lounging in the evening beside a warm fire in the hearth as her grandmother read from a storybook like she did when Rose was just a filly...

But she forced herself to shake it off. Didn't you come on this trip to get away from home? And now you're closer than ever? What kind of trip is this? Rose thought. She took a few deep breaths to calm down. Stay strong, don't get scared or angry or homesick. This is your big day. The day you prove that you can make it on your own. The day you go on the biggest adventure of your life! Rose looked around at the other ponies trotting beside her. They seemed excited too, their faces lit up with anticipation. It's our time to prove ourselves, every one of us.

Rose gazed a each pony in turn. There was shy and timid Dax, brave and daring Blaze, strong and protective Pat, kind and caring River, quirky and charming Spellbind, and then... Midnight Rose.

But what do I have? Wondered Rose. What is it about me that sets me apart from everyone else? That makes me a true part of this team? That makes me special? Deep in thought, she levitated a rock off the ground. It was dark grey, covered in deep black swirls. She concentrated hard. In her purple aura, the rock began to twist and grow and stretch, sculpting itself into something entirely new. Jaw clenched in effort, Rose opened her eyes. Hovering above the ground was no longer a rock, but a bird. With ashy feathers and dark stripes, it stared at her with glassy eyes, then, quick as a breeze, flew away.

Rose smiled as she watched it flutter into the forest, to the very place they were trotting to now. But the smile faded as she realized something. It was not a bird. No matter how much it looked like a bird, it was still a rock. And rocks aren't alive. No amount of magic could make a rock alive. And so the bird was not alive either.

Rose gazed down into a puddle beside her hooves. Her reflection stared back at her, indigo eyes gazing into themselves. I'm just a rock... she thought. And no amount of magic can turn me into a pony. 

But as she stared into the puddle, she saw her jaw clench and her eyes narrow. Stay strong. Don't get scared and don't run home. Because this isn't about you. She turned back to the path and began to walk again. This is about all of us, about the team. About saving those ponies and finding that gem. And no matter what it takes, you're going to help get that done. She took a deep breath. No matter what it takes...

 

Rose's eye was caught by a bright green apple. It stood in Dax's hooves as he offered it to Serenity. Celestia, am I hungry... She hadn't eaten on the train and only had a bit of oats for breakfast. But now isn't the time for thinking about food. You have to keep your mind on the journey. Rose thought about where they were going. So, we're headed for the Everfree Forest, then we stop to rest, and then... Come to think of it, where are we going? Rose mulled it over, and realized she had no idea. Rexon Cave was nowhere to be seen in her family's library, and she didn't know where it was. And that was unacceptable. Midnight Rose was not a creature of order, but she was a pony who insisted on knowing things. And she had to know where they were headed to.

Rose trotted over towards Destiny Savvy, the leader of the team. Just as the unicorn mare's head turned to her, she experienced a moment of complete panic. No! Not now! I should have waited before talking to her! I have no idea what to say! But it was already too late. If Rose didn't want to look like a complete idiot, she would have to say something, at least.

"Um, so... uh, Destiny..." Rose stammered. "I - I was just wondering, I know we don't know a lot about where we're going or how we're getting there, but I just wanted to know... Could you tell me a little about the route we're taking?"

Edited by Nova12

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I'm... well, I'm here, aren't I?  I felt the need to help out, so I offered to do just that.  After all, my... job... taught me quite a bit about gems and such, so I figured this would be a learning experience as well.  I don't get too much time away from the work." He had a job? Well, work experience is always good. And you don't really find many people who work with gems. He listened as Dax continued on.

 

"Anyway, the whole Night Guide thing is actually only because I know my stars, to be honest.  Otherwise, I don't think I'll be of much help; I'll try, though.  But I thank you for asking.  I was kind of wondering if you might be able to... create?... something to make the journey a bit easier for our wheeled teammate up there?" He saw Dax motion towards river."The easier we can make this trip for her, the better we can make it for Pat, right?" He thought about that for a few seconds. Knowing his stars was still good, because it didn't seem like anypony else did. And making something to ease the journey for River? The wheels seemed fine, its just those would have a tough time going over rough terrain.  I guess we could make ramps whenever the occasion arises, but there's not much else I can really do.

