• Published 7th Aug 2018
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To Calm a Tempest - Broman



A Human finds himself in the company of a hot Lieutenant. If only he didn't tell her that.

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The Storm King's Wrath

“Ah boy. I feel like a sloth,” the Storm King mumbled while sitting on his throne.

He had slouched over slightly and his arms hung on either side of his seat, possibly in an attempt to achieve the most relaxed position that can rival a cat, or to veg out and not have a care in the world.

As for me, I stayed silent in the corner of the room, with a small notebook on my lap and a quill in my right hand.

It had been at least three days since my tussle with the beasts of the Everfree, and today, my work schedule was to be at the Storm King’s side. He wanted to keep an eye on me since I was valued as a worthy prize or bargaining chip of some kind with Equestria. It didn’t matter much to me. I knew in my heart that Princess Luna, Celestia, and everyone else, was coming up with a plan on how to get me out of here.

I just wished they’d hurry the hell up.

Despite myself being in this position, and being up and about, I was still in my recovering phase. Currently, I was sporting a few bandages around my body that would make any warrior proud. Although, if they knew what happened they would laugh themselves in a tissy. For starters, a sling was wrapped around my left arm, supporting it rather comfortably. It was broken due to my tumble down the hill and needed a good solid few weeks, if not months, to recover. Another heavy dressing was on the back of my left shoulder, where the manticore stabbed me with its stinger. There were a few small gauze pads placed on my cheeks and forehead from all the scrapes I took from the fall.

I looked like Rocky Balboa after a fight with all the purple and blue bruises but much worse.

My body was sore all over, my left side was still numb, and my shirt had so many holes people would assume I was a changeling for the hell of it. And for the life of me, I had this terrible itch under my left side that I couldn’t scratch because the sling was in the way. I wanted nothing more than to tear this sling off and scratch that annoying spot like a dog dragging his butt across a carpet.

That would bring more relief than anything else for me. There’s really nothing like it after you get rid of the itch.

Despite my own protest of the new gimmick, I did find that it was by the doctor’s orders. As in, two parrot pirate ladies who said so or my recovery would not be successful. In fact, when I woke up this morning, they were carefully finishing dressing my wounds and caring for my every need. It turned out later on that they both were the ship’s doctors/barbers of the pirate crew, and they were very careful in my treatment.

Although, despite their care and wellbeing, I still felt like I was cheated.

As in, I didn’t even get to experience anything from what they did to me.

Don’t understand? Let me explain.

From what they told me, they gave me the whole one over of a complete and full body massage. Their massaging helped me feel much more relaxed and my back feels a whole lot better. It was true in fact that I did, since the poison had encompassed seventy percent of my body. They told me that my body was healing and that I would make a faster recovery.

However, in the past few days, I didn’t even get to experience it. I was practically in and out of sleep, my body slipping into a near limbo of consciousness, only to fall back to sleep with barely a glimpse of the bodacious parrot ladies that cared for me. I was only able to experience the last bit this morning when I was finally able to get up from bed. They were putting up the finishing touches of my sling and giving a small massage on my numbed shoulder, which I still barely felt due to how numb the center of my left shoulder and back was feeling. Afterwards, they said they would come back after a few days once they finished up some assignments with their captain.

I hate to say it, but even after what they did for me, and being adrift in sleep and alertness, I felt like a baby robbed of its candy.

I didn’t even get their names.

“So, anything else you humans do that’s beyond breaking a piggy bank?” The Storm King spoke, startling me, his eyes not even drifting in my direction, “Anything? Come on, thrill me. Chill me.”

I rolled my eyes because of his demand, having grown tired of telling him about all of the bad stuff people on my world did.

I placed the small quill and began writing on the notebook in big letters for him to read. After a minute of writing with my good hand I lifted the parchment and presented it to him, and it read, ‘Can I tell you about the Iron Maiden again or the wooden rack that pulls the limbs of the victims until they break from the pressure?’

The Storm King merely glanced at me because of the written words, groaning while rolling his eyes in annoyance.

“Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t exactly find them to be original by my standards,” he grumbled, his sharp talons gripping the edge of the armrest and tapping them back and forth.

