The Lion and the Lamb
Story By: CrazyRabidPony
Written By: CrazyRabidPony
Drakengarde AKA Mr. Ben
Edited Partially By: emp_zealoth
Chapter One: The Unexpected Visitor
It was mid-March in the magical land of Equestria. The wintry chill swept through the lands, in some areas harsh, while in others not so much. The town known as Ponyville, and the area around it, received a fresh blanket of snow on the previous night. Local residents emerged from their homes to behold Mother Nature's gift, as schools were closed and workers were issued a day off from their duties. Ponies of all ages bundled up in appropriate attire to keep warm as they ventured out to indulge themselves in the winter wonderland. While most enjoyed the spectacle, there were individuals who found it a nuisance. When ponies have had their fill of fun in the snow, they would go inside their toasty homes to curl up around a fireplace and wrap up in a warm blanket or treat themselves to a piping cup of hot chocolate.
Nestled, in a large clearing between the outskirts of Ponyville and a vast forest known as the Everfree, sat a large cottage. During the flourishing seasons, the cottage and the surrounding land was teeming with flora and fauna. Now, it was bleak and void of wildlife. Almost all of the creatures have gone into hibernation or moved on, looking for warmth and nourishment in order to keep themselves alive until spring would arrive. The domesticated animals, such as a flock of chickens who were kept warm in their henhouse; or a goat that took refuge in its own little house in the corner of its pen, were the only signs of life.
The cottage stood tall, its roof covered with fresh powder from the recent snowfall. The diameter was coated in patches of ice buildups, and windows frosted, giving it a ghostly masque. Yet, despite its lifeless impression, there was life inside. A pale yellow pegasus with a long and luxurious rosy pink mane and tail named Fluttershy rested comfortably on her couch, enjoying a cup of hot chocolate she held between her front hooves.
Various birds, mammals, and reptiles that usually resided inside her house were either gone or asleep for the season. She was not alone though. A small white rabbit was keeping her company, lounging in his basket betwixt two soft pillows and soaking in the warmth of cottage. Unexpectedly, the tranquility was disturbed when the rabbit's elongated ears suddenly perked up at a faint noise from the outside that was inaudible to the equine. The creature stood up abruptly and stared at the window behind Fluttershy, visibly alert.
Noticing her rabbit's behavior, the pegasus raised her brow as curiosity filled her features.
"Angel bunny, what's-"
Before the equine could finish her question, much louder noises-ones that could now be heard by her-pierced the still air, startling and almost causing her to spill her drink. Setting her cup down on the wooden floor, Fluttershy turned around and peeked out the window behind her. She couldn't see well through the frost coating though, and was only able to make out the silhouette of the chicken coop. The unmistakable sounds of her chickens clucking in panic compelled her to check it out.
Jumping off the couch, she hurried upstairs for her winter wear. Pulling on a wool saddle, scarf, and snow boots, she rushed back down and headed out the front door to see what could possibly be bothering her chickens.
When Fluttershy pulled the door open, Angel burrowed himself underneath one of his pillows to avoid the chilling air that poured into the room. He was happy once the door was closed again, sealing in the warmth.
Outside, the pegasus tiptoed cautiously into the direction of the chicken coop, snow crunching underneath the soles of her shoes and her breath spouting from her mouth and nostrils into spumes of vapor. She was nervous at the thought of some potentially dangerous creature, but the loud and frightened tone in the chickens' clucking drove her on. Her worried teal eyes scanned the pen, searching for any reason why her chickens were running around frantically like… chickens with their heads cut off.
Fluttershy didn't notice anything out of the ordinary at first, but it wasn't long until a white bundle caught her eye. Spreading her wings, she fluttered closer to the pen to investigate and landed right next to the fence. Near the farthest corner, she spotted the figure of a griffon chick no larger than a dwarf rabbit. A delighted smile that appeared on her face turned into a deep frown once she analyzed and acknowledged the creature's condition. It was malnourished-it's ribs, spine, and hips visible underneath the snowy coat.
Feeling maternal instinct welling up within her, she flapped her wings once again and dropped onto the other side of the enclosure, intent on taking the chick inside the cottage and nursing it back to health.
"Oh… You poor thing," the pegasus cooed into the griffon's direction.
With a startled squawk, the griffon jumped back, alarmed that it had been caught roaming in another's territory. The starving chick had hoped to find any source of food laying around in order to quell the aching in its belly. Though the baby was too young to kill for food itself, the chickens didn't know any better and had assumed the intruder was a predator. Amber eyes wide with fear, the griffon whirled around, slipped underneath the fencing via hole it had dug, and made a mad dash off into the direction of the Everfree Forest.
Taking to the air yet again Fluttershy went after the baby, eager to stop it before it reached the forest. After all, too many dangerous animals resided within the Everfree, and a griffon chick would surely make a tasty snack for any forest-dwelling beast.
While the clucking of the chickens faded as the griffon drew farther away from the property, it could pick up the flapping of feathery wings. Terrified at the mental imagery of being caught and eaten by the pony that pursued it, the tiny child put on a desperate burst of speed. The feeble being pumped its legs as hard as it could, adrenaline fueling its frantic escape.
"That griffon sure is fast for such a little baby," Fluttershy mused to herself, quite surprised, as she continued after it. In reality, it was the pegasus who simply wasn't a very swift flier.
The chase continued on until the verge of the Everfree Forest was only a few strides away from the griffon's reach. The pony put on her breaks and plopped onto the snowy ground below, a cloud of crystalline flakes flying up from the impact. After pushing herself up and taking a couple steps back, she looked up at the trees towering over her and crouched low to the snowy ground, ears pinned back in submission as if the forest itself was about to attack her. Tearing her eyes away from the tall trees she gazed between them and saw the griffon disappear into the gloomy shadows.
