• Published 1st Oct 2014
  • 3,599 Views, 435 Comments

Story Shuffle - FanOfMostEverything

Thirty-one one-shots inspired by thirty-one random Magic cards.

  • ...

Roundabout Route

He had known. He did not know how he had known, but he had known. From the moment they had beckoned the beast out of the pit, he had known it would destroy them. So he ran. He ran before the beast could pin down his life with its inequine gaze, doom him to the same fate as the others.

At the time, he hadn't known what that fate was, but that hadn't mattered. All that mattered was making sure that it wouldn't be his fate. Thus, he ran and ran until he could run no more. He was an earth pony, so that was quite a ways.

Of course, they had come to the field via teleportation, which meant that he had no idea where he was, or where safety was. That didn't matter. What mattered was the running. He could feel the demon just behind him, waiting for him to look back, to stumble, to show any kind of weakness that it could exploit.

By some incredible luck, he found a safe place. It called to him, tugged at his hooves like an eager foal. The demon lost track of him, distracted by all of the other, lesser beings he felt around him. The Hollow Shades were not a nice place, but they were a safe place. Safer than Tartarus, at least. Safer than being exposed.

The town he found was happy to accept him. They didn't ask questions there. They hadn't even named the town, for fear of others finding them. There, he sought out even better ways of hiding, of protecting himself. But to do that, he needed to better understand how others might find him or do him harm. There were scholars in the nameless town, collections of useful lore, both devoted to those very topics. He used both eagerly.

After long months of study and acquisition, he returned to Manehattan. His apartment had been sold. His job had been given to another. He didn't care. He understood now. It wasn't the demons who he had to fear most. They were terrible creatures, yes, but without outside aid, they could not touch him from their prison. No, it was Celestia who he had to fear, for however brief his exposure to Tartarus had been, it was enough to taint him in her eyes. His teachers in the Hollow Shades had been very clear on that.

He found a tenement that would ask no questions, paid rent directly from his dwindling savings. He had no time for employment. His work would pay far greater dividends than bits.

The circle. The circle was key. Without it, he would've never gotten as far as he had. Lead, silver, gold, and the bones of a purehart, powdered and poured in a groove along the basement floor. Luring down one of the cervine angels from her supernal habitat had been the hardest part, but they were honor-bound to come when their ground-dwelling cousins called. He'd just… gotten one to call. Simple. Easy.

With the circle in place, he was safe. The entire royal guard could come crashing into the building, Celestia herself could level it to the ground, but he would not care. They wouldn't be able to touch him. They wouldn't even be able to get near him. He would soon have all the power he could ever need. Feeding even a fraction of it into the circle would keep him safe from the sun and all who served her, forever and ever and ever.

Soon he did not ever leave the circle. He had no need to. The power he had already gathered sustained him without food or drink. Attempts to evict him had been thoroughly rebuffed, and the landlady had matters of her own that she didn't want the Guard looking into. In the womb of the earth, night and day lost all meaning.

Finally, for one last time, he slept. When next he awoke, he could ensure that he would finally be safe once and for all.

He was awakened by hoofsteps. He smiled. Let them come. They could not disturb him. Not here. Not now.

A ray of magic passed through the circle without a pause and struck him right between the eyes. He fell over on his side, immobilized.

As he fell, he heard the hoofsteps close behind him. No. Impossible. He'd been charging the circle regularly. Nothing of the light could get in. Nothing could hurt him. It wasn't possible. He was safe.

Silver shoes entered his vision. The dusky blue legs sprouting from them knelt down before him. A mane of stars filed his sight, and within, a regal face regarded him. Not light. Not Celestia. Who? How? Why?

The impossibility shook her head. "A fool. Not how We wished to resume Our solemn duties, but it will do."

And, understanding nothing, the stallion fell to darkness anyway.

Author's Note:

Not quite in the spirit of One-Shotober, but I was intrigued by the question of who would need protection from Princess White-Mana-Symbol-for-a-Cutie-Mark. The answer? One of the cultists from In the Details.

Of course, if the source is, say, black, then he's surely out of luck.

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!