• Published 23rd Mar 2015
  • 348 Views, 20 Comments

A Guidepost in Equestria - Death Pony

An Undead Slayer from the Rifts universe finds himself in a strange land, hoping to prevent another catastrophic event caused by the evil out there in the Multiverse.

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First Time Cat Owners

At first, the trip to my new friend’s hut through the Everfree with Zecora was uneventful.

At first.

Before the morning went to hell I did learn some interesting things about this place, as I did steer the conversation in that direction. The land I was in was only a single kingdom among a few known lands and the Equestrians were ruled by a diarchy of two princesses, one symbolizing the day and one representing the night. They were some kind of super-ponies and had been around maybe as long as I have, perhaps longer. I also learned that there was a pony in town that was considered a close student of the solar princess Celestia, although I read ‘surrogate daughter’ between the lines myself. I was forming a plan to use this information when I learned another bit of information that morning; I’d gotten sloppy.

I had been stupidly, dangerously, and unbelievably complacent.

See, I had figured this place was about as sunshine and rainbows as any plane I’d ever seen. No sense of danger, war was practically unheard of, and the inhabitants I’d met would more likely smother me with cuteness before they would ever draw my blood. At the time, I hadn’t really taken the Everfree or any of the supposed dangers of this world seriously because it just didn’t fit with the mental image I’d built about this cute little fantasy land. Damn, did I screw that up.

I hadn’t considered that the world at large that I was currently exploring had different rules in different areas, because that was completely counter to anything my logical mind could fathom; and I was a freaking planeswalker. Sure, planes had different rules from each other that’s Rifts 101, but rules within exceptions of rules and reality breaking down from one area to the next within the same realm? That was just…insane. I had forgotten just how far Outside this place was. That revelation nearly cost me and all the little ponyfolks everything right there.

As soon as it was in range I noticed it; a vampire presence. Unbelievably, I had noticed a bloody vampire and in broad daylight no less, which was a first considering. Even then, with practiced poise and long experience I figured I could handle a single bloodsucker no problem; I had destroyed legions of the damn things over the long years. When I turned to face it however, I couldn’t really wrap my mind around what I was seeing and that hesitation was costly.

It was probably a…manticore of some kind, or used to be one at least judging from the huge cat-like body, bat wings, and scorpion tail. The Vampire Intelligence that managed to get inside it did some really strange things with its new home. Aside from the standard glowing red eyes and green-ashen pallor, it had extended some of its skeletal structure outside the body; rib bones were jagged chest fangs, vertebrae spines formed a saw-toothed ridge along the back, and wing bones formed long raking claws that seemed to scream wrongness, all leaving it looking sickeningly tattered and bristling with bony protrusions. There was some kind of seeping orange goo that oozed from some of these torn wounds and slimy trails leaked from its tear ducts while it moved with twitching, spastic jerks of the muscles, not at all like the vampire’s catlike grace and pure hunter agility I was used to seeing.

Usually vampires were arrogant, cruel, mocking beasts that tortured their victims using the information they had stolen from the host’s mind, all for the joy of listening to them plead and scream but this thing was silent and unnerving. In the past they had almost always tried to engage me in teasing conversation, hoping to distract me with some nonsense or using bribes and hostages, hoping I would lower my guard. The only time this wasn’t true was on the open battlefield, when it was kill or be killed. I honestly couldn’t understand the way some people tried to romanticize these devils. Sparkly or not, vampires didn’t want to love you, they weren’t lonely or misunderstood, and they weren’t ancient heroes just waiting for humanity to ‘get it right’; they simply wanted to peel your skin off and make you eat it while your family watched. You know, because it was entertaining.

Historically when a vampire infects another creature, the Intelligence or core of what makes it a monster, breaks off a tiny piece of itself and enters the new host, then takes control and grows in power as it feeds and spreads, like a cancer that delights in evil and torment. Vampire Intelligences were nebulous forms of pure evil and shadow that pulled the strings from the hellish dimension they called home and all they wanted to do was spread misery and death; because it was fun. However I was a bane to their existence, I was an Undead Slayer sworn to stamp them out and burn them out of every hold I could find. I think they began to take it personally after a few centuries.

