• Published 4th Apr 2013
  • 2,397 Views, 98 Comments

Fallout: Equestria - Gaia Prevails - John Colt



The Wastelands! Where everyone is his special kind of crazy. I can, however, claim that I'm special! Nightmare freaking Moon wants me to be her new host. Umm... fun stuff...

  • ...
12
 98
 2,397

Chapter Twenty-Two: Torture

Chapter Twenty-Two

Torture



“How do you feel?”

“I have to throw up.” And so I did.

Craft just gave me back the control over my body. I could taste blood in my mouth, I could feel blood staining my entire coat, and I could see blood coating the entire area, with fire burning everything down. Craft had killed every last person in Black Oak, including Turbulence, Clint, and Kha’ref. To kill she only had used her (or rather ‘my’) hooves while holding them locked in place with magic.

Everyone was dead… Every stallion, every mare, every foal. I felt their bones snap, I saw the light in their eyes go out. I killed them. Not just because it was my body, or because I allowed Craft to do so. It was completely my fault.

“Yeah. ‘Having to throw up’ is a physical sensation How do you feel?” Craft put some body pieces in a circle, as if to make a nest.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT TO HEAR? GODDAMNIT!”

“I want to hear that you have learned something. What would you do differently?” She indeed was making a nest, only to hop right in and make herself comfortable in all the gore.

I made the reflex motion of throwing up, but there was nothing left in my stomach. I managed to snapped out of the reflex for a bit to answer her. “What I’d do differently? I WOULDN‘T ALLOW YOU TO DO THAT, THAT’S WHAT I’D DO DIFFERENTLY!”

“I only taught you a lesson, dear.” Moved to lay on her stomach, she got herself in a comfortable position, resting her head on a torso, while looking at me. “Sometimes I think you don’t appreciate through what lengths I go to help you.”

“To help me..?” I repeated in disbelief. I almost wanted to laugh.

“Yeah. You see that?” She pointed towards the edge of the forest. Wait… edge of the forest? There was a flawlessly white wall. Craft continued to move her hoof across the sky, until she reached the other side.

“A dome…?” We are inside a white dome… “This is not real, is it? You just made me imagine all that? Why?”

“Well, after you saw Cirrus die you did something I don’t appreciate. You snapped in the middle of a negotiation, so I made up this simulation. Give you another trauma to snap you out of the death of that unfortunate creature.” How dare she… “So when I end this simulation a whole second will have passed, and I want you to keep your cool, okay? And please don’t mess up a negotiation ever again.”

“Simulation?”

“My little Marble, I’m basically god here, and create things from thin air, but now… shush… we need to back out.”

*** *** ***

The shot was still resonating through the room, and smoke went up from my 44. Dahlia turned to me and gave me an evil smile. I just looked down to Cirrus’ lifeless body, and shouted.

“Ah, come on! I liked her.” I did my best to let myself fall into the bed and be thoroughly disappointed with Dahlia’s action. I’ll get my time to grieve, but now I have to stay sane, all I could allow myself at the moment was for my eyes to water up. “I really liked her…”

I was neither a sobbing mess, nor was I raging out and let Craft take over… wait, why did I think Craft taking over was a possibility? There was something… Craft must just have changed my perception of something, it seems to…huh… I tried to focus on what I have just been thinking about, but couldn’t remember. I hate it when an idea slips my mind without having had the opportunity to write it down.

“How are you feeling, Aideen?” Dahlia’s sweet tone made me incredibly angry, but I had to remain in a cool state.

“A little hungry, I guess. How long have I been out?” That was pretty cold; and, even though that’s exactly how I wanted to appear, I didn’t like it. Cirrus…

Dahlia was narrowing her eyes. Yeah, that wasn’t the reaction she had expected. “You might want to act cold, but I can tell how you truly feel. Maybe I should kill your other friend, but that wouldn’t have the desired effect right now, I believe.”

“Yeah, you would run out of leverage, and you would never get me to do what you want. Oh wait! You don’t manage to get me to do what you want, even if you have leverage.” I was incredibly focused and sharp right now. My mind was not at all distorted by grief as it should be. “I like Cirrus and Turbulence, more than I thought I would. But I will never - NEVER - sell my integrity, you understand that?”

