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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22. Chapter 22

Author's Note:

 

Dream by night, Wish by day, Love begins this way, Loving starts, When open hearts, Touch and stay, Sleep for now, Dreaming's how, Lover's lives are planned, Future songs, And flying dreams, Hand in hand, Love it seams, Made flying dreams, So hearts could soar, Heaven sent, These wings were meant, To prove once more, That love is the key.

 

Lullaby from The Secret Of NIMH.

Thanks Peerlmagination for all your great help.- I did not copy and paste this from a previous chapter.

    Dove moved through the dark trees of the North Woods. She could still hear the foal’s cries ahead of her. Desperation to find the lost foal drove her onward without heed to the danger that she was moving into. Crooked, rough barked trees surrounded her and their bent gnarled branches shrouded her in shadow. The air smelled heavy and fetid from rotting vegetation, and an oppressive silence hung over her like a thick fog. No birds sung in the branches nor did any squirrels skitter around searching for nuts to store away.

She didn't know how long she had been traveling into the North Woods’ dark depths, nor did she care. The sounds of the foal’s wails constantly drove her on, deeper into the forest. Nothing. No matter how many teeth or claws they had, nothing would stop her from finding the hapless foal.

Her throat burned with thirst, and her sides were cut and scrapped by sharp thorns. Working her way around a large root, half as tall as she was, Dove stopped when she saw a large web set out before her. It appeared to have been set to capture anything that may try to happen through.

Glancing wearily up into the trees around her, Dove swiveled her ears about trying to catch any sound of spiders that may be around. Hearing and seeing nothing, Dove moved cautiously around the web. Soon she came to another when she almost walked into it, stopping just one step away from it.

The sound of the foal's wails continued to draw at her. Looking through the webbing, she could hear it coming from deeper within. Moving around, Dove pressed on. The deeper she went, the thicker the webs became. Soon, they were everywhere and Dove was having trouble making her way further in.

The foal sounded like it was just ahead of her. She was so close! Stepping over a lone string of webbing, Dove accidentally jostled it with her hind hoof. Immediately, there was a strange flurry of clicking and rustling sounds as she saw dozens of spiders start descending from the trees. They were smaller than the one that had been brought back, most of them about the size of a rabbit or smaller.

Panic seized her chest, and she wanted to flee from them as fast as she could. If she tried to continue on, she would surely die. The sound of the foals cries was tantalizingly close. She felt the foal was calling to her, begging her for help.

Folding her ears back, Dove snorted out her nose. Nothing will stop her from reaching that foal! Nothing! Not even a swarm of ravenous spiders! Bucking out her hind hooves, she smashed a spider climbing down a tree. With a quick lunge, Dove stomped another spider into the ground, its insides splattering out from under her hoof with a crunch.

Ducking around, Dove surged forward. Almost recklessly, she swerved and wove her way around the giant webs. At times she would stomp or buck a spider that drew too close.

Suddenly, she felt one fall onto her back. Quickly, she lunged to the side and knocked it off with a low hanging branch before it was able to sink its fangs into her. Running off, she felt a shiver run down her spine.

Breaking free of the swarm, Dove dashed across a clear area until she was forced to skid to a stop. Just before her was a solid wall of webbing with no gaps and no way around. Dove's heart sank with despair. She was trapped! How could this be!? She was almost there!

Looking around desperately, Dove spotted a dead tree that was leaning precariously above the wall of webbing. Glancing back at the approaching spiders, Dove ran for the tree. Whirling herself about, she bucked her hind hooves out and struck the tree. It shook and she heard a cracking sound, but after that nothing happened. Glancing back at the spiders, she saw they were getting much too close! She was running out of time!

Trying again, Dove bucked out as hard as she could against the trunk. This time it let out a louder cracking sound as it began to topple over, smashing down right through the webbing, clearing out a large gap in it. Dashing through, Dove shot out into a bright, sunlit glen.

After running a few dozen steps in, Dove looked back and saw that none of the spiders were following. They milled about at the glen’s edge, unwilling or perhaps unable to cross into the glen’s bright, airy fields.

