I write this as a report, commentary and cautionary tale to any of my fellow former humans.
This one is S’Gosa, though that was not always my name. Like you, I have come to this land.
Whether you were fortunate enough to maintain your original form or not is pointless,
For we all share the same fate.
As playthings for our Patrons and Sponsors. You know of what I speak.
This one came to this land… so long ago. Longer now than it seems.
I have made what life in this land that I can… and I must admit, it is better than the life I had.
But to those who have entered a new Game, or will enter a Game that will no doubt follow. Read our tales.
The tales of we who came before you… because I have no doubt, that in the fullness of time…
You will be called, just as we were.
You think this a fairytale? The epics of the dog or the griffon? The misadventures of the cat-man or the cow?
The adventures of the dragon or lich? The tales of the zebra or the changeling?
The quests of the sea serpent or the timberwolf? The survival of the troll or bugbear?
The mighty golem who has survived this competition many times, or the former goddess, devoid of power?
How many more could I name? Do not delude yourselves. These are no fairytales.
And yet… they are.
Please… read on, and beware. For this one's tale is not a wholly happy one. But there are worse.
This lovely land you have come to inhabit, is not a paradise. But you can find no greener pastures.
Read and save yourself. Or, simply read and laugh.
For this is my tale… a tale I wrote as I went along… so long ago now... and I will hide nothing from you.
Master of the College of Mysteries,
Adviser to Royalty,
Father of all Sload,
Champion of Death
This all began when I asked myself the question, what would happen if a human wound up in Equestria... as something not cute, handsome or attractive in any sense of the words? What if some ugliness of form, rather than spirit, was introduced in this world? Let's find out!
So, first proper chapter, let's see how this goes. I pretty much skim the human part of my characters life, while at the same time giving plenty of detail because, let’s face it… the Equestria part of the story is what we read and crave.
My name, my real name, was... well that's not important right now… maybe I'll write it down later, but for now I'm writing about a rather bizarre turn of events my life has taken. … It's has been a a few weeks since I came to this strange world, and only now do I get a chance to write down my thoughts and experiences. This is for any and all who wish to read it... maybe it'll help? In any case, I'm getting ahead of myself... let me tell you how this came to pass.
I was once a twenty-four year old college graduate. Heh, that was a while ago now… At any rate, I majored in literature, and, word to the wise, don’t major in literature. People may tell you it's a good choice but next to art it's one of the less... appreciated areas of learning. The only job I could get was as an editor and proof-reader of a publishing company that specialized in fantasy novels.
Although if you’re reading this, chances are you’re here in this world with me, which means you probably never have to worry about college ever again. There’s one good thing at least.
Now, before you ask, no. I didn’t like my job. Why?
Well… let’s go down the list, shall we?
I got no respect from my boss.
Most of the submissions we got were crap, or filled with errors, which meant more work for me.
Working for a book company didn’t leave me a lot of free time for myself.
The pay was only enough to keep me going because I was, as my boss put it, a 'junior employee'.
And the biggest reason? I love reading. I love fantasy, truly I do. But if you’re around something all day for years, you grow bored of it… Like if you love chicken and you get a job at Popeyes! Same principle. I didn’t want that to happen, so I had to fight to keep my interest.
I didn’t really have much of a life… no girlfriend, distant, disapproving parents, estranged sister, barely any friends save for my coworkers… to be perfectly honest I was a sad little introvert.
Not that I really cared. My philosophy in life had always been, and continues to be to this day, Que Sera Sera. What will be, will be. And, if I am to be a middle-class introvert, so be it. At least I'm happy in the knowledge.
Most of you were probably the same, no offense meant. I've learned we’re the favored playthings of the gods, for some strange reason or another.
Still, I got my enjoyment where I could. Fantasy and sci-fi novels, TV shows that weren’t complete crap, exercise when I could be bothered, video games, of which I had a huge collection, I was an avid gamer. Oh, and cartoons.
Lots and lots of cartoons.
I never really grew out of cartoons… I guess I just didn’t want to. There were still good ones as I grew up, and as I did grow up I appreciated different things about them. When I was a kid I loved when were funny, when I was a teenager I liked when they were action-packed, and as an adult I could appreciate the work and talent that went into them.
It was during one of my cartoon-watching days that I got the e-mail…
I was watching a certain cartoon reboot that was about a land of pastel colored ponies. I was trying to get into it because it had taken the internet by storm. To my surprise, I found myself enjoying it. I was watching episodes at random on my computer when my, admittedly out of date, desktop let out a ping… I simply rolled my eyes, recognizing it as my mail notifier. I was expecting it to be from my boss with my new work schedule.
I was right in a way.
The e-mail was strange. Very much so. It had no name, no date... the info-box was a completely blank slate other than the subject bar, which read: For You.
Looking at the note warily, I made sure my Virus Protection was on full swing and up to date before opening it. I still remember it to this day… it read, as follows:
‘Greetings. I have been watching you. You have potential. You have the talent I have been seeking! I know that you are unhappy. I cannot blame you.’
I was a bit freaked out… was this real? Was a person… really following me or was this just a weird spam letter?
‘Yes, I have been watching you… but have no fear! For I mean you no harm. I am a friend! And perhaps something more. I require your assistance, and you WILL help.’
I raised an eyebrow at that. Whoever sent this was not only a freak, but an arrogant freak as well.
