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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18. Chapter 18

Celestia ran, her pursuer following closely behind her. She didn't know where Ash was. The last time she saw him, he was being chased by the other one. A flicker of motion to her right allowed her to react in time to avoid being taken by the second one as he dashed in on her from the side. He must have finished with Ash and now she had them both on her tail.  

As she rounded a hut, Celestia checked behind her and saw only one of the slobbering beasts still chasing her. Where did the other one go!? Looking ahead, Celestia let out a scream as she saw the second one coming around the hut right in front of her. Desperately, Celestia swerved to the side and bolted as fast as she could, but it was no use; they were now on both sides of her and she had nowhere to go. It was only a matter of time.

Ahead of her, Celestia noticed she was closing on the split rock. Smiling, she thought up a desperate idea that might just work. Lowering her head, she bolted for the crack. Her sudden dash for the rock caught her pursuers by surprise and they fell a little behind as she shot into the crack.

Letting out a laugh at her cleverness, Celestia darted out of the crack, free and clear of her chasers. Suddenly, a weight dropped down on her as something pounced from the side. They must have circled around! Letting out a scream, Celestia tumbled onto the ground as her attackers closed in over her.

"No!" Celestia screamed as her assailants moved in for the kill. "No! No! No! Ahh!" A pair of tongues began to slobber and lick at her face as she desperately attempted to defend herself from their relentless assault. It was no use. There was no defense. Not from a pair of merciless puppies.

"They got her!" Tulip shouted.

"They did!? How bad?" Strawberry asked running over.

"Oh, they’re getting her good!" Tulip laughed, sounding like she was thoroughly enjoying Celestia's plight.

"Sentry! Chase!" Ash's voice called out.

Immediately, the two wolf pups broke off and happily ran over to Ash as he approached the scene.

Celestia sat up with a sigh. It was getting too hard to get away from those two now. In three moons, the two had grown so much. Bell had recently weaned them, and now fed them fish and rabbits, with the occasional rodent the pups could sniff out around the storehouse. Already Birch Bark was praising the two pups for pretty much eradicating the irritating pests that had been plaguing him there.

Not all the ponies felt so happy having the wolf pups running around. There were still those that still harbored harsh feelings for the pair. So far, the complaints had been minor and frivolous at best, but that still didn't stop the angry and hostile looks that were directed at the pups as well as at Bell Flower, Strongbuck, and Dove Song for harboring them.

Despite the uncertain feeling many had for the pups, all the foals just loved them. They were as friendly as they were playful. Bell had been reluctant at first to let the pups play with the foals, worrying that something bad might happen, but, after some time, when the pups proved that they had an amazing ability to integrate themselves with the foals as well as easily making friends with them, she found it was a wonderful way to socialize them to others, and to gain a bit of trust with the ponies.

Wiping her hoof over her wolf-slobbered face, Celestia glanced at Ash and saw that his face had also gotten the puppy treatment. Sentry and Chase happily loped around him with their tails wagging as Ash walked up to her.

"I win! Chase got you first!" Celestia exclaimed with a laugh.

"Yeah, but you got it much worse than me!" Ash retorted with a wave at Celestia's extremely slobbered up face.

"That's only because I had both of them on me! You only had the one!" Celestia wiped her hoof on Ash's neck to clean it of puppy spit.

Pine Blossom came dashing over. "Is it over!? Did I miss it!?" she asked breathlessly.

Smiling, Tulip nodded. "Yep. It's all over."

Pine looked disappointed at having missed the play chase. "Aww, I wanted to be here. Why did you all start without me?" she asked. "Who won!?"

"The wolf pups, of course," Strawberry answered with a nod toward Ash and Celestia, pointing out the sloppy state the two were in.

"Come on. Sage Brush promised to tell us another story today," Strawberry said. "Let's go see if he’s there."

"Oh! I love his stories!" Pine exclaimed with a series of excited hops. "I hope he tells us the one about how the mountain fell in love with his own shadow!"

Tulip let out a sigh and tussled up Pine's mane. "He told us that one yesterday because you kept bugging him to. We want to hear a new one today."

"Fine, fine. Let's hear a new one then," Pine muttered, fixing her mussed mane.

