• Published 16th Apr 2012
  • 3,696 Views, 114 Comments

Long Way Gone - DiscordsAdvocate



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

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Chapter 6

All your grammar corrections are belong to frieD195

The next afternoon Darius approached Sugarcube Corner after finishing work. He didn’t have any idea what to expect from this meeting. Pinkie always presented herself as a bubble-headed maniac. Laughter was her element, which was no surprise to Darius when he found that out. This should be easy, right?

The door opened and out bounced the pink pony herself. “Hi Darius! Good morning! I hope you and Dash made up. It would be horrible if you two broke up before your date tomorrow.”

Darius deduced ‘date’ meant a get together in the slightly intimate context. It was also a fruit and alternative word to day. “How did date get three meanings in your language?”

Pinkie giggled. “It just did. Ready to learn from the master of laughter?”

“Yeah, sure. But what are we doing? I mean I make Dash laugh all the time. It’s a wonder I haven’t learned your magic already.” He said.

Pinkie looked up at him like a teacher to a student who disappointed her. “There is more to my element than just a few chuckles.” He didn't expect that from her.

He nodded humbly. “Okay, okay. Maybe I took it too literally. Then what does your element mean?”

Pinkie smiled and led the way to an estate in Ponyville. “You’ll see.”

Darius never met the wealthier ponies in this land. He expected a larger home, but to see gardens and sculptures of foliage, that was weird. Why not let them grow as they are and cut them when needed? More importantly, why put a price on land? He inquired to Pinkie about this.

“Oh…well I guess that is silly, buying land and all.” Pinkie replied. She thought of a way explaining all this culture to him. “But the trees, bushes, and flowers really look pretty." She sneaked to a flower bush and bit one off eating it. "And delicious." She said trotting mirthfully.

Darius shrugged and accepted it. “So, who is he?”

“We’re gonna see Filthy Rich’s son, Gold Crown.” Pinkie replied as they reached the door.

“His father likes money and filth?” He grimaced.

She giggled. “No silly, his name is a figure of speech meaning he’s got a lot of money.” She knocked on the door.

Opening the door was, in fact, the wealthy-pony himself. “Oh, Pinkie! Welcome, welcome! Oh, but is this…the Newman? What is he here for?”

Pinkie explained as they were led in. “This is Darius, and will be my assistant for the day.”

Darius bowed politely to the pony. “Greetings Mr. Rich.”

“Well, I suppose more than one would help. Greetings, Mr. Darius.” He bowed pleasantly. “He’s in his room, Ms. Pie. Now if you excuse me, I have business to attend to.” He trotted off to his office. “And thank you again.”

“Okie dokie lokey.” Said the mare as she hopped and led the way.

Both Pony and Newman entered the bedroom with somepony in the bed.

“Hi Gold Crown!” She hopped in. “What are you doing in bed? Its morning! Common we got lots of things to do today!” She pulled the covers off.

The pony was a Unicorn. He must have been an adolescent. He too big to be a filly, Darius observed. But when he saw his face he saw white and white eyes! No color in them.

“Go away, Pinkie.” He grunted, tossed a pillow in Pinkie’s direction.

“Oooh, very good! You must have heard where I was.” She pushed him out of bed. “Now come on. You won’t get better laying here all sad and grumpy.”

The pony growled at her and got out of bed grudgingly. “Why can’t you just leave me alone?!” Shouted at her. He sniffed. “And who else is in here?” He looked vaguely in Darius’s direction.

“Very good, Crown. You’re getting good at using your other senses.” Pinkie smiled gently. “His name is Darius, a Newman from very far away. I’m teaching him, just as I am teaching you.”

The pony sniffed. “Yeah, I can smell him from here!” He snorted and headed to the bathroom.

Normally Darius would have talked down to this brat until he realized what he suspected was right. The way he walked cautiously and nearly bumped into the doorway. This pony was blind!

Well this morning wasn’t going well, Darius thought. So far he wasn’t learning laughter or smiles. Just frowns and pity.

