• Published 11th Oct 2019
  • 4,590 Views, 209 Comments

All That We Are - Marezinger Z

All processing their encounter with Aurelian very differently, the three villains part ways on paths that will ultimately lead them back together in a way they did not expect.

  • ...

Chapter 5

Past sunset, in a dive near the docks known as Bottom of the Barrel, a drunken crowed cheered without restraint as Tirek arm wrestled his thirteenth opponent of the night. With little struggle, Tirek slammed the Griffon’s talon down onto the table and the bar boomed with raucous applause.

“Another drink!” Tirek waved over at the bartender. “On his tab!”

“Yeah, yeah.” The Griffon shook his numb talon and headed for a stool.

“Ay now!” A rather spiky dragoness called, lacing her arm around Tirek’s neck. “Bout time some creature came in and weeded out the boys.”

“Careful friend!” An old Hippogriff pointed his talon at Tirek. “My ship has had less crew on her than that one.”

“Shut it, you old buzzard!” She growled as the bar broke into laughter.

“Here you are, champ.” The bartender placed another drink before Tirek, patting his shoulder roughly before heading back.

“Thank you.” Tirek raised the glass and downed it a single swig. He saw the doors swing open and noticed Scorpan enter. “Brother!” He waved him over, kicking a chair out for him.

“I was wondering where you had disappeared.” Scorpan said, struggling to talk over the loud atmosphere.

“Sorry, brother.” Tirek laughed. “I got a little side tracked.”

“Quite alright.” Scorpan nodded. “You seem to be doing just fine.”

These creatures are ones that know how to live.” He praised, gesturing across the room.

“An interesting view.” Scorpan chuckled. “Forgive me for interrupting the… festivities here, but we should return. The spell on you will not last much longer without being recast.”

“Right.” Tirek nodded, rising from the table.

“Off already!?” A Minotaur called across the way. “Night’s still young!”

“I've run out of challengers!” Tirek called back with a laugh as he waved farewell to the others. Stepping out into the chilled, ocean air; the brothers started their walk back.

“I am happy to see you fitting in so well so quickly.” Scorpan complimented.

“Ahh.” Tirek looked down at his camouflaged body. “This creature I am pretending to be is the one that is fitting in. As nice as this feels, I can’t keep relying on your magic forever.”

“True.” Scorpan agreed. “Then perhaps, it is a good time to come clean with your escape and speak with the Princesses.”

“What?” Tirek’s inebriated eyes narrowed.

“These last days have seen the return of the brother I remember from my youth.” Scorpan smiled up at him. “You have had a taste of the life you could be leading and I think we can both agree that you have grown fond of it; if you wish it to continue, then you need to step up and speak your peace to the Princesses.”

“It isn’t that simple, brother.”

“No, it isn’t.” He concurred. “You have a lot to answer for; but I will be there at your side to speak on your behalf.”

“You… will?”

“Of course.” He nodded. “I have my brother back and I would very much like to keep it that way.”

Tirek laid his hand to Scorpan’s shoulder, squeezing it tightly. “Thank you, brother. I am sorry it has taken me so long to learn to value the family I have.” He looked up at the stars.

“What is it?” Scorpan asked.

“Oddly enough, I was just thinking about where Chrysalis and Cozy Glow might be?”

“You spoke of them before, the other villains with which you had allied yourself.”

“Yes.” Tirek nodded. “I left them without word of where I was headed. I told them to remain hidden but I honestly doubt they did so.”

“I do not think it is in your best interest to concern yourself with them.” Scorpan advised.

“Objectively… that is true, but they…” He sighed, failing to complete his thought.

“Do you consider them your friends?”

“I don’t know what they are.” Tirek shook his head. “We worked together because it was in our best interest; not truly in the spirit of any sense of comradery. Even so, we did find a… comfort in knowing that we were not alone; no matter how openly we declared otherwise.”

