The Glue Maker
I awoke to find myself bounded and blinded. I had absolutely no idea of my whereabouts, but whoever was keeping me captive had tied a blindfold around my eyes and wrapped a muzzle around my snout, like as if I was some wild, rabid beast. Granted, bears aren’t notorious for being docile creatures, but I’ve never been accused of anything past being a gentle individual who stayed at home most of the day, and certainly never bothered anyone! For this reason, I had no enemies, nor any reason to have any.
To be honest, I actually have little to no recollection of how I came to become a prisoner. The last thing I remembered, I was doing a little housework, and, please excuse my gloating in advance, but I live in the finest cave on my side of the Everfree, always so spick and span! Why, the way I maintain it, it seems more like a house or at least to the few guests I do receive!
But I digress: the mentioning of guests does clear the haze a bit... I do remember a visitor came by, stormed in really, and called out to me.
“Harry,” barked the feminine voice from the front entrance, “come here at once!”
I’m not one to be confrontational, but I certainly do not enjoy taking orders from an anonymous, not to mention uninvited, visitor, and certainly not when I have other duties to attend to. But alas, I grimaced and set down my dust broom to greet my demanding house guest, not wanting her rudeness to rub off onto me.
The feigned smile I wore on my way the front dropped into a stupor of confusion and worry as I met my guest; she commanded a legion of gladiator-esque ponies that stood behind her. Noticing she had my attention, the guest, a brilliantly white alicorn mare, took a step forward.
“We need you to come with us,” her voice ringed with a smile. Her troops marched toward me, but whether I put up a fight, I can’t remember for the life of me.
Everything between that moment and now felt instantaneous, almost as if they hadn’t happened at all! But the question still remained as to my current position, or what my captors wanted from me.
In a very physical struggle to free myself from my shackles, the blindfold fell from my eyes. I found myself in a winged crystal-like carriage of royal-like design, aloft in the air by two of the soldiers aforementioned, pulling from the front. Sitting next to me, I glanced at the one responsible: the regal mare sat peacefully, proper in posture with her multicolored mane floating with the breeze. She faced me with a cheeky smile; she didn’t say a word, but the air in which she held herself seemed almost as if she enjoyed my bondage.
Her passiveness taunted me, but there was nothing I could do in my current state. I started to flail about, screaming through my muzzle, and even in recollection my raging intentions still aren’t clear to me; whether I was hoping my spasms would throw me overboard, or that the fit of anger would unbind my limbs and allow me to take control of the situation is uncertain, but my primitive actions ended when I collided against the wall upon the halt of the carriage. Lying face up on the floor of the cart, I made eye contact with the two armored pegasi staring at me with a grim expression.
“Oh no, that won’t be necessary,” said she, in a comforting voice, “Proceed onward, gentlecolts.” I felt a magical force pick me up off the floor, and it set me sitting upright in the seat next to the mare. She looked fondly to me, as if we were proper friends.
“I apologize for the rude awakening, Harry. I am Princess Celestia of Equestria, and I need your help.”
The muzzle fell off my mouth and the shackles disappeared from my arms and legs, but my surge of violence had passed, and I no longer felt a drive to use my claws in the realization that I was outnumbered, three to one. I couldn’t fight it: I was to be a prisoner to these ponies, and I hadn’t the slightest prayer of escaping it now. Around the airborne vessel was nothing, not even a cloud. The only surroundings at the moment were the blue sky and a large sea of trees and branches below.
Based on the overview, it was clear that we were not anywhere remotely close to the part of the forest I was familiar with; my cave is on the further outskirts of the Everfree Forest that borders a small village of Earth ponies. The vegetation around my home is sparser, so that one could at least see some sunlight through the trees. However, the canopy below us was surprisingly dense, even for the Everfree Forest. So dense, it looked solid enough to walk on…
I must’ve been crazy to even devise such an idea, and crazier to think it might even work, but options were running out. The thought of being held captive as an innocent prisoner devastated me, but then if I did escape it wasn’t as if I could return to a normal life in my cave, granted I even found my way! I teetered between the two ideas for what felt like hours, but I knew that if I waited too long, I’d lose my opportunity.
I decided against it, and moped back into my seat, defeated. Shortly after, I felt the mare’s gaze once more. She met me with an understanding look, and tilted her head, as if trying to communicate a message to me but without the guard ponies hearing. I simply looked back at her, dumbfounded. She continued her unspoken gestures, but my mental processes didn’t connect with hers.
“Go,” she whispered impatiently, as if she read my mind. Was I thinking aloud? And if I was, why was she suggesting me to take the chance of evading her grasp? None of this made any sense! I was still appalled, perhaps even more lost than before, staring back at her, wishing for an explanation.
In a frustrated sigh, she looked at me with a scrunched face, when all of a sudden, I could feel her unicorn magic pressing upon me again, but this time, it ejected me from the cart! Away from my captors, but to my probable death! She made my unsure decision for me as I fell to whatever lied beneath the canopy! I screamed for dear life, hoping the carriage would rescue me; I’d gladly wear the shackles of a prisoner than become the site of an unmarked grave any day!
Contrary to my previous theory, and to no surprise at that, the canopy was not dense enough to become a viable walking surface, and on the way down, each branch slapped against my face to remind me. Although, and to my good fortune, it seemed that the limbs I encountered seemed to provide enough upward force to prevent me from becoming a bear-shaped splat on the forest’s floor.
That’s not to say that my greeting with the ground was not abrupt; rather, I landed flat on my stomach but was thankfully not injured past the scrapes and cuts gifted from the branches during my less than graceful descent. I lied there unattended for some time, perhaps even unconsciously. But I arose before the forest grew pitch black, and used my battered senses to gather my bearings.
The flora all seemed familiar to me, so I was nearly certain that the mare had ejected me somewhere within the Everfree Forest. However, as to how to find my way home, I hadn’t the slightest clue, and the growing darkness didn’t help the matter at hand either. The priority at the moment was to find a decent shelter.
