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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26. Chapter 26

"Mother!" Dusty exclaimed with panic, rushing over to her collapsed body.

With his heart hammering in his chest, Dusty carefully rolled his mother's limp body over. Her eyes were shut. Dusty quickly pressed his ear against her chest to listen to whether or not she still lived.

Happy stepped over to the dead viper and nudged it with his hoof. "The beastie was one of the wee ones. She may still have'ah chance. It’s venom isn’t as strong as the larger ones, yet"

Dusty shot a look up, his eyes wet with tears. "Will she live?"

"Won't know 'til we get out of here," Happy replied, giving his head a shake. "Just pick her up and take her along. We still be in danger."

"He's right!" Dark exclaimed, swinging his spear haft at another passing viper. "Pick her up and lets go."

Sky helped him shift his mother onto his back. Once she was in place, they all moved off at a hurried pace. It was awkward carrying his unconscious mother, but Sky was there next to him to always help and shift his mother back into place whenever she started to slip off.

Dropping down into a small valley, they crossed another creek, and entered a small glen. Calling a halt, Dark set ponies out as guards before moving through the party to check on the rest. Other than some cuts and bruises, the only serious condition was Dusty's mother. Her breathing was so shallow it was hard for Dusty to make out.

Feeling Sky's comforting touch, Dusty sat by his mother's side and watched over her. He didn't know what to do. Happy had said that there was a chance, but failed to say how much of a chance. He felt horrible for how things had become between him and his mother. He knew that the confrontation between them had been unavoidable and necessary, but he wished that it hadn't had come to something so drastic and painful.

The sound of hoofsteps drew Dusty's attention and he was relieved to see Happy walking over to him with Dark.

"How is she doin’, lad?" Happy asked.

Dusty glanced down at his mother. "Her breathing is so shallow, it's sometimes hard to... tell if she's still alive," Dusty had trouble finishing his sentence. He never thought he would face a moment when she might be gone.

Bending down, Happy used the edge of his hoof to pull back Pebble's eye lid to peer into them. Letting out a thoughtful hum, he then checked her tongue before laying his ear against her chest to listen.

"Your mother is lucky that Happy is here," Dark said to Dusty. "When it comes to snake bites, he's probably the pony with the most experience with them."

"Yeah, Papa said that Happy must have been bitten by every snake there is," Ash added, walking over to join them.

Happy sat up from examining Pebble. "Tis' true. Ah've nev'r met ah snake who didn't like ah little nibble'n of me every once n'ah while."

"You've been bitten before?" Sky asked, with a surprised look. "How did you survive?"

Happy looked at Dusty and Sky. "There's an old trick my family learned. There's ah bush with dark green leaves with white undersides called Worm’s Tongue. Its leaves are incredibly poisonous, but if you dig out its roots and drink its sap. It'll cure most snake bites."

"Most?" Dusty asked.

"T’won't do noth'n with Basilisk bites, and other magical venoms,” Happy said, standing back up. "There should be ah' few Worm’s Tongue around here so I'll go out and find some. Perhaps find those two we lost as well."

"I know of this bush as well, so I'll gather some ponies together and we'll search for it too," Dark said.

Dusty quickly stood. "I want to come, too!"

Dark shook his head. "I'm sorry, Dusty. I know how much you would like to help, but you would be most useful right now if you stayed with your mother and watched over her." He set a hoof onto Dusty's shoulder. "She needs all the help she can get right now, and having her son by her side will do wonders for her."

"What about me? I remember that bush when you showed it to me, Papa!" Ash called out. "I can help look!"

"No. I need you to stay here and tend the fire. Keep it well lit so we can find our way back. Okay?" Dark looked down at the colt.

Ash furled his brows with a stubborn look.

"Don't argue with me on this," Dark warned the colt, "I'm giving you an order. I need you here to watch over things while I'm gone."

Ash let out a frustrated breath, then sat his rump down and nodded.

"Good." Dark gave Ash a pat to his shoulder, before turning to Happy. "I'm going to take a few spears with me and go south to look."

"And I'll be head'n north." Happy agreed, before heading off with Dark.