I sighed internally over that and ripped the used piece of paper out. I tossed it to a small pile of balled up sheets at my feet.

For the last few hours now, I had been subjected in speaking with the Storm King over a number of things. He mostly wanted to keep an eye on me since I was deemed too valuable of an asset to be harmed any further. He couldn’t amuse himself either by torturing me with the shock collar around my neck and had delegated earlier with his senior officers over their latest works and duties before sending them off. Now, it seemed like he had nothing to do and was bored out of his mind.

He decided to give me the quill and notebook, mainly because he assumed that my voice didn't return yet due to the manticore poison. However, my voice did return in a slightly understandable way, and I was able to speak briefly with Tempest and the pirates before they had to leave for their respective duties.

But I didn’t want to tell him. Where’s the fun in that?

Getting a little idea that was springing up in my head I quickly jotted down a few lines into the parchment. After a few tedious moments I lifted the quill off the paper and showed the notebook to the Storm King. He eyed what I had written, which said ‘Do you wish for me to tell you about anything else that is sinister. Or something that you haven’t heard before?’

“Ugh...kid, I doubt that what you’re gonna tell me is cruel and unusual enough to pique my interest.” the Storm King stated.

I took a moment to write again, mumbling and pretending that I can’t speak. After another moment, I showed him the next line within the notebook, which said, ‘That’s fine. Guess you don’t want to hear about the tool that causes crippling depression to everyone who uses it.”

For some reason, that was enough to make the Storm King stir and look at me with inquisitive eyes.

“Okay, now that’s got my interest.” he said, his eyes focused squarely on me.

It took me another minute to write once more, but I knew what I was planning. After a little bit of writing I showed him what I had and watched him as he read, “Well, for starters, it’s something that was created in order to bring people together. However, ever since its inception, it began to take a dark turn.”

I watched one of the Storm King’s brows curl upward, and a sinister smile that would rival the Grinch slowly crept up his countenance.

“Kid, my intrigue levels have just increased to 100%. Mind giving me the rundown?” he asked, clearly intrigued by how I was telling this.

I couldn’t help but crack a cheeky grin. This was going to be fun.

A couple of minutes of writing later, I showed him the next bit onto the notebook.

‘Well, after the sudden setback it got, many people from all around the world gathered to write their own experiences in life. They did it on a day to day basis, keeping in touch with each other and stuff. However, once it grew darker, people started to become more selfless to the point of being self-lovingly narcissistic.’

The Storm King hummed to himself while leaning on his throne, clearly enjoying what I had to say. He urged me to go on with a wave of his hand and I wrote down once again.

‘They became all the more self centered, glorifying themselves that they would show the whole world what they loved to the point that it becomes a daily phenomenon. Every aspect of their lives is broadcast to the world on a platter, but the way it's done is constantly shoved into your face by all these different people. No matter what you would do, they always showed you these random things that they believed was the most important thing in their life, when in fact...it just degrades whoever sees them. They realize that their lives suck compared to others.’

The Storm King rubbed under the crook of his chin, amusing to my point of view. He waited patiently as I wrote a few more lines into the notebook.

‘What’s worse is that there are trolls. People who say nasty things to the good hearted or insecure. They pepper their lies and deceit onto others in order to make them feel worse. In fact, just one certain comment from a person is enough to make others think their pathetic. While some wish to silence others by putting a false narrative over another’s opinions, it becomes nothing but propaganda to the masses. Not even humble folk who wish to speak their minds are safe.’

The Storm King was utterly giddy, his teeth flashing out like a gorilla. I had to repress the urge to laugh over the face he was making, but I kept my composure as he leaned further out of his seat.

“What’s it called?” The Storm King asked, on the edge of pure unadulterated joy.

I wrote the next few lines into the notebook, taking my entire will from not bursting out laughing.

I turned the notebook around to show him, ‘It’s called…social media.’

The Storm King narrowed his eyes at the words and his smile was diminished to a puzzled expression.

“Social media?” he drew a finger on his chin and looked away, trying to decipher the meaning behind the name, “Sounds too friendship-y to me.”

