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Running of the Leaves: Stage Five- The Rearing Ravine (Closed: See OOC Topic)


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Clockwise took a bit of time (three minutes and thirty nine seconds, exactly) to backtrack far enough to be of any use to the rescue operation, but by then was able to lend his own magic to the efforts of the others in moving the rocks. Already quite exhausted from his previous adventures, the unicorn hadn't been quite as effective at the job as he may have liked, but some help was surely better than none.

By the time Sugar Apple had been lifted through the air and placed onto the path, Clockwise had quietly settled himself into a lay to rest his aching legs, his sides heaving gently from the effort that had gone into his magic. He didn't say anything, of course--speaking, for him, was often more trouble than it was worth, and the others seemed to have the situation and all necessary, related talking quite under control! His expression said far more than his stammers could have, anyway, and in a much shorter period of time; relief was clear on his face, but it was still mingled with some anticipation. They still had another pony to rescue, after all, though the able pegasus would likely have that well in hoof--Hoss Skybright, rescuepony extraordinaire!

As he watched the group speak and congratulate each other--offering an appreciative nod to Earth Writer when his own meager contributions were acknowledged--a thought seemed to suddenly occur to him, and the pony interrupted his rest to climb shakily back to his hooves, frowning in concern.

"Ex--e-excuse me," he uttered at last. His horn sputtered into a glow, and he stepped towards the injured pegasus. "I-I do apologize, I'm--not, er... n-not..." 'A healer', he had meant to say, but the words wouldn't come. He felt himself grow anxious in the midst of his stall before he finally managed, "--I-I mean, I--w-we can make you a... something of a-a splint. With, er, these." The blanket he had been given at the brook floated off of his back, now mostly dry, and he turned his head to locate a suitable stick, long and straight. He had to briefly drop the blanket to muster the strength to float it over to the motley group, but eventually both of the items were hovering in front of them. "If I-I may, miss... oh, dear--Miss Sugar Apple, was it?"

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A sigh suffused with gratitude had met Sugar Apple's admonishment that Earth Writer eat his apple. "[colour=#8b4513]We do get exhausted if we're not in training. Same with athletic endurance, really, except that it doesn't build muscles.[/colour]" Bruised or not, the apple was still good. Of course it was; Sweet Apple acres had its reputation for a reason, after all. Still, with the kind looks the Pegasus was favoring him with, the unicorn figured he could name the sweetest Apple.

He reached up to meet Sugar's hoof with his foreleg, giving her anot[colour=#8b4513]her smile. "I can't help worrying about my friends when they're hurt. Dunno what sort of stallion I'd be if I didn't, really. My mother taught me to err on the side of sympathy, but...[/colour]" He began to grin at the plucky mare. "[colour=#8b4513]If you feel up to going on, I'll stick with you all the way.[/colour]"

Earth Writer got to his hooves as the coordinators arrived, and watched them work as he finished the last of his apple. It didn't seem that the pegasi would do any better at extracting Rising Star than Hoss right now, but the Unicorn medic was timely enough, and very kindly accepted the stick from Clockwise to split the wing. He also floated the idea that the other coordinators fly her back to Ponyville, though the Journalist could have told the healer that that was a lost cause. There was something immensely admirable about Sugar's perseverance, he thought.

[colour=#8b4513]*I'm going to have to write to her, after I go back home to Canterlot. She's definitely a friend worth having.*[/colour]

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[colour=#0000ff]"He saw through me, I am certain of that..."[/colour] - pale pink mare wasn't entirely sure why it bothered her so much actually. It's not like she wasn't allowed to be tired, exhausted even. After all, she had also suffered some undeniably unsettling injuries herself. But her inner voice kept repeating her that she shouldn't draw attention while there was somepony else who required assistance more than she did. She threw an innocent smile at Hoss. Yet another focal point of pain appeared in her body. Her face suffered a momentary twist, but returned to normal in a blink of an eye. Before he managed to respond to that, Risi raised a hoof and pointed it at him persuasively, maintaining a grotesque smile: [colour=#0000ff]"Don't you dare say a thing..."[/colour] - she took a deep breath and straightened up, subduing any uncomfortable feelings with the remnants of her will.

[colour=#0000ff]" 'As big as I am...'? "[/colour] - mare quoted him, raising an eyebrow in amusement - [colour=#0000ff]"Not quite a way to speak to a lady, isn't it?"[/colour] - her astonishment turned into frowning, implying fake affront. [colour=#0000ff]"Well, least I can hope for first class ride. Let's see what we'll achieve..."[/colour] - she stood in place for a moment yet, hesitating. Finally she forced herself to act. Star approached the Pegasus slowly and carefully. It required a bit of effort from her to climb onto his back in a way he could use his wings, but she finally managed to position herself somewhat comfortably. Wrapping her hooves around his neck she started speaking: [colour=#0000ff]"I think I'm r-"[/colour] - the sentence was cut in half as she reconsidered her position. [colour=#0000ff]"Scratch that, I doubt I'll ever be ready, start at your will."[/colour]

In the moment she finished her sentence, Star realized that apart from time she was a filly, she never yet found herself higher than a height of her jump. It was just another obstacle she had to overcome in this race. It seemed that Running of the Leaves consisted mainly of obstacles for her. Still, she couldn't yet say if she regretted anything... it was too early, the race wasn't over. Problem was, Risi was torn apart. She wanted to reach the finish line... She didn't join up to give up, she never gave up. But on the other hoof, her consciousness accused her of being indifferent towards the injured mare this way. Star should help her up. Her thoughts were interrupted though, since the Pegasus lost contact with ground. Risi's pupils shrank as she grinned her teeth in slight fear. [colour=#0000ff]"Awh..."[/colour] - she howled silently in thin voice and changed her mind. Now was the perfect time to regret...

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Hoss watched her carefully as she tried to shrug off her pain and succeeded somewhat.

He had to keep his face and ears impassive, hoping to hide the streak of amusement as she told him never to speak of it, instead nodding his agreement.

The bay stallion could not stop the chuckle when she playfully pretended to be offended by his comment on her size.

He held steady for her as she thought how to get on then did it. He straightened up in good humor and felt her hold on with her hooves around his neck. [colour=#0000ff]"I like to think I'm First Class Transportation at least, Miss Star. Ready? Here we go." [/colour]

With that, he flapped his wings gently to rise straight up since it wasn't very far and felt her stiffen in fright and give a thin howl of fear.

Quickly he spoke in soothing tones [colour=#0000ff]"It's okay Miss Star. Just look ahead to the cliff. we'll be there in moments..."[/colour]

He leaned forward just a little to direct himself over the edge of the cliff and set down near the others.

As he crouched down for Risi to dismount by simply standing up, he noticed race officials were finally there [colour=#0000ff]"Well, better late than never..."[/colour]

Hoss looked back to the pale pink unicorn mare figuring she needed some praise to keep her spirits up. "[colour=#0000ff]I'm guessing that was your first flight? You did better than most land ponies at staying calm for that. Good Job!"[/colour]

Feeling her dismount, he streeetched his wings to get the kinks out before folding them up.

He looked over at Greenshot and pulled out an apple to hoof over. [colour=#0000ff]"Want one? How's that leg doing?"[/colour]

Hoss also looked at the race medics taking care of Sugar Apple, as well as ClockWise and Earth Writer standing near her.[colour=#0000ff] "How is she doing?" [/colour]

While he was anxious to get back in the race, it smacked of cheating to simply run away now that the actual help was here and before the others were ready to continue...

