• Published 1st Sep 2016
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Hot Dam - The Wind King



It was just supposed to be a regular jaunt through the Nevernever to make his report at Edinburgh, so why then is Harry Dresden stuck in a magical world full of anthropomorphised ponies without an escape route? It must be a Thursday.

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Chapter 1 - A Pegasus Across My Chest

Normally, stepping through a way into or out of the Nevernever is like walking through a door. Yeah, it’s a portal to the spirit world where the laws of physics don’t quite work right, but it’s still just another kind of door. The only real indicator that I just slipped out of objective reality I’ve ever encountered is a brief brush of ‘static’ against my non-physical senses and the air temperature rapidly changing.

This wasn’t like that.

I’m not sure why, but the moment I rolled into the portal I knew something was wrong. For one thing the cloying, almost pervasive, sense of ambient magic didn’t disappear, even as everything became twisted. Up became down, red became black, screams of torment rang in my ears, and the flames flickering around me cast the shadows of despair on crystal growths that reflected only broken dreams.

Normally I don’t have to fall through a literal hell-scape to walk through a door.

I’m not sure how long I fell like that, unable to look away from the horrors that surrounded me.

I did notice when the fall ended however, as I hurtled through another portal. The ‘static’ jolt bringing me out of my horrified stupor before I was dumped back into reality about six feet from the ground, landing as though I’d just belly flopped off of a diving board.

I laid there for a moment as I tried to will air back into my lungs before I disentangled my limbs from my duster and the Grey Warden’s cloak I was wearing, and began pulling myself to my feet.

The first thing I noticed were the wooden walls covered in shelves of books and scrolls and other papery goodness.

The next thing I noticed were the signs hanging around with such catchy information as “FOAL’S FICTION”, “HISTORY”, or “BEGINNER MAGIC”, giving the place a very distinct library tone, something that was enforced by the desk oh so helpfully labelled as “LIBRARIAN’S DESK”.

The third thing I noticed as I tried to figure out what floor I had deigned to grace with my face beyond ‘strange library’, were the globs of flaming ectoplasm and shards of burning bone that had scattered around me from my impromptu and energetic entrance.

I’d like to say I jumped into action, immediately smothering the flames with my wizardly wisdom and consummate skill, a heroic action far outside my normal comfort zone.

Mostly, I just stood there as my brain tried to take in the fact that yes, there was a building on fire, as small as that fire may be, and no, it wasn’t my fault, again.

What really sucked was the complete lack of obvious slobbering monster to actually pin it on.

I’m not entirely sure how long I stood there, my mouth flapping soundlessly at the pure unfairness of it all before I snapped out of whatever trance I was in and actually realised what kind of damage an out of control fire could do in a library.

A library that seemed to be constructed out of a single flowing, piece of wood I noted as I strode forwards to stomp on the nearest flame with one ectoplasm-soaked hiking boot before continuing to the next. The resulting squelches and hissing as the small blazes winked out of existence became a regular background sound as I threw books away from the most immediate danger.

I had no clue where I was and, considering what I had just gone through to get here, I had no actual desire to return to the Nevernever for a second shot without a chance to rest my head, soothe my aches and pains, and scrape myself clean of all the ectoplasm that had found itself where it didn’t belong. Even if it dissolved quickly there are places that shouldn’t be that damp or slimy.

Knowing my luck, I would get none of these things.

I was maybe three-quarters of the way through cleaning up my intrusion when I heard the door swing open behind me and what sounded like a young woman’s voice grumped its way through the air.

“Spike, I’ve told you, just because your comics are late it doesn’t give you an excuse to stomp about…”

I turned just as the words faltered and faded to a strange combination of a startled squawk and a fearful squeak, letting my eyes rest on what might have been one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen.

And I’ve seen some pretty damn strange shit.

