Ra'zaan stirred to a light from a nearby window, which was shining brightly on his face. The pounding in his head had returned, but it wasn't quite as bad. He sat up slowly with his eyes still closed to shield them from the light.
"Wait a minute, what window?!" He thought suddenly to himself.
"Girls, look! He's waking up!" said a gentle, curious voice.
Ra'zaan snapped open his eyes and reached for his dagger, which he never removed in case of emergency.
It wasn't there.
Instead, six sets of huge eyes stared at him from the other side of the room.
"Are you looking for your weapons? we put them along with the rest of your equipment on the shelf behind you." The voice he'd heard earlier said.
It belonged to the purple pony he'd seen the night before. He hadn't noticed last night because of the dark, but she had a horn like that of a unicorn on her forehead, and a dark purple mane with a pink stripe. The other five from the night before were there as well. He didn't know what he was doing in this...library...but he did know he WASN'T here last night. Keeping a watchful eye on the group across from him, he slowly turned to see if what she'd said was true. Sure enough, all of his belongings were there, on the top shelf of a bookcase. The shelf next to it seemed to have twice as many books as the rest, showing that they'd moved some to put the items there. A little more relaxed than he was before, he said:
"Why did you bring me here? Who are you?"
"I'm Twilight Sparkle. We thought you'd be uncomfortable where you were when you passed out, so we brought you to our town." Twilight said with a grin.
"Ah'm not sure whatcha was plannin' to do up on that there cliff, but Equestrian nights can sure git awful cold!" Said the orange, blond-maned pony to the far right in a rather southern tongue.
"And who might you be?" Ra'zaan said.
"Ah'm Applejack! This here is Fluttershy..." She pointed at a yellow pony with a pink mane and wings, who was looking nervously at him. "...That over there is Rarity an' the bouncin' pony near Rarity is Pinkie Pie..." The first one Ra'zaan was directed to was a pure white pony with a purple mane and a horn like Twilight's, and the other, which was bouncing up and down in one spot, was pink with a pink, puffed up mane. "...an' finally, the blue pony next to me is..."
"...And I'm Rainbow Dash! Nice to meet ya!" Rainbow said, cutting Applejack short and pushing her out of the way. "Now that we've told you who we are, what's your name, Mr. Cat?"
Ra'zaan didn't enjoy the nickname, but he let it slide. He was far too confused to be angry as it was. "My name is Ra'zaan, and I'm a mercenary from Cyrodill." He said as calmly as he could. "You six wouldn't happen to know which way to go to get back there, would you?"
The ponies all looked at each other in confusion. Then they all said in unison, "Cyrodill? Where's that?"
"I've read all about the different areas of Equestria, but I've never heard of this Cyrodill place..." Twilight said confidently.
He didn't have a reply to that. He knew that if none of them had ever heard of Cyrodill, he must be in some other realm, because Cyrodill was the empire's main province.
"Nevermind." He said slowly. "It's where I'm from, but it seems I've been transported here by some form of magic."
Ra'zaan was on his feet by this point. He stood about twice as tall as the ponies. He was pondering how the hell he was going to get out of this strange land and back home again. He reached for his armor, but once again he heard Twilight's voice.
"You won't need your armor here. Nothing dangerous enough for that is going to happen while your in Ponyville."
"Just the same, I'd like to at least have my dagger with me." He retorted as he slipped the dagger into his pack, and attached the pack to his side. "If none of you know about Cyrodill, I'd better get to know this place a little until I find some way home."
"OOOOH! Let's take him over to Sugarcube Corner! We can talk more there! And I'll make cupcakes!" Pinkie suddenly yelled.
The sound of the name of the place the pony had described made Ra'zaan cringe, but he knew if he wanted to get anywhere he'd need to go somewhere he could get information.
"So," Ra'zaan said finally. "Is this 'Sugarcube Corner' your town's version of a tavern?" Taverns were the first place he would always check before anywhere else.
"I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'tavern', but Sugarcube Corner is a bakery, and one of the local hot spots." Twilight said.
"...Very well, lead on." He said dryly. He had gotten tired of talking and it seemed that this place, while maybe not so much what he wanted, was going to be his best bet for finding out information.
"Okie Dokie!" Said Pinky cheerfully as she bounded out the door.
"Oh, well. Spike's still sleeping so I can't introduce you to him right now, but you'll meet him later." Twilight said, following Pinkie and the rest of the mares out the door.
Ra'zaan had heard Pinkie say cupcakes, and this mention of food had made his stomach growl. But cupcakes weren't on his mind. As he walked outside he pulled some of the food he had in his pack out. Out came a salmon steak, which he looked at with hungry eyes. He started eating peacefully as he walked and stopped in his tracks as he found six sets of eyes fixed on him yet again. Two deep aqua-marine eyes were staring intensely at him.
"Wh-what are you eating?" Fluttershy asked .
"Just some fish. Why?" Ra'zaan asked.
Fluttershy had a sudden pang of worry in her eyes as she darted off towards her home. Ra'zaan looked in the direction she'd gone, then back to the other five.
"What did I do now!? Is it illegal to eat fish or something!?" Ra'zaan half-asked, half-demanded.
"Fluttershy loves all living creatures. Seeing you eat fish might have just made her remember something...or you could have just really made her sad. We're all vegetarian here, so no one here eats fish or meat." Rainbow explained.
"So, is it alright that I have this?" The Khajiit was clearly not happy about all the commotion over his food.
Applejack answered this time. "Well yeah...but try to be careful aroun' some of them there townsfolk an' 'specially Fluttershy... she can be a might...fragile..."
