• Published 12th Oct 2015
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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 48

The disguised Daring Do winced as Barrier’s horn was inspected, seeing a slight glow within, signalling just how little remained between the core of his horn and the outside world. “So,” She began in an effort to take her mind off of the sight, “why was that one soldier wearing that vest? Didn’t really look like armor.”

“It was to cover the scar he received from Sombra.” Barrier winced as a cream of some sort was applied to his horn, sealing the crack. “It’s a gruesome reminder of his fight that I imagine he doesn’t care for. No doubt he’ll receive a Lavender Heart for his efforts.”

The doctor began to wrap a pristine white bandage around the length of Barrier’s horn.

“I can’t blame him. At least my wound will heal. Verdant will be lucky if he ever grows fur on his withers again. I suppose it is a small price to pay though, all things considered.” Barrier’s head was tugged to the side as the bandage was tied off. “Son of a bitch, that smarts!” Barrier swore as his bandaged horn was further coated in the same material as the crack had been.

“Oh, quit your whining.” The earth pony doctor stated sharply as the material began to harden under his hoof, encasing Barrier’s horn in a thick coat of plaster. “Now, drink this and don’t use your magic for the next month and a half and you should be fine.”

Barrier looked at the dark-brown bottle. The bottle was colored a dark shade of brown that allowed him to see the liquid within but not actually make any details beyond the syrupy consistency. Bottoms up… Barrier threw the bottle back and swallowed several mouthfuls before gagging. “Faust’s sweet teats, what is this foul substance?” The unicorn was scraping at his tongue with a hoof in a desperate attempt to remove the aftertaste.

“It’s skelegrow.” Doctor Bones stated plainly as he began to walk forward once more, Barrier following close behind. “And you need to finish that bottle. The crack in your horn was deep and you’ll need it.”

“This isn’t fair.” Barrier grimaced but tilted the bottle up once more, draining the last swallow and gagging again. “At least give it a bloody flavor or something.”

“It’s routine.” The doctor stated plainly.

“Thanks, Bones. Now, c’mon Barrier.” Daring nudged the stallion’s flank forward. “I want to know what happened and see the treaty signing.”

“Yes, I’d like to treat the civilians some time today.” Bones picked up his pace.

“Why not have the princess teleport you?”

Bones snorted air. “Not a chance in Tartarus. I’ve never trusted teleporting and never will. I’ll just hoof it, I think.”

“Fair enough. Princess Luna, is there any chance I could convince you to teleport Daring and I?”

The midnight-blue alicorn glanced at Celestia who nodded with a soft smile.

“Very well. All who art comfortable with teleportation, gather ‘round!” Luna waited several long moments until a multitude of nurses and doctors gathered around the princess, a cart of mixed supplies and the earth-pony tethered to it joining the mix. “Right, allow Us to show thee how a teleportation is meant to be done.”

Celestia subtly stuck her tongue out; Luna gave a confused shrug before grinning and with an extravagant flourish of her head, disappearing in a flash light and taking over two-dozen ponies with her.

“Okay, that was much smoother than Princess Celestia’s.” Daring Do stated as they reappeared almost directly in front of the Crystal Palace, much to the surprise of the crystal ponies that had gathered to observe the newly returned Crystal Heart.

“An envious display, Princess.” Barrier tilted his head at the lunar diarch. Several of the ponies murmured in agreeance that the experience was far more gentle in comparison to Celestia’s.

“Ah, you’re all back!” Cadance trotted out of the Crystal Palace with Queen Leena in tow. “Say Barrier, would you mind taking care of Queen Leena and her guards?” As if in response to Cadance’s question, three griffins quickly filtered out of the palace, seemingly out of breath.

“Uh…” Barrier glanced at Luna in silent askance and received a shrug. “Sure?”

“Thank you so much. Auntie Luna and I have something to take care of.” Even as Cadance was speaking, she was tugging Luna along into the palace, the mare seemingly too swept up in the moment to protest.

“Uh…” Barrier glanced at the queen and her guards.

“Queen Leena.” Daring smiled at the Queen and bowed slightly.

“It is good to finally have a peaceful moment with you, Daring Do.” Leena gave a sharp smile of her own.

“Wait, what?” Daring frowned and raised her glasses off of the bridge of her muzzle with a frown. “How did you recognize me?”

“As if I wouldn’t recognize the voice and scent of the mare who slept with my younger brother. I’ve actually been trying to find you for a few months now.” The queen fished a piece of paper from beneath her wing. “You didn’t exactly leave your mailing address, much to Prince Morton’s consternation.”

“Sorry to break his heart,” Daring draped her good wing over Barrier, surprising him with the appendages strength as she dragged him closer. “But I’m taken.”

“Apparently.” Barrier smiled wryly, realizing that thus far he’d had no apparent say in the situation. Well, he had been the one to suggest a relationship, so he supposed he had no leave to complain, not that he would want to.

“Break his heart?” Leena actually smiled a bit. “Hardly. I believe he simply hoped to lay with you again. My brother’s…looseness with females sickens me. No offense to you, but royalty should not be willing to mate with just anyone around like a teenaged rabbit. We have a dedicated harem of our kingdom’s finest for us to have as our mates.”

Barrier pursed his lips in just the slightest bit of annoyance. For some reason, the statement irked him.

“So, what do we do now?” Daring piped up before grabbing and turning over the piece of paper the queen extended to her. “SEVEN-HUNDRED AND FIFTY BITS?!”