Dusty sat back down next to his mother. Sky quickly moved over next to him to drape a comforting wing over his back. He felt so frustrated that he wasn't being allowed to help. She needed him and he was doing nothing but sit by her side, being useless.

He didn't know how long he sat there, lost in his misery, but he was surprised to notice a small campfire had been set up nearby. Feeling its warmth, Dusty tried to take solace in it. Over the last few moons, Dusty had started to understand his mother a bit more. Within the body of the mare pressed up against his side, was a little pony they had created together. His foal wasn't even born yet, and he knew he would do anything to protect and care for it, just as his mother had done for him.

He couldn't stand just waiting here any longer. Turning, he nuzzled Sky's cheek and kissed her before standing up. "Watch over her for me."

As he started to walked away, Sky called out to him. "Be careful and come back safe. I love you."

Pausing a moment he looked back, his eyes traveled over her body. Her pregnancy wasn't showing yet but he could definitely feel something there when he caresses her belly. She, and what she had growing in her was his everything, just as he was for his mother. "I'll be back. Don't worry. I love you too."

He found Ash teaching some ponies how to properly strike a sparker stone when starting a fire. Pulling him away, Dusty took him a little ways off so he could talk to him privately.

"Ash. You said you knew what this bush looked like." Dusty said, "please, describe it to me."

"You want to go out and look for it yourself, don't you?" Ash asked, raising an eyebrow to the young stallion.

Dusty knew it would be hopeless to try and hide this fact so he nodded to the colt. "Yes. Will you tell me what it looks like?"

"No," Ash answered answered him giving his head a shake. "But I’ll show it to you when we find it."

Dusty blinked down at the colt in surprise. "But your papa told you to stay here at camp, and tend the fires."

"Your mother's life is in danger. I think that this is more important than tossing logs on the fire that any of the other ponies can do." Ash answered. Walking over to a pack, Ash took a spear and tossed it over to Dusty, before taking out one of the unused torches. Lighting it in a nearby fire, Ash returned to Dusty and stood ready.

Since Dark was searching south, and Happy was to the north, Dusty and Ash went westward, with Ash leading the way with his torch held up. Bush to bush, Ash would pause and look it over before quickly moving off to the next, muttering that the leaves looked wrong or it shouldn't have flowers.

Dusty followed after the colt, holding the spear ready for anything they may come across. For a full hoof length, the constellations moved across the sky during their search. Dusty was beginning to fear that they wouldn’t find one before it was too late, when Ash suddenly cried out in excitement as he stood before a bush with wide, dark green leaves with white undersides.

Sticking their nearly spent torch, butt first into the ground, Ash began to quickly dig at the base of the bush with his hooves. Dusty moved in and helped, and together they managed to swiftly clear out a section of the roots. Using the edge of the spear, Dusty cut a length of its root off. With it oozing green sap, they took their prize and started back toward their camp.

They had barely gone a few dozen steps when their torch sputtered out and died.

"What do we do?" Dusty asked, looking down at the smoldering torch.

Ash tossed the torch down and kicked dirt over the smoldering end. "We go on without it," he said, taking the spear.

Dusty couldn't believe how calm the colt was. They were out in the wild, alone, without a torch and with only one spear between them, and the colt sounded like there was nothing to worry about. Following after the colt as they moved through the dark forest, Dusty felt stupid for not keeping track of how far they had traveled from the camp.

Breaking from the trees, they began to cross over a clearing when a very large shadow started to move toward them from the other side. Through the dim light of the stars, Dusty could make out that it was a manticore!

"Run!" Dusty shouted. Reaching back, he nabbed the root off his back into his mouth and bolted into the trees. He could hear the manticore crashing through bushes behind them as they both dashed as fast as they could through the trees. Dodging around the branches as best he could, Dusty risked a quick glance back and was terrified to see that the manticore was still on their tail, and closing on them quickly!

Looking forward again, Dusty suddenly saw a low branch that he had no time to avoid! With a painful impact, his shoulder smacked into the branch and knocked him off to the side. The root falling from his mouth. With a grunt of pain, Dusty staggered to a halt and looked back to the root he had dropped. Behind the root, he saw the shadowed form of the manticore lunging across the ground at him! There was no time to run! It was only a few paces away! He was going to be eaten by a manticore! Closing his eyes to the inevitable, Dusty thought of Sky and their foal.  

