MLP - Ponystuffs (2nd storybit up)

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Kuja
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MLP - Ponystuffs (2nd storybit up)

Post by Kuja » 2013-03-04 10:38pm

oh god wtf am i doing i dont even
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My Little Pony:
Winter's Fall

-----------------------------------
A city is built amongst the mountains for three reasons.

The first is that the elevation makes it clearly visible for many miles around. It dominates the landscape in an unmistakable display of superiority. During the day the shape of its towers makes it stand out from the slopes of rock, while at night the lights from those same towers glimmer like fireflies set against the starry backdrop.

The second reason is that the position makes such a city difficult to attack. Aside from a few safe paths - always guarded - that lead up to higher ground, the steep cliffs and the defensive walls render a potential siege a dubious prospect. Too, the very height of the city and its towers make such a place easy defended as the soldiery rain assorted sharp objects down upon anyone that dares assault their home.

The last reason is often held as the most important of the three in the early years of such a city, however as a society matures and the years pass without challenge, all too often it can be forgotton as the population grows relaxed and sure in their neat, regimented lives. As they go to and fro about their business, they never think about the third of three reasons why they live where they do.

For the third reason is that hard, cold, tough mountains produce hard, cold, tough people.

-----------------------------------------------------

By and large, Canterlot had forgotten winter. For centuries the unicorns had habitually warmed the inner walls of the city with their magic so that the temperature rarely dared drop below freezing. The nobleponies let it get just cold enough for fashion to change and for fillies to play in the newly-fallen snow, without having to deal with such unsightly things as ice on the roads or frozen doors.

Only one part of the city was exempt from the spellwork - the western grounds of the Canterlot palace. On the surface, this was done so that the populace could enjoy such sights of winter as the ice gardens, the snowed-over hedges, and the reflecting pool that became an ice rink during the cold months. However, what the average Canterlot citizen didn't know - or chose not to think about - was the real reason for the tradition. Specifically, the fact that the lack of warmth allowed the Canterlot Royal Guard to conduct their winter training without leaving the city.

In the open areas of the grounds they gathered - twenty to thirty of the new recruits accompanied by a pair or perhaps a trio of the officers to oversee their exercises. There, during the day they would spar with horn and magic, while at night they would stand attention in the cold snow. The cycle was grueling and difficult, separating the strong-willed from the weak, and the faint of heart most certainly need not apply.

-------------------------------

It had snowed last night, and the glistening carpet stood nearly knee-high to a stallion. The western towers of the palace gleamed brightly as the sun itself in the mid-morning light, a spectacular sight that was entirely wasted on the gathering. Twenty ponies had gathered in the open area - all of them garbed in the steel armor of the royal guard and arrayed in two lines as they stood in rapt attention. Although the barding made them appear uniform, a discerning eye would have easily found numerous difference from one to the next - coat and mane and eye color and suchlike. Ten of them were unicorns, horns glinting in the sunlight. Six of them were pegasi, though at the moment their wings remained tightly clamped to their sides in an attempt to conserve body heat. And four of them were earth ponies, strong in the flank and hoof despite their lack of horn or wing.

Across a patch of churned snow stood a final trio. Two of them were unicorns, the third another of the winged pegasi. They too wore the iconic armor, though their helms were removed and clipped in place at the shoulder. These, then, were the officers to whom the training of the young colts had been entrusted. The pegasus was typical of his kind - slender and sinewy, his eyes hued a pale blue, his coat white as the snow beneath his hooves complimented a tightly-trimmed dyed cobalt mane. The first of the two unicorns was not dissimilar to his winged comrade, though his eyes were darker, his coat and wild mane both a pale cream.

The second unicorn was larger than his fellow, his frame thicker atop four sturdy legs. His coat was a middling brown that stood out sharply from the snow. His mane and tail had once been a solid black, but the passing of years had painted streaks of grey through their lengths. Upon his face he kept a severely-trimmed goatee, just within the regulations of the royal guard. Though colored a muddy brown, his eyes were sharp, intense as he watched the recruits through his narrowed gaze. Upon his flank was a grey diamond shape sometimes mistaken for a kite, but on second glance had the lines of creased metal and reinforced edging that proved the mark to be a kite shield.

The stallion lifted a forehoof and, breath smoking in the cold air, called out a pair of names. Two of the recruits, a pegasus and a unicorn, detached themselves from the lines and trotted quickly towards opposite edges of the patch of churned snow. As they took their positions, the pegasus unfurled his wings, stretching them and gritting his teeth as he flexed his muscles, tight after the long period of being kept held tightly to his flanks. Across from him, the unicorn shook himself and took up a ready stance, his head lowered to bring his horn into line with his opponent.

