• 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 5

THANKS TO frieD195

As the party concluded, Fluttershy arranged for Darius to meet her after lunch tomorrow. Dash and Pinkie remained behind to help Darius clean. After the confetti was cleared and rearranging the furniture, the Newman could see he actually had a decent place to live. He was used to wicker and padded cloth, not cushions.

Pinkie repacked her party canon and hopped her way back home as night dawned.

“So big guy, how are you holding up?” Dash rested her on her hooves over the side of the couch watching him inspect his kitchen. She marveled how it looked so different to a pony’s kitchen. Rather than cabinets, Darius had ingredients in baskets hanging over the counters with twine. Oh, he used the fridge for the perishables, of course, but he really expressed his culture here.

Darius paused as in self-reflection. “My heart feels a bit lighter.” He sat on the couch next to her. “Though I can’t help but think we’re missing something.”

Dash looked confused, then grinned remembering. “Oh yeah! Our bet. So who got to the top of that hill first, you or me?”

He scratched his chin. “It seems we both did. So…”

She smirked. “Yeah, we didn’t say how we had to reach the top.”

He raised an eyebrow. The goofy expression made Dash snicker as he replied. “So how about you buy me dinner one night, I’ll buy you dinner next night?”

Dash stared for a moment. She wondered if her friend knew what this was coming close to. It was one thing to spend occasional time with a friend, but now it was coming close to dating. She never usually thought hard about that sort of thing, and that felt strange to her. Usually when a stallion asked her out, she played it by ear. Mostly she would lose interest since none of the stallions she met had enough qualities she liked…or liked the qualities she had. But this was different. Was it because he was of a different species? She broke the stare trying to keep her cool. “That’s fine. But not tonight.” She stretched.

Darius stood up and offered his hand to her to help her off the couch (force of habit). “Indeed. I need to get started with work. So tomorrow night then.” He asserted.

She glanced at his hand, not sure what the gesture meant. Then her eyes locked onto something on the dorsal side of his hand (opposite side of the palm). “Darius, your hand!” She pointed a hoof to it.

He looked closer and noticed right there a new symbol now on his right hand. “This is new. I’ve never seen a symbol like that before.” He knelt down to get a closer look.

Dash looked closer. “That's my element!” Well it lacked the color given it matched the color of his markings, but there it was! She looked at Darius in amazement. “They weren’t kidding. You can learn our magic!”

Darius would be surprised if the Princesses hadn’t told him it was possible. He looked at the pegasus and smiled. “I had a good teacher.”

Dash looked at him and felt something between them, again. She wondered if he felt the same. ‘Buck me, what was this?’ she thought to herself.

“You’re blushing.” Darius pointed out smiling, which snapped her out of it.

“I’m…just embarrassed that a cool guy is wearing my element.” She smiled. Stupid Dash, what kind of answer was that?

“Want me to cover it up?” He asked concerned.

“No!” She reacted like she may have hurt his feelings. “I mean, don’t cover up your cutie-markings, they’re beautiful, uh, that is.”

Darius stared. Beautiful? Did she mean...“You mean handsome?” He inquired. Even if she was a different species, she is by all accounts a lady; a very strong and confident lady, with wings and hooves. But to know his looks were appealing to women was important back home, and he was curious if it would be here too.

“Yeah.” The cyan pony’s eyes trailed over his markings. “Do they go all the way?”

Darius eyed her confused.

“I mean, do they cover all of you?” Her eyes briefly looked at his waist, then back to his eyes to give him the idea. Buck! This would be so much easier if he were a pony! No, that wasn’t right. He was fine just the way he is, she asserted to herself.

Darius laughed. Dash looked like she was about to get mad thinking he was making fun of her before Darius smiled warmly. “Yes, yes they do. From neck to toe. You’re curious how they look down there?” He gauged for her answer with a fascinated look.

Blushing again. The poor cyan pony didn’t know if he was flirting or not. She didn’t know what to say, she was too nervous to offend him. “Well, I know you don’t like baring yourself.” She fluttered up quickly. “Well, I better get home.” She could buck herself for acting this way. This was so different than her talks with other stallions. “But we’re doing dinner tomorrow, right?” She complimented herself on that save. That was easier to talk about.