“I have no doubt that in some twisted way, you formed a bond with one another that each of you were too proud to admit.” Scorpan surmised. “Or perhaps, given that you endeavored to destroy the Princesses and their ideals of friendship, you were too scared to admit that you had begun to understand those ideals.” He saw Tirek grow lost in the idea. “In any case, you need to focus on yourself first. Are you willing to travel to Canterlot with me and bury your past that you may look forward to a new future? If this is your wish, then you must be one hundred percent dedicated to giving up your former life as an enemy to the world.”

Tirek looked down into his brother’s eyes with confidence. “I am.”

Late in the evening, Cozy Glow sat before a fireplace in a quiet cabin. Her recent escape had caused her to stumble upon an old stallion in the outskirts of the woods who offered her a place to stay for the night. She gave him few words in return, in spite of being given a meal and warm bed. Her normally agile and streamlined mind was cluttered with recent events and future prospects, neither of which sat well with her. Her ears detected the slow hoof steps of the cabin’s owner as he came to check on her.

“Still up?” He laughed lightly as he struggled to sit in the chair behind her. “Your eyes are always troubled. What’s a young lady like you so wrapped up in thought about?”

“Look.” Cozy Glow snapped. “I appreciate the food and the room, but I didn’t come here to play twenty questions.”

The stallion chuckled. “Well how about just one then?” He continued. “My eyes may be old, but I’ve gotten a gander at your wings and you’re no ordinary pony.” Cozy Glow quickly looked back at him. “Are you in some kind of trouble?”

“I am some kind of trouble.” She stood and faced him. “You want to know who I am? I’m Cozy Glow.”

The stallion scratched his chin. “Is that supposed to mean something?” He asked.

“What?” She huffed. “You seriously haven’t heard of me?”

“Nope.” He shook his head. “You some kind of performer like that Countess Color-whatever that I hear kids keep talking about?"

“Perfor… no!” She stamped her hoof. “I nearly drained all the magic from the world and brought Equestria to its knees!”

“Oh.” He hummed. “I think I recall hearing about something like that.”

“Wow.” She said dryly.

“I’ve been living here alone for going on twenty years now.” He explained. “I don’t hear too much about what goes on in the world. I’m too old for it to be any of my business.”

“So you don’t care that you invited one of Equestria’s most notorious ponies into your home?”

“You may well be.” He nodded. “Too late to worry about it now, I’m not in much shape to do anything about it.”

“Hmph.” Cozy Glow sat back down.

“So what is a notorious pony like you doing in the woods in the middle of the night?” He inquired.

“If you must know, I’m looking for my… partners.” She answered. “They left me because some stupid Alicorn fed them a whole bunch of nonsense about giving up trying to be powerful and crushing our enemies.” She pouted. “So of course, I have to be the one get things back on track. I scoured around for something useful, got ahold of this powerful artifact and have been busting my flank working out a plan to use it to our advantage." Her hoof pounded the floor in frustration. "They never took me seriously because they think I’m just some little kid; but I’m big now and I have a new power that will make them come crawling back.” She heard the stallion laugh. “What’s so funny!?”

“Sounds like you really miss them.” He smiled, reading her tone more than her words.

“I don’t miss them!” She insisted.

“Then why are you going through all this trouble just to get them back?” He asked.

“I…” She stammered. “Because we’re supposed to be a team. We’re supposed to take over the world together, like we promised.” Her face grew angry. “And they just ditched me!”

“That must’ve hurt.” He noted understandingly.

Cozy Glow turned back to the fire. “Shut up, you don’t know anything.”

“You don’t get to be my age by not knowing anything.” He laughed again. “As much as the world would like you to believe, good friends are hard to come by; I imagine that’s even more so for notorious ponies like you.” He rose from the chair with a groan and headed for his room. “I’m guessing you’ll be gone by the time I get up in the morning.” He glanced back at her. “Can’t say I’m on board with whatever you’re planning, but I hope you find what you’re really looking for.” He said knowingly as he vanished down the hall.

