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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5. Chapter 5

Author's Note:

Sorry, but this a heavy slice of life chapter, so no clop or kicking of stallions egos. But there is always the next chapter.

I believe I have a cutie mark for typos. Find them and you may earn your cutie mark too.

Inspiring artist are welcome. If any pony is inspired to do any art of this story. I will be happy to post it with their name credited.

When she decided to steal the herd, Meadowlark had no idea it would be so much work!

It's only been a few days since the start of the new herd, and ever since then, she had been dealing with every relational conflict that kept cropping up. Who would have thought that giving mares the choice in choosing who her mate was, would cause so many problems! And now it was her job to sort it all out!

With the foal kicking her all night, and now dealing with all the mares that were coming to her for their problems. Meadowlark found herself completely exhausted, with throbbing pain shooting through her back and pelvis to add to her misery.

As Meadowlark slowly moved her bulky frame down to the stream to relax, a sudden thundering tan blur shot past her. "Leave me alone!" Strongbuck shouted back, his face panicked.

Suddenly two more blurs shot past. "Come on! Just one little tickle!" Dove Song shouted out to him.

"Yeah, you'll like it. We promise!" Bell Flower added, as they both chased after the young stallion.

Meadowlark paused for a moment then shook her head as she let out a sigh. The colt was doomed, it was only a matter of when. Putting the matter out of her mind, Meadowlark continued on to the stream, where several other very pregnant mares were already drifting around in the deeper water. Stepping down to the stream edge, Meadowlark slowly slipped into the chilly water, and gave a slight whuff when her foal suddenly jerked in her belly, and angrily kicked her in her lung, when she submerged into the water.

"Ow, that one hurt!" Meadowlark exclaimed.

Moving in deeper, Meadowlark let out a relieved sigh as she felt her weight lift of her hooves.

"Feels good, having the weight off your hooves, doesn't it, Mother?" A older mare said from nearby.

Ever since the morning she formed the new herd, many of the mares, and even some of the stallions, started calling her Mother. She knew they were doing it out of respect, but it was still strange having ponies twice or even four times her age calling her Mother.

Letting out a sigh, Meadowlark nodded. "It definitely does." She said. "I can't wait to get this foal out of me!"

"Oh I know what you mean." The older mare said with a knowing nod. "I have two of them in me, and they take turns between who's sleeping and who's kicking me." Her face flinched, as one of her foals made her point. "I'm extremely glad you had us pregnant mares stay up in the cave with the foals. I can't imagine what it must have been like standing out in that field all morning!"

"That was not the most pleasant time I ever had." Meadowlark said. "My back hurt so bad after, I had Dark rub it until he become frisky, and we... moved on to other things." She finished, with a little smile.

"But still, it must have felt great seeing Thunder Step put into his place!" A second mare, who's name Meadowlark remembered as Misty Valley said, moving closer.

"I've never seen him look so angry before." Meadowlark said with a giggle. "He stomped his hooves so hard when he left, it looked like he was trying to crack rocks.

"And a good riddance to that one." The older mare said, flicking her head to the side. "Why, I remember when he was a colt, he used to pick on my little Birch Bark all the time."

"Birch Bark? You're Birch Bark's mother?" Meadowlark asked in surprise.

The older mare's ears perked up. "Oh, I'm sorry, I never introduced myself. I'm Melodious Summer. Mate to Sage Brush."

Meadowlark suddenly had a frightening thought. "Oh! You were in the cave! What happened to Sage Brush.!? Please tell me he didn't..."

Melodious Summer smiled and shook her head. "Oh no, he's still with us. When you told us what you were planning. All of us who were staying in the cave talked with our sister mates, and we all chose mares to go forward and collect our mates back into the herd. At least the mates worth keeping.

"Oh, that's good." Meadowlark said with a relieved sigh. "Things happened so fast, I worry that I might have made a mistake."

"Oh, don't worry about that, dear." Melodious Summer said dismissively. "Sage Brush knew all the stallions, and he said that what was left with Thunder Step was nothing but a bunch of trouble makers and high hoof-steppers, hardly worth their seed."

Meadowlark felt better. That was one less thing to worry about. "That's a relief. Now I just need to deal with all the new problems caused from the intermixing of the herd groups. Stallions are suddenly being thrown into situations they never prepared themselves for, with some of the stallions handling it much better than others. And for some reason, mares are getting into jealous fights over stallions now!" Meadowlark exclaimed with a irritated shake of her head. "And this doesn't even get into the problem of keeping track of what foal got sired by what stallion, to prevent inbreeding, which brings me to the next problem of how five mares unknowingly joined a herd group with their own brothers, and one with their father." Meadowlark finished, with a sigh.

