• Published 8th Sep 2015
  • 3,963 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 I Become a Royal Guest

I froze, a knot of fear curling up in my stomach and making itself at home. "You're joking right?" I heard my voice say, "Please tell me you're joking."

Invasions were the big draw for Aelion, month long events that slowly dropped an alien attack force on the planet that was then followed up by a lesser god or a mortal infused with a god's power. The weaker immortals never even saw them, let alone participated, instead spending their time cleaning up the shattered remains of the invasions that had hit the planet in the past. If one was heading towards us, there was no way I could fight it as I was.

"Nope," said Leere, "Although after I got a good look at their ships, I wish I was. Those bio-mechanical mishmashes were reeking of radiation."

As for the Reapers themselves, they were actually an alliance of three or so sapient species united under the banner of Thanatos, the God of Death: the Vird, small, vicious rat-men, Carrion, vaguely humanoid creatures with slouching posture and spindly arms and legs, and corrupted humans, usually necromancers, one of the easier to get at classes in my Atlas. Nasty, unrelenting, and presumably extremely smelly, they wouldn't stop fighting until all living creatures bowed to their toxic god.

"How long did you say we have?" I asked, my voice breaking like I was still a teenager.

"Three years, give or take a week. They're not the fastest ships I've ever seen, that's for certain."

I forced myself to breathe. I could handle this. This world, and me by extension, may not be ready now, but we had time. We could prepare.

"Thanks, man, I'll make sure to pass this on," I told him, and he sent me a sense of satisfaction before ducking out. At that point I realized I'd stopped walking and the ponies were all staring me with varying levels of fear and nervousness. I took a few steps forward and smiled awkwardly, and they started moving again, if with some reluctance.

"George," Twilight asked, seeming to speak for the group, "Who were you talking too?"

"The short answer is Larry," I told her, "The long answer is it's complicated, and you heard most of it when I told the Princess. In any case, what you need to know is that I now know what the threat I'm supposed to stop is, and that that info will be going straight to your leaders once I get the chance. Speaking of which, I've been meaning to ask you: is the Princess a good ruler?" Her answer would tell me a lot about their government's structure in addition to providing a nice distraction. I wasn't about to freak out a bunch of civilians if I could help it.

The ponies, after recovering from being blindsided by the sudden topic change, looked downright horrified. "Seriously!? You have to ask?" shouted Rainbow Dash, "She's the best Princess ever!"

"She's led Equestria for over a thousand years!" added Twilight, looking stricken, "Everypony loves her!"

I didn't need meet their eyes to know that they were telling the truth, or at least what they thought was the truth. And a thousand years? I could tell the Princess was old, but damn.

"Sorry about that," I reassured them, "I just had to check. My people haven't exactly had the best experience with monarchies." It was more like an unbroken string of bad kings going all the way back to the dawn of civilization, but that was beside the point.

They winced in sympathy and dropped the subject, for now at least. "So," I asked, "Where are we headed, anyway?"

"The town hall, darling," Rarity replied, gesturing with a hoof towards a round gazebo shaped structure two blocks ahead of us, "That's where most of the townsfolk are hiding, and where Celestia is, well, was, supposed to raise the sun." (Don't think about it man, just don't, think, about it...)

"Right," I glanced down at myself, then looked at Twilight and raised an eyebrow, "Do you mind going in first and letting them know I'm not a threat? I don't want to cause a panic."

Twilight winced, "Yeah, that's probably a good idea," she muttered, "Stay right here, we'll be back in a few minutes." I nodded my consent and leaned against a nearby tree, pulling my ice caster out of its holster at the small of my back so I could fiddle around with it while I waited. I quickly put it away, however, after I almost took out someone's window with a blast of ice (because vandalism would make such a good first impression), and instead had to content myself with trying to guess the ponies's technology level.

The thing was, the longer I looked, the more I saw that really shouldn't exist in a society meant exclusively for quadrupeds. For example, doorknobs. They are totally impractical for any creature that doesn't have hands (especially round ones), and on top of that are not close enough to the ground for a pony to comfortably grasp them even if they could. Just to confirm this I walked over to nearby shop and opened and closed the door a few times. It was the perfect height and operating system for me, a human, but a pony would have to reach up awkwardly with a hoof or his or her mouth in order to turn it. In fact, just about everything I could see was about a foot higher off the ground than it should have been for pony use, windows included. Weird.