The cause of this pony’s blindness was when Queen Chrysalis and her army of Changelings attacked Canterlot. Gold Crown was with his father when a Changeling shot him in the eyes, permanently blinding him. No healing spell has been able to reverse the damage given they know too little about Changeling magic. Gold’s progress in coping hit a standstill. He used to be angry and vengeful, wanting to find that Changeling and make him blind too. But those attitudes weren’t right in pony culture. Even though the attack hurt some and terrified others, the Ponys’ virtue of forgiveness persevered. But Gold Crown was struggling with that. Who could blame him?

Darius recognized this teen’s suffering like he in did in other folk having lost an arm, leg, or sense back home. This pony hated his life. He felt alienated despite everyone’s relentless attempt to help him. And worst of all, there was no justice. Pinkie had a reputation for helping the people in Ponyville be positive, if not happier. This was her toughest case. She could put a smile on the face of many when she worked hard at it, but Crown had a lot going against it. It would take a breakthrough for him to smile again.

Crown did very little as he walked through town without any aid. Pinkie explained he received training on how to hear his way around things, like the sonar of bats, which a lot of ponies thought was pretty cool. In addition, he even learned to use his horn start magically sense things. But what of reading? What of visual art? Those were things still denied to the pony. What was worse was Crown ignored or discouraged other ponies from approaching him. He was possibly the only pony in Equestria permanently blind. It was heartbreaking.

Then an idea came to Darius. There had to be a way to reverse this. If there was no known magic to cure it that Equestria had, the Changelings just might be able to. He whispered very low to Pinkie his idea for helping him, as crazy as it may sound.

Pinkie looked at Darius interested at his plan. “Oh my. Well, they did attack us but maybe. Are you really thinking they would? I don’t think Mr. Rich would approve, though.”

The Newman sighed. “Tell you what. Let me ask Twilight about the Changelings and for her to write to Princess Celestia about it. I think this kid deserves a chance demand the Changelings make amends for his injury at least.”

“But what if they can’t, or worse, won’t help him?” She asked very seriously.

“We have to try.” He replied. “I know encouraging him to adapt to his condition is his best hope for a life right now, but wouldn’t giving the Changelings a chance to make amends give him some closure?”

Pinkie thought about it for a moment. “Only if Mr. Rich and Princess Celestia approve.” She said sternly.

That was another thing he learned about the pink pony. When she got serious, she meant it, especially when it came to protecting her ward.

Noon was nearing. Before Darius proposed anything, he had to learn about the Changelings. Luckily Twilight was actually writing about them. Spike mentioned she very much wanted to be the first published author to write about their species, but she was hesitant because sadly, she had nothing good to promote any hope they could be friends to Equestria someday. So he listened as Twilight summarized what they knew so far.

Rarity was also present as she was measuring Twilight for a new outfit. Though she was getting distracted constantly turning her attention to her little ‘Spikey-Wikey.’ Darius was a bit disturbed the pearly unicorn having such…regard, for a twelve-year-old, even if he was a dragon. While Twilight thought on Darius's suggestion, Rarity added her two bits.

“Are you sure this will work, darling? After what they did and how we drove them out, I’m not sure they will be friendly with us.” Rarity said. “Can you explain your reasoning?”

“Back home, whenever there was a grievance between folk of one or more provinces, the leaders of both would meet to decide the best and fairest way to settle the dispute before it grew into something worse.” Darius explained. “Before any talks took place, both leaders would exchange a gift of some kind as a show of sincerity.”

Spike finally piped up. “But what can you give a Changeling? They feed off love, but we can’t exactly offer that.”

Twilight nodded. “It’s very strange but they treat love like food. Though I don’t know exactly how they extract it. I only remember seeing Princess Celestia cocooned…I feared they were trying to…” She turned a little pale and shuddered. Rarity put a hoof on her shoulder to snap her out of it.

“Can’t we offer something of that nature to them?” Darius said. Everypony looked at him like he just took his head off his body. “I mean in a different way.” He quickly recovered.

Twilight understood and then had a sudden realization. “Your right!” She got an idea. “And I think Zecora can help us with that.”