"My, that is a lot to have on your back. Especially for a mare as young as you." Melodious Summer said, nodding her head. She then moved closer and gave Meadowlark a friendly nudge. "Here's some advice from a mare that has seen a few things. Don't worry so much about all that stuff, almost everything you just said will solve itself in time."

Meadowlark looked over at the older mare. "Really?"

"Sure. There's nothing to worry about." Melodious Summer said calmly with a smile. " Everypony just needs time to settle down and work themselves out, that's all." She assured Meadowlark. "Now, the last problem you had, I can help you out with. I've been around a while, and I know every foal, and who their dam and sire is, all the way back to when I had my first heat."

"You can do that!?" Meadowlark asked, surprised anypony knew that much about all the births that happened over the years.

"It would be easy and my pleasure!" Melodious Summer said with a happy smile. "I've always enjoyed spending my days talking with mares about their foals. I even remember talking with your mother back when you were just a day old, and you still had that new foal smell about you." She said with a happy smile. "My, you were such an adorable little thing, and I knew, the very moment when I looked into your big green eyes, that there was something special about you. And I was right! You and that colt of yours, Dark, are going to change things! You two are going to bring us into a new future, and I want to help out however I can, and if what I love to do, can help you, then I'll be overjoyed to give you whatever assistance I can!" She said excitedly.

Suddenly there was a flicker of light just under the water, but neither of them noticed, as their attention was drawn to the shore.

"Mother!?" The mare called out to Meadowlark, with several other mares by her side. "We're sorry to bother you, but there's something we need your help with. If that's alright?" The mare asked nervously.

Kicking herself along the bottom, Meadowlark drew closer to the shore. "What is it you need help with?"

The mare glanced to the others as she appeared hesitant to say. "Our stallion, has a little problem..."

Meadowlark lifted her eyebrow. There were many stallions that had problems, what could be so bad that they would come to her for help? "If it's because of his smell, then you're just going to have to get used to it. All stallions smell like that."

The mare shook her head. "No. no. It's nothing like that. It's just that he's..."

"He's afraid of foals!" The second mare cut in and finished in a rush.

Meadowlark blinked at the mares for a moment before looking over at Melodious Summer, who looked back at her with the same dumbfounded look. "He's afraid...!?

"Of foals. Yes." The third mare added. "When we brought our foals to meet him, he sort of froze up and well... fainted."

"When he came to, my little filly went up to him to see if he was alright, and he just... eeped and fainted again." The first mare explained.

"Oh my... I think you're going to need some help with this one." Melodious Summer said, moving herself towards the shore.

Meadowlark followed after her, and watched as the older mare laboriously lumbered out of the stream ahead of her. Meadowlark couldn't believe how large Melodious's belly was! It hung halfway to the ground!

Lifting herself out of the stream, Meadowlark gave her head a shake to clear it of water. As she started forward to follow Melodious to the waiting mares, something suddenly caught her eye.

"Melodious, I didn't know you had a cutie mark!" Meadowlark said in surprise. She thought the only other ponies with cutie marks was a stallion with hoof prints on his flank because he like to run, and the old nag, who had a purple flower on her flank from the herbs she studied wherever they went.

"A what?" Melodious Summer asked turning to look back at her with a confused look.

"A cutie mark..." Meadowlark suddenly realized she was using the name her daughter came up with. "Oh, I mean a talent mark." She corrected.

"A talent mark? I don't have a talent mark." Melodious said with a shake of her head.

Meadowlarks heart jumped a beat. Could things be changing this quickly!? Gesturing with her head, Meadowlark smiled. "You do now."

"What!? You're kidding!" Melodious bent herself around to look, but struggled to see around her belly. "I can't see it. What does it look like?"

Stepping closer, Meadowlark examined Melodious's new cutie mark. "It looks like a apple tree, with all the apples looking like little foals."

Tears started to fall from Melodious eyes as she wiped at them with her hoof. "I can't believe this happened. After all these years, I finally get a... what was the name you used? A cutie mark?" She asked. "I like that name. It sounds cute."

"My daughter came up with it." Meadowlark said with a smile.

"That's a adorably creative little filly you have there, to come up with that." Melodious said, with a happy sigh. "I can't believe I have a cutie mark." She said in disbelief, before giving her head a shake, and starting forward towards the waiting mares. "Well, despite how much I want to take my flank over to Sage Brush, and rub my cutie mark in his face. I believe we have a minor stallion issue to look into first." Melodious said with a lighter spring in her steps.

