A Pony Displaced: Another Path

by NoLongerSober

Chapter 16

For some reason, I sincerely doubt this town hath a cure for poison joke… Barrier thought idly to herself as she stepped of of the train, having allowed Lucky Clover to depart first. I’ll likely have to return to the madness that is Ponyville. Barrier’s tail twitched irritably. At least I know that it could be worse.

“Welcome ta AAAAAAAAppleeeoooosaaaa!”

“Case in point,” Barrier muttered irritably while looking at the pony who bore an uncanny resemblance to one of her former comrades. “Tellest me, stallion, where would I find alcohol in this town?”

“Well, the saloon in town serves liquor all day, but ain’t it a little early in the mornin’ fer booze, little lady?”

“Oh, shut up, Braeburn,” Barrier muttered on reflex as she departed the platform.

“Well ya don’t need to be ru…” the stallion trailed off, his voice descending into confusion. “Now, hold on there an apple-pickin' minute,” the stallion cut Barrier off, walking in front of her. “How’d ya know mah name? Ah never introduced mahself.”

Oh gods, thou art truly Braeburn… Barrier took a deep breath before slowly letting it out. “Mine … My apologies. Today has been…difficult, to be certain.”

“Well, alrighty then.” Braeburn nodded in understanding. “So how’d ya know my name?”

“I knew a pony a very long time ago with that name. Your appearance and behaviour is…similar to him. I mostly called you that on reflex. That your name is Braeburn is pure chance,” Barrier answered smoothly.

“Well, if ya need some help 'round these parts, Ah’d be glad ta help a pretty mare like yerself,” the stallion offered with a slight smile.

Gods, this is disconcerting, Barrier thought to herself, the awkward scenario of one of his best friends flirting with her…him setting itself in his mind. He’s not the same stallion and you’re currently a mare, Barrier reasoned before she verbally replied, “I’m not actually a mare, Braeburn. My current form is due to an accident involving a cursed plant. Normally, I’m a rather large stallion.”

Braeburn stood in stunned surprise for a brief moment before finally responding, “That don’t bother me none. Now, how about Ah show you around town? After all, there’s more ta ‘Aaaaaaappleloosa!’ than jus the saloon.”

Well, 'tis what I came here to do, I suppose a tour guide won’t hurt. “Very well, Braeburn, you lead, and I’ll follow.”


“And these 'ere are our horse-drawn carriages!” Braeburn thrust a hoof towards the carriages in question.

“And pray tell, what purpose do they serve?” Barrier asked, raising her eyebrow.

“They’ll be fer tourists, once we've some comin' in. We’re still a right small town right now though.”

“Fair enough, I suppose.” A wasted investment I imagine.

“Now, come on, and Ah’ll show ya the apple orchards. The trees ain’t quite ready ta bare fruit yet, but jus a few more months an' they’ll be ready ta feed the whole town.”

“I’m glad that the Apples managed to become successful farmers,” Barrier commented almost absentmindedly, eyes taking in the trees, a strange melancholy settling over him as he noticed small flower-buds here and there. “I knew at least one pony who was positive that the venture would end in failure.”

Braeburn stopped and turned to face the mare in curiosity. “Waddya mean by end in failure? The Apple family’ve been farmers as long as anypony can 'member.”

“Before your family were farmers, they were guards, same as mine,” Barrier explained. “Winter Gem was the youngest of the Apple family to join the guard that generation, following Braeburn Apple. I remember the Braeburn I knew talking about an argument they had regarding farming versus being a guard or continuing to run the trading post they had. Braeburn thought the family should shift to something other than the tradition of being a royal guard.” Can’t really blame him. she thought bitterly before continuing, “And Winter Gem thought he was an utter fool….” Barrier took a shaky breath all of a sudden. “That was the last time they saw each other, now that I think about it. Winter Gem perished in the line of duty before they had a chance to reconcile.” And it’s all my fault.

“Er…not ta be rude or anything, but how do ya know all that?”

“I’m far older than I appear.”

“Er, how old are ya? Ya don’t look that much older than me, and Ah know that mah great grandpappy was a farmer, so…”

“Really Braeburn, asking a lady her age?” Barrier let a slight smile drift onto her face, the depression of his realization fading into the background for the time being.

“Er, uh…” Braeburn chuckled nervously, “Ah didn’t me-”

“Relax, Braeburn, I was a stallion long before I was a mare.” Gods, that is awkward to say… “And to answer your question, you heard about the return of Princess Luna after one-thousand years, correct?”

Braeburn nodded.

“I was…guarding her for the one-thousand years she was away. I’m one-thousand and thirty-six years old.” Barrier waited several short seconds for the stallion to respond; when no response was forthcoming, he continued. “I wear my years quite well, I think. Now, how about that saloon you mentioned?”


Barrier groaned in relief as the burn of the whiskey warmly raced down her throat and settled in her stomach. That hit the spot… Barrier stared at the empty glass. “Bartender, another glass please,” Barrier called out to the blue-maned stallion behind the counter, receiving the requested drink in short order and throwing the drink back almost immediately. It was worth the visit here if only for the whiskey. Barrier became aware of a pony heading towards him. This should be good…

“Ya know,” the stallion started, “Yer the best-lookin’ thing in the bar.” The stallion dropped down onto the seat next to Barrier, “Bet ya’d look even better in mah bedroom.”

“And I think your head would look good on the mantle of a griffin fireplace,” Barrier responded with clear disinterest, swallowing the rest of his drink and waving it at the bartender who, like with the past four, handed another eight ounces of the golden nectar to the unicorn mare.