“Then the goddess really did choose you for a reason…” I’m not sure if I should take that as a compliment. I had beaten her in our last alteration with mere words. Now I was trapped by her, and I still came out on top, because she still got nothing on me… well, except Turbulence, but he should be save; or, at least, his life would be spared right now. She might torture him for her own amusement, and he could still tell her things about me. I need to get out of here as soon as possible. “Bring her to our dungeon.” Dahlia smiled. Is she planning to torture me?

“Dungeon? Sounds cozy. Do you have seat heating there?” Dahlia ignored my mocking, but I had the bad feeling that it would cost me (or Turbulence) dearly later. However, I have to show her I’m not afraid of her, and I knew there were worse things than physical pain, like helplessly being strapped to a bed, being rolled to a dungeon…

There is however one part of my plan that Dahlia is missing, one that she assumed would be neutral, or at least on her side, because she has paid him. Clint is under my contract now, and Dahlia just mentioned two pieces of leverage, not three. I have to go on a leap of faith here and say she disregarded him. Or she might have had him killed immediately after he turned against her, but fate is usually on my side and works itself in my favor… no, no it doesn’t. Cirrus is dead, that isn’t in my favor. I have to stop calculating chance in to be on my side.

Dahlia has left me alone with the guards Jen, Samuel, and Kha to transport me to her dungeon. Wait… Kha, he had been behaving weirdly somehow before Cirrus got shot. He knew Dahlia was going to shoot her? And wanted me to not freak out when it happened? I don’t think he was the reason I didn’t do so. Hmm… He didn’t stop Dahlia either, even though he had had the opportunity to disarm her and shoot her, maybe through the element of surprise overwhelm one of the other guards as well, then… no that’s not much of a plan.

I got a bag over the head to not know where they are rolling my bed, and due to the constant shaking of the uneven rope-bridge-like, wooden floor I couldn’t tell from the movement either. The shaking even made me dizzy. The bag not only blocks my vision, it also gave me some sort of privacy; I could cry now without anyone seeing it, but I knew they would notice as soon as the bag got removed again. No, I’ll cry later, now I have to get out of here.

Every time I tried to focus my magic it got sucked out of me immediately. I can only assume they did the smart thing and placed some anti-magic wards on the bag. Or, more likely, on the bed, as it would have been more plausible that I would try to kill Dahlia immediately, then the bag would have been too late for that. Hmm… Maybe if I focus correctly I can tell at what rate my magic is drained, and I can calculate just how much magic I need to overload the ward, it’s location doesn’t matter then.

Being tied to a bed and having your magic inhibited is a way higher loss of control than I had experienced before. Unsurprisingly I didn’t like it, but this time I won’t let them have their way with me, no; this time will kill the person responsible for it. I only had to imagine Dahlias head on a spike and I could feel my blood pressure going down. I’ll rid the world of her, and of everyone who dares to oppose me in that quest.

I had felt that I was moved downwards for a short while, and now we are rolling on the forest floor. Where is this dungeon they are bringing me? In/under the research facility? I thought they brought me out of there, why would they get me out of it, into the hospital, just to bring me back? Has my condition been that cirrus? Cirrus… SERIOUS! I can’t even think straight anymore… I have to repress it. It’s not like one item on the list of things I repress would make much difference.

Anyway, forest floor! Concentration, Aideen! I could tell now in what general direction I was moved. To the black oak? Why? What’s up with the tree anyway? What makes a tree turn black? And like… this kind of black. Wait, I’m moved further down, and it was getting colder… a cave? I haven’t seen the entrance to a cave anywhere when I had observed the area from above. But that’s only when we actually went down the ramp I think we went, because if it isn’t I had no idea where we would be.

“Is her binding ready?” The female guard Jendra asked. ‘Binding’? That sounds bad.

“Yep.” The sound of metal scraping over metal was audible, along with an unknown voice. “Yes, just needs to be inserted.” That sounds even worse. I don’t want to be bound!

“Perfect.” Dahlia! She was still beside me. “You heard that, my dear Aideen?” That sweet voice that pisses me off so much. “He has your binding ready.” Yeah, I heard him; you don’t need to repeat his words in your creepy voice. “You are going to want to see it. Using the metal from the stars might be a little… what do you call it? ‘Overkill’, but I think it’ll fit you nicely.”