"Ready," the captain called out. The unicorn kicked his hind legs, throwing up a brief cascade of snow as he set himself. A moment later his horn began to glow and corsucating lines of magic power began to take shape in the air around him. The pegasus flapped his wings, lifting up to hover in the air just above the level of his comrades' heads.

The captain dropped his hoof. "Go!" he barked. At his instruction both ponies charged forward, chruning up more of the snow as their hooves carried them towards one another. As he galloped, the unicorn kept his head steady, the drifting threads of magic solidifying into a five-point shield centered at his horn. The pegasus put out his forelegs as he ripped through the air, blowing up a wake of snow as he passed.

The two collided with a bang as the pegasus' hoof guards met the unicorn's shield and then the two were past one another, the flyer weaving drunkenly in the aftermath of the collision before he shook himself and gathered his wits. The unicorns still in line stamped their forelegs in salute, the pegasi shooting them a series of dirty looks as the pair of jousters turned to face each other once more, the magic shield of the unicorn remaining firmly in place.

"You're not a Wonderbolt, Starchaser!" the pegasus captain called out with a glare. "Stay low!"

The dark-maned unicorn simply lifted his forehoof once more and then stamped the ground a second time. "Again," he ordered.

The two slammed together a second time, and this time the pegasus heeded his captain's advice, remaining low enough that his wingtips brushed the snowdrifts. As they collided the pair all but vanished in the cloud of snow kicked up as the unicorn's shield burst and disrupted the currents of air carried by the pegasus' passing. As it cleared, the pair were revealed sprawled beside one another, both of them dazed, the pegasus attempting to lift himself up on his forelegs. Apparently this was close enough to a victory that his fellow pegasi took the opportunity to stamp their hooves in retaliation for the unicorn's earlier display.

The dark-maned captain stamped his own hoof and the noise stopped instantly, the jousters shaking themselves roughly as they scrambled to attention. "Better," he declared, though his hard face didn't seem to reflect approval. "Remember, this training isn't just to see how hard you can hit one another." He tapped his hoof against the snow. "You're going to train until you can make twenty of those passes. Now-" he began to continue, but abruptly he paused, frowning. A moment later he bared his teeth and lifted a foreleg to cover his mouth as a stifled cough wracked his frame. He looked away as several more followed, a soft growl escaping as he suppressed the choking sounds.

"Sir?" the unicorn recruit dared.

The captain waved his hoof. "Back into line," he said firmly. "Just a little-" he grunted as he thumped a hoof against his chest. "Minor cold. Next pair!" he barked as he recovered. "Take over for a bit," he murmured to his fellow captain before turning to depart. Even as the next pair of jousters stepped forward, the remaining unicorn and the pegasus shared a glance that, if any of the recruits had caught it, might have seemed a worried one.

-------------------------

The palace's halls were warmer than the air outside thanks to the candles set by the place's staff. Within, the guard captain paused, stifling another series of heavy coughs with his foreleg, his eyes squeezed shut as he clenched his teeth. As the fit passed, he groaned briefly as he regained his breath.

"Just a cold, Ironheart?" a male voice said nearby. The captain snapped his head around to find his fellow unicorn glowering at him. The cream-colored pony's hooves tapped quietly on the floor as he drew closer to his peer.

The dark-maned Ironheart growled softly in vexation. "Just...need a cup of tea," he grunted. "Bit of warm air to settle the lungs. Not sixteen anymore," he said, blustering a bit. He turned away as he spoke, beginning to walk the length of the long hall that encircled the palace's western tower.

"That's true," his fellow captain said in a neutral voice. Although the dark-maned unicorn had clearly used a dismissive tone, he seemed to naturally fall into step beside the larger pony. "Neither of us are colts anymore, my friend. We're older, we've grown, we've aged...and we don't fool as easily."

Ironheart sighed. "Are we really going to do this, Lance?"

Level Lance sighed. "We really are, Ironheart. Love of Celestia, I'm your friend," he said suddenly. "How long have we known one another?"

"Thirty years, give or take," Ironheart replied immediately.

Level Lance was silent for a long moment as the pair of them walked along the hall. The high windows of the gallery afforded a perfect view of the grounds outside, but neither of the two ponies bothered to look - both of them had seen the sights a hundred times apiece and more. "Do you remember the conversation we had three years ago?" he finally asked, bracing for an explosive reply.

Ironheart didn't disappoint him. "Strange," the larger unicorn growled, rounding on his companion. "That doesn't sound a thing like 'the day you let me talk you into retiring from active duty.'"

