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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25. Chapter 25

Astral stormed into her chambers, Glittering Crystal following behind as she struggled to keep up with her matriarch’s hurried pace. Crossing through the main chamber, Astral made her way down another long tunnel that wound off at an angle. Following it for a short way, they rounded a bend and saw light ahead of them through an opening. As they drew closer, they could see the colored lights of the aurora playing off the rock face. Stepping out of the opening, Astral walked out onto a large ledge that ended with a sheer drop off, and looked up. Astral frowned and held the gemstone up with her magic. Her grand-dam had explained that it needed to be touching a unicorn in order for them to use it. Pressing it to her chest Astral smiled as she prepared her dispersion spell. With a flash, she sent her spell shooting up into the sky, smashing it into the other spell. At first it resisted her spell and held against her, but her spell soon overcame it and tore through, shredding the other caster's spell into useless ribbons that quickly began to disperse into the ether. Above them, the shimmering green and strong violets that played across the sky broke apart and slowly vanished to nothing. Staring up at the darkening heavens, Astral began to laugh maniacally. She had done it! It was hers again! ✹✹✹✹ Little Aurora suddenly jerked awake and started bawling, her little voice piercing the night with her wailing cry. Sage Brush paused his story as Dove snatched the filly up from her basket to croon to her as she moved off to settle the filly back down. Sage Brush reached over and tossed another log onto the fire. "Well then, where was I?" he asked, looking back to the gathered crowd of fillies and colts. Tulip quickly clamped her hoof over Pine Blossom's mouth to keep her from answering with her usual request, while Misty just sighed and shook her head at the two. Celestia glanced over and giggled with Strawberry as they watched Pine struggling with her sister. Mighty Oak was busy quietly plotting a prank with Toadstool while Glum Drollery sat silently, watching the moths fly around the fire. Bumblebee was waiting for her sister, Soft Step, to return from talking to their papa about some idea of hers about safely putting fire into ponies homes. "You were about to tell us the story of Daring Horizon, and her adventure to find the edge of the world," Journey Stomp quickly reminded the stallion as he leaned forward with intense interest. Sage thoughtfully scratched at his chin before finally nodding. "Oh, that's right." Clearing his throat, he started his story. Long long ago, in seasons past, there lived a young mare named Daring Horizon. She was always adventurous and loved exploring the new lands her herd traveled too in their long wanderings. Always, she was driven to see what lay beyond the next hill. One day, she decided that she wanted to see the edge of the world and what was beyond it, so after she said her goodbyes to her mother and all of her friends, she started out on her long journey to see what lay over the world's edge. For many days, she got up each morning and traveled toward the rising sun until she came to a river that was so broad, she could not hope to swim across. Standing on the shore, she stared out across the river and wondered how she would be able to cross something so wide. It was then that she noticed a group of beavers struggling to move a very large tree they had recently fallen. She noticed that it was lodged against the side of a large rock outcropping and no matter the pushing and tugging the beavers could do, they would have no hope of dislodging it. Moving herself around to the other side of the log, she gave it a mighty buck that shook the tree and dislodged it from the rocks, allowing it to roll free down to the bank. The beavers were happy, and joyfully slapped the water with their tails in celebration, for no matter how hard they tried, they had been unable to shift the massive log. "Please," Daring Horizon called out to the beavers, "your river is much too broad for me to cross. Would you please use your wonderful tails to paddle me across?" The beavers agreed that without her help they would never have gotten the log free, so two of them swam forward and offered their backs for her to hold onto. Once she was in place, they used their powerful tails to propel her safely across the broad river. Once she was on the other side, she said goodbye to her new friends and continued on her journey. Next, she came to a great mountain range that extended to each side for as far as she could see. Daring Horizon gazed up at the massive snow capped peaks and feared that she would not find a way over. For days, she searched for a way through, but without any success. Then she came across a mountain goat that had his horns stuck in a bramble bush. Seeing that he needed help in