• Published 16th Apr 2012
  • 3,694 Views, 114 Comments

Long Way Gone - DiscordsAdvocate



A story loosely based on Outland, crossovered with MLP: FIM.

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Chapter 3

Edited by the myth, the legend, the EDITOR!: frieD195

Thanks to all my readers for your feedback and support.

He beat the metal, shaping the blade. The glowing-red symbols on his smithing-arm trailed all the way up past his shoulder blades. The middle-aged man’s mind was troubled. So the smith worked it off as much as he could before his vigor was exhausted. His wife would remind him of his own advice, to not fill one’s mind with worry. But he couldn’t help it. His son had not returned and yet there was no indication the Wyrm had won. Did his son perish in his victory?

He quenched the hot blade in the water and put it on the table where his younger son worked.

“Phelan ut arflui.” (Boil it in oil) He said.

“Adon, ur clabiten. Fale taln?” (Father, it’s a knife. You mean temper?) The teen replied concerned.

The smith stopped in his tracks and looked at his younger son. He sighed and nodded before walking out. He looked up to the sky. The sun was out. The Goddess of Light greeted their village set in the middle of the valley, shining past the trees. Their cloud sage perched up on the tower waved his hands, which bore the Light markings of his trade. His magic parted the clouds to greet the sun. Many other villagers bared markings of either Dark or Light, each according to their trade. It was springtime, as the folk dressed appropriately for it.

“Ama Lumneite.” (Good morning) He prayed solemnly. Even the greeting of light could not clear his mind of worry, and it was interfering with his work. His view of the sun was briefly obscured by a large flying creature. A mountain vulture! This far out? It circled their village for a moment. Wait, no had one died here, did they? He took his machete and tracked it through the foliage as the bird began to descend. He made his way to where it perched itself on a tree branch. Something wasn’t right about this carrion-eater. Its eyes shined like emeralds! A Wyrm creature!

Then he saw a thing in its talons. Darius’s necklace! No! Goddesses no! Was this an omen?! Did he perish?! “Elcanimin fala peniah, Wyrm serbinat!” (Tell me your purpose, Wyrm-servant!) He shouted angrily at the creature, gripping his machete in case it attacked.

The vulture met his glare and screeched as a wound opened in its chest, bleeding a putrid luminous green fluid. What vileness! It dropped the necklace and flew off just above the forest canopy, leaving a trail of its corrupted blood.

But the man’s attention was turned to the necklace. He picked it up. It was his son’s. No, he thought. This couldn’t be. This had to be a trick! It mustn’t be true! Darius...his son…dead?!

He gripped it tighter. The tooth-shaped stones dug into his hand, drawing tiny rivulets of blood from his palm. He shed tears in anger and sadness. He looked to the sky to curse at the air, but he was too choked with grief to even speak. His son was slain! He fell to his knees, dropping his machete. He begged the Dark Goddess for this to be a nightmare. Let it not be true. But it was true. Or was it? Maybe he was alive. He must know the truth!

Those thoughts were halted when he felt the hand of his wife’s father touch his shoulder. The old man didn’t have to tell him he knew what this omen meant, but he wasn’t sure what his son-in-law was going to do about it. “Aquemen ti fale silni esini Manden?” (What do you intend to do Manden?) He asked him.

Manden opened his palm and stared at Darius’s necklace. “Arthi ke cirthele.” (Find his body).

The old man shook his head. “Nenbela.” (Foolish). He saw Manden stand and rush to his home.“Un necauta! Cormui brandoh!” (It is dangerous! It may be a trap!). “Manden!” The old man shouted as he pushed himself to catch up with him.

A woman was already at the front door, holding a bow and a quiver of arrows. “Alhanare?” (Husband?) She gasped. Her eyes widened when she saw Darius’s necklace and dropped her bow and quiver. “Telman eldami fo Darius! Aquedor lo fale telmen?!” (That belongs to Darius! Where did you get that?!).

She was clearly distraught. But Manden didn’t answer his wife at first. He packed food, survival gear, and took his personal spear as he walked outside with his wife pleading him to answer.

“Alhanare!!!” (Husband!!!) She gripped his arm. Her eyes burned with the demand for an answer as her father watched.

Manden looked at her. “Hle unquamin.” (He perished), he told her. He wasn’t sure but he should not leave his wife in worse uncertainty. If Darius was alive, it would be good news all the same. If their son was dead, then he would return without suffering her in wait.

