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SteelEagle

Stage Five: Roundbottom Hills! Over the Hills and FAR AWAY!?

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Hawke smirked at Taira, she could tell when a gaze was lingering too long. That's how she got away with it so easily, knowing when to glance away! Practice boys, practice. The griffon chuckled. "Well without the roll it's only half the fun!" she said repeating the process once again. This time however she decided to show off juuuust a touch, landing with one foreclaw on Taira's back as he galloped. "Or maybe you should head further down wind!" blowing a teasing raspberry at the kirin, Hawke spring boarded from his back and rolled down the next hill and hopped again up to the top to land next to Pinkie. "How was that for a trick?" she asked with a waggle of her brow. Though before the griffon could get Pinkie's opinion, the mare pointed out the sound of rumbling in the distance as being a tunnel collapse!


"Yikes! Let's double time it over there! Taira, truce and detour? The exit for the underground's in a bad way apparently, and we could probably use your strong back, c'mon!" Not waiting for an answer, Hawke would rush ahead as quickly as she could towards the exit of the caverns. When she arrived she waved to Boulder Dash and sat about rushing to and fro to keep rubble clear from the exit. "Hey there, hope you don't mind a little help! I'm thinking that noggin of yours can only take so many knocks huh?" while Hawke wouldn't be able to crack any falling rocks, the ones that Boulder cracked or the ones he missed she could hurry and carry out of the way at the very least!

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"Hmmm, The hurricane Taira... I like the sound of that! As for the fox chasing, I actually did! She was a pretty nice one, offered to teach me how to cook!"

Taira was just about to make his way up the hill before he felt that landing on his back. If anything he had to admire this griffin's grace... and her guts. Having her so close in proximity to his still itching nose made the stallion freeze in place just long enough for Hawke to make perfect use of him as a springboard! He paused in his run and scrubbed his snout for a few seconds before chuckling, "Clever job, Hawke-san! You've certainly got all the grace that your rear end implies!" Did that come out right? He hoped so.

 

When Pinkie pointed out the collapsing cave mouth in the distance, Taira was already rocketing past the group. That was certainly a Yes to the talk of a truce, even if he hardly considered Hawke as anything but friendly competition. "Since I've gotten away with magic for everything besides racing..." Taira skidded to a halt and took in a deep breath, the stallion's chest practically inflating for a few seconds before he let it all out as a massive cloud of mist that would shift and swirl until it entered the cave mouth and clung to the entrance in an arch, "If either of you have any way to help hold this up I could use the help! S'been a long time since I've had to hold up anything with this spell!"

 

Boulder Dash stopped busting rocks with his head for a moment to watch in fascination as mist suddenly held up the arch ways of the cave exit.  "Well I'll be a monkey's uncle!  Ain't that purdy trick" he thought as he watched the mist work.  However as he heard his new friend call for help, a fire erupted in Boulder Dash's stomach.

He scrapped the ground with his hoof and snorted like an angry Bull.  Letting out a loud shout he charged forward and pressed his skull right into the stone arch he was holding up and pressed on it with a loud grunt lifting it off the ground with his head, neck, and phenomenal strength.  Breathing heavily he turned back to the group and smiled. "As impressive as this all looks I assure ya'll it's NOT as comfortable as you would think. So I would advise you git them moving as fast possible!" he said with a loud grunt.

 

Pinkie was caught up in the cascade of creatures heading towards the cave mouth. As she got nearer she could see Boulder hard at work smashing away as rocks rained down.

GULP!

 

Somepony needed to go down there to make sure the runners could get through and that the pathway hadn't collapsed. Or worse yet... what if somepony got hurt down there?

"Well...somepony has to do it!"" A hard hat with a light on it appeared out of nowhere atop her head. "And that pony is gonna be me!" Of course, she was hoping it would be more than just her heading into the dark maw that lead to the underground forest.

 

Thoughts of being scared had to be pushed away! This was a call for action!

 

GULP!

 

One more quick gulp to keep the fear at bay and Pinkie pushed the hardhat forward on her head and galloped down into the darkness! Rocks cascading down rang in her ears as she went...

 

"Hope those big guys can hold off a total collapse out there!" She thought out loud as she plunged onward.

 

The griffon couldn't help but to be impressed by the kirin's display of magic. Man what she wouldn't do to have some magic of her own! But now wasn't the time to lament on their lack of magicalness, there were creatures in danger! While Boulder kept pounding the rocks away and Taira held the opening up with an arch of magic, Hawke kept running running around trying to keep the path clear. This race was proving to be more dangerous than probably most racers anticipated, who could have expected a cave in of all things?!

And Pinkie was heading in there! Girl was crazy if she thought she was going in along. "Hang on there Pinkie, I'm coming with you!" the griffon rushed in not far behind Pinkie, grabbing one of the magiced torches from its holder to follow along after. "Does stuff like this happen often? Ponyville seems like such a quiet little town." Oooh if Hawke only knew.

Pinkie let out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. Whew! She wasn't alone in this! Hawke had come with her! Wow, she was a true friend for sure!

 

"Ponyville may seem quiet buuuuuut," She chuckled absently. "We've got A LOT going on!"

