Every story has a beginning...
"Have at thee!" Deekin yelled in triumph as he prepared to finish off the white dragon, and former master, Tyrmofarrar. The dragon laid still in the ice-covered cave, bruised and beaten by the kobolds mighty lute which was still in perfect condition. A firm press by Deekin's clawed foot on its stomach caused the dragon almost ten times his size to emit a whimper.
"Please spare me Mighty Deekin Scalesinger!" Tyrmofarrar pleaded. "Take whatever you want, but--I'm pretty sure that's not what happened." The dragon's voice drastically changed from a low rumble to a much lower tone. It raised its head toward Deekin, ignoring the fact it was near-death. "Last time I checked, you were hiding behind your," he brought both claws up to emphasize with air quotes. "'Mighty lute' while I tried to convince him to not stomp on you for breaking the tower statue."
Deekin's eyes popped open and he found himself back inside the warm inn, sitting on a small stool. He was dressed exactly the same as when he left his tribe, most of it looted from some poor adventurer. An orange leather jacket possibly one size too small and a pair of baggy brown breeches. Both were torn and frayed at the edges from constant use. The only valuables he carried on his person were items his human master gave him, his journal full of notes for his craft, his lute, and a currently empty coin purse.
The kobold tribe that lived under Tymofarrar's reign in the Nether mountains always laughed and tried to tear down his dreams of being a great bard. Even Tyrmofarrar found it amusing until they started to hurt poor Deekin, which lead to the offenders being eaten or frozen. Since living in caves didn't have much entertainment, Deekin was considered a blessing to the dragon. Probably since he was intelligent enough to even know what a lute was.
Finally returning back from his story, he noticed the patrons around him who had lent their ears were now laughing thanks to his new master. He was the one at fault for pointing out his false storytelling. "M-master!" Deekin wailed in his normally high-pitched voice. "That wasn't very nice. Deekin was only trying to entertain. Is that so wrong?" He questioned as he tried to keep his dignity in check.
The human paladin to blame was garbed in full-plate and clearly showed his deity, Torm, as a crest on his armor. He sat nearby at a table just beside his stool, his helmet resting upon it and giving a clear view of the disappointment on his face. "Then tell the tale as it is meant to be told," he advised. "Lying and bending the truth to earn self-fame will only come back to haunt you in the future. You never know what someone might look for the 'Mighty Deekin' only to see a small timid kobold." The small grin and finality when he clapped his gauntlet-fastened hands together didn't comfort Deekin at all. "I know. Why don't you tell them another tale. How about the one with the talking horses?"
If Deekin's eyes went any wider they might have rolled out of their sockets. "Oh, no, no. Deekin completely forgot that tale. Yes, that's it. Brain not that good since I have memory of goldfish. Mostly hollow." He tapped his noggin with a knuckle, then rubbed his head afterwards in pain.
"Do it, kobold!" One of the patrons shouted. "It's better than listening to the blasted fireplace or howling wind outside!" He repeated "do it" and others began to join him until half the tavern was chanting. Deekin clenched his jaw and let out a tiny whimper. "Do it and If it's good enough I'll pay you triple the normal amount!" A patron in the back yelled over the din of chanting.
"T-triple?" Deekin said quietly to himself. He knew the normal rate for playing at 'fine' establishments such as this ended up with being five gold richer. That's including tips of course. The thought of so much gold in his pocket made him giddy and he almost fell out of seat. However, he remembered how embarrassing and far-fetched tale was. The human paying triple wouldn't believe something like that.
Looking at his master, he gave an encouraging nod, but also a steely gaze to warn him to not bend the truth again. "O-okay, I'll do it, but I don't want to hear complaining about it being fake." He waggled a long bony finger at everyone. "Tis a story as true as the falling snow outside!" Deekin shouted which earned several happy cheers for the only real entertainment to continue.
"Now, this tale takes place several winters ago. I was still with my tribe and under the rule of Tymofarrar. Unfortunately, I had just done something to, once again, anger him." Deekin closed his eyes and envisioned himself into the memory, its clarity as if it happened hours ago.
"Deekin, you little rodent!" Tymofarrar roared, the sound dangerously risking the sharp icicles on the cavernous ceiling to fall. "When I get my claws on you you're going to need another lute as you'll be eating yours soon!" He dug into the frozen-over stalactites and stalagmites surrounding his target like a prison. Although it was being used to keep the dragon out more then keeping Deekin in.
"P-please master! I didn't mean to have those icicles rain on your head! or accidently crush your tail... Or..." Deekin dove back and hugged the rocks behind him as Tymofarrar made another swipe, which was dangerously closer than the last. Deekin knew his master would always let his anger get out of control, but never seen his master actually try to hurt him. "Why are you so angry at me, master? Poor Deekin is sorry!"
