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December 23, 2012
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Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash continue walking through the underground passage. It is dark and spooky down there, and seems to go on without end. The two unicorns in the group light up their horns to allow them to see where they were going.

“I still find it hard to believe Zecora had an escape route right under her hut.” Rainbow Dash says to her friends.

Twilight looks around as they walks observing the details of the passage walls, “Perhaps this was here long before Zecora settled in the Everfree Forest.” Another theory comes to the little unicorn’s mind, “Maybe it was dug back when Celestia and Luna ruled from their old castle.”

“Ya’ wanna run that by me again, Twilight?”

“Oh Applejack, I believe Twilight is referring to the ruins where we found the Elements of Harmony; back when we first met her, remember?” Rarity answers to the forgetful cowgirl.

“Of course I remember…its just been a long time, that’s all. Nothin’ wrong with that, is there?!” Applejack retorts back at uptight and annoying prissy pony.

“Um…please…lets not fight…” Fluttershy mutters as she sees the two ponies exchanging glares at one another.

“Girls! Please don’t start something, especially in here!” Twilight orders, “This tunnel is old. It might not be stable.”

Both Applejack and Rarity cease any further bickering and listen to their friend. The rest follow Twilight as she leads them further down the tunnel.

As they walk on for a while, Twilight spots something up ahead, “I think that’s the way out!” She informs to her friends, “Come on girls!”

The six mares start running towards what looks like an exit, and are all thrilled to find Twilight is correct.




                       ***********************************




Outside of the Everfree Forest lies the Rambling Rock Ridge. This is an area covered in dirt and rocks…obviously. The area is quiet and still, until some movement is heard coming from the ground.

A hole appears from out of the dirt and out pops the head of Twilight Sparkle. She looks around carefully and goes back in.

“Okay…the coast is clear,” She informs her friends in a whisper.

One by one, the ponies climb out of the hole, helping the other along the way. Once they are all on the surface, they start brushing off the dirt that covers their coats and manes.

“Well, that was fun.” Pinkie Pie smiles.

“I would hardly consider having to tunnel up from a blocked exit and getting yourself covered in dirt in the process fun at all, Pinkie Pie,” Rarity complains as she tries her best to clean herself up.

Both Rainbow Dash and Applejack rolls their eyes, not caring one bit about how dirty they have become from all that digging.

“Where are we anyway?” Twilight asks as she shakes the dirt off her.

“Well, this does look familiar,” Rarity states as she looked around her, “This, I have without a doubt, is the Rambling Rock Ridge. I should know since this is where I was kidnapped by those dreadful Diamond Dogs.”

The others recall that event and see that Rarity is right, “Yep, dis here be the place…and I reckon’ that tunnel was made by them Diamond Dogs.” Applejack suggests, to which the others agree with.

“Oh…my…” Fluttershy mutters.

“What is it…Flutter…shy…?” Twilight gasps lightly as she sees what the yellow Pegasus is: the entire sky above their home covered in dark, storm clouds; Not a star nor cloud can be seen.

“Oh no!” Rainbow Dash cries.

The Mane Six can see the Ponyville, Cloudsdale, and Canterlot from where they stand. The storm clouds raging from above, along with the flashes of thunder and lightning. This causes the memories of recent events to flood back into the little ponies minds.

Twilight moves in front of them, trying to block their view, “Come on girls…we can’t stay here. We have to go…” she says sadly…while trying to be strong for her friends.

In their hearts, the others do not wish to leave their homes or families behind. But after what has transpired, they cannot stay; Remaining will only bring the same fate that has befallen everypony here.

The six turn their heads away from the horrible sight, and move across the ridge, getting as far away as possible. They all take one last look back and make a vow to themselves that they will return and save everypony from the Darkness and its master, Tirek.




                       ************************************




As Twilight and her friends continue to walk, some of them begin to grow tired, while some wonder if they know where they were going.

“So…um…Twilight?” Fluttershy asks.

“Yes, Fluttershy?”

“Well, um…where are we going?”

Twilight stops for a moment and thinks on that question, “Honestly…I don’t know.”

“Well, we have to think of something!” Rainbow Dash states with frustration.

The others agree and look at Twilight, wondering if she is going to come up with a plan or something, “Ya do have a plan…right sugarcube?”

The lavender pony sits and starts thinking for a moment. She remembers the chart  Zecora gave her and reaches into her saddlebag. Twilight takes it out and lays it out upon the ground. She then unravels it and examines carefully at it, “It’s a map of Equestria.”

The others gather around the map and look over it carefully, “So, where do ya’ll reckon’ we go first?” Applejack asks the others.

“Why don’t we go to the Hayseed Swamp?” Pinkie Pie suggests, “I mean duh, Zecora told us to go there.”

“What about the cities to the north: Manehatten, Baltimare…maybe even the Crystal Empire? There are plenty of ponies there that could help us.” Rainbow Dash proposes.