‘Think what you will of me, but I can help you… come with me to a place where you can be put to use. A world from your deepest fantasy… all will be better… all will be well. You shall be powerful! Immortal if you wish it! All you need do… is accept.’
I stopped to think about that… my life wasn’t the greatest… but was it really that horrible? I could probably make it into something. But… did I want to? Did I want this life? I shook my head at such thoughts and scoffed. Why was I even considering this? This was a freakin’ fake e-mail from some nutter by all accounts. I sighed… before looking at the e-mail again.
What the hell did he or she mean by a different world anyway?
‘I mean what I say. A new world, a better world. A world for you if you wish it. A world where you can start anew and become great. But I admit, it will not be all fun and games… although you shall take part in a certain… Game… your services are required. And you shall bring glory! You shall make them remember me.’
I had to admit… I did not like how this letter seemed to be answering my questions… not at all.
‘Fear not… for this power, my power is only to help you. The time has come. My time runs short. It is time to answer, young one. Print yea or nay below… and thou shall come to me.’
I remember rolling my eyes at such a thing, but found myself interested at the obvious chain letter all the same. I printed ‘yea’ and hit enter before minimizing the window and going back to my new pony friends.
Oh how I wished… I hadn’t clicked that e-mail… heh heh…
I remember little… other than suddenly feeling dizzy…watching as my body somehow… stretched… and warped. It hurt... so very much. I could take the strange pain no longer… and blacked out.
Let this be a warning… don’t answer strange e-mails… you’ll get more than viruses.
I slowly opened my eyes and saw a blue sky above me… I was lying down… A few birds let out a song and the smell of nature filled my nostrils. It was so peaceful... before the headache hit me like a ton of bricks.
I suddenly felt sick… violently so, and laying down when you felt ill was a bad idea, let me tell you… I slowly sat myself up, which wasn’t an easy task for some reason. I figured I was just tired and dizzy. I shook my head and began to stretch, ignoring or perhaps not hearing the strange leathery sounds that it caused. I shook my head before noticing my surroundings.
I was in some kind of large pine forest, or so it appeared. Sparse, tall trees littered the landscape with large brush and weedy flowers growing in between. It was quite pretty actually, but that didn’t change the fact I had no freakin’ idea of where the hell I was.
Not to mention I suddenly realized my body just felt… wrong for some reason. I brought my arm to massage my head but it felt… strange… squishy. I'm was no doctor, and not an official one now, but I knew enough that touching your arm to your head shouldn't produce a wet and spongy feeling. I looked at my hand… and really wished I hadn’t. My arm was gray and bloated and misshapen… and I freaked.
I looked around desperately and saw a small pond not three feet away.
It felt like my body weighed a ton. It was slow, heavy and unresponsive and it took every bit of my willpower and patience to get to the pond.
When I made it, I stared at my reflection… and I couldn’t quite believe my eyes… I was… to be perfectly honest and frank, hideous. Now don’t get me wrong, I was never a real looker. Sure I had a bit of a paunch, but other than that I was pretty fit and healthy. I always liked to think that I was a pleasingly average human male specimen. Now? Now I doubted anything, man or woman, human or beast would come near me with a ten foot pole.
I had gotten shorter for one thing, standing at what I could only guess was about five and a half feet tall. My skin, which was completely hairless from head to toe, was also a sickly gray color now, with splotches of green and brown. I was very… round. And I don’t just mean fat, I mean my whole body was rather round-shaped and corpulent. My legs were large and flabby, ending in flat three toed pads. A long, thick and slimy tail waved slowly behind me, trailing on the ground, keeping me balanced apparently. My arms were stubby and ended in what I could guess were hands, but I couldn’t move the nubs that passed for fingers and 'hands' didn’t feel all that solid… like some kind of three fingered sponge made of jelly. My face was wrinkled with many flaps of skin and my eyes were small, beady and completely red from iris to pupil. Two large holes with thin membrane, one on either side of my head, served as ears while two small nostrils slightly below my eyes were probably the best nose I was going to get. My mouth, or where my mouth should have been, was little more than a circle of flesh, where two rows of sharp, lip-less teeth were visible.
I looked like a bipedal cross between a slug and a toad… which was exactly what I was. I was a sload. I recognized it immediately because they were a little known race from one of my favorite video game titles, the Elder Scrolls. A race I actually used to like.
I chuckled, thinking this was a dream or I was drunk or drugged somehow but blinked at the sound of my own laugh.
“No… not possible… no…” I said, completely in denial.
My voice came out a high-pitched, low-toned, raspy whisper. The kind of voice you would hear from something slinking in a cave, the voice of some foul, evil creature.
I took another look at my reflection.
I was a fucking… sload… a fat, disgusting… worm.
Well… that was something.
Needless to say, I fainted. If you think that unmanly, screw you. You try waking up as a giant bipedal worm. Yeah, screw you.
I slowly raised myself back to my feet, not an easy action with the new found… roundness of my new form, which I noticed, with much displeasure, I was still in. So much for my hope this was all a mere dream.
I looked around… I was in another forest… much different than the previous one… more varied and strange. Tall trees of all types and sizes were around me. Vines, bushes and flowers of many varieties also grew in plenty around the ground, where tall grass sprouted like mad. It would have been very beautiful… if absolutely everything around me wasn’t a shade of black, white or gray.
