This is my submission for the WTG Week 3 theme: write about a pet stuck in a tree in Everfree Forest.
Well, I’m not particularly satisfied with this story. I had some issues making it flow properly. Not only that, but I took so long creating it that I only got to do one and a half revision passes on it. My Internet is acting up a bit, which makes me nervous, so I’m submitting it while the submitting is still good.
The execution is also kind of blah. I really wanted to tell the story this way because I thought it would be cute and funny, but I just ended up feeling a bit uninspired as I wrote Applejack’s initial portion. Of course, the second part wouldn’t really work without the first, so I guess there’s that.
Applejack let out a satisfied sigh. She took another deep breath of morning air, continuing her steady trot. The apple cart hit a bump, jarring the orange earth pony, but years of working the farm ensured her surprise lasted but a split second.
As she approached the barn, Applejack caught a glimpse of a tuft of red hair disappearing behind the door frame. A moment later, the clattering sounds of somepony rummaging through the barn echoed out into the dry fall air.
“Apple Bloom?” she called out as she reached the doorway.
“Oh, hi, sis!” the younger Apple said over her shoulder before resuming her task.
As Applejack unhitched herself, she suddenly noticed the room was miraculously still intact.
“Not with your friends today?”
“They’re waiting at the clubhouse. I told them I’d be back real quick,” Apple Bloom let out a muffled reply as she turned to face her sister. An old red metal toolbox was clenched firmly in her teeth.
“Cutie marks again?” Applejack arched an eyebrow.
“Uh, huh!” the filly replied enthusiastically.
Applejack sighed before giving her sister a stern look, “Y’all just be careful, okay?”
The orange pony took a moment to watch Apple Bloom leave, thinking that at least this time, her sister was on the right track.
The afternoon progressed uneventfully as Applejack skillfully bucked her way through each section of the grove. She had just finished loading up her seventh cart when a cool breeze swept over the hill. As the pleasant air caressed her matted coat, she decided to take a moment to rest.
Walking to the edge of the hill, Applejack surveyed the results of her hard work. Many of the trees were now bare of fruit, the solid green providing a sort of simple beauty that brought a smile to the pony’s lips.
Applejack’s pupils snapped to the corners of her eyes, following a good half dozen empty apple baskets that were making their way out of the barn. She began to rush down the hillside, but stopped short when she caught a good glimpse of the fillies bearing the load.
She called out to them but Apple Bloom and her friends were already so far down the road they didn’t seem to hear her. Returning to her work, Applejack briefly pondered what they could need so many baskets for.
Applejack pitched the stake into the back of her cart. All she needed now was some rope and that poor baby tree would have a fighting chance. She looked expectantly at the barn wall and found an empty hook. She had just been to the store a few days ago and that supply should have lasted a least a few weeks. And the rope couldn’t have gotten up and walked off on its own. “Consarnit, Apple Bloom!” Applejack yelled out as the realization hit her.
The earth pony set about ransacking the barn in search of alternatives. She finally found some old, beaten up twine buried under a pile of odds and ends. Strands were fraying in just about every direction and the length looked to be a bit short. But Applejack decided she would just have to make do.
She made her way back to the droopy little sapling and braced it as best as her supplies would allow. The rope turned out to be just long enough, which the orange pony was grateful for. She stepped back to admire her work.
‘Now to have a little talk with Apple Bloom,’ Applejack thought to herself, making her way back to the path. She was just in time to see a certain trio of fillies carrying the farm’s ladder over a distant crest.
She galloped down the path, stopping by the barn just long enough to get rid of her cart. With the extra burden off her back, she was able to charge full speed down the path. With any luck she would catch up to the crusaders.
Applejack sighed in frustration. She had already reached Ponyville and the girls were nowhere to be found. She trotted over to the town square, keeping an eye out for the conspicuously large ladder.
The earth pony still found herself luckless as she arrived. She wondered if the girls had even come this way. She decided she would just have to ask around. As though on cue, Pinkie Pie bounded by.
“Hey, Pinkie, have you seen Apple Bloom?”
“Yep!” the pink pony answered without stopping. Instead she started turning until she was bouncing back in Applejack’s direction.
“She happen to say what she’s doing?” the orange pony continued, trying her best not to get distracted.
“Mind telling me?”
“Because I promised them, silly.”
“Pinkie swear, I reckon?” Applejack sighed.
“Nothing dangerous, I hope?”
“Guess I can settle down a mite, then. Thanks Pinkie.”
“Applejack!” Twilight’s voice echoed across the town square.
Both earth ponies turned to face the lavender unicorn as she came galloping up. One look at Twilight’s concerned face told Applejack she couldn’t relax just yet.
“Come with me, hurry!”
Before Applejack could say a word, Twilight took off again. Applejack and Pinkie gave each other a confused sideways glance before following.
“What’s going on, Twi?” the orange pony asked as soon as she caught up.