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Greenshot Apple had been looking over at all the racers who had been around to help in the cause. Looking at Hoss and Risi talking down below then back to Writer and Sugar who were talking just about a hoof or two away. Then, at Clockwise who just came into view. His body was spent from all the work. His hooves felt like taffy and he didn't even want to get up from his sort of comfortable lay. Hearing Writer's congratulation's, Greenshot gave a warm smile for what he had done and accomplished. Feeling proud of all the levitation training he had done when he was younger to become an archer and to keep the bow or sling steady, He had no clue race coordinators were near and as he motioned his right hoof underneath his head, Greenshot rested same head onto his hoof with his eyes shutting to take a quick rest. His yellow, light greenish stripe tail swooping around him as he went to sleep now wanting to take assistance from the coordinators, but still with fight to finish the Running of the Leaves.

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[colour=#0000ff]"It's okay, it's okay... You're not moving but Equestria is, Star. Nothing to worry about, perfectly normal."[/colour] - Star clung to the Pegasus really tight, although she tried to take care and don't strangle him by accident. She couldn't believe Pegasi do it on a regular daily basis. Maybe it was an issue of getting used to flying? Well, she had no clue. Right now she was kind of grateful she was born an Unicorn. [colour=#008080]"It's okay Miss Star. Just look ahead to the cliff. we'll be there in moments..."[/colour] Look? Did he really mentioned "looking"? She must have misheard him. Yes, that's it, a simple misunderstanding. Opening eyes in this moment would lead to inexplicable and probably never unsolved mystery of Pegasi cliff crash caused by lack of oxygen. Still, she risked throwing a quick glance. Even though they weren't on great heights, she closed her eyes again lightning-fast.

Thankfully the flight did take shorter than she initially anticipated. [colour=#008080]"Well, better late than never..."[/colour] - the sentence accompanied the landing. Star risked opening her eyes and throwing a quick gaze at the environment. Was he referring to the speed with which they've made it to the top? If he allowed himself to speed up, she'd surely... well, something would happen to him after landing. Being at the forest's edge again, Star noticed that her little accident managed to gather actually quite vast amount of ponies. Some of them clearly were from the coordination crew. She was just about to succumb to her guilt again, when Hoss spoke once more, breaking her free of worries.

[colour=#008080]"I'm guessing that was your first flight? You did better than most land ponies at staying calm for that. Good Job!"[/colour] - Risi regained her senses and answered with a confused stare. It took her about a second or two to realize she's still holding to him, even though they've landed already. Mare let out a nervous giggle and immediately released her grasp. She carefully made it back to ground level, stepping as if she didn't believe she had the soil under her hooves. The idea of falling lingered in her mind for a moment yet until she was standing firmly on the edge of cliff. She raised her head at Hoss, sending forth a friendly smile: [colour=#0000ff]"Thank you. Glad to be out of there..."[/colour] - she was just awaiting him to turn away, so that she could praise Celestia and hug the Equestrian soil. She now had some idea of how strong Earth Ponies bond with Equestrian terrain is. [colour=#0000ff]"Sweet Celestia, first and the last time! Unicorns are not aerial creatures..."[/colour] Mare dusted herself off, feeling how her muscles protested against most of her movements. If only she could juice herself up a bit.

As soon as Hoss turned towards the group around the purple Pegasus, Risi's ears lied down along her head. She covered slightly, while her face expressed guilt, shame and regret. At first she tried to hide behind her savior, but it was a foalish and immature behavior. Besides, she'd have to magically shrink herself in order for this plan to be carried out successfully. [colour=#0000ff]"Just a second..."[/colour] - Star excused the mahogany Pegasus and directed her steps towards the purple mare. She cast her eyes down, leading them around unsure what to stick her sight into. [colour=#0000ff]"It's... It's..."[/colour] - she felt emotions pressurizing her in sudden wave. [colour=#0000ff]"It's all my fault. I partake in the event for the first time, I don't know the nearby terrains. I just run in forward, must have taken wrong turn. And then I've ended up there by accident... And then you came... And then I ... uh..."[/colour] - she couldn't even formulate her story. Risi straightened up, staring at the group awaiting any judgments and penalties destined to her. She faltered on her hooves slightly but stood her ground. Nopony would ever say that she avoided responsibility and the Running of the Leaves awaited its continuation...

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Now it was Sugar Apple’s turn to blush as Earth Writer grabbed a hold of her hoof. Well… that was that; by proclamation, the two ponies were officially friends now. The pegasus figured that she’d be hard-pressed to find a more worthy companion than the gentlecolt with her right now. Or maybe not; Sugar Apple was congenial by nature, and so she already had lots of dear friends back in Cloudsdale. Yet something felt different between her and Earth Writer… most likely because challenge and adversity had forged their friendship. As she recalled the old pony tales with their flowery descriptions of the “magic of friendship”, such tested fellowships often proved to be the strongest of all. [colour=#800080]“Thanks fo’ yer help, Earth Writer,”[/colour] she whispered; [colour=#800080]“Remin’ me t’make ya some of mah special homemade sugar apples when ah git better.”[/colour]

Regrettably, their moment had to come to an end as the coordinators came by to inspect Sugar Apple. “We’re sorry we couldn’t reach you faster ma’am,” apologized one of the pegasus coordinators; “But we’ve been overstretched along this portion of the race course. So many ponies today have been falling off the track that we just can’t keep up! Honestly, we have no clue who thought it was a good idea to route this year’s Running through the ravine...” The pegasus gave a hoof-signal to the unicorn healer, who magically summoned a colourful mist to enshroud Sugar Apple. The injured mare didn’t know just what the unicorn was doing, but whatever it was, it sure was doing a good job of subduing her aching.

While the healer was busy, a nervous Clockwise came up to Sugar Apple as he offered to help stitch her wing up. The pegasus appreciated any help she could get from anypony; [colour=#800080]“That’d be mighty fine t’me, mistah Clockwise. Ah’ll have t’send ya some sugar apples too.”[/colour] Recollecting the events back at the brook, Sugar Apple added; [colour=#800080]“Oh, sorry fo’ leavin’ y’all behind back at th’ bridge. Ah heard ya fall in Clockwise, but ah had been too busy wif thet meanie griffon. Ya know, ah’m surprised she hasn’t shown up yet. Ennyho, ah hope ya kin forgive me.”[/colour]

As the unicorn finished with the spell, the ‘unofficial’ rescue pony came back to ask everypony about Sugar Apple’s condition. The pegasus coordinator promptly responded to the inquiry by addressed Sugar; “Aside from the broken wing, you’re lucky to have scra[colour=#000000]p[/colour]ed by with just bruises. Now, that spell my colleague casted a moment ago didn’t fix everything right up; you’ll still have to get proper medical attention when you reach Ponyville. That spell though will numb your senses for about two to three hours, which should give you plenty of time to make it back before you start feeling pain again.

“However ma’am, I have to ask you to not go any faster than a trot. Any more than that and you’ll risk collapsing and breaking another bone of yours. It’s best for you to take it slow and easy, and not try to win the Running. You can always come back next year if you’re up to it. Now if you don’t have any other questions, I hope you'll manage just fine.” Satisfied with the coordinator’s advice, Sugar Apple simply shook her head to indicate that she had nothing else to ask, letting the coordinators go on their way to help other distressed ponies.