My inner child was wanting to laugh out loud and promptly roll on the floor over this. Despite that, I held myself together and decided to write a few more words into the notebook, while my lips were threatening to split into a smile. After a minute or two I turned the note back to the Storm King.

‘It’s often the category that many would refer to places, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They are strange names, but they’re only called those names to fool people and lure them in. People often place personal information people place into them was thought to be kept in close circles. However, the creators of social media made history with them only for personal gain, and the trolls on the site will take the most sacred of personal information and use it to destroy another human being.’

“I see,” The Storm King mumbled, trying to piece together what I entailed him.

Normally, I’m not against social media websites at all. In fact, I’m a user of Facebook, and I know people tend to gather on the internet to talk about experiences that are goodhearted and filled with joy. In certain aspects they’re not all that bad. Though…I never used it often because my friends back on earth weren’t far away from me. It’s also because, to me, the more one used it, the more the person would lose connection to others outside the internet. Plus, a lot of times people would post things that weren’t important, such as someone saying that they had a sandwich, so it only fueled the need to not be a part of it too much.

“I gotta tell ya, whoever made these ‘social media’ clubs must be quite the slick con men. What do they particularly look like?” the Storm King asked, snapping me from my thoughts and focusing on what's at hand.

I began writing once again in the notebook, and after another minute, I presented my reply, ‘Imagine a tall man with red hair and blue eyes, always so full of himself.’

“Scary. But, not that impressive,” The Storm King gave a half smirk at my reply, cleary thinking that he may have heard of this kind of thing before.

A moment or two of scribbling down more words later…

‘The man never even blinks, and he is constantly watching.’ was what I wrote.

“Is that what every social media founder is like?”

Right when I heard that question, I immediately felt so giddy at writing my reply. However, I suddenly froze, my pencil touching the piece of paper I had. What would make him ask that question?

Slowly, I turned around, feeling very nervous all of a sudden. But when I was only halfway turned around, I suddenly felt a clawed hand clutch itself around my neck, choking me and turning me around. It was the Storm King who was holding me by the throat, standing up from his chair unlike before and lifting me up into the air. I saw that he looked very peeved, but also amused in some way.

The Storm King chuckled, “Pretty sneaky. You had a really great prank going, but I caught on when I asked what the people you were talking about looked like.”

I didn’t say anything, only thinking that my eyes were going to pop out of my sockets and my windpipe was going to be crushed if he didn’t let go.

“Let me tell you a little secret. Before I got to where I am today, I lived in a small village in the mountains and often pulled pranks on others to have some laughs, and many would try to get me back in return,” the Storm King explained, “Using every experience, and everything I learned when it comes to pranking, I learned how to immediately tell when somebody’s trying to pull my leg.”

“Oh shut up. You’re crushing my windpipe!” I mentally shouted as I gagged for breath, my right arm trying to hold on for dear life while I frantically tried to get free.

“But, the days of joking for all in good fun are behind me now, so I’d like for you to know something,” He grimly told me, tightening his claw around my throat to where tears started coming out of my eyes, “The only reason I’m keeping you alive instead of killing you, and using your body as a rag to clean up your spilled blood afterwards, is because I find that you’re the perfect bargaining chip to use against Equestria’s head honchoes. But, try to make me look like an idiot again, and I’ll be pounding your head with my fist like a hammer would a nail. Get it?”

I immediately shook my head ‘yes’ in response, understanding now that there would be big consequences for me if I tried pranking him again.

“Good.” he said.

And just like that, he threw me to the ground until I landed right next to the left wall of the tent, oxygen slowly coming back to me after landing and my windpipe no longer feeling like it was going to explode.

“Sir,” Tempest’s voice entered the tent.

From the corner of my eye, I saw the tent flap open and Tempest enter inside.

The Storm King whirled his head and scowled.

“If this is about our deal, Tempest, I’m really not in the mood for talking about that at the moment,” He said to her, before sighing, “Any reason you’re here besides that?”

“I have the plans ready for your approval.” she stated, her demeanor being as straight and emotionless as it often was when in front of the Storm King.

The Storm King’s eyes suddenly widened upon hearing that.