“Rose saw the Crusaders going into the Everfree Forest.”
“What?! Pinkie, you said they weren’t doing nothing dangerous!”
“They weren’t,” was the bewildered reply.
Applejack looked up at the sky. The last of dusk’s purple and orange strands were beginning to fail. The forest would already be dark and the search would only get harder. The realization brought forth a surge of fear and anger that Applejack had to fight back.
“Consarnit, Apple Bloom, what have you gotten yourself into?”
Applejack gritted her teeth. Even with Twilight’s light magic to guide the way, the search was slow. As luck would have it, the moon was barely visible tonight, leaving the ponies to fend for themselves.
The orange pony took up the lead a few feet ahead of her unicorn friend, keeping a wary eye on the darkness. The shadows danced about just outside her vision, giving her false starts and wearing her down. They needed to find the Crusaders soon.
“Girls?” Fluttershy called out from the middle of the group.
“Anything, Pinkie?” Twilight called behind her.
“Nope,” the pink pony replied from the rear.
A dull crack echoed through the air, causing Applejack to whirl toward the underbrush.
“Wh, what was that?” Fluttershy asked from behind Twilight’s flank.
“Sounded like something hitting wood,” the orange pony replied.
Applejack narrowed her eyes as she heard another crack.
“This way,” she whispered, stepping into the bushes.
She progressed cautiously, unsure what to expect. Several more cracks occurred in rapid succession. Whatever the source of the sound, she was getting closer. A few more steps and Applejack thought she could make out a faint light peeking its way through a particularly thick grove.
“Maybe you’re doing it wrong?” Apple Bloom’s voice echoed out into the night.
“Yea, I’m using a hammer wrong,” was Scootaloo’s sarcastic reply.
“C’mon, guys, we’ll never get this done if you keep arguing,” Sweetie Belle interjected.
Applejack picked up her pace, rustling through the brush as she trotted toward her sister’s voice.
“D-did you hear something?” Sweetie Belle asked.
“Apple Bloom?” Applejack called out as she reached the edge of the grove. She poked her head through the trees and was relieved to see the Crusaders huddled up against a large tree.
She gave the thicket a quick once over to ensure it was clear of danger. Thankfully, she saw nothing to be concerned about. She did, however, notice the farm’s ladder up against one of the tree’s branches, an old, barely lit lantern and a couple of her apple baskets bound together to create some kind of makeshift container.
“Now, little missy, I think you’ve got some explaining to-” Applejack’s stern lecture was interrupted by a meow. “What the hay?”
“Um, well, we’re trying to save Opal,” Apple Bloom answered.
“Opal? In that tree?” the orange pony asked, eying the Crusaders, whom nodded in turn. “That’s easy then. Fluttershy will have her down in a jiffy.”
“No, sis, she’s IN the tree,” the younger Apple explained, knocking on the massive trunk with a forehoof. A meow echoed back in reply. Only then did the orange pony look up and realize the tree was completely barren of leaves.
“How in- nevermind, it doesn’t matter. Get out of the way,” Applejack commanded. She walked up to the tree before spinning around and giving the tree a light buck. When the strike seemed to do nothing, she laid out another, harder one. She felt the tree crack and give way under her strike. She turned to Twilight.
“Can you give me a hand, here, Twi? Don’t wanna hurt the poor critter.”
Twilight nodded and closed her eyes. A second magical aura appeared about her horn as the broken fragments of tree trunk began to glow, then gently pull free.
Fluttershy had barely approached the gap when the cat rushed out and latched onto her. Everypony stared at the black coated feline.
The Crusaders were lined up against the wall inside Carousal Boutique, looking rather sullen as Applejack eyed them up and down.
“So let me get this straight. You tried to make a cat carrier for Opal?”
The Crusaders nodded.
“And she escaped, so you chased her all over town?”
“And you thought you saw her go into Everfree Forest?”
“And you didn’t think to ask any of us for help?”
The Crusaders looked down.
“Say something, girls. You wouldn’t believe how worried I was when I came back to find Opal by herself and you three missing,” Rarity added, giving Sweetie Belle a particularly stern look.
“I’m sorry,” the fillies said in unison.
“I guess we aren’t cut out to be pet sitters, after all,” Apple Bloom said sourly.
“Aw, Sugarcube, you gotta stop trying to force this,” Applejack’s expression softened a bit. “You could have gotten hurt or worse. You’re lucky your biggest worry is your cutie marks.”
The Crusaders were silent again.
“What about the new kitty?” Pinkie Pie finally asked.
“Well, she’s got half a collar, so she must belong to somepony,” Twilight said.
“But who? The important part is missing,” Rarity pointed out.
At that moment, the fillies’ eyes went wide. Applejack knew that look, but before she could say “no,” they yelled out, “Cutie Mark Crusader Pet Detectives, yay!”