Truth Earned from Honesty

Second main installment in the Tutelary Spirit universe. Recommended reading order: Loyalty, Honesty, Generosity, Kindness, Laughter, and Friendship.
Many ages after the original adventures of the Elements of Harmony, a hybrid mare crosses the countryside, searching for the Element of Honesty. And just like the rest of her friends, Honesty is no longer just a simple bearer of her Element anymore.
She is her Element.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/216963/truth-earned-from-honesty

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2. The Mare of Honesty

"Did you hear about what happened at the excavation site?"

"At the discovered burial ground? Yes, I heard it from the workers. Terrible thing that was."

"Yeah, we should be glad that nopony was hurt."

"They'll have terrible dreams ahead of them though, that's for sure. I know I will. Just the very idea of the dead rising up to attack you gives me the willies."

"And it happened right after we had that big, important meeting with your tribe too. You guys were so worried that us ponies were going to destroy the sanctity of that burial ground."

"Indeed. Not to mention that after the incident some of my tribe's more... emotional elders were enraged and thought that the spirits were angry at you ponies. They wanted you guys off the land. Luckily for all of us, my Chieftain and your Honest Mare were able to quell them with the truth."

"It's still hard to believe. Zombies! Created from old voodoo magic. I didn't even know that that old war had reached these mountains."

"I heard that we have already dispatched a messenger to the Zebrican nation, to ask for reparations and a formal apology."

"What about the burial site? What's going to happen to it?"

"It's sealed off. Until the spell can be broken, the warriors of my tribe are patrolling around it to make sure the zombies don't escape. Luckily for us, voodoo zombies don't move around a lot unless ordered to."

"What if the spell can't be broken?"

"It is a shame, but the bodies would have to be burned, just like what your soldiers were trained to do in that terrible war. It's the best way to stop them from rising again."

Knock-knock!

Jazz Hop lowered her hoof after knocking on the wooden door. After nearly two hours of walking, of following the trail through the mountains, she had finally come upon the farm that River Crosser had mentioned to her. She could see that the farm in question was actually a small orchard, as rows of peaches, cherries, and apple trees stretched on in every direction for half a mile and surrounded a two-story, wooden farmhouse.

Trotting onto the farmhouse's porch, Jazz Hop knocked on the door two times and waited silently for a response. A couple moments later in silent waiting, the top-half of the door swung open and a mare earth pony appeared and set her forehooves to hang over the bottom half of the door. With bright, blue eyes and blonde curls that hanged over her head, the mare looked like the atypical farmer's daughter that so many country singers sang about. Behind her, in what looked like the farmhouse's living room, stood a large buffalo with a dark brown, wooly coat.

"Well, howdy there!" greeted the mare cheerfully with a bright smile, "I'm Golden, and what brings you to my fine orchard, stranger?"

"Oh! Um..." Jazz Hop rubbed the back of her neck embarrassingly, "This may sound ...well, silly, but I was told that the Mare of Honesty would be here."

All at once, the cheerful mare's cheerfulness instantly disappeared and was replaced with narrowed eyes and a suspicious look, "You're right, that is silly. May I ask who it was that told you such a silly thing?"

Jazz Hop frowned in disappointment, it was now clearly evident that the old unicorn had been off of his rocker and had sent her off on some delusional journey, "It was that old ferrier, he called himself River Crosser."

As easily as a flip of a bit, the blonde curled mare went from cheerfulness to suspicious to back to cheerfulness again, "Oh! Well why didn't you say so?" asked Golden with a happy-go-lucky smile, "Sorry about the mean look I was giving you. I sometimes have to drive off curious ponies from disturbing her too much. She's a very approachable pony, but even she needs her moments of peace and quiet, you know?"

"Wait, you mean she actually is here," accentuated a surprised Jazz Hop with hope in her gold eyes.

"Yesiree," said Golden proudly, her chin held up high, "she's been staying here for the past couple of weeks while she's visiting these mountains. We're quite honored really."

"Indeed," added the buffalo, his voice deep and heavy. Raising an eyebrow, he gave the striped mare an inquisitive stare, his eyes focusing on the stripes that laid against her back, "Pardon me for asking, but you wouldn't happen to know any voodoo spells, would you?"

