BlackboxPony

The Everfree King: The Curious Tale of an Iguana

Jun 3rd, 2017
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  1. You are Rex, mighty King of the Everfree. For countless moons now you have ruled this land and all of its scaled inhabitants. You have successfully defended your lands against incursions from the alligators and adolescent hydras that come to test your borders. You have endured the wrath of countless temperamental cockatrices within your own realm to the point where they will no longer dare to stare you down. Despite the chaos of the weather above, you are never long without warm nourishing sun. Your world is almost perfect; all are provided for, except for you.
  2. No, you have plenty of succulent fruit, juicy bugs, clean water, and delightful sunlight. You are healthy, nay, the height of magnificence of your species on display, but with no mate to bask in that display, you cannot be fully complete. You have scouted all of the land, and you know it well. This forest is your domain, there is no corner hidden from your sight. Yet there are no others around like you. The only other of your kind came from the pool in the dark cavern near your favorite sunning spot.
  3.  
  4. You remember it well.
  5. One day whilst enjoying the full spectrum of the warm star above you chance to see a parade of pink glowing orbs rush their way through the foliage and disappear into a divot in the landscape, overgrown and otherwise of no significance. Upon later inspection--after your sunbath, of course--you find within the divot a small portal, leading to a large cavern, which is home to a cool body of water. The path is winding but steady enough for your grand frame. and you meander at your curious pace to glimpse closer the placid body, lit by the cool light of the plants growing about.
  6. The surface is without motion; oddly there are no delicious water bugs, just a hazy blob, still as you are, at your end of the pool. Bending down to test the pool more closely, however, movement takes your eye.
  7. As your eyes get closer the surface, you can distinctly see another face staring back.
  8. A competitor? Does one challenge you in your own domain? This is within view of your favorite sunbathing spot, within your forest. You will certainly not share any female amidst your current dearth with any competitor. And yet, as you look, the interloper vanishes to show the rocky shapes below within the crystal clear pool. You have always been a proactive ruler, and rather than wait for this threat to rise on its own accord you do the brash and glorious deed. You plunge into the water, biting about blindly. For a moment, the world does a somersault about you, and you decide to retreat. finding nothing within the pool to bite, only strange turbulence. As your tail exits the water last, your attention is diverted backward as the splashing continues and a sharp pain lances through the left side of your tail.
  9. Spinning about, your dewlap unfurls and you face your foe, taking a step back and holding yourself ready to strike. Luckily, the dull throb from your tail tells you that his bite did not connect fully, and you shall lose no scales to the assault. You hold yourself high, and proclaim your regal status to him. He seems taken aback, and then clambers ashore, assuming a similar stature and claiming to be the very same. You have never heard such insolence before this day, and you certainly won't share your mate with this duplicitous suitor when you do find her, that is most certain.
  10. You dance about one another, lunging and parrying snaps of the jaw, clawing at one another whenever one falters. You trade blows for what seems like an eternity, impeccably well matched for the encounter. As the feud rages on, the two of you end up on the winding path exiting the cave, you holding the higher ground and slowly backing up as you sidestep and push away his attempts to bite, striking at him but to no avail. You can feel the breeze blowing over your back. A new interruption startles both of you, some of those terrible equines speaking in their loud tongue at the portal to the cave. For what little they are worth, however, their arrival is a boon, as both of you are distracted. You turn about, giving him a heavy check with your side, sending his hind legs off the side of the path, scrabbling for a claw hold with all limbs.
  11. You move in, biting at his face and forelegs, enduring a few snaps of his jaws to your neck to knock him fully off, and he goes tumbling downwards into the foliage at the sides of the cave floor. You decide it is best to investigate the equine voices, because you are well aware of the dangerous spectacles that they bring to your domain. You move to get a view of the outside commotion just in time to glimpse the edge of a large stone moving over the lip of the cave entrance. Making quick time, you scramble up the sides of the cave mouth slip out as the large body sinks into place, plugging up the way.
  12. As you scamper to the tree line, it seems the ponies didn't even see you, talking amongst themselves in their strange tongue to one another. After they leave, apparently satisfied with their deed, you move about the area, searching for any way in or out of the battlefield you knew lay just beneath the ground. Your eye is thorough, and there are no other ways in or out. The imposter will wither and starve down there without proper sunlight or food. Since then, you have never set eyes on another of your kind.
  13.  
  14. Today, you vow once more to get to the bottom of this dearth of eligible mates. You shall seek out the oracles of the ruin, the wise tortoises who may be the only ones in these lands to rival your age, and certainly the only to rival your wisdom. Perhaps she can shed light on the path to your future love life. You are the mighty and rightful king of these lands, surely the road ahead brings with it female companionship. You need only ask about your path to get there, and perhaps then you can get to the bottom of your problem.