The others seem to agree with that logic, but Twilight shakes her head, “We can’t go there…”

Why not?!”

“Because I get the feeling Tirek is planning to send his forces to all those places, to ensure no pony can oppose him.” Twilight explains sadly, “Besides…it’s too far to any one of those cities, and I don’t want to risk losing you guys to the Darkness, should my theory be correct...”

The girls have their own thoughts on the matter, but as Twilight is the wisest of them all, they take her word for it, “Fine, but I still say it wouldn’t hurt to try at least,” Rainbow Dash huffs.

“I say we should listen to Twilight…after all, she seems to know more on all dis then we do, ain’t that right?” Applejack questions.

Twilight looks up from the map and sees her best friends all staring at her; The look of suspicion from earlier in the hut. She feels nervous and bites her lip,

“Alright Twilight…spill the beans! How did you know what Zecora was going to say when she read that last verse?!” The tomboyish Pegasus snaps.

Not wishing to keep her friends in the dark about what she knows, she takes in a deep breath and then lets it all out, and explains, “You see…the other day, when I was at Canterlot gathering some new reading material…I…came across an old book…”

“Wait! Are you referring to that book you wouldn’t let me read?” Rainbow interrupts.

“Yes…”

“I knew it!”

“Hush Rainbow! Let her finish,” Rarity snaps..

Twilight continues on, “It was old and falling apart, but I was able to repair some of it….” She decides to skip ahead to the part that her friends need to hear, “It had a few details on that time period that Zecora spoke of. It also mentioned a little on Courageous and that very chant you all heard.”

Twilight’s friends have mixed thoughts on all this after she finishes:

“So you knew about this and never told us?!” Rainbow Dash exclaims.

“Well-”

“What else are ya’ not telling’ us?!” Applejack asks.

“Nothing-”

“Twilight! It’s not nice to lie to your friends,” Pinkie states.

“I know-”

“You sure there is nothing else?” Fluttershy asks.

“I’m-”

“Be a dear and tell us please.” Rarity asked politely.

Twilight cannot utter another word with all her friends talking at once, trying to get more out of her. Fed up with this ramble, she yells out loud, “QUIEEET!!” This causes them to fall silent fast.

Twilight sighs and continues, “Look. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you guys sooner, but I didn’t think it was important. I mean, I thought it was just a story…but I guess I was wrong.”

The girls apologize and hug her, to which she thanks them for understanding.

“But…there is one last thing…” Rainbow Dash adds.

“…Rainbow…” Applejack snaps.

“I’m not trying to start something, but if you found it in the library, wouldn’t Princess Celestia have known of it?”

“That is a good question. Did she, Twilight?” Fluttershy agrees and asks.

Twilight shakes her head, “No, she did not. I don’t know how that book came to be in the library, but it was older then any book I have seen there…and I have seen them all.” She chuckles a little at this fact.

“Thanks again for telling us, Twilight. Sorry we doubted you.” Rainbow Dash apologizes.

“It’s okay. Friends should never keep secrets from one another, even if it feels like it is not important to tell. Because some secrets may prove to help others out in certain situations…and no matter how embarrassing a secret is that you keep, trust in your friends and they will understand and accept it, as they accept you.” Twilight says proudly…learning a good lesson on Friendship.

“Boy howdy, Twi. That was sum speech ya’ gave there.” The smiling Applejack praises

“Yep. That would TOTALLY be a good lesson to write to the Princess,” Pinkie Pie ads, smiling as well.

Twilight is happy that she has learned a new lesson, but her smile turns to a frown when the Princess is brought up, “Only if we see her again…”

Fluttershy comes up to Twilight and places her hoof on the lavender pony’s shoulder, “Not if…when…when we see her again.”

Twilight is surprised by Fluttershy’s words on encouragement, and it makes her smile again, “Thanks Fluttershy.”

The others smile at Fluttershy’s words as well.




                          *******************************




The Mane Six spend the next few minutes discussing where they should go and what help they should seek out. They now know they cannot go north to any of the  pony cities; The storm clouds above are stronger and louder to the north, which indicates that the presence of evil is heading there. There only hope lies to the south, where the storm is not as big.

“I know it’s risky, but we have to try something,” Twilight informs, “If Tirek IS focusing on the north, then we may have a chance at finding help in southern Equestria. We need to move now.”

“But Twilight, it is a long way to walk, and where exactly should we start?” Rarity asks while complaining a little.

“We could ask my relatives in Appleloosa for help. Maybe even at Dodge Junction.” Applejack suggests.

“Lets not forget about the other creatures.” Pinkie Pie reminds.

“What other creatures?” Rainbow Dash asks.

“The other creatures, silly. The ones Zecora mentioned: zebras, buffalo, and dragons…oh my!”

