• Published 24th Apr 2015
  • 2,276 Views, 127 Comments

A New Life - Lunafan1k

A changeling survives a traumatic event at the cost of his memories, and his sanity. He makes new pony friends who try to help him, unknowingly making his condition worse.Takes place prior to the changeling invasion.

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Dance of the Dead

By my guess it was now about noon, but thanks to the thick trees it may as well have been dusk. Luckily there was plenty of light thanks to the impromptu bonfire of critter and monster corpses. Most of the ponies were busy comforting Fluttershy, while Pinkie was staring into the fire. I could have sworn her mane was curly, perhaps she got it straightened?

I tossed some more sticks and fallen branches onto the fire and found some marshmallows in one of the food bags I was digging through. There was an image of a pony spearing it on a stick and holding it over a fire. I looked from my stick, to the bag of marshmallows, to the fire, to my stick again. I shrugged, why not? It might be fun.

A moment later I was sitting next to Pinkie in front of the fire, stick and marshmallow in one hoof with another stabbed into the dirt for Pinkie whenever she stops staring off into space. I sat there for a moment, bobbing my marshmallow in the fire; there was just something truly mesmerizing about how a marshmallow bursts into flames. I was able to blow it out easily enough, it was a melted glob about to fall to the ground, so I stuck it into my mouth to see how it tasted.

Other than it possibly burning my tongue, it tasted like fluffy sugar, with a hint of wood and ash from the fire. Overall it wasn’t bad. I speared another and returned to roasting marshmallows while listening to the others.

“It’s okay Fluttershy, there was nothing that could have been done, I’m sorry.” Twilight consoled and rubbed her back.

“Yea, they were dead anyway.” Rainbow said, not really helping her feel any better.

“I’m sorry, but that’s what makes the magic so evil. Reanimating the dead, and in such a horrible manner, using them as mindless puppets, even Discord wasn’t that low.” Twilight comforted.

“B-b… but they were alive…. They were alive and in terrible pain!” Fluttershy sobbed. They were alive? Hardly, nothing could live like that.

“Fluttershy, their bodies were moving but they were dead, nothing could survive that level of corruption.” Twilight reasoned.

“Y-you can’t talk to the animals, Twilight, but I heard them! They were crying out in pain, they were so scared and didn’t know what was going on!” She said and fell into Twilight, sobbing once more.

“Well at least we ended their pain, right?” I asked as I munched on another marshmallow. Wow these are addicting!

Fluttershy nodded into Twilight’s shoulders, “I… I wish there was a better way… then setting them on fire.”

“Don’t worry Fluttershy, once we find the source I’m sure the Elements will reverse the effects and fix all this.” Twilight said reassuringly. The others echoed her statement.

Fluttershy nodded and pulled herself to her hooves, “Thank you, everypony. This is no time to be sad; I should be assertive to help my other animal friends!” She said proudly.

Her statement seemed to have some sort of effect on Pinkie, whose hair exploded into its messy curls. She spun around and smiled at Fluttershy, “Well said! Let’s go kick some evil patootie bootie!” She said and hopped off, directly away from the fire and the marshmallow I had given her. Are ponies just naturally rude?

I ate both out marshmallows and re-sealed the bag for later, then gathered my beating stick. Its effectiveness in the battle was superb, I couldn’t just leave it. I rejoined the others as they got back into their little formations, I took second place again.

“Alright girls, if memory serves the river should be up ahead, then the gorge not far beyond that.” Twilight said as we set off into the woods once more, the burning bodies slowly burning themselves out.

I kept watch as we marched; it was easy with my night vision. The trees and plants were looking more and more like tar and there was a smell not unlike death in the air. I hate to admit it but even I was now going on edge a bit, but more out of caution and not out of a fear of plants growing unattended.

Suddenly I heard something off in the distance, but I couldn’t make it out. “Do you hear that?” I asked. Twilight and the girls screamed in terror while I stood there confused. “Keep it down! You’ll let everything know where we are!” I said harshly. How old are these ponies? I’m sure they are old enough to know better than to freak out over little things.

“Then don’t scare us like that!” Rainbow said from a place in the trees.

“You all scare way too easily.” I remarked.

“No we don’t! I wasn’t scared! I thought it came from up here so I went to fight it!” Rainbow backtracked. She’s such a liar.

“Anyway, I think I heard something up ahead, but I couldn’t make it out.” I said.

“Heard something? What did it sound like? Like those monsters?” Twilight asked me.

“I don’t know; we’re too far away.” I replied. I perked my ears as I heard it again, the others thankfully grew silent as I listened. “It sounds like… a moan? Like ‘Ohhh… oh oh’ or something.”

