• Published 2nd Jul 2013
  • 854 Views, 80 Comments

Beyond the Vale - Slip Kid



Canterlot Castle: a place of wonders and revelations, countless advances having been made within its sturdy walls. However, what should have been a great leap forward has instead flung a pony into the unknown...

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Of Candles & Teleportation

Near the centre of Canterlot castle, adjoining the Starswirl the Bearded area of the library, lay the Clover the Clever wing of the castle, dedicated to advancing the magical knowledge of ponykind. The most talented and knowledgeable unicorns in Equestria had resided there for millennia, with each generation of ponies bringing more knowledge back from the threshold of The Vale, a plane of existence only accessible to the most gifted of unicorns. It was thought to hold untold amounts of arcane knowledge; wisdom that would often have to be forcibly removed, though occasionally tantalizing wisps of magical enlightenment would bleed out. The institute itself was generally a place of excitement and wonder that was abuzz with activity at all hours, but a certain researcher would probably call it a dungeon at that very moment.


That researcher resided in a blindingly white room, only made bearable to look at by the sheer number of bookshelves lining its walls. Near the back of this room just in front of a monolithic bookshelf, a very agitated-looking pony sat behind a worn mahogany desk, his scowl worsening as an aura of forest green magic slowly faded from around his horn. He abruptly slammed one of his hooves against his desk, most of the ponies walking near his office shied away from the reverberating thump while those who frequented the area simply rolled their eyes.


The pony in question roughly dragged his hoof over his short but unkempt mane. The tangled strands of auburn fibre protesting against every movement, with the sweat caused by an unusually hot day coating his dark green hoof only helping slightly. He closed his eyes and began muttering angrily underneath his breath.


"I just don’t get it. I’ve tried every single configuration I could think of and nothing! Every single sun-cursed one!"


He stormed out of the room and into an open corridor leading to a bright courtyard dotted with exotic plants and ancient statues of famous figures, the spectacular view doing little to improve his mood.


"By Apokryfes, could this day get any worse?"


It was at that moment that a vibrant blue and orange colt with a lit candle branded upon his flanks spotted him. The brightly coloured colt's light eyes widened and he was soon jaunting down the crowded marble corridor towards the despondent pony. The green pony in question took a quick moment to look to the sky and murmured something almost inaudible.


"Hate you too," he said through gritted teeth.


His ugly expression alleviated only slightly when the blue colt reached him and began to speak, the other ponies crowding the area paying him no mind.


"Hey Firebrand, how’s that new spell coming along?” the young colt asked with enthusiasm. A soft smile tugged at the corners of his muzzle while his eyes twinkled in the muted sunlight.


“Do you really want to know, Bright?” the slightly older pony said in a weary tone, his face falling even further when the energetic colt vigorously nodded his head. His deep green eyes slowly narrowed and his mouth formed into a taught grimace as he recounted his numerous trials.


“In one word, terribly." The pace of his speech increased. "They have countless other talented unicorns willing to work on a long-range teleportation spell, but, for some incomprehensible reason, they give the task to me. Regardless of the fact that my field is destruction magic, not Vale-tainted teleportation! Heck, they should have an entire team working on this, but they give it to a single pony who has no idea what he’s even doing! So, in short, I’m completely out of my league and haven’t slept in two days, does that answer your question!?


Bright was now visibly cowering before his elder, trying desperately to disappear while a curious crowd coalesced around the duo. Bright's ears were pinned back and his head was lowered before his peer.


“I-I’m sorry, whatever I did, I’m sorry,” he fearfully choked out, trying desperately not to look at Firebrand.


After glancing down at the cringing pony, Firebrand suddenly came to his senses and backed off from his overbearing position. He almost winced when he felt a sharp spike of guilt lance into his being. He gave a drawn out sigh and hooked his foreleg over his prominent muzzle, trying to forestall his oncoming headache. Firebrand glanced apologetically at at the bright blue pony situated in front of him. His features softened even further.


“No, I’m sorry Bright... I shouldn't have snapped at you like that. I’m just under a lot of stress right now and I’d rather be left alone for a while.”