“Oh,” he said, before suddenly becoming glad and joyful, “Well, why didn’t you say so? I thought that you’d be here for something that would make today all-the-more uneventful, but now we’re getting somewhere.” he said, before strolling over to Tempest while not regarding me in the slightest.

I collapsed in a heap, which gave me a reprieve of some sorts and a chance to finally get some air. The Storm King was with Tempest, who carried a large map of some sort and placed it on the table nearby. I managed to get up despite my lungs needing air and my limbs needing energy. I decided to remain where I was, recovering from a near death experience from a crazy psycho.

“The Ghastly Gorge?” The Storm King asked, my attention drawn to him as he looked over the map.

“Yes. I discussed this with the other lieutenants, and they approved of this plan. The path to follow shows that we are nearing a major river, which is near both Ghastly Gorge and the southern end of the Everfree. Once we pass the gorge, we can take the army upriver and to the heart of Equestria. The capital would be easier to reach if we follow the river and avoid the natural barrier of the Everfree Forest.” she explained.

“Seems like a logical course, but...I’d like for the camp to get to Canterlot faster. We have to get there before they prepare further defenses, and I’m not in the mood for an enemy to be shooting an arrow in my butt,” The Storm King said, placing a finger under his chin and contemplating some diabolical scheme in his mind.

I was silently amused by all of this. They were unwittingly discussing their plans in front of a prisoner, who just so happened to have a connection with the princess of the night.

Just pretend I’m not paying attention Spencer, let them play it all out.

“I still recommend that we follow the train tracks over the gorge so it would be easier to avoid-”

“No,” The Storm King interjected, slapping a firm hand onto the table, “We’ll take the ships and get to the river quicker. I’m tired of waiting because of whatever ‘hocus pocus’ that’s been getting thrown at us.”

“Your Excellency,” she calmly replied, “If I may be sensible on the matter, we lost two ships from the previous storm, and to my point of view, taking the ships again would be unwise. If we lose more because of another freak storm that comes our way, or a surprise attack while we’re vulnerable, the number of troops and ships we have will drop drastically as we make our way to the capital.”

I eyed the Storm King giving her the stink eye. A sneer appeared on his face. He slowly turned to her, his prodigious frame dwarfing her as she stood her ground. He lowered a hand and a single finger pressed underneath her chin. She fidgeted in place while he lowered himself until he was right in front of her face. I felt an uneasy feeling creep up my spine while he glared at her.

“I’m gonna be honest about this, Tempest. I wasted far too much time gathering and preparing for this invasion. The entire army is mustered at my disposal and is ready to deliver its package to Equestria. And only the Princesses have the magic that I require to obtain unlimited power. Once it’s absorbed, I’ll have the means to conquer the rest of this world with one claw tied behind my back. I’m in no mood to be deterred or held back any longer with further interruptions or necessary precautions. I have a reputation to uphold, and I want to be ruler of this world before you can have me smiling for the camera.”

Tempest remained where she was, twitching ever so slightly in place from her master.

“I, understand. But, you do remember our bargain, don’t you? I assist you in this endeavor, and in return, you would restore my- gah!” she stopped mid sentence when the Storm King, in the blink of an eye, removed his finger from her chin and clasped his hand over her head.

She froze on the spot as his hand encompassed over her head, a few of his fingers tapping the broken edge of her horn.

“You don’t have to constantly remind me every time we talk about this, you know! Once I obtain the magic of this land, I’ll get that magical pencil of yours sharpened back to its former glory!” He leaned further, his head near her own as he looked out to something distant.

“If it wasn’t for me, you’d still be stuck in the gutter with no one to get you out, useless and pitiful. You owe me a life debt for this, and only after I get the prize I absolutely want, you’ll get what’s coming to you. Keep this in mind, Tempest. Because you might just live to see your horn restored if you do.” he coldly stated, letting go off her head while she remained in a motionless state.

“My King,” a new voice spoke in the tent.

I cast a glance at the entrance and saw a burly Storm Creature come inside.

The Storm King sighed upon seeing the new visitor.

“Alright, what’s up? Can’t you see I’m in the middle of something?” he replied rather harshly.