"You're angry at me for-" Level Lance sputtered. "You agreed with me! You put in your own transfer request, I didn't force the papers on you!"

"I never would have if you hadn't hounded me about it," Ironheart replied.

"Hounded you? Are you forgetting the day you doubled over on duty?" Lance shot back without hesitation. "'Lance, what am I supposed to do if I can't stand a ten-hour?' Your words, old friend."

Ironheart loomed close and glowered at his fellow captain. "You've got some nerve playing that-" But abruptly his reply was lost amidst a storm of wracking coughs. Despite knowing he was in no danger, Lance couldn't help but instinctively step back as the larger unicorn covered his mouth in a struggle to suppress the heavy, whooping coughs that relentlessly exploded from his chest. This time however, they didn't stop, and before long Ironheart was halfway to the floor as his legs buckled.

Lance lowered his head and stepped forward to begin pushing the larger unicorn along the hallway. "Come on," he said firmly. "Let's get you to the privy." His comrade was hardly in a position to argue.

---------------------------------

Once they'd reached the relative privacy of the washroom, Ironheart ducked into one of the private stalls, leaving Lance outside to listen as his friend's wracking coughs continued for some time, accompanied by nastier sounds that the unicorn didn't care to dwell on. Finally, they trailed off into quiet, leaving only heavy breathing as Ironheart recovered. Suppressing the urge to shake his head, Lance summoned a bit of magic to pull one of the paper towels free from their box, azure magic engulfing the scrap as he levitated it over the wall. To his surprise there was a soft word of thanks from the other side.

A moment later there was a flush and Ironheart emerged. Lance was quietly shocked to see him in such a state - his mane mussed, face lined and legs trembling as he moved to the sinks, wiping his brow with the paper towel. He looked as if he might be knocked over with a feather.

"Those fits of yours are getting closer together," Lance said quietly as his friend ran the water and washed his face.

Ironheart hitched for a moment, then nodded. "Yes," he admitted.

"How often?"

There was a pause before Ironheart replied. "Twice...occasionally three times a week," he said finally with a deep breath that, to Lance's relief, contained no hint of a cough.

Lance frowned. "What about that tincture? Are you still taking it?"

Ironheart shook his mane dry, already beginning to look more like his typical assured self. "Of course," he replied. "Every morning with breakfast."

Lance's eyes widened as Ironheart began to turn towards the door. "Ev-every morning?" he stuttered, shocked. With a burst of speed he galloped out in front of his friend, planting a hoof against his chest. "What happened to once a week?" he demanded furiously.

"I...upped the dosage awhile back," Ironheart admitted. "The fits started to happen almost every day. The doctors advised me to start taking that concoction with breakfast."

"And?" Lance prompted.

"It worked. It still keeps them under control," the larger unicorn insisted, lifting a foreleg to firmly push Lance's own back down. I'll be fine for a day or two now," he said as he started past the cream-colored Lance.

"A day or two," Lance repeated, turning to keep his eyes on his friend. "Ironheart, maybe-"

"Don't say it."

"Maybe it's time you should consider ret-"

"I said don't say it!" the dark-maned unicorn interrupted, turning to level a glower at his friend.

"Don't be mulish, Ironheart," Lance replied, bracing himself for another argument. "No pony serves in the guard forever. Thirty years and you're allowed-"

"It's been twenty-nine years," Ironheart interrupted once more. "Lance, in the last two centuries no pony's had the gall to ask for an early muster out, and I'm not going to be the one who couldn't make it!"

"In the last two centuries no pony's been hit with your...condition," Lance fired back.

"I am not a cripple!"

"I didn't say you were! But even you have to admit that if those fits keep getting worse, eventually you'll be forced to retire."

"I can make it one more year," Ironheart replied stonily. "I will not be the one to besmirch the honor of the royal guard."

"You - what - you - what?" Lance sputtered. "How do you even - sometimes I think you should've been called Ironskull, you know that?" he snapped angrily, stamping a forehoof. Ironheart grimaced. "You know full well that if you sent a request up to the Princess she would grant it on the spot, don't you? She would understand. She wouldn't be offended."

"Maybe. But that's not the point." Ironheart stamped his forehoof. "I'm not infirm, Lance." A long moment of tense silence passed between the two of them and finally Ironhart snorted, a little smile forming on his face. "What would I even do with myself if I retired?"

"Fishing, maybe?" Lance replied with a little smile of his own.

Ironheart grunted. "One more year," he repeated. "I'm already doing nothing but training the new colts. Retirement would drive me crazy."

Level Lance peered at the other unicorn and finally sighed. "I just. I'm worried about you, old friend. I don't want you driving yourself to collapse."

