58w, 2dThe Crossroads Experiment
In the slowly disappearing crater the frantic fight was still going on. Lewdy wasn’t the best fighter for certain, that title went to Memphis in terms of beat downs. What he lacked in actual strength, speed, or cardio he made up for in tenacity. In the span of time a civilized conversation could be held Lewdy had had his neck broken twice, as well as several very important bones. Three times he died, but each time he reappeared just to proceed to try and pummel the guardspony. The obvious lack of success didn’t dissuade him from stopping; the unkillable A-hole, as Lewdy liked to think of himself, was unstoppable in death.
He only stopped when Twilight asked if it was okay for her to leave, somehow being able to hear her over his growls as he tried to chomp into Imperious’ neck. He immediately ceased his attempts at gouging out Raeg’s eyes and looked up to the group. His pupils became pinpricks at the sudden realization that his chance at freedom was about to walk away and never return. To him his reaction was quite sane and justified.
“NO! Don’t let her get away!” Lewdy loudly called out and untangled himself from the fight with Raeg to jump out of the miniature crater that had been made. He made a mad dash for Twilight. Once he was close enough, he leapt forward with a battlecry, either trying to tackle or glomp the unicorn before she could leave, depending on perspective. The lavender pony cried out in surprise and mild shock. She closed her eyes and braced herself against the impending crash.
Luckily Memphis was prepared for such an eventuality. Once Lewdy was in mid-leap it only took a stern back kick to cancel the pony’s momentum and send him crashing to the ground. A firm hoof placed on the squirming pony’s back kept him from advancing any further towards the Librarian.
“Down you idiot, down,” Memphis grunted. Twilight opened her eyes and breathed a sigh of relief, but she immediately frowned at the pony’s reaction as well as a renewed idea that it was quite possible these ponies were trouble, or at least insane.
“What’s that bloke’s problem?” Lucky asked, making sure to keep away from Lewdy’s crazed thrashings.
“Damn it let me go Memphis! If she leaves she’ll just forget about us!” Lewdy said as he clawed at the dirt.
“It doesn’t work that way.... but I can see what you mean.” Memphis said with the calmness of rock. Turning to Twilight he asked her, “would it be alright if one or two of us were to go with you? This one, Lewdy, is an idiot but he raises a valid point. Sometimes ponies are quick to forget ghosts. You know the Captain already so he could go with you, his temperament is at least better with you around and it gets boring to see Lewdy die the same way thrice over. Ah’d like to go as well if that’s alright, ah need a change of scenery instead of this stretch of road I’ve been staring at for so long.”
Twilight hesitated but finally nodded, “I suppose that’s alright. I trust the Captain and... well, I guess you’re a decent enough pony.” Twilight turned to leave, confused that Memphis did not follow.
“Much obliged miss,” Memphis said, “though it don’t work like that. You have to say the words.”
“An invitation to leave has to be very specific...”
“Oh I think I understand. Um let’s see... ‘I wish to officially invite you, Memphis, and Captain Imperious, to accompany me back to the library.’ How was that?”
“Perfect, let’s go.”
“But, nothing happened.”
“Nothing’s suppose to happen, we’ll see if it worked once we go.” Letting his hoof off Lewdy, the tan pony glared daggers into the agitated green one, “Lewdy. Stay here and keep the peace. I hear one bad word of your actions and I’ll make your fight with Raeg look like a game of tag.”
Raeg, Twilight, and Memphis headed back into town to Twilight’s library, leaving the rest of the group alone at the Crossroads. Lewdy was cowed for the moment by Memphis’s words, though Abigail didn’t think that that would last nearly as long as she hoped it would. Well, they had a free half hour to fill, so Abigail quickly summed up her main goals.
“Well, we have some free time, so I’m sort of curious about a few things. First, I wouldn’t mind knowing the extent of our little boundary in case Twilight doesn’t come through for us.” Abigail had come out of her ‘oh no, I’m dead’ angst rather quicker than she would have thought likely. Perhaps it was that she had another life available to her in exchange, or maybe it was this strange world which had muted all the negative emotions from the experience for her. In any case, she needed to know more, and it seemed that now was as good a time as any to ask questions.
