A great tunnel, massively wide and infinitely long. Yet, in this place, it seemed as if distance itself was an illusion.
Along the walls, multicolored shapes, twisting, turning and shifting around each other in a moving mosaic of prismatic splendor.
A sensation of speed now, of a velocity so intense and incredible as to be beyond belief.
Yet, no wind, no force at all. Just the sense of steadily moving towards something. Very quickly.
The colors of the tunnel walls blending into one another, no distinguishable lines, just a rainbow blur streaking past.
And then, darkness. All around, an inky black expanse save for a pinpoint of white light at the end of infinity.
Even with no reference, the feeling of speed increased even further. The point of light so distant, yet growing closer with each passing moment.
From the terminus of the tunnel, a ring, a pulse of luminosity, runs down its length. Another. And still more, passing around and behind like lamps in an underpass.
So close now, blinding. The walls more light than dark, rings blending together into a solid form.
White. Everywhere. Rushing past. So close now. Almost at the end. Almost...
Connor’s eyes snapped open, and he took a sharp, gasping intake of breath as he was forced back into the waking world. With a start, he got up into a sitting position on the soft surface of the bed he had been lying on.
Reflexively, his eyes then slammed shut and he brought his right hand up to massage his temples, as his nervous system was battered with an assault of unpleasant sensations. His eyes hurt, as if he’d stared directly into the sun for an unhealthy period of time. His head pounded in rhythm with his heartbeat, every motion pressing on his ears like a bell going off inside his brain. His sense of hearing was completely overcome by a muted ringing, and he was acutely aware of every inch of his frame, aching as though he had recently been put through a wringer.
Through the battering of input he was feeling, Connor was only dimly aware of a voice sounding out from somewhere in the room with him, followed by the sound of a door opening and closing.
Connor groaned painfully as he held his hands over his face, underneath his glasses, waiting for the soreness to gradually ebb away and the din in his ears to reduce to a comfortable level. It was a solid minute before Connor had reached a state where he could even attempt to form a coherent thought.
...I feel like shit... What is...? What... Asleep, with clothes on...? Glasses... Why? Okay, one thing... at a time...
Slowly, he moved his hands out from over his eyes and gingerly opened them, blinking away the irritation as they adjusted to the light of the room. As his vision came into focus, the metaphorical gears inside his mind cranked and strained, ticking over for a few moments before arriving at a single, dominating conclusion.
...This... isn’t my room, he thought, eyes widening slightly and breath pausing in his chest as he attempted to parse out the details of the situation.
He looked down; instead of the drab dark blue of his bedsheets, he was sitting on a plush, red comforter laying atop a bed that was way too soft to be a normal spring mattress.
He looked towards the ceiling; the typical flat, blank white surface was replaced with a gently sloped curved ceiling of violet and gray tiles, with an extravagant chandelier hanging down over the center of the room.
He looked to his right. Where he expected there to be a closet and a couple of cluttered shelves, there was a modestly carved wooden door with the relief of a bath on its surface.
And in front of him, an ornate and neatly kept writing desk, placed in front of a curtain-drawn window through which a gentle yellow-tinged light streamed in from the outside.
His breathing growing slightly faster, Connor panned his vision around himself, noting the many things that were seriously, seriously wrong with this picture.
For one, the room was easily five times the area of what he was used to, a yawning expanse of open air filled with nothing but empty floor and a few pieces of furniture. Not that the furniture was anything to sneeze at: the bed itself was king-sized at least, and everything else in the room, from the chairs, to the tables, to the giant armoire nestled in the corner, looked to be of the highest make and quality. Everything popped out in immaculate detail, rendered to a polished shine and with colors garish and bright enough to almost cause Connor’s eyes to sting.
He would have considered the sight impressive if he hadn’t been so utterly confused. As he looked to his left, however, what he saw caused him to gasp unexpectedly and his thoughts to skip a beat.
