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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8. Chapter 8

Strongbuck was in darkness. He drifted aimlessly within the void, without any thought or feelings, as time stretched on, devoid of any sense or meaning.

He felt cold, which was strange since he couldn't feel his body, and his thoughts came lethargically slow, as he struggled to string any thoughts together that made any sense. He felt that there was somewhere he wanted to be, or perhaps some ponies he wanted to be with, but he couldn't remember who, all he could recall was a pair of beautiful green eyes, and the scent of honeysuckle.

Drifting in the timeless dark void, Strongbuck became aware of a gentle sound that started to come to him. It was faint, as if it was coming from a great distance, and Strongbuck had to struggle, just to listen to it. It was the first thing to ever happen within the nothing he existed in, and he hungered for any sense of substance.

Slowly, as if the sound was coming to him, or perhaps he was going towards it, the sound grew stronger and more clear. Listening, he realized, that what he was hearing, was a melody, that was being sung with a sweet and gentle voice, that called out to his heart, and drew him ever closer. Never before in this place of nonexistence, had he ever experienced something so beautiful.

Struggling ever closer, Strongbuck suddenly started to feel heavy, as every part of his being began to feel like it was being pressed down on, by the weight of a mountain. Desperately, he fought harder to reach the tender voice, and with every part of his being, he strained forward. Knowing that if he let up his struggle, for even for just a moment, he would descend back into the dark void, and never know beauty ever again.

Strongbuck slowly cracked his eyes open, and his world was suddenly filled with light. Looking up, he saw he was inside something, but it was hard to make out what, everything was just too blurry. The melody that drew him out of the darkness was somewhere nearby. He tried to turn his head to look, but he found he lacked the strength to even roll his head to the side.

His tongue felt like dried bark. Smacking his lips, Strongbuck tried to work some moisture into his mouth, but found he was too thirsty to work up any spit. Blinking up at the logs set above him, Strongbuck tried to recall what had happened to him. He remembered being in a forest, and that there was two mares with him. One had beautiful green eyes, and the other smelled of honeysuckle. What were their names? No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't recall.

Opening his mouth, Strongbuck tried to call out to the soft, silvery voice, that was humming a lullaby near him, but all that came out was a disjointed croak, that racked his throat with searing pain. The melody abruptly went silent, as a blurry shape suddenly leaned over him.

"Strongbuck!?" He heard the shape say to him, in that lovely clear voice, that had drawn him out of the darkness.

Running his dry tongue through his mouth, Strongbuck blinked up at the shape as it leaned in closer. "Water." Strongbuck managed to rasp out painfully.

The figure moved back for a moment, then leaned in and pressed something to his lips. "Here, drink." The figure said, as Strongbuck felt cool water flow into his mouth, that choked him as he tried to swallow.

Working through the agony, Strongbuck managed to swallow the small mouthful, before the figure poured a little more into his mouth. It was a slow process that exhausted him, but he eventually managed to swallow all the water the figure gave him.

"Strongbuck, you have a bad fever." The figure told him with her sweet voice, as he felt something being pushed into his mouth. "Chew this and swallow, Magpie thinks that yarrow may help lower it."

Strongbuck weakly tried to chew, but gave up when the effort became too much. He felt weaker than a newborn foal, and he wanted to cry in frustration, but he lacked the tears to even do that.

The figure saw his struggle and leaned down plant her lips to his. Strongbuck felt her tongue push into his mouth and pull the yarrow out. She then pulled back and Strongbuck could hear her chewing for a short bit, before she dropped back down and pressed her lips to his once again, and he felt the chewed up pulp of yarrow get pushed into his mouth. With a bit of exhausting effort, Strongbuck managed to swallow the offering.

The figure put more yarrow into her mouth and chewed, before she lowered herself, to once again press her lips around his, and force more yarrow into his mouth. Choking a little, Strongbuck managed to swallow the mouthful.

What little strength he had was nearly exhausted, and his eyes were growing heavy again. Looking up at the figure as she leaned over him, Strongbuck managed to catch a glimpse of her beautiful green eyes, before he drifted off to sleep, where he dreamed of doves and honeysuckle flowers.

 

 

* ** *

 

 

Dove looked down at Strongbuck as he drifted back into sleep. Her heart ached at the sight of him. His coat was slick with sweat, and his breath was shallow and uneven. Leaning down, she checked under his dressing and saw that his shoulder looked better. Moving back to the wound on his haunch, she found that it was still swollen and puss-filled, with a slightly foul smell.

Sliding over a large gourd filled with water. Dove reached in, and pulled out a ball of peat moss, and used it to carefully wash his wound out.