“Lewdy, do you know the bounds of our territory, or do we have to find out on our own? Another thing I’d like to know is about this world. You seem to know... a lot about it, Haku,” Her voice had more than just a hint of derision in it, “so would you mind telling those of us who don’t know everything about Equestria a little summary? Just the important points, like major cultural taboos we can avoid. Things like that, you know? Also, as a unicorn, I’m apparently able to use magic. Anyone have any ideas on how to do that? Or what sort of magic unicorns can do?”
Just talking about magic like that made Abigail roll imaginary eyes at herself. Not that anything else happening today was reasonable, but seriously, this was silly. If she could do magic, it was clearly just some sort of science. If that was so, why not call it “aetheric mechanics” or something. Maybe it just wasn’t as catchy.
A resounding belch suddenly reminded the remaining ponies of the chubby pony who had been sitting impassively off to the side since arriving. Any questions he may have bothered to ask about the situation had been conveniently answered through lazy observation, and he appeared wholly unconcerned about the sudden changes his world had just undergone. Now thoroughly cleaned of the remaining traces of grease, he hefted himself to his hooves and ambled over to a bench.
With an “oof” he plopped himself down to relax and continue watching the ongoing spectacle his newfound companions seemed to enjoy making of themselves. Unfortunately, the bench decided it was his turn to be the entertainment, and promptly gave way under his considerable weight, dumping him onto the ground amidst an explosion of broken planks.
As was quickly becoming a pattern whenever the chubby pony did anything, Lewdy burst into laughter once again, rolling on the ground. Rising to his hooves again, Chubs walked over to stand beside the laughing pony. Since the bench had been so uncooperative, Chubs decided that the pony on the ground seemed like a nice alternative, and wordlessly dropped down to sit on top of him. Unsurprisingly, Lewdy’s laughter instantly transformed into a series of muffled protests. Chubs ignored him.
Deciding it was time to finally introduce himself, he faced the last pony who had spoken, the blue mare who called herself Abigail. “Unicorns, yeah, you can make things float, and uhh...stuff like that. No idea how it works. Why don’t you try magicking us up some dinner to find out? I could go for a good steak right now. I’m Chubs, by the way, least that’s what people always called me. No point changing it now.”
The two talking suddenly went silent, for they began to hear a slight drone from above. The rest of the ponies at the crossing also stopped what they were doing and listened intently. This odd sound began to grow louder until none of the ponies at the crossing could not deny its existence.
Lewdy rolled Chubs off of himself through sheer force of will and quickly blurted “WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SOUND?” The ponies kept looking directly at the sky as the noise quickly became threatening, as it seemed to be nearing closer to their position. They noticed a bright object descending terribly quickly towards them. This encroaching object seemed to be about the size of a plane. A miniscule one at that.
Lewdy, now far away from Chubs, once again spoke in his infinite wisdom. “IS THAT A FUCKING PLANE?!” which caused everyone in the vicinity of Lewdy to retreat to a seemingly safe distance. This is about when the plane suddenly disappeared. The majority of the ponies were left weirded out and woefully confused.
Abigail decided to take this reprieve to comment on the situation. “A plane?... How?”
Lucky similarly quipped, “The ‘ell?” Which is when the droning returned louder, causing everyone to look upwards just in time to see a parrot-faced, flaming pony take the place of the plane, that is, fall directly towards the Crossing. Though the pony was on fire, it seemed to have a grin on its face. Well, perhaps it should be said, beak.
Time began to lose its typical speedy hold as the lost ponies at the crossing looked up at the abomination careening towards them. Lewdy’s mind worked just fast enough to produce a series of panicked expletives, just as the pony hit the ground. Face first. Wait, shit, beak first.