In the distance, I heard a continuous murmur, as if from rumbling machinery. As to the purpose of having machinery deep in the Everfree Forest, I hadn’t the slightest idea, but I knew its origin had to relay to some answer: someone, I theorized, had to either be or have been here, and would be able to offer shelter! To this notion, I disregarded my wounds and busily began to jog towards the sound.
The rumble grew louder with each step, and my mind was busy at work fantasizing the possibilities. I said earlier it could be someone, but what are the chances of it being a multitude of others, or an establishment? A camp? A village? A town? As the noise grew even louder, I could start to make out the outline of a larger structure, probably of stone exterior, but the night was too dark to give a certain answer. Nonetheless my mind started to swirl with new ideas.
“What if this structure is a cave? Or a den?” I breathed with sudden uncertainty at the mention at the latter point, “but what if… what if perhaps this monotonous humming is the snoring of creatures, far larger and less welcoming than I?” The thought caused me to quiver, but my instinctual curiosity had taken over as I cautiously hobbled towards whatever lied in the distance.
When I found myself but a few yards from this mysterious settlement, it was too dark to see anything. I turned around, and couldn’t even tell if the path I had traversed stretched out to be a mile, or ten miles. I hadn’t a clue where I was in reference to anything! I faced the ominous humming once more, and as I did, I saw a small light peeking out from a half-closed door.
My heart jumped as I stumbled through the darkness towards the door, because I knew that if I had found a source of light in the darkness, I clearly have stumbled upon a knowledgeable someone in the forest! The optimism had begun to resurface, when I opened the door to a large, abandoned-looking room.
The room looked not much unlike the setup of a doctor’s office, or the concierge’s desk in a hotel lobby, (despite living in a cave, I have educated myself on the world by hosting a small library of books back home,) though a little dusty and unkempt for what it was: the stone floor was wild with dust, mud, and feathers strewn amuck, but the facility did not seem unoccupied, as the loud rumble of machinery from outside convinced me. I stepped inside, closing the door with an audible thud, when a muffled squeak emitted within the room.
“Hello?” I called out. I first imagined it was a mouse, but the baffling squeak returned, followed by the sound of heavy breathing. Whatever it was, it was squeamish, and though I hated to startle anyone, I hadn’t come this far to go back. I started my way to the back of the room, where I assumed the noise was originating from.
The panting grew louder and louder. Whatever was making that sound, it sounded as if it were hyperventilating. Looking around, I noticed a body, coated in a yellow tone, huddled beneath a desk, though I couldn’t identify its race or origin in its position. Whatever it was, the poor thing was scared out of its mind, it seemed. Grabbing the corner for support, I knelt down beside it.
“Excuse me” I said gently, the body jumped, then froze, “are you alright?”
Frightfully, the creature looked at me. She appeared to be a young mare, and was suddenly comforted by the gesture that I didn’t intend to harm her. I outstretched my paw, and she reached to me with her hoof. As I helped her up, the young pegasus was still shaking.
She was a little thing, and looked as if she’d saw a ghost. Her frail yellow body was slouched over slightly, braced as if she was expecting some unknown assailant. She couldn’t stop her body from shaking as she combed a hoof through her long pink mane, frazzled from stress. She didn’t look like she’d been harmed, or at least not by any physical method, but the way she carried herself, it gave the feeling that she had been victimized in some other emotional fashion: the way she looked at me said it all. Her sweet teal eyes, still puffy from the tears which hadn’t stopped coming, gave me the saddest look I’ve ever witnessed, and just watching made me want to cry with her as well. She needed a hug, but she needed far more than that, I’d say. There was obviously something wrong, something paining in her heart, but I hadn’t the brashness to ask the poor soul what it was. Instead, my only reaction was to try and comfort her.
“Are you alright?” I repeated softly, hoping for a response. I offered her a warm hug which she gladly accepted, though I could still feel the racing pulse of her heart. We embraced each other for a while as I could feel the heartbeat normalizing, when she timidly broke the silence:
“Y-yes… I… I’m alright…” she broke away from the hug, “I’m so… so terribly sorry if I worried you.”
“No worries,” I plainly said with a smile.
“Y-you’re very… nice,” she blushed, “my name’s Fluttershy,”
“And mine’s Harry,” I offered my paw, but she was too shy or too embarrassed to shake it. She looked away, and her previously sad demeanor returned.
“Are you sure you’re alright, miss?”
She looked back up at me, something was on her mind, and I could tell she was debating whether or not to tell me. She shook her head to herself, and mustered the courage to say it.
“May I… May I ask you something?” she asked with a tone of desperation, her volume dropped, as though sharing a secret, but with someone else trying to listen.
“Go for it,” I replied, matching her whisper.
She suddenly became more fearful. The silence returned as she thought to herself about what to say, “I… I know we just met,” she stumbled with her words, “b-but I need a favor from you. I mean, unless you’re busy, and…”
She kept babbling on about conditions, which in turn caused me to eventually daze out of the conversation. She almost sounded guilty from her tone, as if she might regret it. However I could judge from the nervousness in her voice that she desperately needed help, though she didn’t want to inconvenience anyone, especially not anyone she did not already know. I was her only hope for her problem, whatever it was.
But when the mare’s eyes filled with tears once more, I tuned back into the conversation:
“My friend is somewhere in there!” she exclaimed through bawling, and shortly broke down on the floor after saying it. I gently lifted her up and wrapped myself around her in a tight bear hug. Wiping the tears on my fur, she started to mumble a story to me…
It all started yesterday at Fluttershy’s cottage. She and her dear friend Rainbow Dash were sitting outside waiting for tea to brew, discussing the day’s plans. The sun shone brightly, and the day was open for anypony to play games and have fun in the outdoors, as many ponies around them were already doing. It was only normal that Fluttershy would take this opportunity to host a tea party for her friends while they basked in the sunlight.
But feeling the sunlight on her face made Rainbow Dash sit at the table resentfully. The blue pegasus longed to be practicing her flying in the sunny sky! Normally, she’d already be flying in loop-dee-loops and barrel rolls across the cloudless canvas, but today was different because she had already made arrangements the week before that she would spend the day with Fluttershy. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy were the best of friends since their days of youth in Cloudsdale; however, their difference of interests always seemed to prevent them from hanging out together.