Letting out a relieved breath, Dove looked hurriedly about for the foal. She could feel the foal's need pulling at her, tugging her to go on, into the glen. Trotting forwards, Dove gazed about at the beauty that lay about her. Flowers bloomed in every color amid the grasses, and the few  trees that were about, looked healthy and full.

Soon she began to hear the foal’s cries coming from just ahead of her. Hurrying her pace, Dove rounded a large tree, filled with white blossoms, and found a light-lavender filly nestled in a thick bed of soft moss at its base. Rushing to the foal, Dove hurriedly gathered her up into her hooves and began to croon to her as he gently rocked her.

The filly gazed up with her sightless white eyes and her wailing cries died down once she felt Dove's comforting touches and soft voice. Dove wondered how  the filly came to be out here, apparently all alone. Could it be because of her eyes?

Glancing up at the foal's forehead, Dove felt a shock of surprise to see a little stubby horn sticking up from it. She... she was a Unicorn! There was no doubt about it, she was just as Sky described them to be like. Was that how she was able to call out to her? Did she use her star-magic in some way? She noticed the filly’s little horn flickered and glowed in spurts, as the foal squirmed in her grasp.

A flicker of motion caused Dove to look up. Stepping softly toward her with an elegant, fluid stride through the field of flowers, was the most beautiful doe Dove had ever seen. She had the most unusual and exquisite silvery coat that seemed to sparkle in the sunlight as she walked. Her large eyes gazed with such warmth and tenderness, Dove felt immediately at ease with her.

 

Approaching, the doe looked down at her and smiled. "Welcome, my little pony." The doe greeted her with a surprisingly strong musical voice. Dove was amazed, she never knew that deer could talk. "The filly has been very impatiently waiting for you to arrive."

Dove blinked at her in bewilderment. "I’m sorry, I don't know what you mean. You must have me confused with another mare. Perhaps her mother?"

The doe continued to smile as she shook her head. "I am not mistaken about this, Dove Song. It is you she has been calling out to all morning and now I see she is very happy that you have finally arrived."

"Calling to me!?" Dove asked, glancing down at the blind filly. "I don't understand. How could she have called me? She's just a filly."

The doe's eyes dropped down to the foal. "She's a very special filly with special magic. When her mother died and she was abandoned, her heart cried out in pain and fear at being alone with none to love her. In the darkness of her despair, her heart managed to find yours. She sensed in you the same pain and loss she felt and she called out to you." The doe looked back up and met Dove's eyes. "In your heart, you heard her calling to you, and you came."

Dove felt her heart flutter in her chest. How could the doe know all of this? Did she also have some kind of magic of her own? "Who are—? How do you know these things?"

 

"I am just a mother," the doe answered simply. "A mother who wants to see you both healed from your pain." Stepping closer, the doe looked down at the filly in Dove's hooves. "She is a very extraordinary filly who needs a special mother to care for her. Will you be that mother to her?"

"Me!? Be her mother!?" Dove exclaimed in surprise. She didn’t know anything about unicorns or how to raise them, let alone a blind unicorn!

"Yes, of course you," the doe said, smiling at her again. "She likes you, and she wants you to be her mother."

Looking down at the filly. All of Dove's protests faded away. What did it matter if she was blind, she would be her own little filly. She knew that Strongbuck and Bell would love her just the same. Tightening her grip around the filly, Dove made her decision. "I would like to be her mother."

The doe's smile broadened, as she nodded with a pleased look. Stepping in close, the doe leaned down and kissed the top of Dove's head. A strange, pleasant warmth spread  all throughout her body and for a brief moment, Dove thought she saw herself glowing.

Giving her head a slight shake to clear it, Dove looked up at the doe. "What did you do?"

The silvery doe stepped back with a warm smile. "Your filly looks hungry. The grass here is thick and soft. You’re welcome to lay down so you may feed her," she offered.

Dove was about to point out that she didn't have milk when she noticed that her udders felt almost painfully full. Glancing down, Dove saw that they were round and swollen with milk. How!? The only thing that made sense was that she must have used some kind of magic on her!