The bag was put off of my head, and the first thing my eyes were able to focus on was a U-shaped of metal with both its ends sharpened. It consisted of the weird metal I already saw in the Gaia Prevails facility, the same material Nightmare Moons armor consists of, the same material… Craft had been bound into.

“Pretty isn’t it?” I hate her so much. She paused a while for me to imagine what the thing is going to do to me, then she ordered. “Right forearm.”

Jendra and the male guard (I forgot his name) threw themselves onto me and said body part.

I struggled as much as I could, but the two were too strong for me. My physical strength has never been the best. In my panic I looked around to find Kha, whose expression was in pain. He can’t do anything, right? On whose side is he anyway? I could see the struggle inside of him, on one side he want’s to help the mare he spent a single night with, on the other he couldn’t ruin his entire life by doing so.

One end of the U-piece was placed on my right forearm, just like she ordered. It singeing my coat, painfully burning me. It didn’t look like it was hot... I couldn’t do anything, only press together my teeth. No, I’m not going to give her the satisfaction of me screaming, yet I’m not going to remain silent either. “Almost as hot as your tea, Dahlia. I hope it doesn’t leave the same bad taste, or I’m not going to consider you my friend anymore.”

“Hammer.” Dahlias expression was pained too, and I couldn’t help but smile. She wanted me to be scared so much, and I’m mock her.

The dungeonmaster-zebra set a hammer on top of the piece of metal. I know what’s coming now, and it will cost me all my self control, I had to relax the muscles in my arm as much as possible... He rose the hammer and smashed it down, driving the metal in through my foreleg. I clenched my teeth together as hard as I could. Maybe because I had been prepared for it the pain wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, although it was still excruciating.

With all the sarcasm I could collect in me I said: “Ouch.” I stared at Dahlia. Sound bored. Sound bored. Sound bored. “That hurts.”

Dahlia’s right eye twitched. “Nobody’s impressed.” She pressed out after awhile.

“Yes, they are.” I just had to laugh. I looked around to check the expressions of the guards and the other zebra. Who is he? The dungeonmaster? “Don’t you get it Dahlia? You’ll never get me to do what you want. I can take whatever torture you have in store for me.”

“We’ll see about that. You want to see my tools? I can get them for you. I planned on letting you marinade for a little while, but we can speed this up too if you want to.” Without waiting for an answer she turned to go. “Finish her binding, and bring it to her.” It?

Dahlia walked a dirt path leading up, out of the dungeon. With her gone I could, for the first time, focus on my surroundings. It wasn’t a dungeon, it seemed like the entrance to a mine. Didn’t Dahlia say ‘dungeon’? Two mineshaft sharply going from it curve of fast, presumably forming a small ring. In the middle of this ring on the surface has to be the black oak, and this mine is here so they can investigate the roots that cover the walls of this mine. Another mineshaft was leading further down.

“You’re one tough bitch.” Jendra complimented me, even though it would go against Dahlia’s wishes. Then they untied me from the bed, and with all the pain shooting through me I couldn’t resist what they do to me anyway.

“Here.” Kha helped me off of the bed and supported my short walk towards the inner wall of the mine.

I simply leaned against the dirt wall, too exhausted to do anything else now. “That doesn’t look like a dungeon.” That still didn’t make sense.

“None of your concern, sorry.” Wow, Jendra apologized. Seems like I really impressed her.

“Here.” The dungeon-zebra shifted my leg and the metal into a position it wouldn’t drag me down, and then, without a warning, drove the metal into one of the black roots on the wall of the mine. Again I had to press my teeth together to not scream. “No way the tree is going to give up star’s matter ever again… I’m sorry.” He bowed to me, as well as to the guards and went up the dirt path too, as his job here was done.

He apologized too? What’s going on? I only put on a ‘tough bitch’-act and the zebras respect me? Are they so primal they appreciate people being resistant to pain? I come to develop a hate towards their kind, while only two of them ever did something I didn’t like (not counting the raiders we came across outside the forest).

“She’s bound here for all eternity, we should go get ‘it’ now.” Samuel said to his fellow guards.

