• Published 26th May 2013
  • 1,446 Views, 162 Comments

No Heroes Part II - The Journey Home - PaulAsaran



Fine Crime and Princess Luna have chosen their team. Now there's just the minor problem of bringing them together. Every team needs a base of operations, and what place better than Ponyville?

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Mini-Episode: Chalk

Big Reach stomped his way up the hill to his mansion, glad the rain had finally ceased. Sometimes he hated the image he had to put on for all the ignorant ponies out there, even if it had kept him safe from the authorities all his life. Having to go out and make a public statement regarding the changeling infestation. Like he cared what happened to a bunch of foals. If the Matron had listened to him in the first place this entire disaster never would have happened! Curse that Lightning Dust…

He paused, realizing a stallion was in his way, and glared at him venomously.

“Oop, sorry,” the mottled brown unicorn announced with a grin. “Didn’t mean to get in your way there.”

“What are you doing here?” Big Reach demanded sharply. “There’s nothing up this road but the mansion.”

“Just making a delivery,” the unicorn declared, not bothered by Big’s demeanor.

Big glanced at Mandragora and Scarlet darkly. “What kind of delivery? I wasn’t expecting anything.”

“Oh, just a message,” the unicorn claimed with a shrug. “You’ll find it on your door.”

The stallion started to walk around, but Big stood in his way. “You know who I am?”

The unicorn stepped back, as if to give the big stallion room. “Of course, you’re Big Reach. Who doesn’t know who you are?”

Big studied him sinisterly for several seconds, judging. The unicorn just smiled. Big didn’t like it; anypony who could remain calm and comfortable under this kind of scrutiny was hiding something. But he wasn’t in any mood for dealing with nuisances like him right now; he walked past, his guards following.

“Have a nice night,” the unicorn called pleasantly.

“Do you want us to follow him?” Scarlet asked, having guessed his thoughts.

“No,” he muttered, “not yet. Let’s see what his message was first.”

It was impossible to miss. The stallion let out a furious curse when he got to his front door: it had been scrawled on with what looked like white chalk! Did that bastard have any idea how much that door cost?

Scarlet approached the door, studying it scrutinously. Her horn glowed, she focused for several seconds, but finally let her magic drop. “It’s chalk,” she acknowledged quietly, “but he’s protected it with some sort of magic I’ve never seen before.”

“Are you sure you don’t want us to get rid of him?” Mandragora asked, her big wings flapping eagerly.

Big rubbed his forehead to help with his headache and studied the crude picture on his door. It looked like a stick-figure pony, but one with no mane and three tails. What was that supposed to be, anyway? The stallion was clearly no artist. “Forget it,” he muttered grumpily, opening the door and entering the mansion. “If the worst he did was scrawl on my door in magic-protected chalk, why go through the effort?”

The mansion was quiet. Surprisingly so. Where were his servants? “Azalea!” They waited for several seconds. “Azalea!” he called again.

“Cooking supper, perhaps,” Mandragora offered patiently.

“Without asking what I wanted first?” he asked critically. “Go check on her.” The slender mare nodded and walked off towards the kitchens.

“I’m going to the lounge for a moment,” he told Scarlet dismissively. “Have them prepare a bath for me, would you?”

He started up the stairs, paused, stepped back. On the wall next to him was a large picture of his family, back before he’d become the monster that he now was. He studied it, having thought he’d seen something in it unusual. For just a second he thought he’d seen a strange pony in the picture… but it was gone.

Grumbling over changelings screwing with his head, he went upstairs and to his lounge. He sat next to the burning fireplace and pulled out an extract stick, used the fire to light it and indulged.

The rain had started up again outside, a steady downpour. He watched it fall quietly, puffs of smoke rising from his nostrils every few seconds as he chewed absent-mindedly on his stick. A little silence… a little calm to not have to fret over the details of a criminal underworld…

He sat up, staring at the window. For an instant, only an instant, he thought he’d seen something in the rain, but there was nothing.

Great, now he was seeing things. Working with the changelings had truly made him jumpy. He turned away from the windows self-consciously and instead focused on the flames. He studied them quietly, enjoying the heat from them…

He leapt up; again! This time in the flames!

