The Chase

Bucky Bitters struggles to escape the airborne affections of Derpy Hooves after a chance encounter caused them to bump noses together. His real mistake was trying to comfort the mare after the snoot-bump. Little does the poor stallion realise that their meeting was only the prologue to a journey that will change not only his life, but the lives around him forever.

This story is a sequel to The Catch

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After a quick teleport to disengage himself from the pile of ponies in the bed, Bucky found himself in the hallway outside of his room. The lights were dim and the hallway was full of shadows, many of which were cast by Bucky and his unusual nature.

Also in the hallway was Luna, who stood still while looking puzzled.

“I sensed strange dream magic. Is everything alright?”

Bucky did not know the answer. He felt strange, unsettled, the strange dream was already fading somewhat from his memory. There was only one thing he remembered with total clarity; he was an answer. Bucky did not know the question however, and this concerned him a great deal.

“Bucky?”

Shaking his head to clear it, Bucky then closed his eyes. “I’m fine. There was a strange dream. I was in another place… another when and where. The world was dead and had three moons. I think I was visited by one of the Observers, but not the common fodder sort.”

“How peculiar.”

Luna’s puzzlement unsettled Bucky and he felt strange and out of sorts.

“There are worse things than mirror travelers coming into our world. I was given a warning, I’m having a bit of trouble remembering it all,” Bucky said as he opened his eyes.

“I could not enter your dream to check upon you. I sensed that something was happening. Which is why I am here, I came to check upon you. This concerns me,” Luna replied.

“It is going to be dawn soon.” Bucky could feel what almost felt like an instinctual itch to go someplace dark and hide, secreting himself away from the coming sun. The feeling had become stronger over time, and it was now almost an annoyance. “I thought I’d go for a walk and try to make sense of what I dreamed. Feel free to join me and we’ll talk.”

 

 

Still unsettled, Bucky had trouble eating his breakfast. He said little, did more prodding of his food than eating it, and spent most of his breakfast staring at his wives as well as his foals. He glanced at Twilight on occasion, wondering what question she answered. The question itself was another ‘why’ all unto itself. Thinking about it made Bucky feel irritated and distracted. Magic? Friendship? Twilight was both, at least in a sense. She had discovered new and powerful magic in friendship. She was the alicorn of magic and the Princess of Friendship, but what was her specific purpose, and of even more importance, how was it relevant as an answer? And to what sort of question?

And what of himself? Bucky supposed that war was an answer, but he felt baffled by the very notion of what the question might be. His lack of ascendence here had its own implications, or so Bucky thought as his mind wandered. Was his an answer rejected? Or was his rejection an answer? Bucky did not know and was curious if he was perhaps over thinking it.

Of course, Bucky was not a godlike figure with an intelligence spanning the cosmos.

His eyes shifted to Celestia and Bucky wondered how immortality had affected her intelligence, her reasoning, her ability to think. Living for long time might give one wisdom, but wisdom was not intelligence. Foals could be wise as well and so could the simple minded.

It was of Bucky’s opinion that the creator might have been a bit of a numbskull.

It was not that earth ponies were stupid, Bucky had two of them as wives and he frequently felt outsmarted by both of them quite often. There was just the lingering feeling that the creator might have been something of an idiot. Using his fork, Bucky prodded at his fried potatoes and then glanced at his orange juice.

There was plenty of times that Bucky knew that he was an idiot and becoming an immortal idiot certainly wouldn’t help anything. The prospect of immortality terrified him, the notion of using other mere mortals to answer his questions left him feeling cold and empty inside.

Bucky was forced to wonder if the creator had any feelings left inside at all.

“Bucky?”

So distracted was Bucky that he failed to hear his own name being called.

“Buckminster, you are staring into your potatoes as if the secrets of the universe might be found within. I assure you, today is nothing to worry about, I promise,” Celestia said.

Blinking, Bucky attempted to refocus his mind. “What sort of answer is war anyway?” he asked, just blurting out what was on his mind and not thinking at all of how it might confuse those around him.

There was a clatter as Celestia dropped her fork and looked at Bucky. Her befuddlement, something Bucky might even enjoy under more normal circumstances, left him feeling hollow. He felt ashamed for disrupting breakfast and wished that he had said nothing.

Shaking his head, Bucky held his own fork aloft. “Sorry… forget I said anything. If you must know what I am talking about, ask Luna. She can tell you. She was inside my head earlier. Where is Luna anyway?”

A frown of concern was plastered on the end of Celestia’s muzzle. “Luna had to go take care of some business. She will return before we get started today.”

“I noticed that the courtyard is being prepared. Expecting a lot of ponies?” Berry Punch asked as she cast a worried glance at Bucky and then her eyes shifted to Derpy.

“Today is a celebration. Many ponies are expected. Over one thousand years have passed since we last had a Lord of Winter to welcome the coming season,” Celestia replied.

After swallowing her bite of food, Twilight Sparkle gave words to her own question. “Will we bring back the other seasonal representatives?”

“I’d like to do that. A young maiden of spring and the victor of fall,” Celestia said as she lifted her fork and regained her composure.

“Maiden of spring? Victor of fall? What of summer?” Twilight’s face was one of scholastic interest as she posed her inquiry.