“Aw, don’t be like that.” The stallion smiled, now snaking a limb casually over her shoulders. “I’m just tryin’ to be extra friendly…”

“Don’t touch me,” Barrier responded flatly, shrugging the stallion’s leg off.

“Ooh, you’re a feisty one.” The stallion grinned lasciviously.

Only now did Barrier turn to face the dark-blue stallion that couldn’t seem to take no for an answer. Taking a slow breath to try and clear his alcohol-addled mind, Barrier stared into the stallion’s navy-blue eyes and spoke slowly, carefully enunciating his words.

“I am not interested in you, and ask you kindly to leave. Me. Alone.” Barrier turned back to her drink, tossing it back in one swallow and slamming a stack of bits on the bar with her magic. “Thanks, barkeep,” Barrier nodded to the stallion that had been feeding the bad-decision segment of her inhibitions for the last hour. With a huff, she climbed off of the bar stool and turned towards the door, only to feel something tug on her tail.

“Now, hold on,” the stallion mumbled through a mouthful of tail, “Ah wasn’t done y-”

Barrier tilted forward and threw both of her back legs out, hitting the pony in the chest with a resounding crack that sent him clear over the bar and into another pair of ponies, sending their drinks and meals tumbling to the floor.

That was probably a bad idea. Barrier thought hazily to herself before she sat back down at the bar and waved at the bar tender again. “I changed my mind. Can I get another couple of glasses? I don’t thin-” Barrier’s head snapped forward as a glass collided with it, drawing her attention to the dining area where all hell had broken loose, more specifically to the dark-blue pegasus that she’d sent flying across the room who was staring at her, wide-eyed that the bottle had done little more than piss the mare off.

“Clear thy schedule, pegasus. Thou hath just signed thyself into the infirmary.”


“We don’t know how it started,” Braeburn explained, wincing as Thunder Cracker, a dark-blue pegasus who had only moved into town a few months ago, came sailing through the window, skidding to a halt just in front of the pair, his muzzle clearly broken and a wing bent at an odd angle.

“Cobalt, think y'all can handle it?” a light-brown stallion with a silver star and an impressive mustache asked, walking over to Thunder Cracker. “Ah reckon Thunder 'ere needs a trip ta the doc.”

“I can handle it,” a deep voice replied with a sigh. “Somepony must’ve spilled their damn drink or something…” The large thestral stepped towards the saloon while muttering. “A bar-fight and it isn’t even friggin’ noon yet…” With a flick of the muzzle, the muscular batpony threw the doors open…just in time to see a charcoal-grey mare drop Bushel with an uppercut that threw the stallion to his back with a pained grunt.

“That’s enough of that!” Cobalt yelled out, slamming a hoof into the floorboard, halting the majority of the movement in the saloon with the resounding crack from where the hoof had broken through the floorboard.

Barrier, like everypony else, stopped what she was doing to see the newest arrival. A thestral. Barrier shook her head in a futile effort to clear the the blur up.

“Now, who started this mess?”

The thestral waited all of three seconds before her gaze followed the half-dozen hooves to the large unicorn mare, gazing at her with a disturbing intensity.

“Ma’am, I’m gonna have to ask you to come with me.”

Barrier blinked and shook her head again, moving forward with a stable gait that surprised the charcoal unicorn. The dregs of adrenaline, perhaps.

Turning towards the door, Cobalt nosed it open, stepping out into the noonday heat, one drunken unicorn following closely behind.

“Did everythin’ go okay, Miss Lancer?”

“Miss?” Barrier asked with a slight slur, her voice betraying her surprise. “Huh. Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, something comes along to surprise you.”

Braeburn winced; Cobalt took a deep breath, slowly exhaling it as more of a growl.

“This the pony that was causin’ the ruckus?”

Barrier and Cobalt both turned around to face the newest addition to their group, the returning sheriff.

“This is her, sir. How’s Thunder Cracker doing?”

“He’ll be okay, but he won’t be able to fly fer a couple of months.”

“Thunder Cracker? That the dark-blue pegasus?” Barrier asked with a surprising amount of venom.

“That’s him.” The sheriff walked over to the unicorn mare. “He said he wanted to sue ya fer his medical expenses.” As he spoke, the stallion fished around his bags, returning to face Barrier with a ring in his mouth.

“Might wanna use a military-grade inhibitor, Sheriff,” Cobalt interjected, causing Barrier to snort.

“And why’s that, bat?”

“That’s Miss Cobalt Lancer to you,” the giant of a thestral mare replied with a narrowed gaze.

“No, it isn’t,” Barrier replied with clear amusement as the sheriff fished another ring out of his bags, this one covered in runes and tiny rubies.

“Don’t disrespect mah deputy,” the sheriff warned with a flat tone as Barrier tilted her head forward, allowing the ring to be affixed to her horn.

“Your deputy will have to earn my respect, same as you sheriff, and being a thestral, she’s gonna have a much harder time of it.”

Cobalt frowned but didn’t respond, instead taking the time to digest the unicorn’s words. Most ponies didn’t know the proper term for them -they were usually just referred to as bat-ponies, or, as a racial slur, bats. Most ponies weren’t even really aware of their existence, much less had reason to be so hostile.

The sheriff only grunted in reply, tugging Barrier forward. “Come on. Some time in lockup will help ya’ clear yer head. Why dontcha take ‘er away, Cobalt?”

“Sure thing, Sheriff…” Cobalt put a foreleg over the mare’s shoulder and started to move her towards the town jail, briefly pausing to address Braeburn.

“So Braeburn, ya always seem to know the new ponies in town,”

“Erm yeah?” Braeburn replied, moving to follow the intimidating thestral and prisoner.

“Anything you can tell me about that mare?”

“Er, well. She’s actually a stallion...” Braeburn started.