I mean it. The ground was a lifeless gray, the grass was blacker than coal, the trunks of the trees were black as pitch and their leaves a silvery white. There was not a bit of true color anywhere besides myself. I looked up experimentally and saw that the sky was bone white, while the slim clouds were black... maybe a dark purple… now that was a mindfuck, let me tell you.
A polite cough echoed from behind me and I turned slowly… very, very slowly. This body was beginning to tick me off.
Behind me was a small lake of pure white water, in it swam small black fish which jumped into the air merrily every so often. The lake appeared artificial as it was perfectly round and edged with smooth white stones. It was beautiful, in an odd, bleak way.
In the middle of the lake was a gray patch of land that was dotted with a few of the black and gray flowers. On that small island was a round podium made of the blackest obsidian. On that podium was a demonic-looking throne made of a massive collection of bones… and sitting on that throne…
Was a pony.
I wish I was kidding you.
But I’m not.
Well I say pony, but it was more like a small horse… which I know that’s what a pony is, but I mean… bah! You know what I mean. It was technically a pony, but it was only about a half a foot shorter than an actual horse. Though I admit… at the time I didn’t know many ponies or horses for that matter that had huge, skeletal wings, a sharp horn made of bone that looked like it had stabbed it’s way through the skin of it’s forehead or eyes that seemed alight with blue flames. At the time anyway…
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, it’s coat was pure white and shined like diamonds. It’s mane and tail were pure black and braided with silver chains. It’s hooves were large and black, with silver studs nailed into them. Trails of shadowy smoke swirled about it’s body, like a loose cloak, which I can tell you was more than a little unnerving. On either side of it’s flank, a word I only learned after this encounter, was a picture of a scythe and a blue wisp of smoke.
And just when I thought it couldn’t get any stranger…. It spoke… in a deep, decidedly male voice.
“Welcome my Champion. I hope you found the journey here satisfactory.” the horse, pony, unicorn… thing said in a monotone voice that reminded me of metal scraping against stone.
“You… you are the one who brought me here?” I asked, and blinked. I still wasn’t used to my voice.
“Indeed. I wanted to make sure the trip did not permanently harm you and I was worried that your new form would not adapt to the power that was expected of you. I am glad to see my concerns were misplaced.” he responded with a slight nod.
“Trip? Power?” I asked, a glare adorning my ugly features.
“I, unlike some of my brethren, would not blindly throw my Champion to the wind with nothing to his name. You have power my little worm, but you must learn to wield it yourself.”
“All well and dandy! But who are you, where am I, why did you bring me here and why am a damned freak?” I hissed, literally hissed mind you... my new mouth and teeth seemed well suited for it.
“Calm yourself, my Champion. I will explain to you what I can. But I doubt you will get all your answers.” He responded, a hint of regret in his voice.
“Oh, that is grand. Not as if I deserve to know what’s going on. Well better scraps than nothing…” I half hissed, half grumbled. The stress of this unbelievable event was getting to me.
My mysterious friend seemed to grow tired of my complaining.
“Silence yourself, my little worm.” He said with flaring nostrils and narrowed eyes.
I decided to follow his advice, I wasn’t eager to find out how sharp that horn was, or how hard his hooves were.
“You are currently in my Realm. The Realm of Death, where nothing lives, but nothing is truly dead. As for where you were, you have been brought to a new world. A world where many of the creatures of your myth are reality here. A world that is currently in a state of imbalance, thus, a Game has begun.” He explained.
I swear, even to this day he sounded slightly worried.
“I am Mortis. God of Death and Guardian of the Underworld. My current form is that of an Alicorn. Though it was not always so, it is what this world believe me to be, so I am.” The Alicorn, Mortis, explained.
Wait... Alicorn? I thought to myself. As in... 'Luna and Celestia' Alicorn? No... no. No. no, no, no. ...it couldn't be... could it? No... no. ...shit. I knew where I was. But most of that left my head as I realized just what Mortis had said.
“You… are a god?” I asked, a bit speechless. I was never much for religion. Not because I didn’t believe, but because I wasn’t sure which faith really suited me.
Guess the universe chose a god for me.
“Indeed. And you are my Champion, my little worm. You will help me restore my name to this world.” He said and for the first time I met him, a smile graced his face, albeit a cold one.
“And why exactly am I a sload?” I asked again, my tone was slowly losing its edge. I was in a firm state of denial that any of this was real at the start of the conversation... but as it wore on and the realer this all felt, the more that seemed unlikely, despite my hopes.
“I am the God of Death. As such, my Champion must have a connection to death. These creatures, these 'sload' have great talent for the mystical arts, according to your tales, yes? First and foremost, Necromancy... I find this suitable. I also believed that a creature that none of the races of this world nor my rivals were familiar with would give me an advantage… something that a few of the others have thought of, unfortunately… nevertheless, it may still work out to my advantage.” the death god explained with a nod.
“I thought a death god would hate necromancy…” I asked with a bit of dry humor.
“Death is death, even magic cannot change that. What is undead is still dead, and for one to master such an art must truly understand death. I bare no hate for such practitioners, quite the opposite.” he stated with finality in his tone.
He paused here, thinking for a moment before continuing.
“I cannot say the same for others in this world, however. Especially some of my rivals.” He said, clearly a warning.