What looked to be a young woman was standing in a doorway that I hadn’t seen during my sweep of the room, giant purple eyes widened in shock as her pupils shrunk, purple ‘skin’ paling to pinkish white, strands of her purple, pink, and violet ‘hair’ standing up with the almost cartoonish noise of a spring snapping.

What I’m saying is that she was extremely purple, almost blindingly so.

I barely noticed the clothes she was wearing, presumably to avoid blinding anyone else with her pure purple presence, but then there was nothing special about them. A long white lab coat with only the occasional stain, a shirt buttoned up enough to be sensible, a pair of loose jeans, no shoes or socks, but I doubt that she would need those considering she seemed to have hooves. They were just normal clothes: no shimmering fabric that shifted, warped, and drew the eye in the most sensual of ways, no hanky sized squares of fabric covering only the important bits, and no strange bulges where she could have concealed weapons beside a pair on her chest, which I was pretty certain I shouldn’t stare at, she might take offense to that.

If wasn’t for the fact that she looked like a humanoid horse with a horn sticking almost six inches out of her forehead and a tail in the same colors and state of disarray as her mane, I possibly could’ve mistaken her for a university student who had fallen into a vat of purple and pink dye before going to her lessons.

Again I just stood there, my own expression likely a mirror of hers, although I doubt my slime-splattered and scorched appearance was any more reassuring to the purple thing that was currently staring at me than the constant unceasing thrum of power around it was to me.

And then her eyes darted to the destruction I had wrought upon, presumably, her library: scorch marks on the floors and walls; books and scrolls thrown to one side away from the fires; and rapidly dissolving ectoplasm congealing on the floor. Her eyes narrowed from dinner plates to thin slits of rage, power danced around the horn jutting from her forehead, and her hands clenched into fists.

Maybe I should try being diplomatic.

“I can explain.”

I have never been good at being diplomatic.

I barely managed to get a shield up between us as a glowing ball of pure magic lanced forward from her horn, the raw energy of the attack pushing me back with enough force to make the soles of my boots slide frictionlessly across the floor.

She wasn’t that powerful, I just had a lot of slippery gunk on my feet, alright.

“EXPLAIN?” she screamed at me as more power gathered around her horn, what little bits of her hair I could see behind the ethereal glow of raw magic seemed to ignite “You can explain why you broke into my home, set it on fire, and started destroying my books?”

I scrambled to the right before another bolt of magic could hit me, the whatever-she-was darting to my left to keep me centered in her line of sight, a pair of hooves clopping against the wooden floor only further cementing the humanoid horse with a horn image.

I decided to try diplomacy, again.

“This was an accident if you’d just give …”

Screams of rage and balls of raw magic are not conducive to the diplomatic process.

“Accident,” the word was almost spat, before she started to snarl at me “so you just accidentally broke into my house, set it on fire, covered it in changeling slime, and started to ransack my books?” Her glowing eyes started to strobe erratically as the deep thrum of her horn grew in pitch to a rumbling whine.

“When you say it like that it looks bad…” I managed to admit before another bolt of power splashed against my shield, the dome of force angled so it would push me to the side rather than straight backwards, purple moving in tandem with my graceless slide.

It also had enough force behind it to slam my arm against my ribs, hard enough to make me wince.

Time to stop being diplomatic.

“Girl, I am done trying to talk this through,” I drew myself to my full height, towering over her even at this distance. My black duster and grey cape fluttering in counterpoint to her white lab coat, as something in my voice broke through her mania, her eyes fading back down to their ‘natural’ violet color. “Attack me without provocation again and I will respond in kind.”

“Attack you without provocation?” and there are the glowing eyes again, oh how I missed them for a second “I ATTACKED YOU WITHOUT PROVOCATION?!”

Another glowing blast of pure magic rocketed from her horn, time seeming to slow as it crackled and fizzed with raw power.

Which was exactly what I wanted.

I mean, who would be stupid enough to use pure magic against a wizard?