***

It was not easy getting Filthy Rich to agree to this meeting. If Celestia had not approved of it, he would have downright refused. That and Diamond Tiara, Rich’s daughter pleaded her dad to let her beloved brother have this opportunity. For a snooty filly, she at least values her family. Mr. Rich would only agree if Darius was made to be Crown’s bodyguard, just in case things got out of hoof. Of course, Darius agreed.

Luna decided transport them by carriage as well as to accompany them along with her Nightwing Guard. It was a good strategy sense Queen Chrysalis never encountered or dealt with the night princess.

The carriage flew towards the Forsaken Forest, where the Changelings resided. Darius couldn’t stop looking out the window. This was only his second experience flying. Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Twilight, and a very nervous Gold Crown was with them. Luna was overseeing the flyers in her seat outside.

Crown was almost shaking. Darius looked at the unicorn and finally spoke to him.

“You’re nervous, huh? I thought you were looking forward to this.” He spoke.

Crown frowned. “Well, I am but…I never thought of what I would do or say if…” He went silent, turning slightly pale.

The Newman could see it in this kid’s eyes. His attitude and form changed. He was no longer a pony that would lash out at anyone who approached him. Now his defenses were down. “Crown. Do you want to hurt the Changeling who blinded you?”

Gold Crown looked as he was wrestling with that option. "I don't know anymore."

Darius thought for a moment and remembered something back home. He leaned over to Rarity and Pinkie Pie as they had a private chat.

“Rarity, back home there were some Newmen who would give of themselves to heal others. It’s a magic I was taught but I’m not sure it would work on ponies without help.” He asked.

Pinkie Pie was at a loss to what he was talking about. Rarity took a guess. “Give of themselves? You mean like an organ transplant?”

The Newman nodded. “If transplant means giving one’s own blood to help another who needs it. Then yes.”

The two mares looked at each other to see if the other got what he was insinuating. “But your magic barely works on ponies, Darius. And even if we could do that with our magic, that would be a great sacrifice to ask of a pony.” Rarity asked.

Darius felt they landed. “It isn’t a pony I intend to ask.” He stepped out.

A moment later a horn was blown by one of the guard. Darius stood beside Luna who was still sitting at her place. For some reason he didn’t feel so…humbled by her as much as he used to. If not he was inspired that she was here with them. Goddess or not, he was glad she was here.

It took half an hour but soon they were approached by what everypony recognized were Changelings. Darius grimaced at their forms. Like insects but unlike insects and like ponies yet unlike ponies. The tallest who led them was their queen, judging by her stature. They flew at great speeds and landed across from the ponies, but keeping their distance.

“So, Princess Luna approaches the borders of my lands. Very bold of you.” The Queen gave a half-sneer, half-amused face. She then looked up and saw the Newman. She gaped in surprise. “What is a Newman doing here? Have the Ley Lines finally calmed after all these centuries?”

Luna shook her head. “He was spirited here by the Destroyer, Queen Chrysalis, if that means anything to you.”

The Queen looked surprised for a moment but retained her composure. “Well, in that case it matters little what Entropy is up to, so long as he does it there. What brings you here?”

Darius invoked Dark and Light and jumped. Every Changeling thrall was alerted, their horns brimming with green energy. Darius landed equidistant between both ponies and Changelings. He addressed the Queen first, bowing. “Your majesty. I am Darius, Son of Manden, Avatar of Rift.” This was tough. He only witnessed a negotiation once. There was a lot of expected formality and he was doing this from scratch. “I have been given leave by the crown to mediate this meeting.” He made a gesture as Rarity and Twilight came out the back way with a vat floating between them.

“YOU!” The Queen snarled at Twilight. “You ruined everything!” Now her horn glowed before Luna created a lightning bolt that struck a mile away from them. It was loud enough to make her point clear for Chrysalis to not try anything. Despite her anger, the Queen didn’t attack. It was clear a fight here would be a big mistake. She knew very little of Luna, much less their allied Newman who already demonstrated some strange magic and physical prowess. “What is it this purple hussy brings to me?” She pointed a hoof at the vat.

Rarity was resisting the urge to chew the Queen out for insulting her friend, but she kept her calm and spoke. “Your majesty. We are aware your people feed off love for food. We offer this as our peace offering.” She lifted the cover and showed inside a pink liquid.