Ever since Pine had nearly drowned, the two had grown much closer with each other. During the half moon after her accident, Pine had suffered through a terrible, racking cough that left her weakened and in pain. Staying with her throughout it, Tulip helped to keep her spirits up and to help her pass the time by playing little games with her. Many of the other foals also stopped by from time to time to keep her company until she was fully recovered.

Passing through the settlement, they all headed toward the western side. Sage Brush liked to sit in the shade of a small tree there during the late part of the day to enjoy the breeze. One day, when he was resting there, he called over some of the passing foals to tell them a story. Soon, foals started coming by to hear more from him, with it eventually becoming a semi-regular event.

Arriving at the tree, they found Sage already sitting under its shading branches with Mighty Oak, Toadstool Ring and Glum Drollery, who were apparently also there for a story.

"Oh my, a lot of you have come today," Sage commented in mild surprise, looking over at the new group that was approaching him. "Well, there's plenty of room for more. Find a comfortable spot and have a seat, everypony."

Finding a spot, Ash settled in, Celestia sitting on one side of him and Strawberry sitting on the other.

Seeing Strawberry sitting with Ash, Celestia once again felt a stab of irritation and a sudden desire to move over and place herself between the two. Why was she feeling like this? Strawberry was her friend. She should be happy that she wanted to be close to Ash. Who was she to keep him all to herself anyways? Many stallions had several mares in their family herd, so shouldn't she expect the same for Ash as well?

Swallowing her feeling down as best she could, Celestia focused her attention back to Sage Brush, who was looking like he was about to start his story.

With Sentry and Chase curling up next to him, Sage looked around and smiled as he absentmindedly petted the pups. "Well, you all ready?" Seeing them all nod, he started his story.

    Long long ago, in seasons past, there once lived a very unusual fox who made a very usual friend. The fox lived alone along the edge of the forest next to a large meadow. He was lonely and wished to make friends, but no woodland creature would trust him, calling all foxes tricky, sly, and altogether not to be trusted.

One day, when the fox was walking along the edge of the meadow, he came across a rabbit that was weeping by herself. Seeing her crying all alone, the fox's heart went out to her and he approached her to see what was the matter.

"What troubles you so?" he asked her.

"I lost my little sister. We were out in the meadow when a hawk chased us away," she explained, wiping at her eyes with her little paw. "We both ran as fast as we could, but, in the confusion, I lost her, and I can't find her anywhere!"

The fox was moved by her plight and wanted to help her. "Please. Let me help you find her. I'm sure that with both of us looking, we will find her."

The rabbit looked up at him with sudden hope. "Thank you," she said gratefully to him.

Together, they searched all about the meadow, from the beaver-pond in the south to the rocky hills to the north. Rabbit was starting to despair that they would ever find her lost sister.

Fox noticed her disheartened look and spoke up. "Don't give up. We have only discovered where she is not. There are still places to search, I'm sure we will find her there," he said in an attempt to lift her spirits.

His encouraging words seemed to help her, and they went over to the west side to search for her sister there. After an exhausting examination of the area it became clear that her little sister wasn't there. Rabbit looked devastated that they had failed, and looked like she was on the brink of crying again. Fox wanted to say something, but could think of nothing to say to make her feel better.

Suddenly, his sharp eyes picked up something. Scuffed in the dirt before him were some rabbit tracks leading out of the meadow. Bending down, he sniffed at them and got the distinct scent of rabbit. Calling out to his companion, he showed her his discovery. With their new lead, they followed the tracks away into the woods. Soon, they came to steep drop-off. Looking down, they both spotted Rabbit's little sister below them, perched precariously on a small ledge of rock. It appeared that, in her panic, she had tumbled off the edge and now was stuck with nowhere to go.

"How are we going to get her up?" Rabbit worried out loud.

Looking down, Fox saw that Rabbit's sister was in dire trouble. She was too far down for him to reach down and lift up, and, if she slipped off the little ledge she was on, she would tumble down the sheer side to smash into the rocks below.

After thinking about it for a while, the fox suddenly came up with a clever, if risky, plan. "If I was to hold onto your back legs and dangle you down, you could grab onto your sister and I can lift you both back up," Fox offered.