 

He saw Dax reach into his bags and take out an apple.  "Would you like an apple?  They're fresh."

 

"Sure! I haven't eaten since this morning. Thanks.He lifted himself slightly off the ground, matching his flying pace with Dax's walking pace. It was much easier to fly and eat then to walk and eat. He'd stop flying though once they reached the Everfree forest. It could get nearly impossible to fly in there because of the low branches. He took the apple and took a bite. It was really good, fresh apples were always the best.

 

"And in regard to your question about River...I don't think there is really anything I can do that hasn't already been done for River. The wheels themselves should be enough for most of the journey. I guess I could repair them if they break, or we could make ramps over difficult terrain, but that's about it." As he finished the sentence he felt a slight dissatisfaction in himself. He should be able to work around these. He quickly kicked out the feeling. It was just one he got whenever he felt like he could't help or do something. But in this case the help had already been given.

 

"So, you said you had a job before? Mine was just going around and repairing things. Mind telling me what yours was?" He took another bite of the apple as he waited for Dax to respond.

Edited by ThornFlare

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Uh oh.  Now you've done it... what are you going to say?  Dax's mind raced around, trying to figure out how to explain... no, what to tell... maybe lie about... 

 

Well, there was that one summer - the one you keep trying to forget.  Use that.

 

"I... well, I'm a miner."  Not exactly a lie, he thought.  "I... work at the Blackwater Mines; y'know, the one at the bottom of the Crystal Mountains?  It's rough, but we always do our best and bring in a good haul.  Makes... makes the Boss happy."  Inwardly, he gave a wry grin; his Father was never happy.

 

"I'm pretty good at finding emeralds - it's like a 'sixth sense' or something.  The other workers have seen me go to it; they said I was a natural."  

 

That part's true - say, since you're being so chatty, why don't you tell him what those worker buddies of yours thought of you when dear old 'Dad' made you fire them? 

 

He shook the voice out of his head, trying to make it seem like he was just trying to move some of his wild mane out of his eyes.

 

"Anyway, that's how I got my cutie mark," Dax said, motioning to his flank.  The lump of gray rock had an emerald sticking out of it, and it almost seemed to shine in the light.  "Still, I'm not exactly the strongest pony there... but I can kick with the best of 'em!"

 

He tried on a smile, but found that it didn't feel right on his face; he still thought of those poor, hard-working ponies that lost their jobs.  All because he didn't listen to his Father's rule: Don't mix with the help.  

 

Still, he just couldn't stop himself - he'd WANTED to help.  So he had, and they found an enormous vein of emerald, thanks to him.  Regardless, once his Father discovered him there, he'd made Dax fire a large number of ponies, in an attempt to make Dax 'grow up' and 'learn a lesson'.  All it did was make Dax lonlier than before... and scorned by the workers, to boot.

 

"So, uhm..."  He tried to find something... anything else to talk about.  "I'll bet with all that skill you have, you've made some interesting things - how about I ask what you're most proud of making?"

 

Get him talking about himself, good call - that way, not only do you not have to talk, but you can learn more about him as well.

 

Dax glanced at the rest of the party for a moment, making certain all was good, then turned his attention back to Serenity.

  • Brohoof 1

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Serenity listened to Dax as he spoke about his job, and how he got his cutie mark from it. Serenity however gave him a quizzical look. From his work, he had at least learned to see when somepony was dodging a question, such as several ponies who had tried to dodge the question of why they needed an item repaired, or how it broke. Usually it was trivial reasons, such as "I didn't want so and so to know I broke this" or they were just embarrassed. Serenity stared at him for a few seconds longer before giving up the look.

 

It wont help to just keep staring at him.

 

"So, uhm...I'll bet with all that skill you have, you've made some interesting things - how about I ask what you're most proud of making?" ​Yep, he was definitely hiding something. Won't hurt to answer though.

 

'What am I most proud of? These bags that I'm using. They've got a dozen or so modifications to make it easier for me to either access them, make them stay on, hold more things, ect." ​And now to ask him something. This would be...awkward to say the least. He didn't like prying, but asking wouldn't hurt. If he avoided again he would give up and leave the subject, but he didn't like it when people hid things from him either.