The Queen looked as if she had just saw heaven in that vat, if her senses weren't fooling her. Her minions floated to it almost drooling, but she hissed and they kept their distance. She kept her composure despite its heavenly aroma. “And this offering is?”

Twilight finally spoke, retaining her strong, yet intellectual composure. “It’s called a love potion, Queen Chrysalis. It is made using specific ingredients native to Equestria. Unlike love poisons, this potion fills a person’s heart with love. In other words, it’s a substitute for having to extract love from any unwilling beings.” She explained.

The Queen eyed it suspiciously. She first ordered a thrall to taste it. Without hesitation the creature lapped up a sample. And then it shed greenish tears releasing a very happy buzzing noise. Then the queen sampled it and became wide eyed. “It’s love! REAL LOVE!” She took another big gulp and nodded for her servants to engorge themselves on the sweet nectar.

Luna said as they finished. “And Ponyville can make more of it. If you will accept this as our peace offering.”

Queen Chrysalis looked into Darius’s eyes, then Luna’s. She knew ponies were magnanimous and soft hearted, but she wasn’t stupid. “But you expect a gesture of peace from me.”

“Yes.” Darius concurred. “One good turn deserves another. There is a member of your army that inflicted a grave injury against a citizen of Equestria.”

Pinkie Pie walked out with a very frightened Gold Crown. “Common, don’t be afraid.” Pinkie encouraged him.

“Who is this blinded pony?” The Queen asked looking coldly at the teen, who was too shaken by this to speak now.

Darius intervened for him. “His name is Gold Crown. His blindness was caused by the magic of one of your thralls. And there doesn’t appear to be a cure.”

The Queen thought for a moment. “If you came here seeking one from us, we have none. We regenerate our injuries. We have no need for healing magic.” She could see the pony was saddening now. She let out a quiet snort and rolled her eyes, like she was fighting off a feeling of pity for the visually crippled teen. Yet she gave in. “But I am a generous Queen. In the interest of peace, I will see that you shall receive your justice.” She nodded to one of her escorts and he flew away.

Things were quiet as they waited for what would transpire from this. Crown, on the other hand, was wrestling with the thought of taking back his dignity at the expense of his attacker. But it wouldn’t give him back his sight. He felt so torn.

Finally an armored vassal landed before them.

The Queen spoke. “This is the one whom I learned had blinded a pony fitting your description after we were...retreated from your land.” She said to Crown. “As a show of gratitude for introducing us to this new food source, his life is yours. Subdue him!” She ordered.

The armored vassal looked at his queen in shock as his armor was suddenly removed magically. The thralls proceeded to shoot him from all sides as he yelped in pain. The ponies looked away in horror.

Crown didn’t need to see to know what was happening. He made his decision. “STOOOOP!” He shouted.

The thralls disengaged their assault on the now-injured Changeling, who whimpered as he stood up and looked at Crown with combined relief and guilt.

Darius felt the time was right and knelt down between Pony and Changeling. “Changeling, what is your name?”

“We have no names.” He replied weakly. “Only our Queen takes one unless we mimic one of you.”

“Fair enough. You know what you did to this Pony?” He said. Seeing the Changeling nod shamefully, he spoke again. “Are you proud of blinding him?” The Changeling shook his head rapidly. “Why?”

“I meant only to stun him.” He frowned. “I was ordered to subdue, not maim. I…lost control and misfired.” He looked at Gold Crown pleadingly. “I maybe a Changeling but I am no monster. If I could give you back your sight, I would. I am very sorry for what I did.”

Darius then eyed Rarity, a pony so generous to him when he first arrived…Generosity! That was her element! He gestured for Rarity to come forth. “Rarity, generosity is your element, isn’t it?” The purple-manned pony nodded as she stood across from him. “I need help from your element.” Darius then addressed both princess and queen. “Princess Luna, Queen Chrysalis, it is within both your powers make this happen. Through the element of generosity, I propose we try this. Changeling, you sacrifice the sight of one of your eyes to restore one of Crown’s. You can never make up fully for your crime, but you can at least show your remorse is sincere. Is this acceptable, Crown?”

