A Change of Pace

by Discord_Nations

Setting Out

I slowly opened my eyes to the light flooding the room from the window, hearing a faint beeping somewhere nearby. I tried to sit up, only to have a sharp pain rip through my torso. Taking great care I slowly inched my way to a sitting position. I took a look around the relatively small hospital room I was in. There was minimal furniture, a simple bed, an end table and two chairs. Chairs that were originally made for ponies. I looked out the window on my right and saw the sun barely rising above the horizon. It was still very early in the morning.

I relaxed back into the head of the bed and heard a slight shifting next to me. I looked to see Fluttershy sitting there, resting her head on the bed. She was resting peacefully and was snoring softly. I felt a pang of guilt for making her upset. She was trying to help me after all. Maybe if I had tried to talk about it I….. No. It wouldn’t have changed anything. They wouldn’t have been able to change my mind. I would have made the same actions, though they may have been a bit more hesitant and not so resolute.

I reached out and gently ran my hand through her mane. It felt incredibly soft and silky to the touch. I just sat there for an undetermined period of time, petting the pony who had taken such good care of me out her own kindness. I paused mid-stroke as she stirred slightly. She moved a bit and let a soft sigh, a smile creeping across her muzzle. I couldn’t help but smile myself.

I looked at the wall behind me and saw a screen with a line fluctuating up and down. I assumed it was my heartbeat. We didn’t have anything like this in my home. I heard of places where they had them and saw a screen for one, but I never actually saw it work. It was on wheels and had a wide base that the wheels were attached to. I grabbed on firmly with my right hand and attempted to stand up. I was greeted with nothing but a sharp pain again. I didn’t know how long I had been laying here, but it wouldn’t do me any good. I tried to stand once again and made it to my feet. I let out a low grunt from the strain on the wound from my standing. But I kept standing. The gash from the sword not threatening to tear open from what I could tell.

I took a few shaky steps while holding onto the monitor tightly in the event I became light headed. I was a bit weaker than I was before. Nothing I couldn’t fix with some time. I took a misstep and almost went tumbling over, but I held onto the pole, keeping the machine upright. I wasn’t in much of a condition to do a lot of physical work. I saw my armor laying on the far wall in the corner. My long sword still covered in my own now-dried blood. My armor lay there in a heap, my greatsword nowhere to be seen. Just as well, I wasn’t going to be swinging that around for a while.

I misjudged the leg coming from the stand and tripped over it, sending it and myself tumbling to the floor. I managed to catch myself and not hit the floor by extending my arms. A loud resounding crash was sent through the room and down the hallways. The noise caused Fluttershy to let out a high pitched, yet somehow still quiet with being extremely panicked, squeal. I didn’t really notice because I was dealing with the intense pain from the wound being stretched and the torn muscles tightening. I yelled in pain and felt tears come to my eyes. I managed to bring one of my hands to the large cut in myself and felt what little clothing I had on my torso become wet. I brought my hand to my face and saw blood staining my hand. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to let me know the wound had torn open, even to a minor degree.

I looked on my left and saw Fluttershy standing there already trying to assist me in trying to stand again. I heard multiple sets of hoofsteps galloping down the hallway. I saw a unicorn stallion enter with an earth pony mare. He looked a bit worried, but soon saw what had happened and picked me up in his magic. He set me back onto the bed and gave me a stern look.

“I can admire your persistence, but from some of the scars I have seen on your body I assumed you would have known better than to try and get up after that kind of injury.” He just deadpanned and continued to stare at me. “Anyway, you’re awake now and I think I should alert your friends. Nurse Redheart will be taking care of you, so if you need anything, tell her.” He pointed to the red maned white mare to his side and proceeded to walk out of the room.

I just looked at Redheart and sat there for a bit, trying to get a grip on the pain from the freshly torn wound I had in my gut. Fluttershy sitting there quietly the entire time looking from me to the floor and back again. After a bit of deep breathing I looked to the nurse standing before me.

“Would I be able to get something to eat? As well as something to drink?” I asked looking to Redheart. I received a nod in return, “Certainly, I will bring you a sheet of what we have to offer. I’m not sure what kind of diet you are switching from, but these will be completely vegetarian meals,” she replied and gave me a smile before walking out. I couldn’t help but let a small frown find its way onto my face at the mention of vegetarian meals. Not having meat in a meal is one of my least prefered things, but it is what it is.

Fluttershy and I sat there in relative silence for what seemed like hours, but after checking the clock it had only been a few minutes. I had to break the awkward silence that had gathered around us. But she beat me to it.

"I-I'm sorry if I didn't treat you well enough. I think if I had treated you better.... you w-wouldn't have..." I held up my hand for her to stop. She didn't argue or try to continue on, rather she looked to the floor.

