• Published 30th Oct 2019
  • 3,666 Views, 257 Comments

A Deer Named John - Teapot Tales - Tael_Spinner

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MA1-C4: Crossfire

John

“You! Deer! Run!”

A soldier had definitely shouted at me. Only they or a strict school teacher could muster such authority in their voice. It kicked me and my heart into high gear. I shot away from my perch. A breath later, there was a whoosh behind me as something swooped through where I had been sitting.

I didn’t dare look back. It was bad enough looking forward. Pegasi, bat-winged ponies and even gryphons, all in helmets, burst out of the sky. Each targeting villagers, refugees and soldiers alike. It didn’t matter. We were all fair game.

I tried to duck and weave any who approached me. My goal? Find shelter. Not that it was easy. Some of the gryphons swooped low, bringing in normally earthbound ponies and unicorns in their talons.

One of the gryphons dropped a helmeted unicorn on the ground near me, a very familiar looking unicorn without any marking on his flanks. He hit the ground running, his horn glowing pure white, forming a wall of magical light in front of him as he charged towards the soldiers of the village.

“Jacob?” I gasped, my eyes wide in horror of what he was doing and what the soldiers of the village could do to him in return.

Thankfully, they weren’t a match for the former human. His wall of light shifted to make a triangular plough which pierced the line of soldiers and tossed them aside as Jacob ran through.

Even though my heart was racing, I felt it sink at the sight of Jacob doing the bidding of the dark unicorn.

I mentally kicked myself at turning my back on Jacob. I could do little to help him. I was just a scared deer and I needed to find a safe place to hide. Yes, I could run and do so very fast, but that meant nothing when the attacks came from the sky.

The air was filled with the flap of wings. My ears twitched and turned in every direction so quickly as they tried to focus on the nearest threat, I thought they were going to twist themselves until they snapped off and fell to the ground.

A set of scaly arms wrapped around me. I jolted and bucked in an attempt to break free, but their clawed hands held fast. With a beat of my captor’s wings, I was wrenched from the ground.

Knowing the fate which awaited me if I were taken to the dark unicorn, I flung my head back as hard as I could. It connected with part of my captor hard enough to leave me seeing stars while a loud crack ripped into my ears. Seconds later, we hit the ground, the weight of my captor driving me into the dirt and forcing the air from my lungs.

Someone groaned. I know it wasn’t me. I could hardly breathe. The weight on my back shifted then disappeared as my captor forced themselves onto their feet.

“What?” they groaned, their voice was effeminate yet oddly familiar.

With them off me, I sucked in a huge breath and scrambled to my feet, trying to make some distance between me and my captor before they came to their senses.

“What’s going on?”

I frowned. Were they confused? Why weren’t they trying to grab me again?

Turning my head to face my attacker, I felt my heart leap into my throat when I saw them. The emerald green dragon. Her wings hung low and she was staggering for balance. Then I noticed her helmet, it was skewed to the right, no longer sitting properly.

Taking a chance, knowing it could mean they instantly attack me again, I called out. “William?”

“What?” the dragon responded. She turned her head to face me, searching for the one who had called. As she did, the helmet jolted back into place and her stance stiffened. Her wings flared wide and she lowered her stance.

“For my King!” she growled, then lunged forward, her vicious jaws wide as she let out a primal yell.

Reeling back, I tried to put more distance between us. But she moved so fast. I didn’t even have a chance to turn and bolt. If I could, I would be far harder to catch. Just as she was on me, her arms out stretched to wrap around my body and latch on with her clawed hands, I slammed my front right hoof into the ground and screamed. “No!”

What happened then was just as surreal as it was fast. The world in front of me simply exploded. Not in fire or death, nor a blast of force. The ground itself erupted, showering everything in dirt and dust. I struggled to see through the dust for a few moments, but what I saw, when I could, left me staring in slack-jawed awe.

For out of the ground they had burst, thick, long and many in number. They cared not for what had stood on the ground before their arrival, throwing ponies, carts and tools about and cracking many a nearby building. And now they stood, a wall of massive green vines reaching far enough into the sky that the winged attackers from the dark unicorn suddenly had to dodge or crash. Many of them ended up entangled.

I blinked in wonder and amazement. “What just happened?”

“What?”

I turned at the panicked voice, gazing up in time to see an emerald dragon fall from the sky. She let out a scream followed by a grunt as she hit the ground with a heavy thump.

