In Search of the Sun
The Night Guards again took to the air, Luna's cart trailing, on their flight back to Canterlot. The adventurous group was left at the edge of the always foreboding Everfree Forest. The songs of millions of strange insects and animals echoed from within the dark depths, creating a static wall of noise. Everypony could feel it staring back at them, almost as though the forest itself was alive.
"This is so cool!" Spike excitedly chimed from his place on Twilight's back.
"No, Spike, this is serious!" Twilight countered, turning to face the dragon. "We're doing this for the Princess, remember? She needs us."
Spike crossed his arms, visibly upset at being spoken to in such a stern way. "I still think it's cool," he muttered quietly beneath his breath.
"Is everypony ready?" Discord asked, taking charge of the group. He walked to the edge of the forest, ready to head in. "The sooner we get this over with, the sooner I can get back to my stone-nap."
Twilight looked over her friends. Spike was back to smiling in excitement on her back, Applejack and Rainbow Dash held fierce looks of determination, and even Rarity looked ready for action. Pinkie was bouncing about in a patch of clovers, but given her nature, that was about as enthusiastic as anypony could say she was. Fluttershy, however, was not as eager. She was lying on the ground, trembling as she stared into the dark foliage before them.
"Fluttershy? Are you okay?" Twilight asked, uncertain of the pegasus' resolve.
Hearing her name called, Fluttershy bolted from her spot on the grass to hide behind Applejack. Peering out, she calmed herself. "O-oh, I'm f-f-f-fine..."
"Uh, you sure about that?" Rainbow Dash asked, hovering beside the grounded pegasus.
"Well, I-I'm a l-l-little nervous..." Fluttershy answered, shaking in fear behind her earth pony friend. "B-b-but as long as y-you girls are with me, I-I-I'll be okay."
Discord propped himself lazily on a large rock. "So, aside from Stuttershy, we're good?"
Spike laughed quietly along. "'Stuttershy'! That's a good one!" An angered look from Twilight silenced his giggling. Pinkie Pie, however, continued to chortle at the joke.
Twilight groaned in frustration as she looked back to Discord. "Yeah, we're ready."
"Great!" the draconequus gleefully exclaimed, returning to a stand. "Don't worry, it's a quick walk through EverDEATH Forest."
"D-D-D-DEATH FOREST?!" Fluttershy shrieked, cowering even lower behind Applejack.
The farmer had had enough of the prankster's antics already, but wouldn't take him scaring her timid friend any longer. "Discord! Stop that, ya hear!"
"You brute!" Rarity joined. "Can't you tell the poor dear is scared enough already!" She moved to nuzzle her whimpering friend.
"Yeah, leave her alone!" joined Rainbow Dash in the pegasus' defense.
"Oh, come on!" Discord defended. "It was only a joke. Besides, this is probably the safest place we'll have to pass through!"
Another terrified squeak rose from the pegasus.
"Ah said that's enough!" Applejack reinforced, taking a step towards Discord.
"Yeah, ya big meanie-pants!" Pinkie joined, scowling at the devious prankster.
"It's not my fault she's scared of the dark!" Discord countered, taking an angered tone.
"You're not helping, you lout!" Rarity added.
Discord crossed his arms across his chest. "Better she drop out now than when it's too late, I say. No use for a coward where we're going."
Rainbow Dash darted within inches of Discord's face. "Shut up!"
Discord smiled wryly. "Or what?"
"ENOUGH!" Twilight yelled, having heard all she cared to. Silence instantly fell over the scene in the wake of her words. Even the forest grew soundless for a moment.
Calming herself with a few heavy breaths, the unicorn continued. "We don't have time for this! Let's just get going, everypony!"
"Excellent idea! Onward!" Discord answered, heading into the forest, a smile again on his face. Twilight reluctantly followed with Spike in tow. The rest of the group soon fell in line behind them, all except for Fluttershy.