Rainbow Dash was a thrill-seeking athlete who always looked to danger with a grin, while her yellow counterpart usually kept her hooves on the ground, caring for her animal friends. Fluttershy avoided trouble at all costs, and was actually quite finicky of getting too physical, in fear that she might hurt somepony. It was the two’s differences that brought them together: between Rainbow Dash’s dutiful loyalty to her friends and Fluttershy’s undying kindness and support, the two were inseparable.
Fluttershy giggled to herself. “Rainbow Dash, I didn’t know you liked tea, and I never would’ve thought you’d sit down long enough to enjoy it!” Rainbow Dash smiled back at her friend, but before she had time to wittily response, the teapot started to whistle from Fluttershy’s kitchen.
“Oh, the tea is ready!” Fluttershy declared softly, “excuse me for a second, I’ll be right back.”
The pony jumped up and flew towards the cottage door. On her way, she passed the fenced-in chicken coop. She couldn’t help but smile as she noticed her chickens enjoying the wonderful sunshine! But that joy turned to dismay when she saw the gate was swung open, giving her fowls the chance to run off and never be seen again! She hurriedly shut the gate, almost forgetting about the screeching teapot inside. The worried pony took off into the kitchen to turn the stove off, and brought the kettle to the squirming Rainbow Dash outside. The other pegasus knew something was awry.
“Uh, Fluttershy, is there something wrong? You look a little… flustered”
“What?” she quickly replied with a forced smile. She didn’t want to worry her friend. “Oh no, I’m fine. Oh, but please don’t wait on me while your tea cools! I’ll be with you in just a second.”
The yellow pony took off and landed in the middle of the coop.
“Alright ladies, role call!” she exclaimed. The chickens got in a disorganized clump as Fluttershy began to count them one by one. Alarmed at her results, she counted again, and again, but each time, she ended up one chicken short! Elizabeak had disappeared!
“Oh dear,” she squeaked, “okay, everyone stay put, I’ll be back.”
She flew back to the table with her fidgety friend, unaware that her face wore more worry than before.
“I’m so sorry Dashie, but I’m afraid I have to cut the party short. You see, Elizabeak has gone missing into the forest again, and I have to-“
Rainbow Dash jumped up, spilling her tea on the ceramic patio table.
“Wait, Fluttershy, I’m going with you! The Everfree Forest is a dangerous place! You need to have someone else with you, and I’d hate for you to get hurt and not have someone there to help.” Whether or not she was really concerned or just bored, it was impossible to tell. Either way, she was enthusiastic to stretch her wings.
“Well, I really do appreciate it, but um, I don’t want to ask you to do th-“
“Ha, it’s no problem,” interrupted Rainbow Dash, “I want to help. I’ve wanted to do something all day! Please?”
“Well… I mean, if you really want to,” Fluttershy said half regretfully, “yes. You can come with me.”
“Yes!” Rainbow Dash emphasized as she jumped up and charged off, chasing Elizabeak’s prints into the dark Everfree Forest.
Fluttershy gulped, “w-wait for me!”
The two trotted on for a little over an hour, following Elizabeak’s tracks. Rainbow Dash lost much of her enthusiasm from before.
“Ugh, how far could that chicken have gone?” she expressed aloud.
“Well, I don’t know for sure,” Fluttershy grew more troubled at each step, “I don’t know when the gate came loose, or when Elizabeak went missing!”
Rainbow Dash sighed under her breath, which turned to a surprised gasp when she noticed the chicken tracks changed abruptly, going in circles for a while. Then suddenly, they stopped. It appeared that this was the end of Elizabeak’s trail.
Fluttershy let her imagination get the best of her, and she started to cry.
“Oh no, my poor Elizabeak! I’ll never see her again!”
She huddled into a ball and started to sob. Rainbow Dash hated to watch her friends cry, and was looking everywhere for signs of the perpetrator: she wasn’t about to give up, and she soon came across a path of trampled bushes.
“Wait a second,” said Rainbow Dash, skeptically eyeballing the ground. “Look at these!” She pointed at a set of large, round prints that formed a path as frantic and jumpy as Elizabeak’s. Where her tracks stopped, the mysterious round-footed thief continued, blazing his own trail through the bruised foliage.
“I’d bet that if we follow them, we could find the perp who kidnapped Elizabeak!” The blue pony jetted through the bushes and tall grass, pursuing a new trail. Fluttershy hopped up and tried to follow behind.
She chased after Rainbow Dash until they come across a brilliant ruined building of stone. It wasn’t a cave, nor did it look like a ruined temple, but the unexplained humming noise ran chills down the yellow mare’s spine. Rainbow Dash looked back at the trembling pony, motioning her to follow.
Rainbow Dash charged through the door, assessing the dusty room’s contents. The place reeked of something musty, which was explained by the clouds of lint waltzing through the room as the door opened. Inside, the rumbling from inside was muffled to where one could almost forget the sound if the door was closed. However, the only sign of the perpetrator’s presence were the chicken feathers laid across the room.
“Oh Elizabeak, what have you gotten yourself into?” Fluttershy murmured to herself. The blue pony was now red with rage, stomped her hoof against the ground, listening to the sound that softly echoed back off the walls.
“I’m gonna go show that chicken-napper what’s what and get Elizabeak back!” Rainbow Dash blared, “You stay here; I’ll be back in a jiffy!”
Rainbow Dash bolted through a door that led to a darker corridor with feathers lined across the ground. Fluttershy doesn’t like it when her friend charges into situations like she usually did, but in faith, she waited for her blue friend’s return. Hours passed, and Fluttershy grew afraid and uncanny: for one, she never saw or heard any sign from her friend, but worse, it left her to imagining fearful situations and outcomes for Rainbow Dash!
Fluttershy had absolutely no idea what to do; it would take several hours to return to Ponyville to gather a search party, and by then, it might be too late. Or if Rainbow Dash wasn’t in trouble at all, and she did leave but her friend returned to find that she didn’t wait, Fluttershy didn’t want to give her the impression that her closest friend abandoned her! But then also, it was getting terribly late in the day, and the Everfree Forest terrified her at night, but what if the terrible creep that took the chicken had taken Rainbow Dash as well, and then came back to take her? Confused and afraid, the timid pony decided to hide under a desk, unsure of the safest action.