"Uh, sorry, but no," said Jazz Hop, "I never really got interested in that kind of stuff. I'm just a dancer," she angled her body to show off the mark on her hindquarters: a tribal style outline of a pony in expressed movement with music notes surrounding the figure, "Why do you ask?"

"It's just a little situation that his tribe is dealing with," interjected Golden as she gave the buffalo a dirty look, before giving Jazz Hop a smile, "it's nothing that they can't handle, or something that a young mare like yourself should have to worry about."

"Um, okay," replied a confused Jazz Hop, "So is it okay if I can go and talk to the Mare of Honesty?"

"Oh, why sure thing, honey, you're alright," reassured Golden with a smile, "if River Crosser told you about this place, then it must be very important for you to see her. I don't think he'd send you up here if it wasn't."

"Undoubtedly," agreed the buffalo, "after all, he is one of Honesty's graced disciples. Gifted with a fraction of her insight for his display of honesty so long ago."

Jazz Hop's eyes widened in surprise at that, shocked to learn that the eccentric, old unicorn that she had been talking to not more than a couple of hours ago was so revered.

"But enough of us babbling, you've got a Mare of Honesty to meet," said Golden cheerfully before pointing a hoof over toward a red barn that sat past the orchards of apple trees, "She's just in that barn over there."

Turning around, Jazz Hop gazed at the barn in the distance. It was colored a classic red with white furnishing that made it a perfect example of the archetypical barn that one would see in picture books for foals. Turning back, she gave the mare a quizzical glance, "Why is the Mare of Honesty in a barn?"

"Peace and quiet," answered Golden matter-of-factly, "I mean, she didn't just sit on her rear and attend meetings while she was here, you know? She's also been working hard with the ponies around these parts," she informed the striped mare before raising her hoof to begin listing off such things, "like helping with construction, tilling the land, carrying barrels of stuff, doing repairs, and all sorts of things like that. It's really quite amazing to watch her work with us simple farmers, but work is still tiring, even for her," she leaned forward with a grin, "although you'd never know it just by looking at her, especially considering just how effortless she makes it seem," she pulled back, her face becoming more attentive as she got back on topic, "but anyways, what I'm saying is that she sometimes goes in that there barn every now-and-then to eat a light snack and rest on the hay bales," Golden gave a half-shrug, "You know, time to herself and all that."

Jazz Hop now looked unsure, "Maybe I should just wait for her to come out, instead of just barging in there and disturbing her?"

"Oh, now don't you worry. I don't think she'll mind," Golden assured her sweetly, "like I said, she's a very approachable pony, so go on right ahead."

"Well, if you say so. Thank you for your help," replied Jazz Hop before she turned around and trotted off the porch toward the barn. When she was half-way cutting through the apple orchards, she was stopped by the buffalo's voice.

"Oh! But watch out for her Totem Animal!" shouted the buffalo, almost as an afterthought.

"Her what!?" Jazz Hop yelled back, confused.

Her only response was Golden's laughter, "Don't worry about it, you'll find out soon enough!"

Befuddled at their words, Jazz Hop decided to continue on through the apple orchards nevertheless. As she moved further and further away from the farmhouse, she couldn't help but shiver as a natural silence surrounded her.

Finally, she came into the shadow of the barn, with the sun hiding just behind the tip of the roof. Placing a hoof against the barn door, she took a deep sigh and slowly pushed it forward.

Creak!

The door let out a horrible whine as she opened it, with another just as horrible one screaming out as she closed it behind her. Now fully inside of the barn, she let her eyes scan its interior. Its visibility was dull with thick shadows clinging to the walls, while the only light source came from the sun's rays that only reached through by some of the roof's insulated openings. The little that she could see, before her eyes adjusted to the darkness, were rows of wooden support beams and barrels of fruits that lined against the walls. Hay was also scattered everywhere on the floor with square hay bales piled up in corners.

What stood out the most though, was the music that bounced off of the barn walls. It was soothing, but also upbeat. Jazz Hop recognized it as a country song that would play over the radio all the time back at her home. In fact, as she listened to it closely, she could make out the subtle backdrop noises that a radio would make.

"Grrrrr!"