Standing at attention in front of a tall set of deep cherry-colored doors, was some... thing. An animal, or at least it looked kind of like an animal, held upright by four almost perfectly cylindrical legs. Its skin, or fur, was a clean, perfect white, and it was covered in what appeared to be a suit of armor, made of solid gold plates and emblazoned with a turquoise star symbol on the front. It also had a short blue tail... and a pair of rounded protrusions tucked against its sides that matched the color of the rest of its body. And then there was the head, with short muzzle and large, pointed ears high on the sides, topped with a smooth open-faced helmet, also of gold with a feathered blue top, through which a pair of big, half-hidden eyes stared out.
Eyes that were locked unflinchingly on the stunned teenager, even as the rest of its body remained perfectly still.
Connor was then aware that he was holding his breath, and gently let it out in an unsteady exhale.
What... is it...? It’s not moving...... A statue...?
“What... the hell... is going on...?” Connor breathed out in a barely audible whisper, trying his best to maintain his presence of mind in the face of an ever-increasing amount of surreality.
Just at that moment, the "statue" did something very un-statue-like, flaring its nostrils with an intake of air, and letting it out in a mighty snort. This simple, sudden, unexpected action had the result of breaking Connor’s already tenuous composure, and he threw himself backwards with a startled shout.
“WOAH! Wa--ah, shit!!” he exclaimed quickly, arms and legs flailing as he toppled over the side of the bed.
Connor came down hard on the tiled floor with a jarring thud, eyes shut tight as he felt a brisk pain run up and down his spine. He moaned in discomfort, rubbing his bruised back with one hand as he pulled himself upright with the other. After a moment’s distraction, his eyes snapped back open, and he ducked behind the edge of the bed, keeping himself hidden as he peered over the side. The imposing figure remained where it stood, still watching him with a hawkish glare.
Connor found he no longer cared if he spoke out loud, allowing his thoughts to spill out of his mouth as fast as he could think them.
“O...kay... not a statue of a horse... looking... thing,” he uttered shakily, eyes never leaving the suspicious creature. “Yeah... k-kinda looks like a horse... that makes sense. Wait, NONE of this makes sense! I...I-I must be dreaming... Have to be... Y-yeah. Just a dream... Just a crazy, whacked-up dream...”
Finally arriving at a conclusion that was the least bit logical served to cool Connor’s frayed nerves somewhat, and he allowed himself to take a few deep, steadying breaths. He could already feel his pulse creeping down gradually, and after a few moments more of meditation, he could once again think clearly.
Cautiously, he stood up on his legs, and with controlled, steady movements, put one foot in front of the other as he made his way slowly around the bed. All the while, the armored horse never let up its penetrating gaze.
Right... Nothing but a dream. Incredibly vivid and strange... but still a dream. That probably means that stuff with the light and the rocks was a dream too... None of it’s real... I’m fine.
Repeating this belief over and over in his mind, Connor succeeded in convincing himself of the exact nature of what he was experiencing. While utterly clueless as to the psychological significance of everything he had witnessed so far, Connor was nonetheless curious as to what lay beyond the guarded door.
Operating under the assumption that realizing the dream gives you control over it, he was now determined to explore what he could of this strange make-believe world before he inevitably woke up.
“Uh... H-hello, dream-horse...” he said to the product of his imagination with a nervous smile and a wave, sidestepping around it to get a better angle at the door. “Just... gonna go out here... for a minute.”
As Connor took another step closer, however, the armored figure surprised him by unfolding one of the round things around its sides into the shape of an outstretched wing, which served to block the door behind him. The creature then spoke with a deep, authoritative voice.
“You are not--”
“Hoooooly crap!” interrupted Connor, who jumped, arms jerking upward, at the completely unexpected action and took a number of stumbling steps backward, falling seated on the bed.
“Hmph.” The apparently language-enabled horse huffed before continuing. “You are not to leave this room until the Princess arrives.”
Connor heard the words. He was sure of it. He saw the horse’s mouth move, and words came out of it.
