Amid the daylight and the busy market place, the distant black streak in the sky was hardly noticeable to Spiral Winds. She flew haphazardly through the town square, only barely missing the shop keepers. "W-W-woah-oh-oh-oh!!! Coming through!" she shouted to the unsuspecting ponies she was weaving through. A disgruntled shopkeeper shouted at her to watch her wings after she barreled through his applecart. She struggled to keep herself in the air, her blue striped snow white hair obscuring her view as it flew wildly in the wind, as she made her way to the outskirts of town.
When Spiral finally came to a halt, it was face first in the ground near a stone bridge that lead to the outskirts of town. "he he. you're such a goofball Windsie." giggled Sky, a white mare with silky light blue hair and three clouds as her cutie mark. She smiled down to Spiral with bright teal eyes, fluffing her wings as she offered a hoof to her friend.
Spiral hopped back onto all fours with out any help squealing with excitement. "EEEE!! I can't wait for this sleepover!" She pulled herself onto her hind legs and punched the air. "It's gonna be so AWES-" Her sentence was cut short, her jaw dropping at the sight of the ball of black flame that was heading over their heads and straight for the town behind them. Sky squeaked in fright and crouched down, hiding behind her own wings.
Not long after the deafening crash that set the town a blaze, causing ponies to scream in panic, both Spiral and Sky felt the earth shake from a unit of battle ready guards that were in full gallop towards the city. As they passed, A guard stepped out of formation and began nudging the two ponies in the direction they had come from. "Make haste citizens, Head to Ponyville. You will be given lodging until the danger has passed." He didn't wait to see the two off but quickly sprinted to catch up with the rest of the guards.
Hero jolted up from his cloud made bed, rolling his dry tongue in his mouth. He shook his mess of a mane out and stretched himself out before rolling out of bed and making his way through Dazer's home to the dining room. He sat down at the table and looked at the mess his friend had left. Looking down, Hero noticed that Dazer had left his 'Mares of the Month' magazine on the table. Apparently this issue had "exclusive" stories from the Elements of Harmony themselves.
Hero picked up the magazine to examine the cover, he had never actually taken to reading these with the enthusiasm the Dazer had. The cover featured a well known mare, named Berry Punch, lay sprawled on a bed in a very suggestive manner. Hero tilted his head and cocked an eyebrow as he turned to the first page. Before he could get passed the first sentence of the beginning article, Dazer slammed open the door. "HERO!"
Hero, in a sudden panic, flung the magazine over his head and into the messy pile behind him. "Hmm? yes?" He folded his hooves over each other to give the impression that he hadn't been doing anything devious.
Dazer didn't seem notice or possibly care what hero was doing. He ran up behind Hero and started pushing him out of the chair and across the floor. "Come on! We have to go to The Quick Fix! Hopscotch has the story." There was definitely urgency in the usually laid back stallion's voice as he even flapped his wings to get hero moving.
Hero stumbled forward, trying to slow Dazer down. "Woah woah! What story? what happened?"
"A whole battalion of celestia's royal guards were found dead!" Dazer shoved, a now shocked , Hero out the fluffy cloud door and into a hurried flight. When they arrived, the bar was already filled with ponies talking about the discovery. Dazer pushed his way through the crowd, Hero following behind, to get to Hopscotch.
The Bartending pony ,though having a full bar, wasn't too busy. He was talking to an Orange mare in a cowgirl hat. When Dazer and Hero finally made their way to the bar Hopscotch smiled to them, gave the mare a quick kiss on the cheek, and made his way over. He quickly began shaking up his 'one drink challenge' which had come to be known as 'The Hero's Special'. "Hold on I'll get you fixed up right away. But I suppose you're here about the incident in Hoovesdale?" Both Hero and Dazer nodded, eyes wide in anticipation. Hopscotch poured Hero's drink and pulled up a mixed cider for Dazer, leaning forward so they could hear him over the crowd.
