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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The herd of ponies evicted from the room found themselves in the dining hall for lack of any better place to go. They sat around a table, looking at one another, still in shock over what had taken place.

Nopony quite knew what to say about what had taken place, and nopony was quite sure what was taking place in the room right now between Derpy and Thistle. It was a matter between mares and potential future fellow-wives.

Dinky and Piña both were sniffling a bit and on the verge of tears, the conversation and the sudden eviction piling on to the emotional overload currently in progress. Sparkler and Rising Star both did an admirable job of trying to comfort the foals, something Bucky noticed and was pleased about.

And it was during this moment that a young colt came up to Bucky and informed him that he was wanted in Keg Smasher’s throne room. Bucky was hesitant to leave his herd behind, but did so at Berry Punch’s reassurance that everything would be fine.

And so Bucky left, his squire right behind him.

 

 

Keg Smasher’s throne room was sparse. There was a large stone throne at one end, the back of the throne broken off and left laying on the ground behind the throne. Keg Smasher sat on the floor beside his throne, and beckoned to Bucky to sit beside him on the other side of the throne.

Bucky did as he was bid, and Sentinel sat beside him, looking very nervous. He had never been allowed in here before. The young colt trembled from jittery nerves.

“I could use your help,” Keg Smasher requested. “This part of the job is as boring as shite, but it must be done. I am going to open the court for the afternoon. I need my new armiger and his noble squire.”

Hearing Keg Smasher’s words, Sentinel nearly fainted.

“Alright, let us get this bloody business over with!” Keg Smasher shouted.

The door opened and the first group came forward, bearing a bundle wrapped in grey cloth upon their shoulders. Keg Smasher groaned when he saw it, and his wings fluttered fitfully.

“Oh gobshite,” the giant pegasus grumbled.

The group came forward, near the raised dais where the throne was, stopped, placed the bundle on the ground, and then unwrapped it.

At one point, it had been a foal. The front half was almost intact, but the soft flesh of the belly had been opened, the insides had been torn out, and the soft flesh around the haunches had been devoured. The hind legs were missing completely. All of the colour was gone from the foal. It was grey, as though all colour and life had been sucked from it.

Sentinel heaved, but to his credit, he did not throw up.

Bucky looked down upon the bloodied mess, his emotions seething, knowing that could be one of his foals. A long wisp of smoke trailed from his horn.

“Something must be done about the wolves.”

The earth pony speaking looked frightened and angry, and looked up at Keg Smasher hopefully. He gestured at the remains.

“I know you are doing all you can, but more needs to be done. We thank you for doing what you have, but this is the fifth foal in as many nights. A pegasus found his remains for us after he had been dragged away. Alive.

“I am doing all I can do,” Keg Smasher admitted. “Trouble is everywhere. I have every patrol out and guards are posted everywhere. There just isn’t enough to go around.”

Bucky winced, realising that Keg Smasher had offered an army to Celestia had she needed it. An army that his own ponies desperately needed. An army offered as a gesture of goodwill and good faith.

“Are there any unicorns out assisting?” Bucky asked.

“No,” Keg Smasher replied. “We lost a fair number. Afterwards, the decision was made to keep what few unicorns we have safe within the castle walls. They are too precious and too needed to allow them to potentially be killed.”

“I understand,” Bucky said, his gaze falling once again upon the foal’s remains.

“What do we do?” the earth pony demanded.

“I don’t know!” Keg Smasher bellowed.

“I will go out tonight,” Bucky offered. “I will need a contingent of brave ponies who are not skittish or spell-shy about combat magic. I don’t mean the common zap spell either. I don’t know if it will do much good, but it is a start. Maybe we will be able to kill a few.”

The earth pony looked at Keg Smasher and then at Bucky, warm gratitude visible on his face. “Thank you, good sirs, we thank you,” the earth pony said, bowing.

“Yon scary pegasus mare of yours is going to kick the shite out of you,” Keg Smasher grumbled to Bucky. “In my entire life, I have never met a mare I was afraid of. I don’t know how you live with her. She’s gonna geld you for this.”

“Probably,” Bucky agreed, as the ponies gently rolled the remains back up in the cloth and exited the chambers.

“Ugly business, I’m getting tired of seeing all these dead. Next!” Keg Smasher shouted.

A single pegasus came forward. He was missing an eye.

“We need more workers,” the pegasus requested.

“Ugh, here we go,” Keg Smasher grumbled, rolling his eyes.

“The construction of the guard tower is going badly. We’ve had accidents. Some of the workers have been injured and killed. The tower itself is in danger of collapse, before it is even finished,” the pegasus reported.

“Oh shite,” Keg Smasher swore. “I’ll see what I can do. Ponies are scared to leave home right now and go and work because the wolves.”

“The tower should help with the wolves. You need to order ponies to go to work. Even if they don’t want to,” the pegasus stated. “Harder measures may be required.”

“I don’t want to do that,” Keg Smasher said. “I’ll try offering higher wages and I’ll see what that’ll do.”

“Thank you sir,” the pegasus said, bowing as he spoke. He turned tail and left.

“Oh shite and buggery, this whole damn Isle is a shitepile, and I have to fix it somehow. I made promises to these ponies,” Keg Smasher moaned.

Another group of ponies entered, led by a stout earth pony stallion. He slowly approached Keg Smasher and bowed his head low in respect.