Magical glowing rock formations, psychedelic acid-trip tunnels, a lavishly fancy bedroom, talking armored horses with wings, and to top it all off, a freakin’ princess...
Connor wordlessly shook his head; this was getting too weird, too quickly. Sure, it was just a dream, but all the same, he wanted OUT.
“Okay, that does it, I’ve changed my mind. If it’s all the same to you... Mr. Ed, horse guy, whatever. Point is, I’m done here. Time to wake up,” he stated flatly, throwing his arms up in an exaggerated shrug.
To facilitate his escape from this subconscious adventure, Connor called upon an old trick he learned when he was much younger, a personal mantra he made himself for dealing with the odd childhood nightmare. He closed his eyes, placed his fingertips around his head, and began to think really loud.
Wake up... Wake up...! WAKE UP!
When Connor next opened his eyes, he expected to be back in his own room, in his own bed, where life was normal and boring, and horses couldn’t talk.
What he got instead disappointed him in precisely those regards.
“It... didn’t work? Why didn’t it work? It’s supposed to work!” he said, disheartened, before taking a breath to steady himself and deciding to give it one more try, this time speaking his intentions loud and clear.
“Wake up... Wake up...! WAKE UP!” he shouted to nobody in particular, once again opening his eyes to find the same equine entity staring him down, its stoic face now wearing the barest hint of a bemused expression.
His respiration quickening now, Connor desperately tried to veer his train of thought away from the conclusion he refused to see as inevitable. Looking down at his left arm, he reverted to the oldest cliche standby for dream evacuation, grasped a bit of skin between his thumb and forefinger, and pinched for all he was worth. He cringed immediately at the sensation, gasping deeply at the pain until it became almost unbearable. When he could simply take no more, he released... and despaired when the only reward for his efforts was a pair of bright, red lines across his arm.
He had nearly drawn blood... and yet... he was still here.
Still dreaming... Still trapped in an impossible situation... Impossible.
...I’m not actually dreaming.
And with that one thought, Connor’s hopeful delusion was completely shattered with all the subtlety of a needle skipping a record.
Like a multiple car pileup on a snowbound freeway, individual ideas, facts and notions crashed freely into one another in a jumbled stream of consciousness as Connor’s fists reflexively clenched and his body started to shake uncontrollably.
Somewhere I don’t recognize. I’m not at home. Not safe. Nothing familiar. Talking animals. Not a dream. Real. Escape. Run. Run!
Connor had never before experienced a full-blown panic attack, but he figured this would be as close as he’d ever come to one.
Heart racing in his chest, he looked around wildly, looking for something, anything. Specifically what, he couldn’t be bothered to define, but he knew it when he saw it, as his gaze fell to the door on the other side of the room.
Paying no mind to the guard in front of him, Connor pushed himself to his feet and ran, stumbling over his steps, across the polished, tiled floor and up to the wooden entrance. He didn’t know what to expect on the other side, but it led away from this place, and that’s the only care he had at the moment. With trembling hands, he grasped the gold handle of the door, pressed down, and threw it open. Inside... was exactly what one would expect behind a door with a picture of a bath on it.
Turquoise textured walls and ceiling. Porcelain toilet. Bathtub and shower. Sink and mirror.
A sense of blind terror threatening to creep up on him, Connor backed away erratically, sneakers squeaking on the floor as he shuffled his feet. In a hyperventilated daze, he looked around the room another time, hoping for a solution to present itself.
His eyes eventually settled on the window above the writing desk, and in a rush, ran towards it, knocking over the desk chair that stood in his way with the sharp clack of wood on tile. With one swift, desperate motion, he grabbed a curtain in each hand and threw them aside.
As he took in the unbelievable sight that stood on the other end, Connor was all but certain he had felt his heart stop cold.