The ground beneath the parrot-pony’s face cracked and burst into flame, as did the parrot-pony itself. All that was left of the parrot-pony was a tattered, burnt, parrot-horse carcass.
Lucky found his voice and decided to provide a valuable opinion regarding the situation. “What in the bloody ‘ell is goin’ on here?!” Lucky said just as the parrot-thing ceased burning and got to his hooves. His body was still mutilated from the fall and the burning, but his body quickly repaired itself.
The parrot-pony cleared its throat and spoke. “Uh. Yeah. So what the fuck is going on, where is my plane, and” he looked down his beak and at his hooves “what THE FUCK IS THIS EVEN?” and began to yell at the top of his lungs until he ran out of breath. He calmed himself down, and then cleared its throat twice. He sighed and began once more. “I must be tripping hardcore balls, or this is real. I couldn’t care which at this point. Or not yet anyway. Just call me Loro. It is Spanish for Parrot. Hopefully you guys know spanish.”
Lewdy blinked. He blinked another time and the parrot-pony hybrid thing was still there. “What.” He said in the wide sweeping intelligence his mind could muster. “Are you kidding? A bird... pony..horse fucking thing? God damn it... and Memphis was the one who could speak Spanish too. Alright then Loro listen carefully because I don’t want to repeat this crap all day long.”
Lewdy took a deep breath and quickly went over the basic details that have been recited all day. You’re dead, sorry about that, you’re in Equestria because you like ponies in some way or it screwed you over somehow, and finally this was the crossroads where you can spend your limbo until you get sent on to hell or heaven. Finally he made a quick listing of all the people that have arrived so far before he was forced to stop to breath again.
“And if you have any questions... just ask Haku. He’ll answer anything I’m sure... god damn my ribs are killing me and I’m already dead. Chubs you bastard... using me as bloody seat.”
Still grumbling to himself he turned around he tried to give a charming smile to Abigail, but if anything it turned out more pained, “Ignoring the parrot thing that fell from the sky my dear... actually,” He sharply turned his head around, “you’re going to have to explain what the hell that was there and what the hell you are but give me a second.” Regarding the blue mare again the smile returned again, “to answer your question... uhh there really isn’t that much of a boundary to the crossroads. It’s basically just this stretch of road where the road intersects and these benches here, well two benches and the shattered remains of what happens when the immovable object sits on one of them. The farther you get away from the crossroads the faster you fade away. That’s about it really. Oh yeah the whole unicorn and magic thing... yeah whatever, ask Haku he’s more up to talking about it.”
“What?” Haku asked away from the group, chasing his own tail, “Haku heard his name! Who called Haku’s name?” Haku looked to his group, just now noticing the missing members, and also the bird. Wait... a bird-pony? What, did a gryphon and pony get it on? Dude... that’s just creepy. ‘Well,’ a voice in Haku’s head said, ‘enough dilly dally! Time to introduce yourself to the bird.’
‘But he’s... so weird looking...’ Haku thought to himself. ‘Who cares! He’s a BIRD-pony mashup! Maybe he can fly! Jump on him... and see what happens...’
‘Ok Brain, Haku will do so. Thanks for the idea.’
‘No problem. Just remember, you didn’t hear from me.’
“That makes no sense what so ever,” Haku said aloud, drawing the attention of the group, including the bird. Haku calmly walked to the creature and extended a hoof in friendship. “Greeting creature! You are looking at Haku, your new god.”
The Beak-faced pony could only stare at this weird pony. Was he sick in the head?
“Haku believes so, yes. But that’s ok, because who needs a brain in the head when Haku has Brain.”
‘Quiet you fool! We don’t need people knowing of my existence.’
“Yes sir!” Haku shouted while doing his best impression of a salute. Everyone, excluding the beaked pony, only sighed at Haku. After a while, it seemed that they all got use to his antics. Too bad for the newcomer.
“Loro, beak-face, it all sounds the same. Now, Beak-Face, Haku asks you, can Haku ride you to see if you can fly? None of these people can do so, so it is entirely possible that Haku will bore of them soon. You on the other,” Haku said while pointing at Loro, “You are unique. So what say you?”