Ironheart lifted a foreleg and reached out to plant his hoof on Lance's shoulder. The other unicorn responded in kind. "Do you trust me, Lance?"

"With my life."

"Then let me have one more year. Then I'll take my retirement and they can put me out to pasture."

"That's a horrible thing to say, Ironheart," Lance replied, smiling despite himself.

Ironheart returned the smile. "Just trust me to handle myself, old friend."

"Alright," Lance said. "But if you keep trying to stick around I'll sign your trotting papers myself."

"That's a deal."

----------------------------

Once Ironheart had departed, striding down the hall without even a hint of the weakness that had gripped him earlier, Lance lingered at the windows, his gaze looking out at the ice-frosted peaks of the mountain range beyond Canterlot's walls. Still, he retained enough awareness that when a soft voice tentatively spoke from nearby, "sir?" he turned to see who had approached.

It was another unicorn in the armor of the guard, much younger than Lance himself, his coat white as snow and his mane a thick cobalt. "I know you," the captain murmured, half to himself as he turned to face the colt. "It's Shining Armor, isn't it?"

"Yessir," the junior guard replied. He stepped closer, but to Level Lance he seemed hesitant, almost nervous, and suddenly the captain understood why.

"How much did you hear, son?" he asked.

With a brief hum of magic, Shining Armor removed his helm so that he could cradle it in the crook of one foreleg. Technically it was a breach of etiquette, but Lance wasn't about to call him on it - the conversation they were beginning wasn't exactly a routine exchange of pleasantries. "I was on patrol, sir, and I heard the coughing coming from the washroom. When I got close I heard you and Captain Ironheart arguing and, well," the unicorn looked abashed. "I just decided it'd be better if I hid out."

"Probably the better call," Lance agreed. "Things got heated enough without a wrench like that being thrown into the mix. It's good you decided to come clean, nonetheless."

"Yessir. Sir...is Captain Ironheart...is he sick?"

Lance let out a sigh. Then he turned back towards the window. "Come here, son," he instructed. As Shining Armor moved to join him, he asked, "do you remember what were you doing six years ago?"

"Six years ago?" the colt repeated. "Jeez, uh...six years ago I was mostly watching out for my sister, sir. Our parents were really busy at the time."

"Foalstitting duty, hm?" Lance said. Without waiting for a reply he stuck his hoof out to point towards the distant peaks. "You see that mountain there? The big one with the crags?"

"Yessir."

"Six years ago a nasty critter called a malboro decided to take up residence in that mountain and started waylaying the caravans headed from Canterlot to northern Equestria."

"What's a malboro, sir? I've never heard of it," Shining Armor said.

"It's a plant that uses vines to move around. Think of a big, round, cactus-like thing with teeth," Lance replied. "Ugly as a mule's rear end, and worst part is, they can breathe a cloud of poison. Well, we couldn't have something like that running around so close to Canterlot, so Ironheart volunteered to take a squad of the guard out to get rid of it. They had the thing cornered in a cave when it walloped Ironheart and then let off a blast of that poison breath right in his muzzle. He was winded from that hit, so he ended up getting a lungful of the stuff."

"They couldn't cure it?" Shining Armor asked, wide-eyed.

"Well, at first they didn't realize anything was wrong. They took care of the thing and Ironheart got all the way back to Canterlot without trouble, so they figured he must've got lucky. A couple weeks later he keeled over, coughing like you just heard. They looked him over and realized his lungs were damaged from the poison. The docs mixed up a potion that would keep the trouble at bay, but that was the best they could do."

"Even magic couldn't help?"

Lance frowned and glanced at the colt. "Magic can't fix everything, son," he said. "I know it might seem impossible when you're from a place like Canterlot, but even these days, you can't always just find a quick solution to some problems."

"So...he's not going to get better, is he," Shining Armor said quietly.

Lance sighed. "No pony lives forever, even though we don't like to think about it. Ironheart's just got a tougher reminder than most of us about that." The captain turned away from the window and stuck a forehoof into Shining Armor's shoulder. "You just keep that well in mind. Live life while it lasts, son. Nobody escapes from it alive."

"Yessir," the guard replied with a fast nod.

"And one last thing. As far as you're concerned, Captain Ironheart has a bit of a cold. Nothing more, nothing less. Understand?"

"Understood," Shining Armor said, momentarily rising up on his back hooves to salute with his free foreleg.

"Back on patrol then, soldier," Lance said, turning back to the window.

"Yessir," the guard replied smartly, replacing his helmet and saluting before trotting off.

Level Lance returned to looking out the window, and it was a long, long time before he finally turned away.