Crown was wide eyed and thought for a moment. He nodded. The vassal nodded as well. Luna and Chrysalis eyed each other as if gauging the other’s intentions. There seemingly was an unspoken understanding between them as they too agreed. They closed their eyes and their horns glowed, surrounding Crown and the Changeling their respective auras of magic.

“Rarity, your element.” He whispered took the hooves of both Changeling and Crown and concentrated on the sacrificial healing spell, while Rarity used her power to make this happen. There was a flash of light. When the light faded, Crown opened his eyes as his left eye changed back to its normal color. He stood face to face with the Changeling, who’s right eye was faded dark from blindness.

“How do we look?” Darius asked Crown.

Crown looked at Darius. “Weird.” He looked at the Changeling. “Sorry.” Then to Rarity. “and beautiful.”

There was a pause as Crown took a deep breath and slowly walked up to the Changeling. “I can forgive you now.” He then looked at Queen Chrysalis. “You gave me his life, and I have spared it.”

The half-blind Changeling looked like he was withholding his own tears as he bowed humbly in gratitude to Crown.

Rarity cleared a tear and sniffed as the negotiations came to a conclusion. She then noticed Darius’s foot had shined for a second as a very familiar symbol appeared there. She smiled. Well done, Darius. Well done, she thought.

***

The trip back was much more positive.

“This couldn't have turned out any better. We just made peace with the Changelings now. I know Chrysalis can be mean sometimes but I never thought she’d help with something like that.” Twilight smiled. “I can’t wait to write to Princess Celestia about it.” She fished for some paper and pen.

Rarity smiled as well. “Yes. And to see a Changeling sacrifice something of his to give joy back to another has certainly changed my opinion of them. It reminds me how I gave my tail to that serpent way back when.” She turned to see Darius with Pinkie Pie giving Crown some pointers on his new sight.

“Okay, you have no depth perception. That is okay, you just need to learn how to bob your head a little when you move to get a good idea of how far things are, let’s try it.” He removed the moccasins from his feat. “I’m going to move my hand or foot towards your face. You have to move out of the way.” The Newman began to slowly do slow mock-punches and kicks towards Crown as he dodged them enthusiastically as Pinkie happily egged him on.

‘Dear Princess Celestia…’

Twlight began to write.

‘With the help of Princess Luna, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Gold Crown, and Darius, we have made history. The Changelings have accepted our gift and have agreed to not make any more mischief. Queen Chrysalis has agreed to future trade negotiations for more love potion.

But more than that, I witnessed the emotions of remorse and redemption in the Changelings. I learned that not all of a group should be judged, even by the acts of the majority, and while Gold Crown only has half his vision, the sacrifice the Changeling who wronged him renewed his hope and helped him remember happiness.

It should be noted Darius was the one who came up with idea for this negotiation. I do believe he and I can learn from each other about our respective magical abilities to further advance our understanding of…’

She continued to write as the pleasantries carried on.

“I hope he’s going to be alright from now on. I’m sure we can get that other eye of his colored to look like his better eye…if he wants that, that is.” Rarity mentioned as Gold Crown laughed as he merrily dodged Pinkie's mock-hoof punches.

Pinkie Pie joined laughed as her bubbly disposition returned. She looked at Darius with a silly toothy grin gave Darius a strong hoof pat on the back. “Consider yourself passed, Darius! You get an A plus from the element of laughter!”

And it was here he learned ground ponies were simply strong in general. AJ was not alone in this trait. “WOAH!” He twisted himself and managed to fall onto his back as he hit the soft floor of the carriage, feet up in the air. He groaned annoyed.

Pinkie giggled. “Sorry about that, wait was is that?” She took hold of one foot and inspected the element of laughter on it, not knowing her fluffy mane was tickling the sole of his foot.

Darius began to snicker and was struggling to get up from his awkward position. “P-Pinkie, my feet!”

Pinkie wasn’t paying attention. “Cool, look he has my element on his foot!”

“Oh, really? Let me see, this is very fascinating!” Twilight got a closer look as her mane tickled his toes.

