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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3. The Truth

"So... you drive a canvas wagon?"

After double-checking the harness that was wrapped around her body with a tight pull, Applejack simply answered, "Eeyup." Looking behind her to see the canvas wagon that she was tied to, she found Jazz Hop leaning out from the front opening with a confused look about her.

"Shouldn't you have a sky chariot or a stagecoach pulled by a hundred muscled stallions," asked Jazz Hop quizzically, "or something much more fitting for the Mare of-er, I mean, for somepony of your standing?"

Applejack snorted and gave an exaggerated roll of her piercing eyes, "I ain't really into such lavish things," she remarked almost distastefully so, before gaining a proud grin, "a simple wagon like this is good enough for me."

To Jazz Hop, the 'simple wagon' in question seemed a bit less than just 'simple,' as it looked rather abused and aged instead, what with how the wood seemed splintered and its exterior was caked with dirt. This created quite the contrasting image when compared to the Honest Mare that pulled it, who's coat and mane seemed to shine as bright as the sun when in the daylight.

Having answered the striped mare, Applejack then twisted her head in the direction of the buffalo and blonde-curled mare that stood watching them from the porch of their farmhouse. Seeing that the Mare of Honesty was giving them attention, Golden trotted off the porch and headed toward the exalted mare that had been living on her property for the past week, with the buffalo following behind her.

When they approached, Applejack gave them a sincere smile, "I wanna thank y'all for lettin' me stay here. It was mighty kind of yeh."

Grinning, Golden waved her off with a hoof, "Please, what were we going to do? Say 'no' to the Mare of Honesty?" she replied, her voiced etched in playful sarcasm, "My parents raised me better than that, you know?"

Applejack chuckled at that, "True, but I still want to thank yeh. Y'all respected my request to keep quiet about my stay here and I'm grateful for that. I've known many ponies that wouldn't want to keep my stayin' here a secret, so I have a gift for y'all."

"A gift?" asked a surprised Golden, "Was all that you did for us and the folks around here not enough for you?"

"Eenope," smiled Applejack cheekily before turning her head back toward the apple orchards and calling out, "Winona!"

Running out from somewhere behind the fields of apple trees was the great, four-eyed canine. As it swiftly headed toward their position, they could see that the large beast had an object within its powerful jaws.

Halting beside its master, the canine placed the item from in its jaws onto the ground before the blonde-curled mare and wagged its tail happily.

Golden raised an eyebrow as she gazed down at her so called 'gift'. It was a glass, cylinder container that held-

"Dirt," stated Golden before she looked back up at Applejack with a deadpan expression, "This is a jar of dirt."

"I prefer to call it soil," replied Applejack with a smile, "magical soil, actually. Me and Twilight mixed a batch of that up when we were tryin' to fix the wasteland a couple centuries back. Didn't so much work on that desolate place, but it works everywhere else. So if y'all ever have a bad harvest, jus' spread that soil over your land and y'all have the trees and bushes practically throwin' their fruit at yeh."

"Thank you, Applejack," said Golden, her eyes wide as she stared at the jar of magical soil, before looking back up at the Mare of Honesty with a sincere expression, "I honestly don't know what to say."

"Ah shucks, sugarcube, ain't nothin' that needs to be said," Applejack waved-off kindly, "Just need yeh to accept the gift is all."

"The tribe will be sad to hear of your leaving," informed the buffalo, stepping forward as he looked up at her, "especially when the situation with the voodoo zombies is still left unresolved."

From inside the canvas wagon, Jazz Hop's nimble tail twitched and her ears propped attentively at the words. Her bright, gold eyes were curious at the conversation and she had this sudden, strange urge to make herself seem smaller.

"Now don't you worry none about them zombies," Applejack assured him, "I'm sure that the zebras will send down an expert soon enough and have those zombies properly laid to rest. If not, then I have faith that yer chieftain will be entirely capable of handlin' a few walkin' corpses."

"Anyways, it's 'bout time I hit the road," continued Applejack without pause, before looking down at her familiar and gesturing toward the wagon with her head, "Winona, hop on in there."

The Hel beast called Winona gave a happy bark before running around the wagon and jumping into its back.

"Eep!" squeaked Jazz Hop in surprise as the large canine sat next to her. Its tongue lolled out dumbly as it panted.

"It were nice meetin' y'all, but, as they say, I gotta get back on the ol' dusty trail," Applejack gave the blonde-curled mare and the large buffalo a genuine smile, "so this is goodbye for now."