Outside that window was a scene that defied imagination. Bathed in the light from a huge, glowing mid-afternoon sun, was a city that was equal parts magnificent and impossible. Bleached white ivory towers blended with a smooth, lilting, medieval architecture that flowed between buildings like a work of art. Gold-topped domes mingled with grand archways along with a violet-on-white color scheme similar to that of the room he was in. A few of the buildings appeared to be in various states of repair, but it had little effect on the grandiose splendor of the city as a whole. In the background, a tall, imposing mountain rose up to block off the horizon, as a mighty waterfall gushed and surged down its side, diverting under spans of bridges and canals and emptying somewhere out of view.
And as if things couldn’t appear any more improbable: populating this city were yet even more strange, horse-like creatures. They came in every color in the crayon box, from bright yellow to ruddy brown and everything in between. Most of them were dressed up in clothes of a myriad of different styles including dresses, suits, and some in more exotic-looking fashions.
From his vantage point, Connor could see so many of them... Even from so far away, he could see a few of them with wings similar to the one posted by the door, flying through open air as if it was nothing! And if that wasn’t enough, he soon realized that there were no other people... at all. No humans, nothing even remotely recognizable. Just a veritable spectrum of impossible creatures going about their day among the roads and walls of a city that shouldn’t exist.
And he just stood there, stock still... taking in the scene with a slack-jawed expression as his overwhelmed psyche was just about to shut down from the stress of it all. He would have remained as such for a good long while, idling in place, if not for the sound of a voice coming from behind him, clearing its throat in order to get his attention.
It worked, and Connor snapped back to reality, turning on the spot to face yet another in a long line of impossibilities.
Standing upright between himself and the door, was yet another of the alien animals, looking far different from the soldier standing right by its side. For one, it was at least a head taller than himself, situated on long, graceful legs topped with golden cuffs, assuming a pose of gentle grace and regality. Its body, a bright, snowy white, was completely smooth and uniform, save for what at this angle, Connor could barely make out to be a tattoo of a stylized sun along its flank. Like the soldier, it too had a pair of wings on its sides, though much larger and far more elegant, and it wore a polished, golden breastplate inlaid with intricate carvings and a gleaming purple gemstone instead of a suit of armor. On its head was a pointed crown of similar design, situated behind what looked very much like a horn, protruding nearly a foot outwards from its forehead.
And perhaps, most curiously, the area around its head and neck, along with its tail, was encapsulated in a glowing, shifting aura of blues, greens and violets, undulating softly in a non-existent breeze.
It took only moments to make these observations, yet Connor couldn’t help but stare, eyes widened, taking in the information and failing miserably at making sense of it.
And it was just then that the creature chose to speak, in a voice that was undoubtedly female. A voice that was gentle, soothing, and which seemed to carry a deep wisdom behind every word.
“I’m glad to see that you have awakened. Are you... feeling alright?” she asked, with genuine concern.
Perhaps it was the sound of another’s words that did it, perhaps Connor had simply reached the limit of what he could handle, or perhaps he had finally found something to channel his feelings towards. Maybe it was all of those things, but whatever the case, in that moment, all of Connor’s pain and confusion shifted to a new emotion; one of pent up frustration and a directed, simmering rage.
“...Am I alright? AM I ALRIGHT!?” Connor shouted, his foot pounding to the floor as his body coursed with adrenaline. “Why don’t you fucking tell me!? What is this supposed to be, a sick fucking joke!? Are you robots!? Puppets!? Have I gone INSANE!? Where am I!? TELL ME!!”
Both the female and her guard bristled at the unexpected outburst, their ears flattening against their heads. The taller one raised one hoof in the air, as if taking a step back, before planting it down again, standing firm and responding in the same, even tone of voice.
“There is no cause for shouting, or for using such language. Please be assured, I have no intention to cause you any harm. I can plainly see that you are scared and confused, and I empathize with you... but you must calm yourself down so that we can maintain a more... civil discourse.”
But despite her plea for civility, Connor was having none of it.
“Calm down? CALM DOWN!? You tell me where I am and what’s going on right NOW! Or I’ll... I-I’ll...” he trailed off, voice cracking as he struggled to think of an appropriate follow-up.