“One of the prisoners refuses to work. We dragged him and two others who were helping him over here.” the guard explained.

I heard the Storm King groan in some strange satisfaction before leaving Tempest.

“Really? Wonderful,” he said, going to his seat in the center of the tent, “Okay, guards, come on in. No invitation needed.”

Tempest moved over to my side, standing at attention while the guards came in and I was getting up. I kept watch as several guards came inside, but from my angle, I could see that Tempest looked shaken up.

I couldn’t tell what was going on in her head, but I knew that the two of us would need to have a conversation about this.

Away from the Storm King, that is.

“Alright. Let’s get this party started.” The Storm King called out as the last of the guards came through, motioning for the prisoners to be brought in.

From the last of the pack of troops that came in, I saw that they brought along an elderly earth pony with brown fur and a grey mane, with some remnants of blonde on the edges. He looked haggard and ready to collapse at any moment were it not for the guard at his side. Right behind them, I saw both Strongheart and Braeburn being brought along behind them. They didn’t look happy to be here, that’s for sure. I had an unsettling feeling over the whole event, but I couldn’t do anything but watch it play out.

“Hold it,” The Storm King finally spoke, before snapping his fingers and having a minion come out of nowhere with a drink.

He took the drink from the guard, taking a sip through a straw. Once he finished, he motioned for the guard to go while he kept the bottle.

“Okay, go.” he ordered, wanting to know what was going on.

One of the guards came forward, presenting the elderly pony before him.

“My King. This one has been refusing to work, claiming that he is overburdened with the tasks presented to him.”

“I say we punish him. Ten lashes for his misconduct.” Another spoke, pulling out a whip that had barbed edges at the end.

“That’s not true!” Braeburn called out, “He’s been pushed too far. His body can’t handle the pressure anymore with all this arduous labor!”

“Hey, hey, hey. Did I ask you to speak?” The Storm King directed his attention to Braeburn, the latter shaking his head after an uncomfortable moment of silence. “No? Alright, then shut up.”

He diverted his attention to the elderly pony.

“You refuse to work Mr…” he curled his hand and gestured for him to reply.

The guard next to him pushed him down so that he was on his knees, but the old pony was able to look up to meet the Storm King’s gaze.

“Grum. The name’s Grum.” he replied, his voice deep but very parched.

The guard adjusted his position while Grum leaned on him, trying to not collapse.

“Alright, Grum, what’s the deal? Don’t you get where you are? You lost whatever mudhole you were living in, so you work for me now. Even if you drop, you’ll still have to get up and complete your work.”

I groaned inwardly from his remark. The whole thing reminded me of the time I worked in a fast food restaurant that was so grinding it made my bones ache.

Glad I’m out of that joint.

Grum remained silent, his eyes glazed in an apparent haze and not paying any heed to what the Storm King had to say. The Storm King’s brow knitted together, deciphering why a simple farmer was ignoring him or even refusing to give him any ear to his words.

Personally, I felt that the farmer obviously had enough and wanted nothing more than to call it quits right here and now.

“Okay, if all you’re going to do is give me the silent treatment, then I might as well send you back to wor-”

“I won’t go back,” Grum cut him off, his sunken eyes still low and his breath shaky.

“Oh? And who died and made you king?” The Storm King asked, a hint of irritation creeping in his voice.

Grum managed to look up to him, and when he did, I caught a little color in his eyes as he stared blankly at his master.

“I don’t follow any king.” he replied.

The Storm King snorted in amusement, waving him off and looking to the side towards the table containing his plans and other machinations.

“Give him ten lashes and send him to the brig. No food or water for him for twenty four hours. Maybe then he’ll learn what happens when he wastes my time.” He said, looking ready to get up and wanting to go to his work station.

The guard next to Grum’s side began to lift the old farmer up. But, a ragged cough, which sounded more like a chuckle, escaped past the farmer’s mouth.

“Is that what the old king has to do? Beat me and starve me? Worst idea to come off the top of your head, I’ll tell you that.”

The room went silent, and the guards suddenly stiffened from his remark. Most bore angry glares at him, while others remained silent and stoic. The Storm King turned his head slightly, leering at Grum for speaking out. I watched in timid curiosity of what might happen next.

