Herd Life

Celestia is a growing filly within the herd, as she and many ponies struggle to just survive in their primitive times. Upheaval is soon to come, as new ideas clash with the old, when Celestia's parents join together in their struggle to move ponies into a new and unknown future, amid the dawning of the pony nation.
Contains: Stallion on Mare mating and impregnation. With lovemaking and experimentation later.
Online reading by: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9RpH3CFcO8&feature=youtu.be
I do not claim ownership of the cover art. It is publicly posted art. Artist for Celestia: alasou

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13. Chapter 13

Dusty stood outside Strongbuck's hut, anxiously waiting for him to return. He needed to talk to somepony, and he knew that Strongbuck could be trusted with everything Dusty needed to share.

Their mothers were sisters that never really got along with each other. Later, their conflict grew so bad, Strongbuck's mother ended up leaving the herd to join another just to get away from her. Despite their mothers’ bad blood, Strongbuck managed to stay close to Dusty, treating him like a little brother, offering an ear as well as advice whenever Dusty needed it.

He felt terrible for what he had done to his mother. The pain he had caused her, and the heartache he knew she must be going through right now ate at him. Why did it have to be like this? Why couldn't she understand that he just wanted to be his own stallion? It was only because of Sky that he had been able to finally stand up to her, and now that he had, he felt absolutely horrible for doing so. How was he ever going to face her again? She must absolutely hate him.

"Are you sure you don't want any? These taste amazing!" Sky was laying in the grass next to him, happily munching on some of the strawberries that Greenhoof had given her for helping bring back some radish sprouts. Holding one up on her hoof, Sky admired the strawberry's bright red, succulent color, before tossing it into her mouth and letting out a pleased hum as she chewed.

Dusty couldn't bring himself to eat anything right now. Even strawberries. He just didn't feel hungry. Sitting his rump down, Dusty languished in his misery.

Idly, Dusty watched as a charcoal brown colt and white filly with a blazing sun cutie mark went running by as the two playfully chased each other about. It was hard to tell who was chasing who, but it seemed it didn't really matter to the two, they were just having fun. Scratching his chin, Dusty tried to place the filly. Something about her seemed oddly familiar. As the two foals went romping by Sky, the filly suddenly skidded to a stop right next to her, and gazed at her with a rather strange, and interested look.

"Hi," the filly greeted Sky with a friendly smile.

Sky blinked at the filly in surprise at having been unexpectedly greeted. "Um... hello," She answered back with a little smile. Glancing down at the strawberry she held on her hoof, Sky then held it out to the filly, "Would you like a strawberry? They're really good!"

"Thank you, I love strawberries," the filly said, accepting the strawberry and eating it with a happy smile. "My name is Celestia, and the colt over there is Ash." She nodded briefly to the colt standing nearby, before looking back to Sky. "I like your mane, it's really pretty."

Dusty couldn't help but smile at the sudden flustered look that came over Sky, as she sheepishly reached up to brush her hoof through her white and blue streaked mane, "Really? I never thought it looked all that great," she confessed, brushing her hoof through her mane.

"It's true, you do have a pretty mane, but I think your eyes are much more beautiful," Dusty cut in, not really thinking what effect his honest words might have on her.

Sky's ears abruptly shot up straight and quivered excitedly, as she stared at him with those lovely sky blue eyes of hers. Letting out a high pitched squeak, Sky suddenly dropped her head down to the ground and covered herself with her hooves to hide herself under them.

Celestia let out a giggle at Sky's amazingly flustered response and poked her muzzle into some gaps to try to peek in on Sky's mortified face. Sky in turn was forced to bat one of her hooves at the overly curious filly in an attempt to fend her off, as she sought to hide her embarrassment further under her other hoof.

Ash walked over and sat down next to Dusty, where he then looked up at the young stallion, who was still looking at Sky with amazed bewilderment at what his complement had caused. "Fillies are weird," Ash commented, as he looked back at Celestia, who was now giggling uncontrollably as she continued to pester Sky mercilessly.

Dusty gave a slow nod, as he agreed with the colt, "You're absolutely right. Fillies are definitely weird."