Soon enough, the pink unicorn that Sugar attempted to rescue earlier also made it off the ledge safely. She tried to explain that it was all her fault, but Sugar sweetly silenced her; [colour=#800080]"It's alright, sugar. Dem things just happen sometimes. It's not yer fault."[/colour] Briefly giving her sling a look-over, the still-laying Sugar Apple extended a forehoof in Earth Writer’s direction, figuring that it made sense to have somepony else help her back onto her hooves. [colour=#800080]“Well hon,”[/colour] the smiling mare asked the reporter; [colour=#800080]“Ain’t it ‘bout time we got a move on?”[/colour]

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With the extraction of Rising Star from the ledge, the rescue operation was officially complete. Earth Writer couldn't help but feel proud of how well everypony had handled the situation; this was a feel-good story if ever there was one. Certainly, there were few present who could have felt more on top of the world than the unicorn stallion right now. He whispered back at Sugar Apple as the healer saw to her wing and bruises. "[colour=#8b4513]Don't worry, I won't forget.[/colour]"

The journalist's good humor managed to quickly overcome any resentment towards the coordinators for being tardy. They could hardly be blamed, after all; this was just the sort of place where they'd be stretched thin. "[colour=#8b4513]I wouldn't have routed through here myself.[/colour]" He agreed. "[colour=#8b4513]You want professionals for dangerous places like this, or at least clear weather. I'll probably put in an editorial to that effect, least I can do.[/colour]"

While the healer was busy with Sugar Apple, Earth Writer took a look over everyone else. Greenshot looked tired, but not so exhausted anymore; he'd probably be back on his hooves in a minute or two, barring any aggravation of his injury. "[colour=#8b4513]Don't rush,[/colour]" the tan unicorn told him, "[colour=#8b4513]Take what rest you need, you earned it, buddy.[/colour]" He would have patted him on the head, but felt that might be slightly patronizing.

He gave Hoss a salute as he passed over to Risi, which brought him back around to Sugar Apple again, as the unicorn was currently apologizing to the pegasus. Sugar, of course, was telling her not to worry about it, and Earth Writer felt like putting in his own two cents. "[colour=#8b4513]It really isn't your fault if you got lost; not in this fog.[/colour]" Indeed, the mists had only continued to gather around the group, making visibility even more of a limited field.

But that didn't seem to be discouraging anypony right now, especially not Sugar Apple. Earth Writer had the biggest grin across his face as he helped her up. "[colour=#8b4513]I figure so, Sugar.[/colour]" The reporter looked around at the gathered pegasi coordinators. "[colour=#8b4513]I say, you couldn't mark out the path forward by clearing the fog, could you? It might prevent more accidents.[/colour]"

The coordinator, clearly a sporting fellow, nodded. "Good idea. We were about to do that ourselves, now that everypony's out of danger." After one last check over the group, they flew off, using their wings to clear a path through the mists.

"[colour=#8b4513]Ready everypony?[/colour]" Earth looked back at them all, Sugar, Risi, Hoss, Greenshot, and Clockwise, seeing that they all were. "[colour=#8b4513]Forward![/colour]" And he lead the group of new forged friends at a trot down the trail, towards the bridge over the ravine.

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[colour=#9966ff]"I can't say I honestly give two flying feathers about your dweeb pony princess and your lame pony rituals. It's no real concern of mine. I'm here for one thing and one thing only and that's to win! I'm a griffon who lives to compete, and I'm here to prove to every one of you that I am the best there is!"[/colour]

[colour=#000000]Applejack stopped in her tracks, trying to get Gilda to realize the offense of her words. The learning curve for this griffon had long since died, back when she rejected Rainbow Dash for the sake of her own griffon pride. Applejack wasn't really sure where she could possibly take the conversation in order to gain common ground with her. However, before she could not think of something 'cool,' Gilda spoke again.[/colour]

[colour=#9966ff]"As for where I'm from, it doesn't matter. Don't particularly care for that place, and especially not recently. Getting tied down to one place too long is for losers; this griffon makes her own place in the world."[/colour]

[colour=#000000]This chick was obviously too cool. Too cool for ponies, too cool for leaves, too cool to be Applejack's friend. In Applejack's mind however, she was not too cool to get a good ol' fashioned country pony lecture. [/colour][colour=#ff0000] "Now wait just a gall darn minute. You speak about Princess Celestia like that!? Why, you don't even care about the trees or friendly competition? All you wanna do is prove that you're better than us ponies? Why do you have to prove anything? I mean, shucks, I ain't never win this event and I think I'm one of the best athletes in all of Equestria." [/colour][colour=#000000] Applejack started running again, trying to lead the way through the muggy forest. The race trail was getting more and more difficult to follow. [/colour][colour=#ff0000] "You know, Gilda, I really wish I could understand where you come from. What turned you into such a bird of prey. I can't imagine how you would feel is somepony constantly looked down on you. You shouldn't do that. What does your mother say?"[/colour]

[colour=#000000]Applejack couldn't see very well in front of her, and made a few jukes of the hip in order miss the trees that cluttered up the forest. Her speedy gallop turned into a trot, and then to a shuffle. Until finally, the forest lit up a bit more, and she could see the trail. She sped up and looked back at Gilda. [/colour][colour=#ff0000] "See, it's right here! I think that bridge the race map was talking about it up here, too!" [/colour][colour=#000000] Before Applejack could turn her head back forward, her whole body crashed into a tree. After a few embarrassing moments of shaking her senses back and standing back up, she could see a very bold hoofmark imprinted into the tree she crashed into. It was her hoofmarks. It was the tree she bucked earlier when she started talking with Gilda. Applejack was flabbergasted.[/colour][colour=#ff0000] "How is this possible! We just ran into a huge circle!?!"[/colour]


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[colour=#282828]"[/colour][colour=#8B4513]Don't rush. [/colour][colour=#8B4513]Take what rest you need, you earned it, buddy.[/colour][colour=#282828]" [/colour]

[colour=#006400]Greenshot Apple[/colour][colour=#282828]'s ears twitched lightly from hearing Earth Writer's words just as he fell asleep. A Dream was forming in his state of mind. A dream of him in front of a table full of all sorts of apple treats, assorted flower sandwiches, cider, pastries and the like. It was all just for him. It seemed so real. He lifted an apple cupcake towards his face with his magic and was just about to take a bite until he heard someone talking then nudge his head with there hoof. He slowly awoke to see a coordinator pegasus with a medical kit asking to see his hoof. Lifting his hoof towards her, she began to take off the bandages and stilt that Hoss had put around his hoof. She had given him a daisy sandwich which he began eating as it lifted just in front of his mouth floating in place while he looked at her putting on thicker bandages that were really tight around his hoof and just began telling him that he had a sprain that needed to heal with a day or two of resting off of it, but he could still continue the running now that his right hoof was completely wrapped in tight, brown bandages. The only downside in his mind was that brown just wasn't his colour. Just as he finished his sandwich, Greenshot stood up onto all fours and didn't feel any pain upon pressing down onto his hoof. She wasn't a unicorn, but her methods of healing was good enough for him and thanked the female pegasus coordinator by bowing his head to her in gratitude as well as saying. "[/colour][colour=#008000]Thank you for using your time to come and assist us racers. I'm sure we aren't the only ones that are in need of assistance so I won't take any of your time. Though If you ever stop by in Canterlot, come visit Sweet Blintze's Pastry Shop and my mother will let you have a pastry with your choice of drink on the house. Her pastries are the best[/colour][colour=#282828]!"[/colour]

[colour=#282828]Greenshot slowly cantered over to the other ponies who were grouped together and also fixed of there own injury. Happy to see that everypony was alright and that we could all continue our Running of the Leaves race and get out of this disastrous ravine. Looking over at Rising and Clockwise who he hadn't really met yet then towards Hoss, Writer and Sugar and quickly thought. "Well, seems the Apple advantage is still 1 out of 3, good odds I think." Greenshot had a grin clear on his face when Writer spoke out. [/colour][colour=#282828]"[/colour][colour=#8B4513]Ready everypony?[/colour] [colour=#8B4513]Forward![/colour][colour=#282828]" Shrugging his shoulders, Greenshot stayed closely behind them as we continued along the Ravine.[/colour]

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Taking a good moment to relax before everypony was ready to go again, Hoss started eating his last apple.