If she’d been throwing anything else I would’ve started fighting back immediately after that first shot, and I had been tempted to start throwing my own punches after the second one just dissolved the moment it shot past me; that was a scary level of control if she had that kind of precision, even with just raw magic.

But why would I throw my own punches when I could use hers?

I dropped my shield as the sphere of energy came ever closer and swept my staff up in one of those simple moves that Murphy had been drilling into my head with a staff of her own. Left hand blocks: right hand attacks.

Granted she hadn’t been demonstrating how to use a wizard’s staff to channel the forces of creation, but the concept was the same.

I felt the pure magic of the attack sweep into the staff as I brought the base up, let the energy surge into the wood, twisted my body around on my feet, and spun the length of wood around before I unleashed it, alongside my will, as I slashed the staff’s head through the air.

Ventas Servitas!

I may have underestimated just how much power was in that blast as a gale force winds burst forth. Howling and screaming as they swept through the library, picking up books, scrolls, chairs, dwindling globs of ectoplasm, a pile of library cards that had been sitting loose on the desk, and a small wooden statue carved in the shape of a horse’s head.

I would not have been surprised to see a kitchen sink in there somewhere.

It certainly surprised A-grape-a though, her eyes widening with shock for a moment before the rolling storm of paper and wind picked her up and carried her through an open archway behind her, her wild flailing causing her to flip around in mid-air, before I heard a crash and the loud echoing clang of a falling pan and the tinkle of falling glass.

I bit my lip for a second as I mulled over either running away, or staying and checking that the girl was unhurt after her impromptu flight. Despite my posturing I hadn’t actually wanted to hurt her, and covering someone in broken glass and kitchen debris sounded like it hurt, just a little.

The problem being that even if all she could do was throwing those bolts of magic, simple as they were to deflect, nullify, or counter, she seemed about as exhausted by firing those blasts as I was by dealing with them. So I had a choice between fleeing the scene like I’d actually done something wrong or getting caught in an increasingly frustrating battle of attrition and hoping my opponent would eventually tire enough to listen to reason before the authorities arrived.

My decision was made for me when the thrum of power that had been coming from her increased to a high pitched whine across my metaphysical senses, and a scream of rage echoed forth from the very messy kitchen of the damned.

Spinning on my heel I barrelled towards what I hoped to be an exit, my boots crunching on books and paper alike as I took in exactly how much damage I had done to the library with my over enthusiastic wind spell. Tables were toppled, chairs cast aside, loose pages and book covers carpeted the floor and all the windows were blown outwards with shards of glass and broken frames clinging grimly to the walls.

But, hey, at least it wasn’t on fire any more.

I barely slowed down as I ripped the door open and stepped outside.

Right into the small crowd that had gathered around the building, nerves obviously on edge from the screams, shouts, and explosion of wind.

I’ll admit to the fact that I just stopped dead for the third time. I don’t think my mouth flopped open into another guppy impression, but my brain certainly stopped working as I took in the sight before me.

A mob of technicolor faces stood there staring at me, their eyes wide as I stood there with my coat and cape fluttering in the breeze while I scanned over the crowd almost automatically.

The first thing that caught my attention was just the insane amount of colors on display, fur and manes from sorrel red to storm grey and all shades in-between, oh my. The second thing was the fact that damned near the entire crowd was female, I could see blockier masculine faces in the crowd, but they were few and far between.

Thirdly seemed to be the variety of ‘horses’ on display.

My eyes flittered almost immediately to a group with wings that were hovering just over the crowd, lazy wing beats keeping them in the air with what was obviously more than just physical power. My gaze then darted to another group that had horns similar to the purple girl I’d just swept off her feet, each one giving off a quiet hum of power that seemed to merge into a harmonious whole. Lastly, my focus fell on the rest of the crowd who looked normal as far as the whole half human/half horse thing went, but something about their numbers and the fact that they all seemed to move in concert, little teams becoming readily apparent with a second glance, made me just as nervous about what they could do to me as I was with the others.