The filly started to squirm in her hooves and cry out in hunger. Dove could actually feel the filly's tummy rumble and she wondered how long it had been since she had last nursed. Settling down in the soft grass, Dove set the filly to her udder. She watched as the filly sniffed around until she found her teat and latched onto it. Gasping out a breath at the intense, pleasant sensations she felt as the foal began to suckle, Dove closed her eyes and relaxed.

"Now that you are her mother, what will her name be?" The doe asked.

Dove's eyes shot open at the question. A name!? Naming the foal hadn’t occurred to her! Looking down at the nursing foal, Dove racked her mind for an appropriate name. After staring down at the foal for a short while, it suddenly came to her. It was perfect! Looking back up to the doe, Dove smiled.

 

 

 

 

* ** *

 

 

 

 

    Strongbuck stared anxiously ahead at the mass of webbing that blocked their way. He suddenly felt stupid for not taking the time to get help. A few more spears would be really useful now.

Sentry and Chase had done a wonderful job following Dove's trail up to this point, but Strongbuck felt that this was as far as they would be able to take them. Gazing around at the spiderwebs, Strongbuck felt his gut tighten with worry as Bell pressed herself against his side. Dove was in there somewhere.

Looking down to Bell, Strongbuck made his decision. "Bell, I want you to take Sentry and go back to the settlement. I will go in with Chase and find Dove."

Bell shook her head with a fierce look in her eyes. "No! I won't turn back! Not without Dove!"

Strongbuck understood her feelings. She and Dove had been best friends since they were foals, and turning back would be like abandoning her, but there were other things to consider now.

"Bell, you're pregnant," Strongbuck said. "It's much too dangerous for you to go in there. Think of our foal."

He could feel Bell stiffen against his side as she prepared to argue back. She was as stubborn as an old tree and just as loyal to those she loved. Bell grumbled to herself in irritation as she mulled over the risks to their foal if she got bit by one of the spiders. Magpie was still trying to figure out a way to cure victims from their venomous bites, but so far all the test rabbits have died within a few days as their bodies slowly dissolved from within.

Finally, Bell let out a long stiff breath. "Sometimes, I could just bite you, you know that?" she snapped to him with a hard scowl.

Strongbuck felt a sense of relief come over him. Even if he died inside there, which was very likely to happen, at least Bell and their foal will be safe and live on. That was the important thing. "I know. Believe me, I know," he said, rubbing a mark on the side of his neck.

Reaching over, she wrapped her hoof around him in a hug and kissed him. "Come back safe, and bring her back with you."  

Strongbuck didn't know if he could do what she asked but he nodded to her anyways with a smile. "Don't worry. I'll get her back home," he assured her as he kissed her back.

Strongbuck felt Bell pull back as she began to leave when a flicker of color caught their attention. Stepping out of the trees was the most magnificent stag either of them had ever seen. His golden coat sparkled in the dim light, and the majestic antlers that sat atop of his proudly held head had moss dangling down from them. He stepped toward them with a strong and steady stride. Strongbuck felt that he should be alarmed at the stag's approach, but for some reason he felt that he was not there to harm them.

 

Sentry and Chase dashed forward to run circles around the stag who only glanced down at the pair of gallivanting pups with a tiny smile. Stepping up to them, the stag drew to a stop.

"I warmly greet you, Strongbuck and Bell Flower," the stag said to them with a strong resonating voice. "I was asked to tell you that your wayward mare, Dove Song, is safe and very happy at the moment with my dear mate." The stag looked the pair over with his oddly penetrating gaze. "If you both wish, I will take you safely to her. She is eager to introduce you both to someone."

Strongbuck was relieved at the stag's sudden news that Dove was safe, while Bell gave a happy little hop and wrapped her hoof around his neck for a quick hug. "Thank you," Strongbuck managed to say back to the stag. "That would be very kind of you."

Turning himself, the stag started to walk back into the woods. "Then follow me and don't wander off. You'll be safe as long as you stay close."

Strongbuck and Bell hurried forward to stay with the stag’s long stride. Moving through the spider infested forest, they wove their way along a trail free of spiders and their webbing.

Strongbuck gazed around with a bit of worry but he did his best to show a brave face. "Why don’t they attack us?" he asked.

