• Published 4th Oct 2013
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Souls Apart: The Apprentice - GnollReader



Equis has a new Death, a new reaper of souls... Only problem is that this one still has obligations in the world of the living.

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Chapter 1: New situation, old problems

"Ah, yeah!" Rainbow Dash stretched her wings as she viewed the ruins of Canterlot castle from above. Two weeks after the incident with Discord, most of the rubble had been cleared away by the imps and the ponies, but many heavily-damaged towers and walls were still scattered over the whole site, turning the old castle site into a maze of broken stone and rubble... Or as in Rainbow Dash's case, a playground for new, awesome stunts. "This is going to be off-the-scale awesome!"

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Twilight called up to her, "That tower could fall any minute!"

"Oh relax, Twilight! It's not like I got these wings for no reason!" Rainbow Dash started to repeat her planned course, "Alright, first it's a head dive off the tower. Then a seven-hundred-twenty barrel roll through those columns followed by a corkscrew up and around the old main hall..."

"I think you forgot the double backflip through the great observatory..."

"Oh! Right, right! Almost forgot! And then..." Rainbow Dash stopped, suddenly becoming aware that she was no longer alone on top of the crumbling tower. When she turned her head, she was found herself face to face with a skull.

"Hi." Death greeted her with a never-stopping smile.

"Woah!" Rainbow Dash instinctively jumped up and off the tower, almost falling out off the air in the progress. It took her a moment too catch herself, but then she quickly landed on the ground next to Twilight.

"What happened?" Twilight asked with curiosity, "I though you were about to..."

Rainbow Dash ignored her and shook an angry hoof up at the tower, "What is wrong with you?! I almost had a heart attack!"

"What a shame that would have been." Death suddenly stood before them, "And a tad too early as well..."

"Aergad!" Twilight gave him a nervous smile, "How nice to see you again! We were a bit worried when we didn't see you for two weeks..."

"I had a lot of work." he chuckled with a hollow voice, "You know... some people are just dying to see me."

"I see..." Twilight cringed before giving Rainbow Dash a quick glance, "You're not here for work, are you?"

Next to her, Rainbow Dash suddenly became very pale as she picked up on the idea, "Work?! Am I going to die?!" she started to panic, "Oh, no! That is totally too early! I still have loads of awesome stuff to do!"

Aergad shook his head, "Don't be silly, I'm not here to pick up anyone..." he pointed up the tower, "Go on, I want to see your stunt."

Rainbow Dash took a step backward, "I don't know... I think I'm getting a cramp..."

"Are you going to chicken out?"

"What?! Rainbow Dash isn't afraid of anything!" she gave him a glare... a glare that vanished immediately as a scythe suddenly popped into existence in one of his hands.

"Not now!" he whispered to the grim weapon, "She hasn't even started yet! You're going to ruin everything!" there was a short pause as a voice only he could hear answered him, "What? Of course I'm sure she's on the list!" an open scroll of parchment appeared in his other hand and he held the scythe close to it, "See?! Rainbow Dash..." he started to mumble, "Broken ribs... internal bleeding... crushed under falling... heh, that's nasty."

He pulled his head back up and both the scythe and the scroll vanished again as he pointed back to Rainbow Dash and then at the tower with an impatient gesture, "Well come on, lets get going! I don't have all day!"

Both Rainbow Dash and Twilight were staring at him with open mouths at this point.

"What?"

"I just remembered I have cloud patrol today!" with that, Rainbow Dash shot off the ground and into the air, quickly becoming a small dot as she fled.

Death watched her leave with his expressionless face, only the two small stars set in his eyes twinkling a bit brighter, "Clever girl."

"Was she really going to..." Twilight swallowed hard, "I mean she wasn't really going to get hurt, was she?"

Death didn't reply, but only continued to stare after Rainbow Dash in silence.

"Thank you."

"For what?" he chuckled, "I didn't actually do anything."

"Still..." Twilight frowned and carefully asked, "Aren't you going to get into trouble if you change things?"

"Why?" he turned to her and the list reappeared in his hand, "Do you want her to die? I'm sure I could change the entry from being smashed by a falling tower to having a heart attack while flying..."

"No! Of course not!" Twilight frantically waved her hooves, "Forget I said that!"

The list disappeared again, "Shame..." he paused, "Just out of curiosity, are you going to do any dangerous experiments soon? You know, I could arrange something to..."

Before Aergad could finish his sentence, he felt a tug on his being... and disappeared.