~*~*~*~


(Inspired in part by The Human Seasons by Jon Keats)
Last edited by Kuja on 2013-03-10 03:42pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I wrote...a ponything [MLP]

Post by Crazedwraith » 2013-03-05 05:08am

Good writing Kuja. Loved the cigarette monster being the cause of Ironheart's problem.

For ponies, all their voices seemed very real and its a decently grown up look at the universe they live in. Seems a great idea that the Royal Guard is the thing that goes out to save the people from threats. It's like the princesses are revered but really they're there to serve and protect the population.
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Re: I wrote...a ponything [MLP]

Post by madd0ct0r » 2013-03-05 07:12am

hmmm, agreed. I enjoyed this, just forgot to commet first time.

for some reason the marlboro monster appeared to me as an escape from Super Mario.
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Re: I wrote...a ponything [MLP]

Post by LadyTevar » 2013-03-05 12:37pm

The Marlboro is a Final Fantasy monster. Been around for damn near every version, and it's always a poison-spitting nasty.

Great story, Kuja... but I now want to know if Ironheart lives out his final year, or gets to die a hero.
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Re: I wrote...a ponything [MLP]

Post by Kuja » 2013-03-05 03:01pm

Crazedwraith wrote:For ponies, all their voices seemed very real and its a decently grown up look at the universe they live in. Seems a great idea that the Royal Guard is the thing that goes out to save the people from threats. It's like the princesses are revered but really they're there to serve and protect the population.
Thanks, that's really what I was going for.

I think I've been influenced a bit by the Equestria: Total War paraphenalia, since the way I kind of like to picture it is something like out of Roman or Medieval times in that when Equestria needs an army it raises one from the populace and then disbands it once more, while the Royal Guard are rather like the kingdom's praetorians, protecting the royalty and going out to handle the comparatively small conflicts - sort of like how we see the Wonderbolts doing.

I actually have a fic I've done some work on to that effect. I may post it.
LadyTevar wrote:The Marlboro is a Final Fantasy monster. Been around for damn near every version, and it's always a poison-spitting nasty.

Great story, Kuja... but I now want to know if Ironheart lives out his final year, or gets to die a hero.
Yes indeed, Tev nailed it. I wanted something that could spit out some kind of nasty poison cloud, looked through a few old cataloges of mythological monsters and wasn't really satisfied with anything, and eventually hit on the idea of using one of the FF series' mainstays.

Image

Mean lil critter.

As for Ironheart, I don't really know. I've had some ideas bouncing around but I largely wrote this to be a little character piece on what you might get from a couple of old soldiers in the Equestria-verse.

Thanks you for the compliments, all round. :)
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Re: MLP - Ponystuffs (2nd storybit up)

Post by Kuja » 2013-03-10 03:49pm

Inspired by Equestria: Total War

Specifically inspired by this. (Music for reading)

MLP: ETW

The Wind from the North


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The word had gone out across Equestria.

From the shining spires of Canterlot amongst the mountain peaks couriers had departed with urgent haste, traveling in pairs as they scattered in all directions to bring the word of the monarchy to every corner of the land. Stallions and mares alike watched them as they went and their hearts were made heavy, for in Canterlot it was already known that the couriers did not go forth as the bearers of welcome news.

Day and night they traveled, for the they had been tasked to deliver their charges withthe utmost haste. The pegasi made good time with their wings, soaring high above obstacles that would deter those who went by ground. The unicorns used their magic to speed their journey, refreshing themselves without taking the time to halt their journey, or otherwise teleporting across great distances in the span of an eyeblink. The earth ponies, possessing neither the flight nor magic of their brethren relied on their natural strength and endurance to carry them forwards where others would have wearied.

The flight from Canterlot was not without precedent, though only one being now lived that remembered the last time it had taken place. Equestria had been a land founded on the principles of unity, compassion, and integrity. Across the breadth of the kingdom there was no word so foul as the one which now brought forth dozens of ponies from her capitol to race across her furthest reaches -

War.

Yet even at their most optimistic the three great tribes and their princess had not dared imagine a world so totally devoid of that dreaded word, and they did not fail to prepare the necessary steps that would enable the formation of an army to defend their lands from whatever foe might dare turn its gaze upon them.

And so, the messangers went out from Canterlot, bearing with them the grim news of just such an event.

They carried it to Manehattan and to Baltimare where the word of Celestia was posted in the city squares, and mares wept as their stallions tendered loving goodbyes before going out to muster.

They carried it to Cloudsdale, and though the city of pegasi became somber they had not forgotton the warrior traditions of old, and eyes were dry despite dour anticipation as both mare and stallion stepped forth to be counted.