“You got short term memory loss or something? Keep this up, and I can double the punishment. Or how about I triple it to make things-”

“Not as bad as other bloody villains and monsters that had roamed these lands.” Buck interrupted.

A noticeable grunt came from the Storm King. From my angle, I could saw a vein forming on the side of his head. Yet, he showed no outrage, remaining where he was like a stone gargoyle and watching the farmer’s every move.

A part of me felt uncomfortable from the way he was staring at the old pony.

Grum then cackled, wheezing out his breath. Braeburn struggled in the grips of the guards holding him in an attempt to try and intervene. After the elder subsided his mirth his eyes glossed over the Storm King.

“You think that you are special in this world? Equestria has been bisect by the conflicts of villains many times before. I’ve heard the tales of the great windigos who threatened to turn our kind into popsicles. The tale of a ghostly king who encompassed his land in shadow and turned its citizens into mindless puppets,” he coughed, sending his body forward and making his limbs shake, “Discord and his chaotic nature. Queen Chrysalis and her bag of ugly swarm minions. And lastly, Lord Tirek, when he seized the magic of this land by force.” He paused for breath, his chest heaving in some great exertion.

The Storm King remained where he was, the noticeable vein on his brow bulging ever slightly.

“And what’s that got to do with me?” The Storm King inquired, his eyes narrowing until his brows stitched together.

“Each one of them has been defeated by the hands of Equestria and that of her princesses.” he replied, not missing a beat.

Another vein popped onto the Storm King’s head, this time on the side of his temple. I nervously took one step back, as I felt an overwhelming sensation wash over me.

“They all had power,” he continued, not caring for the concerns or anger from those in the room, “Each had the capacity to destroy. To control. To twist their fate. To bend the knee. Yet, they’re all the same. There are none the wiser, and they are blind to their quest for power and control.” He paused, staring up at the king and defying him with his resistance.

“You are no different, and I will not sully myself to bow my head to a pathetic despot like you.” he said, spitting upon the ground in front of him.

The room went silent, and the guards all stiffened. The Storm King remained fixated on his throne, never once moving from his spot. A few of the guards were taking a step back and away from Grum. Even Tempest took a step back and stood at my side. A dark haze seemed to cover of the Storm King’s eyes and he tilted his head to Grum, yet it was so slow it appeared he hadn't moved at all.

“Do you not fear death?” His words slow, methodical, and above all sinister, “Did the word ever get out to you on who I am? And those who defy me? In case you don’t know, I’m ten times better than the second rates you call ‘villains’. Your people are like punching bags. You always get attacked and subjugated by those in power. I will claim this land in my name, and unlike those other guys, I’ll be giving everyone something bigger to remember. In the end, you will always kneel.” He finished, goading him into speaking out once more.

Grum did not hesitate.

“Not to the likes of you, for there are always monsters like you.”

A noticeable crack emanated in the room. I saw that Storm King's knuckles were bone white as they tightened onto the edge of his wooden seat. Cracks appeared in the wood and they groaned from the pressure. After an uncomfortable moment of silence between them the Storm King slowly rose out of his seat and grabbed his staff from nearby. The guard that was holding Grum stepped away, allowing the old pony to remain on his knees. The Storm King walked forward, and I saw more visible veins on his face and neck. The hairs on the back of my head were standing on end and I swallowed the lump in my throat.

The Storm King stood over the old pony, not once looking at him as he held his staff in place. He gripped his staff, and once again I felt electricity creeping on the back of my head.

I stepped back, but soon felt a hand clasp onto my right shoulder. I cast a small brief glance and saw that Tempest was holding me there, but her eyes were locked on the old pony. In spite of this, though, her hold on me felt like she was to help me be calm and stay where I was.

The Storm King, meanwhile, lifted his staff clenching it in both hands in front of him.

“Perhaps it’s time I give you the bigger picture. The purpose: to explain precisely who I am.” The Storm King spoke.