Rainbow Dash stopped at the edge of the forest and looked back to the cowering pegasus. She felt bad for Fluttershy. She couldn't imagine facing a world where almost everything stunned her in crippling fear. She was also angered at Discord for exasperating the situation for the poor pegasus. She returned, landing beside the still trembling pony. "Don't let that bully get to ya, okay? Nothing bad's gonna happen in there. I'll be right beside you the whole time."
Fluttershy looked up from behind her mane, her blue eyes glowing in the moonlight. For the first time that day, Fluttershy found a smile on her face. "Th-thank you, Rainbow."
"Not a problem!" the cyan pegasus answered, putting a hoof to her puffed chest in one of her prideful, heroic poses. "Now c'mon. We gotta catch up with the others."
The two pegasi departed into the forest, quickly closing the distance to their friends.
The forest hummed with alien life around the group as they cut their way through the undergrowth. Little of Luna's gifted moon could pierce through the thick canopy above, making what pale beams could reach the ground play vicious tricks within the shadows. Twilight Sparkle, however, had her magic on her side. Her horn glowed with light, illuminating their path. Discord lead the group, fearless of the dark unknown before him. Pinkie bounced happily behind him, a smile never leaving her face. Twilight and Spike were close behind, with Applejack and Rarity following near. Tailing the back of the group was Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy. The timid yellow pegasus was still shaking and jumping at every noise, but Dash kept her word, opting to walk beside her friend instead of flying ahead.
"You know, I always did love the Everfree Forest," Discord spoke as he walked. "It's chaotic enough without my help! An oasis in a far too sane world! Some of the beasties in here are far worse than anything I could have cooked up!"
Twilight was growing weary of the villain's attempts to frighten them. "The Everfree Forest isn't so bad. My friend Zecora lives here, and I travel to see her all the time."
"Zecora?" Discord asked with new interest. "That's a zebra name, isn't it? Oh, tell me! Do they still do that thing where they only talk in rhymes?"
Twilight stopped in place at the sudden question. She hadn't even noticed it before, but Zecora in fact did speak in nothing but rhymes. She resumed walking as she answered. "Uh, yeah. Why?"
"My own handiwork, eons ago!" Discord proudly boasted. "Guess Celestia never got around to fixing it! Ha!"
Pinkie fell out laughing, rolling in a small pile of leaves. "Hahaha! That's priceless!"
"Pinkie!" Twilight scolded. "Don't laugh! That's horrible!"
"Oh, come on, Twilight," Pinkie replied through her laughter. "It's kinda funny, don't ya think?"
"See, she has the right attitude!" Discord shouted joyously. "The rest of you, I just don't understand. All this normalcy is mind-numbing!"
Twilight hung her head in frustration. "Ugh! Let's just get through with this already!"
"Couldn't agree more," the immortal responded, pushing aside a curtain of vines in his way.
"Um, g-girls?" Fluttershy spoke up in a meek voice. "D-d-does anypony else notice that we're... b-being watched?"
Twilight was taken aback by the notice, but in fact, they were being viewed from all sides by hidden, glowing eyes. The inhabitants of the Everfree Forest stared upon them as they traveled.
"Yeah... You're right, Fluttershy..." Spike replied, seeing the attention aimed their way. He shrank down, clinging tighter to Twilight. The forest was of course full of various life, but never before in any of their visits had so much of it focused on them.
Discord looked around, seeing the haunting eyes peering back. "Oh, that? Nothing to worry about. They're just drawn to me."
The entirety of the group stopped at his answer. "What?!" they begged in unison.
Discord also stopped his progress, turning to face his less-than-fellow party members. "I told you, this place is chaotic enough without me. Chaos is drawn to chaos, and I'm the King of Chaos! They're curious. Isn't that neat?"
Twilight again looked around to the looming eyes. "Sure. Thrilling," she replied sarcastically, nervousness edging in.