They carried it to Ponyville and to Trottingham, and those towns tightened their waistcoats and prepared grimly for a lean winter as they watched strong workers and good crop alike depart their homes.

And in Canterlot itself, the unicorns readied their magic and began preparing the many elixirs and potions that would be needed when the battle was joined.

The great muster took place in the rolling plains north of the Canterlot mountain range. Empty space became filled with row upon row of tents, and the dusty, heavily-trodden drilling fields. The formation of the army soon proved itself the largest in Equestria's history, for the great kingdom's population had grown in peaceful times. Unlike the traditional three legions - each typically dominated by one of the three great tribes - enough had been gathered to form a full five such divisions.

It was here those that had answered the call of their monarch learned why the summons had gone out from Canterlot. From the cold mountains in the northwest the borders of their land had been violated. Out of the frozen reaches had come a great mob of of cyclopes, the one-eyed brutes that reigned amongst the peaks with raw violence and savagery. Long had it been since they had dared cross into Equestria, let alone in such numbers. Had they come peacefully their passage through Equestrian lands might well have been permitted, but as they began to tear up the forests for their fires and set the local towns to flight, the hoof of the Princess had been forced.

The vast majority of the recruits had little to no experience in the art of war, and so their training was hasty. They were quickly taught to stand and fight in formation, to erect defenses and barricades on a moment's notice, to listen carefully and respond to the orders of their commanders - the few ponies interspersed throughout the greater number that did have experience in such things.

Before long the muster was roused and arrayed into their legions for the march north. Despite the horns of the heralds and the rousing speeches of their leaders, morale amongst the army was low. Most knew that their period of training had been entirely too brief to make proper warhorses out of them, and the size, strength, and tenacious brutality of the cyclopes would make them hard foes. Few dared voice such sentiments openly, but many amongst the gathered ranks wondered how many would return home.

Before long, however, the first skirmishes were fought in the northlands between the advance scouts of the Equestrian Army and the few ragtang bands that preceded the greater horde of northmen. Largely pegasi, the scouting parties had little trouble outmaneuvering the slower, bulkier cyclopes to deliver fast, harsh blows from fore- and rear hooves that sent their foes fleeing back to the comfort of the greater horde.

Despite this initial success, the leaders of the army seemed reluctant to commit to greater battle, ordering a slower pace to the army's march and beginning to spread the legions over a wider area. Rumor began to spread that the officers feared putting their untested troops to the test and morale dropped further. On the other hood, cyclopes held no such reluctance, and the great horde swung southward with the intent to avenge their fellows' humiliation.

In the northwoods of Equestria the Second and Third Legions finally met the advancing foe proper and pitched battles erupted amidst the pine trees between the great brutes weilding their clubs and spears and the ponies who fought with hoof and magic. Rather than press foward the legion commanders ordered their troops into a slow withdrawl, pulling them back into the plainslands. The cyclopes gave chase, streaming from the forest and into the wide-open plains until it became clear that the size of the horde nearly equaled that of the assembled army.

Morale amongst the Equestrians dropped still further as their leaders appeared to dither and continue in their reluctance to meet the invaders. It seemed they had little confidance in the hastily-assembled army, and as the size of the invaders' force became clear there was talk of desertion. This was largely silenced as the legion commanders finally handed down the order to begin fixing defenses, and some thought they had finally seen the wisdom of their leaders' plan - draw the horde out into the open and reveal their numbers before enacting their own counter strategem.

But still, as the legions prepared to meet the advancing cyclopes the spirit of the army remained low, and the dissent was largely fixed upon one detail - days of muster, of marching, of combat had passed, and yet not hide nor hair had been seen of Princess Celestia or her royal guard. Above all other Equestrians, the Canterlot Guard were rigorous in their martial training, and amongst them were the comparatively few skilled combatants that had seen true battle, if on a smaller scale than this. Where were they? Why did the Princess hold them back? Why did she herself not come forth to watch over her army?

The rumors flew and morale amongst the Equestrian Army neared a new low as they prepared to meet the oncoming horde.

-

It was the thirtieth day since the beginning of the muster. For near-on three months the horde of the cyclopes had rampaged through the northlands of Equestria while the ponies had watched and prepared and gathered their strength.

Today, it would end.

Already bloodied, the Second and Third Legions entrenched themselves before the cyclopes, joined by the First to present a broad front to the enemy horde. Only the Fourth and the Fifth hung back, seemingly milling about off to the flanks of their comrades. A cynical few suggested the idea that their commanders had no idea what to do with their superfluous horsepower.

