"Well boy howdy…we made it, and its all thanks to our new friend," Applejack said to their new friend with gratitude.
"Oh yes. Thank you so much, Mister Snake," Fluttershy thanks the rattlesnake, who gives her cheek a small lick to return the kindness she offered him along with his family and friends.
"Well, lets get ova' there already…times a wastin'!" Braeburn calls out as he gallops on ahead.
Fluttershy leans down to allow Mister Snake to slither up on her back so she can carry him the rest of the way. Applejack has already run on ahead to catch up with her cousin, while Fluttershy is left to follow from way behind.
The three ponies are getting closer; The buffalo camp is only moments away. Suddenly, without warning or knowledge, they find themselves falling and landing hard onto the ground.
"Owww…that hurt…" Little Fluttershy moans.
"What the heck just happened?!" yells both Applejack and Braeburn as they struggle to get up off each other.
"I think we…fell into a pit…"
"I figured that part out…" Applejack retorts, "...how we're gettin' outta here is what I'm more concerned about."
Holding up the lantern as high as he can, Braeburn examines the hole they are in and notices it is a long way up...as well as too steep. "I reckon climbin' out here is out of the question."
Applejack sighs and turns to her friend, "I guess its up ta' you then, sugarcube."
Fluttershy shivers nervously, "What...what do you…mean?"
"I mean ya' need ta' fly up there and find somethin' ta' pull us up and out of dis here hole."
The nervous little Pegasus is too afraid to go out there and explore around in the dark. She refuses to budge.
"Oh good gravy girl…dis here is no time fer ya' ta' be afraid of the dark. We need ta' get on outta here, and yer da only pony that can fly." Applejack explains in a serious tone.
Applejack is starting to loose patience, when suddenly the ground starts to rumble.
"O-o-o-h…w-w-w-w-wha-a-a-a-t…n-n-n-o-o-o-o-w-w-w-w?!" Applejack tries to ask rhetorically as she shook along with the ground.
"E-e-e-a-a-a-r-r-r-t-t-h-h-h-q-q-q-u-u-u-a-a-a-k-k-ke?" Braeburn guesses as he tries his best to stop shaking, but to no avail.
Fluttershy squeals loud and hides herself; Mr. Snake does the same along with her. The shaking lasts only for a brief time and comes to a sudden halt. When it finishes, the three ponies look up and see they have company.
"Who goes there?!" yells one of the shadowy figures from above.
Applejack speaks out to unknown creatures, "Thank goodness ya'll came. We stumbled into dis here hole, and we would appreciate if-"
"We asked "who goes there", not "what are you doing in one of our traps". Now answer us!!" yells another.
Braeburn grabs the lantern over in the corner and holds it up high enough for the light to reveal who is up there. He breathes a sigh of relief when the sight he beholds is not only a familiar one, but a friendly one.
"Why I'll be…its da' buffalo…" Applejack smiles.
"Indeed it is!" Braeburn cheers, "Hey! It's me…Braeburn!"
The buffalo above rejoice when they can see that the ones that stumbled into their traphole are the ponies from Appleloosa...as well as the ones that helped them a while back.
Just then, a smaller buffalo pushes her way through two of them and looks down in the hole, "Braeburn, is that you?! What are you doing out here?!"
The yellow colt smiles and responds, "Yep, Little Stongheart. It is me."
"Howdy dare, Strongheart. Ya'll mind helpin' us get out of dis here hole in the ground?!" Applejack asks.
"Sure thing. Wait just a moment!" The young buffalo replies.
A short while later, a rope is tossed down for Braeburn and Applejack to use to climb out of the pit. Fluttershy flies on out with Mr. Snake on her back. Once they are all out safely, they come face-to-face with the tribe of Buffalo that roam these lands.
"It's so good to see you guys again," Little Strongheart smiles as she hugs Braeburn.
Returning the hug, the yellow colt smiles back, "It good ta' see ya' too."
"Same here!" Applejack adds, "Glad ya'll we around ta' help us out."
"Oh yeah…sorry about that. We had to dig those holes to keep our camp safe from any possible dangers."
Little Strongheart smiles when their apology is accepted, then ask, "So, you three came out here to find us?"
"Dat would be correct. Applejack here says ya'll might know somethin' about dis here endless night and the one behind it," Braeburn explains.
Little Strongheart and the other buffalo with her all look at each other, which shows they do know something, "You guys best come with us to the camp. The chief might be able to tell you what he knows."
The ponies follow the buffalo into the camp, where they will hopefully get some answers that they have journeyed far to seek.
The buffalo offer the best hospitalities they have to their guests:
Bowls of food are given, as well as a warm fire that all gather around. Fluttershy, Mister Snake, Applejack, and Braeburn all sit together around the fire. Finally, the chief of the buffalo herd, Thunderhooves, comes out of his teepee and joins the rest. He stands before the ponies and looks upon them all, and can tell why they have journeyed all the way out here in the darkest of nights:
"You come to see our wisdom, as well as our aid…correct?" The mighty chief questions.
