• Published 19th Aug 2015
  • 856 Views, 26 Comments

Witchcraft is Magic - wingdingaling

Nightmare Night draws near, and as it does, strange things begin to happen around Ponyville. Scary strangers threaten the town, and things will change for the Cutie Mark Crusaders forever.

  • ...

Chapter 13: A Monster Like Me

Chapter 13

A Monster Like Me

After nearly fainting, followed by awkward introductions, Fluttershy began to slightly warm up to the unusual newcomer, due to their mutual love of animals.

Over the course of the next couple of hours, Fluttershy was taught about the various strange animals that now resided in her home. Though her guest wasn't experienced in taking care of animals, she knew a great deal about each one's behaviors, habitats and diets.

"And what are these," Fluttershy asked as she and Molly approached a group of small, shadowy squirrel-like creatures which were frolicking with the familiar red squirrels.

"Those are called 'sceadugenga,'" Molly explained as she watched the tiny creatures play.

"Oh. Shay-uh..." Fluttershy said, trailing off on the pronunciation of the long, difficult word.

"They're mostly called 'scea' back home, because it's easier to say. They're also called 'shadow-goers' because they often live in dark trees where they blend in with shadows," Molly said trying not to squeal at the sight of the playing animals. "Just feed them some nuts, and they'll be fine."

"Do they prefer any particular nut?"

"Any kind will do: walnuts, acorns, but they especially love lost souls."

Fluttershy and Pinkie both tuned slightly pale at the idea that an animal ate souls, unaware that it was actually another type of nut, called so because of the markings on their shells looked like ghostly faces.

The same thing had been happening ever since Molly arrived, but through it all Fluttershy kept to her obligation to learn how to take care of the strange animals, and kept asking questions. Pinkie, however, remained silent the whole time.

Her entire life, she stood by the philosophy to laugh her fears away, but it was always applied to imaginary spooks. This walking shrubbery was as real as her sense of humor, but far from scary. If anything, she knew she should just get over it and throw her guest a welcome party. Or a welcome-slumber party, given the late hour. But, she hesitated as she waited for something to happen. For what? She didn't know.

"Oh my goodness! Look at these," Molly said as she discovered a new type of creature. Something that looked like a brownie, but with long ears and big feet.

"Those are some of my bunny friends. They can be very shy, but if you're gentle enough, they'll eventually trust you," Fluttershy explained as the rabbits hopped away from Molly before she could pet them. "Do you have anything like them at your home?"

"Nothing quite like them. We have fearies called leanhaum that look like these, but they're hardly this adorable."

"I'm sure there's something to like about them. How bad can they be?"

"Horrible. They can jump twenty feet to take the head off prey our size, often for no reason other than stepping too close to something they already decapitated."

Once again, both ponies were at a loss of something to say. There were predators in their world, but nothing so violent as the thing Molly was describing. While some creatures like the werecat looked scary, they turned out to be perfectly tame and sweet, others, they learned, were best left alone. It was like being in a scary petting zoo for them, where every turn revealed some new, terrifying animal. From the acid-spewing eachy, to the ambushing arunn wyrm, everything sent chills through them.

"Is there anything that dangerous here," Fluttershy meekly asked.

"Heavens no! Unless you're afraid to be cuddled to death by a cutie like that werecat."

It was a relief to hear that they were relatively safe, though they were still slightly uncomfortable. Despite her unease, Fluttershy was determined to see these creatures home safely.

"Are there more monsters like you where you're from," Pinkie finally said, when curiosity got the better of her.

Molly didn't answer right away. Hearing how Pinkie saw her was like a reminder of what Courtney was always talking about. How the light-dwellers only saw them as horrible things that were not welcome in their world. What was there that was so bad about them? "Um, yes. There are others like me."

"Are they all talking plants," Fluttershy asked.

"No. There are a lot of different creatures besides the ones like me and my family. My friend, for example, is a flesh and blood creature," Molly explained, her mind now going to feeding at he mention of her sustenance.

"What kind of monster is she," Pinkie asked.

Hearing that word again made Molly recoil inwardly. "She's not a monster. She's a pony, like you two," she answered, not wanting to tell either of them about her true form, in case they'd pass further judgement.