That wasn't any noise that a radio would make. Swiftly turning her head to the shadows at her left, Jazz Hop was just fast enough to see something big leap at her before it collided and knocked her on her back.

Shaking her head to quickly recover from the collision, Jazz Hope gazed up to what had knocked her down. And what she saw caused her pupils to fearfully shrink to the size of pinpricks.

Pushing her down so that her back pressed against the hay covered floor, Jazz Hop saw that she had been pounced by a great canine. It was big, as big as her in both height and overall size. Completely covered in ragged fur that was divided between brown and white, the beast growled down at her with bared teeth as it held her down by its powerful paws.

But what was most terrifying were the beast's four eyes. Each one glowed white from some kind of magical power that gave the beast a demonic visage. With two on each side of the canine's face, they were slanted at a downward angle and thinly narrowed, creating a threatening sight as it stared down at her.

Jazz Hop was no foal, she had heard the stories, and she knew what this beast was. This was Honesty's familiar; her pet, her companion. The Hel beast that hunted down the liars and cheats, and dragged them off to the pits of Tartarus if they did not confess to their crimes.

And here she was, pinned under the great beast.

Just as she was about to scream out every minor discrepancy that she had ever committed in her life, Jazz Hop was saved from the embarrassing confession by a commanding voice.

"Winona!" yelled out the loud voice before letting off a calling whistle. At the sound, the great canine pinning her down relaxed its threatening stance and adopted a more playful nature. It raised its head, let its ears droop floppily, and had its tongue hang from its jaw. Barking merrily, the large beast leapt off of Jazz Hop and raced off toward the back of the barn.

Frozen on the ground and breathing fast, Jazz Hop took a moment to gather her wits and calm herself as she stared up at the barn's ceiling. After taking a deep breath, she slowly turned over and raised herself back to her full height. Shivering at the barn's warm temperature, Jazz Hop gulped once and slowly trotted after the canine, to where the voice had come from.

When she had reached the back of the barn, she found no trace of the canine, instead she had found a simple, wooden table that was hidden behind some stacked barrels. The table was tall enough that her chin could rest on it easily, and it stood under a beam of light that flowed out from an upper opening. Placed on it was a couple of apples and a large mug of cider that foamed at the top. Sitting on an opposite corner of the table was a small radio that continued to play out the same soothing country music that she had first heard when she walked in.

And past the table, behind the beam of light, clouded in shadow, and resting atop a square hay bale, was a mare. Shrouded as she was, Jazz Hop found it difficult to make her out fully, but from what she could see, the mare in question seemed to be an earth pony with a larger build than what was average for most. She also wore a Stetson hat on her head and had it angled over most of her face, like how it would be worn when a pony was trying to sleep. Finally, she was laid across the hay bale casually, her forehooves hanging off of its edge and her head resting on top of them.

Jazz Hop leaned forward to try and get a better look at the mare, but she quickly snapped her head back, startled when the mare raised her head and tilted it toward Jazz Hop's direction.

"Howdy," greeted the mare normally, giving a slight nod toward Jazz Hop, "sorry 'bout Winona, she can get mighty protective 'round me. I hope she didn't hurt yeh."

"No, I'm-I'm fine," Jazz Hop stuttered out, a little surprised at hearing the twang accent in the greeting. She pawed a hoof against the floor nervously as she stared at the figure, "are... are you the Mare of Honesty?"

The mare was quiet for a small moment of thought before finally replying, "Y'know, it's considered polite to give yer name first before askin' for mine," she answered, slight humor etched in her tone.

"Oh! Sorry," apologized Jazz Hop before putting a hoof to her chest in greeting, "my name is Jazz Hop."

"Good to meet yeh, Jazz Hop," replied the mare, "and yes," she nodded, "folks do tend to call me by that title. But I'd prefer it if y'all jus' called me by my regular name. It's much easier to say anyhow," the now revealed Mare of Honesty tapped her hoof against the table, causing an apple to roll off of it. She caught the apple with her hoof and took a large bite out of it, chewing it appreciatively, before finishing it off with another large bite, "Why do yeh ask? Yeh need my help with somethin'?" she said in between her bites.

"Not me, no," Jazz Hop shook her head in the negative, "but my grandmother does. Her name is Candlelight."