 

"You know...I know when somepony is dodging a question, and I feel weird when ponies hide things from me. I guess that's just my natural curiosity as work, but still. If you really don't want to tell me, I'll drop the subject. But we are a team here, there's really no need to hide things from us." That had been...unusually blunt of him. "However, I am sorry if I'm prying. As I said, if you don't want to talk about it that bad, I'll drop it."

 

I guess that I'm just trying to make him feel more at ease around us. He seems nervous. Also, theres just no need to hide things here. Who knows? It may be useful in the futureFinished the apple, he set himself back onto the ground and waited for Dax's response.

Edited by ThornFlare

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Dax was visibly spooked by the question.  The worry that crossed his features was clear as a bell, and there was no hiding the shame trying to surface.

 

DUMMY!  DUMMY!  DUMMY!  He sees right through you!  Why did you tell him all that!?  What in Equestria is WRONG with you!?

 

He opened his mouth, then shut it with an audible snap.  His eyes looked down, and he slowly wandered away from Serenity, making his way to the other side of the group.

 

Too much.  Too soon.  You're an idiot for walking away, but you're a BIGGER idiot for letting him see you were hiding things!  Maybe you should just keep quiet until you're needed...

 

He wanted to keep talking, and found Serenity fascinating... but he wasn't ready to reveal who he really was.  Not yet.

 

Not another word until tonight.  That was too close for comfort.

 

He was ashamed.  Ashamed that he'd wandered away.  Ashamed that he couldn't think of how to answer Serenity.  Mostly though, he was ashamed that he was who he was... and couldn't face his past.

 

You fool of a foal.  Best not to say any more.  Just exist.

 

He trotted by himself, not looking at anypony.

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Serenity stood there in shock for a second before flying after Dax. Darn it, I knew​ I shouldn't of asked that. Hopefully he's not that mad at me. He skidded to a near stop next to Dax. Now he had to talk to him. Not easy when they were potentially angry with you.

 

"Listen...Dax...I don't know what it was that made you run, but I'm...I'm sorry. I guess I was just trying to make you feel more ate ease because you looked like you felt nervous. I'm not the best with words, so I was afraid I'd mess up...and I did. So whatever I said, I truly am sorry, and I won't bring it up again." It was even more awkward when he said it rather then simply thinking of what he wanted to say. He always felt the need to at least say something when a conversation or something else went wrong. He couldn't just leave Dax over there without saying anything to him or apologizing. So he had.

 

He sighed. He hated when this stuff happened. He looked at Dax again.

 

"I know your angry at me or something...but we can still be friends, right?" He smiled slightly. "I hope that what I said can still be repaired."

Edited by ThornFlare

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Dax looked at Serenity, then at the ground.  "Yeah, sure."

 

He knew it wouldn't be long now - the truth would come out, the others would gasp at the fact, and he would be either openly sent home... or abandoned.  It was all just a matter of time, now.  Nothing could stop it.

 

"I just... I need to save my strength.  Just... just let me be for a bit.  I'll be fine.  Honest.  We'll... talk later."

 

He tried a small smile, but it was obviously fake and pained.  Realizing this, he simply let it drop and picked up the pace a bit, trying to make his way towards the middle of the group.  he avoided eye contact with anypony, and kept as small and quiet as possible.

 

You should have kept quieter about it.  You don't know how anypony here will react.  Destiny?  Blaze?  Even Serenity?  They'd never accept you.  Your family has always been full of liars, cheats  and thieves - why would they see you as any different?  You're trying to fit into their world... but you know their world won't accept you.  Just move along, wait until nightfall, then do what you came to do.  Maybe you can still get away with it... but don't count on it.

 

Only a matter of time, he thought miserably.

  • Brohoof 1

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"I just... I need to save my strength.  Just... just let me be for a bit.  I'll be fine.  Honest.  We'll... talk later."