"W-wait! Please come back!" she pleaded, but it was futile.
She trembled at the thought of what terrible dangers could be waiting in there, but the urge to save the youngling overwhelmed those fears. Gulping down a lump in her throat, the yellow pony willed her legs to move. While she made her first steps into the forest, she took stock of her surroundings and decided that the Everfree was even scarier in the winter. It's vile trees were coated heavily in frost and they towered over her with bare branches stretched out like grotesque limbs, giving the entire forest a ghastly and hostile manifestation.
When she felt a slight brush on her leg from a sapling branch trembling in swaying rhythm of the wind's ominous song, Fluttershy released a high-pitched squeak and dove behind a fallen tree.
Slowly peeking from her hiding place, she surveyed the area and felt slightly relieved that there was nothing there, and not to mention her eyes were finally adjusting to the darkness. The relief was short lived though, when the low creaking of the trees was drowned out by the wind whistling yet another haunting verse. A shiver crawled up her spine, but the equine finally slunk out from behind the uprooted tree and spotted a trail of the baby griffon's tracks embedded in the snow. Glad that she still had a chance to find the child, she quickly followed them.
It wasn't deep into the Everfree before the terrain became nearly impassable. Fluttershy had to fight her way through it, ducking under branches and gliding over boulders or fallen trees. The ordeal lasted for over an hour and a half before she could see the familiar griffon resting upon a dead tree jutting from the snow, facing away from the pony's direction. On the other side was an opening in the ground stretching out five feet in diameter that led to an underground well.
Hearing the familiar flapping interrupt the stillness, the exhausted griffon spun around to see the pegasus gliding towards it. Too tired to run anymore it squawked weakly at the pony, hoping it would somehow scare it away.
Allowing herself to land a couple of yards away from the griffon, Fluttershy advanced slowly. The baby puffed out its fur and feathers in a pathetic attempt to appear intimidating to the approaching equine. Only a pair of feet away from the decaying tree the griffin was standing on, she put on a gentle smile and spoke soothingly to it.
"There, there… It's okay."
The pair didn't realize that the dead tree was only supported by some loose boulders and snow. As the pegasus closed in, it strained under the increasing load, ready to break at any moment.
"There, there, little one. I'm not going to hurt-AAAHH!"
The support gave away as the tree's rotting bark snapped, sending both griffon and pony tumbling down into the well in a mess of rocks, snow, and bark that landed in a shallow puddle with a splash, soaking them. The last of the debris went down and the griffon pulled itself up, shaking water from its coat while the yellow equine tried to gather her bearings.
Groaning and feeling a little light-headed from the fall, Fluttershy attempted to push herself up as well, but she felt a tug on her right front leg. Shaking her head, she realized her hoof was pinned under a heavy boulder. She tugged harder on her leg, hoping to yank it free, but the only result was sharp pain.
Ceasing for the moment, she looked around, spying two of her snow boots beneath the water-covered floor. Farther ahead, was an entrance to a cavern where she guessed the water flowed from.
The griffon's sudden frantic squawking caught her attention. The creature was trying to climb up the steep walls of the well, but it was hopeless, as they were about ten feet high. The little thing was terrified, stuck with it's pursuer. In an effort to calm it, Fluttershy addressed it in her usual gentle tone.
"Oh, don't worry… We'll get out… I'm sure someone will come by and help us."
More than seven hours had passed and still no one had come by and both were growing numb, exhaustion and cold inexorably draining life out of them. However, they were brought back to reality when a deep, eerie rumble erupted from the depths of the nearby cavern, causing the two tremble with fear of what new horrors would befall them.
"W… what was that?" the pegasus whimpered.
A few minutes passed. Nothing happened-or so she thought. The griffon was the first to realize what was wrong and begin squawking again, louder and more insistently this time. Soon, Fluttershy noticed the change as well.
"Wasn't… the water… lower?"
Terror gripped the pegasus' heart like a steel vice-the water was rising. Imminent danger made her ignore the searing pain as she yanked harder and harder at her hoof.
The water continued to rise slowly, it's temperature chilling both pony and griffon, sapping the remainder of warmth out of their bodies. While the griffon squawked and clawed at the walls of the well, Fluttershy cried out for help in her normal quiet voice, but she was steadily getting louder as the water rose. Her attempts at freeing her hoof were becoming more desperate, too-she started off pushing gently at the boulder, then shoving, and eventually ramming her shoulder into it. She even tried kicking, but only managed to hurt her leg in the process. The huge rock didn't even budge, despite all that effort.
With water reaching it's tiny beak the baby griffon decided to choose possible danger over certain death. Flailing over to Fluttershy, it gripped onto her wings and pulled itself up onto her back, then scrambled onto her head, before finally jumping on top of the boulder that had the equine's hoof trapped. It resumed its wailing, not willing to give up on calling out for someone to help it.
Shoulders submerged, Fluttershy cried out in distress as loud as her lungs possibly allowed, choked sobs interrupting every call. She had never been so frightened in her life, knowing that she was so close to drowning.
With only her head above the surface, she filled her lungs until they felt like they would burst and held her breath. The water kept rising steadily, first reaching her mouth, eyes, then pouring into her ears. She was completely helpless.
Almost half a minute passed and Fluttershy started to squirm uncontrollably, lungs screaming at her to breathe in. She could feel herself fading, darkness seeping into her vision. Just before last flicker of light disappeared, she saw a red lizard-like figure plunge into water next to her.