“It’s up ahead, there’s only one way to find out. Come on, everypony keep ready!” Twilight said and started leading us closer to the sounds. “The river is this way, and that sea serpent could be in trouble!”

“Oh good heavens! I do hope his mustache isn’t in jeopardy again!” Rarity said randomly.

“What are you talking about?” I asked; this topic has gotten too random.

“Some sea monster a while ago was throwing a fit because Nightmare Moon cut his mustache, it was so dumb! It would have grown back, no reason to act like you were going to die over it!” Rainbow huffed in aggravation. I see she’s no longer flying and is now tucked securely between Pinkie and AJ. “What!? I’m not scared!” She said when she saw me staring.

“Pah-lease, Rainbow. He was having a fashion crisis! His reaction was perfectly reasonable!” Rarity said, defending the odd sea monster.

Yo hohoho, yo hohoho…

We all ceased speaking and froze, ears perked as the moans from before were now clearly heard. We looked to each other in bafflement, someone was humming? Singing?

Yo hohoho, yo hohoho…

We continued through the trees and bushes cautiously, the singing growing louder as we drew nearer.

Yo hohoho, yo hohoho…
Yo hohoho, yo hohoho…

There was a pause, and as we broke through the tree line to the riverbank we heard the pause was filled in with humming. Unfortunately it didn’t bring to light any memories, and by the looks of the others they haven’t heard of this song either. Oh! I recognized those facial expressions! I must be getting better acquainted with the ponies!

Gather up all of the crew, it's time to ship out Binks' brew.

The singing resumed! We looked along the riverbed for whomever was singing, but the sound seemed to echo among the trees, making it nearly impossible to tell where it’s coming from.

Sea wind blows, to where, who knows? The waves will be our guide.

“Oh! Oh! Look over there! I found him!” Pinkie exclaimed, pointing to a gondola steadily making its way upstream.

O'er across the ocean's tide. Rays of sunshine far and wide.

“A gondola? Oh my! I’ve always wanted a tour of Prance on one of those, so romantic!” Rarity commented as we made our way to the shoreline.

Birds they sing, of cheerful things, in circles passing by.

Up close, the water was black and seemed to consist entirely of that black sludge, and there was no sign of a sea monster. He must have fled the area like the other animals.

Twilight looked to the others, “We have to wave him down, I don’t think he’s aware of what’s going on in the forest, and he’s in danger!”

The others wasted no time in calling out to him to get his attention, while I stood there and watched. I just got out of the hospital and while it was nice I don’t plan on going back because I was stupid.

“Oh! Yo hohoho! Ahoy there ponies!” The figure on the boat called back cheerfully. “Isn’t it such a beautiful day today? Yo hohoho!” The gondola changed course and started making its way closer to us.

As it approached, something seemed… off. It was taller than a pony and seemed to be bipedal and was wearing a very old set of moldy robes. The closest thing I could place it would be a diamond dog from that Hairy Trotter book I read. But there was also something about it I couldn’t quite place…

“Oh my! It has been so very long since I have seen ponies in the flesh! Yo hohoho!” He laughed. What a strange guy.

“Uh, Equestria to boat guy, ponies are all over. You can’t go that long and not see one.” Rainbow said.

“I am just so happy to see living ponies again! Yo hohoho! Oh, but I don’t have eyes.” He looked up and locked eyes with us, revealing just who and what he is.

My jaw dropped as the others screamed in horror, he was defiantly a diamond dog, and he should defiantly be dead! Patches of fur clung to his skull over his empty eye sockets, other than that he was bare bones. Literally. The front of his robe was torn open allowing us to see his ribs and spine supporting him. His paws were long bony appendages that held the long pole he was using to steer the boat.

“Skull joke!” He called out in laughter. The gondola slid up to the shore side and the skeleton dog hopped from foot to foot in an odd dance. “It’s such a beautiful day to be alive! Yo hohoho!” He called out again.

I looked around to see that the others had abandon me. He’s clearly not a threat, he’s just bones! He’ll probably fall apart after a solid blow. Then we can put him back together!

“Ah, though I’m not sure what you are.” He said as he stood before me.

“I’m a changeling.” I said simply.

“AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!” He screamed and covered his face in cowardice.

“What’s a changeling?” He asked. I heard the sounds of hooves meeting face behind me. So they didn’t leave me!

“I don’t know. I’m dealing with a memory crisis.” I said.