 

"Yeah, sure", and that single sentence is all he had gotten out of Dax. That's it. It wasn't the fact that he was sulking around that frustrated him, it was that he was trying to mend what he had said, and all he could say was "Yeah, sure". He was hesitant to approach him again. What if Dax told him to just go away? Or yelled at him? There was any number of things that could go wrong. Also the pained smile on his face. It was brief, but showed a lot of emotion. He had only a few friends as a foal. And whenever one got mad at him, he went out of his way to try and fix the problem. Although it could go wrong, he had to approach him one last time. He just couldn't give up here and let Dax sulk about about whatever was on his mind. He was on a team, where was that stoic stallion from before? He decided that if this time he was told to go away again, he would. He usually tried once, tried twice, then left it for a bit. That applied now too. He flew over to Dax one more time.

 

"Look Dax, I don't know what you're so upset about. And I can't just leave somepony who's upset or angry about something I said sulk. I've said before I'm sorry, but Its painful to have people mad at me, especially ponies who I've gotten off on a good hoof with. If you really want to be left alone, I'll go. But I didn't have many friends as a foal, and I always worked to mend relations with them, and I hope I can mend this with you too. Don't mistake me for being pushy, I just want to help." He sighed. "I really hope we can go back to talking like we were earlier Dax. But we can't do that until you stop sulking about whatever it is your thinking about, and get it out of your head for the good of everypony here."

Edited by ThornFlare

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... well, you can't run from it, can you?  You can't hide.  Are you going to face him, and try to fix this?  Are you going to just ignore him?  Are you... what?  What are you going to do here?

 

Dax lifted his head just enough to look at Serenity, then gave a small sigh.

 

"Look, I... some... bad things happened.  I just... I'm not completely over them, either.  I'd rather just..."

 

... just what?

 

"I'd rather just not even... I... well, can we talk about something else?  ANYTHING else?  Please?"

 

Dax seemed miserable, but he was still looking Serenity in the eye.  He managed that much.  After all, it would be rude not to.

 

"It's NOT you... it's me.  Can we just leave it at that for now?  I'm not mad at you..."

 

... just myself...

 

"... I promise.  if we can talk about anything else, that'll be... just fine.  But please - no more pressing; we all have some things we don't like to talk about, and I'm no exception."

 

The pleading look on his face spoke volumes.

 

"We can talk about gems.  We can talk about building stuff.  We can talk about the price of tea in Ponyville.  Whatever you'd like, okay?"

 

The less Dax spoke of his 'issue', the more he seemed to come around.  He still kept small and quiet, but he no longer appeared to be on the edge of tears.

 

"Maybe... maybe you'd like to talk about something else?"

  • Brohoof 2

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Geez, he hadn't realized how pushy he seemed, and he hated being pushy.

 

"Sorry if I was pushy, I didn't mean to. I was just concerned and wanted to make things up. Sorry about that." Well, thank Celestia that's over, I was afraid he would stay mad at me. He was hoping now that it had been settled for good and they could go back to walking and talking. He felt really bad for being pushy, he normally wasn't like that. His shame showed a bit on his face. Also, the Everfree forest loomed closer then ever. It was still as creepy as it was when he was a foal. So he took up on Dax's request.

 

"Have you ever been to the Everfree forest? I have a few times as a foal with my friends, although we only ever stayed near the outside. That was before one of them got struck with her afflict-" He stopped himself there for a second. Her affliction was one of the last things he wanted to talk about, mainly by her request. They didn't want word of it spreading around."Well, erm...ya. We played random things on our day trips to Ponyville near the forest. Good times. So what about you, have you ever been there, or is this a first?" Relief washed over him. It looked like he had finally made things up with Dax, and that made him happier then he had felt in a while.

Edited by ThornFlare

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"Sorry if I was pushy, I didn't mean to. I was just concerned and wanted to make things up. Sorry about that."

 

Dax gave a small sigh of relief.  Still, only a matter of time, he thought to himself, but he still tried to shake off the clouds from his mind.

 

"Have you ever been to the Everfree forest? I have a few times as a foal with my friends, although we only ever stayed near the outside. That was before one of them got struck with her afflict-... well, erm...ya. We played random things on our day trips to Ponyville near the forest. Good times. So what about you, have you ever been there, or is this a first?"