Darius nodded. “Of course, I wouldn’t miss it for…” He paused for a good noun. “…another party.” He chuckled.

Dash chuckled as well. “Don’t let Pinkie Pie know you said that! Goodnight…handsome.” She spoke the last word in a soft tone, flew off with a smile on her face.

Darius did hear her and grinned like a fool as he flopped on his couch. “Eldamon hle.” (Still got it). He began folding the new clothes Rarity made for him as he thought about making a life here. Work, home, friends….family. That was on his mind now. He believed it was least likely considering the species barrier, but Princess Luna said he could start a new life and he would never be alone. That recent conversation with Dash got him thinking about it. He didn’t want to think idly, so he headed to the workshop and began re-organizing everything inside till it made more sense. May Applejack forgive his compulsions.

The next morning Darius was hard at work. Dark shone on his torso as he hammered, heated, shaped, and lathed a variety of metal parts according to the specifications his customers provided. Many of them were for the local hardware store. He liked that he could work with an open door as his magically-heated furnace would have overheated the whole shop. Best of all, he had a good view of the sky so to occasionally see Dash zipping by and performing her aerial acrobatics now and again.

By lunch time he had finished the orders he planned to do for the day. He cleaned the sweat and grime off and made himself his noon meal. It had been a while sense he had grilled plantains and much to his delight; cashews! Thank the princesses that they had them in this country! He heard his mail box open and shut and checked it as the grey pegasus, Ditzy flew off. He read the letter, which had a familiar charcoal artwork on the backside.

It gladdens me that you are well.
Though it’s been a while, I can certainly tell.
To the Newman blessed by sun and moon
I would like to meet you very soon.

He noted that and pocketed the letter before heading out to his appointment with Fluttershy.

At Fluttershy’s home, he knocked on the door. A moment later the door opened but he couldn’t see the yellow pegasi. Rather, a small rabbit was at the door…standing on two legs like a man.

“So you’re the door warden?” He asked it in a mocking tone.

The rabbit looked suspiciously at the human and angrily balled his paws and put them up threateningly, making it clear he was not welcoming the Newman.

The Newman scoffed and put his head through the door. “Fluttershy you in-“

He was interrupted as the rabbit did a backward summersault kick into his chest and knocked him out of the home. He got up and blinked in total surprise. What was she feeding that rodent? Pure rage?

He was seconds away from invoking Dark to teach that rodent a lesson and stopped himself remembering who takes care of these creatures. As barmy as this seemed, he may as well appease the creature. The small ones are always hiding dangerous surprises, so sayeth his cousin. “Well, mighty rabbit, it seems I must earn your trust. Of what quest may I perform for you to earn your leave, sir?” He knelt on one knee to the creature and bowed. He felt so silly doing this but his instincts said he wasn’t getting passed this creature without its approval.

The rabbit blinked in confusion, then thought for a moment, scratching its chin. Then tapped him on the shin and grabbed a carrot and pointed it at it. Then gestured the number ten with its hands.

“Very well, I shall retrieve ten carrots for you. By your leave, sir.” He walked away muttering to himself and bought some carrots at the market. After returning he found the door shut and knocked again. He knocked and placed the carrots on the ground and knelt before the doorway as the door opened.

“Sir Rabbit, I have retrieved your…” He looked up to find a very confused Fluttershy looking at the carrot pile “…carrots?”

“Oh, thank you, Mr. Darius. We have plenty here, but that’s okay I’ll add them to the rest.” She carried them with her teeth and put them in the fridge, which already had quite a lot.

He muttered embarrassed and walked inside to find that long-eared bugger reclined on a cushion chewing on a carrot, shooting a sly grin at him.

Darius scowled at the creature and shook his head. He is brave, but Celestia-be-damned if he wasn’t an deceitful opportunist.