“Yo hohoho, then what brings you out this way, if you don’t mind my asking?” Before I could respond he started dancing around again, “It’s so lovely speaking with someone again! Lovely! Lovely! Yo hohoho! It’s making my heart burst with joy! Ah, but I don’t have a heart. Yo hohoho!”

I couldn’t help but laugh along as well. “You’re a funny guy!”

“Yo hohoho! When I was alive I was a bit of an entertainer! Thank you!” His skull made him look like he was always smiling, but the joy in his voice was unmistakable.

The other ponies started cautiously poking their heads out, so I decided to keep talking. “So how did you die?” I asked.

There was a pause, “You don’t just ask a skeleton how he died!” Rarity yelled then ducked back into the bush.

“Oh, I don’t mind. Yo hohoho, there was a storm while I was trying to return to the castle, I’m afraid my gondola tipped over and I was dragged under the water. I awoke the other day buried in the mud. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I had become a skeleton! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Even though I don’t have any.” He said heartily. “To think that I was given a second chance at life! Yo hohoho! Happy days!”

“So… you don’t know why you’re alive now, just that you are?” I heard Twilight ask from behind me. I turned to see that she and Pinkie had come out of hiding. “Do you feel compelled to follow orders or serve a master? In other words, you have free will?”

“Yo hohoho! Of course I have free will! Look how free I am!” With that he started dancing around once again.

“Do you know if there are others like you? The dead but alive?” She asked him.

He paused mid leap and brought a bony appendage to his chin… jaw. “I don’t know, when I came around and accepted that I was dead, I decided to rebuild my gondola and do what I always loved, ferry along the river. Aside from some weird black stuff I haven’t seen any others.”

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the truth is that this isn’t a miracle. Well, the fact that you retained who you are in every sense of the word is, but you were brought back by a powerful necromancer, and I’m sure it’s strong enough to qualify as a lich.” Twilight said, watching his reaction carefully.

“And that’s why you asked about my free will, then, to see if I was an agent of this evil… Truth be told, I had feared as such, but I was just so happy to be alive I thought that as long as I could live it wouldn’t matter how I came back to life. Then, I assume you intend to do away with this evil?” He asked, almost as though he was sad.

“I’m sorry, I really am, but this isn’t how things are meant to be. He has to be stopped.” Twilight said sadly.

“I know… but what will happen to me? If there are others like me, what will happen to them? Will we just turn to dust, to never feel the sun’s warmth again?” He asked.

“In the few accounts of recorded necromancy that I’ve read, the… those raised by the magic die when it is dispelled. You won’t be dust; your bones would fall into a pile. You would die again. I’m sorry.” Twilight said. She sniffed and wiped her eyes of their tears. I looked and saw the others do the same.

“You know, even if it was for just a few days, I wouldn’t trade the joy I felt being alive for anything in the world. I must say that I agree, and if it means my death then so be it, this evil must not exist in the land.” He said. “Please, I guess you could say this is my dying wish, though I’m already dead, to allow me to assist you in some way. Yo hohoho!” He said with a laugh.

“How can you be so happy? Knowing what’s going to happen to you?” Pinkie asked, her hair straight, looking somber.

“Well, I’ve already died once, so why get worked up over the inevitability? I have enjoyed the past few days, but I’m still a citizen of her majesties…” He trailed off suddenly, but Pinkie seemed to recover from her slump. “Her majesty! Good heavens, I had completely forgotten! What year is it? How is the kingdom? Are the king and queen well? How about their darling daughters? What are-”

“Whoa whoa, slow your roll there tall guy!” Rainbow interrupted. “Twilight, egghead him!”

There was a collective pause, “What?” we all asked.

“You know, give him a history lecture. But make it snappy we got things to do!” She huffed in annoyance.

“Oh. Well, it’s currently year 1001 of Celestia’s rule, as we call it. 1001 years ago she came of age to take her rightful place on the throne after the king and queen passed of old age, but that night her sister grew corrupted in her jealousy and set out to forcefully take the throne as Nightmare Moon. She was defeated and banished to the moon for a thousand years, when she returned and my friends used the elements of harmony to free her of her corruption. Luna now rules with her sister in New Canterlot, now referred to as just Canterlot.” Twilight summarized.

“Oh, I see. We had assumed the natural born alicorns had long lives, but a thousand years? And to have such a tragedy between them? Though it pains me that they were put through such an ordeal, I’m glad they are now happy together.” He said.

“Thank you for the lecture, Miss Twilight.” He said with a bow.

“Oh, no problem at all, Mr…” Twilight trailed off.

“Oh my! I seem to have forgotten to introduce myself! Yo hohoho! I am Binks! I operated a gondola and even had a small trading business! It’s a pleasure to meet you all!” He said and took off the top of his skull like it was a hat, and tipped it at them.