Her story was one that warmed my heart, and I felt nothing but the inclining desire to help her as she cried the last of her tears. Sharing her story with me had definitely lifted some huge burden on her soul as she was comfortably nuzzled into my chest: I almost thought she was asleep as I sat her down on the surface of the desk.
“Don’t you worry your little head,” smiled I, watching the twinkle in her eyes return, “I’ll go find your friend; stay here and be a good filly.”
As soon as I turned my back and was reaching for the doorknob, Fluttershy had hopped in front of me.
“No!” she exclaimed. Her brash assertiveness startled me, and seeing me taken aback brought a slight blush to her yellow face. She quickly regained her soft composure.
“I mean… well, I want to go with you,” she quickly corrected her sudden outburst, “I don’t want to be left alone again.”
The shine of concern returned to her eyes as they stared back into mine. The truth was, even after just meeting her I felt that the responsibility of Fluttershy and her friend had thwarted itself upon me: if she found herself in harm’s way, I’d be devastated! But if I did ground her to the front room, her imagination would surely torture her once more.
At a loss for words, I indicated my indifference with a shrug. She quickly charged me with a hug, nearly knocking me off my feet.
“Oh goodness, thank you so much!” she squeaked. I still held some regret to the decision of letting her tag along, but it was too late to revisit the mandate.
“But listen,” I objected. She turned to me, bracing herself for what she expected to follow, “If something happens to me, the deal’s off: you will do whatever you have to in order to return home unscathed, understand?”
She nodded in agreement. So long as she kept, I promised, too, that I would keep her out of the crosshairs of danger. Like I said earlier, her safety is a chief concern of mine, and I planned to keep my word, even though I hoped neither of us would have to uphold them on the journey that lied ahead.
I twisted the doorknob to reveal a series of corridors, filled with blank doors leading to who-knows-where. It was eerie, but we stalked through the cobweb-infested halls in hopes to find her hotheaded pony friend. Fluttershy stayed herself next to me, as if she feared that something scary may jump out of the walls.
In an attempt to block out the frightening pictures of ghouls and ghosts from her head, she kept her eyes to the ground, noticing each shed feather and clot of dirt we passed. Along with the perpetrator’s footprints in the dust, this trail of feathers and dirt is how we stayed on track in this maze of a building. The quietness of our progression made me anxious, but I felt her eyes upon me again.
“If you don’t mind me asking,” Fluttershy remarked shyly in attempt to break the silence, “you never told me anything about yourself.”
The question was not by any means random or irrelevant, but the vagueness of its nature caught me off guard: I proceeded to share with her about my life back home at my cave, and how I usually spent more of my time cleaning it, and most of my free time reading books and novels. She didn’t say anything in response, only smiled quietly, as if she’d heard a similar story before.
Of the things I revealed to her about myself, I never declared my business within these woods, nor did I mention anything about the white alicorn, my kidnapping, my ejection, or my near death experience which brought me to this dank and dusty labyrinth in the first place. I didn’t want to give her another reason to worry herself, and I probably wouldn’t have told her, even if she had she asked.
But my thoughts were cut short by the low, tone-deaf humming that sounded from around the corner. I signaled Fluttershy to stay put, though by the looks of her buckling knees, doing so was redundant. I turned from her and thwarted myself to the wall in hopes to discover the source, sidling my way to the intersection as the characters do in all those espionage thriller novels do. Peeking my snout around the corner, I saw the shadowy criminal hobbling away to a stairwell as he hummed his tune. My eyes still fixated on him, I brought Fluttershy over to me with a wave of my hand, as I continued to watch the criminal, whom I identified as an older bear, slowly descending the stairs. I turned my head back to her.
“If we instigate combat with the target, it may jeopardize the operation altogether,” I explained instinctively, feeling the adrenaline of an espionage fantasy, “what we need to do is to continue to watch the target from a distance and allow him to lead us to our two objectives. After we locate objective one…”
“Huh?” Fluttershy tilted her head in confusion.
“Oh, umm,” I tried to recover, realizing my past statement, “I’ve been reading too many Ian Fleming novels, that’s all.” The statement was as childish as the first, but to my embarrassment, it was true: My dreams as a young cub were always based on his novels. Each night was a different action-packed dream, whether it was disarming bombs, swimming through shark tanks, gambling with the corrupt and the powerful… I actually felt for a second as though I was living my past dreams. I blushed at this realization, and Fluttershy responded with an innocent grin and kissed me on the cheek.
“I-I’m sorry,” the small pegasus giggled at me, both at my embarrassment and bewilderment, but she was also a bit taken back about her actions herself, “you just… you just sounded like one of my friends back home, and I…” her voice dropped from a hushed whisper to an inaudible breath. She smiled sweetly, but I wasn’t sure how to respond to her actions. Like I mentioned before, I hadn’t many friends of my own, much less pony friends, and from even fewer have I been kissed, even if it was just a friendly peck.
To avoid an uncomfortable encounter, I ignored the previous events, continuing with the task at hand as the both of us tiptoed to the stairwell. The plan was to make as little noise as possible, while also keeping his noisy humming in earshot: had we lost track of the voice, we risked the chance of losing our trail on him altogether! But the humming stopped as we descended the stairs.
We had an overhead view of the mysterious bear in front of a windowed door. He stopped and began to fumble through his apron pockets, grumbling muffled curses through his breath. His furrowed brow relaxed as he pulled out a key before his good eye, (the other had a vertical scar crossing from his forehead to his cheekbone. I assumed it no longer functioned due to the presence of an eye patch which covered it,) smiling as he unlocked the door, from which emitted a painfully irritating grinding noise that caused me to wince. He mumbled something to himself, then stepped through and slammed it shut to avoid the wrenching sound again.
I looked at Fluttershy, who already made the first move by flying to the base of the stairs. Joining her, I peeked through the small window.