The stallion chuckled softly as the larger unicorn apologized to Sugar Apple and used him to hide behind while she did so.

Sugar Apple was thankfully quick to reassure the mare.[colour=#800080] "It's alright, sugar. Dem things just happen sometimes. It's not yer fault."[/colour]

He nodded and looked behind himself at Risi... make that Star. He hoped Jubilee would not get jealous that he made such friends today.

[colour=#0000ff]"Like she said. Its a normal hazard in rescues."[/colour]

He smiled and returned the salute given by Earth Writer while Greenshot was being tended to. [colour=#0000ff]"Thanks Earth Writer. I've met a few reporters before and too many of them are more concerned with being objective witnesses than active participants when it's needed. Keep up the good work."[/colour]

Since Greenshot dozed off before he could take the apple he offered, he found he still had an apple left after all and tucked it back in a pouch for later.

One last stretch before Earth Writer called the restart, and... giddyup!

Hoss bounded off in the direction of the bridge that was now visible around the bend with much of the mist there cleared and slowed to a trot across the wobbly planks...

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"The Rearing Ravine" Motion Paradox sighed, the previous leg of the race had been great; she had managed to keep her goal to go strait through, enjoyed the wild life and scenery, she even managed to help another racer (not to mention avoid encountering the infamous Griffin she had heard of). But the ravine was the part of the race she had been dreading the most, she always had a fear of heights, she came from a long line of Ponies who were afraid of heights and even knowing that there were many volunteer Ponies who could save her, the prospect of running through a route that was this long, this high, and could fall apart under her hooves at any moment made made every cell in her body tense up in unison. Still if she had any hope of winning she had to force herself past this somehow, the pink mare took a deep breath and held it for a moment as she took her first step into the 5th leg of the race.

And sighed with relief as the ground held under her. Feeling a little more confident she took another step. And another. And another. Perhaps this section of the race was safer than she thought, actually now that she thought about it, all she had to do was avoid going too close to the edges and she should be fine. Motion Paradox began to pick up her pace and managed to near her previous pace-Until she felt her hoof sink.

She wasn't sure how it happened, perhaps she misjudged a turn, either way she now had one hoof sticking through a hole in the ground and felt as if she were about to be sick. Taking a deep breath she carefully wriggled her hoof to free it and kept her weight on the three legs that were on solid ground only allowing herself to sigh with relief once all four hooves were planted firmly on the ground. "I'll have to be more careful" the Unicorn thought to herself. This sentiment was short lived, however, as she looked down and saw the hole left by her hoof, she stared at it for a moment until something....snapped in her brain. Suddenly, some ancient instinct from long-ago-when-her-Unicorn-ancestors-still-lived-in-enchanted-meadows-and-could-only-do-healing-magic-and-were-often-captured-by-marginally-more-evolved-creatures-who-showed-them-off-as-a-novelty-all-because-they-just-couldn't-look-away-from-the-shiny-golden-bridle-being-waved-in-front-of-their-faces took over and all rational thought, including the distinct possibility of her running strait off a cliff and dragging a rescue Pegasus down with her, went out the proverbial window as her entire brain devoted itself to the task of getting her away from that hole.

In retrospect it really was too bad that nopony was there to see the impressive display she put on as she ran, speed had never been her area of expertise and she had often joked to her friends and family about it; if only they could see her now as she galloped madly through the course at speeds that she never would have thought herself capable of, then again with the winneying shriek at accompanied her perhaps it was just as well that she was alone. Realistically, there were a thousand things that could have gone wrong, she could have easily fallen off a cliff, tripped and injured herself, run through a toxic plant or who knows what else but amazingly she managed to consistently place her hoof on a safe spot before bounding off to another; perhaps she really was part white tail deer after all. However eventually the rush of adrenilein wore off and she found her self slowing down, around the same time she spotted several other Ponies crowded together, obviously standing somewhere safe. deciding that it would be better to rely on strength and safety in numbers for this part she directed herself towards the other competitors and somehow managed to make it to the group before she fell on her haunches panting.

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[colour=#FF0000]"Now wait just a gall darn minute. You speak about Princess Celestia like that!? Why, you don't even care about the trees or friendly competition? All you wanna do is prove that you're better than us ponies? Why do you have to prove anything? I mean, shucks, I ain't never win this event and I think I'm one of the best athletes in all of Equestria." [/colour]

Gilda just rolled her eyes as question after question came from this Apple pony. She was really gonna do it this way then? This dweeb pony in her lame hat was gonna give Gilda a "stern talking to"? Seldom did anyone bother with lectures when it came to Gilda. There was only so much blatant disrespect that one could typically take before they decided she just wasn't worth it. Here was this pony really going for it though. It'd be wryly amusing if it wasn't mostly just trying. Seriously, did this pony think she was gonna talk her down? Tch. Good luck with that.

[colour=#FF0000]"You know, Gilda, I really wish I could understand where you come from. What turned you into such a bird of prey. I can't imagine how you would feel is somepony constantly looked down on you. You shouldn't do that. What does your mother say?"[/colour]

And the lecture continued. Gilda sighed. It was now proving difficult to ignore now. Giving a low groan, she spoke, [colour=#996699]"My mother doesn't say anything; haven't seen my parents in years. This griffon answers to no one but herself, and she likes it that way. She smirked and after a pause continued. "As for why I'm a 'bird of prey', I dunno, guess I was just born that way..."[/colour]

Gilda snickered and smiled before deciding to say a little more,[colour=#996699] "I don't really expect you to get it, but I do know what its like to be counted out. Things don't tend to break my way; never have. That's why I push myself to be the best and don't care who I have to push out of my way to claim it."[/colour]

[colour=#FF0000]"See, it's right here! I think that bridge the race map was talking about it up here, too! [/colour][colour=#FF0000]How is this possible! We just ran into a huge circle!?!"[/colour]

They continued on and soon, as path became more clear the pony was saying these words. Oh great. Not only was this pony annoying, but she wasn't even the advantage Gida had thought she was. Seriously, leading her in a circle as she blathered on about such stupid things? Gilda found herself increasingly irritated.

[colour=#996699]"Heh. And the only reason I let you call me out of my stride was thinking you'd know the way through this place. I should really learn not to second guess myself so much,"[/colour] she said dismissively, glaring at the mare. [colour=#996699]"This is exactly what I meant when things don't tend to break my way..."[/colour]

Gida gave a huff and stepped ahead. [colour=#996699]"Tch. If I'm just gonna be lead in circles here, I see no use in sticking around back here,"[/colour] she said, taking some steps ahead.