The huntress sunk to her knees with her palms over her mouth withholding her cries. The tears formed and fell down her cheeks. Manden quickly threw his arms around her and hugged tightly. He held her for a long while as other villagers approached, deeply concerned.

But he couldn’t stay forever to comfort her, he had to go now. “Jasmina, Enuilen arthi ke cirthele.” (Jasmina, I’m going to find his body).

Jasmina nodded sadly. “Orien, penyi naedbe ethliben!” (Please, come back alive!).

Manden nodded and hugged her a moment longer. “Nurumin.” (I promise). He kissed her forehead.

Before he could take more than two steps out the village, his father-in-law put his walking stick in his way. “Or gruithe emb brandinar. Adi harpenan.” (Your enemy is a trickster. Be vigilant), he said before letting him pass.

Manden acknowledged his advice and hurried deeper into the forest. He relocated the trail of Wyrm taint, noticing how the forest-dwelling beasts and insects were avoiding it. It was clear now it intended for someone to follow it uninterrupted. And so Manden did just that. Trap or no, he would learn the truth.

Meanwhile…

Darius awoke to see the sunrise through his window. He gazed at their sun in awe. He never saw a sunrise over a horizon. Their land had very little flat ground for such. Only at the High Temple overlooking the gap between the two mountains was there a sunrise. But not like this.

“Ama Lumneite.” (Good morning). He praised the Goddess of Light.

Near the sun…

Princess Celestia felt the many thanks from her ponies for the morning sun, but amongst it all was a strange, almost unfamiliar form of praise. It was slightly different. She returned to her task of raising the Sun and sending it on its trajectory while Luna moved the moon. Once she was finished, she contemplated the praise again. It felt…nostalgic. Which pony in her kingdom could bring about such a feeling? Or was it a pony? But she did know its location…Ponyville. She decided she might have to hasten her plans to visit.

Back at Twilight Sparkle’s house.

Darius carefully descended the steps to the living-room. Twilight was up as well writing on a scroll.


Dear Princess Celestia;

Yesterday, Ponyville has been graced by a visitor from another land, what we call the Lost World! His name is Darius, Son of Manden, a member of the Newmen race. He has been a friendly and courteous guest in my home. After introductions, he managed to learn most of our language.

According to him, his race also bears cutie-marks (so to speak) that symbolize their talents. They wield magic in such ways that allow them to do the same tasks we ponies do. But Darius explained these tasks are divided into two tiers: Light and Dark. While Light seems to embody mental and magical tasks, Dark appears to embody physical tasks. Darius says he has both types of marks on himself, which define him as an Avatar.

I hypothesize that an Avatar is a multitasked protector and guardian. Darius says he was charged by the spirit of his predecessor to fight a creature called the ‘Wyrm.’ He describes it as a voracious destroyer. During their fight, it sent him across the Ley Line and into our land. I don’t know of any magic that could allow someone to cross the Ley Line, yet here he is.

So we are going to help Darius settle down here until we can figure out how to get him home. I ask for any help or advice you can give to us.

Signed,

Your Faithful Student, Twilight Sparkle


Darius read over her shoulder. “So you correspond with your goddess by writing to her?” He chuckled.

Twilght jumped. “Darius! Wow, I didn't hear you!”

“I don’t clop when I walk.” He smirked.

Twilight blinked at first. Did he just say ‘clop?’ Did he know what clopping meant? Oooooh, he didn't mean that clop. She giggled. “Yeah, those feet of yours.” She cleared her throat. “Spike should have gotten off the train and…” The front door opened. “And there he is! Welcome back Spike!”

“Morning Twilight.” Spike entered and saw the Newman standing by Twilight. He looked surprised at first, then pointed a clawed thumb at Darius and looked Twilight. “Okay, what did I miss?”

“I’ll explain everything. You two introduce each other while I’ll make break-“ The purple unicorn was cut off by Spike.

“Oh no you don’t! You don’t cook, Twi. You burn. I’ll cook.” He went up to Darius. “I’m Spike, a dragon, nice to meet you.”

Darius smiled and shook his hand. “Nice to meet you too, Spike, I am Darius, Son of Manden, a Newman from the far South.”

“Cool. Good to have another guy in the house.” The little dragon chuckled.