The buffalo gave her a brief nod, "Goodbye to you then."

"Come back and visit us some time, okay?" Golden said cheerfully.

"I'll do that! Until then," Applejack then reigned herself up, her forelegs kicking high into the air, "Yeehaw!" she hollered out enthusiastically. When her hooves hit the ground again, she sprung herself forward with a strong gallop, carrying her and the wagon she pulled speedily across the road.

 

 

Fields of bronze stretched on for what seemed endlessly as the tall grass of the prairie blew listlessly in the wind. Their sheer massive numbers created a flowing landscape, only disturbed by a random tree here-and-there that jutted out above the field.

Only a short time had gone by since their leaving of the orchard, and the mountain range was already just a small backdrop in the distance. The many miles that were accomplished in such a miniscule period were due to the Mare of Honesty's greater stature that lent her farther strides not available to most ponies. Combined with that, her powerful muscles and amazing endurance allowed her to cross wide distances without interference. Jazz Hop saw her literally kick away boulders the same size as herself like it was nothing, and all just so that she wouldn't have to divert her course or cause damage to the wagon.

That said, they had started late in the day and Celestia had already overturned her rule to her sister of the night, to whom had laid a blanket of stars over their heads. When the moon's glow had cast across them, Applejack had decided to call for a rest even though no strain or exhaustion were evident on her. At the first available opportunity, she stopped the wagon under an overhanging tree and removed the harness from herself, before immediately setting to work on a campfire.

And now there they were, under a lonesome tree in a prairie field of emptiness, with an orange, glowing ball of fire between the two mares, while Luna's artwork dazzled the sky.

Not that Jazz Hop was really taking the time to appreciate Luna's starry sky, as she was quite preoccupied at the moment.

Currently, she was sitting with her rear in the dirt, as the fire glowed orange over her coat. Her body was rigid and still as she nervously looked down at what was at her hooves.

At her hooves was Winona, Honesty's familiar and the terrifying canine that hunted down the wicked for the cells of Tartarus. And here she was, on her back, her paws hanging in the air, a tongue rolled out of her jaw, and rubbing against Jazz Hop's hooves with the back of her head as she looked up at the mare with all four of her eyes while giving off miserable whines.

Jazz Hop was utterly befuddled.

"Are yeh gonna rub her belly or not?"

Springing her head straight, Jazz Hop looked across the dancing fire with a startled and unbelieving face, "What!?" she cried.

On the other side of the small campfire, Applejack laid over the ground casually and gave her an amused look, "She jus' want's yeh to rub her belly," she said lightheartedly, "and she's been whinin' for nearly ten minutes now, so she ain't gonna stop until yeh do."

Staring back in disbelief for a second, Jazz Hop nervously reached a hoof down and proceeded to give the Hel beast a tummy rub. To which Winona started letting off moans of delight as one of her hind legs started habitually kicking the air.

Seeing the sight, the Mare of Honesty shook her head and let out a few small chuckles, "That dog can sure be spoiled sometimes."

"Yeah..." commented Jazz Hop absentmindedly, preoccupied with giving the large dog an amazing tummy rub. As she did so, her golden eyes soon trailed up to look at Applejack, at the Mare of Honesty. She opened her mouth, but no words came out, "Uh..."

"Go ahead and ask," spoke Applejack suddenly.

"What?"

"I said, go ahead and ask," she repeated nonplussed before sending out a knowing gaze toward the striped mare, "I'm sure that you've got some questions 'bout me; ponies always do. So go ahead and ask 'em," she smiled, "I promise I won't bite yer head off for it."

"Well, I was just wondering..." Jazz Hop's words trailed off as she looked down for a brief glance at Winona before turning back to Applejack, "is it true that your pet hunts down bad ponies and drags them to Tartarus?"

Applejack blinked once, before she reared her head up and let out laughs that echoed across the fields of grass, "Is that what's got yeh so nervous, sugarcube?" she asked between chucks of laughter, "Aw shucks, yeh don't need to worry 'bout Winona. She don't do that. I mean, yeah, she can find anythin' or anypony with that nose of hers, if she's got the scent, but she don't drag anypony to Tartarus. So you can go ahead and stop tremblin' so much around her, she ain't gonna drag yeh down to any fiery pits."

Jazz Hop let out a relieved sigh as she continued to rub Winona's belly, only now much less worrisome-like, "So what's with her eyes? I mean, why does she have four?"