Twilight thinks on that and remembers where they can find them, “Pinkie is right. We need more then other ponies to fight the Darkness.” She rolls out the map again and points to a few places, “Zecora said a tribe of zebras are settled in the Hayseed Swamp; The buffalo roam around Appleloosa, so we shouldn’t have trouble finding them; The dragons might still be in the Badlands when they were migrating.”

“You really think they are going to help us, Twilight?” asks an unconvinced cyan Pegasus, “I mean I know we made friends with the buffalo, but I don’t think we are on good terms with the zebras and dragons.”

“We have to try, Rainbow. They will have to listen to us, cause this is their home as much as it is ours.”

“That is true, but to go to all these places, it could take days.”

Twilight picks up the map and places in back in her saddlebag, “You’re right. It will take too long if we all go together, because the longer we take, the sooner Tirek will turn his attention south.”

“What are you suggesting, Twilight?” asks Fluttershy, who seems to already know the answer.

“What I’m saying is…” Twilight feels bad, but they are left with no other option, “…we are going to have to split into groups and go to these places separately.”

The girls all gasps a little; Splitting up is not something they want to do, not like this, “But Twilight…” Rarity tries to mutter.

“No buts, Rarity. We have to do this; It’s the only way to gather them faster. We can decide where to go, and once we finish, we can all meet back at Appleloosa.”

The others all agree with Twilight; This is the best course of action. The only question is: which pony goes together and to where?

”I’ll go to Appleloose, since these are my cousins after all. I’ll even try to get word to Dodge Junction if a’ can.” Applejack turns to see which one of her friends she would take with her. She points her hoof at Fluttershy.

“Who…me?” she asks nervously.

“Yep.”

“Oh…well…okay.” the nervous pegasus mutters.

Twilight nods at Applejack’s decision and announces, “Both me and Rarity will go to the Badlands to ask the dragons for help.”

Rarity is hesitant at first, but no matter where she will end up going, it isgoing to be a long walk, “Oh, very well.”

“I guess that leaves me with the Swamp and the zebras,“ Pinkie Pie says smiling, as she turns to Rainbow Dash.

“Why do I have to go to the swamp…with Pinkie Pie?!” she complains.

“Sorry, Rainbow. Deal with it.” replies Applejack.

Pinkie hugs Rainbow tight, “Don’t worry Rainbow Dash. We are going to have SO MUCH FUN traveling together. Maybe we can sing songs while we walk…oh…or maybe play “I spot”…or maybe even…” Pinkie goes on and on.

“Yeah…terrific…” Rainbow says sarcastically as she rolls her eyes.





                           ******************************





Once everything is set, the girls hug each other one last time before starting on their long walk to their destinations.

“Take care girls. Be safe.” Twilight bids them farewell.

“Ya’ll do the same, ya’ hear.” Applejack insists.

“Please…be safe out there.”  Fluttershy says to her friends.

“Be well, and do be ever so careful,” Rarity says.

“I’m gonna miss you guys,” Rainbow mumbles, trying not to cry.

“Once we meet up again, I’m gonna throw a BIG welcome back party for everypony!” Pinkie Pie cheers happily.

The girls all laugh and will look forward to that. After saying their goodbyes, they split up into their assigned groups and start their long walk south in different directions:

Twilight and Rarity make their way to the Badlands, hoping there will still be dragons there; Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash head southeast to the Hayseed Swamp to find the zebras Zecora mentioned; Applejack and Fluttershy travel southwest to Applepaloosa to ask the buffalo and other ponies for help.

Although they are apart for now, they will be together again and will see their home saved from the evil that has taken it from them. Their journey to save Equestria from the Darkness…has officially begun.
Twilight and her friends have now officially begun their quest to gather help in order to combat the Darkness, and its master. They are the only hope Equestria has now.


Chapter 9: fav.me/d5oz1eg Chapter 11: fav.me/d5pvfoi
Chapter Guide: courageousoflight.deviantart.c…


Link to Cover Image: courageousoflight.deviantart.c…
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:iconskylordzuleano:
SkylordZuleano Feb 22, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:iconsoawesome-plz:
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:iconchaoscontrl:
ChaosContrl Jan 7, 2013  Student General Artist
Let me guess:
Pinkie Pie was sent to the zebra tribe, because she will be able to know something very important like she did in Zecora's hut.

Awesome story.
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:icongenox11:
That was my assumption, too.
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:iconchaoscontrl:
ChaosContrl Apr 4, 2013  Student General Artist
/)
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:iconchaoscontrl:
ChaosContrl May 7, 2013  Student General Artist
<(<( /)(\ )>)>

YEEAAHH!!!!!!
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:iconchaoscontrl:
ChaosContrl May 9, 2013  Student General Artist
YYEEAAHH!!!!!!!!!!! XD
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:icongenox11:
Are you just going to keep saying that?
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(1 Reply)
:iconcourageous-of-light:
Courageous-of-Light Dec 23, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Submitted Chapter 9 the other day, and finished this one the next. Not bad I must say.
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