"Really? That's different," Pinkie said, suddenly back to her normally bubbly self. "I was afraid I wouldn't know how to throw a party for something like you. But if you're friends with a pony, how different can it be?"

Of all the odd things to do, Molly was not expecting a party for (as far as she could tell) simply arriving. But, it was such a lovely gesture that momentarily made her forget about being called a monster. "How different can throwing a party for anyone be. All you need are games, sweets and pastries."

"And lots of other ponies to meet!"

"And a stage for song and dance!"

"And a great big bowl of punch!"

"Oh no. I prefer blood."

As quickly as she felt welcomed, Molly suddenly felt a rush of unease as she watched both ponies turn pale as their faces changed to pure shock.

"What..." Pinkie said.

"I...drink blood. It's how I sustain myself," Molly awkwardly explained. Seeing how the sweet Fluttershy was on the verge of fainting, she felt she had better explain her nature. "But, I can eat just about anything. I only need blood to live, and I already fed last night."

That was doing no good, as Fluttershy and Pinkie both remained in a wide-eyed stupor.

"I mean, I don't feed on any old thing. My friend lets me take a few drops of blood from her every so often, so that I won't have to ensnare innocent bystanders..."

Still nothing. Fluttershy was frozen with fear. Growing up, one of her biggest fears was vampires, and now she was faced with a real live blood-sucking creature of the night.

For Pinkie, this was what she was waiting for to go wrong. This was the calamity she knew would happen with a strange monster like this one. Normally, she found it was fun to be scared, but facing a monster that could very well kill her was a soul shivering thought.

Molly wanted to shrivel into the ground and escape the judgmental stares of the ponies, but there was nowhere to escape to. Wherever she would run, there would only be more ponies like these, who would likely treat her worse than these two. Also, what would she tell Courtney after she ran out on her responsibility?

Before anything more was said or done, a thread of light flew over all of their heads. A familiar light to Molly, but she couldn't be sure why she was seeing it here of all places, where the moon shone brightly through the fog.

Soon, it was followed by others flying quickly behind it, and others still that flew from Fluttershy's house. Fluttershy and Pinkie both dropped to the ground, fearful to get near the lights, for some imagined terror. Molly stood and watched in awe, for such a thing was a rare sight even in her own world. But, her wonder quickly became concern.

The more she watched them, the more she began to feel that there was an urgency in the way the lights flew. The way that they crossed the moonlit sky from one shadow to another was something she personally had never heard happening. To her, it seemed the spirits were growing restless and afraid.

The wind blew, guiding the wayward lights on its breeze to the shadows of the forest beyond the cottage, where they were sheltered in the darkness, and soon disappeared. Once deep in the shadows, lights began to dim and fade, as though to bring others like them to their spectral gathering.

Pinkie and Fluttershy watched as a gigantic shadow stepped through the fog next to Molly, revealing the werewolf from earlier.

"Did you see that too," Molly asked.

Bruce made no noise.

"What made them so scared?"

There was no way she would get an answer from Bruce, but he was the only one who she could talk to at the moment.

As if by some silent signal, the dark animals on the property began raising a hushed din. Squeaks, hisses, chatters and wails carried eerily through the property. Above them all, the yowling of the werecat sounded as if to lead the symphony of the night.

"We should get these animals home," Molly said, sensing their fear and anguish.

With a grunt, Bruce retreated back into the mist to the edge of the property.

"What are you doing? Stop this! I'm not some plaything for you to push around," said a new voice.

The two ponies watched as a new shadow came through the fog, about as big as Mr. Fluff-and-Stuff, Fluttershy noted, but shaped differently. It was as if he had suddenly grown extra limbs after he ran into the fog. Once he was closer, she could see that there was another strange mare being pushed forward by the werewolf.

Both stopped in the yard in front of Molly, where Courtney dusted herself off. "Pushing me toward light-dwellers? Some familiar you are," the witch grumbled before she turned to look at her friend. "Hello, Molly. Enjoying time with your new friends?"

"Yes. Mostly," was all Molly said.

Hearing how Molly answered made Pinkie feel like she made their guest think she was unwelcome. Even though she was scary, she was also nice to Fluttershy and herself. And she was still a pony who deserved to be treated as such. Well, she was a lot like a pony, at the very least.

Bruce nudged Courtney with his snout.

