“Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness.”
Chapter 1: A Brave New World.
PoV: Young Man
Darkness…. All I could see was pitch black, as I felt like I was submerged in water. Floating in complete nothingness, as there was complete emptiness all around me. Was this my destiny? To be alone for all of eternity, drifting in the abyss? What of my freedom? The Chalice spoke to me, promising of a new land to thrive in… Did it lie? A tingle sparked from my Right Arm, and a voice spoke to me:
…This is where your story… Begins...
Suddenly, I stopped moving, as the darkness seemed to spawn a small light directly in front of me… More appeared, merging with one another until they became a bright sun that made me shield my eyes. Letting my eyes adjust, I saw the black leather glove I wore on my left hand, the fingers and thumb exposed to the elements of nature, as well as the… Clear blue sky? I leaned upwards, only to pause again to feel grass beneath my fingertips…
Cool, soft, healthy grass… I only saw things like this when I relived Librom’s life through the journal, and not even that was in comparison to what was before my eyes now.
‘I… I must be dreaming…’ I could barely comprehend what I saw and felt. As far as the eye could see, there was lush vegetation, clear rivers ran across the landscape that went on forever, and a beautiful mountain range lay directly ahead of me…. Though there was something odd about one of the mountains, as it seemed to have a giant, yet beautiful structure coming out of the side of it. A city, perhaps? Probably might be the first thing to do: find civilization in some shape or form. Fully standing up out of my uncomfortable position, I looked at my disfigured Arm, and frowned in disgust.
The black, scaled skin reflected the sunlight back at me, while the crimson veins somehow continued to glow in the day. My palm had a ‘Z’ shaped scar that glowed the same shade of red, and hurt almost every time I closed my hand… Speaking of it, just on the back of it, a newly formed eyeball stared back at me. It's eerie yellow iris just gazed back at me, as I continued see what other changes I had. The twin horns jutting from my elbow seemed to still remain, as well as the disfigured thumb growing out of my forearm. My bicep still had a vortex inscription of some sorts and let off a crimson light continuously.
“It seems that I’ll never be rid of you.” I spoke to my arm in an aggravated tone. All I got in response was a slight twitch, and everything was silent. Dusting off my coat, I started walking towards the mountains, in hope of meeting some form of townsfolk that reside near the city... As I walked, my Arm began to throb gently, but just so I barely noticed… What would I find there?
But, as I traveled, I just barely noticed the two, red glowing eyes following my movements. I smiled, feeling something spark in me. Sooner or later, there was going to be a party…
Location: Twilight’s Castle
Time: 1:00 pm
Inside a large crystalline structure, oddly shaped like a tree, Princess Twilight Sparkle was ecstatic. The map had called her friends together for another mission, which would also include her going as well. As Twilight continued to parade around the round table, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and Applejack just looked confused at their friend dancing around like a lunatic… As well as Pinkie Pie joining in as well, but that's beside the point.
“Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!” Twilight chanted excitedly, as the prismatic maned pegasus just rolled her eyes at the performance. Rarity went over to the hyperactive alicorn, and placed a hoof on her shoulder to stop her erratic hopping.
“Twilight, darling? Do you mind taking it down just a tad?” The ivory unicorn asked. Twilight grinned sheepishly, the fur on cheeks somehow turning a bright pink in embarrassment.
“Sorry about that, every-pony… I'm just excited to go out on another job with all of you again.” She responded, getting a confused look from Rainbow.
“What are you talking about, Twi? Didn't you enjoy taking down that Bug Bear last week?” Everyone looked at Rainbow Dash with a deadpan expression at what she said.
“Dash, we fought that thing in the middle of Ponyville while there was a wedding going on, which in fact, we arrived late to, missing the ceremony all together.”
"Not ta mention, sugar cube, y'all were covered in scratches and bite marks all over. Ya even dislocated your shoulder hitting the ground after being tossed by that varmint.” Applejack tossed her two bits in.
“We all were injured in some way, except for Flutters, and Pinkie, strangely enough… No offense, Pinkie.” The aforementioned Pinkie pie just shrugged at Rarity’s objection, and pulled a catalog for various party decorations out of nowhere. Rainbow crossed her forelegs and pouted, before wincing at the pain her abused shoulder gave her.