After a short walk through Ponyville, the three ponies arrived at Twilight’s library.
“Alright.” Twilight said. “This shouldn’t take too long, just come on in and make yourselves at home while I gather my equipment.”
Twilight opened the door and the three filed in, Raeg having to bow his head to pass through the low door.
“Twilight, is that you?” a voice called from within the tree.
“Yeah, Spike, it’s me. But I won’t be long, I just have to get a few things.”
They heard the soft patter of feet as Spike ran into the main room.
“Twilight! You have to see this, the prin... cess...” The baby dragon ran in waving a scroll in one hand but froze as he saw Twilight’s companions.
“Spike? Are you okay?” Twilight asked, concerned.
Spike lifted a claw and pointed shakily at Raeg before tossing the scroll into the air and running away screaming something about zombie ponies.
“What’s his problem?” Memphis asked.
“I have no idea.” Twilight admitted. She caught the scroll in her magical grip as it fluttered through the air. Levitating it over, she began to read its contents.
Dear Twilight Sparkle,
It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you of the deaths of three of your friends in the guard, Captain Imperious, Archmage Heavy Hoofed, and Chaplain Patriarch. They were killed in the 501st’s most recent engagement in the northlands. They fought bravely and through the legion’s sacrifice we manage to negotiate a temporary truce with the gryphons that may very well result in lasting peace.
I understand that losing somepony close to you can be hard and that you’ve never had to experience something like this before, so I’d like to come visit you to help you through this. I’ll be coming to Ponyville in a week, in the meantime I can only offer my condolences, I knew them well and they will be sorely missed here in Canterlot. I can only hope that this tragedy allows you to cherish your friends all the more, you never really know what you have until it’s gone.
Twilight felt her eyes begin to water as she read the scroll. She knew they were dead, she’d just met one of the dead ponies after all, but having it verified like this, and by the princess no less, just made it seem all the more real. She wasn’t sure about the Captain, but Patriarch and Heavy Hoofed, at least, she now knew she’d never see again.
“Hey, you alright?” a gruff voice asked from behind.
Twilight sniffled a bit. “Yeah, I’m fine.” She levitated the scroll over to him with a strained laugh. “Just the princess confirming your story for you.”
Raeg scanned the document. He snorted in amusement when he read Mofo and Moarfistin’s original names. His amusement drained away when he neared the end, though. Celestia was coming here? No no no, that wasn’t good. He couldn’t stand to be near her after what he’d done, she probably still hated him for it anyways. He suddenly remembered Lewdy’s words; “Your eternal souls shall rest here upon the cobbled road before you are judged by your God, or gods, and sent to heaven or hell.”
His pupils became pinpricks, she was coming to judge him! He had been spared Discord
so that Celestia could punish him herself! For the first time since his deal with Discord, Raeg felt fear. Even the draconequus’s unholy anger couldn’t keep it away. Discord’s eternal torment he could bear, he was sure he could even stand the princess’s punishment; he knew he deserved it. What he couldn’t bear was hearing her speak the words, looking her in the eye as she told him he was a traitor. Anything but that.
“Imperious? Are you alright?” he heard Twilight ask.
He never got the chance to answer as the window shattered and what looked like a rainbow rocketed into the room.
“Gawd damn!” Memphis exclaimed, jumping back from the flying glass that cascaded onto the library’s wooden floors.
The rainbow streak impacted Raeg’s armor and bounced harmlessly, for him anyways, off of it, landing on the floor a few feet away.
A cyan pegasus with a rainbow mane lay sprawled on the floor, eyes rotating in different directions. Shakily she got to her feet, stumbling across the library quite a bit.
“Hey Twi! I was in the neighborhood and figured I’d stop by to pick up a...” she trailed off as she dazedly bumped into Raeg. Looking up at him she asked “Woah, who’s the big guy?”