I was just about to drop down onto all fours to confirm my hunch about the window placement when I heard a gasp behind me. Turning around slowly, I spotted a teal blur slamming a pair shutters closed across the street. I considered going to introduce myself, but after a moment's thought I realized that wasn't the best idea given I might just cause the stampede I'd been trying so hard to avoid. Instead, I sat down on a nearby bench facing the house in question, and waited. If the pony inside wanted to talk, he or she would have to come to me. I was still waiting when Twilight got back, sans her friends.

"Ok," she said breathlessly, "I've told everypony that the crises is over and gotten the panic under control, more or less. I think they're ready to meet you. Just please, don't take offense if they seem scared at first. Most ponies have never met a carnivore."

I stared at her blankly. "A carnivore?" I said in confusion, "Where'd you get that idea?"

She blinked, repeatedly. My response seemed to have caught her by surprise, and it tied her tongue up for a few moments before she said, "Um, your fangs?" a sheepish grin painted on her muzzle.

"Huh? Oh. Ooooh," I said in understanding, tapping the tooth in question, "You mean my canines. Humans are omnivores, not carnivores, so your word choice threw me for a loop. Don't worry, I'll make sure to not show my teeth when I smile, and keep all my meat safely out of sight." When she started looking nervous again I added, "I was kidding about the second part, I don't have any food on me."

She sighed in relief, then said, "Well, that's a good thing, heh-heh. Come on, I'm pretty sure they're getting antsy waiting for us."

I spared a glance at the house as we left, but saw nothing had changed since the last time I looked except for a rustle in one of the upper windows. I would probably get to meet whoever was in there at some point, but at the moment I didn't have the time to figure out what his or her deal was. I had much more important things to do, like go meet some people, er ponies, and get to know them. And tell their possibly immortal rulers about the army that's coming to wipe them out. And represent my entire species. Yeah, no pressure. Everything was going to go just fine-aaaannnndddd I've sealed my fate. Goodbye, strange world, it was interesting knowing you.

"Quit being so over-dramatic, you big knucklehead," Larry groaned, "I just checked, you're immortal, nothing they do to you will stick." Well, at least now I knew I'd actually gotten the full package without having to toss myself off a cliff or something. That little experiment wouldn't have gone well at all if the null hypothesis turned out to be true.

"Sorry, what was that?" Larry asked, "Your message was pretty fuzzy, I couldn't make it out."

Wait you can hear my thoughts!? I thought. There were so many ways that could go wrong.

"Only when you think them at me," he retorted, "If you aren't, I really have to strain to hear them if I can at all. You mortals are lucky, you know. Most gods never have anything resembling privacy, what with telepaths popping in and out at all hours."

Yay us, I drawled, Is that all you wanted to say?

"Weeeell," he wheedled, "I was going to ask you to kill yourself so you could get a feel for the resurrection process, but on second thought that sounds like a really bad idea, so forget I said anything."



Apparantely I'd gotten so wrapped in my conversation that I'd forgotten to watch where I was going, a mistake that quickly pointed itself out as I slammed feet first into the short flight of stairs leading up to the porch encircling the town hall. I sprawled forward, catching myself on my hands and suddenly realizing that if I'd tried that stunt back on earth I would have ended up with a sprained wrist. It's weird how it's the little things that really make a change sink in. That was the exact moment I realized I wasn't fully human anymore, and I almost instantly felt the urge to find a tight, dark corner and curl up in it. Sure, I still looked like me and felt like me, but I was something more as well, and it was the something more part that I found so terrifying.

"Um, George?" Twilight asked when I didn't move for several seconds, "Are you ok?"

Right, I can't panic now, I've got stuff to do. Kick the tire and all that B.S. I forced myself to take a deep breath, then another. "I think so," I panted, "I'm just tired." And I was, really. Larry had abducted me at the end of a long day of work and socializing and I'd spent at least a couple of hours here since then that included getting hit by a magical superweapon. Going by U.S. mountain time (where I'd lived before Larry interfered) it was well after midnight and I was seriously starting to feel it. "Come on," I said as I stood somewhat shakily, "You said they were waiting for us?"

"Oh, right!" Twilight said, shaking her head so hard her features blurred together for a moment, "They're in here." She gestured to the door in front us, pulled it open with her... Magic? Telekinesis? Put it on the research list, and trotted inside, jerking her head at me to say I should follow her. I stepped into the room, ducking a little under the doorframe to make sure I wouldn't hit it, and looked around.

Wow. Just, wow. It felt like a paint palette of solid cuteness had slapped me in the face. Dozens of ponies turned to look at me as one, and although I could see traces of fear in a few faces, the most common emotion seemed to be curiosity. You'd think the ponies having such enormous eyes would be highly unsettling, but that wasn't the case at all. Whatever the reason (I was betting on too much anime exposure, personally), I just found them flat out adorable. I'm not completely sure why I didn't have this reaction when I first saw Twilight and her friends, but it probably have something to do this with all the shenanigans at the time, dealing with royalty and such.