This thing however, was something else. I didn’t know it at the time but this forest was some kind of anomaly where the set rules of magic broke down in mysterious ways; ways even the inhabitants couldn’t fathom. As it sprang at me like a broken machine with the speed of a viper, I did the only thing I could think of; I threw a Globe of Daylight spell on Zecora and gently tossed her away from me while trying not to smash her into any trees just before it struck me like a runaway train.

Now, I won’t lie; having a giant cat powered by vampiric strength smack you into some trees? It hurt quite a bit, supernatural toughness be dammed. Even with my martial arts training in how to break falls and land without injury, I bounced like a pinball off of a pair of trees and fell unceremoniously onto my side with a groan. I activated my Knight in Armor tattoo as I sat up and spit a wad of bloody phlegm onto the forest floor, as a field of magic armor encased my body with a faint blue glow.

‘Some cushion for any future flights on Manticore Airlines…’

Using the tree nearest to me I stood up slowly and watched the broken thing just stare with its emotionless, weepy eyes; like it was processing all the information very slowly. I heard Zecora say something off to the side but I threw up a palm in an effort to convey that she stay away while I dealt with Fluffy. My magic was still not in top shape and I hadn’t had a chance to look at my Partition Seals this morning so I was hesitant to just start blasting magic willy-nilly. Instead I summoned one of my weapon tattoos, the Flaming Spear and with a quick spin I pointed the spear at the beast wondering what in the Nine Circles of Hell was going on today.

Having finally decided on a course of action the Manticore began to circle with spastic, twitchy movements before making a clumsy but quick leap in my direction. I thrust the spear upwards while bracing the end on the ground and let it impale itself on the end with a sickening squelch. When it tried to climb along the spear to reach me I lifted it with the spear and flicked it off towards the trees away from Zecora, sliding it off and trying to ascertain how much damage I’d done, if any. It seemed to have coordination issues trying to regain its feet but it managed; just in time for me to crack it across the face with a full on baseball swing with my spear.

‘Ohhh! Johnny, I think that may be a double right there or even an RBI!’

Not a standard spear-fighting technique I know but I was a little pissed off, so sue me. The blade cleft its head deeply before sending it sailing in a lazy corkscrew into yet another tree but it somehow managed to aim its stinger with enough accuracy to clip me in the shoulder at it flew away. I spun a couple times with the force and sat down hard, grimacing but glad it failed to break through my now damaged magical armor field.

“Dammit Fluffy, you’re not making this easy…” I mumbled, trying to stand again.

It appeared the spear was doing some damage but it seemed I would need something a little more undead-fatal to finish this damn thing off. Sticking the spear into the ground, I pulled out my custom Benelli M3 Super 90 shotgun from my robe-space and racked one of the Techno-Wizard Sunshower Shells it was loaded with. I was often envious of how those lab geeks managed to come up with new and interesting ways to lay down a righteous smack down upon the forces of jerkiness. I mean, combining sunlight with running water in one little explosive package? It was genius stuff that never failed to please the seasoned hunter.

I quickly circled around to where I figured I would have a clean shot at its damaged head while it tried to right its broken body once again. Once again, seemingly without looking, it thrust its tail at me in an effort to skewer me but I hopped to the left and blasted it twice in the side of its head, taking full advantage of the M3’s semi-auto capability. The echoes of the thunderous shots broke through the morning air and I’m almost ashamed to admit that I felt a little bad about using a firearm in the land of lollipops and sugarplums. I didn’t feel as bad as Fluffy though, from what I could see.

The shots proved quite effective on the poor beast as half of its head was disintegrated by golden bolts of liquid, leaving a puddle of orange goo pooling underneath the beast as its body tried to deal with the loss of most of its brain by twitching and spasming as if being powered by an alternating electric current. It managed to swing its remaining dead, machine-like eye in my direction, the neck moving like a rusty gate, and for a moment it just stared at me as if looking at an impossible new incest before deciding that crushing the bug underfoot was in order, but soon enough all its movement ceased and the mass of orange goo quickly lost its unnatural luster becoming a noxious black mess, the loss of tension letting the manticore fall over on its side and it begin to quickly decompose into a pool of shadowy ichor. I leapt back from the mess as it started to steam and dissipate in the dappled sunlight, which was now able to affect the remains with its unknown protection no longer active, my ribs offering a protest as the adrenaline began to wear off.

‘What the blue bloody shit was wrong with you Furball?’