"Alright. They've lingered here long enough. It's time for them to go home," Courtney said, as a pocket of shadows appeared beside her.

Pinkie nor Fluttershy saw what exactly the newcomer was doing. Where they laid, it looked like she was sprinkling some kind of powder on the ground in a large circle.

"Pardon me," Courtney said as she came closer to the two prostrate ponies, who both scooted out of the way as she sprinkled more of the powder.

Upon investigation, it was discovered to be chalk. Pinkie wondered why somepony would sprinkle chalk like that, when arts and crafts were more of a daytime thing.

They both watched as the mare moved inside the circle, sprinkling more of her chalk around, creating some design that was just out of sight of the two ponies. Slowly, they both stood up and peered at the circle. Though the mist kept them from seeing it clearly, they found a design unknown to either of them. The only art they knew that was this ornate was the imagery they found in Canterot palace.

Unlike the stained glass windows and murals of the palace, which filled them with reassurance and warmth, this symbol carried an unusual sense of foreboding and caution. A feeling both ponies heeded, making them move away from the outer edge of the circle.

Fluttershy gasped as one of the monsters on the property passed by her, and stopped at the edge of the chalk symbol. It was joined by many others, all gathered by the werewolf, who circled the yard seeking out the dark creatures from their various hiding spots.

Seeing how many there were, Fluttershy had no idea that so many were at her house. It was almost as if some of them had been there the whole time, which made the pegasus shudder.

The preparations were complete. Courtney was ready to work her magic. With a wary glance to the light-dwellers, she started by summoning the shadows around her into the circle.

As they passed around her, Pinkie and Fluttershy saw the witch's eyes light up for a brief moment, until the shadows passed, and her eyes returned to normal in the moonlight.

The shadows swirled in the circle like a puddle of water that had been stirred, until the shadows rose to a great height and took the form of a ghastly, old, dead tree. Though seemingly made of shadows, the tree made an eerie creaking noise as its trunk opened up, revealing the swirling darkness inside of it.

With a twitch of his head, Bruce signaled all of the creatures to shuffle into the shadowy door, all of them disappearing one by one through the veil between the worlds.

Once they had all passed, Molly went next, followed by Bruce. Courtney gave one last glance to the two light dwellers, pondering what she would do with them. She still had a bag of memory erasing powder at her disposal, that had yet to be used. All it would take was a word from these two, and the whole town would be up in arms, making it more difficult to return again.

However, a certain fancy struck the witch. The two ponies she met, and even the tiny dragon, though afraid of her, were willing to cooperate with her in order to rescue a filly in danger, which was likely why she found she hadn't erased their memories earlier. She decided to simply put her trust in light-dwellers she had met thus far, and stepped through the portal without a word, before the shadowy doorway disappeared, melding into the night around it.

Despite her fear, Fluttershy stood up and approached the symbol on the ground. Before she could even start looking it over, the wind blew it away, carrying every spec of chalk across the darkened land.

"Well, thank Celestia that's over," Pinkie said as she stood up on shaking knees.

Both mares heard a quiet scratching noise. Looking to its source, they were both faced by another strange creature. One they recognized from earlier that night: a little bird with a blue head, aptly named a bluecap.

A splash sounded in the river, where was discovered what looked like a demonic goat with a woolly coat that looked like seashells. Another splash, and the goat creature was joined by what Fluttershy swore looked like another werewolf, though it was much smaller, and darker in color.

This much was perfectly apparent: their ordeal was far from over.

A pillar of shadow swirled in the library of Courtney's home in Macabria, and out the witch stepped, glad to be back in her home. "It's so strange to not be naked after passing between worlds," she noted as she fixed her dress, which she was now wearing once the magic of the other world stopped affecting her. "That's not to say it isn't strange finding yourself naked once you've turned into a pony. Let alone becoming a pony in the first place."

With a flick of her finger, Courtney sent an ember into the fireplace, where it simply spread into a roaring fire, as she was too tired to work her theatrics.

Now that there was light, she looked down on the floor, and saw the chalk symbol drawn there was beginning to fade away. This could very well become a problem, since if it became smudged or faded, it wouldn't work anymore. But, it was an easy fix that only required a fresh coat of chalk. "I'll fix it in the morning," Courtney thought to herself.