Time was running out, however, as slowly but surely the horde advanced. Though disorganized and crude it was in contrast to the ranks and defenses of the army, the large savages filled the air with eager bellows and cries of anticipation as they pressed in towards their enemies.

As the great horde closed in, the commander of the Second Legion motioned to the unicorn that stood beside him. That worthy - a minor noble in the courts of Equestria, dark blue in coat and darker still in mane, come to war in search of glory - focused his magic into his horn and fired upwards, a crackling burst of magic exploding high in the air above the assembly and throwing out a brief, golden light that soon faded from view.

But those few seconds were all the time the spell had needed.

From the forests in the northeast they came forth onto the open plains, hooves throwing up a steady rumble like a roll of thunder. The sunlight from above flashed off their golden armor, until it seemed a very river of the precious metal streamed from the cover of the trees. Hearts were lifted by the valiant sight as the mares and stallions of the gathered army bore witness to the sudden appearance as if by magic of the full strength of the Royal Guard.

They had all come north from the safety of the capitol - a full Legion's worth of armored bodies, unicorn and pegasus and earth pony alike, and they came charging towards the horde's rear flank like a pronouncement of doom. As they approached they formed into a broad line, the pegasi keeping low to the ground near their brethren. Voices called out orders, nearly lost amongst the booming of so many hooves.

Close to the center of the charging formation was a large unicorn in the gilt-edged armor of a captain. His name was Ironheart, and the honor had been given to him to command the great charge. His full-bodied voice thundered out over the assembly as they stampeded, at his word the golden ranks of the Royal Guard changed from the broad line into a series of chevron formations. It had been Ironheart that had devised the formation, and had he so desired it could have been he at the tip of the central spearhead, the honored position of first into the fray.

But instead he called the name of another - "Lance!"

"Aye captain!" came the smart reply from the nearby lieutenant.

"You have the speartip," the captain replied, and the smaller unicorn put his head down as he increased his pace to assume the forward position.

Ironheart had so placed him for two reasons. The first was sentimental - the two unicorns had come up through the ranks of the guard together, and though Ironheart had made the rank of captain his friend had perpetually lagged behind him in the ranks. For him to lead this charge, Ironheart knew, would be the very thing he needed to see him earn the rank he rightfully deserved.

The second reason was that Ironheart had earned his captaincy by knowing just who to put in the right position. "Guard!" he roared, "fix spearheads!"

Ahead of the captain, the unicorn named Level Lance lowered his head to thrust forward his horn, a glow forming as an aura of magic coalesced about him as he called upon the special talent that had seen him marked and ensured his place as a proud member of the Royal Guard. In the air ahead of the lieutenant a golden spearhead began to take shape, waves of magic cascading past the galloping unicorn that washed over his fellows. All along the chevron behind him, other unicorns lowered their heads and added their magic to the spell, and the pegasi beat their wings to reshape the air currents into a great arrowhead of solid wind and magic. All along the charging formation the other chevrons did much the same, though their fixations were not so grand as the spearhead thrown up at the center of the charge.

From afar, the armored stampede had become an unearthly wall of magic that bore down upon the horde like arrows fired from some godly bowstring. The cyclopes wheeled about in panic, a few of the brutes preparing to meet the oncoming foe with their clubs and spears.

And it was at that very moment she finally appeared. She came as if from nowhere, descending out of the sun itself in a great halo of golden light so intense that the mare herself could barely be seen beneath her luminescence. Around her coruscated auras of crimson and cerulean, violet and viridian and more, every color of the rainbow trailing in her wake as she swept downwards.

"Her Light shines over Equestria!" roared the commander of the First Legion, "now and for all time!" And the army rose up and cheered in response, many hundreds of voices raised in praise.

She swept over the width of the battle-line of her Guard, her grand wings spread as if in benediction before she wheeled about and swooped in to a running landing, charging forwards just ahead of the central speartip.

In the moments before they closed with the enemy, Ironheart thought he heard a word spoken from her, a whisper that snuck beneath the tumult of hooves and cheering voices -

"Gotcha."

-

The Royal Guard slammed into the barbarian horde and overran their outer ranks as if they had never existed. Cyclopes twice the size of their Equestrian foes were thrown into the air by the force of the ethereal spearheads or knocked aside to be funneled into the gap between the chevrons where they were trampled over. The great charge continued at full speed, leaving sprawled and dazed savages in its wake. The Guard struck deeply into the massed foe, sowing chaos and confusion.

