• Published 8th Sep 2015
  • 3,960 Views, 44 Comments

The Equine and the Immortal - Architect Ironturtle

After being forced into a deal with a creature of questionable motives and species, George Someone finds himself in an abandoned palace surrounded by an unfamiliar forest. He quickly dies, then comes back to life. Expect a lot of both.

  • ...

In Which a Self Proclaimed God Chops Me in Half With an Ax.

"If you gaze into the Abyss it will start making faces at you."
Void Fiend Psychology 101

"C'mon George," Hollered Howard, my boss, rolling an unlit cigar between his stubby yet nimble fingers, "This is the last car of the day. Hurry up with that filter change so we can head out."

"Almost... there..." I ground back, my arms deep in the guts of the Toyota Tundra I was working on. I knew I worked a bit slower than everyone else in the shop, but I made up for it by being extremely thorough. No customer ever complained about my jobs (not that I was aware of, anyway) and that was enough to keep me on the books, even in the current economic crunch.

"Got it!" I shouted, sliding the last piece into place and screwing it in, "All done. Hey Richy, could you go call the owners of ticket 5032 and tell them they can pick it up tomorrow?"

The teenager groaned, shoved the last box he was carrying onto the storage shelves, and stepped into the office. While somewhat unpleasant in person, Richard was practically a god on the phone, and as such he handled all our calls when he could.

"Wonderful," Howard growled, although he was smiling slightly, "All right, everyone," He shouted over the din of almost a dozen people all busy putting stuff away, "It's Friday night, you know what that means!" A series of whoops echoed out across the shop while I suppressed a sigh. Tonight was company pool night, and that meant I had two equally unappealing options in front of me: I could either slip away, go home, and spend the weekend in near total isolation, or I could go with them to Sweeper's Spirits and suffocate in the smoke. I was the only non smoker in the entire workshop, mainly because just getting a whiff of the stuff was enough to make me gag. The only reason I could even stand to work here was the 'no-smoking on the job' policy, since Howard believed the smoke would damage the car engines. I wasn't about to correct him on this point.

I mulled it over as I put my tools away and started cleaning up. Half an hour later I was finished cleaning but still undecided. "Hey George," shouted Jim, the local tire specialist, causing me to jump. He was standing over by the door, being one of the last to leave ahead of me. "You coming or what?"

Whelp, that answered that question. No way I was backing out once I got put on the spot like this. I could always feign being sick and leave if the smell got too intense (given it actually had made me sick in the past, faking it was extremely easy). I nodded and gave him a thumbs up.

"Hey look, everyone," he yelled, turning over his shoulder to direct his voice outside, "Our local recluse had decided to grace us with his presence." This got a round of laughter from the others as I rolled my eyes good-naturedly. He wasn't wrong, of course. I was downright notorious for not having a social life, and my family consisted of two parents who had gone bat-shit insane when I tried to move out. Helicopter Mom's had nothing on old Mrs. Someone.

I lifted my bag onto my shoulder and headed outside, sneezing reflexively as the late afternoon sun blazed in my face. It was just pool and drinks. I could handle that.


I all but slammed the door of the bar open as I rushed outside before the urge to vomit became reality. I was wrong. So very, very wrong. Drunken laughter followed my exit, and I caught a glimpse of Herald taking another drag through his massive beard in an attempt to stay in the lead of their chain smoking contest before the door closed behind me. I checked my watch: 50 minutes. I had lasted 50 minutes, although the contest only started 2 minutes ago. I stepped upwind of the bar and sighed, a cool wave of relief sweeping over me. Whelp, this evening's trashed. Might as well head home and see if there are any good flash games to be had. I turned around in the alley and looked for the way back to the parking lot. Then I turned again in a full circle, carefully scanning my surroundings. The mouth of the alley failed to miraculously appear since the last time I had looked.