The fox's daring plan required Rabbit to trust him with her life as he dangled her down over sheer drop to a certain death if he should release her leg. She struggled with whether she could trust him with something like that. After all, he was a fox and it was always said that you should never trust a fox. Hearing her sister’s fearful cries down below, Rabbit made up her mind and held her hind leg up for the fox to take.

Taking her leg, Fox lifted Rabbit up and lowered her over the edge. Rabbit’s heart hammered in her chest as she felt the fox's teeth biting into her leg, but she held strong to her faith that he would not let her go. She never expected that she would ever willingly let a fox do this to her. Standing right at the very edge of the drop-off, Fox crouched down and held Rabbit as far down as he could. The moment Rabbit came within reach of her sister, she wrapped her little paws around her and held her close as Fox lifted them both back up to the top.

Settled once again to firm ground, Rabbit and her sister hugged each other in happiness. Fox watched them, feeling a warm sense of pride for what he had done to help bring these two sisters back together.

Glad that he had done some good, the fox was about to leave when Rabbit suddenly moved over and surprisingly gave him a hug. "Thank you! Thank you! You have been a good friend to me," she said into his chest as her little paws tightened around his neck.

The fox felt like crying. She had called him a friend.

From that day onward, they remained friends for the rest of their days. A fox and a rabbit, the most unlikely of friendships to ever be.

The End.

At the conclusion of his story, all the foals began cheering and happily stomping their hooves. Sage Brush smiled, happy to see the foals had enjoyed his story.

"Did that story really happen?" Pine asked.

Sage Brush blinked over at the young filly. "Why of course it really happened. I would never tell you a made up story!" he said with a slightly offended tone. "Now, off with you all. It's getting late."

Many of the foals let out disappointed moans. Sometimes, Sage would tell several stories before he would call it a night. Celestia stood, and she was about to head back home when she saw Dove standing just a little bit away.

"Oh! Hello, Dove," Celestia greeted her, surprised to see her there. "Did you listen to Sage Brush's story?"

"Yes, I did," Dove answered with a smiling nod. Looking over to Sage Brush, Dove waved at him. "Thank you for the wonderful story."

"Oh, you are quite welcome," Sage answered back, looking rather pleased with himself.

Dove stepped closer. "Would you please remind Melodious to bring the twins over? I've been studying the foals and I'm trying to get a normal standard for foals at certain ages so I can identify possible problems early," Dove asked.

"Why, yes. Of course," Sage said nodding. "I'll pass it onto her when I get back."

"Thank you," Dove said gratefully. "By the way, I like your cutie mark. When did you get it?"

Sage Brush blinked at her in surprise before glancing back at his flank. "Huh... when did I get that?" he muttered, scratching at his head. On his flanks were partial rainbows that ended in bursts of glittering stars. Giving his head a shake, Sage Brush gave Dove a departing wave. "I'll have to ask Melodious about that. Perhaps she noticed when. Well, anyways, have a nice night."

Waving at the departing Sage, Dove turned to Ash and gestured to the wolf pups. "Ash, would you please take the pups home? It's time for them to be fed."

Nodding, Ash turned and called out to the wolf pups. When they came running over, he set off for their home.

Celestia was about to follow along with Ash, when Dove touched her on her shoulder. "Celestia, please stay for a moment. There is something I would like you to do for me, if you will."

Celestia nodded and let Dove direct her to where they would have some privacy.

 

 

 

****

 

 

 

A short time later, Dove walked back home. Her hoofsteps where slow as she tried to deal with her wildly whirling emotions. She didn't know what she was feeling. One moment, she was happy beyond belief and the next she felt like hiding somewhere to cry. The only constant she had was a cold pit of fear and worry in her gut.

Approaching her home, Dove paused next to the enclosure Strongbuck had built alongside it for the pups, to try to get her turbulent feelings under some kind of control. Inside the enclosure, Sentry and Chase were already curled up together in their own little hut, asleep. Bell had done a wonderful job with those two. She had only recently begun to train them, and already they were picking things up, but they were still puppies, and, because of that, they wanted to play, more than anything. Bell was trying to get as much training with them as she could before her pregnancy grew to a point where she would have to stop.

When it had been discovered that their night by the river had resulted in Bell becoming with foal, Dove had been happy for her, at least at first. After it became clear that she herself was not pregnant, Dove became angry at her best friend. She hated herself for feeling that way towards her. It took some time, but she managed to come to terms with it, even sharing her feelings with Bell, who understood and forgave her for feeling that way.