“I’ll stay, she’s still a high risk, it wouldn’t be wise to leave her alone.” Do I really get some alone time with Kha? I almost thought that would be an impossibility.

“You’re right.” Jendra nodded. “We’ll get it, you stay.” It’s happening! She and Samuel (I recognized I remembered his name) bowed and walked up, out of the mine. They bowed... I guess bowing is a zebra thing for saying goodbye to a person you respect, even if it’s your enemy. I earned their respect because I had been sarcastic, how did that happen?

“You’re dead if you help me, you know that, right?” I said as soon as I felt them to be out of hearing range. “We shared one night together, no need to throw away your life.”

“You’re not that good in the sack.” What? How dare he… “If I’ll do anything, I’ll do it because it’s the right thing to do. First I need to hear a plausible plan. But listen…”

“What was that about me ‘not being good in the sack’? You better…”

“Are you serious? You’re bound in star metal to the black oak, you have bigger worries right now.”

“Yeah, then why do you have to say. You are ungrateful that I…”

“‘Ungrateful’? You threw yourself at me, you should be grateful I let you in, not the other way around.”

“I…” It was that way, wasn’t it? “Ahh…” I don’t know what to say.

“All I meant was that, although your flank is a really nice flank, it is not literally to die for, okay?” While that sounded plausible, I heard something out of him… He’s lying.

“No, there’s more. Tell me.”

Kha remained silent, simply staring at me with a frown. He was annoyed. “Fine, if that is your biggest worry right now I’ll tell you. You. Were. Not. Good. In. Bed.” He empathized every word to get his point across. “Okay?” No, not okay. “Are you ready to move on now?”

“Moving on.” I pressed out, and thought about my current situation. I wasn’t in any danger of dying from loss of blood, I was more worried about getting an infection from having an open wound that close to the roots of the tree that has an unknown condition.

What condition would make a tree not give up metal? Is it because of the metal being from the stars, as Dahlia said, or wouldn’t the tree give up any metal? Maybe it’s about the density; the star metal is really heavy. No wait, that wouldn’t make sense, a substance that’s less dense would be easier grown into, even on a microscopic level. So it’s not rational behavior.

It’s not a surprise that the trees condition must be magical, just like the metal has to have some magical properties, or it wouldn’t have held Craft. Craft… huh… I have so many more questions. There has to be an answer for this whole mess. The tree will give up the star metal, I just have to find the right way. Everything that can be created can also be destroyed.

“Aideen. You want to hear my good news?”

“That there are only three guards, and Dahlia added you fully knowing about us? That this thing about the star metal and the black oak is just some test? That she wants me to escape for some reason, because there are some pieces missing? Yes please, enlighten me about some of these puzzle pieces.”

“Well… ahh… no.” He looked around as if Dahlia might be here and he gets struck down immediately after she found out about the relationship he and I share (Whatever it is). “Only three guards because we are under attack, and the others are needed elsewhere. We put a bag over your head on our way here that you don’t see the settlement’s not as busy as usual at this time.”

“You’re under attack? By whom?” Someone attacks Black Oak right after I’m captured? That doesn’t seem like a coincidence.

“It’s a ‘by what?’ The forest’s pack of canis minor is acting up since a while. It’s a reoccurring thing that they make trouble, and this time they started before you arrived, it has nothing to do with you. It’s just strange, because usually they don’t really attack us.”

“We’ve been in the forest about three days before we finally got here…” As I said it he frowned. He was thinking really loudly so I spoke what was running through both our heads. “You think canis minor can feel… your goddess like zebras can?”

“World doesn’t center about you, but… plausible.”

“You think that’s the reason why there was no incident with other forest creatures while I got here with my frie-” I broke out crying. “My friends...” Thinking about Cirrus happened way too suddenly for me. And in front of Kha I felt like I didn’t have to act as tough as with others. My hooves started to wobble.

“Aideen.” He immediately came to support me, so I could lay on him and I didn’t lean on the metal in my foreleg. “I… sorry… I… You really acted like you didn’t care, and then you were just…” acting like a bitch about not being good in bed? “I…” He took a breath. “Cirrus’s alive, Aideen. She and Turbulence got away. Dahlia commonly uses shape shifters to kill in front of her torture victims. They take the form of their friends. It’s very effective to make them think they are alone. Cirrus got away. She’s alive. She’s fine.”