"What is going on here!?" Bell Flower said around the handle of a large basket she held in her mouth, as she walked up on the scene and looked around.

Celestia abandoned her teasing of Sky, to happily hop over to Bell Flower, and pointed her hoof at Dusty. "He embarrassed Sky when he said her eyes were beautiful."

Bell Flower only lifted one of her eyebrows as she looked over at Dusty. "Oh really? How very sweet of him. Strongbuck could do with giving a bit more of that himself," she said with a smile, while she stepped closer to Dusty. "Hello, Dusty, are you here to see Strongbuck?"

"Ah... yes I am. I need to talk to him about something that's kind of important. Do you know when he will be back?" Dusty asked, standing up.

"He's been taking walks to try and get the limp out of his leg. He should be back shortly," Bell Flower answered. "You can wait for him inside with me and the twins, where it will be cooler in the shade."

Celestia gasped when she heard this, and dashed forward to lean up onto the basket to peek in. "You're watching the twins!?"

"Shh, keep your voice down or you'll wake them,” Bell warned Celestia. "Melodious is busy visiting some of the new mothers, to see their newborns, and she needed somepony to watch after them for a bit," Bell Flower explained, as she opened the door to her hut and slipped inside.

Celestia quickly followed Bell Flower into the hut, leaving Dusty to collect Sky and usher her in after them.

Settling herself down in a bed of straw, Bell Flower set the basket containing the twin colts down next to herself where Celestia quickly leaned her muzzle in to happily nuzzle at the two drooling foals.

"How's your sister, Luna?" Bell asked Celestia. "I haven't seen her since we moved into our own hut.”

"She sleeps a lot, and when she's awake she's always crying or eating. When Papa's home, he can't stop kissing, and snuggling with her." Celestia answered, as she reached into the basket to gently pull Winter Snow's ear out of his brother's mouth.

Once Dusty got Sky inside, she cautiously stepped around to gaze at the hut around in nervous amazement. It was the first time she'd ever been inside one, and she looked a bit overwhelmed at the structure the ponies had managed to devise.

Ash entered last and moved over next to the door, and sat down to patiently wait for Celestia to finish ogling over the little colts.

Inside the basket, one of the colts let out a mewling whine that caused Sky to suddenly become absolutely alert towards the basket, with her ears pinned up. Dusty watched her curiously as she took a slow, cautious step closer to the basket so she could sniff at the air.

The colt continued to let out little whimpering whines, as Celestia made soothing murmuring sounds, while giving the complaining foal comforting touches with her muzzle, in an attempt to sooth the colt back down to sleep.

"Here, let me try." Rolling onto her side, Bell Flower reached her hoof into the basket and gently began to rub the colt's belly as she made gentle shushing sounds. Sky attentively watched as Bell comforted the foal with intense interest, as a strange kind of yearning came over her.

As Celestia sat back, she noticed something, "Bell? Why are your teats dripping?" Celestia asked curiously, gesturing to Bell Flower's partially exposed udder.

Bell glanced down and saw milk slowly dripping from her teats. "Oh, they do that sometimes whenever I'm around little foals. They never really dried up since I had my filly."

Celestia looked up at Bell in surprise, "You had a foal!? I didn't know that, where is she?"

Bell Flower's ministrations on the foal paused, as she scrunched her eyes shut with a look of pain crossing over her face. Taking a breath, Bell let it out slowly, to regain a bit of her composure before she could answer. "It still hurts to talk about, but last spring I lost her to a fever a few moons after she was born."

Celestia gasped and covered her mouth, "I'm so sorry."

Dusty felt his heart wrench at hearing this. He remembered that he himself had almost died from a fever when he was a little foal. His mother described it as one of the most horrific experiences she ever went through, as she slowly watched him suffer through it. She had been absolutely convinced that he was going to stop breathing at any moment. Saying that every strained breath he managed to take was a shallow gasping wheeze that sounded like it was to be his last, and he was so weakened from his fever, she couldn't even get him to nurse. Even now, she had a hard time talking about it. Again, Dusty felt the pain of what he had done to his mother. She had been there for him when he had been sick, and what did he do to her? He abandoned her. How could he have been so horrible to his mother?