Once she finished, she set a empty gourd bowl in front of herself, and added a little bit of water into it before she packed in some plantain leaves, and meadowsweet buds into it. In desperation to get his infection under control, Dove began to mixing some plants that Magpie had suggested that might help, together, with the hopes that she would find new treatments that would help him.

Taking up a stick in her mouth, Dove began to mash it down into the gourd, mashing the plantain leaves and meadowsweet buds together until they were thoroughly mixed together, into a pulp. This was the same treatment she did to his shoulder, and she was going to try it on his haunch.

Holding the gourd on the flat of her hoof, Dove carefully used her mixing stick to apply the paste into his wound. Covering it, she wrapped it in cattail grass, and sat back with a satisfied sigh. She found that cattail grass was easier to use then the strips of willow bark, and it worked just as well.

Reaching over, Dove gave Strongbuck a kiss to his forehead. "Please, keep fighting. You're almost through this." Dove then settled up against his side, and lowered her head. She was exhausted from watching over him during the night, and she felt that he was on the mend. Tucking her head up close to his, Dove closed her eyes and slipped off to sleep.

 

* ** *

 

 

Ash ran beside Celestia, as he roughly shouldered a grey colt to the side. With a stick in her mouth, Celestia laughed as she dodged by a filly, as she dove at her. All round them, fillies and colts laughed at they chased Celestia, trying to tag her, while Ash was running guard for her. She was almost there! Swerving to the side, Ash blocked a filly from getting by, as Celestia dashed through two posts stuck in the ground, and dropped her stick into a pile.

"That's no fair!" Tulip Blossom said with a pout. "Celestia and Ash shouldn't be allowed to team up!"

"Why not!?" Ash challenged back, as Celestia moved over next to him.

"Because! ... because you two are too good together!" Tulip Blossom said, petulantly. "We can't catch you, when you two play together, and that's not fair!"

"Its plenty fair!" Strawberry Zest cut in, moving herself next to Ash to confront the filly. "You're just upset, because you're a sore loser!"

"Am not!" Tulip returned, stomping her hoof.

"Are too!" Strawberry Zest shouted back, stepping closer with a smirk.

The two began to bicker back and forth as the rest of the foals moved in to watch. With the wolves being a bigger danger now, they weren't allowed to play beyond the settlement anymore, so they had to be inventive with the games they created. Today was Stick Run. The two teams had ten sticks piled up on each of their sides, and each team tried to steal the others sticks and run them across to their side without being tagged. Celestia and Ash managed to run seven of the ten sticks across to their side, for the final win.

"Celestia! Ash!" Bell Flower called out to them, waving her hoof for them to come to her.

Breaking away, the two ran over to her, as she waited for them.

"Come with me, your mama wants you two to meet some ponies," Bell Flower said with a smile, as she turned.

Ash's eyes flicked over Bell Flower's injuries as he looked up at her. Dove had treated her wounds, but it was still quite obvious that she had been partially mauled by wolves. He felt in awe of the mare for what she did for Strongbuck, the courage she and Dove showed under that dire situation, was beyond that of normal mares and stallions. Ash hoped he would be just as brave, if he ever found himself facing such a desperate moment as they did.

"Who is it?" Celestia asked, falling in beside Bell Flower.

"That would ruin the surprise! Now, no more questions and hurry along," Bell Flower said with a smile, quickening her step.

Ash wondered who it was that mama wanted them to meet, as he fell in beside Celestia.

The two foals followed Bell Flower through the forest of homes. Every day, more were being built, with the goal of having one for every herd family before the moon turned full. Further out beyond the huts, ponies were working on ways to create a barrier around the settlement to add even more security. They were coming up with idea's and building small sections to see how well they worked, before they settled onto one. Many ponies were hoping that such a barrier would be able to keep bears and chimaeras out, maybe even hydras.

Suddenly, Bell Flower paused in front of a hut and turned to them. "Now, when we go in, its important that you both stay quiet, we don't want to scare them."

Ash furled his brow in confusion, as his curiosity for who they were going to meet grew.

Stepping inside, Ash blinked his eyes as he adjusted to the darker interior. Within moments, he caught sight of Melodious laying across from the opening. She was looking down, and smiling at two little foals that were nuzzled up against her side.

"Oh my stars! You had your foals!" Celestia exclaimed, in an excited whisper, as she began to hop in place.

"Celestia, Ash. Come here. I would like you to meet Summer Rain and Winter Snow," Melodious said, nodding her head for them to come closer.

Celestia quickly moved forward, while Ash blinked at the sight in surprise. Sitting to the side, Meadowlark watched the scene with a smile while she idly rubbed at her belly.

Ash stepped forward hesitantly, and moved around, next to Celestia, as he approached the two newborn colts. The two tiny foals were curled up together, against their mother's side as they slept. One was a soft orange with light blue mane and tail and the other was soft blue with light orange mane and tail.