"You made a fool out of me in front of the whole kobold tribe you little worm!" He spat, which reminded the trapped kobold why he was so angry: his pride. Growing frustrated by the second, he focused his strength on one of the stalagmites and it slowly started to crack. When it snapped off, ice shards flew everywhere and blinded the dragon for a second. The sound should have acted as a gunshot to a race because Deekin took that moment to bolt out of his broken prison, yelling at the top of his tiny lungs.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry! Please don't eat Deekin!" He squealed while running into the nearest room he could find, but found he made an error as there was no way out. The dragon would be upon him soon if he didn't act fast. Ahead of him was his master's hoard. Piles of treasures and other assortment of items the dragon saw value in was stored here. Seeing a small sack that looked big enough to hide in, he dove inside and curled into a little ball while holding his tail. Just as he assumed his favorite position to cower in fear, a loud thudding sound easily let him know the dragon was looking in the room for him.
"Deekin... my little bard," his voice not as harsh like several seconds before, and ridden with guilt. "I'm sorry for letting my anger get the best of me. Why don't you come out and... ugh... give Tyrnofarrar a hug?"
Deekin, being as gullable as a kobold can get, poked his head out of the bag. "R-really?" His eyes shining with hope that he was forgiven, but regretted it as he was shoved back inside the bag and closed shut. The bag shifting frantically as Deekin started to panic and flail.
"I knew you were stupid, but you really outdone yourself." Tymofarrar laughed as he poked the bag, earning a whimper from Deekin. "Do you even realize what you're hiding in?" Hearing a muffled answer, he guessed it was a no, or possibly another whimper. "I think you deserve to learn one more thing from me before I get rid of you for good. I can't let you off so easily, else the tribe might rise up against me. I'm sure you understand." He sorted through the hoard until he came across a ordinary piece of cloth hiding in a gold goblet. Picking it up by the edge, he laid it flat on the floor. Suddenly a dark hole appeared in the center. Big enough for the bag to be thrown in.
"Have fun learning what happens when a bag of holding gets thrown into a portable hole!" With that said, Deekin felt himself tumbling through the bag. Soon as it passed through the hole, the bag tore to shreds and all sense of existence stopped.
The sense of weightlessness was strange to the kobold as he stirred in the empty white space surrounding him. When his eyes snapped open, they were frozen in fear as he took in his bleak surroundings. "W-where is Deekin? What did Tymofarrar do! What about my bunk back in the cave?" As several more thoughts he deemed were important ran through his mind, he noticed a small island ahead of him. "What is island doing in middle of nowhere?"
Deekin desperately tried to reach it but only succeeded in flailing his arms and legs. He tried "swimming" through the "air", but to no avail. Not even the back stroke would work. When he thought of himself flying toward the island did he gain any success as he slowly began moving toward the island. "A-hah! Deekin is starting to understand how-" He suddenly felt his body tug toward the island as if it had a gravitational pull. He was going so fast he risked smashing into it.
Frantically trying to change his trajectory, he succeeded by thinking of moving away from the danger, but was now floating away from it. He yelled out in panic as this continued for several minutes. He would try to slow down, but only managed to fly through the emptiness like an invisible hand was tossing him around. After discovering that he could will himself which direction he wanted gravity to be, did he manage to land on the island safely.
"Deekin glad he no has wings," he gasped. "Else just fall on face every time he try to fly." Flopping down on the island, he stared at the white expanse that was 'above' him. Tilting his head further he saw an odd statue looking back at him.
It was a stone statue carved into a creature he's never seen before. Although he admitted to himself that he never traveled very far out of the cave, it was a strange creature in his eyes. There was no symmetry at all. Each limb was different, as was its head, tail, and what looked like horns on its head. For arms it had a paw and bird talon, and for legs it had a hoof and claw that reminded him of his clawed foot. Strangely, the longer he stared, the more he was drawn to it.
Seeing no harm in following this urge, he got up from the island and walked toward the statue. Circling around it once, he stopped in front and crossed his arms in confusion. "Deekin hasn't seen such an odd creature! who would waste stone on creating this?" Soon as he said this, the statue came alive and closed in on his face. When it was just inches from his nose, it said a single word.
If there were any living creature in this strange land, no matter how far, they would've heard the scream of terror from Deekin. He ran as fast as he could away from the statue and managed to fall back off the island and resume orbiting it, still screaming as he flew by the statue.