Darius joined in the chuckle. “Indeed, and you’re a child, I take it?”

Spike sighed but smiled. “Yeah, got a while before I grow up. But it’s alright. I’m pretty mature for my age.” He pointed to himself proudly.

Twilight smirked. “When did that happen?”

Spike stuck his tongue out at her. “Oh stop it. Hey sit tight, I’ll make breakfast and you two can fill me in.” Spike walked into the kitchen.

“So you’re rooming with a Dragon?” He asked.

“He’s our friend and my personal assistant.” Twilight smiled. “He can be silly at times but he is a really good dragon.”

The three enjoyed breakfast as they updated Spike to current events. Spike seemed to receive this information pretty well, being the only dragon in Ponyville, he could relate to Darius’s plight. Later, the little dragon sent the letter to Princess Celestia. Spike then brought up his learning about Dragons, but Darius decided to leave Twilight and Spike to discuss this privately. There were dragons back at Rift, but they generally kept to themselves and rarely spoke to their kind. And he wasn’t ready to gauge that kind of knowledge today. Another knock at the door and Darius’s appointment to go out with the three mares (AJ, Pinkie, and Rarity) began.

This was the second day Darius walked through Ponyville. The reactions of other ponies changed a bit. Some ponies didn’t mind his presence, others simply stared, few kept their distance, and occasionally, a pony would run and hide. Those brave enough to inquire asked if he was a Diamond Dog, others a misshaped Minotaur. He had no idea what these creatures were, nor what they looked like. A simple ‘no’ sufficed. Rarity explained both creatures were bipeds, but one was doglike the other was bullish. He accepted that without question.

The first step was purchasing a home. They did find a single-bed home on sale that was bigger than normal and set next to the river. It was made for stallions as large as her brother, AJ explained. Made sense for Darius to take it given his stature.

What impressed Darius was how well AJ and Rarity bargained for the home. Pinkie told him that combined, those two mares could haggle like no-other. So they saved a pretty decent bunch of bits for Darius. Furnishing the place was simple: just request larger furniture. He had a difficult time insisting on keeping things simple. No luxuries, much to Rarity’s arguing for otherwise. Although their ice boxes were interesting as they kept things cold and fresh (convenient). Then there was the food, which was Pinkie’s expertise. Hay and most flowers were out of the question. Everything else was fine, though.

Rarity took him to her boutique and measured him for clothes. He felt embarrassed having to undress for this lady (yes, she was a pony, but enough a person too). Yet, judging from her diligence to her trade, she was very professional about it. She compared her clothes to patterns she had that were normally suited for minotaurs. While Rarity went to work making the new clothes, the rest went to his new home and put things where they could before the furniture arrived.

The last discussion was work. AJ offered a job doing some apple-bucking to start him out, but Darius refused. He instead asked if she could locate some metalworking tools, and gave her a list. AJ didn’t think he’d get a lot of work from that, so she advised against it but Darius made his case. He could fashion custom cutlery, tools, and metal parts hard to replace; even restore broken parts. Seeing as Pinkie supported his decision, AJ went along with it without further argument. The bed and couch arrived soon after, with the rest arriving within the week.

Seeing as AJ had the most connection for tools, she took it upon herself to get these things for him. The most difficult thing on the list was to find someone to build a watermill for metalworking. But with the amount of bits he could spare, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a contractor.

Darius was about to snack on the apples AJ gave him before he felt a wafting of air behind him. He smirked and turned to see it was Rainbow Dash.

“You’re late.” He greeted.

She smirked back. “I was trying out a new maneuver. It took more tries than I thought it would. Got to get it right, y’know?”

He nodded. “Where did you train this time?”

“At the nearest mountain range. Used to be a dragons’ home but they migrated, so it’s good for flying practice. You hungry for more than just that apple?” The blue mare asked.

“Indeed. I’m assuming you ponies have eateries and taverns here?” He asked.

“Sure! I’ll show you my favorite.” Dash smiled and they went out the door.

“Then you show me where you were flying.” He smiled following her.

“Yeah but you can’t fly. I mean I don’t mind being watched but-” She then saw Darius leap over her very high and landed on her other side, the Red markings indicated he invoked Dark.“What? Huh?” Her eyes widened.

Darius said nothing and smiled confidently resuming his walk. He didn’t know why he felt the need to show off to her, but it felt cool (as Dash would say).