While I scratched my head in confusion (and because it itched like crazy due to my needing a shower), a cold wind blew between the brick walls, stirring stray pieces of newspaper and frightening a cat as it went. The shadows lengthened, and became darker, somehow, seeming to consume any speck of light that was foolish enough to get too close. The lone street lamp flickered, and I suddenly wondered why I was the only person back here. You'd think their would be at least one other patron on such a busy night.

"Greetings and salutations!" Shouted a perky voice right behind me, "You have been selected for a very special offer!"

I already had my pistol out and was whirling around to attack when the words sank in. Then I saw what was behind me, and any thoughts of combat turned into tracking down a priest. It was a kid, about 16 if I gauged him right, skinny as an exhaust pipe, wearing this ridiculous grey hood that was considerably longer than he was tall, and smoking like a bonfire. I meant that literally: if it weren't for the sudden chill and lack of open flames I would have sworn he was on fire. Massive curls of black smoke-thick as a user manual and just as opaque-drifted off of his head and shoulders. The black mist obscured his face, but I could tell his hair was cut short (somehow) and his eyes glowed a faint white.

"Back off," I growled, clutching my firearm and taking careful aim, "Whatever you're after, you won't find it here."

The thing snorted and snapped his fingers. One of the shadows peeled itself off the wall, snaked around my gun, and made it disappear in a puff of scentless smoke. "Stop being so paranoid," he groaned, pressing his fingers into the spot between his eyes, "I'm not here to fight you. Seriously, why is that always what people assume whenever I drop by?"

I stared in shock down at my hands, trying to wrap my head around what just happened. Hint: It wasn't going very well.

"Ok, that's it," the kid grumbled as he took in my expression, "If I let this sink normally we'll be here all night. Hold still." He waved his hand, and a band of pure blackness lashed out and wrapped itself around my head. When it disappeared a moment later, my brain had gotten itself back in order, somehow.

"Better," the kid said after studying me for a few moments. Now that I wasn't actively freaking out, I noticed his voice had a slight echo to it. "As I was saying, you have been selected for a unique opportunity." He held out his hand and stepped a bit closer, a ball of shadows coalescing in his palm to form a small sphere. "There's a planet in a dimension not far from here that is in danger of becoming a lifeless ball of rock in the near future. Since I happen to like this world and drop in for a visit whenever I can find the time, I am very much against its imminent demise. As such, I intend to do something about it."

I opened my mouth to question what he was doing here instead of being all the way over there, but he beat me to it, "So I went over what gods like me are supposed to do in cases like these, and the consensus was to find some worthy mortal, give him the strength to face the challenge, and then send him off to take care of it for you. And that lucky mortal is," a trumpet fanfare sounded and he cast the planet model aside and pointed at me, "You!"

I stared at his finger, then at him, then raised an eyebrow and said, "And I want to along with this because..."

As my voice trailed off he blinked in confusion, and the various shadows drifting off of him faded away, giving me my first clear look at his face. He still looked like a teenager, complete with a massive zit on the tip of his otherwise pointed nose and a pair of silver edged glasses covering perplexed grey eyes. He cocked his head to the side as he studied me, then pulled out a book and flipped through it, muttering, "I know there was a chapter about this in here somewhere." He shot me a sheepish grin, "Sorry, I'm a little new at this."

I just crossed my arms, leaned against a nearby dumpster, and waited. If this guy really was a god (some distant part of me was busy being a gibbering wreck as my worldview broke yet again, but thanks to whatever he'd done it wasn't affecting me directly), there was no way I was going to be able to walk away before he was finished. Not if I wanted to see tomorrow, at any rate. However, if he thought he could just send me across the multiverse whenever he felt like it, he was in for a nasty surprise.

After about a minute, during which I'd straightened my collar and dusted my pants off, he shut the book with a snap before it vanished with a hand wave. "Ok," he said as he looked down at the pavement, more to himself than to me, "You've got this, Leere. Just tell him what's in it for him." His eyes snapped up, skewering mine with their intensity. "George Someone, the lonely mechanic," he intoned, "Left with no family when his parents cracked and turned his former friends against him. Unable to find company at work with the threat of tobacco smoke hanging over his head. Incapable of eating out thanks to a preservatives allergy, too weak to play sports and not interested in them besides that, and not the most outgoing guy to begin with. You are completely alone in this world, through almost no fault of your own: it's either how you were born or thanks to events beyond your control. Yet despite all that, you maintain an almost chipper attitude. You refuse to let your circumstances get you down, and either let it roll off of you or ignore it until it goes away."