Discord waved a dismissive paw. "Bah, no fun! Just you wait. When I rule again, things will be way more interesting! Grass will grow on the clouds, birds will sing opera, all the tables will run in herds. And don't even get me started about 'Hotsauce Tuesday', every Thursday!"
Pinkie gave an excited gasp. "Twilight! Did you hear that! Chaos has a day for hotsauce! Hotsauce, Twilight! Doesn't that sound fun! I want more chaos!"
Twilight rubbed a hoof to her forehead, the weak throbbing of a headache beginning to take hold. "No, Pinkie. Discord's a bad guy, remember? We don't side with bad guys."
Discord laughed at the unicorn's annoyed state. "But you know it's fun," he added as he continued to lead the way.
The forest seemed to close in around them the further they proceeded. As time drew on, the group found themselves passing old landmarks. The stream they had once met the sea serpent in was much easier to cross without his woeful lamenting over his facial hair, and even the hanging bridges provided little difficulty this time around. Changing their heading from their previous adventure, the ancient castle was faintly visible against the skyline in the far west. They carried on, into territory none of them had yet experienced.
Twilight looked over the group again. Spike was asleep on her back, obviously drowsy from his early morning. Rarity also looked tired from the journey, being unused to such long walks. Applejack walked beside her, her gaze still fixed firmly ahead. Fluttershy had calmed herself, walking side by side with Rainbow Dash in silence at the back of the pack. Pinkie Pie had since fallen back into the group, her bouncing finally giving way to walking. Twilight looked forward to see Discord still taking the lead, his condition not a concern for her.
"So, where are we going?" she asked, breaking a long silence.
"The Eternal Realm," Discord answered flatly. "I thought we were clear on that?"
"I know that much!" Twilight shouted back. "But where is it? How much further?"
"How much further?!" Discord repeated, laughing at the question. Without halting, he bent his upper body backwards, using his serpentine body to look Twilight in the face, albeit upside down. "Haha! A ways still, I'm afraid. It's a long journey ahead."
"Where's this journey'a yers takin' us, then?" Applejack asked.
"Quite far," he elaborated, bending himself back upright. "First, we have to cross the Everfree Forest. We're almost done with that, at least. Then, we climb over the Diamond Caves of the Outer Ridge."
Rarity snapped from her tired, autonomous walking. "Diamonds, you say?"
"Then through the Draconian Mountains."
Fluttershy stiffened, trembling. "Dr-dr-dr-draconian?"
"And finally, we pass through the Abhorrent Lowlands."
"The Abominable Whatlands?" Pinkie asked in confusion.
"And finally, we reach the Gate of Eternity. That's the way into the Eternal Realm." He twisted his body around at his waist to look at Twilight as he walked. "Easy as pie, right?" He gave a final mocking laugh before turning back to where he was headed.
Twilight still had questions. "What is the Eternal Realm, anyway?"
Discord stopped in his tracks, halting the group's progress behind him. He stared ahead blankly for a moment, before finally uttering his answer. "It's where all immortals come from. Our birth place, if one can even call us 'born'. A place of infinite magic and power."
A long pause followed his words. Only the endless sounds of uncontrolled nature continued.
"What's it like?" Rarity asked, intrigued by Discord's new, odd behavior.
The draconequus shook his head clear, continuing his stride. He spoke dryly, with a strange, vicious mocking to his words. "It's like an amusement park. Sure." His abrupt shift in mood made it clear that he was done speaking on the topic, and the others respectively declined to press it further.
The sounds of the forest changed around them as they continued. The din of animals unknown faded, replaced by the ominous chorus of raging water up ahead. The thick growth finally parted, and visibility returned as the moon shined down unobstructed. The origin of the noise was revealed to the group as a huge river crossed before them, a mountainous ridge just visible on the opposite side. Rapids tore across the water's surface, making jagged points as waves crested and fell back into the blue abyss.