escaping his plight, Daring used her teeth and hooves to untangle the ram from the thorny bush. Freed, the ram leapt about in joy for no matter his struggles he was unable to free himself. "Please," Daring called out to the ram, "your mountains are much too tall and steep for me to cross. Would you please show me the way through?" she asked. The ram knew that if he hadn't have been set free, he would have surely perished. There were paths through the mountain that only mountain goats knew of, and with gratitude for saving his life, the ram showed her safely through one of them. Once on the other side, Daring thanked her new friend for his help and set off to continue on her journey. Her travels then took her to the edge of a vast desert that stretched far off to the horizon. Studying it for a time, she decided to wait for night before trying to cross. Despite starting out right at sunset, she was still deep in the desert with no end in sight when the sun reappeared in the morning. With no shade to be found, Daring decided to continue on. The sun beat down on her relentlessly as the day wore on, and her throat quickly felt like she had been swallowing sand. Her hooves were dragging in the sand when she suddenly caught sight of something huddled at the base of a sand dune. It was a little camel calf, and he was crying his heart out. "What's wrong?" she asked him, concerned as to why he was crying out here all alone. "I'm lost, and I can't find my mama," the little calf answers her back. Daring Horizon mused about what she should do. She wanted to help the lost calf, but she wasn't sure how. She was in the middle of a scorching desert. Spying a tall sand dune a ways off, Daring thought of an idea. Wiping the calf's tears dry, she picked the exhausted calf up onto her back and carried him all the way over to the large dune. Struggling up its slope, Daring managed to climb all the way up to the top where she then gazed all around in the hopes that she would see the calf's mother. Spinning her gaze about a few times, she failed to spot anything that looked like it could be the calf's mother. She was about to give up and head back the way she came, when the calf suddenly cried out. "Mama! Mama!" Fixing her gaze towards where the calf was looking, Daring squinted in the bright sunlight and saw a figure of a camel topping a dune in the far distance. It seemed she saw them too and with a remarkably swift pace, the camel rushed over to them. She was so grateful at getting her lost calf back, the camel showed Daring where a nearby oasis was so she could drink her fill of water. After that, she guided Daring safely across the vast sea of sand back to land filled with grass and trees on the far side. Giving a farewell to her new friends, she once again set off on her journey. After many days and nights of travel, Daring Horizon finally arrived at something that dwarfed everything she had seen so far in both vastness and scale. Sinking her hooves into the sand, Daring stood on the shore of a great sea and looked out at the endless, rolling waves. It seemed that her journey had come to an end, for she saw no way for her to cross over such an expanse. Suddenly, she noticed a giant sea turtle that had been somehow rolled onto his back. With his great, flippered feet, he flailed helplessly in the air as crabs and gulls gathered around him to start to feast on his flesh. Alarmed at his plight, Daring rushed over and chased off the gathered scavengers. Turning her attention back to the sea turtle, she saw that he was massive, so Daring thought about what to do. She tried bucking the side of his shell, which only hurt her hooves. She then tried to push him down to the water, but only got her hooves to sink into the soft sand. Lastly she tried to lift him by stacking driftwood logs under the edge of his shell but all to no avail. What was she to do? Spotting a large clam shell sticking up in the serf, Daring had an idea. Taking the clam shell, she began to dig out one side of the sea turtle and pile the sand onto the other. It was exhausting work but over time she noticed that the sea turtle had shifted down into her hole. Working all through the night, she managed to shift the sea turtle all the way over to its side. Walking around to the hill she had built on the other side of the turtle, Daring reared her hind legs back and bucked into his shell as hard as she could, causing the sea turtle’s whole body to wobble in place for a moment before he slowly toppled over onto his belly. Once he was righted back into place, the sea turtle scooted himself back to the sea. Daring was happy that she had saved the beautiful creature from a grisly fate and watched him splash his flippers in joy. Stepping out into the surf, Daring called out to the jubilant sea turtle, "Please, I have come a long way to find the edge of the world. Would you please carry me upon your fine shell across the sea?" The sea turtle swam back to shore where he then