He floated off the ground as balls of pure black power formed in his palms, "If you decide to help me, this will no longer be the case. You will shed your lesser form and be able to eat as you please. You will find yourself in the company of others, and be able to enjoy that company to its fullest extent. Finally, as I am not unreasonable, I will make sure you have the tools you need to complete your task and save that world."

I scowled at him skeptically, only slightly more interested in his "offer" than I was a few minutes earlier, "That's way too good to be true, Larry. What's the catch?"

He glared at me as he dropped back to the ground, "It's Leere, not Larry, and you already know the catch. You'll need to use your new found skills to keep everyone around you from being mowed down."

"Really, Larry?" I asked with a grin as he fumed (whatever he'd done to suppress my shock must also be messing with my sense of self preservation), "I don't have to sell you my soul or something?"

He snorted in indignation, "Do I look like Lucifer to you? You don't get in on the soul trade without powerful friends unless you want a very short eternity. Of course, you'll never come back to Earth, but that's a given."

I frowned at that. No more human interaction? Promised companionship or not, I wasn't about to leave my species behind. "Sorry, Larry, I've gotta pass," I said after a moment, "If you keep looking you'll probably find someone who's willing to accept, though. Humans are weird like that."

"I can't," he sighed in exasperation, "When I was trying to figure out which human to pick, I built a device to search through them all for me," He reached into his armpit and pulled out a sphere with three antennae poking out of it, "Then I built three more just to make sure I wasn't messing this up. You're the one who's best suited to do this: I don't know why, and while that's probably important, I don't need to know just yet. You're going, and that's final."

I crossed my arms and planted my feet, "I said no, Larry. I'm not going and you can't make me."

"Yes I can," he shot back, his expression morphing into that of a spoiled child as he held up a screen with text on it, "I've got the mortal interactions paperwork filed. I can do whatever I please," He cupped his hand around his mouth, leaned towards me and stage whispered, "You have no idea what I had to do to fill this out. There probably isn't even a word for it in your language." Straightening back up, he continued, "This is your last chance to come along willingly. If you do, you'll get to pick your power set. If not, I'm going to stick you with something at random. No, I don't care that that will make your job more difficult, it's what you get for being obstinate."

Hmph. I growled and looked away. As much as I wanted to protest this, there really wasn't anything I could do about it and resisting would only make it worse. I hate feeling powerless: it's why I have a concealed carry license. My temper kept me silent for a long moment, but eventually my common sense broke through "Fine," I grumbled, "just give me a minute to pick something."

Larry's face lit up with a surprisingly open smile, considering he just blackmailed me into cooperating. "Thank you," he said emphatically, "You won't regret this, I promise."

I already did, but that was beside the point. I turned to face one of the walls as I thought, then turned back almost immediately as what felt like the right choice came to mind. "I want an Ascension Atlas."

He blinked. "A what now?"

"An Ascension Atlas. Look it up."

Leere let out a gust of air as most of the tension left his body, then grinned. "Of course," he said, "I wouldn't be much of a patron if I couldn't fulfill even a basic request like that. Unfortunately," A piece of shadow sprang from his hand, forming a large two headed ax which he raised over his head, "I'm going to have to kill you now. The afterlife is the fastest route, and all that."

"Wait, what-" his arms blurred, and I felt a sharp pain in my forehead before the world collapsed into a kaleidoscope of colors.


Fast Fact: Dying sucks. Like, really, really sucks.