"Oh, that's jus' from her bein' a familiar," Applejack answered nonchalantly, "magical animals always got some extra limbs that they shouldn't be havin'. Honestly, I'm jus' glad she don't have an extra head, especially considerin' jus' how much time she spends with Cerberus."

Jazz Hop paused in her tummy rubbing, letting a silence pervade between the two of them as she looked down at the four-eyed canine warily; quite unsure on how to respond to this new information. A needy whine from Winona prompted her to resume her rubbing of the belly and she quickly decided to not dwell on the relationship of Honesty's familiar with Tartarus's watchdog.

"So," said Applejack casually, not at all perturbed in speech by the previous conversation, "am I correct in assumin' that yer a dancer?"

Jazz Hop nodded once, "You are."

"Good for you," complimented Applejack, "Where do yeh dance?"

"Las Pegasus."

Applejack raised an eyebrow, "I didn't know we were goin' that far?"

"We're not," replied Jazz Hop, "Granny still lives in our farm that's just up north from the city. I only moved to Las Pegasus to advance my dancing career."

"Ah," nodded Applejack, "Dancin' in Las Pegasus..." she mused loudly, before looking at the striped mare with a curious eye, "So, when yeh say that yer a dancer in Las Pegasus..."

"No, I'm not that kind of dancer," answered Jazz Hop in an accentuated tone, "I don't do that anymore."

The raise of an eyebrow, "Anymore?"

"Well... yeah. I mean, nopony becomes successful in a day and I had to make my bits somehow while I was living alone in that big city," Jazz Hop's gold eyes met Honesty's own emeralds in a long stare, "I'm not ashamed of it, you know," she said, her tone serious, "my talent in dancing and my..." her nimble, zebra tail flicked once, "exoticness always brought in large crowds, so I was never short on cash, which meant I could always afford food and a roof over my head, even when I was so far away from home. I was never a burden on anypony and, through perseverance, I've now become a dancer in theater and music performances," proudly, she showed off her pearly whites in a grin, "just like how I've always wanted to be."

"Well, congratulations on achievin' yer career goal," replied Applejack sincerely, "and I weren't judgin' yeh, sugarcube. I've met plenty of mares in my lifetimes who were truthfully happy workin' that type of job, and I never respected them less for it. If anythin', I respect yeh more now for bein' so honest about it."

Jazz Hop grinned proudly at that statement, "Thank you, that really means a lot to me, especially coming from you," she said before she bashfully swiped a lock of her mane away from her face, "in fact, you're actually kind of a role model for me."

"Really? Me?" teased Applejack with amusement written on her face, before she turned away in mock embarrassment, "Aw shucks, sugarcube. Yer makin' me blush."

Cheeks tinted like roses, Jazz Hop replied, "I know, not exactly the newest concept. But it's still true. You see, every night when I was a filly, while my mom and dad were busy working in the fields, my grandma would always tell me these tall fables about you before bed. I was always enthralled with them as a filly, and I like to think that they taught me how to be honest in my life."

"Is that so?" said Applejack, her head tilted down so that only her tender smile could be seen from under her hat, "Sounds to me like it was Candlelight that really taught yeh what it means to be honest."

"...Yeah," said Jazz Hop, her eyes traveling off into the distance, "she really did."

"Ruff!" barked Winona, startling Jazz Hop out of her meticulous rubbing of the familiar's belly. It seemed that Winona had finally decided that that was enough tummy rubs for the time being. The large canine flipped herself over onto her stomach, before standing up, giving herself a shake, and running off into the field of grass with another bark. As she watched the familiar disappear behind the blades of grass, Jazz Hop raised a curious eyebrow.

"Where is she going?" she asked.

"Hmm? Oh, never mind her, she runs off all the time," replied Applejack casually with a dismissive wave of her hoof, "she always comes back when I call for her, no matter where I am, so I ain't ever worried." Applejack gained a friendly smirk, "Now tell me, what were these tall tales 'bout me that yer granny were tellin'? Are they just as over-exaggerated as I think they are?"

"Well, one story was about how you lived in a fantastical garden palace that you magically grew from just a few plants," answered Jazz Hop before she put a hoof to her chin in thought, "I believe the moral lesson in that story was how honest work, plus time and patience, can give you the most amazing of rewards."

