Nightfall was slowly creeping, and he was right to be afraid. By the time Danny/Night Rider had rested and flown his way in a steady pattern at least five times, looking down had rewarded him with an intimidating view. It wasn't the ever increasing heights that terrified him, but the strange lazy glowing yellow lights awaiting in the darkened black sea of rolling grass as nearly all light vacated the pasture save starlight spearing through the clouds. At first he thought they were fireflies, except they didn't move or fly about. Once he noticed that they came in immobile pairs, he put the pieces together and realized they were eyes sharply glaring up at him awaiting his possible failure. His pegasi instincts infused into his DNA had told him what his intellect as a human watching far too many nature shows already knew: only predators had that kind of night sight.
So, he had an audience. As long as he concentrated on the task at hoof, he wouldn't even need to worry. At the very least, he'd made the right call by leaving that death trap behind as soon as he could. He took another look up above and compared it with his current progress, realizing that it would take him several hours to make it back up to the top with the method he was using. No doubt he would have to find someplace safe amongst the rocky crags to sleep before long, as his body did not yet know the fitness that other pegasi took for granted. It would be terrible to lose his mind and pass out from exhaustion if he did the stupid hasty thing by trying to get back up there with one straight shot. Besides, this was a test, not a race: Jarvi mentioned nothing about a time limit.
Danny wanted to take his own advice to sleep, but thus far all of the places he'd landed were barely wide enough to stand on, and his eyes weren't as good at night as those creatures lurking below had it. It would be terrible luck to accept this narrow ledge for rest, only to roll over in his precarious slumber right into the clutches of whatever those eyes belonged to. Wolves? Big cats? It was impossible to know unless he managed to ask one of the pegasi, or find out the hard way. He looked around with a growing hopelessness, his eyes picking up a strange waxy spherical glint from somewhere up above close by. The only reason he hadn't noticed it before was that it hugged into a side of the mountain that was a bit tucked in.
He resolved himself to one last leap of flight to see what this thing was. When the mare landed, he nearly tripped over something thick and gnarled in a random way: a tapering root as thick as an arm and outstretching itself exposed from the side of the cliff like a bony hand with thousands of tiny fingers. How an apple tree managed to grow on a mountain, he had no idea. Perhaps freak chance or creative gardening by pegasi tenders to afford a resting place for fliers who needed a treat, it was another one of those peculiar yet convenient mysteries he'd probably never remember to find the answer for.
It was a convenience he wouldn't take for granted, as this angled platform boasted not just a source of food, but honest to goodness dirt. When every other part of the mountain was sharp angled peaks of rocks jutting out and piles of unsteady pebbles littering the area underfoot, it would prove a bounty for a weary form to find a restful sleep without worry of discomfort or tumble. The naturalistic manicuring of this somewhat secretive location lent more towards the argument that this space was intentionally designed with this level of basic convenience. Daniel had certainly heard of worse places for rock climbers to find solace from a storm, so this convenient space was very atypical for the terrain.
He went for an apple, a low hanging branch within easy reach due to the heavy fruits weighing it down. There was probably three or so on this one segment, perhaps more that the thick cover of leaves concealed. The pegasi could already smell the fresh wet sweetness hiding just beneath the thin layer of greenish skin, the bite that followed rending the delicate flesh of the crunchy fruit was rapture even as the copious juice gushed down his throatfur and bosom. Hunger quickly followed the wholehearted nibble and sent him further into equine ecstasy as the natural sugars made their way into his system. Althought he felt his energy returning and felt a burst of spastic activity coming upon him, the human part of his dualistic mind knew this jittering exciting feeling to be fleeting and that it would be unwise to leave the safety of the tree until he'd had rest and there was proper light out to see.
He was far too invigorated to sleep while the fresh meal worked its way through his slim body, so sleep wasn't going to see him as swift as he'd hoped. Danny lingered in the twilight of the breezy night, laying against the roughly textured bark of the tree's trunk while he stared into the sky and let his mind empty of all but the most concerning thoughts. Everything was dark that could be seen, the moon's light fleeting as each herd of clouds stampeded past its silvery shafts of white curtains. Dark, but certainly not desolate: aside from the sweeping caress of the wind taunting its way through his pointed ears, there was also unmistakeable insect and small animal noises, but nothing like what he'd ever heard before. They weren't scary or anything, but he found himself confused as he struggled to imagine what an animal or bug looked like that made one of those sounds. Tomorrow, there'd be a lot to learn, good flying the least of those concerns if this planet's strange ecosystem was any indication. He hoped the dreams that followed his imagination would not entail further bouts with insanity.
Written by FluffyPony on 29 April 2016