---

"What in the world?" he looked around himself in bewilderment as he found himself in another location, an invisible frown appearing on his face as he spotted two familiar faces, "You have got to be kidding me..."

"It worked!" Luna clapped her hooves together in joy, "We really summoned him!"

"Are you serious?!" he gave Celestia an angry look, "Since when can you summon me?!"

"You are Death, are you not?" Celestia replied with the tiniest of smiles, "Or have you forgotten that we are quite capable of magic as well?"

Aergad spotted the circles drawn on the floor around him, "Damn it, Celestia! This is an invasion of my privacy!"

"Be that as it may..." Celestia sighed, "But there are still pressing matters that we need to discuss."

"Like what? I have a tight schedule, you know!"

"There is the matter of Blackshadow Reach." Luna spoke up, "How will the griffons react once they find out you are no longer a living being?"

"I'm Death, Luna. What are they going to do about it? Even they should be smart enough to realize it's not a good idea to get on my bad side." he huffed, "Was that it? I have to give lessons in a few minutes so..."

"And what will the griffon princess say when she finds that her husband is a skeleton?" Luna continued.

"That's an easy one..." he made a small motion with his hand and slowly, the image of Death started to fade and reshape itself until the former Aergad stood before them. The only thing still out of place being the glowing stars in his eyes, even his voice was back to normal, "See? Good as new. She won't notice a thing."

"If you can do that, then why do you insist on running around as an undead?"

He snapped his fingers and stopped the illusion, "I like the way my fingers move when I wiggle them." Aergad held up his hand and wiggled the bony fingers with a chuckle, delighted by the creaking noises the knuckles made, "And it helps me to stay in shape... I think I'm actually back to my birth weight."

Celestia sighed, "Very well then, I leave it to you to discuss this matter with the griffons. But that still leaves open the question who you shall marry from the Equestrian side."

"You're not going to tell me I have to marry one of you two?" there was a short silence, "Lovely..."

"Putting aside the fact that this matter is still not decided, what is wrong with us?" Luna asked with a slight feeling of annoyance at being outright rejected.

"You're old enough to be my great, great... I don't even know how great, grandmother!"

Luna blushed slightly, "We are young by alicorn standards."

Aergad sneered, "Thanks. That really helps me a lot."

"There is still the possibility of prince Blueblood..." Celestia started.

"Not going to happen." he snapped back, "Even if you use your magic to remove his mouth or turn him into a mare..." he shuddered, "Ewww... now I've got that stuck in my head." he turned to the two alicorns, "Can't I just kill him? Nobody would have to know! His name would simply slip onto my list by accident!"

"We are not killing Blueblood." Celestia gave him a small glare, "But you will have to marry a member of Equestrian royalty and at the moment, Luna and I are the only eligible candidates."

"Great, just great..." he rubbed his temples with a small groan, "How are we even going to decide this?" he picked up his head and observed the two, "Do you snore?"

---

The diamond dog crawled forward carefully, cautious not to make a noise that would give away his location. It had been his turn to patrol near the entrance and by chance he had picked up a scent unknown to him. A scent that somehow reminded him of rotten flesh.

He carefully pulled aside a branch and peeked through the tiny opening, spotting a huge tent set up on a large piece of broken rock. Whether they were griffons or ponies, they were at least smart enough to protect themselves from surprises coming out of the earth... not that it mattered much. There were dozens of clans scattered throughout the region, a few outsiders wouldn't be able to do anything.

The entrance to the tent was pulled aside and something huge came lumbering outside, its enormous bulk hidden from view by a huge, ragged coat, but even here the diamond dog could notice how foul it smelled. Straight after the strange being though, a figure stepped outside that nearly took his breath away.

Golden hair swayed softly in the cold air and even from his position, he could see the armor shine in the sunlight like a gem in the dark. "Beautiful..."

His thoughts came to an abrupt end though, as something cold was placed on his shoulder, "Look'eh here boys... not a single day an' we already got ourselves a customer." a rasping voice chuckled.

"Sure do..." a second voice answered and the diamond dog found himself being violently whirled around only to look into a good dozen rotting, skeletal and grinning faces, "Should we bring'im to the pal'din now, or you guys wanna munch on him a bit first?"

"What kind of question is'hat ta ask? I haven't eaten since she pulled us out the ground!"

"Yeah, but you know how she gets..." the skeletons exchanged worried glances.

"Damn goldilocks would have our hides..." one of them gave the diamond dog an evil grin, "He's a fleshy one though..."

Although already huge in his shock, the captured dog's eyes widened even further when recognition struck him, "Uncle Nips? Is that you?!"

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