Everyone was silent for a moment until Twilight shook herself back to the present, “It is a pleasure, this is Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy is hiding, and our new changeling friend, he doesn’t remember his name so we call him Beetle.”

“A pleasure! Pleasure! Meeting you all makes me so happy to be alive! Although I’m dead. Yo hohoho!” He laughed.

I smiled and laughed along with them as well, but for a moment I felt something on the tip of my memory, something to do with names, but I couldn’t quite place it. Regardless, I’m sure it will come in its own time.

“Actually, I’m kind of glad we ran into you. We’re following the trail of the black magic to the source, and I’m certain that it’s near the old castle of the Royal Pony Sisters. Or Canterlot as you would remember it being called, and we need to cross the river.” Twilight explained.

“Ah, say no more. But why not just take the river to the market instead of walking through the forest?” Binks asked.

“The river flows that close to the castle? Nopony has been able to map it out; I was going by memory and the direction of the signal.” Twilight said as we started climbing into the long boat.

“Of course it does, where do you think our trade industry came from? Oh, and don’t rock the boat, I don’t want to drown! Yo hohoho!” He said as he pushed us off into the water, clambering in himself afterward. He used the long pole to expertly push the boat along its course, the riverbanks on either side scrolling past.

While the others chattered amongst themselves I busied myself with examining the boat. It seemed to be made of a bunch of sticks held together with mud and tree sap, but was incredibly sturdy. “Did you make this?” I asked Binks.

“Of course! If I had a cutie mark it would be boat related! Yo hohoho!” He said cheerfully. “Let’s see, where was I? I usually sing for my passengers, you may have heard a bit of it as I was coming upstream.”

I saw Fluttershy whispering with Rarity, “That would be splendid darling! That song sounded lovely!” Rarity said.

“Oh! Such a cute mare saying such things makes my cheeks flush red! But I don’t have cheeks. Yo hohoho!” He joked.

“Skull joke!” Pinkie cried out.

“Skull joke!” Binks echoed. “Yo hohoho! This song was one I wrote in regards to my business, it’s helped turn sad, teary faces into bright smiles! I’ll be happy to share it with you!”

“I love making ponies smile!” Pinkie cheered.

“Yo hohoho! Then learn it well, my dear!” With that he cleared his throat and began to hum the tune.

Yo hohoho, yo hohoho… Yo hohoho, yo hohoho…
Yo hohoho, yo hohoho… Yo hohoho, yo hohoho…

Gather up all of the crew, it's time to ship out Binks' brew.
Sea wind blows, to where, who knows? The waves will be our guide.
O'er across the ocean's tide. Rays of sunshine far and wide.
Birds they sing, of cheerful things, in circles passing by.

Bid farewell to weaver's town, say so long to port renowned.
Sing a song, it won't be long, before we're casting off.
Cross the gold and silver seas, a salty spray puts us at ease,
Day and night, to our delight, the voyage never ends…

Yo hohoho, yo hohoho…Yo hohoho, yo hohoho…
Yo hohoho, yo hohoho…Yo hohoho, yo hohoho…

He trailed off as the song ended; Pinkie seemed to have an enormous smile as she devoted her attention to the song. The others seemed moved as well I would have to agree, it was a masterpiece in its own right.

“Binks? Binks, is that you?” We were pulling up alongside the ruins of a dock when we heard a voice call out, “My word, it is you! I never thought I would hear that lovely song of yours again!”

We turned to see who was talking, and the girls screamed out of fear in unison, with Binks joining them. I was more confused by what I saw, it wasn’t ringing any bells.

“A GHOST!” They screamed. I thought it over and came to the conclusion that it was a type of undead, much like Binks.

“Oh come off it! And shut up Binks, you’re dead too!” The ghost said. She was an earth pony mare that floated casually above the ground. She was completely white and parts of her form trailed off into wisps. She didn’t have many other features, unfortunately.

“Oh! She’s right, I am dead! Yo hohoho!” He said as he docked the gondola on the shore. “That voice though, it sounds familiar… Are you Caster? The mare from the fish market?”

“The one and only! Wow, it’s so good to see you again!” She said cheerfully and went to hug him, but phased right through him. “Oh, right, I’m a ghost.”

“I’m just so happy to see you’re back too! Though I don’t have any eyes. Yo hohoho!” He turned and pointed out the others, “These are some lovely mares that asked for my assistance! Girls, this is my old friend Caster!”

