A Pony Displaced: Another Path

by NoLongerSober

Chapter 13

Potential gelding aside, Barrier couldn’t help but eye the doors as the train rolled to a stop, admittedly curious as to the sorts of ponies that had raised the white mare. She must come from quite an impressive lineage based on her attitude and mannerisms.

“I must warn you, darling, they’re a bit…eccentric.”

“I’m certain it won’t be too much trouble,” Barrier reassured, eyes returning to the ponies now filtering out of the train. None of them seemed particularly stand-offish, much less carrying themselves with the grace Rarity seemed to.

“Ah, there they are now!” Rarity started forwards, Barrier following close behind. “Mother, Father!” Rarity waved to the pair of unicorns drawing theirs - and Barrier’s - attention.

They’re…not quite what I expected. True enough, neither unicorn appeared as he had expected. They seem like they’d be more at place with the Apple Family than Mistress Rarity,

Her father, he assumed, was a fairly standard-looking unicorn, a near-white gray coat accompanied by a brown mane and perhaps his most noticeable feature, a garish mustache, all topped off by a pair of cerulean eyes. Her mother on the other hoof, was composed of a pale fuchsia coat and an indigo mane shot through with streaks of what Barrier assumed was a lighter shade of purple. Her mane, like her husband's moustache, was almost impossible to miss, being folded up in a large something; Barrier could only compare her mane-style to a particularly large beehive; some small part of him almost wanted to poke at it with a stick just to test the comparison.

Mayhaps she’s adopted,

“Are you Rarity’s coltfriend?” a squeaky voice asked from behind the charcoal-grey stallion, causing him to jerk around and see the empty space in front of him.

The squeaky voice, it seemed, also drew the attention of the other three unicorns.

“Ah, Mother, Father, this is Magic Barrier, an...”

Rarity was cut off as her mother suddenly stalked over to the stallion with an appraising look on her as she sized him up with a disturbing intensity. “Hm…”

“Ma’am?” Barrier asked unsurely, standing stock-still. I feel like a fresh cadet for some reason.

“He’s a little flat in the flank,” the fuschia mare decided, “but the rest of him is pretty easy on the eyes.” she tapped Barrier on the shoulder a couple of times. “I approve!” she suddenly raised her voice in declaration.

“Mother?” Rarity asked in question, but received no answer.

“Well, I’ll be dropping off Sweetie Belle’s things before I go to see the Cakes! I’ll see you and Rarity back at her boutique, Hondo!” The mare’s horn flared to life, picking up several suitcases, each more stuffed than the last that the stallion somehow hadn’t noticed, before trotting off with a slight hop in her step.

Eccentric is certainly an apt word for her mother.

“Hm,” the mare’s father was eyeing Barrier carefully, hoof pressed to his chin. “He seems like a good pony. I’m glad ya’ finally got a coltfriend, Rarity, though I guess I owe your mother some bits now. So, when can we expect grandfoals?”

“With all due respect sir, we are simply fr-” Barrier felt something tugging at his foreleg and glanced down at a light-grey filly. Rarity’s little sister, his mind logged the nugget away.

“Can you be my coltfriend too?” the same squeaky voice from before asked finally drawing Barrier’s attention downward to a young blushing filly.

“I’m afraid not, lass,” Barrier replied gently despite the headache he could feel getting progressively worse. “I’m far too old for such a thing.”

“Aww...” The filly walked away dejectedly.

“Well, Miss Rarity, Sir…Hondo, I believe your mate said, young lady,” Barrier nodded his acknowledgement to the filly. “'Tis been a pleasure, but I need to return to the library to prepare for my departure tomorrow.”

“Well, hold on there, buddy.” Hondo moved alongside the large unicorn. “I think that since you’re courtin’ my daughter, we should get to know each other. Why don’t we catch a quick drink?”

For the love of everything under the sun, these ponies are a-going to drive me insane… “While I appreciate the offer, I’m no-” the stallion cut Barrier off with a wave of his hoof.

“No time for second guessing, come on.” Hondo nudged Barrier forward slightly. “Rarity, why don’t you and Sweetie Belle spend some time together while I go have a talk with your coltfriend?”

“If you would let one of us speak, we would tell you that we’re just friends…” Rarity tried to argue; Hondo didn’t seem to hear, instead continuing to nudge the darker stallion forward.


“Waddya mean yer not courtin’ my daughter?” Hondo slurred out semi-intelligently.

“Just as it soundeth,” Barrier responded in a flat and sober tone. “Thy daughter is a friend and acquaintance, nothing more and nothing less.”

