A Pony Displaced: Another Path

by NoLongerSober

Chapter 21

Twilight came down the stairs that morning, spotting Barrier nervously reading a book and smelling ash and a strange salty aroma in the air; the first thing her eyes did were to lock on the empty area where her couch once was.

“Barrier,” Twilight tiredly addressed the stallion, “where’s my couch?”

Looking up from his book, the stallion cleared his throat. “Pray pardon, Twilight, I had a rather… intense dream about a mare I was passionate with in the past. The result was… Well, you would not have wanted to keep the couch.” I’m just glad Daring didst not decide to sleep on the couch with me. That would have been extremely awkward.

Twilight groaned and pressed a hoof to her slightly pinkened face. “I guess I’ll get a sofa with my quills today.”

“Mine apologies, Twilight. I’ll pay for the replacement of course.” Barrier’s horn flared, opening the saddlebags that were already secured on his back. “I had meant to leave this with you before I departed to Appleloosa, but it slipped my mind. Many apologies and many more thanks for tolerating me since my return.

“Hey guys,” The familiar pegasus poked her head in the door, hat and glasses already on. “What’s with the pile of ash outside?”

“The couch and I had an… altercation.” The stallion dangled the folded cheque in front of Twilight once more, causing the mare to take it in her own magic. “It did not survive, I’m afraid.”

Twilight’s shrill voice cut off further conversation about the demise of the couch. “I can’t take this much!”

“What’s going on now?” Daring continued into the library, leaving the door open.

“I’m leaving Twilight the cheque I received from the museum. Mayhaps, she’ll be able to put it to better use than I.”

“Ah.” Daring simply nodded.

“Barrier! I can’t take thirty-thousand bits for a couch!”

“Not just for the couch, Twilight. You opened your home unto me upon my return and aided in my physical recovery. Consider it a gratuity for everything you’ve done to help me along, such as preventing me from drowning myself in a bottle.”

“Barrier, I didn’t do any of that stuff for bits,” Twilight huffed, trying to hoof the cheque back to him.

“If you absolutely insist on not taking the cheque then perhaps donate it to the town of Ponyville or something of the sort. I’m certain there’s something in town that could make effective use of the bits.”

“Fine,” Twilight grumbled, depositing the slip of paper on the table.

“Besides, thirty-thousand is a drop in the bucket to this guy,” Daring offered, shooting Barrier her trademark grin. “Now, come on, we’re gonna miss our train and you still need a ticket.”

“Why are both of you going to Canterlot?” Twilight asked as she walked the pair to the door.

“I’ve gotta give the helm of Hei Bei Kahn to the princesses,” Daring offered, tightening the cloak she wore.

“And I’m passing through on my way to… Well, it matters not where I decide to visit, Canterlot isn’t really optional.”

“Wassat about hay bacon?” Spike grumbled sleepily as he stumbled down the stairs.

“Come on you, you still owe me a rematch.” Daring unceremoniously shoved the stallion forward.

“Good den, Twilight.” Barrier bowed his head respectfully before grunting as Daring shoved him in the backside once more. “Dammit mare, watchest where thou art a-shoving.”


Barrier stared intently at the chessboard, eyes locked tightly on his opponent’s queen. How had he managed to let himself be boxed in by her knights? The silence held for several more tense minutes before Barrier finally sighed. “I concede, Princess.”

“Holy crap,” Daring let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. “I didn’t think a game of chess could be that intense.”

Both Barrier and Celestia snorted in amusement, looked at each other, and snorted in amusement again.

“You should see my sister play.” Celestia grinned. “She takes the game very seriously.”

“Princess Celestia and I used to play on occasion. We usually played to a standstill, but Princess Luna…I’ve never come close to beating her. Something about how she plays.” Barrier took a sip of the lukewarm tea as he glanced up at the taller mare, “So, what did you wish to talk to me about, Princess?”

“Ah, that’s right. Apologies, it’s been so long since I had a good game of chess that it slipped my mind.” The mare took a short sip of her own tea. “I would like you to accompany Daring Do on her next excursion.”

Daring was the first to reply. “Why?” The mare’s tone was somewhere between disbelief and upset. “I don’t like pon-” Celestia cut her off with a raised hoof.

“Let me finish, Miss Do.” Celestia turned to Barrier, aware that he seemed to have taken on a more rigid demeanor. “We’ve received reports of a powerful magical weapon from the frozen north. It’s believed that it may be the Diamond Ray of Disappearance.”

“Okay, but why does he have to come with me?” Daring rapped Barrier on the shoulder, drawing back slightly when she realized how tense he was.