"Now, how th' hay are we s'pose t' cross this!" Applejack shouted above the loud clamor.
Discord shrugged. "Beats me. That's for you to figure out."
The loud commotion stirred Spike from his slumber. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he jumped in startle at the sight before him. "Whoa! What's going on!"
"A problem, I'd say," Rarity answered, stepping to the river's edge. A chilly wind from the river's surface blew by, making her shiver. Adjusting her scarf and bonnet, the unicorn was quite glad she had dressed warmly. "We need to find a way around."
"No way around," Discord answered pessimistically, lying back against a fallen tree on the shore. "This is the Everfree River. It runs this thick all the way to the ocean. And none the shallower, either."
Rainbow Dash stepped forward, Fluttershy still sticking close. "We can fly across! Twilight, do you remember the wing spell you used on Rarity?"
Twilight tapped a hoof to her chin, attempting to remember the complicated spell. Sadly, her mind drew a blank. The difficult spell wasn't one she noted to reattempt, and quickly left her memory soon after that day. "No, I don't. I'm sorry."
"For the better, anyway," Discord spoke again. "The winds that come off this river would sweep you clear off the map! I wouldn't even attempt flying over it."
"C'mon, Twilight!" Spike encouraged. "You're the most powerful unicorn in Equestria! You can do something, right?"
Twilight bit her lip. The first obstacle they had come to in this quest, and she felt helpless against it. She had to find some way to reach the other side. She thought of teleportation, but knew it was too far for her to jump in a single spell. The river was easily a half-mile across. She thought of casting a water-breathing spell over her and the others, but knew the current was far too powerful to swim through either. The raging river stood defiant to any of her ideas!
"What do I do?" she quietly asked herself, her ears dropping in worry. Her friends were depending on her. Equestria was depending on her! But, more than anything, Princess Celestia, her mentor, the pony who was like another mother to her, depended on her. She had to think of something.
She looked to the ground beneath her, hoping for any muse to cross her way. "C'mon, think, think!" She spoke to herself.
Below her, she saw a trail of ants, following in a single line over the moist soil beside the river that blocked their path. She looked closely, following the ants' progress. A smooth trail had formed as they etched out the soil underneath their small legs.
An idea flashed like lightning in her mind, springing her head from its hanging position. "I've got it!"
She ran to the edge of the water, spreading her legs to brace herself for what was to come. Bright light poured from her horn with sparkling flickers of magic as she willed a change around her. Spike hopped from her back, taking in the spectacle from a safe distance with the others. Twilight's eyes glowed white with intense energy as her magic swirled around her. A wedge split the waters of the river, piercing the current like an invisible knife. As the part grew deeper, the water was further split, soon cleaving a trail clear to the river's bottom. She had parted the river all the way across, making a road for the group to cross in safety.
Cheers rose from her friends at the marvelous feat. Even Discord had taken notice, a shocked look apparent on his face.
The hard part concluded, the magic surrounding Twilight died down, only remaining as a faint glow around her horn as she held back the water. She turned to her friends again. "Now we can cross."
"Twilight..." Spike began, his mouth agape. "That. Was. AWESOME!"
"Ah reckon yer on t' somethin' there, Spike," Applejack added in awe.
Twilight blushed. "Well, it was just something I came up with. Let's get going."
Discord finally gathered his senses, again leading the group through the now open road. "I guess that was pretty impressive," he only quietly uttered as he passed the purple unicorn. "Just don't let that magic of yours go, or we're all doomed."
As the group poured nervously into the parted river, they took in the powerful sight. On either side, clear water stood in perfect walls. Beyond the edge, fish and other aquatic life could be seen faintly as distant silhouettes. Fluttershy smiled as she watched small fish come to the wall, curious to the unusual visitors in their domain. Above, the water rose to towering heights, showing just how deep the river truly was. As they walked lower and lower, darkness again took hold where the moon could not see. Only the faint luminosity of the filtered moonlight guided their path now, casting shining water patterns over them and the ground.