“You and my brother damaged a very expensive rug and ruined an even more expensive couch. That’s half the cost of both, the rest being my brother’s responsibility.”

Daring groaned and removed her wing from Barrier in favor of sticking her muzzle into her saddlebag. “I’ll write a Faust-damned check for it.”

“Well,” Queen Leena turned to the unicorn. “Now that I’ve concluded my business with Ms. Do, may I ask you some questions about history, Captain? I’ve been interested in history ever since I was a young cub.”

“What would you like to know about first, your majesty?”

“Hmm…” Leena clicked a talon against the ground. “How about for a laugh, you help me confirm that Empress Cadance has a strange imagination and an even stranger sense of humor?”

“I can try?” The response came out as more of a question. “I don’t quite understand what Empress Cadance has to do with history though.”

“Well, Empress Cadance spun me a yarn that she apparently heard from Twilight Sparkle. She told me this absurd story about Princess Luna, you, and the green earth pony guard.”

“She told you about the time Verdant Range was shrunk and I was turned into a mare?” Barrier groaned and put a hoof to his face. “I’d honestly hoped it wouldn’t become common knowledge.”

“That actually happened?” Queen Leena and all of her guards stared in surprise.

“Unfortunately, yes. We were exposed to poison joke and those were the effects on Verdant and I. Princess Luna was delivering the cure and accidentally swallowed Verdant Range. She also apparently has no gag reflex.”

“Happened to Barrier twice now,” Daring elbowed him with a grin as she held a slip of paper to Leena. “He’s a helluva mare.” Daring grinned when the stallion groaned in response.

“I give up.” Leena sighed and threw her arms up in exasperation. “I’ll never understand all of the strange things you ponies get up to.”

“I don’t even understand half of the stuff ponies get up to these days.” Barrier responded. “That aside, is there anything else you would like to know regarding history your majesty?”

“Hmm...You were from the era of Grimhilde LeGrande, correct?”

“I was.” Barrier answered, his expression souring slightly at the thought.

“Did you ever do battle with her?” Leena either didn’t notice or care about Barrier’s subtle reluctance.

“No. At least, I don’t consider it a battle. A pony betrayed our mission and led to Grimhilde capturing my team and I unawares. Less of a battle and more of a beating for me.”

“Were you able to land a good blow on her?”

“Beyond spitting on her face, no. From the outset of the fight, I’d been violently fitted with a magic-inhibitor. The sudden loss of such a connection is…disorienting, to say the least. Honestly I’m surprised I was even conscious long enough to be beaten into unconsciousness.”

“A shame,” Leena sighed. “I had hoped someone would be able to tarnish her old title of ‘Grimhilde the untouchable’.”

“So, how about a tour or something?” Daring interjected as she once again draped her wing over the unicorn.

“Not at the moment, though I appreciate the offer. Would you two like to have drink and lunch with me? I’d rather like to try a glass of crystal-berry juice.”

Barrier nodded and swept a hoof towards the palace, waiting until the Queen had started to move to follow her and respond. “That sounds like an excellent idea. It has been far too long since I had any crystal-berry wine myself.”

“Save the boozing for later.” The disguised pegasus elbowed him. “Last thing I need is to be carrying your drunken flank around while the treaty is being signed.”

Barrier snorted. “The day I get drunk off a wine is the day the doors of Tartarus fall.”

Leena smiled at the interaction between the pair. “So, might I ask how long have you two been a couple?”

“About two hours?” Barrier offered, earning him a light jab from Daring’s wing.

“Not long. We discussed it before my departure to Neighpon, though we did get pretty close before.”

“It will be interesting to see how our relationship progresses. Until Daring, I’d had only one and it wasn’t exactly normal.”

“He was sleeping with one of his teammates and underlings.” The statement was accompanied by the soft laugh of Princess Celestia as she rounded the corner nearest them.

Barrier coughed as the group turned around.

“It was hardly a secret, Barrier.” Celestia smiled before nodding respectfully to Leena. “Empress Cadance has readied the treaty in accordance to what you and she agreed on. It’s ready to be signed, Queen Leena.”

“Drat.” Leena snapped her talon’s. “I was hoping we’d have to opportunity to sample a bit of the Crystal Empire’s cuisine. I’ve no doubt it’s starkly different from what we’re accustomed to.”

“I’ve only ever been here on business, but I did once eat at a small place on the eastern border. They had some impressive fish that I’d love to try again. Mayhaps after the treaty-signing, we could go and see if it still stands?”

Leena and her guards looked at the pony in mild surprise, but the Queen nodded. “That sounds lovely. I’m surprised they carry fish this far north.”

“Ice-fishing.” Barrier shrugged. “Mostly bluegill and perch from what I recall. Some select ponies went through a survival-training of sorts that consisted of a trip from the Everfree Forest to the Frozen North with no supplies. By necessity, they all had to learn to catch and prepare fish amongst other small game.”

“I’ve also talked to the Empress into having a ruby reaper eating contest. You’ll have the chance to eat a pepper that hasn’t been eaten since the Empire’s disappearance.”

Barrier winced at his first memory of the pepper. You have my sympathies, Queen Leena… I’d never thought I’d think that about a griffin.

“I do love peppers and other spicy foods.” Leena licked her beak in anticipation. “Very well, let’s go make history.”

Author's Note:

Alticron: For this week's picture, we have Verdant Range's sisters, arranged from oldest to youngest. Verdant was the third child and the last four were all born on the same day to different mares.

Sober: His father, Viridian Forest, was...busy. I think I personally prefer Sage's design the most. I'd hit that.

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