I was just about to open my mouth and say something before another scream of rage came from the library behind me—causing a trio of ‘normal’ mares standing at the front of the crowd, each of them wearing flowers in their hair, to scream “the horror” at the top of their lungs and start running as though I was a demon from the depths of hell itself—with the crowd following their sterling example.

Needless to say I joined in on the impromptu stampede, yelling at the top of my lungs as I charged forward into the startled mass. Horses scattered every which way in an attempt to escape me, while I just picked a direction at random and ran as hard as I could down the cobblestone street. Anything to get me away from those screams of rage before I had to do something I’d probably regret.

Let me tell you, there is no better way to escape attention than a crowd, even one that is running in terror of you. In a panicked crowd everyone else is the source of the fear and anyone else is just another thing to escape from, and combined with my yell of ‘it’s behind us’ I managed to ride the crowd for a short while before it thinned out as doors slammed shut and shutters clicked together.

I just continued onwards as the last few horses around scattered into their homes, my feet pounding against the road as they carried me towards the edge of whatever strange horse town I’d ended up in.

I was maybe ten yards away from the end of the road when another horse with a horn—may as well just call them unicorns as it’d be quicker and easier to say—cantered out from behind the last building running in the direction I’d just fled from.

Which led her right into my escape path.

She looked every part a self-styled lady despite her apparent young age: poised, elegant, glistening white fur, and an indigo mane that looked as though it took an hour minimum with an egg-beater each morning to get just right. Her clothes looked handmade by a master of the craft and were designed to draw attention to her curves while leaving enough to the imagination to maintain a sense of decency and mystery.

This being me, of course her sapphire eyes were narrowed in anger and her horn was humming softly with a cloud of blue magic. Her clothes doing nothing to hide or hinder her fencer’s stance before her horn flared, and instead of the blasts of magic that A-grape-a had been throwing at me a tangle of thread lanced out at me like a nest of snakes. Each thread encased in an aura the same color as the cloud surrounding her horn as she yelled. “Stop right there you ruffian!”

I didn’t bother with a shield, anything big enough to actually stop the entire thing would slow me down too much. Instead I began focusing my will and summoning just enough power to boost my candle lighting spell enough that it wouldn’t flare and accidently ignite the unicorn’s pelt.

Flickum Bicus!

I stumbled slightly as the power left me, my boots slipping on the cobblestone street while I fought for my balance. The unicorn flinching away from the nest of threads that burned merrily with tiny flickers of fire, as parts of the cat's cradle from Heck turned to ash in a second. Only partially charring most of them, though, as my old lighter spell had only been intended as a distraction.

Kudos to her though, she’d barely flinched away from the tangled knot of fire before she stepped out into the road to try and stop me again. Her expression set in grim determination while her horn started to glow anew.

I really didn’t want to get bound up in another spell-slinging match and if she was even half as skilled as the other ‘unicorn’ I’d already faced there would be no way to avoid throwing punches intended to stick or a pointless argument over my non-existent nefarious intent. At the same time I wasn’t quite ready to go full-force against someone that was attacking me with string.

So I took the softest option I knew.

I barely had enough time to call on the power I needed before another web of tangled threads lunged at me, the mass of fabric shimmering with the prissy looking unicorn’s aquamarine aura, as I swung my right hand upwards, magic spilling out from my fingertips.

Ventas Reductas!

Ashes and cinders danced upwards right into the mare’s face on hair dryer force winds, smearing her ivory fur with lines of dirty grey, while she clenched her eyes shut and held an embossed handkerchief to her mouth and nostrils before she could breath in too much of the sudden ash cloud. The second web of fabric she had been levitating started to fall as her horn winked out from the sudden cloud of dirt and dust that she struggled against.