Dash smiled admirably at him. “Okay. You’re showing me your moves after lunch.”

Elsewhere in Equestria…

Near the northern Ley Line, a watch-post sat overlooking the turbulent wall of magical energy, rising as far as a sky scraper, too high up for even a pegasus to fly without suffocating. The violent Ley Line storm passed, which was being observed by several ponies.

The older one, who gazed it through a pair of tinted safety glasses, pointed a front hoof where the Ley Line met the ground. “Does anyone else see that?” He asked his colleagues.

A mare took out her binoculars to get a look at whatever her older colleague was seeing. “There is…there is something coming out of the Ley Line! No, somethings!”

Shortly after, the ponies exited the watch post to meet the figures that were exiting the Ley Line storm. Though they could only meet them halfway, lest they be hurt by the maelstrom of energy.

“What are they?” They gazed upon the stone bipeds, about twenty of them. Some wielded clubs, others brandished staves.

“They look like statues, but alive!” said the older pony. “Well, stone or not, this is a first contact everypony! Be on your best…” Suddenly, the golems nearly trampled the ponies as they ran swiftly. The ground shook with each tramp they made. When the dust cleared, two ponies were hurt.

“Someone get the doctor here!”

“OW! We need to tell princess Celestia!”

“Where are those things going?”

The golems were already a mile away, heading straight towards the village of Ponyville.

At Canterlot Castle…

Luna awoke suddenly, despite it being noon. “Again?” She said and jumped out of bed and flew to Celestia’s balcony.

Celestia finished reading her letter and noticed her sister flying to her. “Sister. You felt it, didn’t you?”

“Another crossing, sister. Several of them. But, I recognized it!” Luna was visibly worried.

Celestia hesitated before she said it. “Entropy.” She sighed. “So it’s still making trouble. And I think I know the reason.” She showed Princess Luna the letter from Twilight Sparkle.

Luna gasped. “A Newman? Here in Equestria?” She was so torn between fear and joy at all this, that if she did not burst it would be a marvel.

“I think you and I should visit Ponyville sooner. But first, we should send a contingent of the guard to intercept whatever Entropy sent here.” She trotted with her sister to the Captain’s office.

Luna gulped. “What if it comes here? You know how violent it is!”

Celestia didn’t answer. She hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

At the mountain range near Ponyville...

Dash rarely experienced flying through around mountains, and it was thrilling! Every once in a while she would look down to see her friend leaping, climbing, landing, and running with incredible swiftness and acrobatics. She then decided to fly low and see how he was doing this. As she expected, those ‘cutie-markings,’ (Dash decided they should be named) were responsible. She even noticed how they were on his ankles too. She wondered if they covered that honed body of his. Wonder if he’d show her. She snapped out of that thought when she nearly crashed straight on into a cliff face.

“Woah!” An immediate pull-up and banking to the right and she was right on course.

“Lost your concentration?” He chuckled between breaths.

Dash smirked and flashed her confident grin. “Think you can do better, big guy?”

Darius laughed leaping over a chasm and shouting a lament of joy to the sky. “How about a contest?” Darius proposed when he landed.

Dash grinned. She hadn’t had a racing contest sense the Iron Pony match with Applejack! Awesome! Another competitor! “Okay, Darius. See that big hill with the super windy currents? Whoever reaches the top first treats the other to dinner!” She zipped towards to brave the intense wind currents to the top. Well, she could’ve chosen a hill with calm winds, but she wanted to challenge herself too.

With his training in parkour, Darius began his ascent. The wind currents were nothing more than a nuisance as he was too low to the ground. As each got closer to their goal, they pushed themselves harder. Dash had to maneuver and use the currents to the best of her abilities. It was like a maze of powerful winds. Some were strong currents like tornadoes; others were gusts that blew out from nowhere. Darius had to be mindful of loose rocks as he negotiated this rocky hill while keeping up his pace.

The Newman glanced to see how Dash was doing. She was trying to slingshot herself to the top using a gale-force tornado current. It worked...too well! She was on the verge crashing into the face the hill!

He thought fast and found a lengthy hanging vine, it was strong enough. Time to swing it! He leaped, gripped, and used the vine as a swinging anchor and swung into the winds. He then switched to Light. Holding on the root with all his all his normal strength, he hoped wind magic would work here. He felt the wind obey his command as it pushed him to intercept Dash. Just a little closer…closer…DARK!