"Okay so, late last night an express messenger pony stumbles into my bar. And OH CELESTIA does he look beaten."Hopscotch pounds his hoof on the counter to emphasize his meaning. "He orders a rather strong drink and tells me that there was a massacre in Hoovesdale and not even the guards that the princess sent could stop this ONE pony." Hero and Dazer looked at each other in disbelief for a moment before turning their attention back to hopscotch. "Oh Yeah! One pony did it. Killed almost everypony in town. What few survivors are heading here as refugees. But thats not all! This wasn't just any pony. They say he raised ponies he had slain by shooting a spell at their flanks that burned off their cutiemarks so that they would spread his destruction throughout the town. These ponies he raised have strange powers... powers nopony should have. From what I gather, It was worse than any nightmare a normal pony could conjure up." With that he leaned back and nodded his head off to one side, point to a pegasus that had passed out in the corner. His wings were battered and his coat singed all over. "Theres all the proof you need."
Hero glared into his mug, his stomach curling into a knot. "This... I don't... This isn't right." He slammed his hoof into the counter. "I should have been there!"
Hopscotch shook his head, placing a hoof over Hero's shoulder. "Relax Hero, There's nothing you could have done."
Hero pushed his drink away and turned on his stool to hide the pain on his face. "I don't care. I feel responsible somehow. Like it's my fault they all died." As he spoke he slowly became aware that the bar had become quiet and a path to the front door had been made to allow none other than Princess Celestia through.
"Is that so my little pony?" With all her grace and poise, she carried herself with elegance up to the sulking pegasus. A hoof, brought to his chin, cast Hero's gaze up to his princess. "If you care so deeply for the lives of your fellow ponies then stand here and live up to your name. Protect the refugees and all the citizens of Ponyville; for this is a time they truly need a hero." A caring smile crossed the Princess's face as Hero's turned to determination.
Giving a soldier's nod, Hero swore he would protect the Ponies of Ponyville. Satisfied, the princess stepped up to the bar. An understanding glance between her and Hopscotch sent the bartending pony off into the back room, where he kept his special reserves. Dazer nudged Hero with an excited smile spread across his face. "DUDE! The princess knows your name!!" His whisper was muffled by laughter as he sent a suggestive wink Hero's way.
Princess Celestia nodded to Hopscotch , who had returned with a metal canister sealed in the center with a wax moon stamp. "I'm so sorry for having to bother you during such a busy day Hopscotch, but she simply couldn't wait for your trip to canterlot. The events- "
The Princess was interrupted as Hopscotch raised a hoof into the air. "I understand M'lady. No need to explain. Just send my regards." He levitated the canister into Celestia's magical grasp and bowed his head.
"Thank you." Celestia bowed her head in return and head for the door, where two stern looking guards had stood in waiting.
The bar returned to it's usual hustle and bustle shortly afterward, though rumors had begun stirring up about the princess, hopscotch, and their secret package. Hero turned to Dazer, who had taken to making kissing noise with their two mugs and repeating Hero and Celestia's names in mock voices. "Grow up Dazer!" He grabbed his and took a drink. He paused a moment thinking about the taste... "Hold on... this is mixed apple-" THUNK! Dazer hit the ground in a daze, waving his hooves in the air as though he were running. Hero looked to Hopscotch briefly, who shrugged off a snicker. "Maybe you should label those around Dazer.. I'll fly him home."
He snickered wildly, tossing his over sized grin from side to side as he watch the ponies who began to cower away from his band of armed ponies. "HEEheeheeheehee! Oh what a wonderful place! I'll bet all the little flowers will be here soon!" The black coated Stallion hopped up and down as they moved through town, causing his scraggly red mane to bounce in front of his piercing orange eyes. "This is going to be SOOOO MUCH FUN FUN FUN!!! hee hee hee" The strange bandit leader came to a sudden stop, digging his hooves into the ground with great force, his smile twisting into a snarl. "WAIT! who is that? who's that pony? WHO IS HEEE!!!!??"
The band of armed ponies came to a disgruntled halt behind their leader, who was snarling at Hero as he dragged a loopy Dazer through the streets. Hero released Dazer's tail and looked over to the maniacal redhead. "Hello?"
Before Hero could utter another word, the crazed stallion began shouting orders to his lackeys. "That's HIM - he's the one - he's almost him, get him anyway! Kill the star maned FREAK! and his friends" His thugs didn't skip a beat, rushing forward with silent professionalism. "Hee hee hee HAHAHAHA!! Kill everypony! NO OPPOSITION FOR THE KING!" His shrill laughter showed no sign of his aggression.
Hero gave a swift kick to Dazer's side and dropped into a combat position, his wings a full spread and angled backward. "Get up Dazer. I think we're in trouble."