“Um, well it’s that time of the week I go into Everfree Forest in search of any wounded animals. So you can come with me but stay very close. It’s dangerous there.” Fluttershy said as she strapped on some saddle bags containing healing ailments and a foldable stretcher. “Lots of predators roam it.”

“I actually landed there when I was expelled from Rift.” He mentioned. “But you go out there by yourself? Forgive my presumptions but you didn’t strike me as one to go into dangerous places without a bodyguard. You’re braver than I thought.”

Fluttershy smiled. “Oh, I am scared of some of the animals out there. But even if they can be aggressive and scary, they too deserve what help I can give them.” She said in a very serious tone.

Darius realized this pegasus took her work very seriously, enough to even conquer her own fear. “Well, what do you need me to do?” He asked.

“Um…” She thought. “You can use healing magic right? I guess if we find any injured animals you can help with that. Oh wait, that requires your, um, Light Powers? Can you also use them to see better?“

Darius immediately switched to Light. “My vigil is at your disposal.” He walked by her side.

Fluttershy smiled. “No wonder Dash likes you so much.” She said in a low voice.

He glanced, not quite hearing what she said, but shrugged and followed her into the forest.

About half an hour into Everfree, they had spotted one or two smaller wounded animals, but nothing more than that. The healing magic and first aid fixed them up quick. So far, it seemed peaceful until they approached a huge cave.

“What beast made this its home?” Darius asked.

“That is Ursa Major’s cave. She is a Stellar Bear. Her cub is there too. I check up on them from time to time.” Fluttershy entered the cave as Darius followed. “Oh by the way, they are big, I mean real real real big. So be careful not to disrespect them.”

“I’ll take your word for it-“ They then heard a roar from within the cave. “Is that how she usually greets…TUATH!” He grabbed Fluttershy by the sides and got out of the way of a huge starry-bodied bear as charged out of the cave. It was a narrow escape.

Fluttershy made a brief yelp, then saw the bear as it glared menacingly with glowing-green eyes. “Oh no, what is the matter Ursa!?”

It lashed out with its claws, but this was blocked by a Dark-infused sword held by a very quick Darius standing between it and the pegasus. “Get out of here! Its Wyrm tainted!” This thing was gigantic! It was taking every bit of vigor he had just to block that!

Fluttershy gasped. “What? What do you mean?”

Darius used his known Joining and pushed its claw away with all the might it gave him. “It’s cursed! It can’t be saved, she’ll have to be culled!” He sadly brandished his blade.

Fluttershy looked at Darius in horror. “Y-you can’t!”

“Look at its eyes, its corrupted by the Wyrm! I know it’s not her fault, but-“ He could feel his belt grabbed by a very strong grip and realized Fluttershy pulled him away.

“No! You said yourself it wasn’t her fault! So let’s find a way cure it!” She said with that glare of hers that forced the idea of euthanizing this bear out of his mind. “Now go into her cave and find any clues!” The humongous bear growled readying to lunge until Fluttershy stood in front of it. “Ursa! I know you don’t want to do this! Think of your cub! You are a proud bear of the stars, not a monster!” She stared into its eyes.

Darius gaped watching this pegasus submitting this gargantuan animal to her stare. He didn’t question it further headed into the cave. He looked around as he explored inside. It could not have been done by the Wyrm itself. It would have been obvious if it were in Equestria. So what did this?

While Fluttershy continued talking down the creature, he ran into the cave. As he got deeper he saw it: A Mage-Golem! One of the remaining eight. It was thinner or more brittle than its club-wielding counterparts. It hovered above the ground and struck its staff into it, sending a shockwave at the Newman. Darius stabbed his Light infused sword into the ground as the blade met he shockwave and split it to either side, wedging a nearby boulder out of place.

Still using Light, he brought his hands together and invoked dispelling incantation. It surged like lightning and as the golem blocked with its staff, which crumbled in its hands as the spell took effect. Darius finished it off with a Dark slash strong enough to shatter it. Its sorcerers were always the easiest to break, from his experience. He then noticed that boulder partly blocking a cavern and overheard the wailing of an upset creature behind it. With Dark, he shifted the rock and found what he deduced to be the Ursa’s cub.