I paused. That voice. It was still effeminate, but nothing like as gravelly as the one from before. I jumped, my heart still racing, as something hit the ground next to me. Curse these fragile deer nerves!

Near my hoof, I spotted a helmet as it rolled to a stop. Not just any helmet, one of those used by the dark unicorn. One which, when worn, would cover the wearer’s eyes and only let them see through narrow slits.

My attention shot from the helmet to where the dragon had fallen. She was groaning but appeared to be dragging herself from the ground.

“William?” I called.

The dragoness’ head shot up and she quickly looked about in confusion. Even before she had a chance to look at me, or properly gain her footing, there was a flash of light. A magical glow suddenly encompassed William’s head, then the young dragoness’ eyelids drooped, she stumbled to the side, before collapsing in an unconscious heap.

“William!” I screamed, running toward her fallen form. I was briefly aware of another set of thundering hooves beside me before Lieutenant Spears jumped in front of me and forced me into a sliding stop before I could crash into him. He glared, his head down and horn glowing with magic; the same colour glow as the one which had flashed around William before she fell.

“Calm yourself!” the Lieutenant snarled, baring his teeth as he kept himself between me and William.

My mind shrieked at me to flee from such a confrontation. But, the sight of William on the ground kept me rooted in place. As I watched, the glow from Spears’ horn wrapped around William and her fallen helmet. Both suddenly rose into the air, only supported by the magical aura.

“We have to leave!” the Lieutenant ordered. He stomped forward a step, forcing me back. He was still glaring at me even as he remained in perfect control of magically carrying William and the helmet. He turned to the others and shouted an order he probably hated to give. “Retreat! To the carts! Save the refugees and villagers! While they're distracted!”

With the order given, the soldiers broke from their defensive lines and darted to help the nearest villagers and refugees.

For me, I ran alongside Spears. My attention remained fixed on my floating dragon friend while my ears did their job of twitching about in search of threats. From the travelling I had done alone, I knew I could run faster than this. Just I didn’t want to outpace the others.

We reached the refugees and their wagons as they were hitching up some of the larger ponies. I guess it was a blessing they were being repacked with supplies just before the attack on the village.

All around us were shouts and screams, even bouts of crying broke out amongst the younger foals as they were rushed into the backs of carts and wagons. Sometimes, ponies were still climbing into wagons as the wagons began to move. Some fell, only to be forced up into carts by the stronger ground ponies, or floated to safety using unicorn magic. Spears forced me into a cart with him, not far from the rear of the column. At least he brought William and the helmet with us.

I looked back as we started to move. The last I saw of the village, with its impressive vines standing over it, was as a swarm of the dark unicorn’s winged attackers swamped the last two carts and all within them. We didn’t stop. Lieutenant Spears order those pulling to keep moving. Ponies cried. I sat and stared back in dismay.

We didn’t see them again. We were the rear-guard now.

* * *

Several groups of three pegasus guards soared overhead, passing down the line of wagons and carts, keeping ready to defend at a moment’s notice. Unicorns scanned the skies, searching for the faintest hint of a new attack. The adult regular ponies, soldier, villager and refugee alike, trotted alongside the carts, changing out who pulled them to keep us constantly moving.

Thankfully, the forces of the dark unicorn seemed content with the capture of the village. My jaw tightened. That and the ponies who Lieutenant Spears knew had been unable to catch up or escape with us. He looked frustrated and tired.

My ear twitched at a groan nearby. I turned my head in time to see William begin to stir. Then, the glow from Spears’ horn wrapped around William’s head and moments later, she was peacefully out again. I shot Spears a concerned look.

“Best I keep her down,” Spears said matter-of-factly when he caught my worried look. “Less problems on this trip the better and I don’t have any restraints.”

I let out a breath and slowly nodded. It wasn’t great to see my best friend knocked out whenever she stirred, but at least Spears’ could do it with the most care possible.

I scoffed at a thought and looked away. Magic. What a thing. I looked at my hooves. Apparently, I could do it too. Not like a unicorn. There was no glow of warning. Mine was nature based. What happened in the village was very clear about it. Spears even came up with a hypothesis for me. If I was stressed or scared enough, I could unwittingly trigger it. In the village, it was the vines. Thinking back to the cage, it was the moss and plant roots which had brought down the mirror and created the tunnel.

I frowned with the thought, still staring at my hooves. They were magical. I was magical. Yet I had no idea how to use it. Either my silence or my facial expressions concerned Spears enough to try to reassure me.

“You have a good soul, Miss,” he stated.