"That's…right…how did ya' know?" The confused Applejack asks.
"We know many things…ones that ponies do not," He answers, "But before I continue, I must ask…how did you find us? We moved our camp some time ago…you could not have known where we were."
Braeburn stands up and answers, "Well, at first we were lost, and den we were surrounded by a bunch'a rattlers when we stumbled onto their homes. Our friend Fluttershy here was able to communicate with dem and that one dare showed us da' way here." He sits back down once he finishes.
The buffalo all start whispering to one another, in confusion it seems. Chief Thunderhooves turns his attention to the little pegasus pony and notices the snake by her side.
"You communicated with one of the desert creatures?"
Fluttershy is nervous at first, but with some encouragement from her friends, she stands up and nods at the chief, "Um…y-y-yes…yes I did. The snakes were…frightened of the dark, and did not know who we were. I showed them…we meant no harm…and they became our friends."
Chief Thunderhooves ponders her words, and then turns to Mr. Snake, who hisses politely and gives a nod, backing up his friend. This causes the chief to return the nod and smile at them both.
"We are the children of the desert. We are friends with all creatures, small and large. For one such as you to make friends with those that outsiders cannot…it is a rare thing to see."
Fluttershy gives a light gasp, surprised by the chief's words, "Well…I make friends with all kinds of animals. I love them…and care for them with all my heart."
The buffalo are moved by the little pony's words, and smiles are given all around to her.
"You are like us: one with the land and the animals that roam across it. You are a very special pony, to have a gift as such. The respect and kindness you give…we give in return to you…Fluttershy." The chief proudly announces as he and the other buffalo bow their heads to her.
"Oh…thank you, Chief Thunderhooves. That is…very kind of you to say." Fluttershy thanks as she returns their bows with one of her own.
Applejack and Braeburn watch and are both amazed and confused on all this. It seems to them that Fluttershy has earned a great deal of respect from them, all because of her love for animals.
After the chief finishes praising the little pegasus, he turns his attention back to the others, "Now then…you wish to know of this…"Eternal Darkness"…and the one…who commands it?"
The three ponies all nod at once.
"He is…an evil from a place long forgotten. He has no heart, and therefore…CANNOT…be reasoned with!" The chief speaks strongly and continues, "This creature was given a name by our ancestors…" Thunderhooves took in a deep breath and revealed the name, "…He-That-Brings-The-Spread-Of-The-Shadows!"
The buffalo's body language showa a small amount of fear when the name is spoken; Even Fluttershy herself hides by it.
"Ya'll are referring to Tirek, right?" Applejack asks.
The buffalo all gasp immediately when the orange pony speaks that name to them. She feels nervous and gulps as they glare at her.
"You speak his real name so openly?!!" The Chief questions with both fear and anger.
Applejack grows more afraid and feels that she may have crossed some boundary, "I…uh…"
"You are either very brave…or very foolish, young pony. The shadows come with swiftness and anger…at those who dare speak his name."
Applejack does not wish to anger the buffalo further, so she bows her head and apologizes, "I'm sorry…I-I did not know. I won't do dat again…honest a' won't."
Chief Thunderhooves accepts her apology and continues where he left off, "There is much to tell of this…evil…and all that took place so long ago." The great buffalo clears his throat, "This story was told to us, in song. It was sung by my father, and his father before him, and his father before him, and HIS father before him, and-"
Little Strongheart gently nudges him, letting him know he is getting carried away again.
"Sorry. This song…has been apart of our tribe since before our ancestors came here from our Homeland. It is a tale of the Darkness…and the Light."
Both Fluttershy and Applejack realize that this tale soon be sung might be the same one Zecora told them the other day. Braeburn however, is very interested in hearing it, since this is all new to him.
"I should warn you though: This tale may reveal hope, but it may also reveal despair. My ancestors crafted this song well, so that we may know what they knew…so long ago." The great chief Thunderhooves warns.
"We're ready fer anything'!" Applejack states.
"That's right…" Fluttershy adds in.
"We'll hear yer song, and decided what ta' think after," Braeburn informs.
Little Strongheart comes over to the ponies and sits down by the yellow colt, "I hope you're ready for this…as I hope I am."
The fire burns and waves as the wind blows through the camp; Two buffalo slowly bang the drums once every few seconds; Another blows into his flute, letting the gently sounds carry through the air, reaching the ears of all in its path.
The mighty chief Thunderhooves stands tall, and as the other buffalo hum low in unison, he sings the Song of the Ancestors:
"Long ago, a prophecy foretold,"
The three ponies, one snake, and young buffalo quickly become intrigued by the song and listen well to a great story being weaved through the Chief's words. While the other buffalo hum, a few others join in:
The song continues on; It is very beautiful. Soon, this ancient tale will reveal much to the little ponies. They hope, a way of defeating the Darkness and saving Equestria, will lie somewhere in this mighty song.