I brought magic into myself again as the mare coughed and choked, attempting to get out more words as the light around her horn guttered out like a candle in a hurricane; my power and will reaching out to the still falling tangle of thread, before I released a second spell.

Laqueus Incarcere!

Back before the war with Red Court had gotten into full swing I had experimented with a spell that would animate a rope I could use to capture any mortal attackers without actually hurting them. At the time I hadn’t been able to make it work anywhere outside of my apartment, I needed to base the spells off of the wards set up on my threshold to give it any sort of lasting effect, and before I could get any further with experiments I had found myself dealing with stronger evils than the average rope could hold down, making the whole thing almost a complete waste of my time.

I got to use it once. Twice if you count the time I triggered the wards by accident and spent half an hour trying to wiggle loose before Murphy arrived.

Then just over a year ago I’d received an impossible gift for an incredible task. The archangel Uriel had invested in my future after I’d managed, somehow, to redeem the shadow of a fallen angel that had taken residence in my head. The shadow I’d named Lash saving me from a mental attack that would have shredded my mind and cost me my life, that single act of sacrifice being enough to save a newly made soul from damnation.

This investment took the shape of Soulfire, the very fires of creation were mine to command, so long as I paid the price for using something so grand and terrible.

The price of which was my soul, everlasting and immortal.

The best explanation I’d got was that in using Soulfire I mixed my magic and my soul together to achieve something that neither of them could do on their own. The Hellfire I had gained from the shadow may have made my combat spells more destructive, but Soulfire made my spells simply more. My evocations acted true to the purpose I called them for, my wards grew stronger against hostile forces, and my thaumaturgy reached complexities that would have evaded me before.

But in doing so I used a part of my soul as a catalyst, use too much and I would be dead or possibly worse.

It’s not as bad as it sounds, the soul grows back with all of life’s little joys: good food, sweet song, and fast friends, but the last time I had used Soulfire in any serious capacity I collapsed almost immediately afterwards and remained exhausted and shaky for the following week.

I didn’t put nearly as much power into the binding spell as I had into any of the last few spells that had used Soulfire, but I still felt a numbing tingle run through my body as I released my will, my power, and just a tiny piece of my soul all as one.

A nimbus of silver light wrapped around the abandoned strings as I caught them in my workings, before they lashed out at the white mare who was still struggling against my impromptu ash storm. She barely had time to notice the glittering threads before they had wrapped themselves around her: binding her wrists behind her back, forcing her legs together, encasing her horn, and locking her mouth shut in a matter of moments.

She remained standing for a moment, her eyes wide as she struggled against the shimmering, soul infused strands before she slowly started to topple forwards, unable to maintain her stability with the sudden restraints I’d forced on her.

I darted forward aiming to catch her before she could meet the cobblestones with her face, I mean I’m not completely callous, she probably didn’t deserve a face first meeting with the ground.

Which was when something plowed into my back with all the speed and fury of a runaway freight-train.

A freight-train that was screaming something in my ear.

To be honest I couldn’t make out the individual words as my brain rattled around in my head, the enchantments on my duster might have protected me against blades, bullets, claws, and harsh words. The problem was it was still flexible, blunt force didn’t need to break through the protective layer to do damage, it just had to hit me hard enough; and by the feel of it whatever had hit me had made sure to hit me as hard as it possibly could.

It hit me hard enough in fact, to send me careening straight into little miss priss with my full weight, and I vaguely felt her fall away from me as I continued onwards and downwards.

I didn’t feel anything break as I tumbled along the road, but I knew that my back was going to be one big bruise by the next day, it would go well with the bruises on my ribs, wrists, face, and ego.

I stopped after about three-four feet of rolling, my staff clattering to the ground somewhere to my right. I tried to catch my breath as I lay face-down on the road for a second, before I felt someone flip me over and I suddenly found myself face to face with another horse, a pair of wings jutting from her back instead of a horn sprouting from her skull. “WHAT THE BUCK DID YOU DO TO RARITY YOU NOODLE LIMBED FREAK?”