Kha was holding me half literally that I don’t fall down, half in an embrace, where he patted my head and caressed my mane. He was really gentle…

I continued to cry for a while until I was able to snap out of it to confirm my thought. “Changelings?”

“Changelings? I don’t know what the real name for them is, but yeah I think so.”

“Magic like green flames when they change?”

“Yes.” He seemed surprised. “You know about them?”

“Invasion on Canterlot in 1003.” I stated while continuing to cry, until I finally managed to convince myself. “Cirrus’s alive.” I let my tears stop and looked at Kha with determination. “I have a plan.”

“Plan?” He poked the side of my head with his muzzle.

“Dahlia is someone thinking about stealth. She will have all stuff neatly looked away with all kinds of wardings, like anti-teleportation. Her weakness is, as silly as it sounds, brute force. She thinks I’m smart and would use something equally stealthy, but we only need to grab stuff, then run and get away. That’s good if everyone is distracted by canis minors attacking. Hmm…” Something still isn’t right. “What are they bringing… I mean: what is ‘it’?”

“The shape shif- the changelings dead body in form of Cirrus. They would have laid it next to you, forcing you to see it.”

“That’s cruel.” I commented. “Okay, do you know where my stuff is? My bow, my 44, and my saddlebags?”

“Yeah, I…” Trying to give a full answer he got interrupted by my next question

“Do you have a sharp knife, or sword, or something?” This time he only moved around for me to see some sort of hatchet strapped onto him. “Perfect. You’re going to have to cut through half my arm and break a bone in the progress. I have a Hydra in my saddlebags, Just, don’t let me bleed out or anything.”

His eyes went wide. “I can’t just…”

“Do it before Dahlia and the others come back. The time we lost by talking is enough to make one trip, don’t let them have another.”

He nodded. “I have no pain killers or anything.”

“No need. Get smashing.” I moved to a position where he could break my right ulla between his hoof and the metal rod in my foreleg. He didn’t move. “I said go.”

Kha gulped; it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how much he doesn’t want to do this. “Bite down on this.” He removed one unused strap of his cargo saddle, and gave it to me. With a jump he supported himself with his forehooves on the wall, he lifted one and placed it upon my foreleg. “I can break it with one punch, but I don’t think it would be sufficient, the bone needs to be practically in fragments to easily cut through it and get a metal rod of that size through the opening.” Another gulp. “This is going to hurt more than when they put it in.”

I nodded; I’m well aware of that fact, but time is of the essence. “Just hurry.”

He jumped a little up even from the support of the wall, then, using gravity too, brought his hoof down on my foreleg.

The pain was…

Very…

Very painful.

My whole body twitched.

I drooled.

And I think I chipped a tooth on one metal thingy on the strap he gave me.

“‘nother.” I ordered Kha.

“It… budged…” He stared at my bloody foreleg, and rose his own hooves to jolt at the star metal, but it didn’t give anything, of course it doesn’t budge.

“Wat… you talking about?” I could hardly speak with pain trying to overwhelm my mind. “It’s… in there.” I lifted my left hoof to show him it wouldn’t budge, and just slightly touched the star metal when it… gave way… “What?”

Once again Kha took the metal and jolting on it as hard as it could without anything happening. “Maybe it only responds to you…”

What is he talking about? I don’t have the strength to… He thought of that too and grabbed my hoof to guide it to the metal. With only me touching the metal it showed little resistance, and was quickly removed from the root. “It… bends to your will…” He said in awe.

“No time to wonder.” I pressed out, and let myself fall against him. “Move.”

“Wait, first…” What? He lead me around in the mine to the other side of the tree. I could hardly object as all my strength went into not passing out at the moment. “Here.” He pointed at another item that was embedded in a root.

The tears in my eyes made it impossible for me to see the object clearly, but I knew what he wanted me to do. I snapped it in my mouth and pulled it out in a quick motion that sent the item flying and me almost to the ground.

“You can pass out now, trust me, I’ll keep you safe.”