As he waited for the end, the patter of hooves suddenly galloped by him! Opening his eyes, he couldn't believe what he saw! Ash was running right towards the manticore, with the spear held in his mouth! What was that fool colt doing!? He was going to get swallowed whole!

As Ash closed on the beast, Dusty noticed a strange soft glow suddenly surrounding the colt. Blinking his eyes in disbelief, he watched as Ash bound up into the air with a great leap. With a twist of his body, he brought the spear shaft down onto the manticore's head with a shattering crack! The blow drove the manticore's head down into the ground!

Lifting his head up, the manticore spat out dirt as he shook his head. Fixing his enraged gaze onto the tiny colt, the great cat roared right into Ash's face. The colt stood unshaken by the beasts rage. Dusty didn't know what he was watching, he had never seen such bravery! His own legs were stuck in place like he was standing knee deep in mud.

Ash spat the broken spear shaft out of his mouth and met the cat's gaze with unflinching eyes. "I am Ash Cloud, slayer of wolves. I do not fear you!" The soft glow that had enveloped his body grew a little stronger. The manticore suddenly flinched back from the colts hard gaze, finding he was unable to meet his eyes. "There is a mare back at our camp who needs our help." With a steady step, Ash began walking toward the manticore, who backed away from the colt’s approach. "I warn you, beast. I will not allow you to stop us from helping her." Ash continued to advance, forcing the manticore to continue to back away. "Right now, you are standing in my way. If you value your life, be somewhere else," he stated with an authoritative tone that expected to be obeyed.

Dusty felt a shiver run down his spine from the pure menace he heard in the colt’s voice. The manticore looked terrified of Ash. His eyes were now downcast and submissive to the colt. Finally, the manticore made his decision and he turned and fled, his scorpion tail tucked down between his legs as he vanished back into the woods.

The strange glow that surrounded the colt suddenly faded away. Rushing over to him, Dusty gaped down at the colt. "How...!? How did you do that!?"

Ash suddenly wobbled on his hooves, and had to catch himself. His breath was now coming in great heaves as his legs shook under him. "I... don't know. I saw that you were in danger, and... I just acted. I felt strange, all warm and tingling all over, and when I was standing before the manticore, he just looked so... tiny and... weak."

Normally, he would have thought that the colt had hit his head on a rock or something for thinking that a manticore was somehow tiny and weak, but after what he had just witnessed, he didn't know what to think. When he saw the colt standing before the manticore, it truly did seem like for a moment, he was towering over the beast.

 

 

 

****

 

 

 

Mustard wanted to run head first into a tree. He felt so stupid.

"Hey, stupid! There's a stick here that looks just like a snake. Do you want to run away from that too?" Morning Sky broke down and started laughing again.

Mustard sighed and hung his head down lower. It didn't help that she was here to keep reminding him how stupid he was. He knew that well enough already.

When he had finally panicked and ran, he didn't know how far he had gone until Morning tackled him to the ground. She then thoughtfully sat on him until he regained his senses.

"If I need your help with feeling more miserable, I'll let you know. Otherwise, just shut it!" Mustard snapped at the laughing mare.

Sitting up, Mustard looked around. It looked like they were next to some kind of rock outcropping. Standing, he brushed the grass off his coat. "So. Which way do we go to get back to the party?"

"Last I saw, they were heading west, so they should be somewhere over there." Morning vaguely waved her hoof off in the direction of the stone outcropping.

The stone outcropping looked pretty extensive, but luckily, Mustard saw what looked like a gap that ran through it. "Fine. Let's get going." Without looking to see if Morning was following behind him, Mustard began walking toward the gap.

Unfortunately, it wasn't long until he noticed that Morning was indeed following along with him. She kept a lively step with him, as she happily hummed to herself.

Mustard tried to ignore her as he focused on his misery. Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes with wings? He had always had a problem with snakes. The thought of one touching him sent shivers down his spine. When the flying serpents erupted out of their burrows, Mustard had managed to keep his panic under control. Only when they were cut off by the swarm, and they were falling down all around them did he begin to lose what control he had, until that one bounced off his side and landed right before him. That was his breaking point. He needed to get out of there, and he ran.