“I’m… I’m s-scared, Harry,” her voice trembled as she found comfort and reassurance in the ground once more.
The sight definitely was frightening to behold. On the other side of the wall existed a large basement, bearing more resemblance to an airplane hangar with its grandiose size. A number of tools, big and small, littered the ground in addition to a collection of old drum barrels covered in cobwebs, matching the old-and-abandoned décor. The scattered objects on the floor looked like the victims of a dust explosion. For instance, the barrels appeared to me as if they had been stacked, but then knocked over and left in their places for a series of months, perhaps even years.
Fluttershy had pulled me out of my tidiness-freak trance to show me the only equipment which had seen use in the recent decade: a series of cauldrons lined out in the back of the room, their contents an unknown bubbling, pasty-looking liquid. Suspended above one was a metal walkway that, from where I stood, looked very much like a new addition along with the giant set of pots below.
But the scene was not nearly as interesting as the events taking place, as Fluttershy hastily pointed out to me: on the bridge sat what I initially thought was a pile of rope and linens. Upon a closer analysis, the pile resembled more like an equestrian-based mummy, and its unpredictable wiggling looked not unlike a seizure. Poor thing. In that moment, I connected with the prisoner’s pain.
“Stop fidgeting!” I heard a deep roar beyond the door, and I looked at the bear, now walking more rigidly towards the stairs, “I hear anger makes the formula less… welcoming, you silly filly!”
Fluttershy stopped moping behind me as she heard the echo; was she even breathing? I couldn’t tell, nor did I turn around to check, because I know I wasn’t. This menacing beast was threatening a poor, innocent pony! The situation immobilized me out of sheer rage, and whatever the scrambling prisoner pony didn’t feel was boiling my blood. The villainous monologue continued.
“I was so delighted that you came to volunteer” he commented, loud enough for me to hear clearly on the other side, “That wretched fowl you knocked out of my hands didn’t quite have the… stature my recipe called for. You, on the other hand, will settle quite nicely as paste.”
Was that his plan? Using a live victim to make a simple adhesive? Watching his every pace drove me further and further berserk. Fluttershy climbed onto my leg, trying to tell me something.
“H-harry,” she battled her crying. She broke down, and the following words were incoherent, but I heard the tear-muffled name ‘Rainbow Dash.’ If this was her, it gave me all the more reason to pulverize the miscreant. But I stood and watched as the bear reached the stairs at the far back of the room as his theatrics continued.
“You’re a fighter. That I can tell. Even in your imminent defeat you struggle.” He took a dramatic pause, trying to think of some witty remark to follow-up with, “Do you know what you remind me of? You remind me of the last fish I caught for supper; I clawed it out onto the ground, and watched it for the remainder of its sorry existence. It flopped around for a good four minutes, begging for water, but never moving any closer, until it gave up: It died. It gave up its ghost, its will to live. Now what makes you any different from that fish?” He was yelling in the filly’s face, who never flinched once, but her flailing ceased.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I banged my fisted claws against the door, but in tunnel vision, I could not process the thoughts going through my head: the poor victim, the arrogant villain, and here I was on the wrong side of the wall! Fluttershy watched me as I completely lost control of myself through rage. She started crawling to the corner, terrified at how the events transformed me.
What followed suit was a complete outpour of power and bloodlust beyond imagination; did my own coat turn to fire, or did the blood inside me simply burn at my own skin? I had no time to think about my corporal self, but only for the righteous fury that was branded on my soul.
Without further ado, I proceeded to grasp the door, angrily tearing it ajar like a page from a phonebook. As I stood before him on the other side of the room, the villainous bear paused for a moment, stunned at the sight which he just beheld. He muttered some curses beneath his breath again.
“The glue must be getting to my head, or do I see a challenger before me, Krastos, the Glue Maker?” The bear revealed as Krastos proclaimed, insanely calm, regardless of the scrap metal at my feet that was once a door.
“That’s some big talk, considerin’ I just ripped through your door like tinfoil!” the rage from within screamed at him, “Come on down, lets settle this bear-to-bear!”
“Settle what? Your breaking in? Your destroying factory property? You-“ Krastos’s last phrase was cut off by a flying barrel drum, sent to his face, which in turn, knocked him over the ledge and onto the floor. Wow, I never imagined I had that kind of potential, nor the accuracy! I could feel control return to my body, thinking his fall to the ground may have incapacitated him for a long enough to free the mummified Rainbow Dash.
Fluttershy nosed herself in the room when she heard the silence that followed the crash. Seeing that I had regained my own sanity and that Krastos had left the scene, she galloped and wrapped herself around me, again, shaking.
“Thank you,” she whispered in my ear. For such a squeamish mare, she definitely had been through her share of encounters that day. I’d have said it was about time for us to high-tail out of this place, but there was still one order of business left. Without me even having to say it, she hauled plot up to the bridge.
Fluttershy flew towards her friend; Krastos certainly did an excellent job at wrapping her tight. The only parts of Rainbow Dash that was distinguishable were revealing sections of her rainbow colored mane, along with her attitude during the whole agenda: she never once gave up.
Rainbow Dash always found herself in dire situations due to her rapscallion nature. She gambled her life on many occasions, but even when consequences looked grim for her, much like today, it never stopped her from pulling out with a smirk on her face, as if she was destined to live. In Fluttershy’s mind, Rainbow Dash was and always has been a true living example of an unstoppable force, but now, the headstrong mare needed help.
Fluttershy landed next to her mummified friend. For what it was, considering that Rainbow Dash would never do her captor any justice by standing still, Krastos did a pretty spectacular job of taping her like a trainer would a swollen ankle. Fluttershy decided the easiest place to start would be the neck, so from there and going up, she carefully began to unwrap Rainbow Dash’s face, hoping the linen tape wouldn’t hurt too badly when she peeled it off. As she went, Rainbow Dash began to squirm more and more as she exclaimed incoherent phrases, muffled by the linen covering her mouth.
“Um, try to be still, if you don’t mind!” Fluttershy said into her taped-shut ear in a hushed tone, backfiring her efforts to be loud.
