• Published 8th Jun 2019
  • 2,420 Views, 34 Comments

A Thousand Winters' Past - Shadow Quill

A human finds himself in Equestria's long-forgotten past, before Luna fell to darkness and was banished to the moon. Finding friendship in a young, blind pegasus, can he build his place in this new world or will he be lost to the sands of time?

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1 - A Land Unknown

I had to be crazy or doped up on drugs until my brain called it quits. There was no way any of this was real. And yet, the gnawing hunger in my gut told me this couldn’t be a dream, and unless my subconscious was very confused on what was supposed to be normal, there was no way I could have come up with what my eyes were seeing in even my most fanciful mental wanderings.

Perhaps I should back up a bit. My name is Thomas Miller, and prior to waking up in the middle of this strange forest, I was a grad student learning how to program computers and other such technology. I had gone to sleep the night before in my dorm room same as I always had, but when I woke up I had been shocked to find that my bed had been replaced by dirt and rocks, my room’s ceiling shifting into a thick canopy of leaves and branches that were nearly enough to block the early morning sunlight.

That had been two days ago, and all I had managed to find to eat had been a few berry bushes that thankfully hadn’t killed me or made this strange place even crazier by scrambling my brain. I had first thought that I might have sleepwalked out of my room and into the woods, near campus, but the longer I walked, the more I realized I wasn’t anywhere close to home.

Now, I was questioning if I was even on Earth anymore, because what I saw from the edge of the tree line appeared to have come straight out of a child’s drawing book. A large antiquated town took up the space before me, working up to and encircling what looked like a huge castle, although that was the least of my concerns, given what I saw walking around between the buildings of said town.

They were smaller than me from what I could tell, maybe tall enough to reach my ribs if I counted the horns that I saw poking out of some of their heads. Most of them looked fairly normal, given only a few had wings or the aforementioned horns, although that was little of comfort when each and every one of them had to be the brightest combination of colors I had ever seen. Bright pink, neon blue and a host of other eye-watering shades nearly made my brain ache, and that was only the beginning! I could see their lips moving even from this distance, their bodies moving in scarily familiar ways as the marketplace buzzed with the general din of everyday conversation. Gold coins shifted from pony to pony, that was the closest thing my brain could come up with to call these creatures, and I could have sworn that I saw one of the horned ones move things about without even touching them.

Fear of the unknown battled with my shock as I tried to think about what my next move should be, although my stomach overrode them both as it rumbled loudly. I grabbed my gut with one arm to try and keep it from chewing its way through my liver, but the annoying body part had made a very good point. I wasn’t going to be able to survive in the forest by myself, and if I truly wasn’t on Earth anymore, then I needed to ask for help from the locals.

I let out a sigh as I straightened my clothes however much I could, the small tears and stains from my time in the wild doing little to make me presentable. The black vest and white t-shirt had survived for the most part, but my jeans had definitely seen better days. I ran a hand through my short black hair in a vain hope to make it somewhat behave, sucking in a deep breath to try and calm my racing heart.

“Well, here goes nothing.” I stated to myself as I marched out of the trees along what looked like the main road, the cobblestone crunching slightly under my shoes as I approached the thatch-roofed buildings.

At first, nothing seemed to happen, the ponies around me paid me no mind, either too absorbed in their haggling or just focused on their own business as they trotted between the buildings. My eyes widened in even further shock as I was finally able to make out what they were saying, and I was stupefied when I understood every single word!

Of course, the peace couldn’t last forever. One bright blue pony with a gold mane finally spotted me from her stall on the side of the road, her huge eyes narrowing into pinpricks as her body froze in place. Before I could think of anything to say, her jaw opened as a terrified screech erupted from her throat, her forehoof pointing at me as eyes turned from all directions.

“Monster!” That was the word that was rapidly passed from mouth to mouth as ponies sprinted every direction in full-blown panic, their hysterical screams echoing through the air as I stood there like an idiot, wondering what the hell I had done to elicit such a response.

Doors slammed, windows were shuttered, and in less than a minute there was no one left standing in the previously crowded marketplace, save for one winged pony. She stood in the center of the square, her eyes wide and panicked as her ears shifted this way and that. Her wings were clamped to her sides and her tail was tucked between her legs, but for some reason I couldn’t fathom, her gaze never once locked onto me.

Acting on little more than a hunch, I started walking towards the light blue mare, her ears swiveling towards me as my shoes connected with the ground. Her head shifted so she was facing me, but even then, her gaze didn’t move like I expected it to. Her wings flared as I drew within ten feet of her, and her mouth opened as a fear-soaked nicker escaped her lips.

