• Published 6th May 2019
  • 2,293 Views, 250 Comments

Walk Where There Is No Path - theOwtcast



When everything you’ve ever known goes against everything you believe in, can leaving help you live with yourself?

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Trickster Twins

I was woken up by a rustle of leaves and soft whispering. When I opened my eyes, I needed a moment to process what I was seeing.

Two faces were staring at me intently. They were yellowish unicorn stallions with red manes streaked white under matching hats, and peculiar green eyes - almost identical, except one of them was wearing a moustache. At first I thought I was hallucinating, but then I realized they were real.

What was going on? Was I in trouble again? Had I accidentally transformed in my sleep into something less scary? I glanced at my forelegs. Nope, still myself! So why were these two staring at me like that? Didn’t they know what I was? After Canterlot, I expected that every last pony would be made aware of us - at least that was what Chrysalis would have done if the hive had been invaded. Surely the pony princesses couldn’t have been so careless to fail to warn their subjects about such threats! Or did these two simply live so far away from civilization that they’d somehow managed to miss the whole thing?

The two faces shared a meaningful glance, then turned to me, grinning.

“Good morning,” said one.

“Um… good morning?” I replied cautiously.

“Do come out of there, don’t be afraid!” said the other.

“We’re your friends!” continued the first.

I hesitated. They were eager... a little too eager. My instincts told me to be careful.

“You’re not going to stay in that bush forever, are you?” One of them offered a hoof. “It’s a gorgeous day! Would be a shame to miss it!”

They had a point about one thing: I couldn’t stay in the bush; in danger or not, there wasn’t much I could do from here. Better to get out and give myself some maneuvering space! Maybe it would be easier to figure out what I was up against once I was out, too.

“Who are you?” I asked, having taken their advice and now standing in the open.

“We’re two brothers traveling across Equestria, looking for new friends and new opportunities!” answered one.

“His name is Flim, and I’m Flam!” said the other.

“We were passing through and decided to stop here and look for some firewood!”

“And then we found you!”

Isn’t it wonderful? A new friend waiting around every corner!”

“And in every bush, brother!”

“Will you join us, our changeling friend?”

“You don’t have to hide in bushes! Come with us, and you’ll have all the love you need!”

So they did know about changelings. Could they really mean what they had said? It sounded too good to be true!

“Really? You’re not fooling with me, are you?” I couldn’t shake off the whisper in the back of my mind, telling me something was off about them.

Of course we mean it!” insisted Flam.

“You must be fed up with having to hunt ponies for food - excuse the pun - and we’d like to help!” reassured Flim.

“Just like that?” I wasn’t convinced.

“Of course! Isn’t that what friendship is all about?” asked Flam.

“I suppose so, but - whoa!

Suddenly I was dangling upside-down in a net, held above ground by Flim’s magic.

“Gotcha! You fool!” gloated Flim.

Right again - I was a fool. I shouldn’t have allowed them to distract me with conversation while one of them prepared to catch me! Even a rookie soldier would have known to avoid that!

“Excellent catch, brother! Now, what to do with him?”

“I bet he’s worth loads of money! Hmmm… Aha! Let’s sell him to a circus!”

“I have a better idea! Let’s sell him to the Royal Guard!”

“The circus would have plenty of ideas what to use him for! They’d pay us well!”

“Nonsense!”

Now that they were distracted by arguing, I decided to make the best of the chance that presented itself. The net was too dense to get out of even by transforming into a small creature, but it looked like I might be able to chew through it. My fangs were pretty sharp - I hadn’t used them in a long while so I couldn’t be sure, but they seemed like a good enough tool to help me free myself from this. I got to work.

“Or start our own circus with him as the main attraction!” the arguing continued. “That way we can keep earning money on him indefinitely!

“Not if all the customers run away in terror!”

“Run away? Please! Have you seen him? He wouldn’t scare a fly!”

Either the net was weaker than I’d expected, or my fangs were sharper than I remembered them. Just a little more…

“But the Guard would pay us a million bits! You heard Celestia-”

“The Guard would pat you on the shoulder and say, ‘good work, mister!’ They’d laugh in your face when you ask for payment!”

“And how do you propose we get him to agree to perform- hey, he’s gone!

What?!” cried Flim.

“He tore a hole in the net! Didn’t we have a stronger one?” Flam was furious.

“I don’t- wait, he’s that bird, isn’t he? Get him!

Okay, they’d seen through my disguise, but I wasn’t ready to give it up yet. I was fleeing further into the copse, and in this form, I may be able to lose them in the trees, or at the very least, they might confuse me for another bird.

They were pretty good at following me - no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake them off! I flew as fast as I could, and they were still gaining on me! I flew higher up, over the foliage, hoping they couldn’t see me through the branches, but not only the foliage turned out to not be dense enough to hide me from them, it also didn’t stop them from trying to blast me down with their magic! I returned to a lower altitude immediately; no need to attract the attention of any other ponies that might be in the area, especially if they had wings! Two ponies chasing me was plenty enough, thank you very much!

Instead, I modified my disguise to match my feather coloration to that of the branches and leaves, which I’d been stupid to have neglected to do right away; maybe becoming less discernible in the surroundings could help me! It worked. I managed to put a little more distance between myself and the brothers while they struggled to maintain visual contact and coordinate when one would lose sight of me. They weren’t giving up, though. They were getting out of breath, but that didn’t lessen their determination to get me!

Soon I was approaching a clearing. Faced with the decision whether to stay here or try to make it across, I opted for the latter. I was counting on the unobstructed path to help me get further away from them and the darker forest on the other side to provide me with a better place to hide until they decided it was pointless and gave up.

They went after me with all their remaining strength, Flim still not giving up running after me, even after we were both across the clearing and in the new forest, but Flam stopped at the edge. I glanced back, wondering what had happened.

“Are you crazy, Flim? Come back here!” he called for his brother.

“But the changeling-”

Forget the changeling! The Everfree Forest is just too dangerous! Remember what happened to us when we tried to go through! It’s not worth it!

Flam’s concern for his brother sounded genuine, but I couldn’t be sure it wasn’t just another trick to lure me out. If the forest really was that dangerous to them, it probably would be for me too, but the alternative was to go back and try to deal with the unicorn brothers - an option no more appealing than the potential dangers that might lay ahead.

They may or may not have been laying a trap for me, but I was never going to find out.

I proceeded deeper into the forest.