Passing out? Sounds nice. Trusting him? I don’t know… His hooves around me felt so nice… They felt comforting… They felt nice… I felt like I can trust him, even though I knew there was still something that didn’t make sense. Something… something…

The last thing I felt was how he managed to get my on his back. The play of his strong muscles underneath me… I felt safe…

*** *** ***

When I woke up I noticed that the surface I’m lying on is moving. What’s going on? I tried to lift myself off of it, but I was tied down. “What the hell?” I immediately was wide awake. My eyes shot open and I continued to struggle against my bonds (they weren’t tight).

“Aideen?” The stallion who carried me was surprised about my resistance. What is he expecting when he kidnaps someone in their sleep, or that his victim resists when waking up and falls off of him. Wait what did he say?

“Kha’ref?” I recognize his face as he turned. He had been at my bed in the hospital… What happened? And what’s going on in general?

“Can you walk?” He talked really fast, as if to get information out of my as quickly as possible.

“I think so…” I stood up and looked around. We were in the forest, but only a few hundred meters from Black Oak.

“Can you use your magic?” Magic? “It would come in handy right about now. I got your stuff.” He tapped some saddlebags he had lying over his neck.

“Magic?” I asked but remembered what happened before I had passed out. Slowly rising a hoof in front of me to examine it. Somehow already knew what was expecting me. My hoof had a light brown coat and was rather thin… a female hoof… This wasn’t my body. “What’s going on.”

“I only gave you a restoration potion, figuring you only had one multiply broken bone and a clean hole. Aideen, we have got to be careful if we want to be able to have any chance of sneaking past the canis minor, do you remember?”

He’s calling me Aideen, and I was inside of her body… AND he doesn’t know it’s not her. What now…

“And we need to hurry or Dahlia catches us.” Kha’ref gestured to go.

“Dahlia… Canis minor…” Whatever happens, I believe I’d be safer if this body stays alive. “I don’t think I can use magic right now,” Considering her condition this might even be possible, but I can’t cast a spell without training. “but we still need to get something.” I turned around, and started dashing… just to bump into something.

“Easy there.” It’s the wyvern Dahlia hired.

“Clint.” How do I know his name? Well… Aideen probably knows, and now so do I… “Sorry. We need to get something.”

“We cannot go into Black Oak again!” Kha’ref exclaimed.

“Just… ahh…” Can I tell them? “Okay, we need to get somebody, not something. The more the merrier, right? We try to go through the forest, better do it in numbers right?” I hope Aideen has enough confidence to simply decide stuff like that. She’s the choice of the god, so I assume she’s nobody who would simply blindly follows orders, but gets things her own way.

“Well, yes, but…” He began, but I interrupted him

“No ‘but’s. We should hurry, so the less time this consumes the better, just move.” I started to dash quietly towards Black Oak, and I heard them follow me just as quiet, barely unrecognizable if you’re not very close.

“Mind telling us who it is?” Kha continued to ask. “I assume you know what you are doing.”

“Vojo.” I didn’t really care if he knew him, I hoped a name would suffice.

“He’s a guard too, right? I hardly know anything about him. How did you meet him?”

Shit… What now? Think… “Kinda… like I met you.” I hope that will suffice, even though I didn’t know how Kha’ref met this Aideen. “Just concentrate now on not getting caught. Don’t ask questions.”

Clint chuckled for some reason, but Kha’ref stayed silent from now on. Good, crisis averted.

*** *** ***

“There he is.” I put my binoculars down and pointed to the wall. “Patrolling, just like I assumed he will have to do in case of a canis minor attack.”

Kha’ref put his binoculars down too. “How did you know where he will be ordered to?”

“Uhm…” How do I get out of this? “We talked about his routine… Look, I just knew him better than I did you.” The most Aideen could know Kha is a few days, I hope I’m not hurting his feelings by claiming something like that. “It’s no competition between you or something, okay?”

Again, a smile was on the wyvern’s lips, I heard dragons in general don’t care about equines, and are sometimes even sadistic, so was I really hurting Kha with that?

I took cover behind the tree and sighed. “I can’t make contact with him, you know…” I looked at Kha’ref. “You have to do it.”

He frowned; he had known this already, but didn’t like the thought of having to talk to Vojo. Was he really jealous? “What do I tell him?”