“S-Stay back.” Her voice shook as her tail tucked completely under her body, and I felt a surge of pity as I finally realized what was wrong with her.

Her pale blue eyes stared into the open space between us, never shifting or meeting my gaze because they could not. I had seen this in one of my dogs back home, and it made my heart ache knowing that the mare in front of me couldn’t see. Our golden retriever had cataracts in both eyes when she had been born, and I had learned from a young age that there was nothing that could be done to restore her vision. So, Daisy had gone through life without her sight, and I recognized the cloudy discoloration from Daisy’s eyes in the quivering mare before me.

I could practically smell the fear washing off of her in waves, so I did the only thing I could think of. I bent my knees and sat down on the road in front of her, her ears flicking as she closed her eyes and braced.

I let out a sigh as she visibly shook from nose to tail, and said the first thing that came to mind, “You know I’m not going to hurt a defenseless blind pony, right?”

Her ears swiveled my direction as her eyes shot open in what seemed to be surprise, her head slowly lifting until she was looking, so to speak, right at me, “What?”

I had to chuckle at her expression, it had to be one of the cutest things I had seen in my life, her muzzle all scrunched up in confusion and her ears shifting this way and that, “You really think I would hurt someone who obviously can’t defend herself?” A scoff escaped my mouth as I glanced at the fearful ponies peeking out from behind doorways and window shutters, “I would sooner go back to the forest and starve than do something that inhumane.”

I nearly had a heart attack when I turned back to the blind pegasus because of the cuteness overload. Her head was tilted like a confused puppy and her left ear had folded against her two-tone mane as she slowly took a step closer, “Wait a minute, all I heard before was everypony screaming about some kind of monster.” Another hesitant step forward, “I was so scared and confused because I couldn’t tell which way everypony was running, so I thought for sure that I was going to die.” She was nearly close enough to touch now, her nose twitching slightly as she inhaled, “You don’t smell like a pony, and I only heard two legs when you were walking, but everypony wouldn’t have run off screaming like that if you were a minotaur.”

Minotaur? I mentally questioned her sanity for a split second before realizing I was talking to a literal pegasus, so who was I to question her? Her hoof lifted again and paused for a second, as if she wasn’t sure about getting any closer to me. I stayed perfectly still, hoping not to spook the only creature I had seen who wasn’t scared stiff by my presence.

Her expression showed her inner battle, her nerves fighting with her curiosity for a moment before she gritted her teeth and stepped forward, bringing herself within arm’s reach as her wings flared wide. She shut her eyes tight and braced again, as if expecting me to attack her, but after a few seconds of nothing, she finally relaxed her stance and lifted her head. With me sitting down, her head was actually a bit higher than mine, and I felt just slightly intimidated as she slowly lifted a hoof and brought it closer to my chest.

Time seemed to stop as her leg made contact with my shirt, and her eyes widened slightly as she slid her hoof along the front of my body. Her curiosity seemed to take over completely, as I quickly found myself being poked and prodded by not only her front hooves but the long primary feathers of both of her wings. She had sat down in front of me with her back legs tucked up against my shins as she inspected me the only way she could, her tender touch setting off all kinds of strange signals from my skin as her wings and hooves mapped out my form inch by careful inch.

Seeing that I hadn’t eaten their friend, the other ponies slowly began to come out as the pegasus before me continued her inspection, her mouth hanging open in awe as more and more of the colorful equines gathered in a loose circle around us. Yet the blind mare paid them no attention, so focused as she was with finding out what I looked like. I kept my hands on my lap as she worked her way down my body, her hoof jerking back for a moment as it came in contact with my wrist.
Her eyes narrowed in confusion as she reached out and picked my hand up with both hooves, her gaze widening again as she slowly moved each finger back and forth. I refrained from moving as best as I could, knowing on some instinctive level that any threatening motion could set off a panic all over again. I even stayed still as the pegasus closed her eyes and rubbed my hand along the side of her muzzle, the soft fur tickling my palm slightly as my fingers ran into the edge of her mane.

It was strange and yet somehow soothing as the ponies around us slowly calmed down, although the moment was quickly soured when a thunderous voice echoed through the air and nearly shook the ground around us.

“RELEASE OUR LITTLE PONY FROM THY GRASP, FOUL CREATURE!” The pegasus gasped as her ears folded against her head, my hand left forgotten as all eyes turned to the sky.

My own jaw dropped as I spotted what, or rather, who had just rung my ears like a gong, and it wasn’t a sight that filled me with confidence.