“Wa, she ain’t good enough for you?” Hondo tried to sound upset; the effect was somewhat lessened by the fact that his chin was resting on the table.

“I must be over ten years her senior.” Barrier stopped to take another swig of his beer, his expression souring as he did so. “Bah! This beer, as it is called, is nothing more than honeyless mead. What did I drink last night that was so effective?” Barrier pushed the mug away with disinterest. “As I was saying, I’m at least ten years older, if not moreso. Beyond my circumstances not allowing for a relationship, it would be very inappropriate.”

“There’sh nothin’ wrong with an age differensh,” the stallion made for another drink, spilling more liquid than what made it into his mouth. “Cookie’s a good five er six years older than me…’sides you seem like a nice pony…” his chin found its way back to the table, this time accompanied by a soft snore.

Taking a lengthy, drawn-out sigh, Barrier turned towards the bar and waved the familiar cerise mare over, mentally noting that she didn’t look bad with an apron on.

“Miss Punch, could I get our bill and a bottle of your strongest liquor?”

“Sure thing, lessee…” Berry sifted around the front pockets of her apron before pulling out several wads of paper. “Here we are.” With a grin, she straightened the receipts out and put them on the table. “I’ll go get your bottle of moonshine ready and you can pay at the counter.”

“Right, let’s get you to your daughter…” With a combination of teeth and magic, Barrier soon had the drunken unicorn slung over his back. A short transaction later, he found himself walking through the darkened streets of Ponyville, the moon only now making its crawl into the sky, lost in thought yet again.

What’s my real reason for avoiding a relationship with her? Despite his denials, Rarity was a great mare. She wasn’t what he would consider terribly appealing by his standards, but he’d likely find very few mares that were. Beyond that, she seemed to be a kind and compassionate pony, in addition to being an Element Bearer. 'Tis not the age gap. Ten years is a bit much, but far from uncommon it would seem.

Even in his time, ten years wasn’t seen as that much of a gap, especially in arranged marriages. So, why ignore the opportunity being all but thrown at you? Once upon a time, you longed for such a commitment.

He’d entertained the thought of settling down with a mare and taking up a more managerial job within the guard; he'd even had a mare in mind. The princess had offered him several opportunities to do so, one of which he had sort-of taken by training the team of cadets. After that had ended so poorly, he didn’t even consider the idea.

“She deserveth better than what I could offer,” Barrier replied to himself aloud; luckily, no pony was around to hear the argument. “I’m a monster.”

You did what you had to, it was war.

“How many of them were children?” Barrier’s voice rose slightly.

When they pick up a sword with the intent to take lives, they’re no longer children.

“That doesn’t mean I’m not accountable for my actions…” Barrier almost growled as the argument with himself picked up steam.

They were the enemy. No griffin is born into innocence.

“Enough, dammit!” Barrier shouted, stopping his walk to take several shaky breaths.

During this moment of stillness, a statement from an old friend found its way to the forefront of his mind; As soon as we stop killing, we’ll have to stop and see what we’ve become. Face it, Barrier, we both know that deep down we’re monsters. Monsters that Equestria needed…but still monsters. “You’ve no idea how right you were, Crackle…”

“Wassat?” The unicorn on Barrier’s back slurred drunkenly, trying to lift his head up for all of three seconds before it fell back down. ‘Giyy up pony…” Hondo drunkenly chuckled, weakly swatting at Barrier’s flank, drawing a snort from Barrier who continued his stride towards Carousel Boutique, thoughts drifting to how appealing the bottle of moonshine had suddenly become.


“I’ll see you on my return, Twilight. Thank you again for all of your aide.” Departing the library, Barrier closed his eyes as the door clicked shut behind him. Finally, I’m leaving this land of crazy…

Barrier’s eyes bolted open as a familiar smell tickled his nose. The sight that met him was not Ponyville, but rather the somewhat familiar town of Gallopfrey. The town was as Barrier had last remembered hearing of it, burning and filled with the screams and crying of innocents. Griffins swarmed through the night sky, easily cutting down any resistance they faced.

“Exterminate the guards, but keep their meat in good condition! Come sunrise, we shall feast!” an armored griffin barked out she slashed through three Equestrian guards.

“No no no…” Barrier found his breathing picking up as he started to stumble backwards. ”This isn’t right, this already happened…this is the past!”

“The past has a nasty habit of creeping up on us, hm?” a meancing, teasing voice crept up behind Barrier, sending a chill down the stallion’s spine.

“Thou art dead…” Barrier spoke through clenched jaws as he slowly turned around to face the speaker. “Thou wert lost over a millennium ago, for the better.”

