• Published 30th Oct 2019
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A Deer Named John - Teapot Tales - Tael_Spinner

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MA1-C5: Wakeup Call

William

When I woke up, at least I didn’t have a headache. In all truth, I was actually rather numb all over. Probably a good thing. I remembered the fall I took. That and the landing. Considering how much it had hurt at the time, probably a good thing I was numb now.

Wait! My eyes snapped open in alarm.

I wiggled my toes and, even through the numbness, I could feel them scraping against each other. I let out a long sigh, closed my eyes again and smiled faintly. At least I wasn’t paralysed. Just numb and a little fuzzy, even in my head. That and warmer than usual.

“Hey. You awake?”

I arched an eyebrow but kept my eyes closed, hoping to fall back asleep. Even if there was a girl nearby, talking in a decently sweet voice.

“William? You awake?”

I scrunched my nose and shifted onto my side. At least I think it was my side. Something flopped down behind me, brushing against my legs. Oddly, I could swear I felt the backs of my legs from its touch as well.

Frowning, I cracked open my eyes. The first thing I noticed was that the world was on its side. So, yep, definitely laying down. Then there was the hard dirt floor. Not that it felt very hard against my arm, shoulder and side. Though I guess it should have. And beyond that, I found a set of what would have been narrowly spaced, vertical metal bars.

Huh. I’m in another cage. Great.

Outside of the bars I noticed another unicorn. This one had golden armour and a helmet that reminded me of those worn by roman military officers in ancient times. His coat was alabaster, while his tail and mane were a deep chestnut. I frowned at that. Since when was I so specific with colours.

“William?” the girl called in her singsong voice. “You’re looking pretty awake.”

I turned my head to try and see who was speaking, only to find that I was in the cage with a deer. I squinted at the form. A doe. Stubby horns? Full grown deer, I reckon. Tapered, slender body. Hmm, probably still a female deer.

“Finally woke up, huh?”

I blinked. That deer spoke. I slowly shook my head. Maybe this was still that nightmare I had and still couldn’t wake up from.

The deer shot a glare at me and asked, “What?”

I swallowed dryly and replied, “My nightmare continues. A deer is talking to me.”

My voice sounded off in my ears. A little raspy but far softer than I remembered. I shook my head again, a little faster this time. “Like the unicorn when we landed…”

My eyes widened as the memory of the transformations I witnessed in the previous cage ran through my mind. When it came to recalling my own, I looked at my scaly, clothe-less body and tried to let my brain process it all. Yep, that part was still with me too.

“The dark unicorn…” I squinted with recollection. “He made us drink from the teapot. We all changed…”

“What are you talking about?” asked the unicorn in golden armour.

“That’s right,” said the deer. “But not a nightmare. It really happened.”

I turned my attention to her and squinted. Yep. Definitely a her. My mind was still sluggish as it tried to restart whatever logic it could. “Jacob, Schmidt and Jackie…”

My eyes widened again at the thought of her now being a huge hairy yak. “Poor Jackie.”

“Yeah,” the deer sympathised. “You missed my change, though.”

I focused on the deer again, squinting as my brain slowly clicked the puzzle pieces into place. This deer knows me as a human, she called me by name. I frowned. Says I didn’t see her change. The only other person with us…

My confusion slipped away as my brain finally moved into the right gear.

“John?” I rasped out.

The deer nodded. “In the now fur-covered, four-legged flesh.”

I looked John over, tilting my head as my mind examined the now deer and tried to relate its form with the human one I remembered. “You’re a girl now.”

John didn’t miss a beat. “So are you.”

“Oh,” I said. I looked down at my body, not that I could really see much with how I was laying. The scales still puzzled me. “Can you tell me something?”

John nodded. It was so strange seeing such a delicate creature and having to relate it to my friend.

“What am I?”

“You’re a dragon,” John replied.

“Ah,” I said, nodding. Strangely, that cleared a few things up, the scales, memories of flying. “Guessing I have wings too.”

“And a tail,” John nodded.