“Or... you’ll what?” asked the female incredulously, raising an eyebrow.
Connor stuttered, looking around himself for something to back up his poorly thought out threat. His eyes fell on the desk beside him, to a painted glass vase in which sat a selection of flowers.
Now, if he had been thinking clearly at all, Connor would never have resorted to what he was about to do. But with such an intense emotional conflict addling his mind, this one idea was on deck for no time at all before his hand reached out, grasped the base of the vase, and he reared back, holding the improvised weapon in position, ready to let fly.
Time seemed to slow to a crawl as a number of reactions went through the regal female and her compatriot. The soldier horse instantly reared back, ready to tackle the offender at a moment’s notice. The other one, however, had a range of emotion spread across its face in quick succession, from surprise, to disappointment, to one of righteous indignation.
The horn on her head started to glow a pale yellow, and Connor had no time at all to react as the vase in his hand was rent from his grasp by an invisible force and floated back over the table, settling down with a forceful clunk. And then, before he even had a chance to respond, the desk chair that he had knocked over beforehand was enveloped in the same color field as it raised up and placed itself behind him. Connor then felt a heavy pressure on his chest, and he was forced back with a yelp into the seat waiting for him. Once seated, his wrists and ankles became bound to the wood by translucent shackles of yellow force.
“Wh-what the hell is this!? Let me go! LET ME GO!” Connor shouted in surprise, struggling against the magical bonds to no avail as the caster of this spell stepped forwards, cuffed hooves clicking against the tile ominously, before she spoke again in an entirely different tone.
“Be still and be silent!” came her voice, booming slightly and echoing around the arched walls and high ceiling. A certain quality in her voice had a definite effect on Connor, like a javelin piercing the folds of his thoughts and pinning them in place. He felt utterly compelled to obey, not moving another inch in the chair and snapping his mouth shut. The command did nothing to calm his heart however, which was now beating with the strength of a jackhammer as his captor continued to speak, albeit in a less forceful, yet still authoritative tone.
“Let me be perfectly clear. You are very obviously suffering from immense pain and anguish, and for that you have my sympathy. But that is still no excuse at all for threats of violence against myself or anypony else. I am not your enemy, and I am more than willing to answer your questions so long as you maintain an appropriate and civil discourse.” The Princess paused for breath, eyes narrowing slightly more as she continued. “I believe that you can be reasonable about this situation, but if you give me just one more reason to doubt that, you may find yourself in less... hospitable circumstances, and I pray it does not come to that.”
Connor merely stared blankly in rapt attention, stunned into silence as he absorbed her words in a prolonged moment of lucidity. She then closed her eyes and breathed deeply, letting out a sigh as she kept her composure.
“I am willing to forgive... on the condition that from now on you will conduct yourself in a reasonable manner. Do you understand?”
Slowly realizing she had finished her admonishing, Connor let out the breath he had been holding, and with sweat beading down his head and neck, found his voice again.
“Yes! Oh, God, yes! Please! I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” he found the words stumbling out of their own accord.
“Very well.” The female nodded her head, and after taking a few steps backwards, once again called upon her glowing horn, causing the restraints binding Connor’s limbs to flicker out of existence.
No longer restricted, Connor shakily raised his hand to his chest, breathing in and out unsteadily and slamming his eyes shut as he tried to regain control of his own emotions. He sniffed loudly, fighting back pained tears and choked sobs as he let his roiled feelings shift into a tiny measure of tranquility.
After a long minute of silence, he started to feel just a little bit better. Still shaking slightly, he opened his eyes again, seeing the horse creature lying on the ground, legs tucked underneath, with a patient, gentle hint of a smile adorning her face.
“There now... Everything’s going to be alright... Now, perhaps we got off on the wrong hoof...” She then placed one of her hooves across her own chest. “My name is Princess Celestia, though you can just call me Celestia if that makes you more comfortable. And you are...?”
Connor swallowed deeply before answering.
“C-Connor... M-my name is... Connor.”