Though Rainbow Dash couldn’t understand a single word of her redeemer’s command, she knew the voice was that of her quiet friend that she adored so much. However, this caused her only to become more jumpy! Her spasms nearly knocked the yellow pony over, who returned the favor with a slap to the muzzle. She quickly recoiled at her actions.
“I… I’m so… so sorry, Rainbow Dash,” she squeaked, unaware that her friend couldn’t make out the words. Her graceful smile returned. “But please hold still. Pretty please?”
The yellow mare returned to the unwrapping of her neck, followed by the chin. Rainbow Dash didn’t move an inch, whether out of understanding the physical gesture, or simple bewilderment at the fact that Fluttershy actually had the backbone to smack her, and a painful hit at that.
Even Fluttershy was appalled at her friend’s calmness as she moved from the chin to the muzzle, and then to the eyes. Even when her friend’s mouth was liberated, it didn’t do any more than breath. Her yellow forehead began to sweat, on the thought that she might’ve seriously injured Rainbow Dash! Her cool composure returned as the friend’s eyes opened. After readjusting to the basement setting, Rainbow Dash looked at the yellow pony in front of her.
“Fluttershy! It is you!” She yelled, unaware of the voluminous tone in her voice, but brought her volume quieter when she saw how Fluttershy had flinched, and upon realization of the situation, her joyous demeanor turned glum. “I’m sorry to bring you into all of this… Say, how’d you take Krastos down anyway?”
Fluttershy grinned and pointed to her new friend, who waved back as he started to slowly waltz to the stairs. The friendly bear stood proud, though he couldn’t expect what happened next…
From the darkness charged Krastos, now armed with a giant sledgehammer. We made eye contact, but before I could find time to react, I felt the blunt weight of the head crush against my stomach, knocking me down on my back at least a couple of feet behind me.
The blow knocked the wind out of me to say the least, as I laid there for what felt like minutes. In all my days, I can honestly say that I’ve never felt a physical pain quite like that gut shot, but the adrenaline kicked in and the pain dampened, as well as my surroundings blurred: I could hear Fluttershy screaming my name among the sound of blood rushing to my head, and as if in slow motion, I saw Krastos stampeding to me once more. Swiftly regaining my cognizant functions, I rolled to the side to avoid the hammer crushing my skull into the concrete floor. Had I reacted a second later, it would have.
The momentum of the swing colliding against the floor made a sizable hole in its wake. Krastos recoiled to catch his breath, giving me the window of opportunity I needed to take him down. I hastily jumped to my feet and tackled the other bear, in hopes to separate him from his grizzly maul.
“You’re a fool, Harry” he remarked as he clawed my chest; I retaliated by punching his face. Though he simply ignored the blow and looked back at me. “Tell me, why are you siding with these ponies?”
He rolled us over, so that he was on top.
“Can’t you tell that I’m doing this for us? For the bears, so that we may rise to the top again! No longer will we need to respect these despicable ponies or their zealously dominant society!” He caught my claw mid-punch, but didn’t react. “Could I ask you to inquire a chance at redemption? Let’s stop this fighting nonsense: join me in my clash against this Equestrian nuisance.
I rolled us over so that I was atop of him, overpowering his grasp on my claw; I struck his chest with my bent elbow, causing him to pause in effort to retrieve his breath.
“I didn’t come to argue diplomacy: I came here for Rainbow Dash!”
I was met by a fisted claw that may or may not have knocked a few teeth loose as we turned over again.
“The blue pony is a necessary part of my plan; I could never part with her,” he dodged my fist, then forced by arm down into my stomach and spat in my face, “I’m afraid you, too, will submit to the cement of Krastos, the Glue Maker! My cause is righteous!”
We rolled and struggled for quite some time, both of us trying to end up on top to control each other, exchanging a series of punches with each rotation. But alas, it was obvious that Krastos was trained in combat. However, I, in my primer years of age, possessed more raw strength and endurance than the former, but while it appeared that we were evenly matched, in truth, he ultimately dominated the situation at hand.
The two ponies sat mesmerized as they watched the bears battle it out in their clawfight, Rainbow Dash less so than Fluttershy. While Rainbow Dash was entertained at the show, the latter felt each blow upon Harry. It hurt her to watch her newest friend be beaten up by a bully!
When the blue pony saw Harry, her savior, getting nailed by his adversary, she decided something must be done to settle the score! But as she flailed, she remembered the wrappings which grounded the rest of her body from the shoulders down. She tried to get her friend’s averted attention, but in vain.
“Fluttershy!” she screamed at the top of her lungs, gathering her friend’s undivided attention, as well as causing the two below to look up for a second, before Krastos took the opportunity to sock Harry in the face again.
“I’m sorry if I startled you,” the blue pony regretted, “but d’ya think you can help me with these bonds? I gotta do something!”
Fluttershy’s watery eyes continued as met hers with a glare.
“No!” she responded assertively, “I don’t want you to get hurt.” The last part of her sentence brought pity back to her face. She was normally quiet and soft spoken, but she wasn’t afraid to assert herself to keep her and her pony friends safe from harm. It’s for that reason that Rainbow Dash wasn’t dissolved into a paste
“Look, I understand your concern, but he needs my help!” called Rainbow Dash, clearly ignored. But this didn’t keep her from pushing back.
“Fluttershy!” she groveled, “We don’t really have much of a choice y’know! Either you let me out to go kick flank down there, or Cheerilee starts passing us all out to her class in bottles for an art project! Let me out now!” There was a certain harshness to her tone, a quality that you never used with sensitive Fluttershy, and even hardheaded Rainbow Dash knew it, more than anyone else for that matter.
Fluttershy stared back, offended at her brashness. As Fluttershy tried to process her thoughts, her usually gentle eyes twitched, her caring demeanor grew deranged, a side of Fluttershy not many have seen before, but those who have find the word “rage” to be simple misnomer; the only way to convey such an outpour of anguish, locked away for her entire normal life until these types of moments, can only be defined in one word:
Rainbow Dash smirked at the monster she brought out; she has known Fluttershy almost since birth, and has seen her in Flutterrage a few times before, rare as the condition is, however Rainbow Dash knows exactly how to trigger the response, and what it leaves in its wake. It was her plan, reckless as it was.