Decked out in bright silver armor, her horn glowing dangerously pale blue as a set of twin swords floated in the air above her wings, was another pony. Yet by all accounts, I knew this one was a step above the others around me, if for no other reason than she had both a set of wings and a horn. Her ocean blue eyes were narrowed at me as she floated down to the ground, the ponies around us shifting back as they dropped into deep bows. Even my new companion dropped low, her wings flared to the side as the larger mare approached us.

The powder blue mare was larger than the others, maybe up to my chin if I were standing up, yet that did little to help my racing heart as both of her swords jerked through the air until their tips rested against my throat and heart respectively. I noted absently that their hilts were glowing the same blue as her horn, but my concerns were otherwise occupied by the deadly points mere inches from my skin.

“SURRENDER, CREATURE, OR WE WILL SEND THEE BACK TO THE FOREST IN PIECES.” Her tone had an edge as sharp as her swords, and I gulped as I stared into her eyes for what seemed like an eternity.

Only to jerk my head to the side as the blind mare from before stepped up, her wing gently coming to rest on the larger pony’s foreleg, “Princess Luna, I don’t think he’s here to hurt anypony. He talked with me and didn’t do anything while I sat here, poking and prodding him. Please don’t hurt him, I really believe he won’t be a bother if you let him explain himself.”

The newly named princess shifted her gaze to the pegasus beside her, her gaze flicking back and forth between us as her swords remained at the ready, “Fair Snowdrop, tis it true? Did thou speak with this,” a pause, “thing?”

My eyes narrowed as I raised a hand to push the tip of one sword away from my neck, “I happen to have a name, you know. It’s Thomas, Thomas Miller.”

Gasps erupted from several of the gathered villagers, although the two mares in front of me were not among them as the sword I had moved was once again pressed against my neck, “We will have words with thee in a moment. Do not mistake Our mercy for reluctance. We will end thee the moment thou even hints at harming Our little ponies.”

Again, my savior turned out to be the mare at the princess’s side, her blind eyes rolling as she lightly tapped the larger mare’s leg with her wing again, “Princess, he’s not going to hurt anypony. I think he’s more scared of you than we are of him. Give him a chance to explain,” her gaze rose to meet the royal’s and I nearly keeled over from the diabetes-inducing puppy eyes she was making, “please?”

It seemed the princess wasn’t immune to her gaze either, if the sudden hitch in her breathing was any indication. Her head swiveled away as she let out a huff, her weapons slowly returning to the scabbards on her flanks before she replied, “Very well, We shall give this creature a chance. However,” her cold eyes locked onto me just as I was about to sigh in relief, “any provocation will result in his immediate destruction, is that clear?”

I nodded quickly, frozen stiff under her gaze as I sat perfectly still, “Crystal, ma’am.”

Her gaze lingered on me for a moment longer, as if to make sure I meant what I said before turning around and pointing towards the castle with an extended wing, “Come, we shall continue this conversation within Our castle. Our sister would most likely be interested in hearing what you have to say.”

I stood up slowly, making sure not to scare any of the smaller ponies around us or provoke the princess. I would rather much avoid having a sword stuck through my chest thank you very much. The circle of citizens parted before us as Luna led me down the street, slowly dispersing as we marched along the cobbled way. Yet one pony stayed with us, going so far as to lay a wing on the princess’s side to stay on track. It was Snowdrop who walked along at Luna’s left, having invited herself as she smiled softly over her shoulder at me. I couldn’t help but smile back even though she couldn’t see it, but I had to wonder what kind of relationship this little pegasus had with the princess to be allowed such informal contact. Perhaps she was a personal servant, or maybe something more?

The possibilities spun around inside my head for several minutes, leaving much of the walk up to the castle little more than a blur. Yet that all changed when the great doors swung open, revealing the grand entrance hall in all of its carved marble glory. My jaw dropped as the ponies’ hooves clicked on the hard floor, the sound echoing just slightly in the cavernous space. As my gaze traveled downward, I saw that there were more ponies in here, although the majority of them seemed to be unicorns and were dressed in some rather gaudy outfits. Most turned their noses up at me after nodding or bowing slightly to the princess, completely ignoring our pegasus companion as we walked further into the structure.

The only other ponies that were in constant view were the guards, all white coats with light blue manes and tails. The only true difference between them were the ranks I saw marking their shoulder plates, although they looked nothing like anything I had ever seen before, so it could have been something completely different for all I knew. Most kept their bearing and stared straight ahead as we passed, but a few younger ones stopped and stared at me before being quietly reprimanded by their fellows. All and all they seemed to be more of a presence than an actual force, but then again, I had always been a bad judge when it came to how capable someone else was. Best not to give them a reason to pull out the swords strapped to their flanks.

