The Growing Years

This story is a sequel to A Different Perspective
Both the House of Path and Herd Path enjoy strong growth in the years following their establishment. Like all such things though, they both have their highlights and lowlights. These are vignettes in the lives of the children of Twilight, Path, Free, & Roseclaw, from foals to young adults.
This is a series of stand-alone stories of events that occur after the events of A Different Perspective, which I strongly recommend that you read first.
My collaborator, AlaskaIsCold, has written some of these and I mostly just edited them.


11. Spring Break - part three

The sun was still low on the horizon as the hunting pack flew in a large V-formation. Blue flew up next to the hunt-master as they came upon the herd. “And you are sure those are non-sapient?”

The large male dragon grinned. “You have Cinder’s heart, which means if one of us was to trick you, we would face the matriarch’s wrath, which is something none of us want.”

Blue circled around the small herd while the others started to talk and coordinate their strike. Looking over to Cinder’s father, he asked, “How many of the herd were you wanting to take?”

The dragon just laughed. “We are lucky to get two or three. It's why we need to hunt every day.”

Blue just looked at them confused. “You’re dragons… can't you just swoop down and breathe fire all over everything?”

“Breathing fire tends to take a lot of out of us. Also, they are small while we are large, and they can out maneuver us surprisingly easily.”

Blue just looked at the herd – this one wasn’t a very large, maybe about a dozen. He then had an idea, or rather a spark of inspiration. He thought back to the siege on the Crystal City castle and the role he played. He approached the hunt-master. “I have an idea. Can you stay up here while I fly down there? If this works, I bet we could take them all at once.”

The hunt-master was skeptical, but nodded in permission, curious to see what the earth pony was going to try.

“Watch for my signal!” Blue started to glide away to the east, downwind of the herd.

One of the smaller males moved up to talk to Cinder’s father. “What is the pony doing?”

“I'm not sure, but let's see what he can do. Worst case scenario: we all get to laugh as the pony fails and gets head-butted by a goat. Best case scenario: we won’t have to hunt for a few days.”

The dragon pack soared on the thermals too high for the goats to notice while they waited.

Blue landed on the ground about six miles away, tightly folded his wings, and activated his special horse shoes. His eyes went wide as he felt the sudden surge of power. He was unaware that without earth ponies drawing constantly from the land, there was an abundance of earth mana that he'd never felt before!

High up in the sky, the hunt-master and the other males saw three flashes of light coming from the horizon. “That must be his signal. Let's begin a slow descent so we can see what he's about to do.”

The hunt-master made a motion, and the dragons started to descend.

“LOOK AT THE HORIZON!” One of the younger hunters yelled out.

They stopped and watched as a huge plume of dust moving in a straight line started to head toward the small herd. It accelerated, and just as it passed through the herd a loud boom echoed through the plains, the tall grass flattening around the herd as the streak kept going.

The hunt-master swooped down as did the rest of the dragons.

# # #

Cinder and her mother were talking with the seer when the ground rumbled and a low-pitched rolling boom echoed through the encampment.

“What… what was that?” A few of the males tending to the eggs started to worry as they fussed and curled around them, while two of the larger females stood tall and looked around warily.

“That’s my guy,” Cinder said proudly.

“The pony made that sound?” Her mother just blinked disbelievingly.

# # #

When the hunt-master landed, he saw that the majority of the goats had been completely knocked unconscious, although not killed.

Blue returned and skidded to a halt in front of them with a broad grin on his face. “Not bad for a pony, hmmm?”

Cinder’s father rolled his eyes a bit and patted Blue on the head with one of his talons. “You’re a good kid. I wasn’t expecting you to be so… fast.”

A few of the other males landed and started chanting at Blue. “Shuurkhai Odoi! Shuurkhai Odoi!”

Blue looked at the hunt-master who just grinned. “Looks like you just earned your name, Shuurkhai Odoi.”

“What does that even mean?” Blue asked.

“It means Swift Pony. A name well-earned, all things considered.” He chuckled a bit. “But it is not every day that somebody executes a hunt as well as this. Pick the biggest one – it is yours.”

Blue walked over to the largest one, probably the male that was guiding the herd. “Can we tie this one up? I want to give it to Cinder as a gift.”

The large male looked amazed before he looked to the rest of the dragons and said something which caused them to cheer. One of them roped up the largest goat as the rest started to pick out their own.

“You might want to go over to that stream for a few minutes while we… prepare the goats to be brought back. We will leave yours alive for Cinder.”

Blue nodded and trotted off in the direction of the water. He went quite a ways out before he found some particularly green grass next to the water, with some tasty daisies nearby. ‘Well, the doc did say that I still had to eat greens to get some vitamins,’ he thought as he leaned down and started to graze, slowly moving from one patch to another.

# # #

The hunt-master and the others were hard at work field-dressing the goats, while one of them was readying the Blue’s one for carrying back alive. “Does he know what it means when he gives a female the largest prey in a hunt?”

The hunt-master chuckled. “He isn’t stupid. He might not know the details, but he knows his intent. I bet he plans on making a huge fuss about it in front of Cinder’s moth–”

He was cut off when he heard a loud whinny. He didn’t know what it meant, but he could hear the fear and he knew that it was in the direction that Blue had gone.

“Oh no, no, no, no!” The hunt-master took off and flew low to the ground until he saw the clearing next to the river. His eyes went wide. “Ooh… Cinder is going to kill me.” He inhaled deeply and let out a massive plume of fire into the sky. In a few moments two other dragons were with him and they flew down to the pony.