I was silent for a moment... hoping, wishing, praying that I would wake up soon... unfortunately my hopes and wishes were wasted, and I believe to this day that the only one who heard my prayers was Mortis, being the closest god and all... and he was decidedly ignoring them.
“You call me your ‘champion’. What does that mean? Why am I here?” I asked, a bit impatiently.
“I cannot tell you that… not yet… perhaps not at all.”
“What? Why not?!” I hissed violently. I wanted to run up to this horse thing and straggle him at this point… though I doubted my new bloated body was built for running.
“The Rules. They guide and bind us. You will learn more of them… in time. For now, you must prepare yourself for the duties I give you.” Mortis said evenly.
“And what if I refuse to do any of this?” I asked rather nastily.
Worst. Mistake. Of. My. Life.
With a sudden gust of wind the calm weather of the Realm changed. A violent storm bared down on us and Mortis now hovered above his throne, somehow kept aloft with large strokes of his fleshless wings, his body awash with black flame.
“I grow tired of your insolence! You dare to speak to me in that tone, you young thing? I who have existed forever and shall exist always?! I, the Master of Life and DEATH? I saw what a pathetic, sad life you led! How you longed for something more! Well I have given it to you! I saw your potential and gave it form! You accepted my offer! Do not blame me for you lack of foresight! Do not deny my gift, my little worm, or I shall think of a much worse way for you to spend eternity!” Mortis cried, his voice echoing everywhere, pounding in my head, ringing in my ears, making my eyes water.
Silver lightning struck the ground around me and tendrils of flame whipped about me from Mortis’ shadows. The worst of it though was all around me, flashing across my eyes and invading my mind were images of death and decay.
I admit it… I was scared…. I was in an unknown place, in a body not my own and here was a god, a GOD that could quite possibly end me with a blink of an eye… so I did the only thing I could do… I groveled. I covered my head with my stubby arms and cried out.
“Forgive me my lord! I spoke out of turn and out of disrespect!” I cried out in fear.
…not my proudest moment, I can tell ya… but it worked.
The storm immediately disappeared, the calm weather coming back, and Mortis seemed to calm, and settle back in his throne.
“Good. You have learned your place, my little worm. I trust your judgment will not lapse again?” he asked, the smirk practically grew on his face.
“No… my lord. I have no desire to anger you… but I hope that you do realize this is… an odd occurrence for me…” I said slowly and deliberately.
Mortis looked at me an nodded.
“I will grant you that. And I apologize for speaking as harsh as I did. But I will not be disobeyed, especially by you, my little worm. Hopefully, in time, you will learn that I am a generous and pleasant master, so long as you please me.”
I could only nod, my mind still heavy with curses and insults.
“Now, we have talked long enough. Our time is nearly over and the Rules are quite clear on that. It is time you return to the mortal plane. I will contact you again soon, until then travel and learn the way of these lands, or you won't last long. And if that happens, I'll be very... displeased.” the Alicorn said as his horn began to glow a pale blue.
“Wait! Before you send me back, may I ask a boon, my lord?” I asked quickly.
And yes, I realize I was starting to sound like a renaissance fair, but it seemed like the way to talk to this guy.
Mortis stopped and looked at me.
“What would that be?” he asked, a sliver of impatience entering his voice.
“I humbly ask for tools to help your champion along his way. I ask for a robe of crimson to help make others realize I am no savage. As well as some sort of tome or manual to help me learn my new found 'powers' that you speak of. And perhaps a bag or satchel? To hold anything else I might need.” I asked as humbly as I could.
Mortis was silent for a moment before nodding.
“These are simple requests, and do not contradict the Rules. Very good, my little worm.”
I was really beginning to hate him calling me that… no matter how accurate it may be or my options in the matter.
“You will find these things when you awaken. As well as a small gift, to reward you for your cleverness.”
And with that, his horn let out a bright blue flash and all I knew was blackness once more.
I let out a groan as I picked myself up for a third time and rubbed my poor, squishy head.
So... let's review. I have been snatched from my home, my world, to play in some... game? Am now in a world that should only be a cartoon show... will supposedly have to do quests and fight enemies with abilities that I have no idea how to use or if I truly have... and I'm the literally, one of the ugliest creatures the human mind has ever thought up.
With a sigh that sounded more like a croak I looked around and saw a spot of red nearby.
Slinking forward, I saw it was a large red robe, folded neatly on the ground. On top of it was a large book bound in what looked like brown bark, as well as a brown satchel with a shoulder strap and silver clasp lock. It looked large enough to hold several books of similar size to my new... tome? I guessed that was the correct name for it.
Picking up the satchel I noticed it was a bit heavy and heard a slight jingle, opening it, I spied a few dozen solid gold coins about the size of nickels. I shrugged. This must be the gift Mortis mentioned… guess he wasn’t a total dick after all.
I moved the satchel away for now as well as the book and took hold of my new robe. It was a simple garment but it would do, and it would be nice not to be naked anymore. Slipping it over my head it slid over my body, hanging loosely about my putrid form with long trails and baggy sleeves. My tail stuck out behind me, trailing the ground as always. I noticed the robe also had a hood and quickly covered my head with it. The less that was seen of me the better. Picking up the satchel, I slung it over my left shoulder before picking up my new tome as well.