  15. The trek to the ruin, a strange place of stacked, square stones and oddly-colored inedible leaves is tranquil. Something about this structure is reassuring to you, but you cannot place exactly why. Perhaps it's the strange crystals embedded in the cavern walls that color your beloved sun in strange hues upon the ground. Perhaps it's all of the pretty colors in general. Yes, that must be it. You make a mental note to task your subjects with making the kingdom more colorful, later.
  16. After a bit of a trudge around to an open section of the ruins with a pool of unending water, you come across one of your most peculiar subjects, the oracle. She is your height, a fair bit intimidating in that her mouth just as wide as she is tall. Her looks are also disarming, the way her ancient and shriveled form is held, weathered and weary. You lock eyes on her, and she grunts in greeting and acknowledgement of your gaze. She turns, beckoning you to follow, and as you do, she leads you to a covered bit of cavern attached to, instructing you to have a seat.
  17. The stones are cool, though not uncomfortably so. Instead of prodding for why you would grace her with a visit, you are met with her matter-of-fact croaks proclaiming that it prophecy that you visit with your very questions in mind. Taken aback, you sit in a stupor and watch as she picks up a few leaves and a gleaming pod, her movements fluid despite her decrepit posture. Passing by you to the fountain, she retrieves her some water with the implement, and is soon before you once more as you sit in the cool, ominous chamber.
  18. Still a bit stunned in the accuracy of her previous statements, it takes a few more moments before you snap to the happenings before you, your eyes gaining focus once more. Whilst muttering she pours the gathered water onto an indent in the stone before you, squeezing the leaves briefly between webbed fingers and letting them tumble into the shallow puddle. As they drift, she studies your face and the leaves. Her face betrays nothing, nor do you understand what manner of thing could be read such a display. This is why you come to the experts, and certainly your kingdom feels blessed for such a service as the oracle brings. Certainly she can't take that much longer to tell you what she sees, though. The leaves wind to a halt, one sunken, most off to the sides of the puddle, and one clinging half to the water's surface in the middle, half submerged.
  19. She opens her mouth, and you breath a sigh of relief, knowing that you'll be one step closer to finding your beloved queen-to-be.
  20.  
  21. Well that is certainly a downer.
  22. The oracle's divinations apparently reveal that your quest is in vain, for your fate is locked in eternal struggle with "an outsider given familiar shape within these woods," as she put it. When pressed for details, she only reveals to you, "you will know the face of your bane upon first sight."
  23. "Your path is not as you have set out for, your role released by chance in the water to a kindred foe," she continues.
  24. How can one be both kin and foe? Perhaps she means the imposter from the cave. Perhaps he is this bane. Your watch shall double, if he yet lives he shall not escape his prison. She halts your brooding with a strange, final message.
  25. "You may yet find peace with your life only when you can befriend the outsider, and your life may yet hold the wonder of companionship, albeit not as you seek this day. This is all that the veil will reveal at this time." Make friends with the imposter? Rule these lands with him and alter your wondrous monarchy? How preposterous. With a grunt, you rise, your gaze giving the Oracle a gaze that readily shows you have heard enough. You need simply keep the imposter at bay and none of this will come to pass.
  26. With a nod to your utterance, she leaves you to ruminate on her tidings, carrying her creaking bones to her seat in the adjoining space, the same space from which your arrival had roused her.
  27. An eternal struggle? Can your doppelganger persist with no discernable source of fruit, bugs, or sunlight? Your exit is graceful and calculated, displaying your splendor and nothing less than confidence, in spite of the news that now lay simmering in your ear. Meandering out from the labyrinthine ruins and then beyond, you head to your sunning spot. As the sunset spills bright hues above the horizon, you ponder, consternation evident in your visage. In the failing light there is no means of doing anything of consequence to remedy your conundrum. You cling to a vain hope that the twinkling points in the darkness can calm your mind and let you see the Oracle's portents in new light.
  28. Perhaps she is mistaken; everyone makes mistakes sometimes, except for you of course. You have this totally under control. You will be ever vigilant, and no eternal foe will rise from beneath to take your throne, or your mate-to-be. You puff yourself up, taking in those last vanishing rays of the sun and congratulate yourself on your reasoning. The moon is full and bright, shining with an eerie hue over scattered swaths of the forest floor. It is getting cold, you should definitely get some rest. The trek to your favorite perch and the slumber slipped into upon it are peaceful and familiar, your doubts set aside for your determined course.
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