"Nothing you did could have stopped what I did. Nothing is your fault. I'm the only one to blame." I was feeling a bit ashamed at what I did. The wound being ripped open and producing a sharp pain constantly was enough of a reminder. "But," I reached over to Fluttershy and gently ran my hand through her mane, "I do need someone to listen to me for a while. Think you're up for it? I got a lot to talk about."

She only nodded and leaned into my hand as I continued to stroke her mane. Before I could start my story, however, my stomach let out a loud grumble of protest. I couldn't help but laugh.

"I think having something to eat first is a good idea." Just as I said that Nurse Redheart enters the room holding a sheet of paper in her mouth. She set it on my lap and took a few steps back, handing me a quill. "Just circle what you would like and I'll bring it to you." She sat down and awaited my decision. I just circled whatever didn't have hay in it. Sometimes I curse this place.

After about five minutes I had my food. I quickly ate the food, realizing I must have been out for a while since I was extremely hungry. After my meal was done I took a deep breath.

"I suppose that you would like to start huh?" I didn't get a vocal response, but a slight nod was all I needed to continue. I recounted for her the night of when I killed my brother. It wasn't as nerve wracking this time, but it hurt all the same. I explained everything to her, every detail. The argument, the problem, and the eventual shot that killed him. The process of how I was trying to deal with it, the guilt, the nightmares, everything that had been haunting me for the past month. As far as I could tell, it may have been longer, shorter maybe. All I can be sure of is that the yellow mare sitting in front of me deserved to understand what had been going on inside my head. If she got this worried over me, I thought it was the least I could do.

Once I finished my story, I realized I was crying again. But so was she. She was the only other living creature that I had told this to, well, willingly anyway. I’m not sure how much that snoop Luna had seen in my nightmares. I was still quite angry with her. An angry snarl formed on my face and Fluttershy got a bit alarmed.

“A-alex, are you ok?” She took a step back, ears splaying back and raising one of her forehooves to her chest. “I didn’t make you angry did I? I’m very sorr-” I motioned for her to stop.

“No, it’s not you” I just gave her a smile. “I’m as far as possible from being mad at you. Your Princess of the night on the other hand, I am not so happy with. I really don’t appreciate having my dreams invaded by a nosy princess! I don’t care if she was worried about me, or some other reason, I am not happy with her. I can confidently say that I would punch her in the face right now.” I gave her a strained smile, my frustration showing clearly through my facial features. I clenched my hand into a fist and swung it straight out from me. My elbow made a large popping sound as my arm extended to full length.

“I’m glad to see you hold my sister in such high regards.” A regal voice said from the doorway. I looked over to see Celestia standing there. The large white mare with the flowing multi-hued mane. A not-too-happy frown adorned her face. “I thought you would be a bit more grateful to her after the work she put into your meeting.” She raised an eyebrow at me with a confused look on her face, still sporting most of the frown.

“Oh I’m sorry, is it customary to invade other people’s private thoughts and dreams? She’s lucky I didn’t blast her straight out of my dream and ignored her all together. I would have much prefered to have waited until I was ready to talk about it, giving that you all decided I wasn’t supposed to die.” I gave her an angry glare. I crossed my arms, still some what annoyed with the fact they had to interfere with what I thought was right.

“Be that as it may, that still doesn’t give reasonable credit for your actions or attitude towards Luna. She was only trying to help. Now this is only a guess, but from your actions before this I take it you really needed some help.” She approached my bed and put a hoof on my shoulder. I just shrugged it off and gave an annoyed grunt.

“Say what you want, doesn’t change the fact I’m pissed at your sister. Maybe one day I’ll look back at this and be happy about it, but not right now. I have already spoken with Flutters about anything I needed to. So if you’re here to give me another therapy lesson, you can leave.”

“Well, I came here to give you this” Celestia summons a small vial into her golden magical grip. “This will let you recover completely and quickly. You should be as good as new in a week. From what I saw when they took off your clothes to treat your self-inflicted injury, you’ve been injured quite a few times since coming here.”

She brought the vial of blue liquid over to me. I reached out and grabbed a hold of it. I looked at it for a second trying to decide whether I should drink it or pour it in my wounds. “You drink it” Celestia said after looking at me contemplating what to do. Now that I knew what to do I uncorked it and gulped it down. It tasted like something I’ve never had before. But I haven’t had a lot of variety here or my previous world. Though the familiar burn of alcohol was present. I slowly grew more tired over the next minute. My eyes got heavy and I slumped against the head of the bed.