Flipping through it clumsily with my unresponsive hands, I noticed it was written in English. Thank God… well… I guess that’s thank Mortis now…
With another croaking sigh I looked around before picking a random direction and started walking, slowly… very slowly. God… er, Mortis, this body sucked. I decided to start reading my large tome of magic, seeing as I wasn’t going to get anywhere anytime soon. I began reading, trying desperately to process this turn of fate while also absorbing what I could from the book. I then came to one realization.
I didn’t know what fate, this world or my new found god had in store for me… but I had a feeling it was going to suck.
"Ah well..." I hissed. "Que Sera Sera."
For those who don’t know:
Sloads are repulsive creatures from the Elder Scrolls series, which includes Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim, chances are you’ve played or heard of one of them. They are large, bipedal slug-like creatures and their name is a blend of slug and toad. They are amoral and rather cruel, though obviously our main character will be a bit different not being a ‘true’ sload. Sloads are very gifted with magic especially with teleportation, levitation and their best skill; necromancy. The longer they live, the bigger they get and there is no known limit to a sload’s size or age. Some of the oldest are thousands of years old. Besides magic they also make decent actors and chefs, though they always take both to large extremes.
As for the mentions of necromancy, there will be necromancy in this story. Dead bodies, skeletons, zombie ponies (and others), organs, blood, clumsy postmortem surgery...
It'll be fun.
And there we go, Chapter Uno done. REVIEW DAMMIT! REVVVIIIIIEEEEEEEWWWWWW!
…ok, I’m done. BYE FOR NOW!
I hope you will be kind to this chapter as it’s the final introduction chapter. After this, the story will really start picking up.
So, Read and Review. Or I will GET you… did I say that out loud?
Soon after I departed from the meadow I had arrived in, I had found a wide dirt road and decided to follow it. After about two hours, I was exhausted. Utterly… exhausted. Seriously… fat people are not suited for long journeys! …ah well.
I stopped after a few more minutes and sat myself down on a patch of grass at the side of the road, trying to ignore the slight shake of the ground as my considerable bulk impacted. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was some kind of universal karma payback for making fun of my sister when she went through her ‘tubby’ phase. I snorted at the memory before simply relaxing and taking in the sight of the forest around me.
I had walked what felt like ten miles, although considering my new found weight and slowness I had no doubt it was more like three, four at best.
Still, a bit of good news was that after an hour or so of walking, I discovered that if I stepped slightly forward with both of my large legs at the same time, I could push myself even farther forward with my large tail. It felt, and no doubt looked, very much how a slug or worm would propel itself… which made more sense than I was comfortable with in all honesty.
But whether I liked it or not, it helped me. I was still no Olympic runner, but I now moved much faster than one foot in front of the other.
Yeah, still wasn’t a huge fan of my body at this point. Still, I had to deal with it. I had also learned more about it in the last few hours.
First and foremost, my eyesight was a bit weak. I appeared to be slightly nearsighted as everything after a certain point started to become slightly gray and fuzzy. Everything that I could see and that was close to me, I could make out in perfect detail however. And I mean, perfect detail. I mean every groove of bark on a tree and every crack of stone in a rock. More than a little odd, if I'm being honest
In exchange for my weak eyesight, my hearing and sense of smell were quite good actually.
I was hearing better than I ever had in my life. I heard every little rustle of leaves in the trees, every little flap of wings of the birds, every zephyr of wind. It was incredible… and also incredibly annoying. Seriously, you don't know how refreshing silence is until you can hear everything. Luckily I learned how to tune most of it out after a while.
As I said, my sense of smell was excellent as well. I could smell the various scents of the plants around me, though had trouble distinguishing if any smells were animal in origin. In the far distance I could detect the faint smell of fresh water and sand. A large river or lake, most likely.
After I had worked out what the smell actually was, I realized it was the direction I had been walking for the last few hours and wondered if I had been subconsciously heading there all along. Sloads were amphibious, from what I remember and have a fondness for the saltwater especially.
Letting out a croaking sigh I simply shook my head, I certainly wasn’t getting to an ocean anytime soon.
After a few minutes of catching my breath and listening to the birds chirp I looked at the satchel at my side. Nodding to myself, as if coming to some grand decision, I brought out my new reading material. I was still very impressed with it, truth be told. The book was large and the cover was made of smooth brown bark. The pages insides were dry and yellowed with age, although I had a feeling it was quite new.
As in created-recently-from-nothing new.
I had started the first few pages as I was walking but they were more about the concepts of magic and what it was. Most of it I… skimmed… to be honest…
To sum it up, magic was more of a renewing natural resource in this world, like sunlight or electricity, than a grand mystical force of the universe. It hung in the air like fog, invisible to all except those especially attuned with it. Celestia, Luna and Discord came to mind.
I had also learned some things that apparently made concepts from the show cannon, in a manner of speaking.
Pegasi and Earth Ponies used magic passively, using it for everyday activities. Like Earth Pony’s incredible strength and the Pegasi weather abilities. Unicorns were able to harness magic directly and could use it to it’s full potential with their horns. Changelings were similar, but could only use a few spells to their full potential and were more known for their shape shifting. Ancient griffons were noted for using runes and rituals, while Zebras were more inclined to harness the power of potions and incantation chants.
According to the side notes left by Mortis in the book, I apparently fell in the Unicorn category. Hooray!