Cozy Glow glared down the dark passage as his steps faded, the sound of a door closing coming soon after. “What I’m really looking for?” She muttered. “What the heck is it with old creatures and talking in riddles?” She got up and slowly headed for the guest room.

After a long and tense night with little sleep, Celestia’s morning saw her continued efforts to demonstrate modern sensibilities to Aurelian. She instructed the castle’s culinary staff to produce a breakfast representing the finest Canterlot had to offer. With the same, luke warm interest; Aurelian joined her, Luna, Starswirl, Fluttershy and Discord for the grand meal. They sat in uncomfortable silence as they ate, their eyes often shifting to Aurelian to judge his reactions.

“Ahem.” Celestia cleared her throat. “Are you finding the food enjoyable, Aurelian?”

“I will say, it is a vast improvement from the basic nourishment of bygone years.” He complimented in monotone. “Yet another sign of peaceful times.”

“Good food creates good spirits.” Starswirl quoted. “In a way, a meal like this helps preserve that peace.”

Fluttershy spied a platter of honey cakes across the table and smiled up at Discord. “Could you pass me the honey cakes, please?”

“Of course.” He snapped his fingers and the platter sprouted legs, it began stumbling around the table awkwardly and knocking things over.

“Discord.” Celestia eyed him harshly.

“It has no eyes, it’s doing the best it can.” He defended.

The platter began to fumble towards Aurelian and the table held their breath in concern; without looking up from his plate, Aurelian’s horn shone bright and the platter returned to normal. “Your manners are ill, Draconoquis.” He noted.

Discord looked at the platter in utter shock. “How did you do that?” He asked insistently.

Aurelian chortled with a light shake of his head. “Chaos magic, when not wielded like a child, is a formidable power. Long ago, a lodge of Alicorns developed a countermeasure to deal with it; I suppose one could consider it the magic of order.”

“Amazing.” Luna said in wonder. “You must be privy to so many lost arts. Would you ever consider sharing them with the world once more?”

Aurelian actually took some time to consider the request. “From what I have seen thus far, it would be folly to impart what I know to this world.”

“For once, I agree.” Discord added, far from fond of a magic that could undo his work.

“Do you think the world unable to handle such power?” Starswirl asked.

“I think he means that what he knows would only do more harm than good.” Fluttershy came in. “I’m guessing the world was really unforgiving in your time and you know a lot of dangerous magic.”

“It amuses me that the youngest here is proving to be the wisest.” Aurelian smiled, teleporting the honey cakes to her plate.

“Oh… thank you.” Fluttershy smiled brightly.

The dining room doors parted and Twilight entered, she saw what was going on and slowly moved over to Celestia. “Princess, sorry for interrupting.”

“It is alright.” Celestia assured. “Have you learned anything?”

“Yes, if you want to step out for a minute.” She looked over the table.

“Of course.” She rose. “Please excuse me, I shall return shortly.”

“Sister.” Luna tried to get her attention but they quickly stepped out, returning the room to uncomfortable silence.

Celestia found Rainbow Dash and Daring Do waiting for them in the hall as they left the dining room. “Alright, what have you learned?”

“Well, first of all.” Rainbow Dash began. “I flew to every little town in a fifty mile radius around that bazaar.” She smiled. “Not that it took a long time mind you…”

“Dash.” Twilight eyed her with raised brow.

“Oh, right.” Rainbow Dash laughed. “Anyway, I asked around and some ponies were reporting coming across an obnoxious, light pink mare that had been causing trouble. Weirdest part, some ponies at a motel said she had bat wings.”

“Bat wings?” Celestia repeated.

“That isn’t as strange as it sounds.” Daring Do came in. “Twilight and I found the bracelet Caballeron was talking about. It’s called the Chimera’s Embrace; the creature that has that bracelet can use it steal the physical traits of other creatures and add them to their own.”