"Good lesson, but that story is definitely an exaggeration," chuckled Applejack, "I think she was talkin' 'bout the Royal Greenhouse of Canterlot, 'cause that's where I spend most of my time when I've gotta be in the capital for a while. It gets me away from the nobility's upper-crust, if yeh hear me?" a small, knowing smile whipped across her face, before Applejack raised her head to ponder in thought, "as for me growin' it, well... I'll admit that that part's kinda true. I most definitely grew a lot of the plants in there and I also helped with the construction when it was jus' gettin' started all them years ago, but I definitely don't live in it. They've got a room set aside for each of us Elements in the Canterlot palace, and I may be a stubborn work-pony, but I'm not dumb enough to turn away a good bed when it's offered. And they've got some mighty fine beds up there."

"Wow, the Canterlot palace," said an amazed Jazz Hop, "it must be wonderful living there."

"Yeah, I guess," Applejack commented dismissively with a simple shrug, "It's a big, royal palace with fancy tapestries and even fancier-talkin' ponies," a frown creased her features, "and I wouldn't exactly say it's where I live, as the place never felt like somethin' I could call a home." With a smile, she put a hoof over her chest, "I'm a farmpony at heart," she said proudly, "and a farmpony's gotta have an open sky over her head and plenty of space 'round her. It's what's right. So I like to travel 'round the countryside a lot and spend time with the good, hard-workin' ponies that live there."

Jazz Hop grinned brightly, "Granny always told me that the reason that cities were always so full of liars and cheats was because Honesty loved the countryside."

"Heh heh," chuckled Applejack with a small smile, "Well, I don't know 'bout that, sugarcube," she admitted, before she stood up to her impressive height and began kicking dirt into the campfire, its flames flickering wildly from the suffocation, "Anyways, let's try and get some sleep now. I'm sure yeh don't want to return home dead tired."

Jazz Hop flinched, before quickly recovering with a nod of her head, "R-Right, good idea," she agreed, a stutter on her lips. She stayed still for a moment in silence as she quietly watched the Mare of Honesty stamp out the last of the fire's embers. As she watched, her legs started slowly curling into herself protectively.

Noticing this, Applejack briefly paused in her stomping, glancing down at Jazz Hop with knowing eyes as the hybrid mare continued to silently stare at the dying embers. She let her attention return to the beating of her hooves against the fireplace to finish the job, "Y'know, it's okay to cry."

Startled out of her reverie, Jazz Hop looked up at Applejack with a confused expression, "What?"

"I said that it's okay to cry," repeated Applejack distractedly as she finished stomping out the glowing, little pinpricks of the campfire's remains with a final slam of her hoof. Raising her head, Applejack looked at Jazz Hop with a serious stare, "Look, sugarcube, I know that yer doin' this 'cause yeh love yer granny," she smiled, "and that's very good of yeh, somethin' to be proud of," her smile disappeared as quickly as it came, replaced by a small, sincere frown, "but ponies don't go lookin' for somepony like me, jus' 'cause a family member asked 'em to," her eyes softened, "and I can see that yer puttin' on a tough face for yourself, but I'm tellin' yeh, sincerely, that it's okay to cry."

Jazz Hop turned her head away, avoiding Applejack's gaze, "Look, thank you. I'll miss her, I really will, but I'm fine, really," assured the striped mare.

Applejack stood motionless over the remains of the campfire, "Jazz Hop," she uttered, her voice serious, "look at me."

Turning her head back to again reassure Applejack, Jazz Hop was immediately stopped frozen when she looked into her eyes; into those Honest eyes. Captured by those piercing, green irises of hers, Jazz Hop felt completely bare and exposed before those emerald oceans, like they could see every flaw of her character. Entranced as she was, she barely noticed how they seemed to draw closer to her, that is until she found Applejack laying down next to her.

The Mare of Honesty looked down pitifully at the hybrid mare, who had instinctively curled herself into a ball to make herself seem smaller, and she softly whispered, "Stop lyin' to yourself."

And Jazz Hop did just that.

Rivers of tears trailed down Applejack's coat and whimpers were muffled against her fur as Jazz Hop cried into Honesty's embrace. She cried because she knew what was going to happen, because she knew that it was inevitable, and because she knew that there was nothing that she could do to stop it.

"I don't want her to...I-I don't want to say goodbye to her," whimpered out Jazz Hop.

But most of all, she cried because she was being honest with herself, because these things did hurt her, and that it was good for her to finally admit this.

And the Mare of Honesty didn't say anything, she just let the broken-down mare cry into her coat. Let her finally acknowledge the pain.

She always was good at catching the liars.

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