“Are you ok, Dash?” Fluttershy asked, worried. The future Wonder-Bolt just shook it off.
“Yeah, it's just my bum shoulder acting up. No biggie.” Twilight looked at the map, seeing the collection holographic cutie marks pointed at a spot that seemed most… Odd. It was on the outskirts of the White-Tail Woods…. And seemed to be moving? She shook her head, and rubbed her eyes with her hooves, to remove any feeling of exhaustion from her mind… And indeed, the group of Marks seemed to slowly, but surely moving towards Ponyville.
“Uh, girls?” Twilight said, getting everyone's attention. She then pointed downwards at the table, at mobile symbols. “Is it just me, or are our Cutie Marks moving?” They all leaned in to see what the purple alicorn was talking about, and the group was shocked at the detail not before noticed. Pinkie then raised her hoof and slammed it down on the map, making it sputter slightly. This also resulted in Fluttershy ducking behind her chair, and shiver in fright from the unexpected noise.
“Ah, Pinkie?” Rainbow asked, raising an eyebrow at the pink party pony’s action. “What are you doing?” Pinkie continued to bash her foreleg on top the table, wearing a face of concentrated determination.
“Why,*SMACK*, isn't,*PAP*, this,*CRACK*, working?!?” Pinkie shouted in between each blow, scaring the butter-colored pegasus even more. She finally stopped abusing the crystalline table, and sat back down with her forelegs crossed, as the multicolored dot on the holographic map of Equestria continued to moved forward. Everyone around just looked at each other with confused expressions adorning their faces.
“What the Hay was that all about?” Rainbow whispered to Applejack beside her. The farmer just shrugged her shoulders, and responded.
“Ah dunno, sugar cube. Must be a ‘Pinkie-being-Pinkie’ thing.” The cyan Pegasus rolled her eyes, and turned her focus back to the map.
“Well, aren't we gonna go towards the…. Whatever it is?” Twilight looked at the map once more, and nodded. If this problem was a creature that was lost, then why didn't it just send Fluttershy. It also just seemed to appear out of thin air: no warning, just popped into existence, while everyone showed all at the same time…. So much for relaxing for another weekend, reading the same books for the seventh time in a row….
“I guess you girls should grab your things, cause we're going on a road trip.” The former unicorn spoke, heading towards the door after the map shut off. Just as she was going to open the door, she saw something out of the corner of her eye, something on her bookshelf that wasn't there before. Walking over towards it, she saw a thick tome that seemed out of place, and one that she didn't recognize. As she was about to reach for it, a sudden appearance of orange fur entered her vision.
“Hey, Twi? Ya coming?” Applejack asked. Twilight shook her head rid of the cobwebs in her mind.
“Y-Yeah, I’ll be there in a minute.” She replied. Hearing the door click shut after everyone left, the alicorn studied the spine of the new tome, as most she had didn't have a metallic pattern on them… One that was constructed so complicated, that is. Curvatures, points, and rivets lined the majority of its spine, while the cover seemed to be made from genuine leather, rather than the synthetic material more commonly used. ‘A rather odd choice…’ When going out to touch the mysterious book, a spark of sky blue light shot from it, to the outstretched hoof.
“Ouch!” Twilight cried, clutching her hoof against her chest. In the middle of the sole, was a small, black burn mark, just about the size of a bottle cap. She looked from her hoof, back at the book, and down at her hoof once more. Wincing slightly as she applied pressure to the recently abused limb, Twilight made her way to the door, but not before looking back and saying: “This isn't over yet.” Closing the door on her way out, she didn't notice the quiet chuckles of a disembodied voice, coming from the area she was just in. All the while, a faint golden glow escaping it's pages, as it began fading in and out with the steady rhythm of a heartbeat.
“Oh, I can hardly wait, my dear…”
Location: 5 Miles outside Ponyville
Time: 1:45 pm
PoV: Young Man
The wind blew against my face as I flashed in and out of existence every few seconds. Looking at my feet, I saw the green glow around them start to fade away slowly, and I started to feel breathless. I stopped after flashing another fifteen feet, letting fatigue settle in my bones, as my Arm continued to give a pulsating sensation, as if my arm had grown a heart in place of my bicep. The more I kept moving forward, the more frequent the limb began to pulse. It was as if it was looking for something. I don't know why, but something was edging me to keep going in one specific direction. It was strange, even for me… Added on for the fact I’m wearing a long coat on a hot summer day, which clearly isn't obvious enough.