Reaching down, Bell nuzzled Celestia for a moment. "It's alright, these things happen in life." The fussy foal suddenly let out a louder contemplative whine as he kicked his little hooves about, seriously threatening to wake his brother.

"Well, it's been a while, but perhaps this will calm you down," Bell Flower said, reaching into the basket. "Come here you, I don't know how much milk I've got, but go ahead and have whatever you'd like." Lifting out a soft orange colt, Bell bent around and set him against her soft udder, where the colt began to sniff around one of her teats until he found it and latched on. Once the colt began to suckle, Bell gave a little shudder and sighed with a pleased smile. "Oh, I forgot how good that feels."

Dusty watched Bell with the foal, with a strange feeling rolling around inside, that felt like a mixture of excitement, apprehension, and outright fear.  Glancing at Sky, Dusty wondered if she was now carrying his foal within her. Next spring, were they going to have a whinny, drooling, suckling foal of their own to care for?

"Yuck!" Celestia complained, waving a hoof in front of her nose. "Winter just poopied."

"Did he get it into his tail?" Bell asked.

Celestia shook her head. "No, I don't think so. He just missed it."

"Good." Bell turned to look at Sky, who was still looking down at the foal with a strange kind of intensity. "Your name was Sky, right? Would you please take Winter out for a few moments so Celestia and Ash can clean out the bedding?"

Sky was obviously surprised by the request, but after a brief hesitation, she nodded. Stepping up to the basket, Sky gingerly reached in and gently nipped the foal by his crest and lifted him out. Glancing around, she spotted a nice spot to settle down, and walked over to a nearby bed of straw. Pausing with the foal dangling from her mouth, Sky glanced back at the packs still sitting on her back with a irritated look.

With a roll of her back, and a flick of her wings, Sky dislodged her pack from her back, and allowed it to fall to the ground, before climbing into the bed of straw and turning herself a few times before settling down. Once she was comfortable, she bent around and carefully tucked Winter Snow under her wing, and settled him into place. Smiling happily to herself, Sky let out a strange thrumming purr, as she turned to her other wing to preen it.  

Every pony sat staring at Sky with wide eyed shocked gazes, while Dusty collapsed to the ground and covered his head. So much for trying to ease the news out gently.

"Dusty..." Bell murmured, not looking at him. "By any chance, was this what you wanted to talk to Strongbuck about?"

"It's one of the things, yes." Dusty replied, still not taking his hooves off his head.

"One of the things!?" Bell exclaimed breathlessly, looking over at him.

Letting out a breath, Dusty gave in to the inevitable. He might as well let it all out. Slowly, Dusty stood up and walked over to Sky, where he then sat his rump down next to her, and looked back at Bell. "Sky Twirl is ah... a pegasus, and ah... we sort of... well...," Dusty struggled to come up with the words. Why was this so hard?

In the end it was Sky who broke his stalemate. "Dusty has gifted me with his foal."

Celestia leapt up, and happily and clapped her hooves together at the news, while Bell gasped in shock as she blinked her wide eyes at the young mare.

Letting a long breath out, Bell shook her head. "Oh, Dusty. Why couldn't you have just used that log with the hole in it the older colts like to use down by the stream to relieve their urges." Turning, Bell looked at Sky. "Tell me, did you two breed during your first heat?"

"Yes we did, and it was wonderful." Sky bent her head around to nuzzle Dusty's neck.

A strange look of concern crossed over Bell's face. "Sky, didn't your mama warn you about how dangerous it is for a young mare to be bred at such a young age?"

Sky blinked at Bell, and mutely shook her head.

Dusty felt alarmed at the seriousness of Bell's words. He never once considered what kind of risks were involved with what they had done. Why wasn't he told about the dangers earlier? "Sky lost her mama, and her entire herd, which she calls her flock, sometime last spring. She's been all alone since then, so there was nopony to tell her."