Pull up! Pull up! PULL UP! She screamed in her mind. “Wha?” Dash suddenly felt herself in the arms of her Newman friend. Then with a heavy thud, they landed…at the top of the hill. Dash was in a daze for a moment.

“Are you okay, Dash?” Darius asked.

“Uh…of course! Why did you do that, huh? Didn’t you see I was going to land just fine?” She tried covering up her error. Damn! This was embarrassing. Crashing was one thing, but being rescued by a guy? Well, at least it was him.

The Newman was pretty sure she was going crash, but took her word for it. “Apologies, it just looked like-“

Dash felt bad for lying to him, stupid pride. Then she noticed she was a bit pressed against her friend and blushed furiously as she realized his hands were on her back... “Woah!” She got out of his hold. “Uh…but thanks anyways, Darius.” She turned away trying keep calm. Okay Dash, play it cool. He didn’t know.

Darius scratched the back of his head, realizing their "compromising" position a moment ago. “Sorry about that.”

“Yeah, my wings and back…those are intimate touch-spots.” She looked at him and smiled awkwardly.

“I’ll remember that. Oh, and tapping me on the thigh is getting close to my…privates. So be mindful about that, okay?” He may as well educate her as well.

Dash was a shade of purple now. “Oh dude! Sorry big guy, I didn’t know!” She turned away looking at the ground.

He sat by her side. “Don’t feel bad about it, Dash. We are still learning about each other and to your credit, you have been the best friend I have had here in this short span of time.” He smiled.

That made her feel better. “It’s good to have someone to share cool stuff with.”

“Like athletics?” Darius laid back and watched the sky.

“Yeah. My dream is to join the Wonderbolts. You heard of them? Oh wait, duh, you’re still new here.” She giggled. “I’ve gotta show them to you. They’re the best flyers in Equestria!” She relaxed next to him. “You got any elite athletes where you come from?”

“Yes. We have a game we play that involves passing a ball and parkour, which was what I was doing while racing you. It’s a rough sport but the players have amazing prowess.” He sighed, pining to be back home now, but tried hiding it. He closed his eyes and imagined being home for a while.

Dash could see it in his face, he was homesick. Who could blame him? After a moment of silence, she asked him something. She didn’t know why, even as her tone softened. “Darius, what are your mares like where you come fr-“ Dash was interrupted when Darius stood up and turned back overhearing something tramping on the rock. “What is it?” She stood with him. And then she saw it. Two bipedal…statues? They leaped up from behind the rocky edge and landed in front of them, each brandishing a club of some kind. “Friends of yours?”

“Wyrm!” Shouted Darius as he formed his sword and blocked their incoming strikes. His feet sunk into the ground from the impact. Tuath, they were strong! And he was already weary from their race.

Dash snarled. They were attacking his friend! “YAAAAAAAH!” She battle cried, pounding her chest with her hooves and bucked one of them right in the face, knocking its head right off its body. But it didn’t stop moving!

“Dash! Escape!” He was deflecting the clubs out of the way. Despite being tired after their race, he kept Dark going and slashed as hard as he could, cracking the torso of the Wyrm-servant. He then flipped back to avoid its counter, then slashed forward to sever an arm, only to put another crack into the stone. Thankfully the sword channeled Dark with him to strengthen it against the stone. A normal blade would have been notched.

Dash was holding her own against her headless opponent. It was pretty agile, but Dash was too. “Common, rock head! You call that a swing?” She bucked it in the chest hard enough for it to fall. “Awe yeah! Who’s the mare? Who’s the mare?” She mocked it. The golem did a leaping stand and attacked swifter. She dodged, barely. “Omygosh!”

Darius, distracted by Dash’s situation, suffered a blow to his chest. That hurt. But it was nothing compared to what he did in return. He grabbed its weapon and yanked it from its hand, then leaped up and brought both sword and club down upon the golem, shattering it into pieces as Wyrm's power dissipated.

“AAAH!” Darius heard Dash cry out as her attacker (now missing an arm) thwacked it’s club into her side, hard. She even made an imprint slamming into the ground. “Prind nenalne famen nagre!” (Thrice cursed son-of-a-serpent!) He raged and chucked that club hard into it, breaking it in half. He huffed and saw Dash lying on the ground, whimpering in pain. He invoked Light, wincing as it left him without resilience to his own injury. But, he didn’t care about that now. He carried her to a better spot on a patch of grass on checked her injury. The purple mark indicated she was bleeding internally.