“The reason is several-fold. First and foremost is that the frozen north is extremely unforgiving, and while I’ve no doubt you could traverse it on your own, Captain Barrier has a great deal of training for handling such extreme weather, to say nothing of the… remnants that still haunt the area. We’ve also received word Ahuizotl has been spotted heading in that direction.”

Daring nodded with a groan. “Alright, I’ll not fight it. What’s your choice on it, Barrier?”

“I don’t know yet,” Barrier answered honestly. “What remnants are you referring to, Princess?”

“You know better than any how much loose black magic Sombra threw around during our conflict in the Empire. While rare, there were side-effects. Most notably the wolves in the area, as well as the occasional wraith or malevolent spirits that are drawn to such lingering magic.”

Barrier simply gave a resigned sigh; vacation was on hold, he supposed. “Very well, Princess, but I’ll need to be outfitted. I’ve not kept a supply since my return.”

“Captain Armor will ensure that you have all of the provisions you require, though some of your usual fare is no longer available.”

“Such as?” Barrier drained the last of his tea and stood up.

“Mostly your stems and herbs. Most of what you used to use for prolonged awareness and stimulation have been outlawed due to their addictive properties and how the can negatively impact a pony’s health.”

Barrier snorted. “Very well, Princess. Can you tell me who this Ahuizotl is?”

Daring inhaled sharply. “I can tell you about him while we get whatever we’re taking with us.”

“Very well. I suppose my final question is where the Diamond Ray is expected to be. The Frozen North is far too vast for us to search aimlessly.”

“You’ll have a map with several locations to help indicate where you should look.” Celestia finished the last of her tea.

Barrier nodded but didn’t move, instead standing firmly still; Celestia smiled.

“You’re dismissed, Barrier.”

The unicorn blushed faintly. “Pray pardon, Princess, old habits. Daring, I’ll gather up the supplies we shall need and meet you at the train-station, say tomorrow at noon?”

“Sure thing. I’ll hit the library and see what I can figure out about that Diamond Ray.”

Both of the ponies nodded in synchronization before they departed Celestia’s room in unison, almost as if they’d practiced it; neither noticed the almost mischievous smile on the solar princess’s muzzle.


“Captain Armor,” a pegasus poked his head into the room. “Magic Barrier’s here to see you.”

“Go ahead and send him in.”

“Shining Armor,” Barrier spoke semi-formally as he made his way into the small office.

“Welcome back to Canterlot,” Shining motioned to the chair in front of his desk.

“Mm,” Barrier approached the chair, eyes roving the room. “Quite spartan for a captain’s office.” The room was composed of a desk, bookshelf, and a pair of chairs.

“Yeah, I don’t do much here except fill out paperwork and on occasion talk to a guard or civilian.”

“I see,” Barrier fell silent for a moment before continuing, “How are things going between you and Cadance?”

“Pretty good, actually. Think I might propose to her this coming Hearth's Warming.”

“Hm, well, if things fall through let me know so I can comfort you in your time of need.” A half-smile set itself on Barrier’s muzzle as Shiny blushed and let out an awkward cough.

“Uh, so,” the stallion tried to refocus the conversation. “How can I help you today?”

“The princess has me heading up north to try and track something down for her. She said you would be able to get me the gear I required.”

Realization dawned on Shining Armor’s face. “So, that’s why she gave me that blank, signed requisition form earlier.” The realization turned to confusion. “Why didn’t she just tell me what it was for? She made it sound really cryptic and everything. Said I’d know when the time to use it was right and whatnot.”

Barrier couldn’t help but chuckle. “She enjoys messing with ponies sometimes. I can’t even begin to count the number of times she pulled such things with me. The last of it was her informing me that I’d be undertaking the most dangerous and harrowing mission of my career and then she and Princess Luna saddled me with five fresh recruits.”

“Ouch,” Shiny chuckled as well. “Alright then, just fill this form out with what whatever you need and we can head down to the armory to get it.”

“Mm,” Barrier was already scanning over the paper, some part of his mind realizing that he was having no difficulty reading it; it took him all of fifteen minutes to make out the list and for them to be moving towards the armory.

“Looks like we’ve got all of this…” The pair were walking through the halls of the castle towards the armory, Shining Armor reading the list as they walked. “You’ll need to be sized for the cleated shoes though. And I don’t think we have any ‘resin-soaked torches’ either. I also don’t see any heating crystals on here…”

Barrier frowned slightly. How could they not have long-burning torches?

“You should probably take some flares with you as well.”

The pair stopped out of an intimidating steel door.