His staff suddenly burst to life. An electrical current coursed around the staff, striking the ground and reaching to the top of the tent in a display of beauty and terrifying power. Grum's eyes widened, and before he could react, the Storm King thrust the end of his staff into his chest, the electrical current washing over him. Grum stiffened from this attack, a wordless cry escaping him as the staff glowed and thrummed in the air. A green mist formed at the end of the staff and plunged itself inside Grum. The Storm King removed his staff and the lightning soon ceased.

Grum remained where he was, dazed, but for the most part unharmed. He looked down, puzzled over what was done. However, a strange noise like the forming of ice freezing above water crackled in the air. I watched as the center of Grum’s chest began to turn into a black crystal like state. Panic gripped Grum as he tried to remove it, but it spread like wildfire across his body. He screamed out, his left hand infused into his chest, while the other hand reached out to find anyone who could help him. The last of the black obsidian soon encomped his face and his body remained still. It became a solid statue in the middle of the room.

A shudder ran through me as I watched what happened before me, and as if it was by instinct or something, Tempest’s grasp on my shoulder tightened somewhat. What was even worse, though, was that I thought I saw a faint breath escape pas Grum’s open mouth. His whole body was covered in a black crystal prison, every edge smooth and unblemished from the transformation.

Both Braeburn and Strongheart’s mouths were agape and tears streamed down their faces.

“You killed him!” Braeburn shouted, being held back by one of the guards.

“Not yet.” The Storm King corrected him.

And then, in the blink of an eye, the Storm King took out a silver ax. With just one quick swipe, he chopped Grum’s stoned head off of the top of his body. It flew in the air for a moment, before falling on the ground and rolling towards Tempest and I. It stopped right in front of the two of us, the expression on the body-less head being one of horror.

The Storm King raised his brow, glinting a smile in Braeburn and Strongheart’s direction.

“He asked for it, so he got it.” He said, lifting the staff and rubbing a finger onto its surface, marveling its design, “The Staff of Sacanas is the big mama of any magical artifact I’ve held, and will be the one to bring this kingdom’s house down.” He claimed, giving off a giddy expression.

“You can’t stop Princess Celestia and Princess Luna! They can outmatch you in every shape or form. Like a jackrabbit outwitting a coyote!” Braeburn shouted, forcing himself to stand up to him.

“Braeburn, don’t!” Strongheart called out, but the Storm King set his eyes on him.

With an impassioned grunt, he lunged his staff and into the statue. Lightning coursed through Grum’s body again, until finally, the body blew into pieces. The pieces flew everywhere, one of them even hitting me above the eye and causing me to rub it.

“You challenging me? If you are, I’m certainly all for taking it. But...” The Storm King said, stepping towards Braeburn while his staff began to make the same electrical charge. “Do you really want to be today’s second lawn ornament?” he said, stopping a few feet in front of Braeburn.

Little Strongheart attempted to stand between them, but she was held back by one of the Storm creatures.

Braeburn stiffened, but he did not attempt to stand down in front of the murderous creature.

“If it’s a bet you want, I wouldn’t mind throwing my two cents in, but I’m pretty sure your bandleaders won’t beat me. I have the power to turn this country's magic against itself. I have the power to place everything under my banner and everyone under my rule. By the time I absorb this nation’s magic, my reign will encompass this entire world. And all who dwell within will either bow to me. Or die.” he lifted his staff and pointed it right in front of Braeburn.

I was compelled to try and step forward and stop him, but the tightened grip from Tempest only kept me there. I looked towards her to see if I could silently get her to free me, but she looked at me as if she was silently telling me I would only make things worse.

I felt so hopeless in this situation.

“Want to test my patience? Want me to give you the same treatment as him? How about I choke you until I snap and break your neck?” He asked him.

He stepped once more, only this time towards Strongheart. My heart went to my throat when I saw him place the staff directly onto her pregnant belly.

“Or how about I kill your unborn child that’s inside your wife here? And all you get is a stillborn? Huh?” He demanded, the end of his staff shooting off electrical currents around her.

Braeburn stiffened, and a cold shudder passed over him while Strongheart could only weep as the guard behind her held her in position for murdering their child. The Storm King lowered his head until he was face to face with the earth pony.