He glowered, took the stick out of his mouth and studied it for a moment. It must have gone bad or something; he dropped it into the fire.

He sat back in the chair and closed his eyes. He had to clear his mind. Whatever that bad stick had done to him, he had to overcome it. Damn thing; served him right for trying a new brand, no matter how highly it had been recommended.

He relaxed, took comfort in the warmth of the fire and the darkness behind his eyes. Just relax… relax…

He opened his eyes and let out a startled shout; it was standing right next to him!

No… no it wasn’t. He stared at the empty spot next to his chair, confused and getting a bit frustrated. He wasn’t even sure what he’d imagined up, it had come and gone too quickly.

He needed a bath.

He left the lounge, grumbling and bitter and really regretting that one extract stick. He’d had a vision or two brought on by poison joke extract before, but this was just plain creepy. It didn’t matter. A nice warm bath would sooth him over.

He entered the massive bathroom and looked around. It seemed deserted. “Scarlet?” No answer. But the bath was filled with steaming water, so he closed the door and climbed in. The water was hot, and it felt good. He sat back and relaxed even as he wondered where his usual bathing mares were. What was he supposed to do, wash himself?

He breathed in deeply, took in the pleasing scents. His mind was clearing already. Why had he even bothered with that damn stick? This was what he should have been doing. He found he didn’t really mind that his bathing mares weren’t around; he needed to spend some time alone.

He had the abrupt feeling that something was floating between his lower legs. He looked down with a glower… it was Scarlet’s head, staring up at him with wide eyes. Just a head.

He let out a terrified scream, climbed out of the bath and fell on his face, hard. He jerked to his hooves and turned back… to nothing. The bath was just like before. No head.

“What… what the shit…?”

He looked around; he was himself. He didn’t know what was going on, but suddenly he didn’t want to be alone. “Scarlet? Scarlet where are you?” Nothing.

It was stress. That was it, just stress. Working with changelings was always stressful, he knew that. He’d just been working too hard, that was all. He turned away from the bath and made his way to the hallway. He glanced about, but there was nopony anywhere.

“Hello?” Nothing. “Azalea? Mandragora? Scarlet?” He looked around, feeling foolish. “Anypony?”

The kitchen. Mandragora had gone that way. Azalea was probably there, too. He trotted for the stairs, eager to see anypony else right about now.

He paused at the sight of a half-open door. Had he just? No… no there was nopony there. He went to it and pushed it open; it was a guest bedroom, and it was empty. He closed the door with a relieved sigh and trotted down the stairs. He refused to pause by that picture again, even as he thought he saw something out of the corner of his eye.

He had to make his way through the dining room to get to the kitchens. It was a big room, meant for entertaining a small army of guests. The walls were decorated with numerous suits of pony armor from many different time periods. He trotted past, ignoring the heavy rain pattering against the tall windows.

And then he paused, turned around.

One statue had changed. It wasn’t a suit of armor. It was… he didn’t know what it was. The closest description he could think of was that of a pure-white mannequin in a tight black business suit and red tie. And it was tall… tall and slender. So much so that it didn’t seem natural. No face, no ears, no mouth, no mane, but three thin, black tails.

Where had this thing come from?

He stepped up closer, trying to get a better view of it, but he couldn’t. He rubbed his eyes, thinking they were blurred, but the image was still there; the thing didn’t seem to have a finite edge. It was like… like it had been drawn in the air with chalk. And it kept... what kind of term could he use? Shifting? Like a scrambled image on a projector screen...

He remembered the stick figure drawn on his door. Why, it looked just like that!

And then that eyeless head turned to look right at him.

He let out a cry, jumped back… and stared at a perfectly intact 300-year-old suit of armor.

He stood there for several seconds, huffing heavily. Was he going crazy? Had that last puff of extract been one puff too many? Had the stress finally gotten to him?

He went to the kitchen, struggling to keep from running.

He was surprised to find Azalea in the kitchen, cowering under the servants’ table. He stared down at her, tried to catch her attention, but she didn’t respond; she only stared out from under her hooves with wide, terrified eyes. Her behavior was unnerving; he dropped to his knees and tried to listen.