"Oh goodness, I'm not that scary am I?" The once stoned creature said, now in full color. He watched the kobold do several more laps around the island before growing bored. With a snap of his clawed hand, Deekin was safely back on the island. "I'm the strange one, hm? I've never seen somepony yell so long in all my life." He leaned down to whisper in his ear for a moment. "I'm quite old, if you're wondering."
Deekin stared up at the newcomer with wide eyes, his breathing coming in deep gulps. After several seconds of restoring his heartbeat back to normal did he speak. "W-who are you? What do you want?"
"Ah, I'm sorry I forgot to introduce myself. I am Discord, Lord of chaos." He laid a talon on his breast in a regal fashion before pointing it at Deekin. "And who, may I ask, are you?"
"D-Deekin Scalesinger, m-master kobold bard... Please don't eat me!" He added quickly upon noticing the large fang jutting out of Discord's mouth.
The peal of laughter that came from Discord almost made Deekin want to resume his favorite cowering position. "Eat you? No, I can't do that. Scales give me indigestion after all." He patted his stomach. "What I'm wondering is what you are doing here. You don't look like any god I've seen." He leaned in once more and inspected the small kobold in front of him. "Though you remind me of a certain yellow pony..." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
"P-pony?" Deekin said with curiosity, but fear as well for Discord being this close.
"Why yes. You see I'm the Lord of chaos in this little universe called Equestria." Discord said with fake enthusiasm. "At least I was until I got banished by the elements... again. That was... how long ago?" He tapped a talon to his chin thoughtfully. "You know what? I can't even remember!" Discord laughed, but stopped when he saw Deekin with a bemused expression "Great, my first contact with another living thing and it has no sense of humor," he muttered to himself. "Alright, I'll give you a quick lesson on what's going on, but you're on your own after that."
Before Deekin could blink, he found himself sitting in a wooden chair with a black board in front of him. In a small flash of light a white stick appeared in Discords talon and he started to draw on the board. Two circles were drawn on opposites sides, with a smaller circle in the middle. He wrote 'Equestria' for the one on the left, 'Astral plane' in the middle, and 'your world' on the right. He then proceeded to draw smaller circles all over the board, but Deekin was lost after he drew the two large circles. When he was done, the entire board was covered in circles with lines connecting between them like a giant web. With another snap of his fingers, the stick turned into a longer metal one, which he then slapped the end against the Astral plane circle. "You are here."
Seeing Deekin nod his head dumbly, he continued. "I don't know what universe you came from, but you were here," he pointed the stick at the circle with 'your world'. "But apparently the universe must hate you because you are now stuck here with me. Now, each universe is connected to this very spacious realm before you. Meaning anypony is free to leave and enter as they see fit, as long as they know the right spell to reach it. However, even with all my power I am stuck here thanks to Celestia constantly denying me entrance. The best I can do to reach Equestria is back inside my stone body to count the blades of grass in Celestia's garden. And let me just say how boring that is. Anyway. This brings me to you." He pointed the stick at Deekin and tapped him on the nose, causing him to wrinkle it in discomfort. "You see, you can freely enter and leave this place. Think of it like a locked door. You know where it is, but you don't have the key, but a certain god of chaos has it. See where I'm going with this?"
"Uhmm..." Deekin said intelligently while poking his bottom chin thoughtfully with one claw. Discord, with his arms crossed, tapped his hoofed foot impatiently as he waited for an answer. After earning a confused shrug from Deekin did he begin to rub his eyes with thumb and forefinger in annoyance.
"Me. Moi. Mich, dear Deekin. I'm the key to you leaving this place. As are you to me. Seeing that you failed to figure that out... no gold star for you!" Another bop on the nose caused Deekin to hold his snout. "Now then," quickly waving away all the objects he had so easily summoned. "I have a proposition for you that is a win-win for both of us. You're a bard, correct? Weaver of epic tales. Entertainer extraordinaire. Yadda yadda."
Deekin nodded his head hesitantly and took out his instrument to show it to Discord. "I play the lute. Sometimes singing and dancing."
"Perfect!" Discord clasped his hands together happily. He pointed both index fingers at him while still holding his hands together. "My plan is quite simple really." Aiming his hands at the lute, he yelled out "bang" and a line of red light hit the lute. Deekin yelped in surprise and flung it aside like it had caught fire.
"W-what did you do to my lute?" Deekin asked while cautiously picking up his instrument again. He noticed the lute felt and looked exactly the same.
"I enchanted it with a charm spell so anypony who listens to it will be under your control, but be warned as they will return to normal if you stop. Oh, and don't worry about them remembering anything while being charmed." He added with a grin. "All you need to do is charm Princess Celestia and have her release me from my prison. In return, I'll send you back to whatever universe you came from. So what do you say?" Discord held out a taloned hand with a grin to seal the deal, but Deekin looked at it with his head tilted. "This is the part where you shake my hand and I send you to Equestria," he deadpanned.