The smaller unicorn regained his smile, though much it was now much more cautious, and noisily clambered back onto his hooves with some help from the pony who had caused him to fall to his haunches.


“It’s okay, I should have known that you probably weren't in the mood to talk.” He momentarily widened his smile and cantered out of Firebrand’s line of sight. Seeing that whatever drama had transpired was over, the crowd around him slowly dispersed; the usual rumble of activity replacing the silence that had seized the area only moments before. Also letting the weary pony set off towards a large set of gold-lined ebony doors, though he still attracted some curious stares from passers-bye. He tried to tune out the cacophony of dozens of hooves striking bare stone, and found himself thinking about his predicament.


Note to self: don’t talk to anypony for now, you will set something on fire.


He halted mid-step when he once again saw the imposing ebony doors in front of him, a scant few hooves away.


Then why, in the wide world of Equestria, am I going to the lunch hall?


Sometime later, Firebrand was sitting on one of the ancient wooden tables that dotted the gargantuan room that served as a cafeteria. Serene magical lights bathed the room in a calming blue, which slackened Firebrand's rigid posture somewhat. The near-black stallion sluggishly slipped off of the bench wandered up to a passing waiter, he asked what was being served. He was immediately barraged with a slew of dishes that sounded fit for nobility; he was content with a simple daisy sandwich. He was given a wide berth by the other researchers. It was now common knowledge that he was very irritable, if the dark patches under his eyes and half-frown weren't warning enough.


That didn’t stop a certain intrepid blue and orange colt from firmly planting himself on the seat across from him, causing Firebrand's plate to jump slightly and settle back on the table with a clatter. Forest green eyes locked on the amber orbs of the pony opposite him in a clear warning glare. Which, when dealing with Firebrand in his current state, could be interpreted as an if-you-don’t-leave-now-I’ll-set-your-mane-on-fire glare.


“Bright Light, if you say anything, bad things will happen,” was the best threat his addled brain could come up with.


The colt the threat was directed at, to his credit, simply mimed locking his mouth shut as he levitated a morsel of food to himself in a saffron coloured aura. When he did so, the stallion with the cutie mark of a smoking dark laceration placidly raised an eyebrow.


Why does he always get the same thing I get?


He mentally shrugged and merely continued to eat his delicately spiced sandwich, focusing on the rich taste that the cooks had somehow managed to imbue.


A short time later, when both had finished their meals and left their seats, Bright Light whispered to Firebrand as he ambled past him on the way to the exit.


“If you need any help, just let me know.”


Just as he was about to rebuff the offer, an idea came unbidden from the recesses of his mind. Or, more likely, from beyond the Vale.


“Actually, meet me in my office in a few hours. I’ve got an idea,” he stated with a giddy, if slightly deranged, smile.


A few hours of frantic work later, and Firebrand was sporting a wide grin as he surveyed his work: a blueprint that would be unintelligible to any non-unicorns who might happen upon it, but was in fact the formation of an exceedingly complicated spell.


He was still fervently going through his work, trying to spot any of the many possible mistakes within the intricate weave of runes and threads. He was interrupted by the sound of a door opening and closing. The slight clip-clop of hooves on polished marble filled the alabaster room.

“Uh, is this a good time? I can come back later if you want...” said a slightly nervous Bright Light as he beheld the state of utter disarray the room was in. It was then, and only then, that it dawned on him that testing a spell with a powerful, sleep deprived and slightly unhinged unicorn might be a bad idea.


“Hm- no, now is the perfect time! I think I've finally figured out how to perform a long-range teleportation spell; you see, you can’t perform it yourself. No. You need another pony to perform it. The matrix of the spell is highly unstable so the spell will simply unravel and the magicka will be absorbed back into the caster as soon as the spell matrix is released if they try to do it themselves. But, if another unicorn does it the mana is incompatible with the subjects’ due to the unique thaumic signature of each individual pony. The subject won’t be able to absorb the magicka, so it should stay stable and, hopefully, work!" The stream of words flowing from the unicorn’s mouth were barely decipherable due to the speed that they had been spoken. Bright Light trotted over to Firebrand with much shorter, nervous steps after the explanation.