“Something along the lines of: ‘I know we don’t know each other well, but I know you want to get out of Black Oak too, especially now. So let’s take this chaos here and disappear.’ Uhm…” This is hard… “Say you talked to Nar’yol, okay?”

“Nar’yol? What?” Why does he have to resist so much?

“It’ll be the fastest way, trust me.” Is he even trusting her? Aideen’s personality is a mystery to me, so are her relationships and if someone trusts her or not. “If he resists, just knock him out or something. You’re ursa, he’s claw.”

“How do you-” I shot him a glance that was unmistakably one that he shouldn’t ask. “Okay.” Success. He didn’t question further and began sneaking to the wall.

When he was out of hearing range Clint spoke to me the first time. “So Aideen… When you regain the control of your body and have access to this memory, don’t get me wrong.” What the..? “I’m not interested into pony smut, and my job of observing what you do is completely professional.” He cleared his throat. “I watched you. I know what you did with good old Kha’ref, and I also know that you have never met Vojo. The person in control of this fair body at this moment is not Aideen, nor is it our supernatural friend. No… The only thing I can think of is that you are Nar’yol.”

I retreated back from him, pressing myself into the tree, staining my coat with sap of the tree. Treesap… I remember now. “Yes, what do you know? What do you want?”

“I’m just here to tell you that you just told Kha that Aideen met someone the same way she did him, and that she shares a deeper bond with that guy.” He smiled widely.

“They’re lovers…” Shit. I probably ruined their relationship.

“But I’m curious, you don’t seem to be very rattled by this whole thing. Are you more comfortable in a mare’s body? But that doesn’t matter right now. How did that happen? It‘s the treesap right? I don’t fully understand how it works.”

I removed myself from the tree and watched the treesap of this completely regular tree. “Nobody does. But it catches part of the first specimen inserted into it and transfers it to the next one. That’s how I’m… what do you call this?” ‘Being inside of her’ sounds just naughty.

“Parasite-infection?” Clint offered.

“The effect is only temporary… I’ll…” I couldn’t bring myself to say it.

“Die,” He finished for me. “just like your body.”

“My body is dead?” I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at this point. “I should have known.” I stared to the ground for a while until I found a question to ask. “How long did you know and why didn’t you tell Kha’ref?”

“He didn’t ask. And I had a hunch since you called him Kha’ref, not just Kha, like Aideen would. Also, it’s fun to see Kha think Aideen… ‘cheated on him’, or whatever.”

“You are a sadist.” I already thought it, but now I have a confirmation.

“Yes.” And he just admits it… “But I’m also under contract, and if you manage to get Aideen killed I don’t get paid. I’ll keep your secret for now, and you will take it to your grave…” He frowned. “Figuratively, of course. You are only part of a conscience inside our dear Aideen. But I suggest you stop being cryptic, at least with me. Before all your secrets are gone, because your real body is dead, you know?”

I guess denial is the first step on your way of accepting that you die. Those who are lucky simply get overwhelmed by their death and can’t make peace with their loved ones and themselves.

“This Vojo-guy. He’s your lover?” How would he know that? “Hah! He is, isn’t he? Ahhh… you equines. It’s always about sex. I never understood your concept of sex. Can’t you control your urges? And with another male? How? Why? I mean, this is not a homophobe-thing, but you can’t produce offspring like that. Why sex?”

“It’s about love, and being close to that person, not the act of sex alone.”

“Then… why sex?” He repeated his question.

I sighed. “You bring him pleasure and comfort, while you take the ultimate risk of completely exposing yourself to someone and being at their mercy. Love and trust.” How can I make him understand? “It’s not about getting off yourself, but about bringing pleasure to your partner. I pity anyone who just has sex to get off, those people will never understand the true concept of lovemaking.”

“Okay… but why sex?” Again that question… “Especially for mammals it’s messy and disgusting, you spew your bodily fluids everywhere and… for stallion-on-stallion you’d have to shoot your seed into the other’s rectum, right? Or just…” Clint gestured wildly around. “somewhere…”

Up until now I thought he was just being mean, but he really doesn’t understand anything. “I’m starting to believe that wyverns don’t feel good during sex, do they?”