allowed Daring to climb up onto his shell. Once she was in place, the sea turtle set off, and soon the land fell away behind them as they entered the open sea. Every day, for a full moon, the sea turtle would stop at an island to let her drink and eat before they would continue on. Gradually the water became more clear and warm as they traveled ever onward. Below them, Daring could make out the sandy bottom as well as all the sea life that lived there. One time, a herd of whales passed under her, and Daring had to resist the urge to dive in and swim with them. A curious little whale calf paused for a time next to them to look up at her, probably wondering why a pony was traveling on a sea turtle's shell. When another whale, probably its mother, called out to the calf, he shot off with a splash of his tail to rejoin her. A few days later, the sea bottom had climbed up so much, she could make out every detail on its pearly, white, sandy bottom. The sea turtle no longer stopped at any islands, for their were no more islands for him to stop at. At first, this alarmed Daring until she discovered that the seawater was no longer salty, but instead tasted sweet and fresh to her tongue, and for food, the sea turtle would dive down to the bottom to nab up sea grass for her to eat. One day, while sitting on the sea turtle's shell, Daring was eating her morning meal, she gazed down into the clear waters and saw something amazing! Grazing below her in the seagrass was a herd of what looked like ponies! They had fins and swam about the grasses as they grazed. There were stallions strutting their fins at some young sea-mares as they tried to impress them, while older mares with foals tucked up by their sides talked among themselves, likely about the day’s latest sea-gossip, while they nursed their foals. A few of these sea ponies noticed her looking down at them and an unheard alarm was raised. Within moments, they all vanished as they all quickly swam away. Daring was saddened to see them leave, and continued to search the waters to see if she could see more, but despite staring down into the water for the rest of the day, she never caught sight of any more undersea ponies. Eventually, the sea bottom rose up to just under the surface, and the giant sea turtle had to skim his shell along the sandy bottom to continue forward. Ahead of them, a shoreline appeared that stretched to either side all the way to either horizon. Coming to a stop, the sea turtle allowed Daring to hop off into the shallows to make her way up to the beach. The pure-white sand was soft under her hooves as she walked forward up onto the dry land. Behind her, the distant sun was just setting, casting her shadow far ahead into a rising moon that looked like it was close enough to reach out and touch. All around, stars glittered brightly in their multitudes as she stepped ever closer to the edge that was just ahead of her. A star suddenly shot by her as it streaked across the sky. The beauty that lay all about her took her breath away. Daring Horizon felt her heart hammering in her chest as she drew right up the the very edge of the world. She had made it. At last, she could look over and see what lay beyond her world to the place where stars were born. Taking a deep breath, Daring prepared herself to take the last step forward to look over the edge… and she found she didn't want to. The answer was there, a mere step away. All she had to do was step forward and look. Gazing out at the breathless beauty that lay about her, a passing comet tickled her nose with its tail. She didn't want to do it. She didn't want to know what lay beyond. She wanted to keep the mystery, and the magic alive in her heart. She had made it this far, and she had made many friends along the way, each a precious memory and experience that added to her life and enriched it even more. Taking one last breath, Daring Horizon turned and walked back to the shore, ready to find her next adventure. Sage Brush finished his story and looked around at all the wide eyed fillies and colts sitting around him. "That's it!? She just left!?" Journey Stomp exclaimed in outrage. "Why did she leave!? She was right there! All she had to do was look!" "Don't you get it! She did it so she wouldn't know!" Celestia explained with a sigh. Sometimes colts could be so thickheaded. This seemed to confuse Journey more. "But why wouldn't she want to know? That's why she traveled all the way there!" "Because, she wanted to keep one thing always a mystery," Strawberry said, "so there would always be something she didn't know." Journey shook his head. "That's just stupid. I would have looked." "Oh, really?" Bumblebee cut in. "Then how about you go to the edge of the world and do just that." Journey stood and confronted Bumblebee. "You know what, I'll do just that! Just you watch and see! I'll go and explore every mystery that is out there!" A flicker of light appeared on Journey's flank and a wandering trail of hoof