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Seeing that life-size smile on Earth Writer’s face, a blushing Sugar Apple failed to hold back a cute giggle as the reporter pulled her back onto her hooves. That grin of his at that moment reminded the pegasus of a stallion she encountered a while ago at the Ponyville Antique Shop; one who couldn’t stop complementing her looks. Even though Earth Writer had yet to say any words suggesting any possible enthrallment towards Sugar Apple, the mare something felt more… deeper… more meaningful with how she and the tan unicorn bonded with each other. Sugar supposed that was how the “magic of friendship” felt like as it worked… or something else like that.

Making themselves useful again, the pegasi coordinators cleared away the mist that had accumulated in the Rearing Ravine up until now. Their efforts revealed a dilapidated suspension bridge at the end of the narrow trail; something Sugar Apple didn’t relish to cross now that she couldn’t simply fly away if something happened. The mare banished such negative thoughts swiftly, knowing that Earth Writer and the other ponies around her would help each other out.

Plus, Sugar Apple wouldn’t feel any aching now that her injuries necessitated a need for a numbing spell. Better yet, cousin Greenshot’s own wounds had also been attended to by a professional healer. Her spirits now higher than they were before reaching the ravine section of the race course, Sugar Apple trotted right behind Earth Writer as he lead the ad-hoc fellowship towards the bridge.

Sugar Apple rapidly lost her confidence once she saw the rickety bridge up close; it looked like it would collapse at any minute. Having already paid a terrible price for risk-taking this day, the pegasus was in no hurry to have even more bad things to happen either to her or her new companions. Witnessing in shock as her pegasus comrade went ahead first to trot on the bridge, Sugar hesitantly whispered to Earth Writer;[colour=#800080] “Mebbe it’d be smarter fo' th' ress of us non-flyers t'find a diffrunt crossing?”[/colour]

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Clockwise was glad to relinquish his materials to the actually qualified medic pony, as the results he would have ended up with were somewhat dubious, at best, never mind the extent of his good intentions. He was a professor, after all, and that doctorate isn't quite the same. All that mattered there, anyway, was that Rising Star and Sugar Apple were alright, and the plucky pegasus, at least, did seem to have come out of her mishap with her spirit in tact, even if her wing had seen some damage. That damage would heal, and the purple mare would have an excellent story to tell in future times.

Mister Earth Writer would, too, of course.

The unicorn's eyes wandered back towards the precarious pathway, and he had been contemplating it with a frown when Sugar Apple addressed him. It took him a few moments to ascertain the fact that she had offered an apology, and to that he found surprise. He began to stutter something at her--'It is no matter', he had wanted to say--but he didn't manage much of it. In an apology of his own, he silenced himself to save the embarrassment and instead gave her a gentle, sheepish smile.

At that point, Clockwise would have liked to leave, perhaps, as being around so many ponies in a situation like this and after such a long day was doing a bit of a number on his mental state, but he simply couldn't bring himself to. He didn't think to wonder why.

Thus, at Earth Writer's command, he followed along with the rest of them, though perhaps not as easily. He didn't manage much more than a trot, himself, and even then the gait was lazy and labored, for every hooffall resulted in an aching shot through his knees, mocked by the dainty jingle of his bell. The lagging wizard pony rather quickly fell to the back of the pack, where he was content to stay, especially after getting a glimpse of that dreadful bridge. As if the one at the brook hadn't been bad enough. Mister Clockwise had had quite enough of bridges for today, thank you, especially those of the variety that didn't lend themselves terribly well to confidence. He expressed his apprehensive displeasure with a chuff and a swish of his tail, which had dried into a frizzy red mess and attracted all sorts of debris, like burs, pebbles and small animals. The presence of at least one of those things was, admittedly, debatable.

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[OOC: I need to at least attempt crossing the bridge, since I'm leaving home today and won't be able to post that much. Perhaps one more post in about 6-7 hours and that would be it.]

Star stood in amazement, blinking her eyes like a madpony. The fact her guilt was simply washed away like that was somewhat incomprehensible to her. She was stripped out of her pride, and wasn't entirely sure what to do about it. Should she be angry? Or happy? The denial of righteous judgment was a somewhat new idea for her. Back in Canterlot, every singly pony would look down upon you if you'd make such a horrible mistake, but here in the woods things went completely dizzy. Mare was faintly aware of voices around her, some probably repeating her that she didn't do anything wrong, but she kept staring in a distant point with vacant eyesight, completely humiliated. Least in her own perception.

The situation put her off her stride so much, that she barely noticed everypony leaving. Being left behind with a belittled group of coordinators, she threw an apologizing stare at few of them. She couldn't help noticing that least one or two weren't entirely happy about the situation she provoked. Feeling a bit uneasy around them, Star simply turned away and followed the group. "[colour=#8b4513]It really isn't your fault if you got lost; not in this fog.[/colour]" - the Unicorn's words loomed over her like a curse. [colour=#0000ff]"He'd be right about it, if not the fact that the fog at that height wasn't too dense yet as I ran..."[/colour] - of course, Star noticed the mists gathering up around the woods from the ledge, but that was much lower part of the terrain. It was normal...

The feeling of mental exhaustion was becoming excruciating. She had to experience the consequences of her deed, but that didn't mean she should suffer in pain. Right before leaving one of the medics offered her a quick examination, and she gladly accepted it. Apart of the condition of her mind and some general, physical tiredness, everything else was fine and bearable. Moreover, the fact that leaves were falling again worked miracles with her mood. Even though the events from near past lingered in her mind, she had a wild smile of joy on her face. It was somewhat true that her mood swings drove some ponies crazy...

As the group slowed down after a brief delay, Star followed her curiosity and ran past the few who remained behind to see what's the cause of the delay. As she saw a bridge over the gap, a bridge which condition was most questionable, a bridge that nopony would usually dare to enter, a bridge which should NEVER be called a bridge, Star couldn't help her laughter. [colour=#0000ff]"Psh... Hahaha! That's most be some kind of joke!"[/colour] - she ran towards it ignoring everypony she passed and approached the edge, risking a gaze at the bottom of the gap. She noticed the Pegasus teams waiting below, what made her grow in anger and irritation. [colour=#0000ff]"CAN'T YOU JUST DESIGN A TRACK WHICH DOESN'T CONTAIN FLOODING RIVERS OR *THOSE* BRIDGES!?"[/colour] - she exclaimed towards them, failing to spot that Hoss had already entered the insecure bridge, and quickly turned around. Noticing the runners again, she froze with her hoof mid-air. A second of awkwardness have passed before she shrugged and announced with an innocent voice: [colour=#0000ff]"What? I had to let go of my emotions..."[/colour] - that was partially true. Those gathered up in her for too long already...