Other than the snobbish nobles and the stoic guards, the trek through the castle halls was a quiet one, allowing me to get a good look at the place as we worked our way further into the structure. Great marble pillars held up the ceiling where the mural-covered walls didn’t, allowing for the many plants and paintings to illuminate the corridors with color and life as we came up to a set of great wooden doors. They were depicted with a stylized image of the sun, carved out of what looked like solid gold as a duo of guards stood at either side. Both of them had horns, as opposed to the majority of the others, who had sported wings, although I wasn’t sure if that had any significance other than different guard rotations.

The princess’s horn ignited with the same soft blue I had seen earlier, the soft twinkle sound catching my attention as the doors were enveloped in a similar aura. Seemingly without any effort, the doors swung open to reveal a wide and long hall, the set of twin thrones capturing my attention immediately as we entered, the doors slamming behind us as we marched up to the dais.

Seated in the taller of the thrones, the high back marked with the same sun symbol as the door, was another pony, although in her case it might have been more accurate to call her a horse. Like Princess Luna, this mare also had a set of wings as well as a horn poking out from her forehead, although her pure white coat and baby pink mane were in direct contrast to the darker mare leading me.

Luna whispered to Snowdrop for a moment before stepping up onto the dais, leaving the smaller mare standing next to me as Luna turned and sat upon the smaller, moon-depicted throne.

The larger mare looked me up and down for a moment before turning to Luna, “Sister, would you mind explaining what manner of creature you have brought into our throne room?”

“Tis something that We do not fully understand Ourselves,” Luna replied, “but Our fair subject has spoken on his behalf.” They shifted their gazes over to Snowdrop for a moment before returning them to me, “Tis certainly a sentient being, given his attire, but as to what manner of creature he is, We hath no idea.”

“Um,” I lifted my hand like I was waiting to answer my professor’s question, “I could simply tell you what I am if you don’t mind me saying so, Your Highnesses.”

Both mares’ gazes narrowed for a moment before Luna’s sister spoke up, “Very well, we shall allow you to speak for yourself. However, know that any falsehoods would speak poorly on your character and how we choose to deal with you after this meeting is concluded.”

I nodded, swallowing a lump that had managed to catch in my throat, “Well, I guess the first thing I can tell you is that my kind are called humans. And I know this may sound crazy, but I don’t come from your world.”

Snowdrop’s head spun around to stare at me, or at least over my left shoulder, as all three ponies’ eyes widened in shock.

“Tis a lie!” Luna cried, pointing her hoof at me in an accusatory manner, “Thou speaks of being from beyond our world and yet thou speaks the same tongue we do.”

“I’m afraid that you’ll have to show some form of proof in order to back up your claims if you want to avoid being tossed in the dungeons,” Luna’s sister added, “Lying to a princess is a hefty crime, even more so to do so to both of our faces in our own throne room.”

I glanced at Snowdrop, but she was simply looking at me with a slightly worried expression. There was no way she could help me here. Then, my hand happened to rub up against my pants, and I felt the familiar weight of my phone resting in my pocket. I smiled despite myself as I pulled out the small touch-screen device, the eyes of both royals locking onto it as I held it up.

“You wanted proof, then here is your proof.” I powered on the device and I was graced with a duo of gob-smacked faces as both of their jaws dropped to the floor.

I turned off my phone to save the battery for another day, hoping that they wouldn’t pick me apart for my next sentence, “My name is Thomas Miller, and I’m a human being from Earth.”

Silence followed my words, and I grinned like a fool as the royals tried to get their composure back after letting it break so completely. I had a feeling things were about to get interesting, and it all hinged on what the royal sisters wanted to do with me after my little demonstration. I just hoped they weren’t the types to take what they wanted and get rid of the excess, because I wasn’t sure what I would do if they decided to confiscate my stuff and toss me in a cell regardless.

Author's Note:

Well, I finally managed to write something. Took me long enough, but with work draining me of nearly all of my energy, I've not been able to muster up to brainpower to write even on my days off. Oh well, better late then never I guess.

Anyways, hope you are all enjoying the book so far and please remember to leave lots of comments in the towel section below. Also, a warm mention for my Patrons WuBzY and Earthpatriot117 for their continued support.

Other than that, I'll see you all next chapter, hopefully sooner than later,
Shadow Quill, Messenger of the Moon.