I blinked open my eyes, then quickly shut them again as I realized I was looking at a solar eclipse. Then I realized that, A. Last I checked it was late at night, and B. I don't live in a part of the world that gets solar eclipses in the first place. Everything that had happened caught up to me all at once, and I curled up in a whimpering ball while I waited for the world to start making sense again. I don't know how long I lay there, but it must have been hours at least, given how the sun had moved once I finally pulled myself together enough to take in my surroundings.

I appeared to be in a garden, or rather what used to be a garden given how overgrown all the plants looked. To my left was the crumbled remains of a wall, while the ruins of a castle soared over me on my right.

"Took you long enough," said a voice I was quickly growing to hate, "I was beginning to wonder whether I needed to shut down your panic receptors again." I growled as I turned towards the sound of his voice, then almost stumbled in confusion when he failed to appear, "Don't bother," Larry continued, sounding downright smug as a small shadow popped up in the back of my mind, "I'm not materialized right now. The only one who can hear me is you."

While I sighed in frustration, he started to ramble, "I looked up this Ascension Atlas thing on our way over, and I've got to say, you picked a doozy. Going for the one man army style, huh? Good call, good call. By the way, since an empty Atlas kind of sucks, I did you a favor and filled some of the classes so they wouldn't be completely useless. I also got you some basic weapons, my treat. See, I'm not unreasonable."

I considered letting out a string of swear words at that, but restrained myself to a blunt, "Thank you, now how do I use this thing?"

"Check your shirt pocket," he said, "I've put together a little something to help manage everything."

I started to reach for it, but suddenly Larry yelped and said, "Ok, you're going to have to experiment later, just pick a class and focus on it! Once you've done that, find the tallest tower and scale it. When you get to the top, I'll contact you." He winked out, and I finally expressed exactly what I thought of him. In detail. With graphic imagery.

Once I'd vented my anger, I considered what to do about my situation. I could be sullen (my favorite option), run from it, or try to make the most of it. My musings shook something loose though, and I heard my Dad's voice say, "When your car runs out of gas on the side of the highway, you know what you do? Kick a tire, grab the gas can, and start walking. It's ok to be frustrated when life doesn't do what you want, but don't ever let it beat you. It's your attitude that will define you, not your circumstances."

I sighed. Dad was right, of course. He has something of a knack for it. Or had, rather. There just wasn't any use in moping around and lashing out at my surroundings. I needed to take what I had and make do. I started walking towards the castle, found a sturdy cluster of vines that had once been attached to a framework, but had long since rooted themselves in the stone, and climbed. I unwound a little as I went higher, each foot and handhold used wearing away a hair of my anger. Larry was a brat, no doubt about it, but at least he'd had the courtesy to ask nicely the first time. Despite my near constant antagonizing, he was still willing to help me, sort of, which was sweet in a totally weird and paradoxical way.

Reach. Grab. Pull. Step. Reach. Grab. Pull. Step. I made rapid progress up the side of the castle, enjoying the sense of strength running through my entire body. I'd always been on the small side, a fact which was emphasized by my enormous parents, so being able to do something physical like this without collapsing from exhaustion was... liberating. I liked it, and all too soon I found myself just below the window on the side of what appeared to be a large hall. Why the designers put it up there instead of on a lower floor is anyone's guess. Pulling myself up a little higher, I looked in and saw... a black horse with wings and a horn wearing blue plate standing over a purple unicorn. What.

"Whinny sno-ight will last forever!" The horse shouted, spreading its wings and letting out an evil laugh.



"Oh, I almost forgot," Larry said, popping back in before I could finish processing what I was seeing, "The dominant lifeforms on this planet are called ponies. Just a quick heads up." I almost lost my grip on the ivy at that. "Also, if you could distract Nightmare Moon, that's the big one, for a few seconds while the heroes do their thing, that would be great." He vanished again before I could respond.

Shoving my reaction into my "suspension of disbelief" space (which had gotten remarkably crowded by this point), I listened to the two ponies toss banter at each other for a bit and had to resist the urge to facepalm. That unicorn was such a straight up hero-type it was almost hilarious, and the winged one was an even straighter villain. Honestly, I would have busted out laughing if it didn't mean falling to my death. Then the unicorn started a big speech about something called the Elements of Harmony while several other ponies ran up to join her, and I winced at the tactical blunder.