 

Looks like you're not the only one with something to hide.  At least that means he may understand, after all.  That close to Ponyville, though... close enough to have heard of the mines.  Of the family.  Play it cool, Daxter - play it cooooooool...

 

Dax looked at the forest looming ahead of the group.

 

"Well... I've been in it before, yeah... but not very far in.  I've camped at the edge..."  Where you've been living, instead of your parent's home, "... but I kinda... well, I kinda chickened out on going further."

 

He gave a gulp, then looked around at the rest of the trees as they made their way in.  Slowly, the forest swallowed them all... and Dax felt a chill run down his spine.

  • Brohoof 1

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"I - I was just wondering, I know we don't know a lot about where we're going or how we're getting there, but I just wanted to know... Could you tell me a little about the route we're taking?" Midnight Rose asked Destiny as she trotted up.

 

This got Destiny thinking, did she really know all that much about the route? Well, time to improvise. She thought to herself. She knew the general direction, but she didn't know where to go after Everfree forest. She looked at her hooves as she trotted, and started to speak.

 

"We're going to go through the Everfree forest, and set up camp about 3/4 of the way through. After that we continue in the morning, and we....you know...continue from there" She said, as she cleared her throat at the end. She knew they neared the forest, and she knew some of the team members still probably didn't trust her, let alone with their lives in the forest.

 

She looked to Midnight Rose, making sure to give her a quick scan over, seeing as she hadn't really talked to her in depth or gotten a good look at her without being too awkward with her staring. Destiny gave up on her staring attempts whilst monologueing in her head when she smacked horn first into a pole. She hoped nopony took the time to see that, and just caught up with Midnight again.

Edited by Destiny Savvy

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Blaze just trotted behind everypony else. He wasn't one to bother them, and he needed to stay on the look out. They were after all, nearing the everfree forest. I'm getting the chills, i have a feeling that we are being watched Thought Blaze. He drew his blade and ignited it for extra light, he stopped and looked around. Something is just not right, he decided to take to the skies. He spread his wings and with a mighty flap he went airborn. He flew up, and decided to scout ahead, to make sure they didn't run into something avoidable. With a blazing blade, Blaze flew over to their first checkpoint. He landed and checked his surroundings. Huh, i think i'm just to paranoid after the griffon accident, i probably need to calm down and maybe talk with somepony. Blaze flew back to his group, by taking an alternative route, to make sure they didn't see him. He landed behind everypony, and sheated his blade. He walked up to the group, or rather said to Spellbind. "Hey Spelly, How are you?" Said Blaze with a friendly smile. Kepping in mind that she lags confidence in herself

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@,

 

Spellbind was quietly staying a few yards (give or take, she often had to either walk a bit faster or slower) behind from the rest of the group, simply going along with whatever the team decided they should do. She didn't really know a whole lot about adventuring, nor did she want to be a burden to the rest of the group by bombarding them with questions that she was worried might have been stupid ones to ask. When trouble arose, maybe then she would see what she could do to help out. Still, now that nopony was looking, she put her hoof up into her nostril and wiggled it around. She put her hoof in deeper, to try and clear out her nostrils. She had been waiting a long time to do this, what with having been sat next to her new friend on the train...

 

"Hey Spelly, how are you?" said Blaze rather cheerfully. When Spellbind heard the voice of Blaze say that she felt a sudden surge in her body all over out of shock. She looked up and Blaze was literally right there in front of her!!! She yanked her hoof right out of her nose.

  • Brohoof 2

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The trees loomed over them all like scary sentinels, guarding the way into the spooky Everfree Forest.  All around the group the scent of foreboding filled the air, putting a slight chill in it.

 

Normally, a wooded area would be teeming with life, and the sound of such would be quite a din - but there was nothing to hear, save the steady clop of horseshoes from the band of intrepid adventurers.  Although many of them seemed to be involved in their own foibles, it was obvious that (at least sub-consciously) the silence wasn't lost on them.

 

The fighters that walked along with the group got the distinct feeling they were being watched, and the rest of them merely got a general sense of unease, though it wasn't exactly clear where the feeling was coming from, nor what was causing such a sensation.  