Meadowlark gave her sore hooves a weary shake, before she followed after the larger mare, at a slightly slower pace. Despite all her worries, her heart now felt light and cheerful. She had just witnessed a pony discover their special talent, and she now had a yearning to see more ponies discover who they are. Things are going to change. Things have already changed. And she was going to make sure that things continue to change! For her foals, and for all the foals, she promised to make a future for them all!

Now, she just has to figure out what to do about a stallion who was afraid of little foals, and she had no idea where to even start!

 

****

 

With a slumbering Celestia draped over his back, Dark headed down to see Brightstar, who had been pestering Dark incessantly for the last couple of days, that he needed to come see something.

Next to him, Ash trotted along as he kept up with Dark's longer stride, showing a greater stamina than Dark's daughter, who had finally given in and toppled over in exhaustion.  Flicking his ear back, Dark listened to Celestia softly snoring breath, as her face was pressed up against the side of his neck. Dark smiled as he felt her drool soaking into his coat.

During the morning and early afternoon, Dark, had been meeting with many of the stallions and a sizable amount of mares, to arrange for guard duties. As well as walking to several spots with Birch Bark and Hoof Strike to scout out good locations for guard posts. Many of the ponies were starting to get worried, when word started to get about that some ponies were seeing things moving around in the night.

The day before, Dark and Birch Bark walked the perimeter of their settlement and confirmed that there were wolf tracks all around. The wolves were out there, somewhere, but they were staying back and waiting. Soon it would be foaling time, when there was going to be many new and easy prey for them to grab, and Dark wanted to be ready. He didn't want a single foal taken this year.

"Papa?" Ash called up to him.

"Yes?" Dark asked, looking down at the colt.

"Would... would you help me make... a spear?" The colt asked hesitantly, giving Dark hopeful glances.

"A spear? What would you do with a spear?" Dark asked, pausing to consider the colt.

Ash kicked his hoof at the ground for a moment, before he answered. "I ah... want to use it to protect mama, and Celestia,... and the coming little foal. I want to use my spear to protect them all, because... because... I love them all!" Ash looked like he was about to cry as he met Dark's eyes. "And I love you too, papa. And I want to be just like you!"

Dark's heart swelled, and he had to fight to hold back the tears that threatened to fill his eyes. Why did Ash have to be so adorable. Letting out a sigh, Dark smiled down at the colt, as he placed his hoof onto the colts little shoulder."I would be happy to help you make your spear." Ash's face suddenly broke out in a smile that split his face in two. "But on one condition." Ash's face suddenly fell as he listened attentively for the condition. Bending his head down, Dark looked into Ash's face. "That you give me a kiss and a hug. Straight from your heart."

Ash blinked at him for a moment, then he abruptly smiled and lunged forward to wrap his hooves around Dark's muzzle, and plant a big kiss to the side of the stallions cheek. As the colt pulled back, Dark stopped him with a hoof and planted a kiss to the side of his muzzle, before playfully mussing up the colts clay red mane.

"Come on, let's go see what Brightstar's so eager to show me" Dark said, starting forward again, with Ash quickly falling in beside him.

Brightstar lived off to the edge of the settled area, near a small pond. As Dark, and Ash stepped out of the trees, they saw a strange sight. It looked like Brightstar had been busy since the last time Dark had been here last summer.

During his last visit, it had been Brightstar who gave Dark the idea of using branches and logs to make a shelter by leaning them up against trees, when he saw Brightstar's shelter for the first time. It so impressed him, he started his own for Meadowlark and Celestia the very same day.

"What is it papa?" Ash asked, looking at the new structure.

"Something new." Dark answered breathlessly, stepping closer to look at the new marvel Brightstar built. It was a bunch of long thin logs arrayed in a circle with their tops coming together at a point. Set out around the outside, stones had been stacked against the side of the structure to just above Dark's head, with what looked like mud packed in between the stones. Above that, it looked like Brightstar stacked a thick layer of pine branches, around the structure, all the way up to top, where it came to a point.

Circling around the structure, Dark found what looked like a opening in the side, but there was something covering it. Branches had been rowed up together, all the way from the ground to the height of a pony's nose. Lifting his hoof to it, Dark gave it a nudge and found it solid. How did the branches stay together!? He wondered.

Ash moved in, and poked his head at a seam where the branches met the stacked stone,  and managed to swing it open enough to get his head in. "Wow, this is... wow!" Ash said in awe, as he looked inside.

Hooking the edge of the row of branches with his hoof, Dark pulled towards himself and swung the strange frame open. How did Brightstar do this!? Dark marveled, as Ash darted inside.

With Celestia still sleeping on his back, Dark carefully bent himself down enough to squeeze through the opening. Inside was a surprisingly large space that was free of any breeze or draft. The floor was clean, and free of small sticks and pebbles, and a thick bed of leaves was laid out on the ground opposite of the door, for ponies to sleep on.