Reaching back, Melodious lightly nuzzled the soft orange one. "This is Summer Rain." She then moved to the soft blue one and nuzzled him. "And this is Winter Snow."

"They're so adorable!" Celestia whispered, leaning down. She looked like she wanted to snuggle with them.

As he looked down a the colts,  Ash felt a sense of wonder. Just the day before, he felt them moving about within their mother's belly, and now they were laying next to her, looking so very tiny and new to the world. Bending down lower, Ash smiled, as he had to agree, that they certainly were very adorable.

Summer Rain came awake, and lifted his head up to blink his eyes up at Ash. The little colt reached out, and lightly touched Ash's nose with his as he sniffed at him. The foals scent was sweet with a hint of milk breath.

Suddenly, Summer Rain let out a surprised sneeze, blasting Ash right in his face.

The foal flinched back and started wail, as Ash glanced worriedly at Melodious, not knowing if he did something wrong.

"Oh you silly thing, you scared yourself," Melodious said softly, to the crying colt, as she nuzzled him and gave his some comforting grooming licks, before she nipped his crest and picked him up. She then deposited him up against her large udder, where the foal began rooting around until he found his mother's teat and quickly clamped on, and noisily began to suckle.

Wiping the back of his hoof over his face, Ash wiped the foal spittle off, as Celestia giggle at him.

"Celestia, tell me, how did you know I was having colts?" Melodious asked, looking over at her with a curious interest.

Ash saw Celestia nibble her lip as she considered Melodious's question. He'd asked Celestia very much the same thing, back when she first became positive that mama was having a filly. Her answer to his question still confused him. How can you feel something you can't see or touch?

"I don't know. I just felt it." Celestia answered with a shrug.

Melodious pursed her lips as she tapped her hoof on the ground thoughtfully. "Bell Flower. Would you be so kind as to fetch my daughter Misty. She's living in the next hut over."

Bell Flower slipped out, and after a short wait, returned with a pregnant, light sandy mare with a yellow mane and tale.

"Mama, you don't need to keep calling me over to show me your new foals." The mare said irritably to Melodious.

"That's not why I sent for you." Melodious said shaking her head, as she waved her hoof for the mare to come to her. "Come here Misty, I want to try something."

Misty gave a sigh, as she shook of her head, and did as her mother asked. Stepping closer, she looked down curiously at Celestia and Ash.

"Celestia, this is my daughter, Misty Valley. I want to see if you can tell if she's carrying a filly or a colt, just like you did for me and your mother," Melodious said, nodding her head to her daughter.

Celestia looked up at Misty nervously for a moment, before she stepped away from Ash, and walked up to Misty's side.  Misty turned her head and watched, with a curious expression, as Celestia pressed her hoof into her large belly and closed her eyes. She stayed like that for a short while, before she then smiled and lowered her hoof down, as she turned to look up at Misty.

"Your filly's really shy. I don't think she wants to come out." Celestia said with a little shake of her head.

Misty blinked down at Celestia with a bemused expression, as she watched the filly walk back to Ash and sit down next to him.

Melodious turned to Meadowlark, who was watching her daughter with a surprised look. "I think your filly has a very special talent."

"I always thought she was special," Celestia's mother replied, giving her daughter a smile.

 

 

* ** *

 

 

Dark walked around the wall as he looked it over. Several other walls of different designs were set out next to each other.

"So, what do you think?" Dark asked Brightstar.

"Well... I think they have come up with several good idea's." Brightstar replied. "I especially like this one." He stopped by a wall of logs, that were buried in the ground so they all stood up in a tight row. "But it would take much too long to make, so I think we should go with this one." He then nodded to a shorter wall made with two posts stuck down into the ground with a series of thinner logs strapped lengthwise between the two.

"You sure?" Dark asked, stepping up to the structure to look it over. "It doesn't look as sturdy as the others."

Brightstar turned and bucked his hind hooves out, striking the wall with a solid thunk, that barely shook it. "It will do nicely, and it will be much faster and easier to make." He explained with a nod.

Dark looked it over as he rubbed his chin. "So, how long would it take to build it all the way around the settlement?"

"Well..." Brightstar said thoughtfully. "We don't have to surround the entire settlement. We can start it over there by the stream edge, and run it around the settlement, and back to the stream above it. That way, we can always have access to water whenever we need it."

Dark saw his point. The stream would make a good barrier on one side. "Good. I'll talk to Birch Bark and Hoof Strike, to have guards posted with your work crews. The faster this is done, the better for us all. Once we have a safe place to live, we can focus our efforts to drive the wolves out for good."

