• Published 16th Aug 2019
  • 3,038 Views, 107 Comments

Flickers - LoyalRenegade

A changeling with amnesia finds himself in the midst of an uncertain world.

  • ...

Chapter 2: Departure

Chapter 2 – Departure


A soft, yet firm object hit me hard in the face, making my heart skip a beat. My eyes fluttered as I regained awareness of the world, Crystal standing some ways off to my side.

"I said wake him up, Twilight,” Crystal scolded, “not throw a pillow at him!" She glared at Twilight, who stood right across from the table near my couch. The pillow in question was picked up from the floor in a purple aura and set back near my lower legs.

"Well, if you ask me, I think I did a fine job of doing both," Twilight retorted. "Just be grateful that I didn't throw a rock."

Crystal held her glare for a couple more seconds before facing over to me, her expression softening. "Did you sleep alright?"

With sleep still clouding my mind, it took me a moment or two before I realized she was asking me a question. I nodded.

She gave me a soft smile, turning away and walking into the kitchen. Not too much later, she returned, carrying back a plate full of some kind of fruit as well as a glass of water.

"Some breakfast for you," Crystal said, setting the items down on the short-legged table. "Twilight went out earlier this morning and picked these berries; they're really delicious." She looked at me. "Oh, sorry. Did you need help getting up?"

I lightly shook my head.

"Oh, no, don't worry. I'll help you," she said, horn already glowing. Without any further warning, I was lifted up in the air. As my body reached the floor, a sore pain I barely noticed earlier shot up from my forelegs and through my spine. A curse slipped from my lips, my body collapsing down onto the ground.

"Oh, dear Celestia, are you okay?!" Crystal asked.

I moaned painfully, nuzzling my forelegs together. However, the nuzzling only made it hurt again, so I stopped.

Twilight rolled her eyes. "Cry about it.”

"I’m so sorry,” Crystal said apologetically, “I should have given you a pain dampener spell as soon as you woke up." Her horn glowed again, a blue aura covering my body. "Here," she said, "now you should feel better." A faint, familiar numbness crawled over my body once more. "It won't get rid of the pain entirely, however," Crystal added.

"I couldn't feel any pain yesterday, though," I quietly noted.

"That was a different spell," Crystal explained. "While it completely gets rid of all pain, it also weakens the body, and you need to be walking soon."

I nodded in understanding, remembering how weak I felt yesterday. I stood up, the painful soreness reduced to something more tolerable, even if not completely ignorable.

I glanced around, thinking for a second, wondering what it was that I was doing.

Right. Breakfast.

I leaned over to the plate and scooped up a couple berries with my mouth. As my teeth cut into the fruit, sweet, succulent juices exploded outwards. I savored the flavor, which, compared to the leaves from yesterday, were a significant improvement. Eagerly, I leaned over and started devouring the fruit, sparing it no mercy, stuffing as much of it as I could into my mouth at once.

Crystal giggled at my eating habits, a smirk on the corners of her mouth.

Twilight, in contrast, turned her head away in disgust. "Celestia, you eat like an animal." She grabbed a book out of what seemed to be saddlebags laying on the ground and moved to a distant corner of the room, hopping up onto a chair. I paid no mind, being too engrossed with my meal to care too much about either of their reactions.

It wasn't too long before all of the berries were completely gone. Feeling the need to wash it down with some water, I instinctively reached out for the glass with my foreleg. My hoof bumped the glass, making it rattle on the table’s surface.

As if on cue, Crystal picked the glass up with her aura and floated it over to my face.

I hesitated. "I'm fine," I said, gently pushing it away.

Her helpful expression faltered, replaced by a frown. She set the glass back on the table

I paused for a moment, glaring at the water, wondering how I was to drink it. An idea readily popped into my head. I hovered my mouth over to the cup, grabbing the rim with my jaw. Supporting the glass with a hoof, I tilted my head upwards, the cool water flowing from the glass down into my throat. Soon, after a couple breaks in between to catch my breath, the glass was empty.

Crystal shook her head, taking both the plate and the glass back to the kitchen. While I waited for her to come back, I looked at the book Twilight was reading. It had a plain, minimalist style, with a flat purple color covering it front to back. I squinted, reading the book's title: Defensive and Offensive Magic: An Advanced Guide, by Nebula Blaze.

I decided to look away from Twilight before she asked what I was staring at her for, instead drawing my attention over to the window.