Dazer complied, rolling onto all four and standing shakily on his hind hooves. "Comesh... get ssshome! Ya..pffffoal." He drooled lightly as he held his front hooves up to the charging group of bandits.
Hero was the first to meet with the bandits, charging forward and leaping into a full strength buck to the closest pony's head. To his surprise, the head fell right off and rolled about in the dusty road. Instead of blood gushing from the now headless body, water began pushing it's way up through a rather thick green substance that filled the bandit's insides. "What the-" He was cut off as another bandit swung a spiked mace toward Hero's head. Hero rolled under the attacking bandit to dodge his swing and sprang upward into a fierce kick aimed for the bandit's stomach. Just like before, it split with ease allowing Hero's springing kick to launch him onto his own four hooves. "What is this!?"
Dazer seemed to have no such questions, as being drunk had turned him into the most graceful dancer in all the land and he had no time for such problems. A few quick spins and line-dance kicks had the Bandits near him falling without a fighting chance. "Away youuuu... Crazzzthed fansh!" One dancing kick sent a bandit's head flying through the air. "AAAHM AMAZTHING!"
It wasn't long before the whole group of plant ponies laid in pieces about Hero and Dazer. "Who are you!? What's going on!?" HEro demanded answers from the clearly outmatched leader of the bandits.
The black coated stallion laughed maniacally, digging his hooves deeper into the ground and then sitting himself down. He lifted one hoof to his chest as he spoke in a proper pony's tone. "I am Lord Vein Vines. First lord of King Black Star. Made known by my Scorch mark."He pointed to his flank, which displayed his own smoldering flesh in place of a cutie mark. Without warning he broke back into his usual wild manner of speaking. "But my friends call me Lord V.V., They call me V.V., You can call me Lord V! OOO, or lord Vines is good! Hee hee hee haha!"
"WELL! Looksh like yer friendss are all g-" Dazer paused for a moment. "-not here...hic!"
Vein Smiled wickedly, planting his hoof back into the ground. "hehe... actually... You made more. More friends for me! MORE FRIENDS TO KILL YOU!" With that the pieces of the split ponies began to grow into whole creatures on their own, little vines sprouting from their wounds and twisting about to form their new bodies. "You see? Now just DIE!"
"There's no way! What kind of creatures are these!?!" Hero stepped back, the now doubled crowd of plant ponies encroaching upon him and Dazer. Dazer stumbled onto his back, even while drunk he knew they were overwhelmed.
"NOW!" Blue Flame shouted from behind as a sharp climbing pick swung out from atop a building, sticking itself into the lead plant creature's chest. A loose rope laid from the pick's target to the building rooftop.
Another climbing pick dug into the cobblestone road behind the group of bandits, the rope attached was kept tight and held in Grapples hoof. "Get that burner going Blue!" Grapple leaped up, pulling on her rope. The tightened rope pulled her to the ground with great speed, sending her into full gallop when she touched down. The loose rope, which she now held tightly in her jaw, was pulled along as she ran in circles around the plant bandits. When she came to a halt the bandits were bunched together and tied up by Grapple's hoof.
Blue Flame stepped up from behind Hero, placing a rather tall lit bunsen burner down before them. "Alchemy 101, What happens when you release a combustible gas near a flame?" He allowed a pause, in case someone might have an answer. Vein Vines tilted his head, trying to figure out what was going on. Blue flame let some shades he had been wearing slide down over his eyes as he pulled out a large canister of compressed propane, wrapped in his magical grasp. A wide grin crossed his face as he shouted out to the plant creatures. "It BURNS!!" He pointed the canister hose and turned the release valve.
An intense bellowing flame wrapped itself around the plant creatures. Lord V.V. Began cracking up. He stomped his hoof into the ground repeatedly as he cackled in rage. "You killed them! Burned them! MADE THEM ALL DEAD!" His hooves stopped moving as they dug into the ground on last time. The sound of tearing flesh and grinding bones emanated from Lord Vines. "But now you're going to get it." His wicked grin almost literally stretched from ear to ear.
Grapple retreated to the small group of heroes, leaving her charred rope behind and giving Hero a quick wink. "Looks like we're even hot shot." She gave a cheshire grin and stood next to him, crouching into a battle ready position.
Hero nodded to Grapple and Blue Flame. "I'm glad you two showed up when you did. I wasn't sure what to do about those things."