This one didn’t look corrupted. Did the mother trap it here to protect it? He didn’t have time to ask as it growled in fearful warning at the Newman. Darius knelt down before it and looked directly into its eyes, just as Fluttershy would. “Your mother is hurting. We are trying to help her, but we need your help, brave cub. We share your pain for her suffering, friend. Will you help us?” He bowed to it. The cub stared, then sniffed at Darius. It made a desperate noise and nudged him with its nose towards the exit of the cave. He guessed it got the idea and led the way.

Fluttershy was still speaking to the creature. The bear was shaking its head, fighting a battle of will against the corruption. “Common Ursa, keep fighting it, just hold on until…” She then saw Darius running out of the cave along with Ursa Minor. The little bear cautiously approached its mother. It then hugged and nuzzled her.

Ursa Major cringed and let out a feral sound of despair, but the cub would not let her go. Fluttershy tearfully hugged her too. At this moment, Darius got an idea and placed his hands on Fluttershy’s hooves, concentrating on healing. The pegasus watched in awe as the magic coursed through her hooves to Ursa Major. Within moments the giant bear relaxed as her eyes returned to their normal color.

“Be free of It.” Darius whispered.

Once Ursa Major was fully calmed, it lifted its head and looked at her cub, then the pony, then the Newman. It then smiled towards her saviors, bowing its head in gratitude before taking her very relieved and happy cub back to the cave.

Fluttershy smiled and cleared a tear from her eye. “Thank Celestia.” She squeaked.

“I didn’t think it would work. Who knew such kindness combined with strong will could dispel the Wyrm’s curse?” He sat down amazed.

Fluttershy looked at Darius. “Especially when friends are helping.” She kept that gentle smile of hers.

Darius nodded in agreement. “There was a golem in her cave. I dispatched it. Forgive me but those can’t be…”

Fluttershy nodded. “I know. But you showed an act of kindness today, the very highest.” She put a friendly hoof on his left hand.

He noticed brief flicker of light on his hand. “Well, would you look at that?” He showed her the new symbol on his left hand.

She looked at it and smiled. “I guess that means you graduated.”

They shared a chuckle as they headed back to Ponyville.

It was mid-afternoon when Darius returned home and delivered the metal parts he completed and received his pay. He noticed now most ponies didn’t mind his presence now. In fact, he was approached by some who inquired about his shop.

He then heard from behind his back. “Hello Newman, it is good to see. An ancestral friend from across the sea.” Darius turned around to see a pony…well it was striped like a …ZEBRA!

He then spoke in his native tongue in delight. “Tel Zebra!” (A Zebra) He knelt down to meet her face to face. “Tol teldor dior Equestria!” (Here in Equestria!)

The Zebra pony smiled pleasantly. “They still chant of us in song? For our two races were parted long.”

He nodded happily. “We only have drawings back home of your people. But even the youngest chanters speak of Zebra and how they were our friends until the Wyrm bit the Ley Line.”

Zecora nodded. “I heard much that-“ Her words were stopped after a powerful gust of wind happened.

When the dust cleared, Rainbow Dash was fluttering beside them. “Darius! I heard you and Fluttershy were attacked by Ursa Major! Are you okay?” She huffed.

He nodded. “The Ursa was…sick. But Fluttershy and I managed to help her.” He showed her the new symbol on his other hand. “As you can see, it turned out just fine.”

“I shall leave you two to be alone. Darius, feel free to visit my home. There is much of your people I wish to learn, to bring to my kin, should I return.” She bowed pleasantly to Dash and trotted away.

Dash waved. “See ya, Zecora.” She looked at Darius. “What was that about?”

Darius smiled. “Her race and mine were once good friends before the Ley Lines became unsafe. Even after a thousand years we still pine for those day to come back.” He looked at her grinning. “You mind feeding me? After all, I just survived a bear attack.”

She laughed. “Come on, I’m buying.” She walked with him as she took him to her favorite restaurant in town.