“…coming for us always following always there can’t stop him we’re gonna die I don’t wanna die please please make him leave I don’t wanna die…”

She just kept rambling on like that. He tried to say her name, tapped her, shook her. Nothing. Frustrated, he grabbed her and tried to force her out… and she freaked. She screamed and cried and begged and fought, until finally he was forced to let go and drop to his rump on the tiled floor. She scrambled back under the table and just lay there, weeping.

What in the name of Celestia could have terrified her so?

He stood up, studied her helplessly for several seconds, looked over the table.

The white thing was there, staring eyelessly at him.

He jumped back, banged against the stove and knocked an iron pot full of steaming water all over the floor. He barely escaped a scalding, and when he looked up the pony-mannequin-thing was gone once more.

“Dammit all to Hell, I’m getting tired of that!” he shouted, glaring around the kitchen as if he might find what was causing these hallucinations. He wasn’t scared anymore; he was frustrated. “Mandragora! Scarlet! Somepony answer me!”

Nothing. He glared down at Azalea, realized she was a lost cause. He turned and headed for the storage closet; maybe one of the servants was in there. He cracked his hoof against the door, knocking it open with a bang. He entered and looked around; rows of shelves filled the room. “Anypony in here?”

There was no answer, but he wasn’t convinced. He entered the room and began to pace, looking up and down the small aisles darkly.

And then he found Mandragora. She was sitting close to and staring at a corner of the room.

“There you are!” he snapped, approaching. “Why haven’t you been… Mandragora?” He paused, studied her. The mare, one of the bravest, most resolute individuals he’d ever met, was staring with wide, terrified eyes into the crack between the two corner shelves. She was visibly shaking!

“Mandragora, what’s wrong?” he asked, suddenly a touch worried; anything that could frighten her had to be serious. He waved a hoof before her eyes, but she didn’t respond. He tapped her on the shoulder and got nothing.

Just like Azalea.

“Mandragora… come on… talk to me…”

He heard the door of the room close with a bang, and suddenly the lights went off.

There was the sound of something crashing to the floor; somepony was in there with them. “Whoever you are, if you know what’s good for you…” he started, turning about… and froze.

There it was, standing at a distance that seemed much too far away for the small room. It was just a blur at first, shifting in and out of his vision as if he were seeing it through a fog. Slowly its features cleared – or at the very least became a little less blurry. Was it getting bigger? No… closer. But how, it wasn’t walking! It’s bald head, its featureless face, its unflinching attention… it scared him. He didn’t know why, but it scared him more than anything he could remember. It grew closer, began to loom in his vision.

“K-keep back…” He took a step away from it, bumped into something soft. He jerked about to see Mandragora, staring right at the… thing. Her eyes were huge, larger than he imagined possible, and her pupils had shrunk to reflect the terror within. Her mouth was open, and in the harsh silence he could hear a sound coming from within…

It was a scream. It was so quiet as to barely register to his ears, but he knew a scream when he heard one. Mandragora was screaming, a long, near-silent, horrible note.

The screaming shifted, twisted, became a terrible hissing sound. It was coming from behind him. He turned about and found himself staring face-to-face with the monster!

The lights came on, and it was gone with the darkness. He was back in the storage closet, free of blurry white mannequin things.

There was the thud of something falling. He turned around to see Mandragora on the floor, perfectly still.

“…M…Mandragora…?”

He knelt down, listened. Nothing. No screaming. Not even breathing.

She was dead.

He scrambled to his feet, terror filling him. He didn’t know what was happening, but suddenly he knew that he wasn’t just imagining things: something evil had come to the mansion. He fled through the open door to the kitchen, past Azalea who was still trembling beneath the table. He practically flew through the dining room, not daring to peek at the suits of armor all around him! Into the entrance and right at the door, he slammed himself against it…

…and fell back on his side. The door hadn’t even budged.

No.

He climbed to his feet and hit the door again, the bang echoing through the mansion eerily, but it didn’t budge. He worked it, pushed, pulled, fought it in every way he could, but it wouldn’t open for him. He was trapped in his own home. He considered trying the windows, but dismissed the idea; they had been magically reinforced. Without Mandragora he’d never break through them.