They reached the halfway point, their passage finally ceasing its descent and returning back to a climb. Nopony spoke, almost as though none wished to jinx the situation. Twilight's magic, however, held firm.
Fluttershy felt her nerves jitter as she looked up the heights of the watery walls. Fear spoke to her, reminding her of how easily the massive walls could come crashing down, crushing her and her friends under its weight. Her hooves began to shake, panic eating at her as it often did.
She shook her head. "No!" she thought. "You can't think like that, Fluttershy!" She chastised herself for letting fear get to her. She had to be strong, for the sake of the others. And more, she couldn't prove Discord right.
Fluttershy again looked to her side, marveling at the brightly colored fish and sea-snails and crabs that stared in from the edges of their home. Fear left as fun thoughts again entered her mind. Of swimming with the beautiful fish, and of what new animals she'd see on their journey. Her hooves again stamped in steady rhythm, excited at what was to come.
Instantly, the fish that gave her courage vanished, dashing back into the darkness in panic. The snails shrank into their shells, and the crabs all scurried away at once. This struck the pegasus as odd. Why would they run away, she thought? There's nothing to be scared of.
Fluttershy stopped in place. Nothing to be scared of, she repeated in her head. But, what if... there was?
"Um... Twilight?" Fluttershy whispered lowly, catching up to the unicorn. "I-I think we should, um, maybe speed up, I mean, if that's all right with you."
Twilight looked to the pegasus beside her. "Why? Is something the matter?"
"W-well," Fluttershy continued, hiding beneath her mane. "I just, well... I just don't think it's... safe here."
Twilight giggled lightly. "Oh, Fluttershy, don't worry! I'm not letting my magic go, you can count on it!"
A low, groaning noise echoed within the passage, freezing everypony in place.
Rainbow Dash hopped into the air, hovering above the others. "Wh-what the hay was that?"
Fluttershy began to tremble fiercely. "Th-th-that's what I was afraid of..."
The growl sounded again, bouncing around the small gap. Everypony looked around, trying to determine where it was coming from.
Twilight's eyes darted around. "Discord," she asked, her voice hushed and low. "What do you think is making that sound?"
She looked to the draconequus. His eyes were wide, limbs stiff as stone. "Discord?" she asked again.
Discord stared blankly forward. "Oh, buck."
A mighty crack split the air as a large tentacle ripped through the watery wall, lashing across at the adventurers. With quick reflexes, the group ducked the fast limb, with Dash taking flight over it.
Spike hopped back to a stand, leaping onto Twilight's back again. "What the hay?!"
Discord was quick to respond. Charging ahead of the group, he shouted back. "RUN!!" The rest of the group was quick to agree, making a dash for the far side of the river.
Another splintering crack shattered the air as a tentacle crashed down mere feet before Discord. The draconequus skidded to a halt before the large limb. Twilight, with Spike, however, were not as quick to stop, and barreled into Discord's back, launching him over the slimy appendage that blocked his way.
Dazed from the blow, Twilight's magic waned, the walls sprinkling down a small mist from either side as a pulse of magic rolled over them.
"Twilight!" Spike urged in panic. "You gotta stay focused!"
Twilight shook her head, clearing her mind, moments before another tentacle swept through the walls towards her. She hopped to the side, dodging the tentacle as it came. Her saddlebags were not as lucky, getting captured by a suction pad on the tentacle and ripped from her back, sending Spike in a tumble to the ground. The bag and all of their gear was whisked away into the dark waters. Twilight gathered herself, assessing the situation. Behind her, her friends fought sweeping tentacles of their own from the darkened waters, each screaming in panic as they nimbly avoided the attacks. In front of her, Discord had again taken to running away. Not too far ahead, however, he ran into an invisible wall. The binding necklace Twilight wore wouldn't let him distance himself far.