Celestia took a deep breath and lifted her tea. She sniffed the fragrant steam, black tea with hints of chocolate and peppermint, something that put her in the mind of winter, and thought back to what seemed like an age ago. “The maiden of spring was selected during a pageant. It was always a young filly, one just coming of age, just about to, or having had her first heat. Each year it was somepony new to represent the newness of spring. Summer was my season, there used to be a fertility celebration, the raising of the summer sun, I would raise the sun and with it I would bring about a powerful heat. It was a public celebration of sex and debauchery.” Celestia paused and her eyes stared off at no fixed point, her mind lost in the past for a moment. She shook her head. “There are decency laws now and such things just are not done in public anymore. The victor of fall was decided after a contest, usually a race of some sort, or a competition. Sort of like the running of the leaves. Each year brought a new victor.”

“Sounds like you miss those times,” Twilight said in a low voice. Even though she said nothing, the very idea of the summer sun celebration being a day of debaucherous sex made Twilight feel disgusted… and more than a little interested. She looked over at Rainbow Dash and Flash Sentry, both of whom were only half awake, present in body but not in mind.

Nodding, Celestia took a sip of tea and swallowed. She cleared her throat. “Oh, I do. A great deal. Those were simple times. Sombra was still alive, he was young and still full of good. He was the Lord of Winter… a position that Bucky will soon understand. Come spring he would surrender the season to the maiden of spring—”

“My own memories would suggest that he deflowered a few of those maidens of spring—”

“Buckminster Bitters! Not at the breakfast table!” Celestia commanded, her eyes going wide at Bucky’s words.

Bucky’s ears splayed out sideways and he ducked his head in submission.

After a moment, Celestia continued: “The marked passing of the seasons was a big part of what made our society what it was. Ponies saw values in other tribes and it brought us together. The maiden of spring was often an earth pony, but there were pegasi and unicorns. The victor of fall were often pegasi, but there were earth ponies and unicorns there as well. It allowed ponies to feel like equals among one another. Being the maiden of spring was about being beautiful, of being an object of desire—”

“Yes… objects of desire, only in more modern era, we would call it foal molestation,” Bucky said, pressing his luck and interrupting.

“Those were different times Bucky,” Celestia replied as she raised her eyebrow at Bucky. “For many, the ripe old age of twenty or thirty was the end of a life. Only unicorns had any sort of decent life expectancy. A young filly at her decade mark was in the prime of her life and her life was already halfway over.”

“So like the Shetlands still are,” Derpy said, looking more than a little disgusted.

Celestia offered a reluctant nod. “Yes, very much like life on the Shetlands. One only needs to look at Thistle to know that in some parts of the world this sort practice still survives.”

Thistle, hearing her name and the relevant conversation, blushed. “I’d make a good maiden of spring if I wasn’t so fat and hid—”

“Thistle, shut your mouth or so help me I’ll show you exactly what I think of your beautiful body,” Bucky said, offering a warning as he turned and glared at Thistle. “Besides, in a pageant, you would have an unfair advantage, considering your talent is sex appeal.”

The kelpie began to stammer and she squirmed in her seat. Her eyes dropped down to her plate and after a moment, a giggle found its way out of her mouth.

“I would like to bring these practices back, but with a few changes to make them more suitable to our modern era,” Celestia said, smiling as she watched Thistle becoming more and more flustered.

Her ears perking forward, Berry Punch wiped her face with her foreleg, glanced at Bucky, and then at Celestia. “I think it would be a good thing to bring back some of the old, take the best parts of it, and blend it with new customs and traditions. We need tribal unity more than ever.”

“Equestria is far from perfect, but we’re getting better, and I daresay that we are doing better as far as tribal unity goes than places like the Shire Isles,” Bon Bon said.

Blinking, her eyelids fluttering, Lyra looked over at Bon Bon, then at Bucky, and then her eyes moved around the table. “We’re always going to have issues with tribal unity I think. We’re just going to get better with dealing with it.”

“The first day of winter festival I hope will be a good first step towards healing our nation. In the past, long ago, when Equestria was founded, this festival brought the tribes together. Our Founders praised this celebration. There was open mingling of the tribes as they all came together to welcome the winter. There was drinking and goodwill towards one another, it was an important time for remembrance, recalling Hearth’s Warming and how the Founders survived,” Celestia said.

“It was the winter that brought us together.” Bucky’s words were soft but cut through the sound and the chatter of breakfast. “An issue of survival. Banding together for the common good, presenting a united front against a harsh enemy that offered no quarter.”

“Where are Tannis and Agnetha?” Derpy asked.

Celestia set down her tea and looked at the grey pegasus. “They are out supervising the last minute preparations for today’s festivities. I have to say, the griffons are marvelous at this sort of thing. How the little ones work together is a wonder to behold, if I had the chance I would watch them work for hours. The castle has never ran smoother than it does now.”

“I keep wondering if Hearth’s Warming will become an important holiday for griffons...”

Turning his head, Bucky looked over at Belisama.

“I thought war was going to be the end of us. But our nation has been reborn. We are rediscovering our old ways. I was reading that winter was once an important time for us, a time spent in the mead halls making music, a time of art and creation as we waited for spring. We now know a peace that our kind has not known for centuries. Our home lies buried under a winter storm that will end one day and then some little griffons will venture home to clean up and rebuild. This is a time of winter for us, both in a literal sense and a metaphorical sense”

Belisama’s words caused Bucky to become thoughtful. War, not as an ending, but as a beginning, a catalyst of change. Perhaps as an answer? Shaking his head, Bucky still didn’t know what the question was, and couldn’t help but feel that this was all subjective, based upon the viewer and their own mindset.

 

 

 

 

 

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