prints appeared. Every pony gasped at the sudden appearance of his cutie mark. "Well," Sage said with a happy smile, "looks like we have ourselves an upcoming explorer, just like Daring Horizon!" All the fillies and colts rushed around Journey Stomp to congratulate him. ☽☽☽☽ Dusty Stride held his torch up and cast its light ahead. It had taken them many tries to finally come up with a way to carry fire with them to light their way through the dark. At first they tried to carry the fire on a sled but that soon ended in disaster when it quickly began to burn the sled. Next, they tried to drag it in a sled covered in stone but that was much too heavy and cumbersome, often times allowing the burning logs to tumble out onto the ground. They tried to just carry the burning branches along with them, but they failed to stay lit, and went out easily. It was a young stallion named Grass Stem who finally solved their problem. He took a long branch and wrapped the end in a thick coil of rope they had brought along. When lit, it proved to burn quite steadily and reliably, even in the wind. Resuming their journey, they made their way west, toward the mountains. At one point, they were startled by the sudden appearance of a manticore that roared at them before fleeing off into the night, apparently afraid of their torches. Taking warning from their encounter with the manticore, Dark arranged ponies into a more defensive formation with torch bearers set at the front and rear to give warning. Dusty was in the lead with Happy, who constantly scanned the ground for any tracks or signs of danger. Occasionally, Happy would point out some flattened piece of grass and tell him that a fox had stepped there, or point at a scratch mark in the dirt and say that it was made by a passing chimaera a few days before. Despite being right up front where it was most dangerous to be, Dusty continued to worry for Sky. He knew his worry for her was unfounded; she was right in the center of the entire party and for any creature to get at her they would have to get through twenty determined spear-wielding ponies and a fearless wolf-slayer colt first. Using the constellations in the sky, Dark and Happy kept track of the day and had them rest and eat at what they determined to be noon. Some of the ponies used their rest time to work on making more torches, they didn't want to use up all the rope they had, so they tried wrapping branches with various other things like tightly bound dry grass, which seemed to work almost as well as the rope. Once again, Dusty was in the lead as they traveled westward, crossing over creeks and moving through thick forests of giant pines. Keeping his torch held high, Dusty moved through a clearing when Happy suddenly threw his hoof over and stopped Dusty in his tracks. "What's?..." "Shh!..." Happy held his hoof up. His eyes scanning the ground with alarm. "Stay as quiet as you can and back yer rump up." he said in a hushed voice. Dusty froze, not sure what had Happy so worried. Looking around at the ground, all Dusty saw was a series of small holes that were probably made by gophers. Doing as Happy wanted, Dusty began to back away. Suddenly one of his hind hooves sank into the ground as it dropped into some kind of underground chamber. He felt things squirming against his leg. Living things, and a lot of them! With a startled oath, Dusty yanked his hoof back up out of the hole and quickly shuffled away as he heard a strange hissing sounds coming from the holes. Happy rushed over and examined his leg. "Did'ja get bit!? Le’me see." Dusty shook his head. "No, I don't think so. What did I step in?" "Good, we need ta' go! Now!" Happy exclaimed, turning to the ponies behind them, "turn back, we need ta’ get out of here fast!" "You all heard him! Move!" Dark exclaimed. Shadowed things started to shoot up out of the ground around them. "Watch yer’selves!" Happy exclaimed, "they're come’n out!" "What!? What are they!?" Dark asked, swinging his head about trying to catch sight of what was flying about them. "The young lad stepp'd into a Winged Serpents nest!" Happy shouted back. Dusty looked over when he saw something flapping by and caught sight of what looked like a snake with bat wings! Ponies were starting to panic when they saw that they were already surrounded by a swarm of angry looking winged vipers. "Gather together and light more torches!" Dark shouted. "Don't let any of them bite you!" Seeing a flying serpent swoop down at him, Dusty waved his torch at it, causing It to let out a high pitched squeal when its wing got singed by the flames and it tumbled to the ground. Torches were quickly passed around and lit, casting a wide light to the surrounding area. It became clear how much danger they were in. The sky around them was filled with angry, flying snakes! Unlike the other creatures they came across, the winged serpents were apparently unafraid of their torches, in fact they seemed attracted to them, they constantly