I could tell that it was a bright and sunny day, even though I couldn't see the sun. Cirrus clouds floated high in the sky above the forest. The forest itself was dense, separated from the house by a small clearing that couldn't have been more than fifteen meters in length. As I looked into the forest, I noticed a deer. Its body was facing towards me, nose buried into the ground. When it looked up, the deer’s gaze aptly caught mine and froze. I found myself entering into a sort of staring contest with the deer, neither one of us willing to give up. It couldn't have lasted any more than half a minute.

Suddenly, the deer jerked its head around, looking directly behind it, as if it heard something. Then, it quickly ran away, gracefully prancing off to its left.

I looked deep within the trees, trying to figure out what had scared the deer off. Amongst the dense foliage that populated the forest, I saw a dark red figure sprinting towards the house. As it drew closer, I noted that it was an equine, just like Crystal and Twilight, except it wasn't a unicorn, lacking a horn. Instead, it was a pegasus. A pegasus with a brown mane and tail, its face, muzzle straighter than the two unicorns, filled to the brim with fear.

Crystal returned from the kitchen. "Well, I think it's about time to take his bandages off." She glanced over into the direction of where my eyes were pointing at. "What are you looking-" She gasped, seeing the figure for only a split second as it quickly slipped away to the left behind the frame of the window.

"What?" Twilight said, peering from behind her book.

"Outside, there's somepony outside!" Crystal sirened.

The doorknob shook violently, loud knocks sounding from outside the front door. "Hello?" called a muffled, male voice, "is anypony in here? Open the door, quickly!"

Twilight wasted no time. She dropped the book she was reading down on the floor, quickly trotting over to me and lifting me up in the air with her aura, my pulse quickening.

"That voice sounds familiar," Crystal murmured.

The doorknob rattled some more. "Hello? Anypony, can you hear me?!"

Twilight opened a small door on a wall, revealing a tiny, cramped closet. Twilight shoved me inside the claustrophobic space, the back of my head bumping against the wall. "Don't come out of here until I give the all-clear. Understand?"

More pounding on the front door. "Please! Somepony, anypony! Open the door!"

I looked back at Twilight, meekly nodding. Twilight shut the closet door, leaving me in darkness. I heard the sound of hoofsteps making its way away from me and over to the front door. I placed an ear over the door crack, listening.

"Who is it? What do you want?" said Twilight's slightly muffled voice.

"Twilight? Oh thank Celestia!" said the other, now even more muffled voice. "It's Pathfinder! You have to open the door, quickly!" A short pause. "Oh, no, too late, they're already here!" The door was pounded on even harder than before, loud enough for even me to hear it clear as day from inside the closet. "HELP! OPEN IT, OPEN IT!"

I heard a faint, energetic booming sound outside the house, followed by the front door quickly being opened and slammed shut.

"Well?" Twilight yelled. "What are you doing?! Find cover!"

Another energetic boom, glass shattering, noises of chittering and the buzzing wings of an insect gracing my ears. Several different voices shouted and cried out in pain as several more louder booms sounded through the door. I looked through the cracks, trying to discern what was going on, but I could barely make out the fast-moving black figures moving among bright flashes of green and purple light.

Eventually, the noise died down. The house remained silent for what felt like an eternity until a soft clip-clop made its way towards the closet door. My heart was working overtime. I leaned as far back as I could into the wall, bracing myself for the worst.

A knocking sound. "All clear," Twilight's voice rang. I let go of the breath I was holding in, relieved.

I searched for the doorknob in the dark with my hooves. When I found it, I fiddled around, its inconveniently rounded shape making the task of opening the door that much harder. Eventually, by some miracle, I somehow managed to get enough of a grip, pushing it open.

The room was a complete and total mess. Black bodies littered the floor, caked in fresh, red blood. I counted six in total. Most of the furniture in the room were knocked over. A vase with wilting flowers that was on a small table to the left of the couch now laid broken on the floor, joining the nearby glass shards. Twilight, who assumed a fighting stance, stood in front of me. Her horn softly glowed, scanning the surrounding room. Suddenly, her eyes caught something, horn turning as bright as the sun as her head quickly moved to my left.

Boom. A brilliant beam of energy escaped from her forehead.