The weather was perfect for outdoor eating as they sat at their table. While Dash had cider, Darius sampled the honey wine (or marnobe, as they called it back home). Both breathed out with a refreshed ‘aaaah’ after a big gulp.

After ordering their food, the two chatted. Darius talked about his parents and siblings and what it was like living with a big family. Dash was an only child whose parents also had very colorful manes like hers. She didn’t know what circumstances would cause her to get the rainbow mane but she wasn’t complaining. But they encouraged her athletics and competitiveness to do her best.

The topics then evolved to education, both agreeing it was boring. Darius retained his humility and admitted it was helpful for learning other forms of magic. Dash accepted that, but was thankful to drop out of professional flight school. Finally, after Dash finished her third cider and Darius was on his third mead…

“So…the women of your people. What are they like?” She asked, finally remembering that question never got answered thanks to those golems on the hill.

Darius thought of how to describe them. “Okay, picture me, now make my body more curvy, my face would be a little heart-shaped.” All of the sudden he saw the mare blink, torn between confusion and horror. “Hm…not the best description, I guess I never had to describe it.” He chuckled.

“…Okay but what about below the neck?” She asked, not liking the imagery she is getting from this.

“Oh, well, you see these pectorals?" He remembered what minotaurs called them and gestured to his chest. They...protrude more on a woman. Below the belt is different, obviously. And you would normally see them with longer hair and occasional coloring or jewelry.” He finished.

Her mind was fixated on that pectoral part. “How do their...pecs get that way? Are they all pregnant or something?”

He could see the stares of people overhearing this conversation. He decided to end this before it got worse. “Look, if ever I can find a mind reader and illusionist in this land, I’ll show you a picture of one.” He wanted to end it there.

Dash snorted. “I don’t know how you find that attractive.”

Is she challenging the beauty of our women? Time to go on the defensive, he thought and leaned forward propping his arm on the table. “Where I come from, there are women of such beauty they can be the envy of the Princesses.” He sipped his second mug of mead without taking his eyes off her.

Dash leaned forward as well. “Darius, they sound like a deformed version of you. That couldn’t hold a candle to me, I mean a mare!” She bucked herself for that slip.

Darius scowled, but didn’t catch her slip. “What is that phrase? Treading on thin ice? Yes, you’re doing that now. If you have actually met one, you wouldn’t be saying that.” He asked her, daring her to respond from that.

She paused and looked away. “Fine, I’m sorry I asked.”

He wasn't satisfied with that. “But you’re not sorry for insulting my people?”

Dash got defensive. “How do you expect me to think of it when you described it that way?”

Darius slammed his mug on the table. “I wouldn’t have to if I was actually with one! But that isn’t possible, is it?!” He stood up and staggered feeling the vertigo from the alcohol rushing out of his head and back. He cursed and walked off.

Dash sneered and looked down to the table trying to figure out what just happened and more importantly, why? She then looked up to find a very unhappy Pinkie Pie sitting across from her. “P-Pinkie?”

“What is the matter with you!?” She suddenly shouted, surprising the other patrons.

Dash fell off her chair as Pinkie glowered over her, now from the top of the table. “That is no way to treat a friend! What is it with you? Even when you’re drunk you’ve never acted like this!” She scolded the cyan pony.

Dash looked up then guilty looked down. “Oh rutt, I really screwed up this time.” She looked back up at her, who was now sitting on her chair, hooves over the backside.

“What is going on, Dash?” Pinkie asked concerned.

“It’s just that, I like hanging with him, but it’s like there is something else and I don’t understand it.” She got her footing and sat on the ground. “I’m curious about him, like more than I’ve ever been about a stallion.”

Pinkie eyed her inquisitively. "Go on.”

“He isn’t all about my looks. He likes me for me. I could count on him for anything. It’s just that...when he went out with Fluttershy, I was…was…” She said something under her breath.

Pinkie Pie pointed her ear to the cyan pony. “What? Can’t hear you.”

“I was jealous, okay?!” She snorted in frustration. This was embarrassing. “I’ve never felt like that for a colt.”