"Because they dare not, lest they anger me for trying to assault those who are under my care," the stag answered, turning his head to glance back at Strongbuck. "They may be stupid, but they are not that stupid," he said with a soft smile.

Strongbuck felt a shiver run down his spine. There was something very unusual about the stag. He spoke with such certainty and authority, that he had no doubt that what he had said was true. "Who are you? If I may ask?"

The stag considered him for a moment, his eyes looking like they were peering deep into him. "I have many names. Most of which you will not understand," the stag answered finally, before he then bent his head thoughtfully. "But if you were to put my name into the simplest of terms, it would be Eternal Age."

The stag then started forward again and Strongbuck and Bell had to hurry to keep up with him. Soon they emerged out of the forest into a bright glen filled with flowers. The two pups dashed out and started racing around and leaping playfully at butterflies. Following with Eternal Age, he lead them deeper into the glen until they came to one of the most massive trees Strongbuck had ever seen, its wide set branches filled with white blossoms that smelled of honey.

Laying in a bed of soft moss at the base of the great tree, Dove smiled up at Strongbuck and Bell as they walked up.

"Strongbuck, Bell. I'm so glad you came." Dove said, without standing. "I'm sorry for running off like I did but there is a good reason." Turning her head, Dove nuzzled a tiny sleeping light-lavender foal that was curled up against her side. "She called to me, and I just had to go to her."

"Oh my!" Bell exclaimed softly as she rushed forward to look down at the foal. "She's so adorable!" Suddenly she gasped as she lifted a surprised hoof to her mouth. "Oh! By the stars! She has a little tiny horn on her head!"

"Congratulations," Eternal Age said, looking over to a stunned Strongbuck with a smile. "You're a father."

Strongbuck felt lightheaded and for some reason he was struggling to catch his breath. "Father!?"

"I do believe that the young stallion may faint," a silvery doe said, with a note of amusement as she walked up to stand next to Eternal Age.

"Strongbuck." Dove said, softly calling out to him. "I would like you to meet our foal, Twilight Aurora."

“Please care for her with as much love and happiness as I am sure she will bring to you,” the silvery doe said, looking over at him, “for the future of the world will depend upon it.”

 

 

****

 

 

    Strongbuck still didn’t know how he felt about suddenly becoming a father. So far, Dove had kept Twilight Aurora all to herself, refusing to let either Bell or himself hold her. The doe, who said that her name was Bountiful Wellspring, said that she just needed a bit of time to adjust. Strongbuck was relieved that Dove was looking so happy now. She practically glowed with motherhood.

Bell was off gathering willow branches so she could start weaving a carry basket for the foal. Standing off to the side, Strongbuck gazed down at Dove and the foal in silent thought. There was no denying that Twilight Aurora was adorable, but he was still unsure that he was ready to raise a foal, especially one that was magical as well as blind.

"You look troubled," Eternal Age said, stepping up next to Strongbuck.

Strongbuck glanced over to the stag, surprised that he had somehow walked right up next to him without his noticing. Letting out a sigh, Strongbuck looked back to Dove and the foal. "Just look at her. She's so happy. I just don't know if I am ready for fatherhood. This came up on me rather fast and I'm a bit... frightened by it," he confessed.

 

"It's quite natural to be scared," Age answered back with knowing nod. "Becoming a father is a huge change for any stallion to go through. The responsibilities, and demands can be very overwhelming and it would be easier to just walk away than deal with a whiny, sniveling foal. After all, raising foals is mares’ work, not worthy of a stallion’s time or effort. It must make you want to go back to how it used to be, where your job ended as soon as you climbed down from a mare's back, right?"

Strongbuck could see his point but it definitely felt wrong. "No. That's not right," he said, giving his head a shake.

"Oh? How so?" Age asked, lifting his eyebrow.

"I admire Dark Storm for how he has chosen to be a father," Strongbuck explained. "Everything that has happened, everything we now have and learned is all because he wanted to build a better life for his children. Being a father makes you a better stallion. It makes you learn, grow, and strive to be more than you are for the sake of your foals."

