>Hellhounds. I recalled Homage, as DJ Pon3, warning ponies about hellhounds in the stretch between Manehattan and Fillydelphia. I’d been picturing rabid dogs, like the ones Uncle and Aunt Fruitcup had, only vicious. Possibly overgrown and mutated, like the bloodwings. Sure, the first time I heard of a hellhound, I learned that just one could take out a wagon train of slavers. But then, so could I. And I was hardly frightening.
For once, the author actually provides some explanation and description of a strange kind of monster we are about to encounter, instead of just dumping in something called a "hellhound" without bothering to tell us what it is. Littlepoop is unfamiliar with such creatures, and here we see her speculating on what they might be.
Unfortunately, the actual comparisons here leave something to be desired. For one thing, there's this:
>I’d been picturing rabid dogs, like the ones Uncle and Aunt Fruitcup had, only vicious.
Littlepoop does not know Uncle and Aunt Fruitcup; she has never met them, and has never seen their dogs. She just heard them being discussed on the radio. There is no basis for comparison here; for all she knows, their dogs actually are hellhouds.
There is also this:
>Possibly overgrown and mutated, like the bloodwings.
This just reminds us that the author never bothered to explain just what the fuck a "bloodwing" is either. We've been able to more or less piece together that they are some sort of giant bat, but we still don't know just how big "overgrown" is exactly, or in what specific way they are "mutated."
Finally, there's this:
>Sure, the first time I heard of a hellhound, I learned that just one could take out a wagon train of slavers. But then, so could I. And I was hardly frightening.
When exactly was the first time she ever heard of a hellhound? Where does she get any of her information from? On the one hand, she doesn't know what these things are; on the other, she seems to have heard from somewhere that they can "take out a wagon train of slavers," but didn't think that it would be worth prompting this mystery source for more information. Also, her false humility is really getting annoying.
Anyway, SteelHooves and Calamity fill the group in on what the hellhounds are. Apparently, they are the wasteland's most dangerous creature, and SteelHooves remarks that he would rather fight an alicorn. However, beyond this, their explanation is vague and rambling; it takes many paragraphs for either of them to get to the point.
The text veers off onto a weird tangent about Splendid Valley, which itself veers off onto several smaller tangents about the location of the valley and its purpose, as well as something called Maripony (this may have been mentioned already, but if it was something important it didn't stick in my mind).
>While hellhounds had not struck much of a note in my imagination, a terrifying specter of Splendid Valley had been painted in my mind by all the dark rumors and foreboding mentions of the place.
To my recollection, Splendid Valley has been mentioned exactly once: when LP noticed a painting depicting it in Homage's athenaeum and asked her about it. If it's meant to be a major location, with lots of dark and foreboding rumors circulating about it, we really should have heard more about it by now. It's the damned broadcast towers all over again.
Anyway, from what we're able to eventually piece together from the author's incoherent rambling and subject-jumping, the hellhounds used to be the Diamond Dogs. They were the original inhabitants of Splendid Valley but were ordered to clear out because Edgequestria needed their gem mines to make nuclear weapons or something. However, they decided to ignore the order, or they came back, or something; then, something something bombs went off, and something something nuclear waste or radiation or something, and then the Diamond Dogs mutated into gigantic scary versions of themselves. In addition to being big and scary, they can also burrow underneath the ground and use weapons. They are also supposed to be highly intelligent.
I'm actually going to give the author a few points here, simply because for once he attempts to foreshadow the appearance of a monster. Moreover, he actually gives us a decent idea of what sort of monster we should expect, instead of just unceremoniously dumping some poorly described creature into the story out of absolutely nowhere.
Page break. Presumably to avoid hellhounds, the group decides to set down on the roof of an old power plant. The author actually provides some rather nice, visually striking imagery of the ruined structure, and the power lines running off into the distance.
Even though they are only here to swap out their spark batteries, LP naturally decides to pick the lock of a nearby tower and go exploring. How did I know they weren't going to make it to Fillydelphia without being pulled off on at least one pointless side quest?
Incidentally, it's worth mentioning that the chapters from here on out are all obscenely long. Most of the chapters we've read so far have averaged between 2,000 and 5,000 words; however, I've glanced at the word counts for the chapters we have yet to read, and there is only one (Chapter 35) that is less than 10,000 words in length. Most of them are around 15,000 words, with a couple breaking the 20,000 or even 30,000 word barrier. Chapter 37 is a bloated 51,139 words long; literally long enough to be a self-contained novel. I find myself fondly reminiscing about my reactions to the length of Nigel's Glimmer Vs. Silver chapter. We've got a long, arduous journey ahead of us, but I'll try to move as quickly as I can.