"Hello!? Who's in my home!?" Brightstar's questioning voice came to them from outside.

Bending himself back down, Dark stepped out, quickly followed by Ash. "It's just us." Dark said, giving Brightstar, and the two mares with him, Berry Shrub, and Daisy Petal, a friendly smile.

Berry Shrub bowed her head down respectfully. "Father, we welcome you to our home." Daisy Petal also bowed her head down.

Two fillies, peeked their head out from behind Daisy Petal, and dashed over when they saw Ash, and said hello to him.

"Thank you, its a very impressive home." Dark complimented. "Is this what you wanted to show me? Because I am astonished at what you built here."

Brightstar gave his head a shake. "No, this is not what I wanted to show you." He said, a smile coming to his face. "No, what I wanted to show you is much better."

Dark blinked in surprise. "Better than this!?" He said gesturing to Brightstar's home.

Brightstar nodded. "Much better." He turned and started away. "Come and see. It's by the pond.

Berry Shrub moved up to Dark. "Here, I'll take your filly and put her down to rest." She gently nipped Celestia's crest in her mouth and lifted her up, before carrying her into their home, with the two fillies following after.

Dark followed after Brightstar, with Ash close by his side. Down by the pond, Dark saw a strange cleared out patch of ground, with a series of hollowed out gourds, filled with what looked like dirt, lined up together.

Scooping up one of the gourds, Brightstar held it up to Dark, on the flat of his hoof. "This is what I wanted to show you."

Furling his brow in confusion at what Brightstar was showing him, Dark stepped closer and looked closely at the gourd. It was filled with dirt, and poking out of the center of it was a tiny sprout, as it budded out.

"What is it?" Dark asked, giving up.

Brightstar smiled. "This is an oat." Turning he pointed with his head at all the gourds laid out on the ground. "These are all oats."

Dark looked around, and saw that all the hollowed out gourds had little shoots growing in them. "You're growing oats? Why?"

"You remember when you told me last summer, about how you were gathering grass and storing it for the winter? Well, that got me thinking. What else would be good to store for the winter, and when I looked around, I found this!" He held up the sprout again.

Moving over to the gourds, Brightstar carefully set down his oat sprout, and picked up another gourd and took some kind of cover off the top. Taking it back to Dark, he held it up for Dark to look.

Inside Dark saw that it was filled with oat grains.

"I found a patch of oats about a morning's trot south of here. I spent many days gathering all of these and brought them back here." Brightstar explained excitedly. "I had several gourds filled with them, and you know what!? They didn't rot or go bad! I took these last fall and they are still good enough to eat!"

Dark felt his heart start to race. Food that didn't go bad! And not only that, but it was also good food! Oats were always sought after, and whenever a patch was found, many of the top ponies like Thunder Step would quickly move in, and eat it all down.

"But what good does this do us? It would be impossible to find all the patches of oats out there, to gather enough oat grains for winter." Dark asked.

Brightstar suddenly jumped. "That it!" He exclaimed. "I thought the same things, but then I thought of an idea!" Turning he pointed at the cleared out ground. "I thought, what if I cleared out a piece of ground and planted just oats, I wouldn't have to go out looking for them! Think about it! Think about what this means!" Brightstar said fervently. "Think about growing only oats from one side of the meadow to the other! There would be no need to search around for patches of oats when you grow entire fields of it! We would have no shortage of food ever again! It's so simple!"

Dark felt like his heart was going to bust out of his chest. This was it! This was what he needed! This is what they all needed! A sustainable food source that lasted through the winter! All they had to do was work the land and grow it themselves. Wait for the right time and gather what they needed from it, then store it away!

"How long!?" Dark asked, looking hard at Brightstar. "How long will it take to get started!?"

Brightstar blinked at him as he leaned back from Dark's intense gaze. "Well, that's just it. I only have the little amount of oat grains I gathered from last fall. Even if I plant them all, we still wouldn't come close to what we would need." Brightstar said shaking his head. "So we are going to need to gather as much oat grains as possible this summer, if we wanted to get a start during next spring."

Dark nodded as he scratched his chin. "It's a pity we can't start this spring. We'll have to go with my first idea, and gather and dry out grass. If everypony helps out, we should easily gather enough to last us all through the winter. I don't want anypony to go hungry this winter, nor any winter ever again!" He exclaimed, stomping his hoof down.

Turning, Dark looked at Brightstar, a new smile coming to his lips. "Tell me, how good do you think your home is at keeping wolves out? And how many more do you think you can build if you had a lot of help?"

 
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