They all nervously waved, but Pinkie seemed to be having a blast, smiling and giggling. I busied myself with poking my hoof through the ghost mare. Other than feeling a bit colder, there was nothing to feel. I waved my hoof through her a few more times.

“And what happened with you anyway? You disappeared after that storm; we found your boat trashed by the river but no sign of you anywhere!” She exclaimed, not noticing my antics.

“I believe I was at the bottom of the river.” Binks said simply. “Why are you a ghost then? I at least have my body, though not much of it.”

“Well, it was a few years after you died when the young Princess Luna went all evil. There was a big fight between her guards and Celestia’s, and basically a civil war broke out. Luna saw her side losing and entered the fray and started blasting ponies with her magic. I saw a few others have their bodies disintegrated, and going by the light I saw I have a pretty good guess what happened to mine. There are more than a few ghosts floating around so her rampage must have lasted a while. AND WILL YOU STOP THAT!?” She suddenly yelled at me. I don’t know why, the fact I had most of my body through her as I was playing around was irrelevant.

“None of that was mentioned in the books…” Twilight said with a thoughtful look.

“Books? Like history books?” Caster asked. “Going by how much the city is in ruins and the decay of even the more preserved ponies, we’re guessing it’s been at least a few hundred years.”

“Just over a thousand, actually. And when you said others, you mean the dead brought back to life with all their memories?”

The ghost mare nodded, “A thousand? Wow, those morgue ponies know their stuff; a few of us look nearly alive!”

“Who all was brought back?” Binks asked. Oh yea, he might have had someone he cared for here, wouldn’t that be nice if they were re-united post death?

“Pretty much everyone who died and was buried nearby, everyone who died when Luna went nuts, and everyone in the crypts was brought back too. We’re all hanging out in the inner city at the castle trying to decide what to do, a lot are still freaking out and wanting to check on their relatives, disbelieving we’ve been dead all this time. The guards are working to hold some sort of order and denying anyone to go out to the other cities until we work something out. It’s a real mess.” She explained.

“And what of my wife, Pamela, is she among them as well?” He asked.

She shook her head, “I’m really sorry, but after you disappeared she left town and returned to her parents. I don’t think she died here.”

“Ah, I see. In that case I hope the rest of her life was full of happiness.” He said sadly.

“I’m sorry, but we’re here because an evil lich is on the loose, and I’m certain your revival is related to it. We came to stop its abuse of the natural order, and unfortunately we’re pretty certain that stopping it will undo the life it has given you all.” Twilight said.

“What?! So you decided to kill us all again?! Most of us are happy to be alive!” The ghost yelled. “Binks, did you know about this!?”

“Yes, I did, and they are right.” He said, causing the mare to choke on her words, “This lich is evil, think of all the living ponies it will go on to harm. Why should we be so selfish that we would let others die, when it’s us who should be dead? Is this the legacy of our generation? If it was going to be hard to be accepted into the rest of the world as undead, how hard do you think it would be when the world knows that it’s essentially our fault that such a monster was still loose?”

She mare started sobbing into her hooves, “But… but I don’t want to go away again! I like being alive, talking, laughing, I don’t want to return to the darkness!”

“What if we just make someone else the lich?” I asked. Everyone turned to look at me and Caster silenced her cries. “Well, I mean, if the lich is the problem, doing evil things, why not have someone good be the lich? Then the evil would be in control, and they don’t have to die.”

Everyone turned to Twilight, “You can’t just ‘make a lich’! A lich is a being possessed by evil magic! You would have to convince the magic to take you instead, where it would just continue what it was doing in the first place!”

“Well I think we should do something to help them, maybe the lich could be reasoned with?” I asked.

“Are you crazy?! You can’t just walk up to a lich and ask it to be good!” She retorted.

“Well I’m going to. And I don’t think I would be comfortable helping to kill off an entire city. Let’s try and find another way to fix this then.” I said seriously.

“Wow Beetle, where did all those guts come from?” Rainbow asked me.

I looked around, “What guts?”

“… She meant your courage darling. Honestly I’m sure we were all thinking the same thing, right girls?” Rarity said.

“You got it sister!” Pinkie said, “Now let’s go turn those frown upside down! It’s time for a ‘Welcome back to the Living’ Pinkie Pie Party!”

“I’m sure a party will liven up their spirits, yo hohoho!” Binks agreed.

Then with the ghost leading the way, we marched into the City of the Dead.

Author's Note:

I needed a fishing pun for the fish market ghost, but it turned into a Casper pun. I'm so sorry.

Anyway hope you all enjoyed this chapter, the song and character Binks was inspired by One Piece. Have a link to the song