“Uh... Did you say that it should work? I don’t really feel comfortable with having an unstable and untested spell cast on me; as much as I’d do if you asked, I gotta draw the line somewhere.”


The pony he was addressing gave a hearty chuckle in reply, and shook his head in amusement.


“I won’t be casting in on you, you’ll be casting it on me. Why do you think I drew out the spell matrix over there? I may be irresponsible, but only when I'm the only pony who could get hurt or, y'know, die,” he said after his laughter had petered down.


“Well, that makes me feel so much better...” Bright murmured, doubting that that Firebrand would change his mind no matter what he said to discourage him.


“Okay, look at, um... that for a few minutes before you do the spell. Time’s of the essence!” Firebrand thundered while wildly gesticulating in the general direction of the plans he had laid out on his wearied mahogany desk. His frantic movements knocked over a nearby jar of a sickly looking purple substance, which was caught in a magical aura before it could spill its mysterious contents.


“And why is time of the essence? Surely it would be much safer to-” Bright Light was cut off sharply.

“Time is of the essence because I said it is, don’t question me! Get to work! I want to be inside Ponyville library as soon as possible.”


He asked to be deposited in Ponyville library for two reasons: he could tell the Princess’ personal student about the breakthrough, and it housed the fasted mailing system known to ponykind in the form of a baby dragon named Spike.


The slightly dumbfounded blue colt spent the next few minutes studying the complex pattern drawn upon a piece of plant-based parchment, sparing a few worried glances at the stallion a few years his senior.


“I- uh, okay, I think I know what I’m doing... Are you sure we shouldn't test this on something else first?” He hoped to at least limit the damage that could have been caused, but then he looked up at Firebrand; the look on his face was worth a thousand words, and all of those words were “no”.


“O-kay then, so, uh just try to stand still.” His eyes closed and calm overtook his features as a bright yellow-orange glow surrounded his relatively sharp horn; testament to the large amount of magicka being channelled through it.


Firebrand gave the room one last triumphant scan, confident that he would be in the company of Twilight Sparkle in the next few seconds. That is, until he saw a few symbols that had no logical place being on a teleportation spell; those symbols were meant to access the Vale. In conclusion, he was totally screwed.


“No wai-” But it was too late, the spell was released and and his words were lost in a bright flash and a resounding boom.

.

Woohoo! We did it!” Bright Light sat there with a dopey grin on his face, awaiting a letter confirming the success, but little did he know that he would have to wait for much longer than expected...


When Firebrand emerged from an unconscious haze, he felt like something was wrong. Deeply, deeply wrong...


He then realised that he was swinging on a vine forty hooves from the ground. The urge to face-hoof at that moment was almost overpowering. He looked around at the forest and took a moment to bask in the calls of distant animals and the strong, earthy smell that pervaded the area. Now, the strange thing about a tired brain is that the most irrational decisions can seem reasonable.


And that’s why he charged up his long horn, bathing the area in an unnatural green glow, and set the vine, the dozen or so trees behind it and a particularly unlucky squirrel on fire. The flames quickly spread to the rest of the lush vegetation; orange flames licked the sky and turned everything on the ground to ash. That's how a good portion of the Everfree Forest was burned down and our foolhardy hero nearly killed himself.


After a last-minute teleportation (after which he was thankful he hadn't ended up with his head in a rock), he was lying on his back and gazing into the inky depths of the night sky. The night sky.


I got teleported around three o'clock, and you can’t stay unconscious for more than a few minutes without suffering brain damage. So, either I'm suffering from massive brain trauma or something’s terribly, terribly wrong... Or all that the misplaced runes did was teleport me a few hours into the future.


He eventually decided that he would just have to see for himself, so he hauled himself up, hardly noticing the flames dancing behind him or the smoke curling through the trees. Dead leaves crackled and twigs snapped as he meandered in the direction that he judged would have a lower percentage of manticore maulings. But when you’re in the Everfree, manticores are never too far ahead...

Author's Note:

Hope you liked this! Please (pretty please) leave a comment and maybe a fave and a like. Also, please point out any mistakes you can find, this was pre-read by myself so...

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