I whipped my head around. A black figure flew straight through a broken window and landed right in front of me, me nearly falling over backwards into the closet in shock. After taking a moment to catch my bearings, I slowly put one hoof in front of the other, walking towards the body, the bandages stiffening my movements.

When I reached the figure, the first thing I noticed was the gaping hole in its abdomen, red hot blood flowing out from it. The second thing I noticed was its soulless eyes: huge, light blue orbs with white dots as pupils, which appeared to glow very subtly. The third were its two fangs, which protruded out of the corners of its upper lip.

The fourth thing, however, was the most alarming. The creature's hooves had holes in them, just like mine.

Dear God, it's a changeling, I thought.

I looked back at the changeling's face, its blue eyes looking just as surprised to see me as I was to see them. Taking a deep, pained breath, it dropped its head onto the ground, eyes closing as the translucent blue wings on its back softly buzzed.

And then, within the next few moments, it stopped breathing altogether.

Twilight turned away from the dead changeling, calling out towards the kitchen. "You can both come out now: they're all dead."

Crystal was the first to come out. The dark red pegasus I saw earlier, whom I assumed was Pathfinder, followed suit. Right upon seeing me, he pointed a shaky hoof at me in a panic. "Watch out, Twilight! There's another one behind you!"

Twilight's eyes furrowed, staring at him.

Pathfinder looked right back at her. "What are you waiting for? It's right there! Blast the damn thin-"

He was interrupted by a sudden flash of light from Twilight's horn. Pathfinder recoiled backwards, his body falling to the floor as green licks of flame completely engulfed him. The fire was short-lived, leaving a changeling in its place, its head missing.

What in the hell?

“Missed one,” Twilight muttered.

Crystal was wide-eyed, repeatedly looking from the dead changeling to Twilight. "How... did you know?"

Twilight gave her a look, as if the answer was obvious. "Are you serious?! The cutie mark on his flank was missing!" Crystal looked back at the changeling, scratching her head. “That,” she added, “and he barely sounded like Pathfinder."

Cutie mark? I thought back a few moments ago, realizing that Pathfinder had no tattoo on his flank, unlike Crystal and Twilight. Hmm, cutie mark... that’s a peculiar name for a tattoo.

Twilight trotted over to her saddlebags on the ground, picking up the book she dropped earlier. "Alright, listen up: we can't stay here any longer, more of them will be on their way soon." She slipped the book inside, looking at Crystal. "Pack your saddlebags, we get out of here. Now." Seeing Crystal diligently nod and walk away, Twilight went over to me.

She paused, glancing over me, thinking for a second. Then, she looked down, finding a misplaced, well-sized golden ring on the floor next to various other fallen pieces of jewelry.

"This will do," Twilight said, the ring flying upwards and over to her in a purple aura. She closed her eyes, pouring all of her focus onto it. The ring shimmered many times before she opened her eyes back up and floated it over to my forehead, slipping it onto something.

I felt my forehead with a hoof, the ring tightly fitting onto something rather long and sleek. I looked at a nearby changeling's dead body, noting a curved, sharp horn situated on the top of its head.

Twilight slapped my hoof down with her own. "Don't even think about trying to take it off. It won't work." I was about to ask what the ring was for in the first place, but I decided to hold my tongue, figuring that that was probably the right decision.

Crystal soon returned, carrying saddlebags of her own. Twilight faced the front door, her horn glowing as the entire room shimmered lavender in a similar fashion to the ring. "That ought to get rid of the targeted barrier spell," she said to nobody in particular.

"What's the plan, Twilight?" Crystal asked, standing behind her.

Twilight turned her head around. "Same as before; nothing changes." Her horn stopped glowing as she walked forwards and pushed the front door open with her hoof. She poked her head outside, looking left to right and up to the sky. "Looks like it might rain again some time later," she stated as her head returned indoors. "Other than that, nothing special. Let's get a move on." With that, she stepped outside.

Crystal stayed behind, motioning me over to follow.

I hastily tried to keep up, nearly tripping over myself as Crystal told me to take it slow multiple times. When I stepped outside the door, I could feel the sun's warmth on my face. I looked up to the sky, dark clouds far off in the distance left of my view, moving along with the wind to the right.

Crystal kept by my side, walking with me on the dirt pathway that lead to the forest, Twilight waiting on its edge." That bucking changeling is only going to slow us down, I swear," she muttered under her breath as we drew close, turning back around.

And so the three of us carried on, Twilight leading the way.