The Princess of the Sun ran as if without a care, bowling over a succession of foes that seemed to crumple without even having been touched, the merest flicker of her magic sufficient to throw them to the ground. Behind her, the great spearheads of the Guard faded and collapsed in the wake of the assault, and now the battle came into more conventional means s the Guard set to work with hoof and horn and wing to despatch their foes.

Their initial assault had been truly magnificent, but the numbers were horrifically tilted against the armored ponies, and given time their savage foes might turn the tide against the warriors in gold. But time was a thing not on their side, as with sudden ferocity the Legion commanders began to snap orders and bellow commands. The Fourth and the Fifth, whose leadership had not seemingly known what to do with the unanticipated horsepower were brought forward into the flanks of the great horde. Beset by the holy fury of the Princess and her Guard from behind and the sudden pressure at their sides, the barbarians found themselves slowly pushed into the ranks of the First, Second and Third Legions. Here they found no respite, for those Legions had prepared well for the horde's anticipated charge and now their defenses acted as a great wall against which the savages found themselves battered without quarter.

The Equestrians had boxed in their foes, and now they squeezed from all sides. Unicorns battered at the cyclopes with their magic. Earth ponies kicked and bashed with their strong hooves. Pegasi struck from the air, kicking up the very winds to assault the horde.

For ninety days, the invaders had befouled the lands of Equestria.

In the span of one day, they were crushed utterly.

Before long they had broken, fleeing back towards the cold north from whence they'd come and leaving the Equestrians to celebrate their victory. As they ran they were pursued by the booming voice of the Princess as she soared once more above the battlefield. "WITH VIOLENCE AND CUELTY THOU CAMEST INTO MY LANDS," her voice echoed in their ears, "AND SO THOU ART SENT FROM THEM. REMEMBEREST THOU THIS DAY, AND NEVER RETURN."

As her voice faded the captain of the Guard filled his lungs, and though he could never have hoped to match his Princess' volume his own voice echoed hers in a shout of "EQUESTRIA VICTORIA!" Others followed suit, and rapturous voices cheered the phrase in a great swell of jubilation.

The battle won, the great army collected itself and marched south once more, this time accompanied by the golden presence of the Royal Guard and their Princess. Now there was no dissent, and spirits were raised rather than lowered. When they came to Canterlot they found the city alight with celebration at the news of the army's victory over the barbarian horde. The Legions were welcomed with praise and for a time the royal palace was full to bursting as the Princess opened her home to those that had answered her call.

For the first time, the banners of a Fourth and Fifth Legion were raised in honor alongside the rolls of honor of the First, Second and Third.

Though it had been Celestia herself that had ultimately led the charge into battle, the valorous Level Lance was recognized and the captaincy he had long pursued was bestowed upon him.

Thanks to the superior strategy of the Equestrians, comparatively few had fallen in the great battle, and they were recognized in solemn ceremony.

When the time came for the army to dispand once more and return home, each pony that had answered the call to muster was given the reward of a gold bit in payment, though some worried that the kingdom's coffers would run lean in the next few years as a result. As if to spite them, the Princess commanded such payment to be likewise extended to the familes of the fallen.

In time, the scars from the horde's brief rampage would fade from the land. At the site of the great battle a stone plinth was erected by the nearest road, bearing a plaque upon which was inscribed a date and the following words-
On this site was joined a battle to preserve
the lands and peoples of Equestria
in opposition to the scourge of Evil out of the North.

In unity the ponies of Equestria stood and
poured out their Blood, Sweat, and Tears
in living proof that the Principals of our land-

CHARITY
COMPASSION
DEVOTION
INTEGRITY
OPTIMISM
LEADERSHIP

Would bring forth Strength to deny those
that would bring Harm unto our land
and its Beloved people.

Let this memory stand Eternal in Honor
of those who gave of themselves
to protect their beloved home.

~EQUESTRIA VICTORIA~
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JADAFETWA

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LadyTevar
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Re: MLP - Ponystuffs (2nd storybit up)

Post by LadyTevar » 2013-03-11 07:05pm

And another fantastic story :) I loved it Kuja
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KlavoHunter
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Re: MLP - Ponystuffs (2nd storybit up)

Post by KlavoHunter » 2013-03-12 07:33am

That was a damn good read. Shame there's nothing left of this sort of competence a scant few years later when the Royal Guard utterly humiliated itself against the Changelings. Suppose this makes for an excellent AU!
"The 4th Earl of Hereford led the fight on the bridge, but he and his men were caught in the arrow fire. Then one of de Harclay's pikemen, concealed beneath the bridge, thrust upwards between the planks and skewered the Earl of Hereford through the anus, twisting the head of the iron pike into his intestines. His dying screams turned the advance into a panic."'

SDNW4: The Sultanate of Klavostan

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