“Y-ya know what?” Fluttershy remarked quietly as she drew a devious grin on face, then she snapped “IF YOU THINK I CAME ALL THE WAY DOWN HERE FOR SHITS AND GIGGLES, YOU’RE SORELY MISTAKEN! NO! Y’KNOW WHY I’M HERE? I CAME DOWN HERE FOR YOU! TO SAVE YOUR SORRY ASS PLOT FROM THIS SHIT YOU GOT YOURSELF STUCK IN! AND WHAT NOW? NOW THAT YOU’RE SAFE FROM THAT SORRY ASSWIPE OF A CRIMINAL, YOU THINK I’D JUST BE WILLING TO LET YOU THROW YOUR LIFE AWAY, AGAIN?!”
Rainbow Dash was stunned; she had really hoped to target Flutterrage towards Krastos, not her. There were few things that frightened Rainbow Dash: stage fright, and being a victim of Flutterrage. At this moment, she really thought it may be a safer alternative to simply nosedive into the bubbling concoction below.
“Y’KNOW WHAT?! GO! I DON’T REALLY GIVE A FUCK!” Fluttershy tore at the tape on Rainbow Dash’s body, though the ripping pain convinced her that she was instead gashing open her flesh body. She couldn’t help but squeal in her writhing.
The following events caused both Krastos and I to stop what we were doing, and stare at the befallen angel. She turned to us, and the only response was to do some soul searching; “Had I done anything to receive her judgement?” I thought to myself. No: to my knowledge, I had not. I was safe.
Krastos, on the other hand, had been a devil: the beast ran to retrieve his mallet as I attempted to jump to my feet, but fighting him had drained me of my strength: I was pinned to the ground by my own device, forced to watch the events that followed.
Fluttershy chased Krastos as he scrambled about looking for the hammer he had lost at the beginning of the tussle a while back. She charged him from an aerial position, knocking him down as she knocked on the back of his head with her dainty hooves. This didn’t stop him: with the hammer in sight, he forgot the pony on his head and scampered towards it on all fours. He reached for it, and in one grievous motion, he completed a spin motion led by the weight of the hammer. The swipe had knocked Fluttershy to the ground a few yards ahead of him with the neck of the hammer.
I watched Krastos walk up to her crash landing, gripping his sledge tightly in his hands. Fluttershy’s fit of anger ended, leaving her lying among the barrel drums spread on the floor. She hardly moved. I thought she was dead before I saw her sneeze from the dust around her. Shortly after, she dejectedly looked up to see the hobbling menace coming towards her, like in an execution march.
I could hardly watch. I broke the promise I made to myself at the beginning: to not put her in the crosshairs of danger. The guilt weighed on me far heavier than gravity, which my adrenaline tried to fight, but in vain. Her and her friend should’ve left before this whole fiasco began, and let me die as they escaped.
“You… you don’t want to do this!” I begged him, weakly.
He paused his injured stumbling, and turned his head so his peripheral could see the expression I wore.
“She needs to be made an example of,” Krastos claimed righteously, gripping his sledge and winding up for an overhead swing, he snickered back to me, “and besides… I do.”
I covered my eyes, to block my vision from the horrors that were soon to follow.
Rainbow Dash had finally come to her senses: she was not dead, despite her interventions with Flutterrage. On the contrary, she was fine, if not better than before: for one, Flutterrage tore the linen wrappings that imprisoned her, even if it felt like the cleaving of her skin. She looked to her blue coat, which looked slightly balder in a few places, but all that really mattered to her was that she was still alive! But the question still remained as to what was happening now.
Though she was still in shock and her view fuzzy, she looked upon the scene: Flutterrage was mounted atop Krastos, giving him a series of beatings on the back of the head as he tried to crawl away for mercy, or so thought Rainbow Dash. When Krastos struck Flutterrage (or now, simply Fluttershy) to the ground, Rainbow Dash finally became alert of what was about to occur; Krastos planned to flatten Fluttershy, who was only half conscience of what had happened, beneath his sledge. Rainbow Dash hastily jumped to her feet, wings ready for takeoff.
At that moment, when Krastos began his windup, Rainbow Dash took to the air swiftly to save her childhood friend! In a rainbow blaze, she swooped down to shove Fluttershy out of the way of the maul, which ended up slamming the ground before it did the pony.
As Rainbow Dash set Fluttershy on the ground, across the room from the two bears, the yellow pony finally became cognizant. She looked up at Rainbow Dash, embarrassed about the side of her which came out earlier. But before she had a chance to open her mouth, Rainbow Dash blurted out:
“You could have gotten yourself killed if it weren’t for me!” she exclaimed, partially angry, but mostly hoping to receive Fluttershy’s praises. Even in times of stress, Rainbow Dash never ceased to portray herself as a demigoddess, and always showed off whenever she saw any possible opening.
Fluttershy frowned at the dusty floor below: she was planning on thanking her, but not if she intended to stroke her own ego too much about it. She looked back up to Rainbow Dash with a cute smile.
“Well… I guess that makes us even then,” she giggled softly when she saw the confused expression on the proud pony’s face. Rainbow Dash couldn’t help but return the laughter as they embraced their front legs around each other tightly.
After what felt was like an eternity of hiding my head beneath my claws, I heard the soft giggling of the pony friends from the far end of the room. I looked to see the two hugging each other, bringing a tear to my eye as I felt my heart had started to beat again.
I wiped it away and turned back to Krastos. The bear was lying on the ground as I had been, exhausted from fighting a two-on-one fight. However, with the ponies out of the way for now, the playing field was leveled once again.
We would settle this as bears.
I mustered the last of my remaining strength as I stood up, as he did his. We faced each other, hunched over, muzzles pushing against the other’s as I felt his sweaty breath condense on my fur, and I’m sure he did mine. His yellow eye was fixated on mine, his claws pushed against mine in an effort to overpower me, though we were both certain to fall down before any progress was to be made.
“I’ll give you one final chance to call off this standoff,” he whispered to me between panting and gasping, “or I’ll kill you where you stand!”