Still, the ridiculousness of this situation was clearly visible. Star took a look at the bridge again. The mahogany Pegasus was already trying his luck. That made pick her mind. [colour=#0000ff]"Least we don't have to pay the toll to cross it..."[/colour] - she threw at the group and moved towards it. In light of events of past day, she considered herself a veteran already. Besides, they had to make it through to the other side and it didn't seem like there was any other way around. She stopped in front of the entry, gulping. [colour=#0000ff]"Well... let's tempt my fate once more, it seems to hate me so much today."[/colour] - she raised her eyes upon the sky and frowned in determination - [colour=#0000ff]"I won't give you satisfaction of seeing me give up."[/colour] With her final stand about the situation, she trotted forward. [colour=#0000ff]"Let's see which one of us will be laughing at the end of the day."[/colour]

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[colour=#000000]Upon Applejack's failure to navigate the race through this thick forest, Gilda set her paws forward and ran ahead of her. Applejack really couldn't blame her. Of all the reasons Gilda had to disregard pony aide, this one sure was a good reason. However, it was still no excuse for being rude. Applejack was spoiled by her friends. General kindness towards one another was something that was taken for granted. Applejack clinched her teeth as she looked ahead at Gilda's dancing lioness tail. [/colour][colour=#ff0000] "You think you're so tough, don't you? Well I'll prove to you that any hard-workin' pony is just as good as a griffon who doesn't care about anything but herself!"[/colour][colour=#000000] Applejack bolt towards Gilda, trying to chase her. But she was not interested in a continuation of chatter. For the first time since the race started, Applejack wanted to win.

As Applejack followed Gilda, the forest cleared to a bridge. The bridge was wooden and featured several cracks in it. Applejack saw this as an opportunity. She could cross the bridge no problem. The race organizers wouldn't map the race over a bridge that couldn't hold a normal size pony. Would they? Applejack zipped up to Gilda, and as they reached the bridge's first steps, Applejack passed her. Applejack looked back and smiled with pride. [/colour][colour=#ff0000] "Somethin' ruffle your feathers, eaglet?"[/colour][colour=#000000] Just as Applejack finished her line of cocky sportsmareship, her front hoof distributed her weigh and pushed a hole clean through one of the wooden planks. Applejack's whole body was thrown into the empty slot. Applejack would have fallen into the ravine, had it not been for her tail being caught between two wooden panels. [/colour][colour=#ff0000] "Heh, he-aaaAAAAAhhhh!" [/colour][colour=#000000] Applejack instinctively covered her eyes, but they uncovered them when she saw that she was not falling, but hanging by her tail. [/colour][colour=#ff0000]"Oh my planted picklecorn! Gilda! You gotta help me!"[/colour]


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The light pink pony sat on the ground panting to catch her breath, her hooves shook as she set her bag in front of her. Fortunately her unplanned sprint had not effected her magic and she managed to levitate a cookie and bottle out of her bag, as she ate her cookie she pressed the bottle of water against her cheeks, horn and the back of her neck and allowed the water to cool her down before she took a sip. After refreshing herself she put her supplies away and took a moment to look around, she was much closer to the bridge than she thought she was and she had made it to where the Ponies were, one of which she reconised as the green Stallion she had encountered earlier, another had a mane and tail with a similar colour to her own and reminded her of the sort of characters she had read about in fantasy stories who lived in a magic cabin or time traveled or something.

[colour=#FFA07A]"Hello" [/colour]she bagan as she felt herself starting to recover, perhaps al of them could cross the bridge together, or at least in pairs so everypony would have somepony to help them in case they fell. However, just as she was about to continue her introduction she noticed something....odd. There seemed to some sort of altercation taking place, [colour=#FFA07A]"Why would anypony have a fight in such a dangerous place?" [/colour]She wondered out loud, The Unicorn then gasped sharply as she saw one of the compeditors drop part way, why wasn't the other compeditor helping?[colour=#FFA07A] "Did anypony else see that? Somepony is stuck in the bridge, we have to do something!"[/colour]

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Earth Writer's smile did not so much fade as drain when the old woden bridge across the ravine was revealed in all its ricketiness. After all that business that the group had just finished in the gully, this was a situation that broguht the most unwelcome prospect of a repeat. The unicorn heaved a sigh; if they had to do it, at least he couldn't think of a better set of comrades to have by his side. He signaled to Hoss, "[colour=#8b4513]You'd better be first across to test the soundness of the bridge; your wings can get you out of trouble if there's any.[/colour]"

He probably didn't need to have bothered saying so, seeing that the bay pegasus was already trotting onto the planks, but it might discourage any recklessness on anypony else's part. The last thing he wanted to see was any of his new friends getting hurt again, especially Sugar Apple. She seemed to have the same notion, given that she asked him about an alternative route. Earth Writer frowned in thought. "[colour=#8b4513]That would be a good idea, except that there isn't any other way across that I can think of. I don't think this is a well-traveled route, or they would have kept the bridge in better repair.[/colour]" [colour=#8b4513]*And then they routed a race over it. Who's dumb idea was that?*[/colour]

The reporter did not speak this last sentence aloud, though his sentiments were echoed in more forceful tones by Rising Star. The stallion gave her a "[colour=#8b4513]Here, Here![/colour]", feeling that he owed her something for having the courage to call out the racing coordinators for not at least reinforcing the bridge.

Still.... "[colour=#8b4513]I think they're going to make it.[/colour]" He said to Sugar Apple. [colour=#8b4513]"If we trot gently, and don't shake the bridge too much, we should be fine. We'll just have to go one at a time.[/colour]" It seemed he wasn't the only one that hit upon this notion, given that Clockwise, Greenshot, and another newcomer were also holding back. Earth Writer didn't mind the delay himself; it gave him a little more time to stay and think, about the blush on Sugar Apple's face, among other things. It was beginning to dawn upon the journalist that he'd developed a strong bond with the purple pegasus in a very short amount of time, something of a record with the unicorn, who took a while to develop any strong friendships at the best of times. He didn't know what that would mean for the future, but all things considered, it looked pretty good-

And then came Applejack and Gilda, barreling straight through the gathered ponies. Their sudden appearance had caused the tan unicorn to jump straight into the air, though that was nothing to the shock he got when he saw the farmer mare take the bridge at full speed, and break straight through one of the planks. His breath caught for a moment until he saw that she had caught herself with her tail, and was now calling for the griffon to help her. Earth took one look at Gilda, and figured that if this was the same griffon who'd rushed through the first bridge at the brook, Applejack couldn't expect anything much from her.

And that moment was when he officially became fed up with the whole situation. "[colour=#8b4513]Alright, nuts to these horseapples![/colour]" He stalked straight over to the edge of the ravine and called down to the pegasi below. "[colour=#8b4513]You get your flanks straight up here, and see to it that Applejack makes it across safely. After that, you will personally ferry each and every single racer here across this ravine, and if I hear any backchat about how it isn't 'sporting', the entire event staff are gonna get in the snoot for reckless endangerment in every paper in Equestria! [/colour][colour=#8b4513]By name![/colour]" The rescue pegasi could see at once that it was more than their job's worth than to argue, and set about the good work immediately.

Earth Writer volunteered to go last, just to make sure everypony else made it across safely. He was panting when he got back to Sugar Apple, and closed his eyes as he apologized. [colour=#8b4513]"Sorry for losing it there, I've just seen too many get hurt already, and I couldn't stand it if... you...[/colour]" The stallion felt something in his throat, preventing him from finishing the sentence as he opened his eyes to look into the mare's.

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[OOC: I guess I can just follow the trend now?]

Step after step, hoof after hoof. Star's zeal cooled down as she entered the bridge. She could clearly hear creaks coming from under her hooves, each plank protested under her weight. There was a hidden threat in every single sound, a threat which hid a situation which she didn't even want to imagine. She raised her head to throw a look at Hoss. He didn't have the problem she had. What allured her to enter the bridge in the first place again? Pride, lack of patience and, once again, foalishness? There was no retreating now though. She took yet another step, feeling how the wooden plank bends under her weight. Star ceased her movement and decided to avoid that one, placing her hoof a bit further. That one felt a bit more sturdy, so she moved her mass on it. Everything was going slow and steady, no haste, no problems.

