• Published 12th Oct 2015
  • 8,067 Views, 1,025 Comments

A Pony Displaced: Another Path - NoLongerSober

Legend has it that on the longest day of the thousandth year, the stars will aid in her escape. There once was a stallion who faced Nightmare Moon and was sealed away with her. Now he returns in the modern age, hoping to find a new path.

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Chapter 43

“Right in front of the Crystal Heart, thou shalt not likely need further aid finding it.” Verdant Range directed the pony towards the city center before turning back to Applejack who had also been directing a pair of ponies.

“Ya’ll okay?” The orange mare asked as she noticed Verdant’s gaze on her.

“Aye, just thinking.” The green earth pony turned away and once more began the slow trek further away from the palace, eyes scanning regularly to look for ponies that were still hiding in their homes or injured.

“No, yer not.” Applejack stated matter-of-factly. “You’re hurtin…and I can’t rightly blame ya.”

Verdant Range didn’t reply to her, instead knocking sharply on a crystalline door to draw the attention of the ponies inside.

“Ah have an inklin’ of how you feel.” Applejack waited until the ponies had opened the door and Verdant Range had given them the explanation of events before continuing. “Well… not exactly, but I know what it’s like to lose yer loved ones. To feel like everythin’ you hold dear has been ripped out from under ya.”

Verdant Range turned and gave the mare a long, hard stare before swallowing back the knot in his throat. “Does…does the pain ever go away?”

“Not really.” Applejack answered honestly. “The pain will always be there, but it gets easier. S’just important to remember the good times. Remember when they held yah close and loved yah…try not to remember when they went away.”

The stallion nodded sadly before asking, “If I may, who’ve you lost?”

“Mah folks.” Applejack’s voice dropped just slightly. “One day everything’s just fine and the next... they’re just gone. Ah don’t wanna go into details about it so I’ll just say it was…sudden. Kinda like what yer goin’ through. That shock yah felt, the stumblin’ back…ah did the exact same thing.”

“How didst thou come to terms with it?” Verdant Range began to knock sharply on another door.

“Ah had my family tah help. My brother and granny especially.”

“Tis more than just my parents.” Verdant Range blinked back tears long enough to direct the pony that answered the door before turning to Applejack. “My aunts…and most especially my sisters.” Tears began to work their ways out of the stallion’s eyes even as he tried to hold them in. “Star Hopper, Gold Leaf, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme…” the dam broke and the earth pony collapsed onto his stomach as half-sobs began to escape him. “They’re all gone.” The breakdown was very shortlived as Verdant forced himself upright and tried to swallow the emotions back down. “I’ve lost my whole family.”

“No yah haven’t. Ah’m sure you have some family still, even if ya don’t yet know it.”

“Well, tis almost a certainty at least one of my sisters had children… but I assume thou art referring to my squadmates.” Verdant stepped just slightly away to allow Applejack unrestricted access to the door.

“That ain’t what Ah meant.” Applejack knocked on the door several times in quick succession before turning to face him once more. “Them and Magic Barrier.”

Verdant Range didn’t reply immediately, instead rolling the statement over in his mind as Applejack explained to the crystal ponies what had happened.

“That King Sombra fella’s gone fer good. If ya’ll head to the Crystal Palace, y’can see the Crystal Heart and get medical attention if’n ya need any.” Applejack waited until the dispirited, depressed crystal mare had departed her home to turn back to Verdant, who appeared to have an answer to her statement.

“My squadmates would no doubt be willing to aid me, and they are family, brothers and sisters in arms, but they all have to cope with this, same as I. It would be unfair for me to burden them with my grief when they have so much of their own. As for Captain Barrier…” A moment of uncertainty flashed across the stallion’s face. “He is an excellent Captain, but I don’t think he sees us in that regard. We art soldiers to him first and foremost.”

Applejack shook her head and held out a hoof to stop Verdant from knocking on another door. “Yah don’t remember what he called ya’ll back in the basement?”

Verdant Range’s head tilted just slightly.

“He called yah his kids. Now Ah don’t think he meant to say it out loud, but I know he honestly meant it. He cried for y'all, y’know?”

Verdant Range’s eyes narrowed in confusion. Now that she had brought it up, he remembered Barrier’s slip of tongue, but he’d almost reflexively assumed it to be that; a slip of tongue.

“I don’t think he knew I was there and I wasn’t ever gonna bring it up cuz it ain’t none of my business, but he broke down just outside my farm when he told this one pegasus about you ponies, and don’t ferget how mad he was when he saw those bombs you’d strapped tah yah.”

Verdant Range’s first instinct was to shrug the statement off, but when coupled with the seeming slip of tongue and the Captain’s seemingly odd behaviour…it didn’t seem quite as far fetched.

“In any case, yer not alone.” Applejack made to rest a hoof on the stallion’s withers before remembering his injury. “And yah can’t think about yer family like that. Y’all need tah be there for each other. Share yer grief with one another, support each other. It’s part of what family does.”

Silence settled over the two, save the occasional break to explain everything to the ponies they spoke to.

“Lady Applejack…” Verdant finally spoke up, his voice slightly more upbeat than it had been, though not by much. “I thank you… At any rate, The Captain said the war with the griffins ended when Princess Celestia reclaimed Gallopfrey…dost thou know how long ago that was, mayhaps?”

“That?” Applejack whistled. “Shoot, it’s gotta be darn near a thousand years by mah reckonin’. Why do yah ask?”

“I was simply wondering if it was a lasting peace. If it has been going for so long…then it is most assuredly genuine. Mayhaps I should be willing to treat the griffins accordingly.” The stallion sighed and shook his head. “What a strange world this new age is. What could possibly be next? A device that opens those annoying food-holding tin cylinders?”

Applejack chuckled. “Yah mean a can-opener? Yah can get one of those practically anywhere.”

Verdant stared incredulously at Applejack. “Thou means we non-unicorns no longer have to suffer to open those infernal things?” A chuckle escaped the stallion, “Truly this is a blessed age. If only my sisters were here to enjoy it as well…”

“So…” Applejack tried to shift topics before silence and depression could set in once again. “What did Pinkie Pie mean by the whole ‘snack-sized stallion’ thing earlier?”

The green stallion’s eyes widened and almost comically quickly replied: “That is classified. I am bound by a non-disclosure agreement.”

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