He took a moment to think, to clear his head. There had to be something he could do. Maybe if he could just study the door…

But when he turned to do so he fell away from it; there, drawn flat against the stone, was his ghostly tormentor. He stared at it, wondering silently how it had come to be there. He approached tentatively; perhaps it really was just a drawing? It certainly looked like one. Yes, a chalk drawing of…

The flat, two-dimensional head turned to look at him with a jerk.

“Scarlet!” He fled, tearing up the stairs in terror. “Scarlet, where the fuck are you!?”

He came to an abrupt stop at the top of the stairs; there, hanging from one of the hallway chandeliers, was three of his maids. They were suspended by three long, black ropes wrapped around their terribly stretched necks. No… not ropes.

That looked like hair. Tail hair.

“Scarlet!!”

He crashed into the bathroom, searched in terror to find another servant lying face down in the still-full bath.

“Sweet Celestia…”

He fled, horror gripping his mind. “Scarlet, where are you! Please, talk to me!”

He searched rooms, sometimes finding them empty, sometimes finding more bodies. His entire staff was gone, as far as he could tell. Why, what had caused this? There had to be some kind of excuse as to why this thing was in his home!

He crashed through the door into his lounge, slid to a stop. There was scarlet, standing before the fireplace. “Oh thank Celestia!” he cried, making to walk towards her. “Scarlet, we have got to… to…” He paused, realizing that she was staring with wide eyes at the flames. “Scarlet…?”

Her head shifted, turned slowly to gaze at him with wide eyes. Her mouth shifted, worked, managed to open.

“…help me…”

Her entire body jerked forward, as if pulled by some invisible force, and she was head-first in the flames. She screamed so loud, so horribly he dropped to the floor and covered his ears. He could see her struggling against something unseen, hear her begging and wailing in agony. He closed his eyes, tried to block out the noise, but it kept coming. When he opened them again he saw it standing over her flailing form. Quietly. Calmly. Empty face aimed directly at him.

He screamed and ran. Down the hall, down the stairs, back to the door. He crashed against it so hard he saw stars. He didn’t stop; he rammed it again, again, and again! His shoulder began to bleed from the impacts. “Let me out! Somepony please, for all that is merciful let me out!”

He jerked about at the sound of that hissing, but there was nothing. Everything was quiet, calm… normal. He fell with his back against the door, breathing fast and hard, tears streaming down his face. What was this thing, what!? Scarlet’s screams were still echoing in his mind. Why hadn’t it taken him, why? It was going to, it had to. He knew it, it was going to! He had to get out, somehow, someway, he just had to get out of this hell!

That deep hissing sound filled his ears. His breath caught in his throat, he shook in terror… he looked up.

That white, eyeless head dropped down from it flat place against the door to come so close they were practically touching. It blurred in his vision, faded, solidified again. Its edges held that faint not-quite real quality.

A chalk pony.

Big Reach’s screams echoed throughout the mansion. There was nopony left to hear it.


The operation was a success. BR will torment Equestria no longer.

FC

Author's Note:

Yes, yes I did. Sendermane is now canon to my MLP reality. ...does that mean I should start using the 'Alternate Universe' tag?

Don't know Slendermane? Check here for info on the pony and here for the original, real-world concept.

Nobody out there will remember I bet, but I mentioned it's existence back in the first Episode of this Series. That was meant to be the tiniest of hints, though I didn't expect anyone to know it at the time. I took a few liberties with the concept, but I don't feel like I've stretched anything: by definition Slender Man - and by extension Slendermane - is an inconceivable being that defies all understanding. In theory it can do whatever it wants.

When this entire fanfiction is over (which will not be for a while) I'm considering writing a collection of Slendermane-centric horrors, just for fun.

Yeah, I'm a horror guy, and I consider this to be the 'horror' Series of the fanfiction. But despite my predilection for the dark and spooky, it won't be kept up; the remaining Series I'll be writing for this fanfiction won't be near so loaded with horror elements.