At her words, the Mare of Honesty paused in her chewing, but only for a second, before resuming again to swallow the apple. She kept quiet after that, with only the radio blaring on to fill in the silence. Its country tunes were the only noise to pervade the barn's interior.

A hoof reached out and turned the radio off with a click.

Silence.

Then the Mare of Honesty let loose a few chuckles, "Ain't that right?" she muttered. She then removed herself off of the hay bale and let her hooves land on the barn's wooden floorboards with a loud clomp! Raising a hoof, she pushed the Stetson hat back behind her head until it rested between the backsides of both of her ears.

She then walked into the beam of light and Jazz Hop could not help but stare in awe.

When she was younger, Jazz Hop remembered the stories her grandma would tell her about the Mare of Honesty, and how she would describe her like she was one of the powerful horses of mythical legend. When she got older, Jazz Hop believed her grandma had simply been exaggerating.

She wasn't.

The Mare of Honesty had a body that imbued strength and prowess, and displayed it as clearly as a shining beacon. She stood tall, towering over Jazz Hop exponentially by at least a full head length above the smaller mare's. Equal in height to Princess Luna herself, only Princess Celestia, the goddess of the sun, could claim to be able to stand taller than this Honest Mare. With this empowering stature of hers, she was provided large, powerful muscles that fit perfectly into her frame, while allowing her to retain a feminine physique.

At her quarters, emblazoned against her coat, were three red apples that served as her mark. Her coat was colored a bright, tangerine orange, like the glowing landscape of a desert during the final hours of a waning sun. The hair of both her mane and tail were burned blonde in color and were both tied in the classic ponytail style by a red band. Distinctively, the strands of her mane and tail appeared paradoxically coarse and rough, yet also smooth at the same time. Her hair reminded Jazz Hop of home, and of the endless wheat fields there that stretched on for miles.

But the most enthralling aspect about the Mare of Honesty were her eyes. They were the deepest and most piercing orbs that she had ever seen in her life. Green irises shined brightly like emerald gems and pulled her own eyes deep into the mare's pupils with an unmatched attraction. Every second that Jazz Hop stared into them she felt like they were piercing into her very identity, uncovering every little thing about her that was possible to know. But this was alright. Because those deep windows were so welcoming too, as if she could trust her with all of her secrets. Never before in her short existence had she seen such trustworthy eyes.

Before Jazz Hop, she stood there, the Mare of Honesty; the tutelary patron of integrity and sincerity, and the living embodiment of the Element of Honesty.

And it was only now, after all this time she spent looking for her, as Honesty towered before her like a statuesque idol, that Jazz Hop fully realized just how important and sacred this mare was. As if not of her own will, Jazz Hop's body started to lower before her.

Those trustful, yet so piercing eyes narrowed at this action.

"You start bowin' to me or treatin' me all royally-like, and I'll kick you out of this barn myself," the Mare of Honesty informed her in an authoritative voice, "Yeh hear me?"

Immediately freezing in mid-bow, Jazz Hop sprung herself back to her full height, "Yeh-I mean, yes! I hear you," she replied frantically.

"Good, 'cause I hate it when ponies act that way 'round me," she gave Jazz Hop a serious stare, "and I don' want yeh to call me 'Mare of Honesty' or any other such title while we're travelin'. My name's Applejack, and I expect yeh to call me such, is that understood?"

"Yes, Mare-I mean, yes, Applejack," nodded Jazz Hop, stumbling over her words before she shook her head and stared back, confused, "wait... traveling?"

The Element of Honesty known as Applejack gave her a pleasant grin, "Your granny's Candlelight, right?"

Jazz Hop nodded once.

"Well then," said Applejack, a knowing smile wrapping around her face as she looked at Jazz Hop with her piercing eyes, "I suppose it's high time that I finally gave her that visit I promised her so long ago, and it'd be rude of me to jus' leave yeh here, so c'mon, I'll give yeh a ride back home." With that, she trotted toward the barn's entrance, her height causing her shadow to encompass the striped mare entirely as she passed her by.

For a moment, Jazz Hop stood there, frozen in shock and unbelieving of what had just happened, before a small smile crossed her features and she did a tiny hop of joy. Turning around, she quickly followed after Applejack with a skip in her step.

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