"I'll keep that in mind I guess..." Ra'zaan hadn't thought something as simple as a snack, no matter what it was made from, would cause so much trouble. He finished his snack quickly and everyone continued towards Sugarcube Corner, one pony less now. Though he'd had no intention of doing so, he'd managed to upset one pony already, AND worry her friends. Yep, this was going to be a long day...
They continued down the road for a little while. He felt like he'd forgotten something about yesterday, but what? He couldn't place it, so he decided to ignore it for now, choosing instead to look at the town. Without a doubt, this was the colorful town he'd seen from the cliff. He looked forward again as they neared their destination. The place was pink, and decorated like a gingerbread house... which made Ra'zaan uneasy as they approached. Nothing in this town seemed normal to him.
"Come on in Pinkie and friends! Said a voice from behind the counter. The mare it belonged to just tried to ignore the gang's new "friend".
"Thanks, Mrs. Cake! Let's sit down and get something to eat, and then we can talk!" Pinkie said quickly.
Nervously, Ra'zaan followed the group. He wasn't one to readily give out his trust without reason, and that feeling that he'd forgotten something hadn't gone away. He was on guard as he approached the large booth most of the ponies had sat down at. The bakery had a few other ponies sitting and chatting around the room, and the smell of baked goods made Ra'zaan a little dizzy. Pinkie, meanwhile, had disappeared into the kitchen.
"So, what EXACTLY does a mercenary do?" Rarity asked shyly.
"Well, I'm pretty much a sell-sword for the higher ups in my world. People pay me to do dangerous things that they may not have the courage to do, or that they need help with. Stealing, killing, threatening, and treasure hunting are but a few of the odd jobs a mercenary covers." he replied, showing that he was very comfortable with the topic.
Obviously, by their reaction, the ponies weren't. They all exchanged looks of worry as he continued.
"No need to be on edge. The only thing I've killed so far while I've been here is a splitting headache."
"It's the 'so far' in that sentence that bothers me. Anyway, how'd you end up here in Equestria, then?" Twilight asked.
"It's quite a long story." Ra'zaan said as Pinkie appeared, leaving the kitchen with some fresh-baked cupcakes.
"We've got time!" Said Pinkie happily as she laid a tray with a little over a dozen cupcakes on it down.
"Alright then." He said as he got ready to continue. Suddenly the bakery's door opened. They all turned and noticed Fluttershy quietly entering. She walked over and sat down with the group. She'd calmed down a little.
"Sorry for upsetting you earlier, Miss." Said Ra'zaan in as sincere a tone as the fighter could muster. She just nodded quietly and waited for him to continue his conversation.
"Well... anyway. I'd taken a mission from Cyrodill's Arch Mage, the leader of the Mage's Guild. He thought for a moment and realized the ponies might not have any idea what a mage was. "Mages, to put it simply, are my world's main magic users."
"So, basically like unicorns for us?" Fluttershy asked almost inaudibly.
"I guess if unicorns can use magic, then yes. Anyway, The Arch Mage gave me a mission to 'acquire' information about some rogue mages..." Ra'zaan continued his explanation, sparing no detail. He finished with "...And that's when the six of you 'surprised' me on the cliff side."
The girls just sat there, dumbfounded. Killings didn't happen in Ponyville, and deaths only occurred rarely. From what Ra'zaan had said and how he'd said it, he was used to killing people. That was one thing they did not care to hear about.
"S-so, this Faram m-mage is d-dead now?" Twilight stuttered.
"I can't honestly confirm or deny that he's dead. The flash happened before I saw if he'd died or not... But I ran him through, so I'd imagine he is." He answered.
"W-we need to bring you to Princess Celestia, she'll w-want to have a t-talk with you. Is there anything e-else we should kn-know?"
"Not that I know of... I'm guessing this 'Princess' is your leader?" The group nodded. "Alright, I'll go grab my armor and weaponry. I don't like going far distances without them."
Twilight started to object, and then realized that this time she wasn't going to win the argument. Instead, she just nodded.
"Will this cover everyone?" Ra'zaan brought out ten Septims, the currency from his world.
"What are those?" All of the ponies asked at once.
"These are my world's currency. They're called Septims. What, are they not taken here?" Ra'zaan questioned.
Mrs. Cake walked up and looked at the coins. After inspecting them thoroughly, she said, "They look like much larger bits with pictures on them! I'd say if I took those as bits they'd be worth ten times the normal, but you don't need to pay, sir. These were Pinkie's cupcakes, so they were free."
"Alright, I guess. Thank you." he said, placing the Septims back into his pack.
He followed the group out the door to go get his equipment and head out on a trip to meet the so-called 'Princess Celestia.'
Meanwhile, in another part of Everfree Forest:
A dark, lean figure stood up and shook himself off. He had a great pounding in his head. He looked around, and noticed that he was in the center of what looked like a scorched circle. He saw eight figures lying unconscious on the ground...four were dead from what looked like blade cuts, and four were still alive, apparently untouched. A sharp pain suddenly echoed through the center of his chest. He looked down and saw two VERY deep cuts in his chest, one going all the way through. He sealed the wounds with a powerful healing spell quickly before he lost any more blood.
The other four living figures came around soon after the first. As they shook themselves off, they too glanced around the place quickly before looking directly at the first figure that had woken up. One of them, a women with blond hair and a strong, accented voice, spoke.
"Well, I'm glad our enchantments kept us all together, like you said they would." She said uneasily. "I have to hand it to you, If that Khajiit had come after us without you there, we'd surely have all been killed. Thank you for that, Mr. Faram."
TO BE CONTINUED