The Lion and the Lamb
Story By: CrazyRabidPony
Written By: CrazyRabidPony
Edited By: Empzealoth
Chapter One: The Unexpected Visitor
It was mid-March in the magical land of Equestria. The wintry chill swept through the lands, in some harsh, while in others not so much. The town known as Ponyville, and the surrounding area, had 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 an 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. After all, when ponies have had their fill of fun in the snow, they would go inside their toasty homes to curl up around a fireplace, wrap up in a warm blanket or treat themselves to a piping cup of hot chocolate. Not everyone was so lucky.
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 land around it was teeming with both flora and fauna. Now, however, it was bleak and void of wildlife, as almost all of the creatures have gone into hibernation or moved on looking for warmth and nourishment, 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 coated in patches of ice buildups, it’s windows frosted, giving it a ghostly appearance. Yet, despite its lifeless impression, there was life inside the cottage. A yellow pegasus with a long and luxurious pink mane and tail named Fluttershy rested comfortably on her green 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 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 inside the cottage. Sadly, the tranquility was disturbed when the rabbit’s elongated ears suddenly perked up at a faint, inaudible to the pony, noise from the outside. The creature stood up abruptly and stared through 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 her 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. The pony couldn’t see well through the frost coating it though, she was only able to make out a silhouette of the chicken coop. However, the unmistakable sounds of her chickens clucking in panic, while muffled by the thick icing, were still audible.
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 under one of his pillows trying to avoid the chilling air that poured into the room. He was happy once the door was closed again, sure that his owner would calm the commotion.
Outside, the pegasus tip-toed cautiously into the direction of the chicken coop, snow crunching underneath the soles of her shoes, her breath spouting from her mouth and nostrils turning into spumes of vapor in the chilly air. 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, looking for any reason why her chickens were running around frantically like their heads were 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 out her wings she fluttered closer to the pen to investigate and landed right next to the fence, where she realized she could make out a figure of a griffon chick no larger than a dwarf rabbit. A delighted smile that appeared on her face due to her discovery turned into a deep frown once she analyzed the creature’s condition. The tiny thing was malnourished, it's ribs, spine, and hips were quite visible underneath the snowy coat. Feeling maternal instinct welling up in 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 and attracted it's attention.
With a startled squawk, the griffon jumped back, alarmed that it had been caught roaming in another creature’s territory. The starving chick had hoped to find any source of food laying around and must have stumbled upon the pen. Though the baby was too young to kill for food itself, the chickens didn’t know any better and probably assumed the intruder was a predator. Amber eyes wide with fear, the griffon whirled around, slipped underneath the fence via hole it had dug, and made a mad dash off into the direction of the Everfree Forest.
“Oh! Wait!” Taking to the air yet again Fluttershy went after the baby griffon, hoping to stop it before it reached the forest. After all, too many dangerous creatures 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 thought of being caught and eaten by the pony that pursued it, the tiny bundle of feathers put on a desperate burst of speed. The feeble creature 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 the mythical animal. 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 pegasus put on her breaks and plopped onto the snowy ground below, 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 towered over her with bare branches stretched out like grotesque limbs, giving the entire forest a ghastly and hostile look.
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 her eyes were finally adjusting to the darkness. The relief was short lived though, when 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 still air, 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 began to advance slowly toward it. The baby puffed out its fur and feathers in a futile attempt to appear intimidating to the approaching equine. Only a couple of feet away from the decaying tree the griffin was standing on, she put on a gentle smile and began speaking soothingly to it.
“There, there… It’s okay.”
The pair didn't realize that the dead tree was the only thing supporting boulders and snow under Fluttershy's hooves. As the pegasus closed in, it strained under the increasing load, ready to break at any moment.
“There, there, little guy. 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 huge splash, soaking them. After last of the debris went down the griffon pulled itself up, shaking water from its coat while the other one tried to get 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 left front leg. Shaking her head, she noticed 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. Both of them were useless now, she noiced, should she put them back on they would certainly make her hooves freeze off. Farther ahead, higher, but still several feet below the ground above was an entrance to a cavern where she guessed the water was trickling 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 the panicking creature, 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 unfortunate creatures were growing numb, exhaustion and cold inexorably draining life out of them. However, they were brought back to reality when deep, eerie rumble erupted from the depths of the nearby cavern, making 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. It wasn't long before 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 tearing pain as she tugged 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 squawking, not willing to give up on calling out for someone to help it.
Shoulders submerged, she was crying out in distress as loud as her lungs possibly allowed, choked sobs interrupting every call. Fluttershy 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 eyes. Just before last flicker of light disappeared, she saw a red, lizard-like figure plunge into water next to her.