"Applejack, who reassured me when I was in doubt, represents the spirit of-aaaauuuugh!" the unicorn screamed as a blast of magic sent her flying across the room.

Her friends glared up at Nightmare Moon, whose only response was a shrug and the words, "Did you honestly think I would stand there and let you finish? Ha!" Then she reared up on her hind hooves and looked like she was about to finish them off.

Whelp, the settled it. I wasn't about to let anyone get killed here, neon horses or not. Now what did Leere say, again? Ah yes, just focus and-



Nightmare Moon glanced in my direction just in time to take a sword to the face.


Twilight sat up, rubbing her aching head with a hoof. Stupid, stupid, stupid! she chided herself, I should have distracted her or something, not just stood there and... huh?

She stared in confusion at the scene in front of her, as did the rest of her friends. Nightmare Moon had something on her face: Something big, mad, bipedal, wearing gold and steel plate over blue cloth and hitting her repeatedly with a sword. It didn't seem to be doing any serious injury, but the creature definitely had the Nightmare's full attention.

"Get off of me, you cur!" shouted the fallen princess, thrashing about in an attempt to dislodge her opponents grip on her horn, "I am Nightmare Moon, and you will bow before-" WHACK "Augh, not the ear!" WHACK "What did I just say!?"

Twilight walked over to her friends, unable to take her eyes off the spectacle. "Um, girls," she said slowly, "You're seeing what I'm seeing, right?"

"If by that," Applejack replied, "You mean a big varmit tearin' Nightmare Moon a new one? Yes. I may not believe it, but yes."

The creature had somehow managed to get onto the larger pony's back by that point, and she was bucking and thrashing in circles in an attempt to throw him off. Given that his legs were wrapped around her wings and his paws still had a firm grip on her horn, she wasn't having much luck.

"Um, Twilight dear," began Rarity, chewing her lip pensively, "Maybe you should finish what you saying earlier?"

"What? Oh, right. Applejack, you represent the spirit of honesty..."


For the very first time in my life, I felt truly alive. Adrenaline surged through my veins as I rode the bucking pony under me, keeping a death grip on her horn and wings so I wouldn't fall off. Seriously, there's a reason horned helmets are not a real life thing: in addition to being useless weight, they make a nice target for an opponent to knock your helmet off your head. Also, if you strap your helmet on, then they provide a convenient lever to hold you down by while slitting your throat. Or in this case, a very handy handhold.

"I am the darkness eternal!" The pony roared, "I will not be bested-" I reared back and slammed my now armored skull into the back of her head, cutting her off in a pained whinny. I was pretty sure that this was what is known as a "battle rush:" my blood sang the song of a history of violence, of untold billions of humans across the millennia doing their absolute best to wipe each other out. The power of the Atlas surged in my muscles, giving me a strength I'd never dreamed possible and teaching me skills I wouldn't have otherwise. How else could I have jumped thirty feet forward and straight through a pane of glass? Even super athletes couldn't pull that one off.

Nightmare finally used her wings to her advantage, and with a quick flap and spin sent me flying up and over her head to land on the few steps separating the dais from the floor. My armor blocked some of the impact, but I still had the wind knocked out of me. The pony stalked forward and stuck her muzzle in my face, snarling in unadulterated rage. "You insect," she growled, "I will enjoy crushing you."

"Now, girls!" shouted a voice I vaguely recognized as the unicorn from earlier, and I struggled to sit up as a massive of rainbow light blasted towards the ceiling before falling on top of us. Neither of us had a chance to move before the beam consumed us and I began to burn.

Author's Note:

The main character of Skyforge has no personality and is merely an extension of the player's will. That makes the game an ideal candidate for this kind of story.

Anyway, I got tired of writing Displaced stories and decided to try something new. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Also, if you're curious about the Atlas, here's a screen shot. I'll give more information about it next chapter.