 

Pinkie felt so much braver having Hawke with her! She only hoped Hawke felt the same about having her there!

 

The ground shook underhoof and she started to call out for the runners in the underground caves.

 

"Applejack!?" Deep breath. "Ra-Ra, Chaos pony, Loose Cannon!?"

 

She ran a little further but the fear of the collapsing cave made her gait turn into a hesitant trot.

 

"Where are you guys-guys-guys-guys?" Her voice echoed down the dark pathway.

 

She perked her ears. Was that hoof beats she could hear in the distance?

 

(This post brought to you by a collaboration between, Myself, Rainbowfoxxy, Dubstep, and Dashman562! Now back to your regularly scheduled posting.)

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“Sometimes it’s best to listen to what your body is telling you.”, Fire Walker huffed, “It might not be telling you to stop, but sometimes it’s best to slow down a little and let everything reset itself.", her legs were still very strong and full of energy. She was probably not going to place, but she was going for the full race. "I hope you at least take your friend to that spa in Ponyville...What was it's name?" Ponyville Spa?  La-Ti-Da Spa? "Or she's going to be hurting for a bit. Ta-Ta!". She could not understand why the others were running towards the underground. It was dark down there! Might be ghosts! Maybe this year's Nightmare Night was starting to pop up in her brain. Who should she be this year? Swift Squall would probably be something nerdy. Something she would not get. And all the usual costumes were usually sassy variations of non-sassy characters. Sassy Tax Collector. Sassy Discord. Sassy Dr. Caballeron.
 
Her Nightmare Night ideas had to wait...There was a Bugbear in sight? This could not be! The officer glanced at the strange creature through the corner of her eye. She would not engage it, as the flying bear was probably something ol' pesky Discord had something to do with. And while he was an utter pain, he probably would be turned back into stone for another thousand years if he did something to actually hurt one of the racers. Still, she would run closer to the trees, making sure to run under the branches. A nice shield of these would make it harder for the beast to bother her.
 
With many of the racers choosing the underground path, Fire Walker needed to fully concentrate on the path. She would push herself a little more. Maybe even use the quick decent from hill to hill to build up her strength even more. Like those old wind up wagons her brothers would play with. Just keep running...Just keep running...
 
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Ra-Ra was content to continue galloping. Once out of the underground forest it was a simple matter. The terrain wasn't exactly entirely even yet but it was easy enough to keep up the pace she had set. Alongside Applejack and Loose Cannon she ran, keeping in good concert with the two. But as it was such things would not be eternally easy and not without choices. She heard a calvacade of voices from behind them, in the direction of the cave. They sounded so concerned, so determined, it piqued her interest. And her fear. Was it the Bugbear?! WAS IT BACK!? Talk about the day getting worse! But once again the calm side won over. They didn't sound terrified or in a panic. It was likely fine and she had to admit that it would be good to go over and see what exactly had enraptured so many for so long...and so loudly!

In due time she trotted from the front and towards the gaggle of ponies currently fighting the...collapse, minor as it was...of the cave entrance. Pinkie Pie had tun inside and was yelling for Applejack, Ra-Ra, Loose. She thought even Discord. Considerate but unnecessary! They were safe. Boulder Dash was destroying rocks with his head. Bumps on the noggin no doubt best served the needs of protection and he was certainly a brave stallion, but again...unnecessary. The kirin led the charge into the depths, even summoning magical aide. Hawke played his part as well. All brave, all worthwhile, all of it unnecessary. The easy and cruel thing to do would be to leave them in silence, allow them to spend time back here while she gained an advantage. But that would be riotously unkind and while she wasn't the best mare to ever live she was far from an unkind.

“We're safe,” she said, not really yelling but her voice a few octaves higher, “we passed through the tunnel some time ago. You can...well, stop looking for us, I guess?” Ra-Ra rubbed the back of her neck and laughed a nervous laugh. Well, they had almost made it through this stage without something untidy and awkward happening but it wouldn't be Ponyville without friendship and sportsmanship combining to do something silly. Noble, but silly.

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Applejack crawled out of the crumbled exit of the underground to see the hill-choosing racers attempting to assure the safety of everycreature.  As Ra-Ra had already made aware, the ponies were fine, but it was nice to know racers were looking out for them.  "You guys are never gonna believe they kinds of crazy stuff is down there.  Race officials are gonna get an earful in postrace."  Applejack saw the kirin using misty magic to make a temporary arch.  Pinkie was using her Pinkiesense to sense things.  Hawke was next to Pinkie, watching Pinkie do her Pinkiesense.  Boulder Dash was doing what he does best, smash and shape rocks.  Which got her thinking to ask, "Boulder, you should have seen the size of some of the rocks falling in the underground.  It would have been a field day for you.  Did you feel the hills tremble when you were running on them?"  Applejack had assumed that the ponies sprinting over the hills would do so in normal quadruped fashion, a canter gait, or maybe even a power gallop when going uphill.  It wasn't like they were rolling through the hills like an armadillo on a billiard table, right?  Applejack began running again as the safety of everyone was confirmed.  "Come on ya'll, we still got lots of leaves on trees to rattle off."

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