“That certainly explains the wings.” Celestia noted. “As well as her sudden growth spurt.”

“The good news is, she can’t gain any magical abilities.” Twilight further explained.

“Nevertheless, she can still augment herself into a physical powerhouse.” Celestia looked back at the door. “I must remain here with Aurelian, so I must ask that you do what you can to find her and bring her in once more.”

“We will.” Twilight promised. “So, how is it going in there?”

“He certainly looks down at us.” She said with a half-smile. “But thus far, he does not seem to look down at us with any malice." A subtle laugh escaped her. "Fluttershy seems to be at ease with him though.”

That’s a surprise” Rainbow Dash sarcastically toned.

“Okay, we should get back to Ponyville.” Twilight rallied.

“I’d love to help.” Daring Do laid her hoof to Twilight’s shoulder. “But A.K. Yearling has a public appearance to make.”

“We understand.” Twilight nodded. “Thank you for your help.”

“No problem, be careful out there.” She quickly flew down the hall and vanished.

“We’ll be back as soon as we have more news.” Twilight vowed as she teleported herself and Rainbow Dash away.

Taking a deep breath, Celestia returned to the dining room and sat back down. “Forgive me.”

“You didn’t miss much.” Discord muttered, taking an elbow from Fluttershy as a reward.

“Aurelian?” Celestia looked across at him. “If you are interested, I was thinking it would be nice to show you the city. Canterlot is the cultural epicenter of Equestria and has much to offer.

“The last time I walked a city was over four thousand years ago.” Aurelian returned her gaze. “I suppose it could be interesting to see what ponies have accomplished in such a time.”

“Wonderful.” Celestia smiled. “I have no doubt your appearance will cause a bit of a stir, but seeing me with you will let them know that all is well.”

Wrapping up breakfast, Celestia left Luna in charge and set out into the city with Aurelian. As expected, the sight of a new Alicorn created quite the buzz. Aurelian seemed immune to the whispers and chatter around him, he focused his attention on the vastly different sights and sounds that created modern pony society. Celestia offered descriptions and details of the city as well as relating how much it had evolved during her own lifetime. Aurelian spoke little in return, when he did it was typically noting his own memories of how things were in comparison to what he saw before him. Over the hours, Celestia finally began to feel more at ease around him; the pair even stopping for lunch while they were out. As they rounded the edge of the city and started back for the castle, Celestia sought his thoughts on her home.

“So, how do you find how far we’ve come?” She asked.

“Life seems filled with… diversions.” He answered. “The world had little time for such things when last I saw it; simple survival was difficult enough for most.” He watched the ponies socializing and interacting. “There is nothing left as I remember it; I imagine the rest of the world would prove much the same." He made a short, thoughtful laugh. "Even surrounded by all this, I still feel as removed as I did within Tartarus.”

“It will no doubt take much adjusting for you, Aurelian.” Celestia said understandingly. “An excellent place to start is to allow yourself to make friends. Having friends at your side to share your new experiences with would make things easier.”

“Friends.” He said distantly.

“Even you must have had close friends at one time.” She surmised. “It couldn’t be beyond you to find such bonds again.”

“Yes… I did have friends.” He slowly nodded. “That was so long ago now.” He stopped and looked up at the sky.

Celestia saw the far off look in his eyes and frowned. “I am sorry, I did not mean to conjure any unpleasantry from your past.

“Not unpleasant at all.” Aurelian shook his head. “I agree with your sentiment that friends might prove a comfort.” He turned his eyes to her. “I did indeed have friends and I would like to see them once more.”

“See them?” She repeated in confusion.

“Yes.” He suddenly spread his wings and lifted into the air.

“Wait.” Celestia called up to him. “Where are you going?”

“To see my friends again.” He quickly ascended into the sky and flew from the city; leaving Celestia staring up into the blue as the deep concern that had just lifted began to flow through her mind once more.