Pinkie Pie hopped down and spoke to her like a wise mare. “Well, maybe because you found a real good friend you can share the things you enjoy with, and your curious if it can get better.”

“What do you mean?” She asked.

Pinkie Pie smiled. “You’ll figure it out. But right now, you should find him and apologize!” She ordered.

She smiled appreciatively at her friend. “Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye. Thanks Pinkie!” She paid the bill and flew off. It was dark but her eyes were keen enough to find Darius stacking firewood.

She landed on the grass near his home, keeping a distance. “Darius?” She said.

Darius didn’t answer and kept working.

“I’m sorry, big guy. I was wrong, very wrong.” She said solemnly. “It was dumb of me to say those things and judging people I never seen or met. But if you’re still too angry to talk…”

Darius said nothing at first, then looked at her and sat down next to her on the grass. “Of course I forgive you. Besides you had too much to drink and so did I.” He shook his head in regret to that scene they made. “What I don’t understand is where did that really come from?”

“Promise not to laugh?” She asked.

Darius nodded. “Cross my heart.” He smiled.

She softly smiled. So they have that in their world too. “You know when you went on that trip with Fluttershy?” She paused in anticipation of humiliation for this. “I was...jealous.”

“Why?” He looked at her inquisitively.

Dash blushed. “You’re the first stallion…guy that I met that doesn’t make fun of me or like me just for my looks.” She flicked her mane. “And you enjoy the things I like! I even like the things we talk about.”

“So you want me all to yourself?” He looked at her with that sly grin again.

There it is again! Is that a flirt? Darnit! She can’t read his face! “What do you mean?”

“I was flirting and joking, Dash.” He saw her look of realization that made her more comfortable now. “So you think about me in that way? I didn’t think it was possible, to be honest.”

‘Me neither’, Dash thought. She looked into his eyes. “How does a Newman woman tell a man that she likes him?”

That caught him off guard but he was quite sure this implied Dash was getting interested in him. “Whoa.” He said expressing his surprise to the situation. “To be honest, I’ve never experienced it.” He looked at her embarrassed.

Dash gaped. “You? You’ve never been approached by a girl? What is wrong with them?” That was hard to believe! Even she could tell he must be good looking for his people’s standards.

He chuckled. “Hard to be approached when they know you’re gonna fight The Destroyer.” He said. “Dash, do you really like me in that way?”

Dash nodded. “I think so. You’re the first. I’m not asking if you wanna be my coltfriend right now. But you do interest me.”

Darius thought about that for a moment. A pony companion…he didn’t know if that was possible, but he couldn’t think of a rational reason to oppose it. Heck, members of his people have become brides/husbands of dragons, Zebra, and other beings throughout history. So… “Are you ready for my answer?”

Dash nodded nervously.

“I’m glad it’s you.” He said, seeing her face change to surprise. “I’ve never spent this much time with a…mare. Indeed, I learned a lot about you in this short time.” He lay down on the grass, gazing at the stars. “And I like the things I learned.”

The pegasus sighed in relief and lay down beside him. “So…where do you want to go with this?”

“You mean where do we.” He corrected. That made her smile. “How about we have a better dinner tomorrow night and see what happens?”

Dash liked that. “So even if this goes nowhere, we stay friends?”

He nodded. “Always.”

“You’re a cool guy, Darius. Don't ever change.” She said as they shared a grin.

After a few minutes just watching the night sky, Dash spoke. “So who are you going to have mentor you next?”

“I have no idea. Any suggestions?” He asked as Dash looked up at the night sky.

She thought for a moment. “Pinkie Pie. She’ll teach you a thing or two about pony culture. She may seem crazy random sometimes, but she knows a lot on the ‘how-to’s’ and what-not of pony-life.” She yawned.

Satisfied with that, Darius did a leaping stand. “Excellent.” He saw her flutter up as well. “Then I bid you good night...” and as he turned to his house. “…gorgeous.” He walked away returning her compliment from last evening.

Dash shot him a grin and bit her lower lip before she flew back home.