Horror in Hoofkaido, part one

Greetings to all of my loyal readers, Tornado the historian here. Within these pages, you shall find short adventures of the many ponies of Ponyland; one story from each of our federation's great kingdoms. From Fort Rainbow dash to Bright valley, from the Royal Paradise to Bright Valley. I will give you a sample of the adventures that challenge each of the kingdoms in Ponyland. For our first little tale, we shall turn to the oriental land of Hoofkaido. This is the tale of a great anfd heroic rescue mission, where three equines took on a dangerous beast, and triumphed over a great magical evil.

Hoofkaido was always so very beautiful this time of year.

During the previous visits he had made in his youth, Rocky had always found Hoofkaido to be a pleasant place; beautiful zen gardens, elegant pagodas, and well- maintained temples. The season's colorful cherry blossoms were coming off the trees, and spiraling down upon ponies like a gentle rain of lace. It was a beautiful paradise, that was the perfect blending of civilization and nature, that felt in total balance between the ponies and their environment.

And this visit was no exception. All around him, the bustling sights and sounds of the Hoofkaidian marketplace were a wonder to behold. Merchants in kimonos and Yukatas sold their wares, while earth pony samurai and unicorn shugenja trotted through the streets, happily chatting about their the day. As the son of a prominent and prosperious Daimyo from the outlying territories, Rocky felt perfectly at home among these proud equines. But the young orange stallion, with the yellow and red mane and rising sun cutie mark, still seemed to stand out from the city ponies around him.

"Um, excuse me?" Rock stopped, and asked several passerby ponies. "Does anyone know the quickest route to Maredo castle?"

The mares and stallions whom he stopped each simply responded with a polite bow, and an apology of 'gomen nasai'. Rocky wanders around in confusion for several minutes. Then, a strange-looking translucent Pegasus mare in samurai armor came quietly trotting up behind the daimyo's son. The blue pony with a yellow and red mane gently tapped the young stallion on the shoulder with her hoof, and Rocky nearly jumped out of her coat in surprise.

"Excuse me, Rocky-san?" The Pegasus Samurai bowed to him in greeting. "My name is Starglow, and I have been sent from the palace by the shogun, she is eagerly expecting you."

"Oh! You startled me!" The stallion nearly jumped in surprise. Looking over the pony with the yellow piano cutie mark." By all means, Lady Starglow, lead the way!"

The mare led Rocky towards towards the large pagoda-covered palace, and entered through the large, Torii gate at the front. Passing into the central pagoda's main audience chamber, the stallion found himself before a pink mare, dressed in the armor of the Shogun, and sitting in the seiza position. The daimyo's son bowed low before the pony with the white mane, tail and snowflake cutie mark, showing the utmost respect.

"Honorable Shogun Yukijoro." Rocky greeted her humbly. "I was happy to hear you summons from my father's court. So I have come before you, to see how I may be of service to the ponies of Hoofkaido."

"Ahhh, Omo Rocky. It is a pleasure to see you again, my servant." Yuki smiled, motioning with her hoof for Rocky to rise. "I am pleased you have answered my summons so quickly. I have called you here to aid in a most difficult problem, that now threatens the Hoofkaido shogunate."

The Shogun motioned to one of her servants, who brought over a kettle of tea, and pored each of the ponies a cup. Both Omo and the shogun raised their cups in ritualistic fashion, before taking a sip. After they had finished the tea ceremony, Yukijoro began to speak.

"I suppose you have heard of my husband, the noble lord Jazu?" The shogun pointed a hoof at a woodcut print on the wall, displaying a blue stallion, with a blue mane and trumpet cutie mark. "He is a popular performer and shijin, who has been touring the local communities in the Hoofkaido shogunate."

"I have met him before, my lady, yes." Rocky nodded, sipping his tea. "He performed at my father's court a few years past, we did greatly enjoy his trumpet playing skills. Is the reason you called me here tied to your husband?"

"Indeed, I have summoned you here in order to locate my beloved spouse, for he has gone missing." Yukijoro replied, setting down the tea she held in her hooves. "He disappeared from a village in the hinterlands of the north, near the unicorn run. That is the territory of a fierce red oni, who is known to grab ponies for his own amusement."

"A red oni... a most dangerous foe. The other Ponyland kingdoms call them ogre mages." Rocky nodded gravely. "They wield great and powerful magics, and beings capable of only the worst possible kinds of evil."

"Indeed, that is why I have summoned you, Omo Rocky. You are one of our nation's most skilled shugenjas." The shogun replied. "I wanted you and Starglow, the most loyal samurai in my court. I want the two of you to journey to the frigid north, and recover my beloved spouse."

"Then I shall do my best to rescue lord Jazu, my lady." Rocky replied, bowing again. "No matter where your husband is, we shall find him, and bring him home."

"I agree, my lady. Rocky-san and I will begin our journey on the morrow." Starglow agreed. "There is a village of Kirin halfway towards the oni's cave. We can use that place for a stopover, rest and gather supplies and information."

"Then go, my servants, may good fortune smile upon you during your honorable mission." Yuki dismissed them, as the two trotted out of the castle's audience chamber. "And may the eyes of the great B'zekre always watch over you both!"