"Well, my night was pleasant. After it turns out Scootaloo's been meddling with spirits, she goes missing. Then her nag of a mother finds out, and I have to follow her hither and thither across who knows how many different parts of town. Finally, she leads me to more light-dwellers, who act like I'm going to chop down their little tree house when they see me. But, good news at last, I found Scootaloo. It turns out that she ran off to Apple Bloom's house with Sweetie Belle, where they were hunted and almost killed by the time Bruce and I found them! But, enough of my griping. How was your night? Pleasant?"

When Courtney was finished venting, she finally realized that Molly wasn't paying any attention to her. Instead, she found her leafy friend sulking in her armchair, idly scratching Bruce's head as it rested on her knee.

"Is everything alright," Courtney asked as she approached Molly.

Molly was despondent, but Courtney allowed her to collect herself before she would answer. With a heavy sigh, Molly divulged what was on her mind. "Courtney, when you first met the fillies, how did they look at you?"

"What do you mean?"

"When I tried talking to the ponies you left me with, they looked at me like I was some kind of monster. No matter how much Fluttershy and I talked and related, she was always standing at least two meters from me. And Pinkie didn't even say anything, until she called me a monster."

"You didn't feed in front of them, did you?"

"No! I...may have mentioned that I drink blood, but she called me a monster even before that! She just looked at me, and saw something that wasn't like herself!" Courtney remained silent as she watched her friend shudder while she tried to hold back tears, though one leaked out and rolled down her face. "Did you feel like that was what the fillies thought when they met you? Or me?"

Bruce kept his head on Molly's knee, though his eyes glanced at Courtney, goading her to say something that would comfort her friend. He offered his help by extending his tongue, and gently licking her hand.

Lying to make her friend feel better would do no good. Not that she ever had any luck with deceit her entire life, and even attempting it now would, she would probably say something that would make Molly feel worse about herself. She would have to go with the truth, as much as divulging it may hurt them both. "Yes. When I first approached them in their forest, I'll admit that I was a bit unsettled by how they screamed and ran from me. And later, when I actually talked to them, they acted like I was going to turn them into animals. But, after spending time with them, and being able to talk face to face, I feel that their attitude toward us may have changed since then. In fact, I'm sure that your new friends at the cottage would like to see you again to learn more about the animals that will be arriving there. And I know that Sweetie Belle would like to see you again to learn how to master that trampy walk of yours."

It was a slight comfort for Molly to know that she would simply have to spend a little more time with the light-dwellers before being accepted ever so gradually. And the idea of mentoring Sweetie Belle in her art of showmanship would have made her giddy, if not for the weight on her heart. Still, she did giggle slightly at the idea, before standing up to hug her friend.

"How do you always know what to say," she asked.

"I don't. I just do the right thing, and tell the truth. Or, at least the truth as I know it."

"Because you stink at lying."

"We've already established that."

Both women grunted as Bruce invited himself to join the hug, and squeezed them both in his giant, powerful arms.

"Down, boy," Courtney said with a giggle as she was almost lifted off the ground.

Bruce obeyed, and put them both down, tail wagging wildly as he received the customary praise and attention for following commands.

"Did you see the spirits tonight," Molly asked, once she was back on the ground.

"I did. I also saw how they crossed from light to shadow when they were migrating," Courtney answered.

"What made them so scared that they'd do that?"

Courtney knew the answer to that question, and the look on Molly's face told her that she knew the answer as well. Though she didn't want to frighten Molly with the truth, no one knew about her inability to lie better than her best friend. "It was The Wicker Man. I saw it tonight at Apple Bloom's house."

Molly nearly fainted when she hear the answer, but kept herself together to ask another question, "Did it get anyone? Did it...get the fillies?"

"No. I got there before it attacked any of them. I lured it to back to the forest, where it will hopefully stay until I get rid of it."

She knew this was only a temporary fix. Even though the magic she used to lure the monster from civilization was powerful, it would only last so long before it was absorbed. Then, it would continue to feed on any magical creatures it found in the forest, until it inevitably found its way back to a populated area.

"Until we get rid of it. I told you before that I'm not going to let you go it alone. And Bruce isn't either. Whether you want it or not, we're staying with you there until The Hallow ends."