Bell looked sympathetically over at Sky, and nodded her understanding. "I see. Well, I'll just explain it to you both then. It's not an easy thing to make a new pony. It puts a huge strain on the dam's body, especially a dam that is still not fully matured herself. Miscarriages for mares your age are common, and if the foal is born, it may be smaller than is normal. There's also a higher chance of complications during the foaling, complications that often result in the death of both the dam and foal," Bell said looking between the pair. "During this foaling season alone, three foals didn't survive, with one dam dying along with her foal. That dam wasn't that much older than you."

Sky let out a whimper and buried her face into Dusty's side. Swallowing, Dusty felt a little sick as he felt Sky shuddering against his side. He never knew any of this. How could he have done something so stupid?

"I didn't tell you this to scare you, but to prepare you both for what may happen." Bell continued. "Many young dam's don't experience any problems during their foaling, and have beautiful normal foals in the end. Dove is learning what she can to help out dams with their birthing, especially the younger dams. She'll do her best to help you through this."

Celestia nodded in agreement, and looked over to the pair. "Dove is amazing! She was there for my mama when she had trouble birthing Luna! Dove grabbed Luna's legs and quickly pulled her out!"

Luna! Dusty remembered his mother talking about a foal named Luna with a friend of hers. Luna was the Herd Mother's new foal, born during the moon's eclipse. Dusty's eyes went wide as he realized why Celestia seemed so familiar. She was the Herd Mother's and Father's young daughter!

"Did I hear somepony saying my name?" Dove asked, stepping in through the opened door, followed by Strongbuck. Looking at Bell, Dove gave her a funny look. "Bell, why are you nursing Summer Rain?"

Bell smiled and glanced back at the foal still suckling at her teat. "Oh, he was being fussy and I thought it would calm him down a bit. I'm pretty sure he drained whatever milk I had a while ago, and he's just dry nursing now."

Strongbuck froze at the sight of Bell, with the nursing foal hanging off her teat, and blinked down at her for a moment as he admired her. He had never seen her like this before, and he found he liked it. In fact, he liked it a lot. He had always thought she was beautiful, but now, as he looked down at her, he found she looked absolutely ravishing.

Dove noticed his interested gaze, and leaned in close, "I can tell by the look in your eyes that you want to do some things," She whispered into his ear. "But that activity is going to have to wait until later. We appear to have some guests."

Clearing his throat awkwardly, Strongbuck brought his mind back to less fun things, and looked around. He noticed Dusty sitting off to the side, with a pretty young mare, lying half hidden, close to his side.

"Ash, would you please go get Meadowlark and Dark please? I think they should be brought in on this too," Bell asked, turning to the young colt, who quickly nodded and dashed out.

"Brought in on what?" Strongbuck asked, curiously looking over at Dusty. "What's going on?"

Bell glanced over to Dusty and nodded her head. "Go ahead and show them."

Dusty felt his gut twisting in apprehension as he prepared himself.

"Strongbuck, Dove," Bell said, as Dusty stood, and stepped back to reveal Sky's wings. "I would like you to meet Sky Twirl."

The two gasped in open shock, as they both stared at the young winged mare.

Sky looked back and ruffled her wings awkwardly, as she suddenly found herself being the center of attention, before sticking her muzzle under one of her wings to check on the slumbering colt she still had safely tucked under it.

"Oh my stars," Dove said in awe.

"What... what is she?" Strongbuck managed to ask.

"She's a pegasus." Dusty answered as he sat himself back down next to her. "And she's my... mate."

Strongbuck's jaw dropped down as he stared at Dusty in disbelief. Dusty had mated with her!?

Dove stepped closer, as she looked Sky over. "Your mate!? Dusty, did you breed her while she was in heat!?" Dove asked Dusty, giving him a hard look.

Dusty lowered his ears when he heard the disapproval in her voice, and quietly nodded his head, as he looked down at the ground.

"I already explained to them a bit about the dangers," Bell cut in. "The deed is already done, so yelling at them further won't help things."

Dove let out a sigh, and sat down as she nodded her understanding. "She's a pegasus huh…?" Dove mused as she scratched at her chin thoughtfully. "I wonder if a foal is even possible between the coupling of a pony and a pegasus."