“I’ve no clue what either of those are. How can you not have any resin-soaked torches? What would you use if you’re exploring a cave and need to mark a trail or a source of heat?”

“Well, flares are enchanted crystals the give off a bright light, depending on the type of crystal used. You can either shake them or channel a bit of magic into them and they’ll light up for hours, and heating crystals are your source of heat. As long as you keep them in contact with your skin the enchantment will keep you comfortably warm. You could probably do without the coats and tent with enough heating crystals. They’d be lighter as well.”

Ponies have it easy these days. “Very well, replace the torches with the flares and…how long do the heating crystals last?”

“About a day.”

“Two-dozen heating crystals then.”

“And the tent and coats?” Shining’s horn flared, shoving the door open and revealing rows upon rows of various weapons and armor as well as other miscellaneous items.

“Keep them. I’m not familiar with your heating crystals and would prefer to have a backup if needed. Besides, I’d rather not be in an open blizzard, warm or not.”

“Fair enough,” Shining Armor made his way over to the counter, frowning at the dozing pony behind it. “Dammit, this is third time this week he’s been sleeping on the job…” The stallion reached out to shake the quartermaster awake.

“Hold, Shining.” Barrier’s own horn flared, an inkwell and quill floating by. “I have an idea.”

“Are… are you drawing a dick on the quartermasters face?”

“Aye. My cadets did this to me once. I arranged for the mess to serve nothing but spicy foods for the entirety of the week and gave them all latrine duty.”


One very ashamed quartermaster and several hours later, Barrier found himself departing the castle with a literal stack of stuff floating in his magic and his sword dangling loosely in the sheath on his side. Now, where are you staying tonight? Daring no doubt already has a place to stay, so I suppose I should find an inn…

Glancing around, Barrier’s eyes settled on Shining Armor, who was still beside him, having decided to leave early and visit his parents. “Shining, would you happen to know where the nearest inn is? My train doesn’t leave until tomorrow and I didn’t think to make prior arrangements…” The stallion trailed off slightly, looking behind him as if expecting somepony to be there.

“Well, there’re a couple of hotels around but they’re all kind of expensive.” Shining paid no attention to the stallion’s slowed movement. “I know money isn’t an issue for you but they’re really not worth it…” Shiny pressed a hoof to his chin it thought. “Why don’t you stay at my parents’ place? My dad’s pretty big into genealogy so I know he’d love to meet you. Plus I’m staying there tonight, so I doubt they’d mind if you did to.”

“I’d rather not impose, though it could be interesting to meet them.”

“You wouldn’t be. They’re the only ones really there anymore since Twily moved out. They wo-” Shiny stopped as they passed through the market, his hoof shooting out to stop Barrier as well. “Speaking of my parents,” Shining started towards a light-gray unicorn sifting through a stand of vegetables and fruits, gazing at each one with a frightening amount of scrutiny; even the pony working the stand looked nervous. “Hey, Mom!” Shiny shouted out, drawing the attention of several passerby and that of the unicorn as she recognized the voice.

“Hm… tell me Shining, does the Sparkle name come from your mother or your father?”

“The Sparkle was from Dad’s side, why?”

“Oh good.” Barrier breathed a sigh of relief. “I really didn’t want to find my distant niece attractive.”

Shining’s eye twitched slightly. “She’s happily married.”

“That doesn’t make her any less attractive, it just means I can only look.”

“You do realise I could toss you in the dungeon.”

“That won’t stop my fantasies,” Barrier teased.

Shining opened his mouth to retort, only for the unicorn mare to cut him off with a bone-breaking hug.

“Hey, Mom…” the stallion gasped out, patting her awkwardly on the back. “Magic Barrier, this is my mom, Twilight Velvet. Mom, this is-” the stallion was cut off again.

“Oh, so you’re Magic Barrier!” She glanced him over with the same scrutinizing eye she’d used for the vegetables. Disconcerting was too tame a word for it.

“Cadance told me that Shining had a new boyfriend and that they’d started a herd, but I never got the chance to meet you. I trust you’ll take good care of my son?”

Shining Armor’s jaw hung open limply, no response forthcoming.

Barrier hesitated slightly at first but, with a mental grin, nodded at the mare with clear determination in his eyes. “I give you my word, Miss Velvet, I shalt make your son the happiest stallion in Equestria.”

“Excellent.” Velvet nodded in satisfaction. “Now, c’mon. Night Light’s been dying to meet you ever since Cadance told us. I’ll make you two a dinner so big, you’ll be as stuffed as Shiny was last Wednesday night when Ca-”

“Mom, stop!” Shiny finally regained himself enough to speak. “You swore you’d never tell anypony!”