I flipped through the pages, which wasn’t easy with these damn sorry excuses for HANDS… sorry. Eventually I came to the section I was looking forward to. One of the most basic of magics, and one that I saw on the show all the time, levitation. The instructions were surprisingly simple and easy to read compared to the introduction of the book.
Apparently all I had to do was think about what I wanted to happen, and will it to be so. The magic took care of the rest. It also apparently became easier, almost second nature, the more one did it. Shrugging, I put the book away. I always learned better by doing.
Spying a pointed rock about the size of a fist I nodded with determination.
Raising my fleshy balloon of a hand I concentrated slightly, imagining what I wanted to happen. I watched in slight awe as my arm was encased in a sickly green glow, the rock following suit. Loosely picturing what I wanted to happen and with a flick of my arm I watched with pleasant surprise as the rock lifted a few feet into the air, if a bit shakily. I held it there for a few minutes, waving it back and forth, up and down before I felt the ‘grip’ I had on it slipping. I grunted before flinging my arm out as if I were throwing a piece of trash away and watched with a slightly sheepish expression as the rock sped away, embedding itself in a nearby tree trunk with a heavy ‘shinck’.
Note to self: Be CAREFUL with magic...
Hmm… but that still brought up possibilities.
I rubbed my flabby chin in thought and picked myself up off the ground. I couldn’t help but wonder…
Closing my eyes I concentrated as hard as I could, summoning all the energy I could. I felt the glow encase me and felt myself lift, ever so slightly off the ground. I opened my eyes and looked… I had done it! I was levitating myself!
…a whole half-inch off the ground.
I growled in my throat. I guess levitating a half-pound rock and a three hundred and fifty pound sload were two different things.
After about a thirty seconds I felt my will faltering and I landed back on my feet with a heavy thud. I shook my head before I felt my energy already returning. I let out a grunt. Well… Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Still, it was progress. And with my new ‘inching along with my tail trick’, I was making much better time than I originally was on my little trip.
Unfortunately my journey wasn’t as peaceful as I would have like it to be. You see, after about thirty minutes into my renewed journey...
“Hold there, friend!” A voice cried out, echoing through the trees.
I stopped suddenly and looked about before I heard a loud rustle of foliage and a blue blur popped out of the thick brush of the forest.
Standing in front of me was an… interesting sight.
A pony now stood in my way, with a dark blue coat and a mane and tail that was a light shade of purple. His green eyes were filled with a sense of smugness and his muzzle was shaped into an undeniable smirk. He appeared to be wearing a black belt, as well as brass shoulder armor on his upper front legs. What was that armor called? Spaulders? Pauldrons? Something like that. In either case, clasped to the spaulders was a long blue cloak that completely covered his back and hind legs.
I also noticed he smelled like shit… as if he hadn’t bathed in weeks… damn you new sense of smell.
What really caught my attention however, was the coil of rope hanging about his waist and the spear held in his right foreleg… somehow…
I blinked before asking the question many a fan had asked themselves at some point.
“How are you doing that?” I asked, pointing to the spear held in his hoof and leaning leisurely on his shoulder.
The pony blinked.
“Doing what?” he asked with a tilt of his head.
“…nothing.” I responded. I doubted I was going to get an answer.
I still don’t understand how they hold anything, and I suspect I never will… At any rate, back to my new friend…
This was new. Very new. Besides the royal guards I’ve never seen a pony wear armor or hold a weapon. Which probably meant trouble for me.
“Er, anyhow. Greetings my good… thing!” He said ducking his head slightly to try and see under my hood.
I lowered my head more in response and he shrugged, apparently ceasing to care.
“I’m afraid this is a toll road here, mate. Yes indeedy.” He said with a smug nod. I noticed that he had a light English accent, like that little colt from the Halloween episode. I had no doubt it was called something else in this world though.
“Toll road?” I asked with a bit of skepticism. I saw with some satisfaction my voice seemed to unnerve him somewhat, if his faltering smirk was anything to go by.
“Er, that’s right, mate.” He said, regaining his composure. “Well… unofficial toll, but still. Anything to keep the roads safe and clear, right?”
…really? A bandit? A mugger? I was freakin’ being mugged by a pony?! No. Nuh-Uh. This was not happening.
“You are a thief?” I asked, a bit of the exasperated disbelief I felt leaking into my voice.
“I prefer the term highwaypony myself, but beggars can’t be choosers. The name’s Sly Charm. Bandit King of the Hightail Woods!” He said, a proud grin nearly splitting his features.
“Bandit King?” I asked.
This could be a problem…
“Well sure! I mean, if you’re the only one of something, you get to be the king of it, right?” He said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
… or not.
“I see… well, if it is all the same to you, I have to leave… much to do.” I said as I began slinking slowly away, trying to move around him.
Unfortunately when you’re a three-hundred a fifty pound slug, a small agile pony tends to be faster and he easily moved back in front of me with a quick jump.
“Ah, ah, ah! Hold on there, mate! You forget what I tell ya already? This be my road. A toll road. So, if ya can be so kind…” He said, looking at my satchel with a greedy glare.
“And if I have no coin for you?” I asked a bit more harshly than I meant. I was not having the greatest day and this pony was beginning to aggravate me.
I was surprised when his response was to position his spear directly in front of my gut.
“Then you don’t pass, friend.” He said with a smirk.
Ok… that was it. That was the point where my patience snapped. That was the straw that broke the slug’s back. No more Mister Nice Worm. Looking back, it probably would have been easier to simply pay the stupid stallion… but I was stressed, so give me some slack.