"I see," Age said thoughtfully, giving Strongbuck a appraising look. "I believe that you will do well."

"What do you mean?" Strongbuck asked.

Instead of answering, the stag gestured to Dove. "How about you go and hold your new daughter for a bit, get to know her."

Strongbuck gave Dove an uneasy look. The last time he had been close to her and the foal, she looked like she might bite him if he got any closer.

"There is no need to fear your mate," Age assured Strongbuck. "She will relinquish the foal to you."

Taking a breath, Strongbuck walked over to Dove. She was humming a lullaby to Twilight, who was peacefully slumbering up against her chest. Seeing him approaching, Dove stopped humming as her head came up watch him. Carefully stepping up to her, Strongbuck gave her a soft nicker to reassure her as he bent down to nuzzle her cheek.

Dove relaxed into his affectionate touches and nickered back to him. Bending his head down, Strongbuck sniffed at the foal and took in her scent. Dove began to hum again as she lifted her head higher to allow him to take Twilight Aurora from her. Nipping the filly's crest, Strongbuck lifted her up and deposited her into the crook of his leg. Aurora let out a contemplative murmur at having been disturbed but soon settled down as she accepted her new place.

Smiling down at Aurora, Strongbuck bent down and nuzzled her chubby cheek. Moving his head up, he kissed her forehead only to discover that that was where her stubby horn was. With a crackling snap, Strongbuck felt a jolt shot through his body.

Dove stopped humming as she looked at him with concern. "Are you alright!?" she asked, climbing up to her hooves.

Strongbuck's skin felt weird, like it was tingling. "I think so. What happened?"

Dove didn't answer. Instead she held her hoof to her mouth as she started to giggle. Strongbuck blinked at her in confusion as her giggles turned into laughter.

"What's so funny?" Bell asked, walking around the large, white blossomed tree. When she saw Strongbuck, she come to an abrupt stop and dropped the basket she had just made, and started laughing.

"Why are you laughing at me? What is it?" Strongbuck asked in total confusion, but neither Dove nor Bell was able to answer him as they both clutched at their guts. While holding the foal in the crook of his leg, Strongbuck carefully walked over to the nearby pond to look down at his reflection and blinked his eyes in surprise. His coat and mane was sticking straight up in the air! Looking back over his shoulder, he saw that even his tail was fanned straight out in every direction!

Looking back at his two mates, he saw that Dove was wiping tears from her eyes while Bell rolled around on the soft mossy ground, pointing a hoof at him as she laughed uncontrollably. Strongbuck looked between the two and grinned. Soon he began to laugh along with them.

Walking up to stand next to Age, Wellspring watched the ponies laugh. "And now they show the final element. Laughter."

"Indeed." Age agreed with a nod of his head. "They will be wonderful parents for her. She will have everything she will need to be happy and grow into a fine mare."

When Dove reached her hoof up to try to brush Strongbuck's mane down, her own mane suddenly crackled and shot out straight in every direction just like Strongbuck's. Seeing this, Bell rolled onto her belly to pound her hoof into the ground as she gasped for breath from her laughter. Dove quickly turned her attention to her own mane and tried to flatten it back down. The commotion they were causing from their laughing caused Aurora to wake.

Kicking her little hooves about, she started to cry. Glancing down with a smile, Strongbuck sat his rump down and started to rock the filly as Dove gave up trying to get her mane back down and sat down with him. Bending in close, she started to sing to the foal with Strongbuck's deeper voice joining in with hers as they both sang a simple lullaby together. Bell quickly moved over to join them, adding her voice to theirs.

With his two loving mares sitting in close with him as they all sang together to little Aurora, Strongbuck felt his heart soar with happiness. He wanted that moment to last forever. On each of his flanks, a red heart appeared with a pair of white wings unfurled off each side.

Smiling, Wellspring and Age turned together and walked off into the woods, leaving the family to enjoy their time together.

“With what you did to Dove, young Strongbuck is going to be a very busy father,” Age said, giving Bountiful Wellspring a sly glance.

“As it should be,” Wellspring answered back with a hard nod. “I think Aurora deserves to have lot’s of brothers and sisters.”

The two faded like mist and vanished together.

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