 

As they continued along the dirt path, the woods continued their looming ways.  Eventually, the forest seemed to close in around them, and eventually the opening in the brush where the path originated seemed to get swallowed up behind them.  They were now officially cut off from the station where they had began the trip from...

 

... and there was little doubt that they were completely alone.

 

 

(Just a little exposition to try to get things rolling again!)

  • Brohoof 3

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((I'm back! Sorry it took so long to reply, but I'm still interested in this. Seems like everypony's staying towards the back of the group.))

 

Pat and River eventually found themselves at the front of the group, because for some reason it seemed like everypony kept faltering back. They continuously had to walk slower just to not leave the group behind. It seemed like nopony was at all comfortable being together in this group. Even Pat and, especially, River weren't all that comfortable, but sticking together helped them to ignore that awkward feeling.

As the entire group ventured on through the Everfree Forest it seemed to become more eerie and creepy. The further they went, the closer River stuck to Pat, and the more Pat became wary and ready to act. They also grew quiet, as they became more inclined to listen to their surroundings than anything else.

 

"I don't like this. I feel like something bad's going to happen..."

 

"...But that's all I feel"

 

Pat finished her sentence. They were thinking the same thing.

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Destiny gulped as they stood in front of the dreaded Everfree forest. She looked around the group, most of them looked like they were prepped to go in, but she could tell most of them were just acts. She was already doubting the path she chose, but at this point she would look like a coward changing their route. She could tell nopony wanted to enter first. She made another audible gulp, put on a very convincing smile, and started trotting in. Everypony else seemed to enter shortly after, and she slowed a bit, so the group was mostly together. She slowed down even more, just waiting for somepony, anypony to talk to her.

 

She was too nervous to initiate a conversation with any of them, Dax was really the only one she was comfortable around at this point, and that was only to a degree. Destiny sighed and watched in front of her as she walked. Nopony really looked that nervous, and unable to see their faces, she couldn't tell if they were faking or not. Maybe Destiny was just a coward. She was trotting slowly, because of the sounds and just straight up lack of vision in the Everfree forest. She backed up and somepony bumped into her because of her stopping movement.

 

"I'm sorry!" Destiny said, sounding more nervous than ever.

  • Brohoof 1

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@,

 

Spellbind was quietly staying a few yards (give or take, she often had to either walk a bit faster or slower) behind from the rest of the group, simply going along with whatever the team decided they should do. She didn't really know a whole lot about adventuring, nor did she want to be a burden to the rest of the group by bombarding them with questions that she was worried might have been stupid ones to ask. When trouble arose, maybe then she would see what she could do to help out. Still, now that nopony was looking, she put her hoof up into her nostril and wiggled it around. She put her hoof in deeper, to try and clear out her nostrils. She had been waiting a long time to do this, what with having been sat next to her new friend on the train...

 

"Hey Spelly, how are you?" said Blaze rather cheerfully. When Spellbind heard the voice of Blaze say that she felt a sudden surge in her body all over out of shock. She looked up and Blaze was literally right there in front of her!!! She yanked her hoof right out of her nose.

 

@

 

Blaze was about to talk more, but was caught dead in his tracks when he noticed spelly.... Having her hoove up in her nose. Blaze resisted the urge to chuckle That's hilarious, but laughing is probbly going to make her sad, and probably hit her self esteem hard, so i need to aproach this differently Thought Blaze. Spellbind appeared to have noticed him, since she yanked her hoof out of her nose really fast. Ouch, that must hurt... Thought Blaze. He decided to act like he didn't notice it. That was probably the best act. So Blaze spoke, like he was totally oblivious to what has occured in front of him. "You need to be carefull around these woods, something here is giving me the chills, and i can see that i'm not the only one. I'll go talk to the leader" Said Blaze, and moved at a quicker pace to catch up to Destiny. But then she suddenly halted, and Blaze went right into her. "I'm sorry!" Shouted a nervous Destiny. Oh boy, looks like everyone is a nit scared Thought Blaze "It's no problem Destiny, i should have probably been more careful. But i came here to ask, can you also feel that something isn't quite right here?" Asked Blaze 

Edited by blazedtime

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A loud THUMP answered Blaze's question.