In front of them was a scene of carnage. Blue was lying down on his belly, breathing hard, one of his eyes closed. His flank was badly ripped, and red was staining his blue coat. The beast, also known as a smilodon, was lying motionless on his back. The hunt-master examined the beast. He put a talon to its chest only to feel a massive hoof indentation and broken ribs – the pony had put enough force and speed behind his buck to push the beast’s sternum into his heart.

“By the birth mother… he took out a smilodon!”

The hunt-master called the rest of the hunting party over and they picked up the passed-out Blue Streak, his kill plus the rest of the goats, and headed back to the encampment.

# # #

You did what?!” Everyone stopped when the matriarch started to openly yell at her husband, the hunt-master. “How could you just let him go out on his own?! There are things out there that don’t exist even in their nightmares!” The matriarch grabbed the hunt-master and dragged him into the head yurt. Cinder ran past the feuding pair to see an unconscious Blue Streak being taken into the seer’s hut, along with the smilodon. She was about to walk in when she was stopped by a smaller female, the seer’s apprentice.

“I am sorry, but if you want her to save Blue Streak, you have to let her work. I will come to your yurt when he can be seen.” The dragon tried to smile.

Cinder huffed and stomped off. She was clearly worried about Blue Streak, but she was also worried about what would happen when the leader of a multinational organization and his two alicorn family members found out that their son was injured.

# # #

It was a pleasant night at House Path. ‘Aunt’ Luna was over again and was playing with Destined. She would lightly toss a brightly colored ball with her magic, and he would capture it in his own magic and throw it back as hard as he could. He thought it was fun, however Twilight and Luna knew what she was doing. Helping a pony practice their magic at an early age was proven to increase their strength later on in life.

Lucida was with Twilight, quietly reading a book, while Free was helping Pif practice her shape-shifting ability. Slick was scurrying around the pair, and every few moments he would flip a card up from a deck and show it to the both of them. The picture could be of any species that a changeling could shift into. Free was not okay with how easily his daughter was beating him.

“Eee!” Pif clapped as Slick moved over to a chalkboard, picked up a stick of chalk, and scrawled another line under Pif’s name. The score was now Pif: 9 to Free: 1.

The trottie rang and Path got up to answer it, connecting it to a crystal headset – one of Twilight’s latest innovations. Everyone stopped and looked at Path as he spoke.

“Huh…. Okay…. Okay…. Yeah… Hmmm makes sense… I see… Okay… No, no, it’s okay… Yes… Okay… Tonight?... Got it… Bye, Cinder!” Path hung up the trottie and looked at Free. “Remember the time when you thought about the thing in case of the other thing with the thing?” Path hit his left hoof on the ground once… twice… then hit his right hoof once.

Twilight and Luna just looked at Path, confused by the utter nonsense he had just said. However, Free walked over to Twilight and shifted into his alicorn form. He then sat on Twilight so his belly was on her back.

“Free! Get off!” Twilight started to light up her horn, but her magic shorted out when he gave her horn a long lick. Twilight crumpled back down onto the ground with a groan. “Really – is this really necessary?” Twilight grumbled.

Path replied, “Once I tell you about my conversation, it will be. I know Luna is a lot more mature, so she’s less likely to just randomly run off in a concerned rage.”

Now Path had everyone’s attention.

“So that was Cinder. Blue was actually doing okay for his second day there. They gave him a dragon name after the hunt pack saw him single-handedly incapacitate a herd of feral goats. They ended up getting enough food to last for about four days.” Path stated.

Twilight frowned. “While I would imagine that you would think I would be mad at him for hunting, he was raised in a Griffonian environment where hunting is the norm, so as long as they were non-sapient, I’m okay with that.” She let out a frustrated groan as her gradually-charging horn was again discharged when Free gave it another lick.

“Well that’s not the bad part,” Path continued. “The bad news is that when Blue separated from the hunting group to graze while they prepared the goats for transport back home, he was ambushed by a smilodon.”

WHAT?!” Twilight screeched as her horn lit up violently in preparation for a teleport spell, only to be dispelled by another lick to her horn. “Nngghh…” Twilight crumpled again.

“I expect there is more to the story, or else thou wouldst not be telling us this so calmly?” Luna said with an edge in her voice.

“You are correct. Blue was rushed back to their encampment and is currently being looked after by the seer of the clan. She told Cinder that he will be fine in a few days, and that he’s managed to impress the Matriarch. A smilodon is very hard for a dragon to take down, and even more so by an unarmed earth pony. Still though, if it’s not too much trouble, Luna, could you take a look at him when you’re dream-walking tonight?”

Luna nodded in agreement. “I had intended to do so anyway.”

Path smiled as he sat back down. “Still, I restate again: Blue will be fine. Can I have Free get off of you without worrying about you trying to teleport away, Twilight?”

Twilight fumed but then huffed. “Fine…”

Free got up and Twilight narrowed her eyes at him. “You are cut off – two weeks!”

The changeling queen let out a piteous whine but Twilight turned away in a huff. Free grinned and winked at the others.

Path, Luna and Roseclaw chuckled, knowing full well that Twilight wasn’t serious and would quickly relent. Little Pif laughed too, not really knowing what it all meant, but enjoying the taste of good humor.

# # #

Back at the Dragon Lands, the blue earth pony was resting in the large yurt. The seer had been able to stop the bleeding and stabilize him. The seer placed him on the floor in the center of the room, still unconscious. She drew runes all along the edge of the yurt, as well as on Blue himself, and they lightly glowed before fading into the ground. She kept the yurt warm as she slowly petted the top of his head as he shivered. All of those runes were working to funnel the abundant mana in the ground towards the pony. She looked over at his flank where three large gashes were slashed through his left cutie mark. However, his body was mending the wound faster than she had expected.

“It is not your time yet. You have a greater purpose to fulfill… Shuurkhai Odoi!” she hissed.

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