Just as they came to the gap between the stone outcropping, the two ponies stopped by a large pool of water. Standing of a shelf of rock, Mustard looked out and saw that they would have to cross the pool to get through the gap.

"Mustard?"

The orange stallion let out a sigh. "Yeah? What is it?"

"Why have you never taken a mate?"

Mustard shot a startled look to Morning. "Who told you that!?"

Morning sat her rump down and gave him an amused look. "Well you see, Dandelion Fluff and I were talking and it just kind of came up."

Letting out a groan, Mustard rubbed his face with his hoof. "Of course my sister would yab about that. She always had trouble keeping things to herself."

Seeing that he wasn't going to answer her, Morning reached out and nudged his shoulder. "Well? Why haven’t you found a mate, huh? The only reason you were able to stay with the herd during the split was because your sister went out and claimed you. And that was only because your mother told her to do it." She nudged him again. "Well?"

"No."

"Oh come on," Morning said, nudging him again. "You can tell me."

"No."

"Why not!?" Morning asked. "Why won't you tell me? Is it embarrassing or something?"

"No, I just don't want to talk about it!" Mustard knew he made a mistake when he answered her so quickly. Morning was bound to be even more curious.

"It is something embarrassing!" She exclaimed with a smile, "isn't it?"

"No!" Mustard shouted before turning his back. "Now stop asking and leave me alone!"

"Tell me!"

"No!"

"Tell me!"

"No!"

"Fine!" Morning said with a huff. "I'll just have to go ask your sister then. I'm sure she would be happy to tell me."

"Don't bother. She doesn't know," Mustard said with a smirk.

"Then tell me."

"No."

Morning suddenly let out a frustrated breath, then she tried something she never tried before. "Please?" she asked, blinking her large, soft brown eyes at him.

She was not going to let this go. Mustard knew she would keep at it for days. On and on she would pester him until she got her answer. Letting out a long breath, he looked over at Morning. "Fine, I'll tell. But only if you promise to never tell another pony. Ever."

Morning nodded. "I promise."

He couldn't believe he was going to tell her his biggest secret. The one thing that no other pony knew. "It's... it's because..." Mustard swallowed. "It's because I can't ... get it to work."

Morning looked confused at his answer. "Can't get it to work? Can't get what to work?"

Mustard felt his face heating up with embarrassment. "My... stallionhood. I can't get my stallionhood to work! Alright? You happy now?"

Morning's eyes traveled down to look at his sheathed stallionhood. Her eyes grew wider. "You mean!?"

"Yes!" Mustard exclaimed in frustration. "No matter how excited I get with a mare, it remains limp and useless!"

"Nothing gets you up, huh?" The dark blue mare suddenly stood and turned herself away. Flipping her tail up, she waved her marehood at him. "You mean this does nothing for you?"

Mustard gaped at the sight of her exposed marehood as she practically waved it into his face. His heart began to race as he fought the urge to reach his muzzle out to sniff at her soft pink slit and lick at its sweet juices. Giving his head a shake to clear it, Mustard reached out and shoved Morning’s rump to the side.

"Of course that does something to me you idiot! I'm not blind!" Mustard shouted. "The problem is I can't do anything about it!"

Morning turned and considered him. "I imagine that can be very frustrating."

Closing his eyes, Mustard shook his head with a sigh. "Oh, you have no idea."

Morning sat quietly for a moment as she seemed lost in thought, then smiled and flipped herself back around and wiggled her rump back at him. "Maybe you just haven't tried hard enough! How about you hop on up, and give me a good dry humping. Perhaps feeling a mare under you is all you really need!"

Mustard was feeling irritated with her again. She just didn't seem to get it! His stallionhood just didn't work!

"Would you stop that!? It's not helping!" He shoved her rump away a little harder than he was meaning to. With a startled squawk, Morning's hind hooves suddenly slipped over the ledge that overhung the pool.