She was heavily focused on her task. Each single step had a chance of causing yet another interesting story to be born. The fact group behind her was causing so much noise did prove helpful at all. Mare tried to ignore it for a moment, but finally her curiosity took over her. Star turned her head back... and stood eye in eye with a Griffin charing at her. Her intuition ordered her to move out of way, and so she did. Risi jumped aside, completely forgetting about the condition of the bridge. The impact she had caused to the guardrail broke a few planks, making them fall into the void below. She could feel the bridge trembling as the Griffin ran past her. What she couldn't imagine though is that somepony was reckless enough to follow her at full speed at the same time. Pink Unicorn stood petrified, trying not to move a single limb. But bridge wasn't going to remain indifferent to such an impertinence. One of the planks turned out to be extremely bored with her current activity and broke, trapping an orange Earth Pony hanging under the bridge. It startled the mare only for a moment, because she quickly remembered about the coordinators waiting below. They wouldn't allow anypony to get hurt... would they?

And then an explosion occurred. An explosion of pure anger, hidden and long suppressed. She couldn't help but to stare, hypnotized by the sudden shout of... [colour=#0000ff]"Huh...? Him?"[/colour] - the question hanged unanswered in air, as she observed Earth Writer giving schooling to the rescue teams below. 'Schooling' somehow seemed to be an excellent word, judging from his appearance and voice. She instantly imagined him arguing with one of the rescue ponies and, despite the situation, burst out in laughter. The image was so grotesque that she couldn't gain a grip at herself. Yet, it seemed that his effort brought results, because soon after a lone, gray Pegasus appeared in front of her, offering her a helping hoof. She stared at him for longer before asking: [colour=#0000ff]"Uh... I have some... Bad memories when it comes to flying..."[/colour] An image of Hoss carrying her just few minutes ago flashed in her mind. [colour=#0000ff]"Let's make a deal, I'll attempt to cross it on my own strengths, and you'll watch over my safety? Deal?"[/colour] - without waiting for an answer, she moved forward, a bit more confident than before. The bridge was the last obstacle, from what she had learned. The road straight to finish line stood open, but somehow she felt compelled to wait on her new companions on the other side. One could participate in different races, but the tradition was only one.

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Earth Writer’s forecast didn’t sit well with Sugar Apple, who desired nothing more than to just make it back to town without further incident. Just as the pegasus began thinking about how horrid the Running of the Leaves had been this year, the pink unicorn blurted out essentially what Sugar was thinking. In hindsight, why didn’t the race organizers delay the event in the first place when they learned of the freak thunderstorm from Baltimare? And why plot a race course through this ill-maintained bridge and the ravine it crossed over? Did they have a twisted sense of humor, wanting to see ponies struggle their way to the finish line?

Leaving that thought aside, Sugar Apple liked the sound of Earth Writer’s plan. If everypony was careful, then they’d all make it across the bridge… and fortunately, a team of rescue pegasi hovered below in case anything did happen. Before the purple mare could set a hoof on the bridge however, she heard two racers from behind charging their way to the bridge. Not taking any chances this time, Sugar hastily shoved herself off to the side before seeing to her alarm just who was barreling along.

The pony up in front was other than cousin Applejack, with that rotten griffon hot on her heels. Sugar Apple didn’t know what to think; while it was good to see that a nasty fate had yet to befall AJ, she feared her luck would run out as well given the way the Running was going… and quite swiftly too. Just as soon as Sugar thought her dark thoughts, the bridge gave away under the galloping AJ as she nearly plummeted down into the ravine. [colour=#800080]“APPLEJACK!!!”[/colour] cried out the pegasus, seeing yet another mishap right before her eyes… to her cousin, no less! Turning her sight towards the griffon, a sudden fury overcame Sugar Apple having witnessed that the thug was still up to no good; [colour=#800080]“HEY THAR GRIFFON! YA’ BETTER HE’P MAH COUSIN NOW OR THAR’LL BE HAY T’PAY! YER NOT GONNA’ GIT AWAY WIF THIS!”[/colour]

Shaking her hoof madly in the air, Sugar Apple knew her words would fall on deaf ears as the thuggish griffon would most likely flee the scene anyway, given her conduct beforehand. If she weren’t careful, that griffon would probably come to a bad end too, just like with the rest of the Apple family participants in the race. The pegasus couldn’t even comprehend the thought of that griffon winning the Running of the Leaves; it was bad enough that this year’s race had to be a cursed obstacle course, but Sugar couldn’t bear having that heartless cheater win the whole thing. If only it wasn’t for that dangerous rockslide earlier, the mare would already be on that griffon’s tail.

Fortunately, Earth Writer had the good sense to also not place his faith in the griffon as he ordered the pegasi coordinators to help ferry Sugar Apple’s dangling cousin. Not only that, but to ferry everypony else across too. After hearing him bark his orders, the pegasus turned her attention back to the exhausted stallion as came up to heartfeltly-explain his behavior. Sugar’s eyes lowered as Earth Writer lost his voice; the mare realized that she must have put him through quite the scare when she got caught in that rockslide. In her head, Sugar Apple admitted that she would’ve been worried sick too had her and Earth Writer’s positions been reversed.

Well, all that worrying would end right this minute! Bringing forth a large grin, Sugar Apple gently brought her forehoof to Earth Writer’s cheek as her eyes figuratively bore into the stallion’s own. [colour=#800080]“We’ll be finishin’ this togither, Earth Writer,”[/colour] the pegasus tenderly affirmed; [colour=#800080]“Ah promise ah won’t run off on ya agin.”[/colour] Sugar chuckled and winked at her partner, her dash across the flooding brook’s bridge still fresh in her mind. Releasing her hold on the stallion’s face, the mare trotted over to a waiting pegasus so she could be safely ferried over to the other side.

[colour=#800080]“Ah’ll be waitin’ for ya on th’ other side, hon!”[/colour] Sugar Apple waved and shouted to the tan unicorn as the coordinator pegasus transported her across the ravine. Once the pegasus dropped her off safely, she stood there waiting on AJ and the rest...

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His mind was still playing a trick on him. Feeling like he could still see and feel the food on the table that was in his dream. The delicious foods was getting him again and thought “Once I get home to Canterlot, I am going to have a ball in mom’s shop. The taste of her sweets and goods are just waiting to get in my belly.” Suddenly [colour=#008000]Greenshot Apple[/colour] stumbled on a small rock that got him out of his daydreaming and noticing Rising run past him. Wondering why the group had come to a halt and trotted towards where they seemed to be looking. A questionable bridge was in his sights. Who knew if it was stable or not.


Greenshot had lifted a brow looking at Rising after her outburst. He wasn't one to judge anypony, especially after what had occured behind them.

"What? I had to let go of my emotions..."

Greenshot had no plans of going to cross the bridge unless he knew it would be safe. The thought of magic to keep the bridge steady did cross his mind, but when Writer mentioned that we should all cross steadily one at a time. The idea seemed well enough to work without spending up any energy. Looking over at Sugar and Writer when the sudden approach of Applejack and Gilda caught them by surprise. Greenshot had jumped back not wanting to be bumped into and looked at who it was. A griffon that he didn’t know about and Applejack. “Heh, I guess Applejack was in this race. What were they doing behind us?” he thought. When the sudden snap of planks could be heard from the bridge, Greenshot jumped and looked, noticing the Applejack’s body had disappeared from the bridge.