The being calling herself Celestia nodded again.
“Very good. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Connor," the Princess expressed kindly, with no traces of the imposing attitude she had just recently displayed. "Please, feel free to ask of me any questions you may have... Oh! But first... can I get you anything? Some water, perhaps?”
At the mention of this offer, Connor reflexively licked his cracked lips. Now that he thought about it, all of his earlier exertions had made him terribly thirsty. Without a word, he nodded appreciatively.
With that, Celestia’s horn lit up again briefly, causing Connor to flinch unconsciously. The reaction was unnecessary, however, as the only thing that resulted was the appearance of a brief flash, replaced by a tall glass brimming with the sparkling liquid, suspended in the air by a yellow field. Celestia floated the water over to where Connor was sitting, and with slight hesitation, he reached out and grasped it with his right hand, whereupon the magic keeping it afloat ceased.
“Uh... T-thank you... Prin- er... C-Celestia.” Connor said in gratitude, causing the Princess to chuckle lightly.
“You’re very welcome, Connor.”
He then went ahead and raised the glass to his lips, taking in big sips of the cool refreshing liquid. Sure, it was only water, and somehow it had appeared from nowhere, but he didn’t care. It tasted delicious. After draining half of the contents, he breathed out, satisfied, and placed what was left down on the desk beside him.
This gesture of consideration... coming from a being that was a complete stranger in more ways than one... had just enough of a warming effect on Connor’s sense of security to make him feel just that much safer. The stress of the situation was still there, yet he had enough presence of mind to know he wasn’t in any immediate danger. He finally felt able to speak freely... to the extent that he was willing.
It took Connor a moment to realize that the Princess was eying him expectantly, and a few moments more before suddenly remembering what it was she was expecting. He shook his head free of cobwebs before expressing the first thread in the bundle of curiosity knotted up in his mind.
“Ok... First question then... Just, what are you?”
The inquiry seemed to take Celestia a bit by surprise before she formulated her answer.
“I don’t understand... Do you mean... what species am I?”
“...I guess so.”
“Well... I suppose you could say I’m what’s commonly referred to as an alicorn, due to my having both wings and a horn,” Celestia explained briefly in a clinical manner.
“Alicorn... sure... And, him too?” Connor asked, motioning towards the soldier still stationed by the door, still tense and ready to act at a moment’s notice as he glared at Connor from across the room.
“No, he is a pegasus.”
“O...kay... And, all those other guys out there?” he questioned, this time motioning out the window towards the city beyond.
Celestia turned her head to peer past where he had pointed, realization of the true meaning of his question dawning on her face as she did so.
“Oh... I see! You were asking about us in general. In that case... we are just called ponies. Myself, this guard, everypony out there, just different species’ of pony."
At this revelation, Connor felt a bit incredulous, to say the least.
“That’s correct...” The Princess’ voice trailed off as she had a thought. “...Curious, you speak as though you’ve never seen one of us before.”
“Well, it’s not that... I have seen... ponies... before, but... where I’m from, they’re just called horses... And they can’t talk. Or build cities. Or hold office, for that matter.”
“Interesting...” Celestia pondered, tapping a hoof to her chin in thought. And then she decided to change tracks and probe Connor with a question of her own. “So... you asked me before, where you were. Do you... not know?”
Connor felt the panic creep just the slightest bit back as he remembered the main reason for his consternation: being in a strange place with no recollection of how or why.
“I, um... I would think that was obvious... Wait, no, not that... you wouldn’t know but...” he tripped over his words, trying his best to explain without it sounding like an insult. “...No, I... I don’t know where this place is. I don’t... know why... I’ve never even heard of a place like this...”
Celestia simply watched the boy struggle for an appropriate answer, before taking it upon herself to break the silence.
“Well, if you will allow me to alleviate the situation... This place...” she explained, motioning with one hoof to the building around her. “...is Canterlot Castle. Outside is the Royal City of Canterlot.”
She looked up at Connor’s face expectantly, but he showed no signs of recognition, shaking his head slowly.