I reached into one of the coat’s many pockets, pulling out two specific items. The first being a pristine white, fluffy feather that had a soft, delicate feel, while a small crack was forming in the stem, spreading upwards. The second was a small bottle, filled with a crystal clear liquid, topped with an eye dropper to preserve the contents. After sitting down on a nearby stump and taking off the dropper, I filled it to it’s maximum capacity, and very precisely, placed three drops on the feather. After placing the top back on the bottle, the feather glowed a warm green, and the crack sealed up, renewing the properties. I looked at the bottle in fascination, as I always have wondered how this ‘Lacrima’ had the ability to renew magical items, but didn't act as a healing property, unless after using one of those blasted Rites… so much for wondering about the properties of the tears of my former mentor and friend. I turned my attention back to the small feather.
The feather of an Elven Queen… Why did I choose to use this and not a falcon’s? I guess it had to do with how many times I could cast the spell, and how long it took to wear off. While a regular falcon’s tail feather usually allowed for half a minute, it didn't have as much of a charge to be cast. An Elven Queen’s however, had a shorter duration, but more casts… Plus I like the challenge of paying attention to how long it takes for it to wear off. It also looked more beautiful, and had more of a meaning than having a regular birds feather in my pocket.
After placing the items carefully in my pocket, I began to take my coat off, before I heard something: voices. They were all female in tone, but I couldn't make out what they were speaking. They may have just been to far off, but they were heading in my direction, slowly, but surely… Time to meet the natives, I guess. Lovely timing.
As the six equines made their way through the beautiful landscape, they noticed an out of place and unknown plant that none of them recognized. It seemed to look like a normal pea pod, but had a stronger exterior than said vegetable, and was duller colored(1). There were only select areas they noticed this plant seemed to grow when they walked by, but were growing in high abundance in those parts. Twilight noticed something odd about the pea pod: a high concentration of magical energy. It wasn't volatile, but it seemed a little too strange for a pod so small to have a large amount of energy inside. Keeping it in a pouch she brought along, the alicorn made note to document it's properties in the future, in case more plants similar to it appear.
“So, what are we looking for exactly?” Rainbow asked, bored out of her mind as she followed everyone hovering over the ground. The only unicorn of the group looked back at her, and shrugged in response.
“I guess that we’ll know what it is when we see it…” Rarity suddenly stopped and looked at the prismatic equine’s hooves in shock. “Oh my goodness, darling!”
“What? What is it it?” Rainbow followed her gaze, and immediately hid the limbs from view, to only have one yanked into the unicorn’s line of sight once more.
“Have you been taking care of your hooves? It sure doesn't look like it…” Sure enough, the limb in question had a few chipped areas, as well as a few cracks lining in some places. With a slight touch, Rainbow winced at the pain shooting up her leg as she pulled away.
“Can we talk about this later? Now may not be the best time.” Rainbow looked at Rarity with a pleading look, and seemed reluctant to answer her question. The unicorn looked at her confused.
“Why? Your hooves could be in jeopardy if there isn't any immediate trea-“, she stopped as a pink limb poked her, and she immediately noticed that her friends were looking straight ahead… And, by Celestia’s right hoof, was she in for a real treat.
In front of the six equines, roughly about three meters away, was a tall, bipedal creature. It had no hair on it’s body, save for the top of it's head: long black hair that had pulled into a long ponytail and a small amount of stubble on it’s chin.
It was wearing a strange ensemble: a long,dark magenta coat with gold straps fashioning it's left arm, and glowing red scripture running over it's entire length, a gray colored shirt underneath the coat, worn blue pants decorated it's lower half, as well as the mahogany leather boots. The right sleeve of the coat was removed, as the arm of the creature was frightening in appearance: black, scaled skin that seemed to absorb the light around it, glowing red veins running up the entirety of it's being, twin horns jutting out from it's elbow, and scaled, clawed finger tips akin to that of a dragon's talons.