[colour=#000000]Seconds later he shouted as well "[/colour][colour=#008000]COUSIN!![/colour][colour=#000000]" [/colour]Trotting towards the entrance of the bridges near to Sugar while she went out shouting at the Griffon. Greenshot paid no attention as he did not want to get himself all angry and lose his own head. He had noticed that AJ’s tail was stuck to the bridge.

[colour=#282828]"[/colour][colour=#8B4513]You get your flanks straight up here, and see to it that Applejack makes it across safely. After that, you will personally ferry each and every single racer here across this ravine, and if I hear any backchat about how it isn't 'sporting', the entire event staff are gonna get in the snoot for reckless endangerment in every paper in Equestria! [/colour][colour=#8B4513]By name![/colour]" [colour=#008000]Greenshot[/colour][colour=#000000] had looked back at Writer as he said that down at the Race coordinators below them in the ravine below the bridge. He knew that most griffons weren't friendly and quickly assumed that this one wasn't going to help Applejack below and just stood at the beginning of the brige, planting his tosh on the ground and watching the coordinators below. If he needed to for any reason at all, he would be ready to help to keep the bridge in place, or keep from anypony, like Applejack, from falling below and was going to stay by Writer until everypony else made there own way across this bridge. His ears twitching and his head turning to look at Writer and Sugar having a moment and grinned to himself as Sugar got carried away.[/colour]

[colour=#006400](Got a little confused there, and sorry for posting ll late. got an exam, quiz and test tomorrow morning so study study study!!)[/colour]

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(Getting near the end of the last day, so I'm going to wrap this up as best I can. Sorry in advance for any G-modding that might happen due to time crunch).

Earth Writer found himself amazed at just how much a gentle touch could ease his troubles, and how much a single look could confirm understanding. To have it happen just following a rescue was natural enough, but when the reporter considered the fact that only a whim three days before had brought him to this time and place... it added something surreal and serendipitous to it. He was too swept up to return Sugar Apple's wink, but he could at least smile, and that he did. "[colour=#8b4513]And I'll be right beside you![/colour]" He answered.

Now, of course, to see to the second rescue he'd put in motion. The coordinators were professionals, and Applejack was assured to be in good hands. As for the others... for some reason that was completely beyond Earth Writer's understanding, Rising Star appeared to fear the prospect of flight more than the prospect of falling. Or perhaps it was a measure of pride; who could say? He could only shake his head, half in exasperation and half in admiration.

Next, the coordinators came for Sugar, and he waved back as they ferried her over. Three more unicorns awaited ferrying, and then it was Earth Writer's turn at last.

He couldn't have said what he'd expected flight to be like, but he always had a vague idea that it would be enjoyable. After all, the pegasi loved it. As he was hoisted between two of them, the tan stallion had the uncomfortable sensation of having left his stomach back on the ground. The flight was short, but all throughout it the journalist was aware of every strain in his muscles as he held onto his carriers, every slight pitch and yaw from take off to landing, and most of all, the height above the ravine floor when he chanced an ill-considered look down. [colour=#8b4513]*All in all,* [/colour]He thought, beathing heavily as he once again touched hooves to earth, [colour=#8b4513]*I think I understand Risi's attitude a little better.*[/colour]

Still, he was grinning by the time he'd trotted back to Sugar Apple's side. "That... was something I might get used to." Now that everypony was safe, Earth Writer felt buoyantly happy, and nearly kicked his heels together when he saw the whole group gathered around. Certainly, he no longer felt tired anymore. His new and expansive energy suffused his speech, as well. "[colour=#8b4513]Well, what are we waiting for? We've got a race to finish, and trees to defoliate! Tally-Ho! As they say in Canterlot.[/colour]" And with that, they were off again.

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(OOC: been waiting to see if GIlda responds after checking with River. Clock is ticking down so I'd better make a post now at least showing he's aware of the problem and ready to jump in. may make a post later in 2 hours.)

Giving a sigh of relief at making it across, Hoss paused and looked back, glad to see the official race teams waiting to help if the bridge fails.

He had to laugh when the others vented their frustrations about the bridge to the officials, Star and Earth Writer loudest and foremost.

Suddenly an orange streak caught his attention, AJ and Gilda both sprinting for the bridge at full speed.

The others quickly gave way for them, only for AJ to fall through the bridge and hang by her tail.

The only thing that kept him from jumping in after her was the official ponies already moving in to assist. No need to risk a midair-collision so far.

Even so, he stood with his wings open, in case he was needed while the officials were browbeaten into ferrying the others across.

He kept his weather eye on Gilda as well...

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[colour=#FF0000]"You think you're so tough, don't you? Well I'll prove to you that any hard-workin' pony is just as good as a griffon who doesn't care about anything but herself!"[/colour][colour=#000000] [/colour]

Gilda smiled at these words and the tone with which they were said. Well, this changed things. There was a certain fire in this pony after all. She wasn't the pushover the griffoness had thought she was. She was gonna prove herself to Gilda? By all mean, let her then! Winning was what Gilda was all about, but hollow victories were never as satisfying as a true challenge. She was curious to see just how deep this passion in the pony was. Would it pay off for her, or would Gilda leave her in the dust? She was most curious to see.

[colour=#996699]"That's it, pony! Show me what you can do! I'll prove that my way's the best! Just you watch,"[/colour] Gilda declared boldly, a smile on her face. Fired up, just as if she was back in Cloudsdale racing Dash again. She ran ahead at full force, eager to prove her superiority.

The two matched strides for a while after that. This lame pony actually had it in her, Gilda could now see it. She was fast and she was strong. Her earlier line about being a great athlete had demanded an eye-roll from the griffoness, but maybe it wasn't off mark? Either that or this pony was that set on beating her, it was just pushing her so powerfully ahead. Either way, this was the kind of rivalry Gilda needed. The need to beat this pony would be exactly what she needed to push her to the top.

[colour=#FF0000]"Somethin' ruffle your feathers, eaglet?"[/colour]

As they approached a bridge which hardly looked very secure, the mare threw off a barb as she passed Gilda up. Gilda fumed as she felt her anger build. She had to beat this pony. She would beat this pony. Nothing was gonna stop her now.

[colour=#FF0000]"Heh, he-aaaAAAAAhhhh! [/colour][colour=#FF0000]Oh my planted picklecorn! Gilda! You gotta help me!"[/colour]

And then the mare fell through the bridge, saved only by her tail. Gilda didn't even really stop and think about what had to be done here. It was obvious to her from the onset. There was only one answer that would leave her sated. There was only one choice that could bring her the sort of win she wanted here. Not even considering another choice, hardly aware of the other ponies about, some of which seemed to be shouting at her or at the mare or just observing the situation around the bridge, she came to a slow and then reached down between the rickety bridge's planks and grabbed the pony's tail. Using her wings to give her leverage, she pulled upward and flung the pony back up onto the bridge.

[colour=#996699]"Think you're getting out of this that easy, pony? As if!"[/colour] Gilda started with a laugh. [colour=#996699]"You challenged me. We're seeing this through until the end!"[/colour] she added with force before barreling ahead across the treacherous bridge to take a lead on the pony.

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