I scoffed at that and muttered under my breath. “I may have a soul but I am not a soldier.”

“In times such as those we faced, even civilians become soldiers,” the Lieutenant said. “You wanted to protect your friend and to save her. Both commendable acts. However, you ignored the orders of military personnel where they had authority, damaged property with your reckless use of summoning magic, and endangered many of us, including yourself, not to mention your friend, in the process.”

I flinched at the implication, shrinking a little as he continued. “Despite the result, I must place both you and your friend under arrest for everyone’s safety. At least until we reach the staging post.”

I sighed and hung my head. “As you must. William and I aren’t even meant to be here. We’re completely at your mercy.”

I felt something land gently on my shoulder. I turned my head to find Spears’ had reached out with a hoof to hold me as if with a hand, keeping us close and my focus on him.

“Chin up,” he said. “Even if we had won, I would still need to arrest you for property damage. You destroyed two houses with those vines and a third was probably made unliveable.”

That didn’t make me feel any better. Apparently, I was to be declared a menace to society.

“Even so.” Spears cleared his throat. “You did save her.”

He levitated the helmet William had worn up between us and said, “And you brought us this. It will be invaluable to our researchers. With time, they could use it to figure out how to stop helmets like these from controlling anypony else.”

“Huh,” I snorted. “Or dragon.”

Spears chuckled, adding, “Or dragon.”

He smiled a little at that as he kept his gaze locked with mine. It wasn’t the harsh glare he had given me before ordering me to run. I felt a warmth in my cheeks and shyly dropped my head to hide it. Even his voice was softer now. Now that we were in a wagon, one of many in a line, guarded by his soldiers, as we made our escape from the village. A village which, by now, was probably overrun.

My blush faded at the thought. Then it roared back and I stiffened as I realised the implication. No. No, John. Don’t even starting thinking like that. You’re a human and you like humans.

It was a simple question from Spears which brought me out of my momentary mental berating, though it didn’t exactly take the heat away from my face or change the direction of my mixed-up thoughts. “What’s your name?”

I blinked and turned back to face him. “Why?”

The hoof he had used to hold my shoulder was now rubbing the back of his head while he gave me a rather coy smile. “Well, if we’re ever going to get you back to your people, we’ll need a name to help us locate your home.”

“Oh, um, not that it will help, but, it’s John,” I replied. I inwardly cringed. Was he just as flustered about me? I quickly shook my head. Stop it brain!

“Odd name,” said Spears. He quickly caught himself. “For a pony. If you were a pony…”

I looked at him flatly. Smooth.

“Why exactly don’t you think knowing your name will help?”

I rolled my eyes and looked at William’s unconscious body; her unconscious dragon body. “William and I, we aren’t exactly from here.”

“Obviously,” Spears chuckled. He leaned back and held up one front hoof then the other. “Dragon. Deer. Neither of you are common in Equestria proper.”

“Equestria?” I mused, looking to the lush vegetation as the wagon rolled on. “That’s where we are?”

“Of course,” Spears nodded.

I gave a giggle and inwardly groaned at the sound I made. With a shake of my head, I said, “Trust me when I say this, but William and I, we come from a place far from here. Much further than you could ever imagine.”

He gave me a curious look.

I rolled my eyes. “You’ll probably want to have me committed for what I’m about to tell you, but someone has to hear it at some point.”

And so, as the wagons rolled on, I began to explain how I had come to be in the village and everything before then. It would take a while, and Spears would give me many strange looks throughout, but, we had ample time to kill as we rolled toward what we hoped would be safety.

Author's Note:

This chapter and the next one had a problem which I only solved today. That being that either one could have had John or Cremator/William as the point of view. The problem was, once the helmet came off and William's mind was freed, she would stop the story dead, right in the middle of an action scene.

I thank the unintended creation of Spears in the previous chapter for solving my problem with knockout magic. I also didn't see a possible romance between John and Spears coming. Going to be fun seeing that play out. Spears was a glorified extra until this happened. Now, I have to figure out what to do with him.

Sigh.

And yes, that is a reference to Friendship is Witchcraft hidden in there.



I should also be watching Loading Ready Run's donation drive Desert Bus for Hope (event now complete until next year) but it has already distracted me from writing this chapter and the next one yesterday. It raises money for Child's Play Charity. They have auctions and giveaways or you can just watch the crazy while they play the most boring game ever.

It is better than it sounds... the donation drive, not the game. The game is terrible.