Sunburst inadvertently mentions to Princess Luna that Starswirl had a “sequel” to the original legend of Rockhoof and the Mighty Helm. As that is her favorite myth and she’s eager to hear it, Luna half-asks/half-commands that he read it to her:
After Rockhoof saved the village, he was lauded as a hero and taken before the captain of the Mighty Helm, Steela Oresdotter, for a reward. His only desire was to become a member of the Mighty Helm, which he did. On his first day, he started off with his normal training routine and showed himself to be the strongest, fastest, and best of the Mighty Helm members. After a great day, however, two of the Mighty Helm members invited him to a party and oat-eating challenge to celebrate his success. Feeling that he could spare one day off and wanting to fit in with the group, he agreed, but woke up the next morning with a food hangover that made him slightly weaker and sloppier during training. However, the next day the same two invited him on another party and food-eating challenge, and he consented to that one as well. Soon this repeated itself and Rockhoof neglected his training routine to constantly go out on celebrations, and gradually began to become sloppier in his training. One day, the same volcano began to exhibit new activity in the form of magma bombs flying from the top of it, and Rockhoof (now quite out of shape) was tasked to find the source and stop it. He took along his same two “party buddies” for helm, but both of them constantly whined and made excuses up the mountain, and between that and his own poor physical state it took forever to get to the top. On arrival, Rockhoof found the source was a monster called a cherufe that he immediately attacked, which not only went badly but made it angrier than ever before chasing him and his companions back down the mountain. Forced to confront Steela about his failure, she ended up berating him for getting lazier and sloppier since he joined; a fact which Rockhoof acknowledges. He ended up going back to his old routine and made it twice as hard until he was once again back in shape, before accompanying Steela herself to confront the cherufe again. This time, on arrival, he noticed that the cherufe was throwing all of the lava bombs at the same spot on top of the volcano. Getting an idea from that, he used his “warshovel” to dig at that same spot and discovered that the cherufe’s baby was trapped underneath it. As a result, Rockhoof became a hero again. However, in spite of returning to his old routine and devoting himself to his new guard duty, he was still lonely at having no friends, until one day the captain invited him to a team party and he agreed; showing him he could still afford to take it easy once and a while.
Luna considers the morals of the story acceptable and “permits” Sunburst to read her more stories in the future, while Sunburst himself sweats in relief.
Again, I found this one a bit better on the second reading, but I always liked it a bit better than the first. The biggest issue with the original story of Rockhoof as presented in “Campfire Tales” was that it had a bit of a weak lesson. Simply “wishing” for something to happen doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, which is largely what happened in that episode. Rockhoof just suddenly and miraculously became the strongest pony alive pretty much because the story said he had to, which is the only reason he succeeded in his superhuman task rather than any effort on his part.
By comparison, the lore of this particular story makes it clear that even when he was still scrawny Rockhoof was dedicated to joining the Mighty Helm not just in terms of wishing for it but actually working at it. That’s far more commendable. Even if his natural strength prohibited him from ever being good enough, it shows that he still committed himself to hard work and self-discipline each and every day in an established routine that had the clear goal of getting into the Mighty Helm with it. As a result, the lore alone allows for a bit more respect for Rockhoof.
It also clearly sets out the difference between wanting something and making an effort to get it later in the story, when Steela berates Rockhoof for simply “wanting” to succeed and not actually taking the steps to do it; instead losing his edge and self-discipline and indulging himself on parties. It also clearly shows the dangers of how easy it is to slip out of self-discipline. There are countless stories of individuals trying to turn themselves around with an exercise and diet routine only to have the beginning of the end by saying: “I’ll just skip this one day…”
The moral, on the other hand, is a bit muddled. Most of it is concerned with not taking one’s own talents for granted and being responsible for yourself. In the climax, Rockhoof applies his own disciplined mentality to the new issue with the cherufe, realizing that he needed to see the problem differently. However, the last page suddenly tacks in some verbage that amounts to: “Oh…and Rockhoof eventually did go to parties again because he realized he had to be balanced too. The End.” That seemed like the writer being a bit too scared that they were somehow telling a message that you should isolate yourself and become a physical-training-devoted machine if you want to succeed in your goals. The story as a whole definitely wasn’t focusing on balance, however. It was definitely an either-or situation. I think by trying to pass that message in at the end, if it wasn’t clear enough from my synopsis, kind of mucked up the resolution a bit. Even Luna seems to go from liking the story to saying it’s “passable”.
Nevertheless, it’s a nice little tale. Again, lots of creative artwork of “Olde Equestria”, which is pretty much par for the entire series. I’m a bit flummoxed that one of the most physically active members of the Pillars of Old Equestria ended up doing a solution that would have been somewhat more akin to Fluttershy, especially since the end of Season Eight confirmed, yes, some bad guys just need to be thrashed, but it was still a pretty good one that helped me gain more appreciation for Rockhoof than simply “Norse-themed pony”…at least, until Season Eight’s “A Rockhoof and a Hard Place”.
Princess Luna lets out one of the series’ characteristic “squees”, the first time she’s ever made that noise.
Many of the Cutie Marks of the Mighty Helm are rather…unintimidating (such as fruit and a swirly heart).
The mailpony is a pony version of the mailman from “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time”.
A cherufe is a monster from the myths of the Mapuche people of Chile. An evil thing made of fire and magma, it supposedly could only be satisfied by human sacrifices being thrown into the volcanoes where they dwelt. While they’re normally considered humanoid, the cherufe in this one is one-eyed and crab-like.
3 Stars out of 5