He was not going to budge his stance. I checked my peripherals for options: I noticed the old sledgehammer behind Krastos, but even if I did manage to overpower him, it’s not like I would have the strength within me to wield it, much less use it controllably! It would simply wear me out even more. I looked to my far left at the blue and yellow ponies as they stood watching our standoff with intrigue and terror, respectively; I’ve already endangered their lives enough, and I couldn’t ask them to do it again.
But to my more direct left were the set of stairs, which led to the wire bridge suspended above a boiling cauldron, and upon thinking about it, I began to notice heat emanating, warming the back of my rump from behind. I felt a plan coming on…
“I won’t ask you again,” I continued to feel Krastos’s gaze, “side with the ponies and die a fool’s death, or we can call this all off, and you and I can rule the world.” I took a second to process my own thoughts, but was interrupted by Krastos’s weak roar.
“Answer me!” I could tell he was bluffing. He couldn’t kill me after this show of potential, for two reasons: In addition to us two being evenly matched at the moment, I thought about his true intentions to overthrow the pony nation of Equestria; the old bear wanted no more than to use me as a tool for world domination! But as for me, whoever did or didn’t control the world meant nothing. I felt like he’d wrestle me until he met his own demise, which normally, I would never wish upon even those I hated, but after what he almost did to Fluttershy, his death would only bring peace to my soul.
“I thought about it,” I furtively responded as I felt his grip weaken, “but I’d rather take my chances with my friends!”
This caused Krastos to fill with rage once more: I swear his bloodshot eye turned completely red as he roared at me in defiance of my decision. Anger started to fill his body once more, and his grip on me began to overpower mine. Thankfully, I didn’t need to be stronger beat him at his own game.
As I felt him start to push me backwards, I threw his weight to the side as I rolled off, like how a football player dodges a tackle. While I escaped to my left, his weak side, (all bears are left-handed,) he charged into the cauldron that was behind me, colliding straight-on, causing it to wobble: it first leaned back, then as it leaned forward, the pot began to slowly topple forwards.
Krastos was knocked to the floor from the encounter, but saw what he had done: The liquid creation he worked so hard on, falling towards him as he crawled backwards from it. He started to cry for mercy as the first drop sizzled upon contact with his skin, but it was soon drowned out by the rest of the mix. His splashing soon ceased as the substance began to solidify. Krastos the Glue Maker had deceased, and I felt at ease.
I backed up from the heat that the spilled paste emitted, only to gently nudge into the two ponies who stood behind him.
“I hear anger makes the formula less…” Rainbow Dash mocked, “welcoming!” she laughed to herself and went for a brohoof that was met by neither of us. Instead, Fluttershy completely ignored her and wrapped her front legs around my shoulders.
“Oh Harry, I’m so glad you’re okay!” she followed up with another kiss on the cheek, causing me to blush once more. She looked over to Rainbow Dash with an expecting glare.
“Yes, umm, I want to thank you for saving my life,” she showed difficulty in dropping her pride, regardless that she knew it was the right thing to do, “But, I mean, I don’t have to kiss you, do I?”
Her remark took Fluttershy and me by surprise. We looked at each other, and then back to her. Her face looked almost serious!
“No,” we said simultaneously and started to laugh. Rainbow Dash joined in with an awkward chuckle. She didn’t mind being laughed at, but situations like this always made her uneasy, especially around strangers like me.
“Hey Fluttershy, did you guys find Elizabeak?” she asked, trying to subtly change the subject. A spark of worry returned to her.
“Oh heavens, no!” she let go of me and plopped to her hooves which led her to walk in circles, “where could she have gone?”
“I might have an answer,” ringed a familiar voice. I double took to the side and beheld the brilliantly while alicorn mare, who appeared as if out of nowhere, standing beside a chicken.
The two ponies bowed their heads in respect, but I didn’t in the least: anything, be it a pony, bear, or any other form of woodland creature, that willingly kidnaps innocent bystanders only to launch them from flying chariots into the middle of the woods, where they may or may not find their way back, was not worthy of my respect. I prepared myself for another rumble, but after I felt the achiness in my body, I fell to the ground.
“I give up,” I muttered, thinking aloud. My glance met hers: she wore a look of great uneasiness on her face, as if she was looking for the words to say.
“Harry, I want to thank you for saving my little ponies, and for foiling the devious Krastos’s plan to overthrow Equestria,” she held her head high as she proclaimed it, then lowering her stance she added: “and I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you my plan before. If I had told you, you never would’ve agreed to it!” The enthusiasm in her voice returned to my annoyance, as I crawled out of my slump. “Girls, is there anything you’d like to say?”
“Yes” Fluttershy chimed in like a ray of sunlight, “I can’t thank you enough for helping me find Rainbow Dash, and Elizabeak!” She looked at her happy chicken, then at her friend. The blue pony was expected to contribute.
“But I alre- oof!” Rainbow Dash felt Fluttershy’s hoof jut her in the side, and she continued “I mean, I really do want to thank you again for all you’ve done today,” she blushed at her humility, Fluttershy grinned back at her, but her sincerest demeanor returned as she looked back to me.
“How can we ever thank you?
I began to think to myself; while I didn’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, I was at a loss! What could I possibly ask Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash for? I thought about this for a minute or two, fighting the pressure of the three mares’ gazes, until I finally came up with an idea!
“Well, after all we’ve been through today, I believe you’ve already given me the three things I’ve always wanted most: Appreciation, trust, but most of all, friendship!” Their eyes brightened as I said the last word, “but I imagine the least I could ask you for is to house-sit my cave for a few days: after this huge fiasco, I need a vacation!” I started to laugh at my own banter, and I was comforted to see the other three join in my laughter as well!
As I started to leave the vicinity with my two friends and the one other acquaintance, I felt the true meaning of my words: True friendship was all I wanted in life, and these ponies showed it to me! But for now, I also heard the beach calling my name, as if to tell me to play volleyball, or collect sea shells, or perhaps to collect volleyballs and play with sea shells. Whatever I may do, as of now my future is unwritten: if my friends need me again, they know where to find me.