I could faintly hear muffled groans coming from behind where the pegasus—hey I had a theme going with the unicorn thing—had me pinned.

“That’s just the traditional greeting of my people,” I spoke as dryly as was possible with a cerulean pegasus straddling my chest. “Would you like to experience it for yourself?”

I barely noticed the fist before it crashed into the side of my face—although truth be told I barely noticed it afterwards either. No offense to the mare but I had faced so many things that could actually throw something more than a regular punch, that I couldn’t even be bothered noticing what she could dish out.

“DON’T JOKE WITH ME!” the mare screamed and I felt a surge of magic wash over the both of us as her wings flared, tempestuous forces pressing against my skin like vengeful fall winds. I remembered the one time I had been forced to hunt down a storm sylph that was causing cyclones in tornado alley. I even got to ride along in one of those Tornado-hunter vans as the cyclone chased us.

Simpler times.

“Girl,” I snarled back, not even bothering to hide how little patience I had left, “since arriving here, entirely by accident might I add, I have been attacked twice, treated as some sort of eldritch horror, and I have not raised my hand against anyone except in minimal self-defence, I am just about done with today” I met her eyes for just a second, nowhere near long enough to trigger a Soulgaze before focusing on a spot above and between her eyes again. “Raise your hand against me again and I will stop holding back.”

She didn’t even bother responding, instead just slamming another fist into my face with a grunt of effort.

This one actually hurt. Mostly it hurt my feelings, but there was a tiny sliver of pain in there somewhere.

Time to show her how to actually throw a punch.

It’s something I’ve made a point to practice, being able to fight with or without magic. At least to the point where I can hold my own against most mortal thugs in a closed fist, blades and beat-downs brawl.

Given my fucked up monster filled life I got a lot more use out of my constant running practice than I ever did my ability to throw a punch, but when all people expect you to do is stand on the sidelines and throw fireballs all night long they tend to let their guard down. If I ever stopped smiling at people’s faces when they realised my staff was also a six foot length of lightning blasted oak that could be swung, hard; it’d be because I was dead.

I saw her eyes widen for a split-second before my fist swung up and clocked her straight in the jaw with the meaty thump of flesh meeting teeth, her entire body jerking to the side as the impact damned near lifted her off me before I brought my right hand to her gut, fingers outspread.

Ventas Servitas!

The mare didn’t even have a chance to react before a gust of wind caught her outstretched wings, sending her ass over teakettle into the air, trailing cusses all the way.

I hauled myself to my feet as she caught herself in the air in a way that made me further doubt the point of her wings as anything but biological foci, before she started to plummet towards me in a cyan blur.

Deciding not to give her the pleasure of landing hooves first on my skull I reached into my coat with my right hand and pulled out my blasting rod. The narrow length of wood was a far simpler focus than my staff because it had been built as a weapon. Bolts of lightning, gouts of flame, crushing force? All of those and more are available with a blasting rod in a wizard’s hands.

Yeah, with a staff I could do anything, but it took time and honest effort. With a blasting rod all I could do was destroy things with ruthless efficiency.

I didn’t think things were that far gone yet, but it was time to send a message.

I could see the runes in the wood light up from the inside as power flowed from me, through the rod and out into the world as I brought the rod down like a conductor’s baton.

Ventas Servitas!

I’m not entirely sure what the pegasus mare was expecting as she brought her wings in against her back. Maybe she figured that I was going to throw another gust of wind directly against her. Maybe she thought I was targeting the appendages themselves. Whatever she thought I was planning she got it wrong, as my will grasped the winds above her and slammed her towards the earth with a sudden down-draft. Turning her dive into an uncontrolled plummet that ended on the cobblestones with the thump of flesh, the crack of stone, and a cloud of dust.

Hey, she was planning on using me as a landing pad at that speed, I was fairly certain she’d survive a bobbled landing.