Raising my arm, I wrapped the annoying pony in a sheet of magic, which I was really getting the hang off. He squawked out in surprise as he was lifted up in the air, his spear clattering to the ground. With a casual flick I sent him sailing into the brush of the forest from where he came. Letting out a satisfied grunt I attempted to be on my way, quickly this time, but before I could, I felt a harsh impact in my right side that nearly sent me sprawling to the ground.
It felt quite distinctly like a headbutt.
Stumbling a bit, and gripping the ground with my tail for support, I saw the pony was back… and more than a little pissed. His face was hardened into a glare and his nostrils were flaring wildly. His legs were spread out and his posture was low to the ground. His stance was decidedly hostile.
“Oh ho! We got ourselves a magician, have we? Well let me tell ya something’, mate! I’ve robbed plenty of Unicorns! And they had the bonus of being pretty quick on their hooves!” He said with venom as he launched himself at me again, head lowered for another strike.
This blow connected painfully with my chest, but again it wasn’t enough to knock me down. Looks like all this bulk and blubber was good for something after all. I was hard as hell to knock down.
I attempted feebly to swat him with my heavy arms while he was close but he easily dodged and sidestepped. The damned equine smirked as he landed several blows with his hooves to my large target of a gut. To be perfectly fair, these ones didn’t really hurt. More like stings than the massive hits of his skull impacts.
As the pony kicked off and landed a safe distance away from me, I couldn’t help but wonder one thing. How the hell was this pony so damn fast?! I had never seen Applejack move this fast… dammit me, stop comparing this to the cartoon!
But still it was odd. He was leaping to and fro like mad and he took off of the ground like a rocket when he went in for a headbutt.
As he hoofed at the ground and lowered his skull for another strike, I noticed the slight flutter of movement under his cloak… wait… could he be? One way to find out…
As he kicked off again for another attack I shot my arm out and called forth my magic again. Time seemed to slow down as I watched the green light envelope the small coil of rope he wore and twist it around his torso. With a yelp of discomfort the pony immediately dropped to the ground in a cloud of dust.
He grumbled as he picked himself up and looked at his cloak tied about his waist. He let out a thin chuckle as he looked at me.
“So, figured out me secret, eh? Not bad, big guy. You got no idea how many folks take me for an Earth Pony.” He said as he untangled himself from the rope and unclasped his cloak from his spaulders, throwing it a few feet away. Two large blue feathered wings popped proudly into few.
Just as I thought. Pegasus. He was using his wings to build up speed for his strikes… Clever.
“Not that knowing is going to help ya, mate.” He said as he flapped his newly freed wings.
He was right, of course… his wings were merely exposed now, not restrained.
“We don’t have to fight. Just let me pass.” I said, making sure to put lots of intimidating hissing into the warning.
The Pegasus seemed to consider it before shaking his head.
“Sorry mate, but ya put me through too much to back out for nothin' now. ‘Sides, this is the most fun I’ve had in ages. Most folk just believe me about the toll or give me the dosh anyway once they see I mean business.” He said with a smirk.
With a mighty flap of his wings he launched off the ground and towards me again, impacting with my chest once again. But I was ready this time. Just as he hit me I ignored the pain as much as I could before wrapping my thick arms around him. Judging from his struggling he didn’t expect that. I began squeezing as hard as I could, trapping him in a large bear hug, hoping to tire him out with lack of air. But he had other plans. He began kicking wildly with his front hooves, on of them catching me in the side of the head… and knocking my hood back.
He froze instantly as he saw my face and at once looked incredibly ill. His face took a very green color and I could see him fighting back the urge to gag. Then, to my eternal delight, he let out a very girlish scream.
Of course I wasn’t as amused then as I am now, looking back on it. So instead let out an aggravated huff and released him… by throwing him a good few feet away.
He landed with a grunt as he tumbled in the dirt before picking himself up a bit wobbly as he looked at me with slightly shaking knees.
“W-what the T-tartarus are you?!” he screamed as he scrambled to the side, towards his discarded spear…
Which I had foolishly thrown him near… D’oh!
“That is none of your concern. Now… if you’re done wetting yourself, I’ll be on my way.” I said, attempting to slink away once more, I was starting to get more than a bit tired.
“Oh no! This was about the toll. But… something as monstrous as you… I bet there’s a reward out for you!” the Pegasus said as he gained a new look on his face. A look I would come to be very familiar with in the future.
The look of a wanna-be hero.
“I bet if I take you down… yeah… newspapers, reward, mares… yeah… that could work. Hay, I bet the unicorns in Canterlot would love to study ya, if nothin' else.” He said with a grin.
I watched as he picked up his spear and scrapped the ground before flapping his wings and charging at me, any caution abandoned. I thought about simply stopping him with some levitation as I did before. But then I spied the perfect weapon nearby... and got a better idea…
Bracing myself, I waited for just the right moment…
Once more time seemed to slow to a crawl as the glory-mad Pegasus held his spear steady and rushed me.
He came closer…
I steadied my nerves.
He came closer…
I raised my arm.
He came closer…
He was barely two feet away from me…
I was ready.
Threw a rock at him.
…what? What? What were you expecting?