“We have communications from Princess Mi Amore Cadenza of the Crystal Empire. She desires to take advantage of the current turmoil and get in the ground floor of a new trading venture,” the earth pony announced.

Bucky’s ears perked. This was interesting.

“Let’s hear it,” Keg Smasher said.

“Princess Mi Amore Cadenza of the Crystal Empire, as a currently neutral party, wishes to secure our means to produce fine liquors and begin trade with the Crystal Empire, before Princess Celestia of the House of Two Lights secures our entire production. She is concerned that Princess Celestia will take everything we have to offer once it becomes available,” the earth pony explained.

Keg Smasher guffawed for several minutes, until tears finally began to stream from his eyes. He wiped his face with his wing and scratched his barrel with a forehoof.

“She is offering one million gold bits as an incentive to merely think about her offer, no strings attached. More bits forthcoming once we begin production,” the earth pony said in a flat voice.

Keg Smasher stopped laughing. “Feck my arsehole, what?” he asked in disbelief.

“One million gold bits sir. As a good faith gesture, so that we might consider her favourably and deal with her in the future. No strings attached,’ the earth pony stated. “The bits will be arriving with a contingent of armed guards, via chariot airlift.”

“Oh shite, I feel lightheaded,” Keg Smasher muttered.

“Princess Cadance really wants a chance at the booze before her aunt gets it all and doesn’t share,” Bucky said, shaking his head in disbelief. “Princess Celestia is going to have fits if she doesn’t get the ground floor deal.”

“Send communications to the Empress of the Crystal Empire immediately. We accept,” Keg Smasher instructed. “Use the bits wisely of course, but begin constructions of more distilleries right away. Send communications to Princess Celestia that once this war is concluded, we can match whatever we send to Princess Cadance barrel for barrel.”

“Are you sure we can do that sir?” the earth pony asked.

“We need to make it happen, we have to survive. The only thing we have of value is our ability to make the best liquors in the world. Our good name and fine liquor is all we have to offer, and this shiteheap of an Isle needs to be modernised. If we don’t make this happen, we’re buggered,” Keg Smasher replied. “So make it happen!”

"Yes sir, I will work to that end sir,” the earth pony said.

“Oh, and Sodbuster, do something for me,” Keg Smasher requested.

“What is that sir?” Sodbuster answered.

“Give yourself a fancy title of some kind. Prime Minister of Liquor Exports or some such shite,” Keg Smasher instructed.

“Yes your Lordship, I shall come up with something clever sir,” Sodbuster replied.

The earth pony and his group retreated.

“You know Keg Smasher, a thought occurs to me,” Bucky said, thinking out loud.

“What’s that?”Keg Smasher asked.

“You no longer have to be Laird. I do believe a fancier title is in order. Something more befitting your new status. These Isles are yours now. Free and clear,” Bucky said.

Keg Smasher did not reply. He leaned on the broken remains of the stone throne, his face pinched with extreme worry and stress. “I don’t want these Isles to be mine,” Keg Smasher confessed now that the throne room was empty.

“What?” Bucky asked.

“I don’t want them. I want to fix them, but once this war is over, I intend to petition Princess Celestia to become a province of Equestria. I intend to keep ruling, to see my dream played out, but I want these ponies to have a better life than I could ever hope to give them. Princess Celestia will heal this place. She will make it a good place to live. I merely want the privilege of being her servant,” Keg Smasher explained.

“I see,” Bucky said. “So then, we need this war to end to make all of this misery stop and to allow for reconstruction to take place.”

“Don’t even try it, I am not backing away from my position about Thistle. I have you where I want you. As my armiger, if I can’t end this war, then I use you to clean up these Isles. You will spend the rest of your life here, serving these ponies, and trying to give them a fraction of the life they could have if Princess Celestia set about trying to fix this place,” Keg Smasher said shrewdly.

“Fair enough,” Bucky answered. “I will work to help you while I am here.”

“So, any idea for a title friend?” Keg Smasher asked.

“Duke is appropriate and well suited,” Bucky replied. “If you intend to serve under Celestia’s rule. A Duke would exist just below her authority.”

“That doesn’t sound too bad,” Keg Smasher said.

“I would back you in the court of peerage,” Bucky stated.

“You could do that?” Keg Smasher asked.

“I was born with that right. Never saw fit to use it, never studied to use it, never saw much need for politics or getting involved in the political wrangling like my family did. I studied magic. I know what my rights are, or at least have a very general sense of what they are. I have these rights and privileges and mostly, I don’t give a damn about them,” Bucky answered. “I would help you though. You seem fair enough.”

“You wouldn’t say that if you really knew me,” Keg Smasher said sadly. “Someday, I’ll tell you a story that will make you hate me,” he promised.

“These are trying circumstances. I doubt I would hate you for anything you have done.” Bucky said. “Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

“We shall see. Squire Sentinel, you lucked out and found yourself a good noble to serve. Never take it for granted,” Keg Smasher said.

“Yes sir,” Sentinel replied, holding his head a little higher.

“Are you learning anything here Sentinel?” Bucky asked.

“Yes sir, I am sir. I have learned that these ponies need hope. And you and Keg Smasher together are in a position to give them what they need,” Sentinel replied.

“Smart lad,” Keg Smasher quipped. “Send in the next supplicant!”

 

 

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