My shoulders slumped and I slid my blasting rod back into its holder as I felt the tension I was holding lessen ever so slightly before I stomped over to where my staff was lying on the ground and scooped it up with my left hand, thoughts and plans for the immediate future rattling about in my head. It probably wouldn’t be long before whatever passed for the authorities here arrived and I already had enough trouble with human cops, really didn’t want to add another organisation to my ‘respect, but dislike’ list. Even if it was most likely made up of the strangest damned mix of human/horse/mythical beings hybrids.

I hadn’t even taken a step out of town before I heard the raspy voice behind me.

“Get back here you noodle limbed ground pounder!”

Sighing heavily I turned around to look at the pegasus, actually getting a good look at her for the first time. Seeing as she wasn’t so close I could taste her breakfast or moving at a speed closely related to the speed of sound.

Man was she short. Yeah I’m a human skyscraper with my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds, but even with that in mind she was short. I think she was shorter than Murphy and somebody once asked her if she was my daughter. That poor fool.

The next thing I noticed was the fact that she was apparently wearing a clown wig on her head and ass.

I have no clue how I didn’t notice that before now.

I mean the styles and colors I’d seen so far didn’t seem like anything natural, but they still looked like something that could be done with a mirror, a tub of dye, and a comb. This did not.

Perfectly separated colors lay in a short fringe which only just covered her forehead, before sweeping back into an uncombed mess that hung past her shoulders, blues and greens and indigos resting on the white shoulder straps of her midriff baring tank top, the much wider straps of her nigh-flat sports bra visible underneath the twin layers of hair and top.

My eyes continued to track downwards, taking note of the muscle definition that was somehow visible under the cyan fur on her abdomen. Continuing on past the pair of sweat and dust stained exercise shorts that only seemed to exist because nudity is illegal, no matter what strange magical equine dimension I ended up in. Before finally sweeping down her athletic legs, one of which she was clearly favouring after her crash landing.

Crap.

She might have had power rolling off of her, but she looked to just be a teenager. A brash, cocky, headstrong, idiot, teenager who’d thrown herself into a fight she was in no way prepared to deal with.

I’d been there, done that, and gone back time after time as an adult. It had never worked out well. Consequences from those fights have a way of sticking to any survivors, and it had taken a good few close-calls that I’d been lucky to escape from before I wised up.

I tried to make my voice as soft as possible as I started talking. “Girl, I am going to give you one chance, check on your friend there,” I waved my staff at the still prone unicorn who was now lying on someone’s front lawn groaning and struggling against her bonds, “take her to a hospital, her home, or whatever, and get out of my way; do that and I’ll let you do it under your own power.” I could see her magenta eyes flickering back and forth between me and little miss priss, her wings bristling at my words before I continued, my voice returning to its original scathing harshness as I started to pour the intimidation on. “Continue trying to stop me and you will get to experience what happened to that purple idiot who attacked me.”

You know what I really hate?

People who don’t respond to well meaning intimidation for their own safety.

Granted, I may have a tendency to start snarking before I immediately go to violence as the solution. However I can’t count the number of people and things who’ve thought a little bit, or a lot, of pressure would be all it takes to get me to back off.

On both my hands, and with my socks off.

Clearly I was dealing with a kindred spirit, see above comment about being brash, cocky, headstrong, idiotic, and ultimately having to deal with a whole new set of scars when the dust had settled, and laugh at the irony of it all.

Clown-Wig didn’t even give me the benefit of snark before she launched herself down the street at me with clenched fists and murder in her eyes, and she did it fast enough that she was dragging a cloud of dust in her wake.

Shame that gimped leg gave away her start as I already had my left hand in position before she’d even got halfway to me, my shield bracelet flickering with arcane light as I felt my power flowing through the tiny charms on my wrist.

Vento Tonarius!