"I don't see why not, she looks just like a pony." Strongbuck said. "But with wings."

Dove had a thought, and turned to look at Celestia. "Would you be able to tell if she is with foal?"

Dusty wondered why Dove was asking the filly something like that, as he watched Celestia stand and start over towards him and Sky. Stepping around to Sky's side, they all watched as she reached her hoof out and lightly touch it to Sky's belly. Closing her eyes, Celestia stayed like this for a time.

What was she doing? There's no way she would be able to tell if Sky was pregnant... was there? As Dusty and Sky watched Celestia closely, they saw tears start to slip out of her closed eyes as she started to smile.  

Opening her eyes, Celestia turned to look back at everypony. "It's there, I can feel it." She said wiping at her eyes. "The very beginnings of a brand new life. There's no way I can describe how beautiful it is." Turning she looked at Sky and Dusty in turn. "You're going to be a mama and papa."

Dusty felt his heart leap a few beats at her words. He didn't know how she could possibly be able to tell, but as he looked into her eyes, he felt she was somehow looking back into his very being. Her gaze held some kind of strange power that laid every part of his deepest self bare to her scrutiny. His bitterness and anger at his mother, his cowardice and fear, every part of his deepest shame was revealed for her to see, with nothing hidden away.

He blinked and suddenly Celestia was just a normal filly again, who was giving Sky a happy hug. What just happened!? His heart was hammering in his chest like he had just finished a hard race. Was what just happened real!? As he tried to put his confused thoughts together, he felt the filly move over and hug him too.

As her hooves tightened around his neck, Dusty felt a strange warmth grow inside him, and all his worries and fears suddenly melted away, to be replaced by a serene happiness, as a new thought came to him. One that made him feel absolute joy. He was going to be a father.

Ash opened the door and stepped in. Behind him Meadowlark and Dark Storm, who was carrying Luna in a basket, followed him in.

"So, what's this really important thing you need to see us about?" Dark asked, glancing at Strongbuck and Bell.

 

****

 

Bell yawned as she made her way down to the gate. It was early, and the sun was still just under the horizon.

It had been a late night. Once Meadowlark and Dark had been introduced to Sky, they had all talked with her for hours, learning all they could from her. It was strange to think that there were three different types of ponies in the world. Sky Ponies, Star Ponies, and Earth Ponies. During their discussions, Melodious came to collect her offspring, and when she saw Sky she hardly batted an eye, as she simply commented that Sky had pretty wings. Did anything ever faze that mare?

When it came to what happened to the rest of the pegasi of her flock, Sky suddenly had trouble talking about it, constantly pressing herself against Dusty's side as she sought out his comforting touch, which Bell was pleased to see that he openly gave her without any reluctance. Sky's description of the dark creatures that crawled up the trees and took the pegasi greatly disturbed Dark, and, Bell had to admit, herself as well. That night, the only way she was able to get to sleep was when she crammed herself in between Dove and Strongbuck, and had them both hold her.

The gate came into view, and Bell was able to make out a group of ponies already gathered there, waiting to search out the wolves den. Dark was already there, standing just before the gate while looking back at the group, as Bell hurried in. Just as the sun began to crest the horizon, Dark signaled for the gate to be opened.

"Thank you all for coming." Dark's voice said out over the gathered ponies. "I want you all to keep together and watch each other's flanks, and make sure you report anything that might be strange. There may be things out there that are more dangerous than the wolves."

"Like what?" Mustard Seed asked.

Dark shook his head. "We're not sure what they are. We've only had one pony see them, and all she was able to describe is that they are dark, and are about the same size as a pony. They can apparently climb trees with ease, and, somehow, they can trap ponies in place."

Bell shivered at hearing Sky's description repeated by Dark. Whatever these creatures were, they gave her the creeps.

"If anypony wants to change their mind and stay behind, do so now," Dark stated, looking around the group. When no ponies left, he continued. "Then let's go." Turning, he marched out the door with Happy running up next to him.

Bell swallowed her nervousness, and checked to see if her spear was securely tucked into her pack. Satisfied that it was all in place, she followed after Dark.

 
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