Darius chuckled uncontrollably finding it impossible to get up at this rate. “Ponies, your hair! Er tonbeni!” (It’s ticklish!)

Rarity grinned mischievously. “You should see his other foot; it has my element on it.”

Twilight and Pinkie Pie both got wide eyed: “IT DOES?!” They scrambled to look at both now.

From the outside, Luna could hear Darius laughing hysterically. She didn’t know what exactly those little ponies were doing but she guessed it was good for him.

***

The trip concluded with a happy reunion of Crown and his family. While the little ponies returned to their respective homes, Luna stayed to briefly chat with Darius.

“How are you feeling, Darius?” She asked.

“I’ve found ways to cope. Work, friends, learning, your quest for me to learn the elements…” He listed as he walked with her to his home. “I learned four in two days." He showed his hands and then pointed to his feet.

“We knew you could do it." She said proudly. "And what of companionship?” She asked smiling.

Darius took a deep breath. “I have a date with the element of loyalty tonight.” He hoped that wouldn't sound weird to her.

Luna smiled. “You chose well. Rainbow Dash is not the kind to limit herself based on differences. And neither do you, it seems.”

“Well, I don’t know if this will go anywhere. But I don’t think I’ll last long going celibate here.” He gave a low chuckle.

“Nor should you have to.” Luna giggled. “You also aren’t as humbled being around a Goddess, it seems.”

Darius thought on that for a moment. “I was depressed at first, but now…now that I know who the Goddesses are, I’m inspired. You cared enough to tell me the truth and to help me.” He looked at her. “Now I honor you both.”

Luna smiled warmly. “We honor you as well, Darius.” She looked and saw the sun setting. “Well if you excuse me, duty calls. I hope you and Rainbow Dash enjoy your time with each other.” She flew off.

Darius watched her fly to the horizon (where the moon and stars awaited) for a moment before heading home. He freshened up before hearing a knock at the door. He opened it to see the cyan blue Pegasus at his doorstep.

Dash flew right up to his face and looked at him annoyed. “That's twice you go on a dangerous adventure and you didn’t invite me!”

Darius explained. “Luna felt it best to limit our group.” He smiled. “Besides I know if we were in trouble, you’d come rushing to our aid, right?”

Dash smirked forgiving. “In ten seconds flat, big guy. I’ll let you off the hook this time.” She smiled. “Oh yeah, what do you think?” She turned around and showed off what Darius assumed was a saddle for pegasi, leaving her wings free. It was golden in color with a silvery trim.

Darius didn’t notice she was wearing anything at first. He almost never saw anypony wear clothes and only just learned from Rarity they sometimes wore jewelry, cloaks, and the occasional shoes for formal occasions. But saddles? They were for riding, yet apparently it was a style in this land. Regardless of the differences, it did make her look more beautiful. “It looks good on you.” He complimented and it came to mind he did find Dash attractive in looks as well as personality. “You are beautiful, you know that? I know it’s different coming from me, but I mean it.”

Dash turned around and smiled blushing. “I usually don’t get dressed up like this, but we’re going someplace fancy tonight. Rarity kept egging me to try it sometime but I couldn’t find a handsome guy to go with.” She winked at him.

“Until now.” Darius grinned and put a leather vest on that matched his trousers. “Then I guess we should both look good for the occasion.” They walked out together. “What a pair for a night on the town, eh? Most awesome flyer in Equestria?”

She grinned. “Coolest Avatar from Rift? The best pair!”

They both chuckled at the stroking of their egos as they headed to the restaurant.

I have to admit, this was the hardest chapter I have written. Finding a good and significant way to represent the learning of laughter as an element was not easy. But I think it works here. I had thought of doing a silly chapter for laughter, but honestly I'm not very good at writing comedy. Comedy relief, yes, but pure comedy? Not so much to do Pinkie Pie that kind of justice. So I wanted to show a side of Pinkie that is represented in MLP and her efforts to make others happy. And I think that represents the spirit behind the element of laughter. Not just laughing, but happiness and joy. And what better way to show her determination than to give her a really tough case she would never give up on? No matter how impossible it may seem. Anyways, I'm open to criticisms in this chapter. Like I said, this was the hardest to write.