“So were thee, if thou wilt recall,” Sombra stated cooly, horn glowing as five familiar ponies levitated into sight, each tightly bound and some sobbing in agony, no doubt at the mangled stumps of wings and horns.

“Let them go, Sombra, they’re children…” Barrier half-pleaded, half-threatened.

“No, they’re not.” Sombra gave a fanged grin, horn glowing a sickly black as he engulfed the bound ponies in his magic.

Barrier took several steps forward before an invisible barrier halted him.

“Now, they are.” Sombra’s magic faded, revealing five very young and very scared foals, all looking to the unicorn with what he could only interpret as desperation.

“Gods dammit, Sombra, if thou hurtest them, I’ll flay thee alive!” Barrier lunged at the invisible wall, sinking through it almost halfway before it locked up again, sealing the stallion in place.

Sombra half-chuckled, “I have no intention of harming them. An old acquaintance of yours however..." Sombra gave another malicious smile as his horn flared to life once more. For several seconds nothing happened besides Barrier thrashing wildly in a vain attempt to break his bonds.


Almost immediately, the ground began to shake before a weathered yet massive talon shot up out of the ground, grasping desperately at the dirt around it for several moments before a second talon joined in.

A pale red glow erupted from beneath the dirt as an absolutely massive Griffin rose from the depths, its size rivaled only by that of Princess Celestia.

“Ah, my favorite little plaything.” Its voice was similar to nails dragging along a chalkboard as flesh slowly began to knit itself across the nearly-skeletal frame. “Coming to pay me a visit after you and your ponies failed to retake Gallopfrey?” The harsh voice steadily grew smoother as flesh and magic trailed its way over the griffin’s throat. “And look at this! You’ve even brought me gifts!” The hen took a single stride, closing the distance between her and the foal-aged cadets.

“Dammit Grimhilde, I’ll gut thee!” Barrier roared, his horn igniting and sending off several successive blasts of magic, the griffin seeming to grin wider each time one broke uselessly across her black coat.

Plucking a single foal in her talons, Grimhilde opened her beak impossibly wide and put away the small green earth-pony colt in a single swallow.


“Mm,” she cooed, charcoal-feathers splaying outward in a display of pleasure as the slight bulge disappeared down her throat. “I love the way they kick and squirm going down…” she scooped two more up, the purple pegasus colt and the cobalt unicorn colt this time, throwing both back consecutively, moaning suggestively as the flailing bulges disappeared down her gullet.

Barrier couldn’t even reply anymore. All the stallion could do was desperately reach out, surrender evident in his eyes, coupled with guilt and self-loathing.

Finally the griffin grabbed the final two, the blue unicorn filly and the snow white earth pony filly and tossed both of them into her open beak at once. With this swallow, she actively groaned, wings extending to their full length in ecstasy as they went down. “Nothing gets me ready quite like a good snack,”

“How pathetic thou art, Captain.” Sombra locked irides, his green eyes sparkling with satisfaction at the broken stallion caught in his grasp.

“It’s cute, really,” Sombra grinned as his horn flared to life a final time. “To think thee thought thou could stand up to us. To me. Compared to our power, thou art but a mere child.”

Barrier winced as he felt the magic engulf his body, the mad king steadily growing taller as he was shrunk down.

“It’s so…amusing,” Sombra finished with relish as his magic faded away, leaving the now foal-sized Barrier suspended off the ground in the invisible wall. “Thinking thou ever stood a chance.”

The wall vanished, Barrier plummeting like a rock right into the giant griffin’s waiting claws.

“Don’t worry yourself, Captain,” Grimhilde sneered, “your precious cadets are still alive! Even now I can feel them struggling helplessly in my stomach. I can even hear their screams! Would you like to be reunited with them? Oh I promise you, it’ll happen soon.”

Barrier didn’t even flinch as her beak stretched impossibly wide, the light-grey fur of her upper half rippling slightly at the distortion.

The last thing the stallion saw were her golden eyes and her dangling uvula before he was tossed down her throat with a soft gulp. Despite the fact that he no longer desired to fight, his body instinctively thrashed as her throat convulsed around him.



Barrier began to thrash as he tried to sit upright, the blankets wrapping all the tighter as he did. With a loud thump, the stallion crashed to the floor, the blankets loosening enough for him to gain his freedom in the process.

It was a dream… Barrier’s mind almost instantly began to rationalize the nightmare. Just a dream, it was a dream… the stallion found his back pressed up against the couch. Breathe, it was just a nightmare. Taking shaky breaths, Barrier found his gaze drawn to the unopened bottle of moonshine from the previous night.

I failed them…