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 days passed, each blurring into the next, as days are wont to do. In the frozen wastes, all there was to do was walk, to survive, to keep moving, and with nothing else to do to fill the time, with no modern distractions, with no books, with no games, with no real modern comforts, all that was left to fill the time was introspection and self reflection.

There were several more attacks from the undead along the way, Dinky and Sweetie Belle both finally getting to prove themselves, both using basic fire spells to ignite the corpses and keep them from reviving. More care was taken with Diamond Tiara, who pulled for as long as she could, then she would say something, admitting that she could do no more, and after that, she would ride in the back with the others, recovering while dealing with her feelings of inadequacy.

As the companions drew closer, a peculiar mania overcame Piña, who wanted to be rid of the horn. She wanted them to travel longer, to keep pushing themselves as hard they could, she wanted to continue forwards even when she herself was almost ready to drop over from sheer exhaustion.

The cold grew ever worse, the weather intensifying, and there were times when the companions traveled in complete blindness. What kept them going was Piña’s unerring sense of direction, along with Moonbow and Sentinel’s echolocation, both of whom were becoming quite skilled from its constant use.

And then, much to the surprise of all, the storm lifted and they saw a beautiful white spire rising up out of the snow. The tower stood in the middle of the eye of the storm. It was, quite possibly, the most beautiful thing that the entire fellowship had ever seen, and all of them took a moment to stare at it wide eyed.

It was the tomb of Princess Platinum, and a lone pony stood waiting for them at its doors…

 

 

Sentinel moved with caution, not certain what he was seeing. He saw another pony, but could not smell another pony. He realised that he was seeing a projection, an illusion. A white stallion stood near the ornate silver door. He had a broad hat, covered in bells, and a flowing white beard.

Dinky, who had crawled out of the wagon, knew who it was, as did Piña, who was slipping free of her harness. The others began to gather around, and Moonbow sniffed the projected image, a low growl escaping from her throat.

“I foresaw this day coming,” the projected image said, “my name is Star Swirl and no doubt, you have come to ensure my brother’s end. I came to this place and placed safeguards on the doors. My brother was unaware of my meddling. If you can see me, that means a pony with the right bloodline has come. You will be able to open the door, I have enchanted it so that it will open… I, of course, saw this coming.” The image of Star Swirl gave a sad shake of his head. “Welcome, Scion of Avarice. Only a Son or Daughter of the lineage of Princess Platinum may cross this threshold. My brother must be destroyed. I do not envy you your task.”

The companions stopped and began to look at one another, each one of them wondering the same thing, the same unasked question lurking upon each set of lips as they all pondered the words of Star Swirl the Bearded.

Who?

“You know, it is going to be really funny if it is one of us earth ponies,” Piña said as she nudged Apple Bloom. She looked at the projection, which was now flickering, and then at the door. She moved, motivated by curiousity, crossing the snow, her boot covered hooves crunching on the crust of ice, she stood upon the white steps, and then before anypony could stop her, she knocked.

Nothing happened.

Piña sat down with a huff and blew a raspberry. “Aw, nuts.”

“Diamond Tiara, why don’t you try?” Apple Bloom suggested.

“Why me?” Diamond Tiara asked.

“Well, you do have that crown on your backside,” Moonbow replied.

Diamond Tiara thought about this for a moment, nodded, acknowledging that it made sense, but also horrified that she might actually descend from royal bloodlines. While she had dreamed about being a princess when she was younger, she had grown, she had changed, she had seen what princesses were responsible for, their duties, and what was expected of them. She could feel her heart thudding in her barrel.

The projected image of Star Swirl vanished completely, disappearing with a puff of glittering magic. Diamond Tiara strode forward, her head high, trying to do this with as much poise as possible, but wanting more than anything to run and hide in the sleigh, under a blanket, terrified of the answer.

She ascended the stairs, which were strangely free of snow and ice, gulping with almost every other step, fearful of what might be, the outcome so uncertain. She raised her hoof, took a deep breath, and knocked.

Nothing happened.

Heaving a sigh of relief, Diamond Tiara went over and sat down beside Piña on the stairs, waiting for another to take their turn. She was so very thankful that it wasn’t her. She leaned against Piña, relief flooding through her body.

“Dinky,” Piña said in a loud voice, speaking her sister, “you know, you never knew your daddy…” Her words trailed off and Piña felt pain rising up in her, knowing that this was a painful subject for Dinky.

“Bucky is my daddy,” Dinky replied, shaking her head.

“Dinky, I’m thinking that when we get home, you might want to have a long talk—”

“No! I don’t even like to think about it!” Dinky began to sniffle and she turned away from the door. “No, Bucky is my daddy… and… I don’t want to know the other because whoever he was, he hurt my mommy… and… and… he hurt me too… and I don’t want to hurt Bucky by bringing up… by bringing up… by bringing him up, whoever he was.”

Piña began to go down the steps, her hooves tingling, and a strange feeling welling up inside of her. “Dinky, you need to try the door…” Piña’s eyes took on a strange white glow as she approached. “Threads of fate… we all have threads of fate. Your thread is entwined with Bucky’s thread. Like calls to like… your powerful magic is a gift Dinky, Bucky was not the only one worthy of Princess Platinum’s lineage… there are others, many in fact… as was promised, her children outnumber the stars… open the door, Dinky.”