Anyway, after a moment of silence Twilight said, "Everypony, this is George," her voice echoing in the dead silent room. As I gave them an awkward wave and a carefully closed lip smile, she continued, "He'll be staying in Equestria for the foreseeable future, so please do your best to make him feel comfortable. We wouldn't want any interspecies incidents, after all." Her voice rose in a nervous tick towards the end, and I gave her a funny look that only made her embarrassment worse.

Since I didn't really know what else to do, I found a bench next to one of the windows and sat, leaning back against the wall and casting my eyes over the room. Oddly enough, whenever I met the eye of the locals, they couldn't or wouldn't maintain eye contact, looking away after only a few seconds. Also, while they weren't actively shunning me, none of them seemed willing to come over and talk, and since I had no idea what to say either I wasn't about to make any of them feel awkward by starting a conversation.

In the end, it was the kids who broke the ice. A unicorn filly with a grayish-purple coat and yellow mane and eyes walked up to me, and in a display of guts that was both surprising and impressive climbed into my lap and stared me in right in the face (the cute, it burns, it buuurns!). "Hey Mister," she said, "What's your special talent?"

"My what now?" I asked, my eyebrows climbing into my hairline.

"Come on," she told me, frowning at my answer, "Everypony has one. It's the thing you're best at, the one skill that gets you your cutie mark!" she twisted and pointed at her flank, which was blank, "I don't have mine yet, but it'll show up right here."

"Oh. Huh." That concept had so many implications, both good and bad, I didn't know what to make of it, "I'm pretty sure humans don't get 'cutie marks.'" Just saying the phrase made my manhood die a little on the inside, but if it was a common thing I needed to get used to it.

"What!?" she exclaimed, "That's awful! How do you know what you're supposed to do with your life?"

"We guess," I deadpanned.

She thought for a moment, her muzzle scrunching up in concentration, "That sounds confusing."

"Believe me, it is."

"Dinky, there you are," shouted a grey pony, an adult this time as she ran up to us, "You aren't supposed to leave without telling Mommy where you're going." She smiled at me, her eyes coming up to meet mine before one of them started to drift away.

"Thanks for finding Dinky for me. My name's Derpy Ditzy Do, although most ponies call me Muffins." She stuck a hoof out and continued, "It's nice to meet you."

I smiled back gently and shook it, noting that the inside of her hoof felt much softer the edges did, "It's a pleasure to meet you as well, Mrs. Do. I must say, you're raising quite the spirited child." I ruffled Dinky's mane as I spoke, which made her squirm and giggle and got Mrs. Do to laugh.

With that, the tension dissolved, and ponies started to filter towards me in ones and twos. Soon I was in the middle of a massive crowd, asking and answering all sorts of questions about my self, Equestria, ponies, and humans in general. I was just getting to how cutie marks work (none of them seemed to have a solid answer beyond "magic"), when a mare with a brown coat and grey hair announced, "Princess Celestia is back!"

In a flash, the herd dissipated, leaving me with just Dinky as everyone rushed outside. The whole group seemed to thrum with happiness, and I was once again reminded that monarch or not, Princess Celestia was adored by her subjects. I still wasn't quite sure what to make of her, but if her reputation was anything to go by I'd probably be quite happy sticking her in the president's office. Time will tell.

I nudged Dinky so she would move and I could stand up, which she did grudgingly, then headed outside, staying towards the side so I wouldn't block anyone's view and noting the solar eclipse had ended while I wasn't looking. After I got over the absurdity of a flying pony-drawn chariot (I could go on forever about why that made no sense) I had to admit it looked impressive. As the chariot landed and the Princesses stepped out, all the ponies bowed, and I repeated my version as well after a beat. This time Celestia returned it with a small bob of her head, though I wasn't given time to puzzle out why before she started a prepared speech about her sisters return, which summoned a round of cheers, and my own appearance, which had a much more subdued, if still positive, reception.

With the formalities out of the way, the gathering transformed into a proper party, mostly courtesy of Pinkie Pie. I have no idea how she managed to set everything up so quickly, but I wasn't going to rest until I figured it out. This brought me to my current position, standing next to a table piled with baked goods and dubiously eyeing an apple turnover I'd picked up. Thanks to being allergic to artificial preservatives, I always made all my own food, no exceptions, and the ingredients for that food ate a considerably larger portion of my budget than it did for most people. Anything that I didn't make myself must be carefully checked or avoided altogether. It sucked, but it beat spending most of my waking hours on top of a toilet, so I put up with it.