"Oh... yes, Deekin just wants to return home. Will do his best!" He quickly stood up, his fear of Discord gone since he promised to send in back home. Grasping for Discords talon, the god of chaos decided to use his height to an advantage, leaving his talon just out of reach. Finally having his share of fun, he grabbed Deekin's smaller claw in a crushing grip. As soon as they shook on it, Deekin fell unconscious and he felt his body being tugged like a rag doll through emptiness. Before he did, he heard Discord laugh once more.
"Have fun, Deekin."
Darkness. That's all Deekin could see as he finally woke up. He shifted his head around frantically to figure out where he was, but could barely see ten feet in front of his nose. Upon closer inspection, his eyes adjusted enough to find out he was in a forest so dense not even the sun could pierce its veil of trees. "Does this place even have a sun?" Deekin mumbled while scratching his head. He slowly stood up and did his best to inspect himself. Seeing nothing out-of-place, he reached for his lute. Feeling around his back, his brow furrowed in worry. "Lute? Where's my lute!" Looking at the ground, he got on his knees to feel it with his hands. His left hand brushed against something and he quickly tugged on it. Feeling it move slightly, but stubbornly staying put, he tugged harder until he was rewarded by a startling twang. "No! my lute!"
He hadn't noticed in the darkness that one of the strings was stuck on something and his stubborn tugging broke one. Feeling along the instrument where the sting should've been, he let out a whimper. "Now how is Deekin supposed to be a bard with a broken lute?" A low growl from made him stand as still as the trees around him. Slowly turning his head to take a peek, he wished he hadn't.
Behind him were a set of beady red eyes staring at him from a bush no longer than several strides away. A chill colder than any blizzard Deekin had gone through hit him and he cursed himself for making so much noise to attract a predator. After slowly putting the leather strap from his lute back around his torso, he bolted away from the eyes. Soon as he did, a thundering crash and roar came from behind him as brush and branches were knocked away. Only the loud screaming from the kobold seemed to drown out the noise.
"D-Deekin not find this funny, Discord! Deekin wants to go home now!"
He thanked his small lanky form for being able to weave through the dense trees so easily. He had no idea where he was going, but knew anywhere was better than being near the monster behind him. Dodging around a thick tree, he yelped in surprise as a root snagged his foot. His momentum tossed him into the middle of a small clearing. Crawling toward the nearest large bush, he went into his favorite hiding position.
One of the smaller trees nearby fell and he flinched at the crashing sound. The beast must've known he was around here as his screaming had suddenly stopped. It let out another roar which Deekin guessed was trying to scare him, but he only managed to let out a strangled cry as he held his mouth closed with both hands. Apparently that was just enough for the beast as its heard whipped toward his hiding spot. Its eyes locking directly to his quickly widening ones.
The beast slowly made its way toward the kobold as it sensed its prey had nowhere to run. When it was a arms reach away, it swatted Deekin out of the bush. He tumbled out and on the grass floor, grunting every time he bounced. Even from that one hit, Deekin knew it was over. His body felt heavy as it wouldn't respond no matter how hard he tried. As the monster came to finish him off, he started to cry.
All his life the only thing he wanted was to be loved by others for his talent. His tribe and Tymofarrar didn't care for him at all. He was only there to entertain them and be shunned away, only to be called for later in the day. Now he was being tossed around just to be something's lunch. At least he would make the beast happy with a full stomach. As a last futile chance to not die, he managed to say one last thing.
"P-please don't eat me." He didn't expect an answer to his request.
"Leave him alone!" Deekin tilted his head up just enough to see a smaller figure on four legs looking up at the monster in front of him. The mix of darkness and barely conscious mind made it hard to see anything at this point. The monster growled, but was cut short as it flew in front of its face. "How dare you! This creature asked nicely for you to not eat him and what do you do? I'm ashamed of your behavior mister!" The monsters menacing growl cut off into a strangled whimper, but his savior wouldn't have none of it. "I don't want to hear your excuses. I told you this edge of the forest is off limits for hunting. Now go find food elsewhere deeper in the forest."
Deekin's entire body relaxed as he felt the beast's heavy steps make a quick exit. The creature that save his life stood there until it was out of sight before turning toward his prone body. It took several cautious steps toward him as if unsure of what to do. He would've flinched for it to start yelling at him, but was surprised how its voice was drastically softer. "Oh my. A-are you alright? What exactly... are you?" He couldn't hear the rest as his hearing faded away, like it was stuffed with cotton. Soon after, his vision degraded to a blur until finally he felt the blanket of unconsciousness claimed him for the third time today.