It was a pretty big rock! …it did the job, so there! Anyway…
As soon as he was close to me, I used a bit of hocus pocus to pick up a nearby rock about the size of a large fist and send it flying. The high speed and close distance did what I wanted it to and left the pony stunned long enough for me to simply saunter over and give him a good bash over the head with one my heavy arms. The effects were more than satisfactory.
His spear clattered to the ground and he nearly fell over, which I rectified with another bash to the brain. The would-be mugger fell over, stunned, with no more resistance. With a second bout of magic I lifted the spear and snapped it in half. I made sure the ruined weapon was far out of reach before squatting down and placing my pad-like foot firmly over the pony’s throat. After a few moments he regained his senses and desperately tried to pry me off. But his tired form couldn’t shake my heavy limb off his neck while it was keeping him flat on his side.
I looked at the struggling form of the pony with a stern glare as he looked up at me with a sheepish grin.
“Well… can honestly say I did NOT expect this… er… say… how about we let bygones be bygones, eh mate? I was just kiddin‘ about the vanquishin’ ya and reward thing.” he said good naturedly.
I responded by pressing down slightly with my foot. Don’t worry, I took care not to crush him.
“Ack! Okay! Okay! Guess not!” He coughed out.
“Now, I want information. Kindly tell me exactly where I am. Exactly.” I demanded.
“Heh, what’s wrong wormy? Lost?” He said with a snicker.
Which earned him another bit of pressure on his throat.
“Agh! Okay! Geez… you’re about two days away from the ocean of the Bridle Shores. In the Hightail Woods between the city of Baltimare and the town of Gallopoli, happy?!” He choked out with a bit of venom.
“Which settlement is closer to water?” I asked.
I had the unquenchable urge to swim… or at least be close to the water… I guess sloads are more amphibious than I thought.
“Er… well, both Baltimare and Gallopoli have ports… but we’re closer to Gallopoli. It’s farther to the southwest, about a day away. That way.” He pointed in a direction where the trees began to thin out.
“Closer to the water. You really just have to follow the rivers. Now… is that it? Can I go?”
“Hmmm…” I hummed to myself. I looked at him with a thoughtful gaze, although to him it probably looked like I was sizing him up for the slaughter.
On one hand… if I left him here, he’d probably continue to rob people… er… ponies. On the other hand, I really didn’t care. On yet another hand (shut up)… he might tell others about me… And on a fourth hand (Shush, don't want to hear it.) I remembered I had a sense of direction like a tree. Then I had a thought.
“Do you know the way to this ‘Gallopoli’?” I asked as shrewdly as I could.
“Well of course, mate!” the pony nearly shouted, his confidence returning. “Why, I can show ya there in no time! Just let me up and I’ll show ya the way, no problem mate!”
I scoffed. This pony must really think I’m stupid. I shook my head before spying his discarded cloak and rope not too far away.
“I have a better idea, ‘mate’.” I said calmly as I removed my foot and lifted the still struggling Pegasus with a bit of magic.
After about five minutes, and a LOT of difficulty, I stepped back from the struggling pony and admired my handiwork. Hogtied and wrapped tightly with his own cloak with own his head free, as well as secured and leashed with his own rope, the bandit looked as much a worm as I did.
“What the buck! Come on! The hay is this about?” the pony cursed loudly.
“Simple, I cannot trust you. And if I leave you here, you will simply keep robbing ponies. So, you will lead me to Gallopoli, and then I shall let you go.” I said as I took hold of the rope.
“And how am I to lead ya anywhere like this, ya fat grub?!” the pony hissed, trying to buck and squirm his way out, but doing nothing but tightening the knots and tangles he was already in.
“Well… lead is such a strong word… more like give directions as I go.” I responded as I replaced my hood and turned to leave.
His eyes widened and I heard him growl.
“You wouldn’t d-” he started but was cut off by his own yelp as I started slinking away, dragging him along the ground with me by the rope.
“Dammit! I ain’t a dog to be led about on a leash!” He complained.
“No, you are not a dog. I can see that.” I responded.
“Ya damn right ya bucking worm-looking-”
“You are a prisoner. And you shall remain so until I enter the general area of Gallopoli. Lead me there with little hassle, and you shall be rewarded.” I said, lifting my satchel and waving it slightly, making sure he heard the light jingle of coins.
That seemed to placate him, as all I could hear was a quiet grumbling as this pony, Sly Charm, accepted his fate.
“Now, the first thing we’re going to do is go to whatever camp you have… you do have a camp and supplies, I take it?” I asked.
“Yeah, yeah. It’s on the way… just keep walking. And mind the- ow! Rocks!” He shouted as a rather pointy rock apparently scrapped him through the cloak.
I sighed to myself as I continued to slink off in the direction my new prisoner had pointed. In all honesty, this probably happened for the best. The thought of food and shelter and a destination had been plaguing me since I arrived in this damn place. At least those were three problems taken care of for now.
I just needed to think for now… All was quiet for a few minutes before…
“So… why we going to Gallopoli?”
I was in no mood for chit-chat, so I remained silent.
“Where ya from?”
I remained silent.
“What the hoof are ya, anyway?”
I remained silent.
“…do I at least get bathroom breaks?”
I let out a croaking sigh. This was going to be a long trip. I could only mumble to myself.
“Ah well… Que Sera Sera.”
“What does that mean?”
Will be explaining sload physiology as I continue the plot.
Review or I will make you shop!
…why god, why?!