I got him to frown. “We… reproduce. It’s knowing I’m going to have more children out there, and that’s a good feeling, but…” He looked around. “This… ‘pleasure’ already comes when I have collected a big enough treasure to start wooing. When I find one and confirm my bloodline that act really is just a confirmation then.” He looked at me again, and tilted his head. “But you do not have a conquest like that, you just do it to do it. You do not want children out of the act of sex, you just want to have sex.”

“Well, newsflash. Equines get a freaking lot of physical pleasure out of sex. And if done right, with the right person we also get a lot of pleasure for our soul. If you are incapable of having the feeling of physical pleasure due to sex you have my condolences.” I wanted to add that I truly pity him if he can’t feel love either, but it was better for him to like me than for him to simply protect me because I’m in the body of the person who is going to pay him.

“Fair enough.” Clint nodded. “It’s just, with all the senseless sex your species is having, those occasions equines actually loving each other are way too rare. It must be hard to differentiate between those who just want to find sex, and those who want to find love. I think I understand your species’ mating rituals a little better now. Thank you.”

“No problem. And you’re right, it is hard. But as relationships of the same gender are not allowed in Black Oak we have to be really secretive about it. When being exposed means death, you think twice before professing your love to another stallion.”

“And of you two, who made the first step?” Why is he asking me these questions?

“It was him. I accepted it. But I…” I sighed, this is my unfinished business I had to take care off. “I never said ‘I love you’ to him; I… it’s complicated, now that I’m dead. I might not get a proper opportunity, but with… Aideen… it’s Vojo’s best shot of leaving the forest, like we always planned to. I want him to be happy.”

“What do you mean, it’s the best shot with Aideen?”

“Well, her aura, of course. She scares all the monsters in this forest. If she’s in your group when passing through the forest, you only have to watch for stuff, like poisonous plants, leeches, and ticks. But these ticks you guys ran into on your way here, I heard. Anyway, it also means that you have a very good chance of getting through the forest easier than a normal group would.”

“That… would have been convenient to know a week ago.”

“Ahh…” I sharp pain shot through my head. “What-”

--- === ---

My hooves had wandered up to massage my temples, the headache, however, was already gone. “-the hell?”

I looked around to take in my surroundings (again?). Clint was in front of me, I already knew that, and Kha’ref was gone to find Vojo, the zebra who’s not loyal to Dahlia… How do I know that? I was certain Vojo will be on our side, it was no hunch, but I had no idea how that information flew to me. I didn’t even know him. I only knew his favorite meals, the fighting style he uses, the spot on his flank where he is so ticklish… I felt a smile on my face. Wait, WHAT THE FUCK?!

“Aideen? You okay?” Clint inquired.

All I can remember was having a deep conversation with Clint, but it’s content eluded my grasp… has my memory been altered? Would Craft be sloppy like that? “I’m not sure…” I answered truthfully.




*** *** ***

Footnote: You have reached Level 17!

New Perk: Tough Bitch: Your pain threshold is dramatically increased. (this does not affect your actual Damage Threshold)

Quest: Blind Date:
[ ] Find out what Dahlia’s really planning.

Quest complete: Crush, Kill, Destroy:
[X] Destroy Black Oak
[X] Kill Dahlia
[X] [Optional]Leave no survivors.
[X] Wake up.

new Quest: No More Trees:
[X] Leave Black Oak
[ ] Leave the forest
[ ] avoid Dahlia and the Zebras from Black Oak
[ ] avoid getting shred to pieces by Canis Minor

Author's Note:

Okay, okay, Cirrus' alive and I'm an asshole for making you think I killed her

I also come out with a card that I can simply say the whole thing wasn't real and reset the story after a few month.
So Craft is powerful enough to simply pop out her own little marbles? Isn't that fun?

Changelings? Really? As if we don't have troubles to know what's real or not, now we have troubles with who's truly who they are and who's not? GAAAAH.

But Aideen achieved something impossible, and pulled star metal from the black oak,
and is it just me or wouldn't Craft had said anything about the star metal?

Aaaaand lastly we have Aideen not being good in bed, and words coming out of her mouth how to do it right?
Another person inside of Aideen, but this time maybe really to her advantage...

poor Aideen...
oh the things I will still throw into her way

that's it for now laidies and gents
JC signing out, and as always Gaia Prevails