I stored my shotgun and dispelled the spear before looking for Zecora and making sure she was alright. I felt like I had failed this world somewhat, even though I had only been here two days and I wasn’t omniscient; I had seen a terrible entity just strolling around this world ready to kill and I hadn’t noticed it somehow.

‘Also, how the hell did I not notice it come through the Guidepost? I should have known the moment it slithered through, unless… Oh no. The culprit who built that Guidepost must be opening portals elsewhere in this world. Dammit!’

Continuing my search quickly ended when I found Zecora not far from where I finished off Count Mantula, looking at the black pool of slime as it dissolved in the dappled sunlight with a look of disgust etched on her zebra face. “I’m sorry about that Zecora, I truly am. I never expected one of those things to find its way here so quickly,” I said with a hint of remorse in my voice. “That could have easily hurt you, or worse. I’m glad I tagged along but…” I signed. Not really sure what I was supposed to feel, since it had been a damn long time since I’d been surprised like that and I had woken up with high hopes of keeping Candy Land safe from harm.

Zecora looked away from the remains with both eyebrows as high as they could go, “That is nonsense my valorous friend, your quick thinking and actions prevented my end. Taking the blame for things you can’t control, will do nothing to help and only take its toll,” she finished with a sad smile. “However my ignorance I must confess, what exactly was the thing that caused this awful mess?”

“I take it manticores are native to this place?” I asked. She nodded. “Then what happened was a vampire, a being of great evil that animates the corpses of its victims to spread misery and death. That poor beast was already dead, but forced into un-life and I was compelled to end its suffering. However, that was unlike any vampire I’ve ever seen. Something about your world or perhaps this forest or the very essence of the animal itself changed it into…that thing rather than the cunning predator I’ve grown accustomed to. I’m going to have to move more quickly now because I fear other things may be slipping through the cracks being left by whoever started this whole mess by building a Guidepost here. I think they are opening holes in reality without any care or thought about what they are doing.” My grim tone caused my zebra companion to frown with worry.

“I understand your need to rush, but hasty plans are quickly crushed,” she said. “Twilight Sparkle is a caster great, talk to her soon and discuss our fate. While I would frown upon dishonesty, the citizens of Ponyville are xenophobic; take it from me. A disguise of some kind may be in order, at least until the crossing of the library’s border.” Zecora then did something I hadn’t expected; upon getting close enough she threw her forelimbs around my waist and gave me a firm hug. After a moment of hesitation I kneeled down and returned the embrace.

I broke our embrace and placed a hand on her…uh, shoulder area (withers?) while looking her in the eye. “I’m going to get you home first my friend, because these woods may not be the place you know anymore. Once you’re there please be very careful who you open your door for. I’m afraid the horrors of the multiverse are not nearly as cordial as I am…or as good looking,” I finished with a wink at the zebra matron.

She chuckled while shaking her head and turning, then continued moving toward her home for several more minutes where we parted ways after she closed her home’s door behind her. I took a moment to admire the outside of her cozy looking hut nestled in the eerie wood and then carefully rolled up my sleeve to check my Partition Seals. Along my left bicep were three solid bars, equally spaced that encircled my entire arm. Normally, they were black when I haven’t taxed myself too badly in the magic department, but the last two days had been a magical stress and I could see the top band was a dull green, meaning it was starting to strain because the pull of my spells was trying to draw upon my sealed power reserves.

Since I figured it wasn’t too far gone yet and because I didn’t want anything to happen to my zebra pal, I went to work setting up a Circle of Repel Evil outside her front door. Once that was done I set up an Alarm Ward in the area so anything not Zecora would set it off and give me a heads up. I really wanted to place my first Translocation Beacon here but I didn’t want to push my luck without proper rest to restore my PPE levels because the first band was now looking a dull orange.

‘I guess I can sleep when I’m dead; or at least I’d like to say that. The truth is, if I push myself too hard I’m going to burn out and then I will be truly useless. Luckily, Ponyville is a ley line nexus. If I can spend some time meditating there, that will help restore my power quite a bit. What was that sweet shack called? Sugercube something I think?’

With that I figured I would head to town for some food and some needed meditation. I always did love a good cupcake.

Author's Note:

To be continued.

They say love is a battlefield, but I treat everything like a battlefield. Which is why I have so many levels in so many useless skills, but exp is exp dammit!

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Comments ( 4 )

6002833 I just answered that question.

this is good i hope it continues

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