Seeing her going over, Mustard reacted quickly and reached out to wrap his hooves around her neck. Holding onto her as hard as he could, Mustard felt his hooves skid along the stone slab as he was dragged to the edge. Morning slipped off, taking Mustard with her. They both plunged down into the dark water.

Mustard was surprised. He had expected the water to feel cold, but instead he felt all warm over. Opening his eyes, he noticed that he was surrounded by a strange light. He didn't know what was happening and he desperately started to search around, trying to find the surface.. The water was growing very hot around him, and his body tingled all over.

There was a story he had heard once. Back when the herd was crossing a stream, a stallion had suddenly cried out and disappeared under the water. When other ponies rushed over a few moments later, all they found of him was some tattered bones and some fat sharp toothed fish. That was what was happening to him right now! He was being eaten alive! All the sharp stinging pain all over his body was just them stripping his flesh from his bones! In a few moments, there would be nothing left of him!

Suddenly, stinging feeling vanished as the light that was around him faded away. He wasn’t being eaten alive? Mustard was now able to make out the starlight through the pool’s surface. Kicking his hooves, Mustard swam up and broke the surface to gasp for breath. Nearby, he heard Morning breach the surface.

"You okay?" he asked, shouting over to Morning. Strange. Why did his voice sound wrong?

"Yeah... no thanks to you," Morning answered sullenly.

At least, Mustard thought it was Morning. Her voice also sounded wrong. It was deeper than it should have been. Mustard figured that it was probably just water that had gotten in his ears, and it was making him hear things all funny.

"I tried to save you, you know," Mustard said, swimming for the shore.

"Yeah, and you failed at it," Morning replied. "I can't believe you pushed me in." Mustard noticed that she seemed a bit hurt about it.

"I didn't mean to," Mustard snapped back. "You shouldn't have been waving your rump in my face."

"Most stallions would have liked it and accepted the offer, but no! You just had to push me away," she said angrily.

He considered turning around and holding her underwater until she stopped kicking. It would be easy. No pony would know. It would just be a happy accident as far as they were concerned.

Feeling the bottom under his hooves, Mustard walked out onto the shore and sat down to catch his breath. Behind him, he could hear Morning doing the same as she flopped down nearby.

"Look, I'm sorry for pushing you in." Mustard confessed truthfully.

Morning let out a sigh. "No. Don't be. I shouldn't have been teasing you like that."

Glancing over to Morning Sky, Mustard was surprised to see a stallion looking back at him.

Leaping up in surprise, Mustard turned and charged the strange stallion, tackling him to the ground. "Who are you!? Where is Morning!?"

"What are you talking about!? I am Morning," the stallion replied, before forcing Mustard over and pinning him to the ground. "Who are you? And what did you do to Mustard!?"

"I am Mustard!" Mustard shouted as he struggled to push the stallion off. Why did he feel so weak?

The stallion stared down at him, his eyes going wide. "What did you say your name was!?"

"Mustard! My name is Mustard Seed! Now get off!" Mustard was relieved to feel the stallion climb off of him.

The stallion stepped back a few steps before flopping his rump down. His face looked confused and stunned by something. "This is impossible," he muttered out loud.

"What are you going on about!?" Mustard growled, climbing back up onto his hooves. "Where's Morning? What have you done with her?"

The stallion blinked up and met Mustard's gaze. "I’m Morning Sky."

Mustard would have laughed, but he was too concerned for Morning. "Do I look that stupid!? Morning's a mare! You're a stallion! Try again."

The stallion stood and planted a hoof to his chest. "Look at me, you idiot! It's me! Morning! The pool did something to us! I've turned into a stallion and you,” he pointed a hoof at him, “are a mare!"

Mustard was about to scoff at the stallion, but suddenly he realized what it was that seemed wrong about his voice. It was higher pitched and softer than it should be. Sounding like that of a mare's voice.

It was impossible! Licking his lips, Mustard slowly bent his head down and looked back under himself. There, where his sheathed stallionhood should have been, two soft looking mounds now sat in its place. Blinking his eyes in disbelief, Mustard reached his hoof around to feel for his stones, and found nothing there but a squishy void.

Looking back up, Mustard met the stallion's eyes and realized that they were indeed Morning's, and screamed.

 
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