“Capital of the country of Equestria?” the Princess inquired, an expression of disbelief slowly dawning on her face.
Again, Connor shook his head.
“...Most prosperous and well-known kingdom in all of Equis?”
“...Equis...? Where... where is that?” he cautiously replied with another question.
Now it was Celestia’s turn to act surprised by this admission.
“Equis is... no, that can’t be right. All ponies and other species the world over know that name; the name of this world itself. There’s no way you could not know that, unless... Oh, dear.”
“What? What does that mean?” Connor asked the royal pony, voice tinged with worry.
“Tell me, the name of your home... your own... world,” demanded the Princess with a sense of urgency. The nature of her strange request was lost on Connor for a moment, before his eyes widened in realization of what she was insinuating.
“No... No you can’t... possibly be suggesting...! This is... Earth, isn’t it?” he asked in utter disbelief. “There’s no way it can’t be!”
But the Princess merely closed her eyes and inhaled ominously before opening them again.
“I see... Everything makes sense now. I’m... sorry, Connor. Truly, I am,” Celestia explained, her voice channeling genuine sympathy and understanding. “And it pains me to have to tell you this... but you seem to be about as far away from your home as you can get.”
Connor wanted to deny it...
He wanted to say it wasn’t true, that the entire notion was completely absurd. But that nagging feeling wouldn’t give up, the feeling that what this magically-inclined, winged, talking pony royalty was saying could be 100% completely accurate.
He could now feel a tenuous sensation... as if the floor would suddenly come out from underneath him. He cast his gaze downwards, away from the Princess, who at this time had stood up on all fours.
“This... must be quite a bit for you to absorb. I... think it would be best if you had some time to yourself. Yes... perhaps time will help,” she explained, before turning her head towards the door and motioning sharply. The pegasus standing guard gave a salute and a short ‘Ma’am!’, before turning and exiting the room himself. She then turned back towards the stunned teenager.
“If there is anything you need, anything at all, please, don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll leave somepony outside the door just in case... If you are up to it later, I would ask you to talk with me some more, perhaps tonight.” And with that, Celestia turned and made for the exit, the sound of hooves clipping on the tile floor echoing around the hollow room before she stopped for a moment at the archway.
“...And remember just one thing... You don’t have to face this alone. I’ll help in any way I can... You have my promise.”
With one last, lingering look, the Princess then stepped through the doorway, edging it closed with an application of magic and a resounding, final thump.
He heard her words... He understood what they meant, but at the moment he couldn’t be bothered to care. For the first time since he had awoken in this strange room, Connor was alone with himself and his thoughts. For a good long while, he looked down at the floor between his shoes, not really focusing on any one thing. Simply letting his mind turn over like an engine block as it sifted through the information.
This... this isn’t right. It isn’t fair... Why? What did I do to deserve this? How is something like this even supposed to happen? Another world... planet... hell, universe, why not? It would make as much sense as anything else... This is a mess... This is a goddamn awful mess... I just... I don’t know... how can I deal with this?
A terrible feeling washed over him as he ruminated even more on the implications.
What do I do...? What can I do...? It’s too much... too much to handle now... I think... Oh, God... I think I’m gonna be sick...
Feeling a knot forming in the pit of his stomach, Connor pushed himself up out of the chair, looking around for the door that he had earlier confirmed led to the bathroom. The door itself was still ajar from when he had opened it and, fighting his nausea, he stumbled inside and made his way to the porcelain bowl of the toilet.
He coughed, trying his best to keep down the bile, and just sat, hunched over and trembling as his stomach did flip-flops.
Somehow, miraculously, he managed to keep himself from vomiting long enough to take some deep, steady breaths through his nose. A wave of weakness passed over him then, and he let himself slip to the side, into a sitting position with one arm draped across the bowl.
He then closed his eyes, and just listened to the steady sound of his own breathing.
Waiting for the nausea to pass.
...Waiting for everything to be okay.