Dash could barely perceive anything else, this hurt so much. She was strong but she was not used to fighting something armed. Every move shot a sharp pain into her side.

“Try not to move.” Darius rolled her to her good side. Okay, how did the healing sage teach it? He took a deep breath to calm himself and felt the magic field answer his call. The blue light shined off his hands, giving them purpose to bring healing to his friend. Therefore, he pressed them against her injury.

Dash shed tears and whimpered feeling something touch that tender spot. But the sharp pain to her side and wing was quickly replaced by comforting warmth. “D-Darius.” She murmured. Was this his doing? It was starting to go dark.

Darius felt the magic did what it could. But this magic was made for Newmans, not ponies! He couldn’t run carrying her, could he? He didn’t think about it and took her in his arms and decided to just leap down the hill and run as fast as he could. Despite the pain in his side, he would endure it for her. But he stopped in his tracks as he saw more golems climbing up the side. Six more obsidian Wyrm-servants leaped to the top and surrounded him.

“Tuath!” He shouted. He carefully put Dash down and drew his sword. “Dominah nuin liyeni ore!” (Goddesses please don’t forsake her).

“Esse eldamon.” (We have not). Chimed a voice from behind him, soft, yet strong. He turned to see a…horned pegasi? Then turned to see in front of him was another one. Both were taller than the other ponies. One white with a multicolored mane, the other dark with a mane like the night sky!

They faced down these golems, while Darius took two for himself. For Celestia and Luna, their horns shined brightly with their respective powers of…Light and Dark, the Newman witnessed! In an instant, the power within the golems was dispelled, and they crumbled into piles of stone.

Inspired by this turn of events, Darius pushed himself to use ‘joining.’ Both Light and Dark combined. His markings shone gold and channeled the energy into his sword for a double slash against both his targets. Both strikes connected and he felled the two. Now he was spent. He grudged for a rest, but Dash was more important. He picked her up and struggled, trying to stay standing. He then felt Rainbow Dash being lifted from his arms.

The unconscious Cyan pony floated to Luna and was carefully was laid on her back. “Sister, I’ll bring her to the hospital.” She immediately launched off the top of the hill and was on her way toward Ponyville.

Celestia nodded, then approached Darius. “It’s been a long time since I have seen your kin, Darius, Son of Manden.” She smiled.

Darius knew in his heart it was She, and her sister too! He fell to his knees. “Goddesses! Is it truly you?” He worshipfully gazed at her.

“Stand Darius. We never decreed you or your people to treat us with such reverence.” She smiled. “A simple greeting will suffice.”

Darius slowly and nervously stood up. “What of Dash? I did what I could for her.”

“You saved her life, Darius. Their healers will do the rest.” She looked at his markings, the power slightly faded from his fatigue. Darius sighed in relief.

She gazed at his markings. “Amazing. Your people channel magic so unlike my little ponies. And now some of you can bear both our blessings. You have come a long way.”

Darius nodded like giddy boy to a loving mother. “We are always grateful for everything you have done for us Goddess, er, what may I call you by?”

Celestia giggled. “Call me Princess, if you will.”

He nodded. “Princess.” He was at lost for words, then the sudden realization hit him. Those golems, the Wyrm! “It isn’t dispatched…is it?” He fell to his knees. “I…failed, didn’t I? The Ley Line, magic, creation! What will happen now?!” He started coughing blood. Damn, his side was worse than he expected.

Celestia touched her horn to his forehead. He immediately felt a calming sensation wash over him. “First, I am going to take you to the hospital. You will rest, then we shall talk. That was only half of what it sent here. My guard-ponies are looking for the others. Don’t fret. We will deal with it in time.”

“Yes, Princess.” He replied.

“Good. Now on my back so we can get going.” She turned her side to him.

“W-what?” He froze. Did the Goddess of Light just offer him a ride? “Is that proper, Goddess?”

She giggled and rolled her eyes. “Don’t be so timid, Darius. I won’t have our wounded hero walking back.” She picked him up with her magic and placed him comfortably on her back. She launched off the ground.

No one back at Rift would believe this chant, Darius thought. This was unreal!