 

From the treeline ahead, there was the sight of a single tree, shaking erratically for a moment before it teetered and fell to the ground.  Again, a hard THUMP resounded, and there was a quick twitter of birds flying off as another tree fell out of sight.  A couple of squirrels scampered by, chittering in alarm as they passed through the legs of the ponies on the path.  A quick flicker of their bushy tails, and they were gone into the brush.

 

THUMP!  Another tree quivered and fell.  It seemed to be coming from a bit ahead of the group, and this time a group of rabbits dashed out from the shadows ahead of them.  They looked scared out of their wits, and there was no stopping them as they high-tailed it for the path leading back toward town.

 

Each pony could feel every tree fall through their hooves, and there was no doubt that something up ahead of them was making all the racket, as well as felling trees.  The shadows were still too thick to see anything through, but it was a certainty that they were, indeed, not alone out here.

 

THUMP!

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The loud thumps worried Serenity. If there was something ahead of them...he shuddered at how big it must be to be felling trees like that. Ignoring the fact that he was uncomfortable being seen with his short sword, as not many ponies knew he carried one, he took it out and gripped it tightly. This was a situation where it might actually be useful. But what could he do with it? He hardly ever used it. Shaking that though aside, he stared at the path ahead. The thumps were growing ever closer. One of the few things that were comforting him at this point what the fact he seemed to of made up with Dax, who walked next to him.

 

"Please don't be anything, please oh please be harmless..." He mumbled to himself. He seemed to do that a lot.

 

Deep inside he knew it was a remote chance that something that was potentially huge was harmless. He gripped onto that notion of hope though, but was still prepared to fight if needed. At this point he didn't have the time to get anything from his bag that might help, because they were almost to the first felled tree.

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By Luna's mane, that's loud, Dax thought.  He kept close to Serenity, but each thump made his heart shudder with fear.  It almost sounded like the muffled explosions back at the mine, which anypony could hear from underground.  Of course, those had been well-known sounds to him; this was altogether different, and quite unknown to boot.  It could be a hydra, or an Ursa Major, or even a d-d-d-d-d... a d-d-d-d-d...

 

Dax gulped; he couldn't even finish the thought that it might be one of those big, scaly, gem-eating things.

 

He glanced over the group, and it was obvious they were feeling somewhat the same as himself.  He saw Serenity had drawn a sword; had he mentioned having a sword?  Dax couldn't recall, but he was glad to see it all the same.

 

Okay then, he gathered his meager courage, time to pony up.  Come on, Daxter, you can do this.

 

"Everypony, gather up!  Fighters on the outside, the rest of you inside!  Keep the circle closed!"

 

At least he sounded confident.  If they knew how bad he was frightened, his words would have sounded hollow and useless... but he'd sounded like he knew what he was doing.  He looked ahead at Destiny, hoping she wasn't as frightened as he was.  He looked back at the others, taking a tally of their numbers...

 

... two, three, four... wait.  Why do we have one extra?  That can't be right, unless... oh my Celestia, I forgot Spellbind!  I didn't see her at the first station; I guess I overlooked her!  DUMMY DUMMY DUMMY!

 

Now he felt bad - here they were in a situation that might spell doom for them, and he'd completely forgotten one of their members.  He made a mental note to try to say something to her later; for now, there were bigger shoes to nail.

 

I just hope we make it long enough for me to do that, Dax thought, making his way to the inner ring.  He was ashamed he didn't feel strong enough to take an outer position, but he knew he'd just get in the way of the more experienced fighters.  He kept close to Serenity, and kept a worried eye on Destiny, hoping everypony was going to be alright.

Edited by Randimaxis

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Midnight Rose was shaken out of her daydreams by the loud thumping noise.

What in Equestria could that be? She wondered. The booming thumps kept coming, and Rose jumped as a tree crashed to the ground just beside her.

She told herself to keep calm, to not be driven into a panic on her first day away from home. This is our time, Rose, and you have to stay strong. She thought.