As it was before, Courtney knew that she couldn't say 'no' to her friends. Of all the people (and animals) she could have met in the world, she knew that she was lucky enough to have found two that were willing to follow her into danger, despite any attempted pleas to stay. "Oh, Molly," Courtney said, as she hugged her friend once more.

Bruce simply bumped the two of them with his head.

"Come on. I'll see you to the door," Courtney said as she walked to the door to see her friend off. "WHOOP--!!! What the blood-gushing hell happened!!?"

As soon as she stepped into her hallway, before she knew what was happening, she tripped and fell over something before she was stampeded by several tiny feet.

Molly backed away in awe of what happened, trying not to laugh at her friend's predicament.

Apparently, Courtney had forgotten that there was only one exit point for the portals from Equestria to Macabria, and it deposited a whole gaggle of animals into her home, each one desperate to get outside.

Bruce plowed into the crowd, and pulled Courtney to her feet. Now that she was upright, and not being trampled, she was able to concentrate her magic on opening the front door.

The latch was undone, and all of the animals rushed outside as fast as they could, almost knocking Courtney down again in the process. All but the werecat, who stayed behind to rub its sides against Molly's waist.

"Okay. The door's clear. Do you think you can take care of the werecat until we find who it belongs to," Courtney said after the charge ended.

"Yes," Molly said giddily. She would have to get some accommodations for it, but she had a werecat when she was a seedling, and knew how to take care of them well enough. Luckily for her, the animal was wearing a tag on its collar, which would greatly facilitate finding its family, so it wouldn't have to stay with her for too long. Still, as long as it would be living with her, it would help her to temporarily forget her trouble in Equestria. "Come on, kitty. Let's go to my place. Good night, Courtney."

"Good night."

Molly made her way home with her furry, affectionate companion, with Courtney watching her until she disappeared around the corner. Once Courtney was sure Molly would be alright, she and Bruce reentered their home, and bolted the door behind them.

Finally, her night was over. Bruce guided Courtney to her bedroom, where she changed into her nightgown before flopping listlessly onto her bed.

Ever since she began visiting Equestria, it was one disaster after another: being seen by light-dwellers, light-dwellers visiting her world, Apple Bloom practicing witchcraft, Scootaloo tampering with spirits, being seen by more light-dwellers; and to top it all off, The Wicker Man crawled out of whatever dark corner it was banished to and was now rampaging around Equestria, and would have to be banished again before The Hallow, else it would stay there.

Bruce curled up on the floor beside the bed, while Courtney slowly drifted to sleep, positive that the worst was yet to come.

Author's Note:

I hope at least some of you folks caught that reference to Castlevania in there (one of my personal favorite game series of all time).
Getting to business: along with Courtney, Molly has made some new friends as well. Those creatures she talks about are real things from European folklore. However, creative liberties were taken with their descriptions. Sceadugenga don't look like squirrels (they are shapeshifters), but they are shadowy creatures who live in the darkness of forest trees, and often become companions to humans, sometimes being adopted as family members.
And the leanhaum are based on an Irish feary called a leanan sidh, which is a vampiric monster that steals male blood to boil in her cauldron and stay young and beautiful forever. The version in this story is based on the killer bunny from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
The lost soul nuts, on the other hand, are based on something from Japanese mythology. In Japanese myths, there are trees with human-faced fruits (featured in one of my favorite episodes of InuYasha, just so you know), but the fruits were changed to nuts for this story. But, in real life, there is a type of crab native to Japan that has markings on its shell that look like a human face, which, frankly, freaks me out.
The eachy that is mentioned is based on a slime-covered water monster, which, by the way is what the cricket-crab from the last chapter is. And the arunn wyrm is based on monitor lizards from real life, though it is named after the arryn river in Wales.
At the end of the story, we meet more real creatures from European folklore. The bluecap is actually a type of mine-dwelling feary, and the goat creature is based on what's called a shellycoat, which does not look like a goat (it's morre of a bogeyman). The werewolf they see is a different breed of werewolf (much like how there are different breeds of dog) which is why it looks different from Bruce. I like to think that while Bruce was bred for pulling large workloads, this new kind was bred for retrieving waterfowl directly from the water (like a labrador).
That's all for now. Rock on folks \m/

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