Dinky turned and saw Piña’s white, glowing eyes. She looked at her companions, each of them were staring, all of them wide eyed with shock and surprise. She felt a growing compulsion to go and open the door. She felt a strange tingle in her horn. In the back of her mind, she realised that she belonged here, in this place, at this time, she had come to deal with old family business. She stared at the door for a minute, then back at Piña. Piña was blinking, her eyelids fluttering, the white was fading away and her eyes returning to normal.

It all made sense. Dinky had powerful magic, magic far beyond any of her classmates, far beyond other foals, she had more magic than most adults she knew. Dinky could do deep magic, the seemingly impossible feats that few could do. She felt a chill in her blood that was not from the bitter cold around her.

She lifted her head high, adjusted her smoking cap, which did a marvelous job of keeping her head warm after a few minor enchantments, and never once came close to blowing off in the wind. She gritted her teeth, realising that she had a part to play in all of this. She had been called to the Shetlands in much the same way that Bucky had. There, she had been tested. There, she had endured. A part of her had awoken there, and it was upon the isles that Dinky had come to a conclusion; that she would walk in the path of light and never again seek the darkness. She had witnessed power there, both light and darkness, good power and terrible power, and after witnessing both, she had known what she wanted from life.

She took the stairs, moving slow, her breathing shallow, her throat dry and painful. She took the last few stairs, stopped, and bowed her head. “I am Dinky, daughter of Derpy and Bucky, and Scion of the Platinum Lineage. For me, you will open.” Dinky closed her eyes, reached out her hoof, and pushed upon the door, not bothering to knock.

The door opened, revealing sepulchral darkness.

 

 

Star Swirl appeared once more, blinking into existence, his projected image flickering. “As the stars have promised, the children of the founders have all come together. The magical seal I have left behind has been activated, each descendent is accounted for. The bloodline of Smart Cookie, Puddinghead, Clover, Platinum, Hurricane, and Pansy. The Bearers have arrived and with them, the means to banish the darkness that may yet consume the world. Try to remember what your ancestors accomplished.”

And having said his words, Star Swirl vanished again, leaving the companions to stare at the blackness that loomed just inside the door. Dinky’s horn ignited, blazing brightly, and her light spell pushed back the supernatural darkness.

Sweetie Belle stepped forwards, a strange glow forming around her body as she approached Dinky. “As my ancestor Clover once did, I have answered the call and I will battle the darkness.” Sweetie Belle didn’t know how she knew, but it seemed that she did, and she was shocked by the words coming out of her mouth. “Friendship through the ages… a foal of Platinum has called for help and I will answer.”

Piña trotted forwards, a peculiar feeling welling up inside of her. “I am a foal from Smart Cookie… I have heard the call, and I have answered. Friendship through the ages, as was promised when we summoned the Fires of Friendship. It has been centuries, but this is a fire that cannot be extinguished so long as these bloodlines continue.”

“Friendship through the ages,” Scootaloo said, not quite sure how or why the words were coming out of her mouth. She strode forwards, her head high, moving with a cocky swagger. “The foal of Hurricane and Pansy has answered the call. A pegasus has come to watch over you, as promised. I see that there is a unicorn to light my way and an earth pony to shoulder my heavy burdens.”

Overtaken by a strange compulsion, Apple Bloom found her hooves moving on their own accord, her body moving forwards on its own. She felt herself take a deep breath, then her mouth opened, and words began spilling out. “Puddinghead has answered the call. Our long and noble bloodline has always served our home through hard work. I will carry your heavy burdens. Somepony has to do the heavy lifting!”

“What’s happening to me?” Diamond Tiara said as she felt herself being pulled forwards. She didn’t like the feeling of her legs moving on their own without her control. She started to protest the strange feeling, but other words spilled out of her mouth. “To make up for being such a silly pony so long ago, I have sent extra help… because that is what friends do when they make mistakes. They make up for it. Sorry, but I was called ‘Puddinghead’ for a reason. Friendship through the ages!”

“Well, are you coming?” Piña asked, looking at Moonbow, Sentinel, and Boadicea. “Your kind wasn’t  there when this happened the first time and we went to war against the cold that chilled our hearts. Come and join our covenant, we could use some new blood… and I think that the griffons could use a bit of friendship.”

“Yes, come and join us!” Sweetie Belle gave the lunar pegasi and the griffoness a warm smile. “This is a time for the tribes to come together… once more, we are threatened by the cold, we can’t do this alone.”

“We need you.” Scootaloo looked at her bat winged cousins. “We face a terrible foe, and so do you… we have a better chance working together… as one tribe, as our ancestors did a long time ago… come and join our new covenant… face the darkness with us and help us defeat the cold. We can’t do it without you.”

“It is time for the separation to end, your tribe is dying… your tribe was never touched by the Fires of Friendship… join us, and save yourselves… those touched by the Fire do not die, but prosper until their number is equal to the stars. Save yourselves… you too, Boadicea… the griffons are too few… your race is too far gone, in a few generations, you will be all but dead… join us, Boadicea, and save your kind.” Piña looked at the three and smiled at them, her blue eyes glittering with a strange light.

Moonbow looked at Sentinel and nodded, then at Boadicea. She knew that they were in this together. She looked at Piña. “I will join you and I will aid you with light, should you need it. My shadow form can light up any darkness.”

“I will do what must be done,” Sentinel said.

“If this will save my griffons from extinction, than I will do what I must to save them. A future queen must think of her subjects.” Boadicea bowed her head and blinked away tears, knowing that she was about to be part of something great, something that, a thousand years from now, little ponies and griffons both would be discussing in their history classes in school.

The time when the tribes came back together and the cold dark was destroyed.

 

 

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