Dazer waved his hooves in the air, commenting incoherently. Blue Flame lifted his glasses as he spoke, his recent excitement all but a memory. " Hero, Remember that lock of hair?" Hero glanced to Blue flame and gave a solid nod before looking back to Vein Vines. The looney lord had begun shaking violently as his skin began to twist outward from his body into long fleshy vines. "Those stars aren't there to look pretty." Blue continued. "It's solid magic. I don't know what you are, but you've got some serious power locked away." A large vial was levitated from Blue's jacket. The vial glowed softly, the stars and galaxies that could be seen in Hero's mane also floated gently bout behind the glass. "Drink this, You'll be able to use what little magic this small portion contained."
Hero grabbed the vial quickly, not questioning his friend, and popped the cork. He tipped the vial back, swallowing the liquid in one gulp. A short moment passed as the four heroes waited to see what would happen. Suddenly Hero's stomach began to growl, causing him to bend over slightly in pain. Blue and grapple took a cautionary step back, Dazer didn't quite care, holding their breath.
Pppppptttttttt! Hero let one rip, a look of relief crossing his face. Grapple looked disgusted. "That's IT!? Some potion, Blue!" Before another word could be uttered Vein's Fleshy tendrils slammed into the ground, ripping apart the ground as they dug their way to Hero and his friends.
The tendril burst from the ground underneath each of the heroes, slamming into their stomachs and flinging them into the air. Shortly after launching the ponies into the air, the tendrils began wrapping around them and constricting about their necks. "HEE HEE HEE! This is it! You're gonna die! this is your end! HAHAHA! Now you pay for hurting my little sproutlings." Lord Vines was furious. More vines began launching from his body, attaching and digging into the buildings around them. "Now I have to make more!" At this screams could be heard from the modest dwellings.
"NO! sto-acckk.. thiss." Hero struggled to get his words out as he writhed in the fleshy vine's grasp. The vine itself began to sprout smaller vines that were trying to find their way into his mouth, ears, and nose. Hope seemed lost as the vines tightened, closing off all chance of breath.
From the shadow of an alleyway a hooded mare stepped just into view, her night blue snout was the only noticeable feature anypony could see. "Hero! I believe you can do it! I have faith in Equestria's hero!" Her voice was soft but reached out through Lord Vine's laughter. Something about this phrase caused Hero's body to freeze up, his sapphire blue eyes fading into the white of his eyes. Seeing that her work was done, the cloaked mare rushed back off into the shadows.
Hero gained an unimaginable strength and ripped the vines from his body, his eyes filled with a brilliant white light. Vein shrieked in pain, withdrawing his vines from his victims and allowing them to fall to the ground. Hero floated in the air, only slightly accompanied by the flapping of his wings. An ancient voice met the world from Hero's lips. "Thy scorched spawn of Black Star. Deliver unto him this message! WE PROTECT EQUESTRIA ALWAYS!" A black aura of magic rippled from Hero's forehead, glistening with stars, and shot into the sky.
Vein Vines stepped back in crippling fear of the sudden change in his opponent, his fleshy tendrils slowly creeping back into his body. The ground about began to shine as small lights began to dot the ground. The day sky above had given way to a small patch of night as the star themselves beamed down upon Vein. "What?! wait, no stop. stop the lights!. What are you doing?" I DEMAND YOU TELL ME-" He was cut off as the lights solidified into burning white beams of energy, tearing his body into crispy pieces of burnt flesh.
The observing ponies began to step out from their hiding spots, Grapple and Blue Flame looking on in awe as hero slowly began to descend. Even the drunken Dazer was hushed by the brilliance of Hero's performance. "Some potion my flank, that was AWESOME!" Blue flame shouted in joy as Hero touched his hooves to the ground. His eyes returned to normal and immediately rolled into the back of his head. Hero slammed against the ground in exhaustion. "Hero?"
Grapple nudged the fainted pegasus with her hoof. "Jeese.... he's completely hopeless." she sighed.
Luna sighed heavily as she sipped from the small canister her sister had gotten for her that morning. It was a seemingly peaceful night as she sat there drinking her own special wine under the moonlight. A sly smile crossed her face as she daydreamed from atop the castle tower's balcony. "I guess everything will work out after all. Though, A little help never hurt anypony."