“What the hell did you give to me?” My head was bobbing up and down from my fight with consciousness. My eyes would shoot open, but they drifted back down just as fast. Fluttershy was sitting there like nothing was wrong and went to take a seat, and Celestia started walking out of the room. I thought I heard them say something, but I was fading to sleep too fast to catch any of it.


I shifted almost uncomfortably in my half-sleeping state. I couldn't remember much of what I dreamed, I remember lots of fighting. Also talking to someone, or something, I don't remember what it was. But I do remember one thing I heard, "Go out there and find your life, not the life you were given, but what is truly yours. What you wish to do." I didn't have to think about it very long. I knew what I wanted to do. Now mostly awake I listened to my surroundings, the absence of beeping this time around lead me to believe I wasn’t in the hospital anymore. Where I was laying didn’t feel like a hospital bed. I slowly opened my eyes to realize I was in Fluttershy’s cottage on her couch. I slowly sat up, remembering the last time I tried to move too fast. But no pain came to me.

I slowly stood up, my muscles feeling a bit tense from the lack of use. I looked down at myself, but I didn’t see the bandages I was expecting to see. Instead I was clad in a fresh new set of clothes. I had on a dark red t-shirt with black shorts with white lines down the seams and around the waist. I moved my left arm around experimentally for a bit, finding that there was no pain left. I quickly took off my shirt to find that my wounds were completely closed. My shoulder had a bite mark scar, while just below my rib cage there was a large puncture scar, but more elongated due to the shape of the sword. I grinned widely, being in better condition than I had in quite a while, I jumped letting out a joyous shout. I would actually be able to move again. I heard the front door open hastily and Fluttershy came in quickly with a worried look on her face.

“Alex!?” She asked in a panic, but she visibly calmed down once she saw that I was standing there perfectly fine. “Oh, you’re just awake. You scared me there. I actually thought something was wrong.”

“Nah, I’m just happy to be healed and not in some form of pain.” I couldn’t help but move my arms and flex my shoulders and arms. “I feel great, whatever Celestia had me drink worked!” I lifted the table to show that any harm that had been done was fully healed. Fluttershy smiled wide enough that it gave off an audible “squee” from her.

“I’m really glad that it worked. Though there was never any doubt in my mind that the Princess would try to intentionally hurt you.” She walked towards me and looked at me. “So what are you going to do now? You won’t go home, if we can send you home. Do you have any plans?”

“Haha-, of course I have something that I will do.” I looked around the relatively small home and saw my armor and weapons sitting neatly in a corner. I slung on my armor, securing it to my body and bound my swords and shield to myself. “I’m going to do what I’ve always done, protect the weak. I don’t know if I have to go to Celestia or just the mayor here, but I’m going to become a guard. Whether it’s protecting the throne or protecting my home here. I know it’s what I’ll be happy doing.”

She gave me a slightly confused look. “You don’t want to try and work at Sweet Apple Acres? Or maybe something else that might be closer to here?” Her ears splayed back and she looked at the ground, running her hoof along the floor in small circles. “You know I’ll miss you being here. It hasn’t been very long, but I’ve really liked the company. The animals are nice, and I love taking care of them. But you’ve been different. It’ll feel strange without you.” I just gave a slightly shocked look, before walking over to her, my armor making a metallic clank with each step I took. I bent down to her level and wrapped my arms around her. She started to take a step back, but quickly brought her forelegs around my chest.

“That’s why I’m going. You’ve shown me what kind of ponies this place holds, and I’m going to do my best to protect it. I won’t let anything happen while I’m around and I’ll be here if you ever need me. I’ll see if Twilight can help me get anything that can bring me here at anytime and go back to where I was. But I’m going to protect you, Ponyville, and Equestria with all that I have because of what I have seen. I love this world and with my past settled, for the most part, I can finally see what I have around me, but I have someone I’m looking for. I don’t know if I’ll ever find him, but I won’t know unless I go out into the world. And having a way to support myself would be a great bonus.” I let my arms fall to my sides and slowly stood up, Fluttershy lowering herself to all fours once again.

“I-I’m glad to hear that. But please visit every once in a while, and please be safe.” Fluttershy said with a slight stammer while wiping away a few tears. She quickly flew off into another part of the house. I stood there for a second not knowing what to think. She came back after a minute with a decently sized white box, with a red cross on it. “These should help with any injuries you get.” She handed the box to me. I tucked the box under my arm with a smile on my face and walked towards the door. “So what made you want to make this choice in the first place?” She asked before I walked out the door.

I just gave her a shrug and turned to leave, but I stopped myself before I left and turned and gave her a large smile. “I guess you could say it came to me in a dream.” I turned around and walked out the door to begin my new life.