With closer inspection, as the biped looked up, the right eye of the being was a warm violet, while the left had a reptilian pupil, a crimson iris, and a sickly yellow colored sclera. Around the left eye, were black veins that ran from the top of it's eyebrow, to it's neck, and around the right side, coming in area of the right arm. The sight of the creature… scared them, frankly. Even the pink party pony seemed a tad nervous. As the biped looked up, it gave an amused look, and spoke in a calm, but quiet masculine tone.
“Well… This certainly isn't what I expected.” The male rose, as the female equines seemed to take a step back in response, save for Twilight. For an odd reason, she felt a strange companionship towards the creature, but at the same time, a deep hatred and sense of fear.
‘What is going on with me?’ The alicorn thought. She shook her head, ridding the cobwebs that clouded her judgement, and stood her ground.
“Hello? My name is Twilight Sparkle.… Who and what are you- OUCH!” She began, until a sharp pain came from her rear, right at the base of her tail. Twilight looked back to see Applejack pulling her towards her group of friends, all of them wearing fearful expressions. “What the hay, Applejack?”
“Sugar-cube, Ah don't think that what y'all were doing was such a good idea.” The cow pony responded, looking warily at the man that had a confused expression adorning his face, and both arms crossed. Twilight rolled her eyes.
“What wasn't a good idea? The fact I wanted to see if it could understand me, and if I could get it's name, if it has one? Or the fact that it might attack us is I even stepped near it?” Applejack, as well as four of the five others looked at her with a deadpan look in their eyes, save for the pink-maned pegasus, seeing as she was hiding behind a nearby tree, in fear of the mysterious being.
“You all know that ‘it’ can hear you, correct?” The young man said, looking more annoyed than confused. “And the name is Valï, by the way.” Twilight perked up.
“Oh! So, you can understand us!” The newly named Valï just nodded, and stepped forward, but as he did so, the other ponies, save for the purple alicorn, stepped back two paces.
“Yes, I can. I just was… Well, not expecting to meet talking equines.” Valï responded, inching closer to the group, as they continued to move backwards. “You understand that I mean you no harm, right?”
“And why should we believe you?” Rainbow Dash asked, skeptical of the man’s actions. Valï's left eye twitched slightly, and let of a slight glow.
“Because I don't attack those who are injured, especially when it comes to those with a screwed up shoulder and aching feet.” He responded, shocking the ponies on his accusation. The pegasus just scoffed, and rolled her eyes.
“Oh, yeah? Even with this bum shoulder, I can still take you on!” The human just raised an eyebrow at her boasting. He then just shook his head, and laughed lightly. “What's so funny, chuckles?” Rainbow Dash asked. Valï just stared at the pegasus, .
“I don't know why, but to hear you speak reminds me of a woman I used to know… She would never give up until the job was done...” He paused before he continued. “Sadly, I will never get to see her again… All because of that damned Ordeal.” This made Twilight tilt her head to the head slightly. ‘An Ordeal? What is he talking about?’ Valï suddenly stiffened, and stared off into space, into the clear blue sky and completely ignoring the mares in front of him.
“Umm…” Fluttershy began, finally coming out of her hiding spot behind the tree. “...Valï, was it?” All she got in response was a slight nod, as the human looked around, as if looking for something that shouldn't belong. “…if I may … What…. What are you, exactly? If you don't me asking.” The timid pony got no response, as Valï continued to search the area.
As this was going on, Twilight was unsure of what to make of the situation: a never before seen creature appearing before her and her friend, that doesn't seemed to be hostile towards them at all, and now was in a form of high alert due to his position. Nor did it add the the fact that she felt like she's seen this creature before… As if there were a partnership that was long since buried, but finally uprooted. She couldn't help but let her mind ponder on the question that invaded her thoughts, that was until Valï stopped moving when the sound of a snapping stick was heard.
“What was that?” Rarity asked, fear creeping in her voice ever so slightly. Valï was just frozen, not moving an inch, but the alicorn sensed something stirring within the man… Something dark and foul.
“… You girls may want to start running…” That was the only thing he said, before something monstrous leaped out of the bushes. Valï cracked a wild grin in response, as the six equines cowered in fear.
“…Cause it's time for a PARTY!”
…To be continued…