dove down to strike at them. Dusty noticed this after the second time he scorched a serpent's wings. "The fire! I think it's attracting them!" Dusty exclaimed, waving his torch at another passing viper, "just like moths!" "We can't stay here!" Happy shouted. "We haf'ta move!" "Dusty, Mustard, and Morning!" Dark shouted, whacking a viper from the air with his spear haft. "Go and drag that old log onto that slab of rock over there and light it on fire! Hopefully it will draw them away and allow us to make our escape!" Dusty shot a quick look over to Sky and met her eyes. He could see that she was terrified as they locked gazes. Hoping that this won't be the last time he ever looked upon her beautiful face, Dusty gritted his teeth and ran out with Mustard Seed and Morning Sky. Crossing through the clearing, Dusty stumbled a few times as the numerous holes that dotted the ground caught at his hooves. Reaching the fallen log, Dusty and Mustard set their shoulders to a pair of branches that stuck up from it and pushed together as Morning stood over them, waving her torch around to distract the serpents. Heaving themselves forward, the two stallions shoved the old fallen tree onto a barren slab of rock. Once it was in place, Morning held her torch to the wood, quickly igniting it. As the tree burned brightly, the surrounding area was suddenly swarmed by hissing vipers. Looking around, Dusty saw that the only way out would be through the swarm! "We'll need to leave our torches and rush through them!" Dusty shouted to the pair with him. "Run through them!? There is no way I'm doing that!" Mustard said, shaking his head. "Mustard, you are such a foal!" Morning snapped. "They’re just snakes with wings." Mustard glared at the mare. "You know how much I hate snakes! Just the thought of one of those slimy things touching me..." A serpent with scorched wings suddenly bounced off of Mustard's side, falling to the ground before the stallion. Mustard dropped his torch and backed away from the dying viper with a very un-stallionlike squeal. Around them, more vipers were diving down to strike at the flames, only to scorch their wings and tumble out of the air. Dusty felt one bounce off the side of his neck and land next to him, with a quick stomp of his hoof, Dusty dispatched the creature before it could strike his leg. Morning Sky did the same with another that was trying to slither up to her with ruined wings. Mustard danced in place as he looked about in terror. When another viper, its wings fully seared off flopped down right onto Mustard Seed's back, the stallion suddenly let out a shrill scream and dashed off in a blind panic into the darkness, alone. "Mustard! You idiot! You're going the wrong way!" Morning shouted at the panicked stallion as she tossed her torch down and rushed after him. Dropping his torch onto the burning log, Dusty lowered his head and ran. Dashing through the dark, Dusty could hear the flapping of wings all around him, and once, he felt something brush the tip of his ear. Ahead he could see the distant torchlight from the rest of the party as they made their escape. It appeared that Dark's plan to lure the swarm away had mostly worked, now there were only a few that followed along with them. Occasionally, Dusty would see a torch wave about as it fended off an occasional attack. Rushing in from the dark, Dusty looked over the group to check on Sky, and was relieved to see that she was safe. Just next to her, Dusty noticed that his mother was looking back at him with obvious relief. "Where's Mustard and Morning?" Dark asked, seeing him coming in alone. "Mustard ah... got confused and ran off in the wrong direction," Dusty explained, keeping the fact he had run off because he had been scared to himself. "Morning went after him." "Well, we'll just go look for them later. Look out!" With a swing of his spear shaft, Dark knocked a winged serpent away from sinking his fangs into Dusty's exposed neck. The serpent tumbled through the air until it landed onto Sky's back, right between her wings. With a cry of alarm, Dusty lunged forwards. It was like things had slowed down for Dusty as he tried to rush to Sky. The serpent on her back collected itself and coiled itself back to strike out at her exposed withers. He was too far! He wasn’t going to make it! The winged serpent sprung forward and opened it's mouth wide and sank its fangs into the fetlock of a pony leg that had suddenly cut across its path. With the serpent attached to her leg, Pebble Stream swiped the serpent off Sky's back and flung it down to the ground. "YOU WILL NOT HARM MY FILLY, YOU DIRT EATING VERMIN!" With a quick and vicious stomp of her hoof, Pebble killed the snake and looked back up to Dusty. "I… I'm sorry. I've been such a fool. I was blind to the fact that you were becoming a stallion, I just... want you to forgive me..." Dusty watched as his mother crumpled to the ground. "Mother!"
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