“So let me ask again. Is this really what you want to go for?” he said, the staff thrumming once more around her.

When Braeburn eyed the Storm King his earlier mask of bravado and resistance was replaced with fear. The proud Apple of Applejack’s family could only show his apprehension and worry for the woman he loved. He soon lowered his gaze from the Storm King, tears coming down his face.

“No.” he replied.

“Good.” The Storm King said, the staff’s power fading before its owner used it to smack Braeburn beside the head and sending him down to the ground.

The guard relieved Strongheart and the buffalo quickly went to his side, while he could only wrap his arms around her for comfort. He then placed a hand over her belly and she in turn placed a hand over his own their concern for the child growing inside ger. Strongheart looked up towards the Storm King, who only stared at her with an emotionless expression, until he turned himself away and headed over to his chair.

“Now, get back to work! Both of you!” He loudly demanded the couple.

The guards behind them escorted the two of them out of the tent, the only expressions my friends had being forlorn and submissive looks. Once they and the guards escorting them were gone, the Storm King turned his attention to the rest of his army.

“This war will be over before anyone can realize it. I don’t care how many tricks Equestria or her allies will throw at me. We’ll crush them all like pancakes and be the true rulers of this world until there’s nothing left.” He paused, whipping around to present his staff in the air, “Or should I say: The Storm King WILL PREVAIL!”

His guards roared in approval, brandishing their weapons and banging on their shields. The Storm King took in the admiration, smiling all the while with the deeds he accomplished.

I felt sick to my stomach over what he had done.

Meanwhile, the Storm King turned his gaze to Tempest, who was still standing by my side.

“Lieutenant,” The Storm King said to Tempest while the guards continued to cheer.

She lowered her hand off my shoulder when he called to her.

“Yes, Sir?” she replied, walking until she stood in front of him.

“How soon can we travel?” He asked her.

“It’ll take us three to five days to get ready for the long march.”

“Make it two and no less! I’d like for us to surprise them before they mount a counteroffensive,” he slammed his staff into the ground, “I will not make the same mistake twice in underestimating them.”

“It won’t be a problem.” she said, placing a fist onto her chest in a salute before turning to the guards, “Dismissed.”

The guards gave her a salute and began to disperse.

“And someone clean this mess up,” he gestured to the remains of Gruff’s severed head and pieces of his body everywhere, “Take these pieces to the nearest river and throw them in it. And take the head and throw it off the nearest cliff. In the meantime, I’ll be here coming up with more lines for my next speech. So everyone, move out.”

The Storm King went to his table and picked at a small chest that was nearby, while I showed myself out. The guards all headed out first, with me following behind them. Tempest followed behind me, until she walked past me and began shouting orders to everyone. I found myself wanting to speak with her, but...

“Help me,”

I heard an eerie voice come from behind. I dared looked back to see where it came from, and I didn’t think anyone else may have heard it. My eyes settled on the remnant of Gruff’s head as it was carried away by a couple of guards, while another guard was carrying the pieces of his crystallized body. I could only wonder if he was truly gone or suffered a fate worse than death. I peeked through the tent flap and lingered on the Storm King, who took what appeared to be a red thin stone with sharp edges before slamming it on the table. Not wanting to linger on what it was or incurring his wrath anymore, I moved away from the tent.

I took a gulp of fresh air, and my legs shook considerably over the experience I witnessed. I felt sweat on the side of my temple and I felt like I wanted to jump into a hot bath and drown from what I had to see. My mind had several questions running at once, but my first and utmost one was getting this information to Princess Luna.

“Spencer.” A familiar voice said to me from behind.

I turned to find Tempest to be beside me, her demeanor being as tough as ever, likely to keep her commanding image up.

“It’s getting late. Head back to the tent and rest.” She commanded me, but it was in a less harsh way.

“Yes, Ma’m,” I replied with a weak salute, before politely asking, “May I take a warm bath while I’m there?”

“Of course.” She granted with a nod.

And with that, I went off to the tent, leaving Tempest behind to continue her duties.

Author's Note:

Here is the new chaper. Sorry for the long wait. Had been busy the last few months but I will get back into the story once more. Things are starting to pick up