"What're starin' at my food for, George?" asked Applejack as she walked up and snagged a cupcake off a tray, "Are you goin' to eat it or not?"

"Oh, sorry," I said with a tired smile, "It's just, can I see the ingredients list for this?"

She swallowed and gave me a very strange look, "What, you mean the recipe? It's just flour, sugar, salt, butter, apples, and spices, nothin' fancy."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing, "You're serious? Nothing artificial at all?"

"George," she said, starting to look annoyed, "I made those myself, I'd know if I put anything else in them."

"Ah, sorry," I mumbled, took a bite, felt my knees go weak, and finished the rest of it off in under five seconds. "Good God, that was the best pastry I've ever tasted," I said as I grabbed another two.

Applejack smiled, looking pleased with herself, said, "Glad to hear it," and wandered off while I continued to stuff my face. If it turned out she was misinformed I'd definitely find out later, but for now it was food, and it was good, and that was all that mattered. Just the concept of not having to watch what I eat was enough to make me want to do a happy dance, but I restrained myself until I actually knew for certain.

With my stomach filled to a satisfactory level I sidled over to a nearby oak and grasped a low hanging branch. One quick heave-ho later I had swung myself up and into the leaves and climbed swiftly to a nice perch about twenty feet off the ground where I had a clear view of the festivities. I had to admit, being here was nice. Different species or not, I felt included, a feeling I hadn't managed to really pin down in almost two years. If I had to put up with Rainbow Dash's tail hanging down in my face from where she slept on the branch just above me, then so be it.

It wasn't long before a pegasus named Clear Skies flew up to join me, and we ended up having a lively conservation about how trees get water to their leaves, a much more complex subject than it had any right to be. By the time she had gotten bored and flown off to play some party game, I was fighting to keep my eyes open and my manners intact. Rainbow really had the right idea here, and with a yawn I carefully climbed down and started looking for Princess Celestia. I knew I really shouldn't be bothering her with something like this, but given I didn't have a clue who I should bother about it I didn't really have a choice. Also, I still had to tell her about the Reapers of Death, so there's that.

"Hey, Princess," I said once she didn't seem to be interacting with anyone, "Can I have a moment?"

"Of course, George," she said with a motherly smile that instantly put me on edge, though not because of her, "How can I help you?"

"Well, it's two things: I need a place to stay and I've got some intel on the threat I was sent here to deal with." I gave her a quick outline of the Reapers of Death, basically who they were and nothing more. "We've got time to get ready, but I thought you should know asap."

"And for that I thank you," she said graciously, "Though I must ask if that's all you know about them."

"It's not, Princess," I groaned, "and I understand you need this information to protect your subjects, but," I stifled a yawn, "I am dirty, stinky, emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted, it's way past my bedtime, and my temper and manners are all but gone. If you insist on asking me further questions I will do my best to answer them but I can't promise I will stay coherent. Furthermore, we've got a couple of years to prepare and a day more or less isn't going to make much difference. So please, let me take a shower, get some sleep, and then grill me about the Reapers of Death. I'm sorry I cant do more right now, but unless I find a bed soon I might end up passing out on the ground," I leaned a little to far to the left and almost before I righted myself, "and that won't be good for anyone."

"I see," she said slowly, "In that case, as the first of your kind in Equestria, you can come stay in the palace for night in the ambassadors wing. We'll discuss strategy tomorrow."

"Thank you," I sighed, "That sounds perfect. I'm sorry for my short temper, by the way."

"You're forgiven," she said softly, stifling a yawn of her own, "It's been a long day and night for all of us," and walked away towards her chariot, Princess Luna and I falling into step beside her. I saw them nuzzle each other before we took off, and wondered just what Luna had done to get herself banished. I wouldn't have expected so much affection between them if anything severe enough to warrant such a punishment had actually happened. The thousand years had to be an exaggeration or typo, right?

Of course, I didn't have any time to think about it as I quickly realized I was much more severely afraid of heights than I remembered. Note to self: never step into any flying vehicle that doesn't have guard rails ever again. Vertigo doesn't give two shits about immortality.

Author's Note:

I don't know where I'm going with this story, but there should plenty of fun stuff to do in Canterlot, even if George is only there a day. Don't forget to like and tell me what you think.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, a large portion of this story will come from reading the long list of pet peeves that most people have about HiE stories and mocking/avoiding most of them on purpose.