Brightstar walked over and lifted a strange woven thing and set it down onto his back.

"What is that?" Dark asked, looking the strange thing over. It was constructed from woven plant stalks, that was woven into a shape that sat over Brightstar's back, with two bins on each side.

"This?" Brightstar asked turning himself to show off his new carrier. "A few of the younger mares started making these just the other day. They use willow branches and weave them into useful shapes, that ponies can use to hold things." Picking up his wood chopper, Brightstar bent around and set it into one of the bins on his side.

Dark had to admit that it was a clever idea. The two woven bins that sat on both of Brightstar's sides, looked really useful, and he'll have to remember to talk to these clever young mares, and see about having one made for himself. Taking his spear he had propped up against one of the walls, Dark fell in beside Brightstar.

As they both started walking back across the field towards the settlement, a sudden wolf howl rose up out of the forest behind them.

Dark felt a shock of fear shoot through his body as he quickly looked back at the forest, and he held his spear ready, while Brightstar danced around behind him. Looking carefully, Dark managed to catch slight glimpses of grey and brown within the forests undergrowth as wolves moved about.

Behind him, Dark could hear ponies shouting, as they hurried into prearranged defensive positions. Turning he gave Brightstar a nudge. "No need to stay here, and offer them something to attack."

Brightstar turned and started to run, but Dark quickly called out to him. "Don't run! It will only make them chase you. Walk next to me and show the ponies in the settlement your bravery."

Brightstar stumbled to a stop as Dark calmly walked up to him. As he approached, Dark could see Brightstar's body shivering as his hooves danced in place.

"How can you be so calm?" Brightstar asked breathlessly. "I think I just peed down my leg a little!"

Falling in beside him, Dark walked on, calmly back towards the settlement without looking back at the forest. "I am scared, just not for myself. Those wolves out there, aren't here for two stallions. They sense that the mares are starting to foal and they are looking for some easy meals to grab.

"They are going to try for the newborns!?" Brightstar exclaimed, in outrage.

Dark let out a sad breath, as he looked down. "You've never had foals of your own before, so you've never experienced what it's like. They'll wait until it's dark, when they have the advantage, and dash in. They will ignore stallions and groups of mares and find those lone mothers who just had their foal. They will come in fast, and several of them will bite and snap at the mother, to hold her attention. When she is busy holding them back, a wolf will dash in from behind and snatch the newborn away." Dark paused, as a tear fell down his muzzle. "You have no idea how horrible it is to hear a foal being torn apart by a pack of wolves, out in the darkness."

Brightstar looked over at Dark and saw the grief on the stallion's face. Knowing that Dark was talking about personal experience, Brightstar thought about the two new fillies he has been getting to know. Bumblebee, the daughter of Berry Shrub, liked to laugh and run about, while Soft Step, who was Daisy Petal's daughter, was a quiet and thoughtful little filly, who had been expressing a desire to spend more time with him, while he worked.

They weren't his by blood, but Brightstar didn't feel that it mattered. Those two were taking a special place in his heart now, and he found the thought of them being hurt, scared him. Straightening his shoulders, Brightstar stood taller as he let out a snort. He walked the rest of the way back, right next to Dark, and not once did he look back over his shoulder at the forest.

"Birch Bark, Strike Hoof." Dark greeted the two stallions as they closed on the settlement. "Are you two ready? We are going to have some busy nights for the next moon cycle, and I aim to not lose a single foal to those beasts."

"We'll be ready, don't worry," Birch Bark said assuredly, while Hoof Strike simply stomped his hoof eagerly to the ground.

Dark smiled and gave them a nod. "Good. Now, how many spears have the new stone tips on them now?"

"We have a couple of ponies with the skills to shape stone, working on them now." Birch Bark answered, hefting his spear, showing that he's already had a new stone spear point already attached. "They've done a couple dozen so far, but it takes time."

Nodding Dark turned to Brightstar. "Perhaps it would be best if you had your mares and foals stay within the settlement. At least until the wolves are gone."

Brightstar thought about it, he had made his home quite strong, but if anything went wrong, and the wolves got in... "You're right, I'll go bring them in," Brightstar said, as he turned to hurry back to his home by the pond.

"Hoof Strike, take some ponies and go with him. See that they come back safe," Dark ordered. Hoof Strike gave a quick nod and pointed at several ponies standing nearby and they quickly followed after Brightstar.

Turning, Dark looked out over the ponies that were gathered about, and saw that some of them looked worried. "Stand tall ponies, and keep your eyes and ears open! An attentive herd is a strong herd, and I aim to deny those vile beasts the taste of any of our precious young!" Dark shouted out, as he looked over at all the ponies. "Never again, will a mother shed tears at the loss of her foal to the night!"

 
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