I hadn’t used my old shielding spell in a long time: maybe not since I’d been an apprentice trying to be far more elegant than was necessary, or practical. Pure force was far better for stopping bullets, not to mention it was much easier to control compared to the wall of wind that whipped past me, but raw force wasn’t soft enough for what I needed. Using a wall of stubborn, unyielding force might have been great for throwing vampires and other nasties around, but contrary to what damned near everyone thought of me I was capable of showing restraint.

Respect, not so much.

And honestly, I didn’t put that much into it. Just enough power to flip her head over hocks and disorientate her before I made a run for the forest I could see beyond a final outlying cottage.

I barely saw the mare’s eyes widen in horror as the shield sprung into existence before she could slow down enough to avoid it, hummingbird wings beating at the air in a mad attempt to slow herself down as much as possible.

Then she got caught in my wind shield.

One second I was standing on my feet as the cyan mare crashed into the wall of wind that should have bounced her back onto her ass. The next I was standing in the eye of a cyclone, the frenzied storm plucking at my clothes and hair as the cyan pegasus’ magic fed uncontrollably into the wind wall I had conjured.

It almost felt like time had stopped as the cyan pegasus hung in front of me for the briefest of moments. Her eyes once again meeting mine for a split-second, and I could damned near feel her panic as the wall of wind ripped itself away from my control as her wings finished their frenzied flapping.

Then rainbow light flared from my shield bracelet with an intensity that was felt rather than seen and I found myself lying on my back in the field behind me without ever having moved. Clear blue skies stretching out above me as the clouds flickered in and out of focus in their stillness.

My back was a mass of agony, my head was ringing like a bell, and I could barely feel my left arm through a haze of pin and needles; the numbing tingle running against my nerves like static. All my important bits were still attached though. Which was good. Somehow I hadn’t managed to lose any body parts yet and I wanted to keep it that way.

Now if only the world would stop twisting around like one of those mechanical bulls I never got to ride any more.

I gingerly pulled myself to my feet: both hands on my staff as I used it to support my everything, the world lurching under my feet as the bull continued to buck and spin; trying to send me back to the ground.

Somewhere, somewhere in the background I could hear screaming. It sounded so distant and muffled, like I’d had my head shoved under the waters of Lake Michigan.

Shuffling and stumbling I turned my back on the haze of colors and noise that had been a village and staggered towards the dark forest. My staff dragging on the ground with each shameful step that took me further away from any more one-sided fights.

Dammit, but I hadn’t wanted to hurt anyone.

Author's Note:

Main 6 height scale, from shortest to tallest (Height with Horn in brackets)
Rainbow Dash, 4’11
Twilight, 5’4 (Horn 5’10)
Pinkie, 5’6
Rarity, 5’8 (Horn 6’1)
Applejack, 5’9
Fluttershy, 6’1

Additional characters of potential interest, from shortest to tallest

Spike, 4’2
Zecora, 5’7
Cadance, 5’10 (Horn 6’7)
Shining Armour, 5’11 (Horn 6’8)
Big Mac, 6’4
Sombra, 6’6 (Horn 7’2)
Luna, 6’08 (Horn 7’6)
Harry Dresden, 6’9 (and exceptionally skinny, staff 6’6)
Chrysalis, 7’ (Horn 8’2)
Celestia, 7’1 (Horn 8’5)
Nightmare Moon, 7’4 (Horn 8’10)

What Attacked Ponyville this Week?

Was it …

Twilight’s guess - A Changeling bent on revenge (Slime, fire, eating her magic, attempting to lower her guard with honeyed words)

The Mob’s guess - A Banshee summoned by Twilight’s foolish experiments (Flapping raggedy cloaks, unnatural aura, howl’s of rage and pain)

Rarity’s guess - A beast from the Everfree (Screaming mob, looks unlike anything in Ponyville, heading back towards the forest)

Rainbow’s guess - (Something that needed to be punched)

Or none of the above