He fought the magic barrier a few more times before turning back to the unicorn. "Would you hurry up! I'd like to not get crushed by a sea-monster today!"
"I'm not leaving without my friends!" Twilight shouted back. She quickly grabbed Spike from the ground, throwing the dazed dragon onto her back again as she ran back to the others.
Discord was unwillingly dragged back with her as his magic leash was pulled away. "WHAT?! NONONONONONONOOO!!"
Twilight jumped into the group again, dodging multiple swings from the unseen beast. "Girls! Run! I'll hold it off!" She poured magic again into her horn, painstakingly widening the pass to give her friends more room to escape as she telekinetically swatted away the assaulting limbs.
Her friends heeded the command. Pinkie, Applejack, and Rarity quickly ran towards the shore. As she passed, Applejack snatched up Spike from Twilight's back, tossing the dragon onto her own. "Time t' go, Spike!" They bounced over Discord as he lay in the way, still trying desperately to get beyond the unseen barrier the necklace held him at.
Fluttershy stayed pinned to the floor, terror locking her limbs as she hid below her mane. Another snap of the air signaled as a thick tentacle barreled down towards her. Fluttershy looked up at the loud sound, only to see the crushing blow headed her way. She again hid her eyes, screaming as she waited for the strike. Rainbow Dash, however, got to her first, snatching the poor pegasus up from peril just before the tentacle hit. A boom echoed as sand and dirt were crushed beneath it.
Fluttershy looked up, seeing Rainbow Dash holding onto her by the forelegs. "I told ya, Shy!" the cyan pegasus spoke through the calamity. "I'm staying by your side!"
Fluttershy found courage again coursing through her as she looked up to her friend. Her own wings pulsed with life, lifting her by her own power. "Thank you, Rainbow."
The two pegasi now in the air, it was time to retreat. "Twilight!" Rainbow Dash called down to the struggling unicorn. "Let's get out of here!"
Twilight again let her magic rest, the pass widened enough for their escape. She turned on her hooves, bolting towards the shore with the pegasi flying above her. Another tentacle whipped through the wall, smashing into the spot where she had stood just moments before.
As she leapt over Discord, the immortal was quick to catch his senses, following in haste behind the unicorn. "I'm attached to you, remember?! Don't do that again!!"
The shore was in sight now as the pale moonlight brightened around them. On the bank, the rest of the group called frantically to them, urging the remaining ponies on.
"Hurry, Twilight!" Spike encouraged from Applejack's back. "You can make it!"
They were almost out. Twilight pressed herself harder, closing the distance. She jumped onto the dry land, Discord following close.
Dash and Fluttershy were further behind still. They flew sharply upwards, above the river's surface. "CLOSE IT, TWILIGHT!" Dash cried as they cleared the gap.
Twilight responded with immediacy, letting the split close with a dull boom as she released her magic.
A loud roar again cried out from the dark depths. A final tentacle fired from the water's surface, aimed at the two pegasi above. Rainbow Dash bobbed below the limb as it passed. Fluttershy, however, had been caught unaware. The tentacle wrapped around the yellow pegasus before she could react, pulling her quickly towards the raging river below. "RAINBOW!" she called out, just before the waters rose to overtake her.
Time slowed as the others looked on in horror. In an instant, their friend was gone.
"NOOOO!" Rainbow Dash screamed in terror. Turning in air, she dove into the water after her friend. Within seconds, she reemerged, much further down the river. She dove in again, and again, trying several times, but it was hopeless. The current was too strong, and Rainbow Dash was a weak swimmer.
Exhausted, she fought the waters to again find air beneath her drenched wings. She hovered over the river, staring downstream into the distance. "FLUTTERSHY!!" she called, hoping her voice would carry below the rushing waters. Time drew on as she waited, her friends just as worried on the shore. No sign of the lost pegasus broke the surface. Dash's soul sank as the moment caught her, the spark of hope growing weaker with each passing second. Her wings burned from their abuse, and reluctantly, she landed beside her friends. Her gaze was fixed on the ground below, unable to look up. "I... I couldn't save her..."