But how can I be strong when I'm so far away from home? She thought, but immediately countered herself. But you're not far from home, your home can't be more than a fifteen-minute walk away. But strangely, that did not comfort her. How can I be strong when the memories of every time I've been too weak to fight are so close? Rose stopped in her tracks, unable to move. She was just about to turn around and run home, when she felt a sharp pain in her front leg. "Ow!" she exclaimed, shaking her leg vigorously, but every attempt to make it stop just made it worse. The young mare gazed down at the dirt, and found something extraordinary. It was a rose. A small, pale, indigo blue rose. Its stem wound around her foreleg, tying her to the earth, the sharp thorns pricking her skin.

But Rose no longer felt any pain. Instead, she looked around. Rose, you're in the forest... Towering pines stood over her like guardians, emerald green leaves covered the ground, vibrant flowers bloomed everywhere, and the deep, wild smell of the woods drifted through the air. Suddenly, Rose wasn't scared anymore.

Ever since the first day she got her cutie mark, Rose had possessed the talent of flora whispering. She could talk to, summon, and sometimes control any plant life she came across. Locked up in her family's ancient mansion, or trotting down the busy streets of Canterlot, she hadn't had much chance to use it. But now she was in the Everfree forest, the wildest place in Equestria, with every tree and every breath of air giving her power.

Another thump boomed out, and Rose was brought back to her senses. A second shook the ground, as if the earth itself was trying to scare them off. But each pony stood and faced it head-on. The young mare stood bravely as well, her newfound courage giving her immeasurable strength. You also have to, Rose, come on, get ready to fight...

"Everypony, gather up! Fighters on the outside, the rest of you inside! Keep the circle closed!"

Dax's words echoed in Rose's ears. She began to trot into the cluster of ponies, but she stopped herself. Fighters? Could that mean... me?

She hesitated. All her life she had backed away from challenges and danger, choosing instead to be the other kind of pony, the kind who fought with words instead of weapons, who stopped wars instead of started them. But... was that really who she was? 

I chose to go on this mission, I chose to be part of this team. Thought Rose. The thumps shook the forest, and trees toppled to the ground. And will protect the ponies who stand beside me. With that, she turned around and trotted forwards.

She stopped just behind the front line, where the fighters were drawing their weapons. She nearly trotted past them, but hesitated when she glanced back. There were the other ponies, just as brave as the warriors, ready to face whatever came their way.

Let the fighters do battle with whatever that thing is, I'll stay and protect them. A newfound sense of duty coursed through Rose's veins as she positioned herself in front of the center circle, not a fighter, but ready to defend her team.

Her horn lit up with an indigo glow. She could feel the magic of the forest flowing through her, and she readied a powerful attack spell, strong enough to take down a dragon, to be cast at a moment's notice.

Another thump shook the forest, but Midnight Rose stood strong.

  • Brohoof 1

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Between the thumps, a sound began to drift towards the group gathered on the path.  It was strange;  a melody of sorts, being chanted almost.  It sounded like a voice that was not only used to gargling with sandpaper, but was deep and rolling.  There was little doubt that whoever was manufacturing the so-called tune was BIG.  Really BIG.

 

As they stood, hushed by the treefalls, it became clearer, and they began to make out actual words... it sounded like this:

 

Chew the bones and break the back

Give the stones the blood they lack

Eat the flesh and tear the skin

Hard without yet soft within

 

Chew, chew, chew

Critter stew!

Chew, chew, chew

Good for you!

Chew, chew, chew

Critter stew!

Chew, chew, chew

It's what we do!

 

Grind the bones up into paste

Flavor with the blood for taste

Eat it all and ask for more

Blood and bone and skin and gore

 

Chew, chew, chew

Critter stew!

Chew, chew, chew

Good for you!

Chew, chew, chew

Critter stew!

Chew, chew, chew

It's what we do!

 

The voice "sang" with gusto, and there was a resounding THUMP between each chorus.  When there were no actual words, there was a humming that was akin to the sound of trained bees buzzing in unison... even if they were slightly out of tune.

 

The rumbling "music" was coming from ahead of the group.

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