Taking a few long breaths to calm her nerves, Dove stepped to the door and entered. Strongbuck and Bell were sitting together, talking as she walked in. Pausing, the two turned and greeted her with warm smiles.

"Ah, you're back. We were just about to go out and look for you. Did something happen?" Strongbuck asked.

Dove felt her gut twist with anxiety. Taking another deep breath, she let it out. "I ah... I have something I want to tell you both..."

Bell's face fell as she noticed Dove's anxious expression. "Dove? What's wrong?"

"You both know how I've not been feeling very well for a little while now." Dove saw them both nod. It had started with her feeling tired all the time, with frequent headaches. A few times she even threw up because it got so bad. "Well, I started to suspect what it meant, but I wasn't sure. It took me a while to work up the nerve to finally find out if I was right. I was afraid what the answer would be. I was terrified that I would be wrong." She didn’t say that she was also scared that she might have been right.

Strongbuck and Bell moved closer with concern on their faces. "What is it? Are you sick!?" Strongbuck asked worriedly.

Dove shook her head. "No. I just went to Celestia and she confirmed it." With her hoof, she tenderly touched her belly. "I'm pregnant."

Strongbuck blinked in surprise then let out a loud whoop of happiness as he grabbed Dove in a sudden fierce hug. A moment later, he abruptly released her with a worried look. "Oh! I didn't mean to grab you so tight! I didn't hurt you, did I!?"

Dove let out a laugh. Strongbuck had done exactly the same thing when he found out that Bell was pregnant. Bell moved in and gave Dove a hug. "I'm so happy! Now we get to go through this together!"

Dove felt her gut twist again as the fear she was holding deep inside reared up. She was overjoyed that she was going to share her pregnancy along with her best friend and herd sister, but there was still a part of her that worried that what had happened to her first two pregnancies would happen again. She didn't know if she could go through it again. Losing a foal was like having a piece of her innermost self ripped away.

Dove hid her worry behind a happy smile as she suffered through Strongbuck rubbing his cheek against the side of her belly, speaking to the foal within her with a really stupid doofy voice. He had been doing the same thing to Bell for a while now, so now it looked like it was her turn.

 

****

 

The next morning, Ash was laying in the grass just outside his hut with Meadowlark, Celestia and Luna, who was currently stumbling around on her short stubby legs as she explored the grass around her mama. As they all watched, she stumbled to a stop to blink up at a butterfly that was fluttering around her head until it landed right on the end of her nose.

Ash snickered as she crossed her eyes to look a the butterfly. A moment later, it fluttered off and flew to a nearby flower. Luna's lip puckered as she prepared to start crying at the loss, but Celestia quickly moved in and held her hoof out. "Look at this, Luna," she said holding up an insect she had perched on her hoof. "It's a grasshopper."

Luna let out a happy burble as she bent in to look. Suddenly the grasshopper leapt away with a great bounding leap that startled Luna. Immediately her face scrunched up and she started bawling as she stumbled over to mama to be comforted.

"Oh! You poor thing. Did the nasty grasshopper scare you?" Meadowlark said gently to Luna as she held her close. "Well he's all gone now. He won't bother you anymore."

After a short time, Luna settled down enough to move around to seek out Meadowlark's teat so she could start suckling.

"Mama? Why does Luna go to your teat when she's not hungry? You just fed her not that long ago." Ash asked curiously.

"It comforts her." Meadowlark replied with a gentle smile, glancing back at her suckling daughter. "It makes her feels safe and secure that all is right in the world, and that Mama is here for her."

"Oh! I can't believe I almost forgot," Celestia suddenly exclaimed. "Dove's pregnant."

"Ohhh, that's wonderful news!" Meadowlark said with a wide smile. "I must go congratulate her! Celestia, go get Luna's travel basket please.”

As Celestia hurried into their hut, Ash stood. "Greenhoof says the radishes are ready to be harvested, I'm going down to see if I can help out," Ash said as he prepared to leave.

Reaching out her hoof, Meadowlark drew Ash in close and hugged him before she kissed the top of his head. "I love you. Stay safe."

"I will, Mama," Ash assured her before hurrying off.

 
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