Fear held a deathgrip over everypony, save for Discord. Could they really have lost one of their own? Silence hung sickly in the air as reality sank in. Everypony's eyes fell to the ground, painful sorrow stabbing at their hearts.
"Um, can somepony help me, if it's not too much to ask?"
Everypony snapped to attention at the soft voice speaking low against the crashing waters. Turning to look, they were met with a soaked Fluttershy lying on the water's edge. Rainbow Dash's heart sprang to her throat as she saw her friend again. "FLUTTERSHY!!" The group ran to the bank, helping to pull the tired pegasus further from the river. Each pony shouted words of joy and love to the drenched pony as she was wrapped in numerous hugs.
"Fluttershy!" Dash began, tears still wet at the edge of her eyes. "I thought we lost you!"
"Ya made it!" Applejack cheered, happy to see their friend safe.
"Oh, Fluttershy!" Rarity joined, hugging her friend again. "I'm so glad you're all right!"
Spike sprang up in joy. "You're alive!" he exclaimed, before a confused look found its way on his face. "But, how?"
Fluttershy averted her eyes, staring at the soil below. "Um... it was nothing..."
"Nothin'?" Applejack repeated, tilting her head. "What'd'ya mean 'nothin''?"
Fluttershy lowered herself, letting her wet mane drape her face. "Oh, well, it was... well..."
"Darling," Rarity inquired, "whatever is the matter? You're acting like-" Realization suddenly hit the unicorn. "Wait." She drew back, putting together the pieces in her head. "Oh, dear, you used The Stare, didn't you?"
A blush rose on Fluttershy's cheeks. "M-maybe a little..."
Applejack rubbed a hoof to the back of her mane, her face contorting. "Aw, jeez, Fluttershy. Th' Stare? Th' poor critter..."
"The Stare, huh?" Pinkie asked. She opened her eyes wide, letting the orbs roll lazily in her head. "Spoo-oo-ooky!"
Fluttershy shot forward. "I didn't mean to! It just happened!"
Twilight laughed. "We're just happy you're all right! But, how did you make it back to the shore?"
"Well, I swim a lot, so I'm pretty good at it," Fluttershy explained, blushing from all of the attention. "I have to be when taking care of Mr. Walrus and Ms. Whale."
"Waitwaitwait!" Dash interjected. "You have a whale?!"
Fluttershy smiled weakly. "Sure. I have a lot of pets."
"Well, that's a whale of a tale!" Pinkie shouted with a snorting laugh, landing a flying hug onto the timid pegasus, rolling her over onto the ground. The rest of the group joined in the now group hug.
Discord sat back from the others, shaking the water from his fur. He didn't want anything to do with the sappy scene behind him. "When you ponies are ready, we have a lot of ground still to cover." He added under his breath, "and hopefully a place to dry off."
"So, what did that thing look like?" Spike asked, curious to the beast they had just fought.
Before Fluttershy could answer, Discord replied. "That was a Cephalosaurus. A giant octopus-like monster-thing. And they make terrible pets! I used to have one, but it just kept making a mess of its aquarium."
"I've never heard of such a creature," Twilight mused, a small glint of fascination sparking in her at the unknown.
"Because most ponies don't survive seeing one." Discord added with a twisted smile. "Now, we need to get moving." He pointed to the towering mountain ridge before them. "We have to get over that next."
"What's the rush?" Rainbow asked, glaring at Discord. "Can't you see Fluttershy needs to rest?"
"Fine," the draconequus answered, walking away from the others towards the mountains. "If you want to hang out by the river, be my guest."
The group turned, looking back to the water. As each one remembered the previous ordeal, they began seeing sense in making distance. They were soon following Discord's example.