“Huh,” I grunted. Suddenly curious to see more of my changed body, I tried to sit up. And I failed miserably at it. My legs refused to move and, when I tried to use my arms to push myself up, I found they were pinned behind my back with something holding them tightly together. Trying to shift my legs, I found my ankles just as restricted.

“You had to be bound,” the unicorn said while I squirmed in confusion. “Other than John's word, we had no idea if you would be dangerous and attack the camp when you woke up.”

I thought about it for a moment then nodded in agreement. “That’s fair.”

I looked to John then back to the unicorn, hoping either of them could answer my next question. “So, what now?”

John looked across to the unicorn.

“Right now, you are both being held in a military camp which has been set up in order to prepare a counterattack against the force you were working for.”

I blinked at that. “I what?”

“You probably won’t remember much,” John explained. “The helmets that dark unicorn forced you and the others to wear kind of controlled your mind and actions.”

“Our researchers are still verifying the function of the helmet you wore, but it is looking that way, yes,” said the unicorn.

“Huh,” I said. “Would explain why my head’s so fuzzy.”

“That’s partly from Lieutenant Spears here using magic to keep you asleep while we travelled here,” said John. When I looked at her, her eyes were shooting daggers at the unicorn, this Lieutenant Spears.

“Anything else?” I asked. “Where are the others?”

John cringed and said, “Still under the dark unicorn’s control. At least Jacob is. He’s a unicorn now.”

“Yeah, I remember him changing.” I looked to Spears.

“While you were subdued, your friend John explained to me a rather fantastic tale. From what I gather, neither of you are actually of our world. You were brought here by unknown means, with three other friends, and you were all transformed into random natives of our planet when forced to drink from a teapot by a dark unicorn who then forced four of you, including you, Miss Dragon, to wear strange helmets which controlled your minds and actions,” Spears summarised. He spoke so evenly, it was hard to tell if he was ridiculing us or not. “Is that your story?”

“I know it sounds strange—”

Spears cut John off with a raised hoof. “Do you know the name of this ‘dark unicorn’?”

John shook her head. “He never said it to me. Gave the others names though.”

I nodded again. “I remember that. He gave everyone a new name after they changed.”

I frowned then eyed John warily. “I don’t exactly remember… What did he call me?”

John looked at me, rubbed a hoof against her other foreleg and cringed again. “Cremator.”

I blinked. “Huh.”

“A strong, dangerous name even for a dragon,” Spears stated.

“I’ll keep it.”

John’s head snapped back before she shook it in disbelief. “Wait, what?”

“I’ll keep it,” I repeated. “I can’t very well go around being a female dragon called William. Doesn’t really fit.”

“But…” John stammered, trying her best to regain control of her tongue and her words. “But you’re a human.”

Was a human,” I corrected. “And if I get turned back into a human I’ll take my old name again.”

“You mean when you turn back.”

I did my best to look at John, my body sliding in a small circle on the floor of our cage. “Hey, we don’t know if this is permanent or not. We’re in another world after all.”

“She isn’t wrong,” Spears agreed. All that earned him was a glare from John.

“And what about you?” I asked.

“What about me?”

The tone of John’s words made me hesitate a little. The look of challenge in her face, however, caused me to press on. “You’re sticking with John until we can find a way to turn back?”

John stood up straight and proud. “Of course.”

A sly grin cracked my lips causing John to flinch a little. “So, are you a tractor or a missing person?”

“Pardon?” John blinked at me. Even Spears appeared confused.

I pushed a little further. “Or maybe you’re going to make it clear for the guys you date while here that you’ll break up with them through letters?”

John’s mouth opened, probably to ask a question. Her confusion passed before a word slipped from her lips. Instead, her brow furrowed and she fixed me with the fiercest death-glare she could muster. “I hate you so much.”

All I could do was grin smugly back and let out a throaty giggle.

“Now that you are done with that little side-track, back to the matter at hoof,” Spears said, staring straight at me. “Do you remember anything from the time you were controlled by this dark unicorn you mentioned?”

I cocked my head to the side in thought.

“Anything at all we could use to figure out why they are attacking our villages and enslaving our people.”

I cringed as I struggled to form any clear memories from between now and my transformation in the cage. So much of it was fuzzy, both in sound and vision. Only a few moments popped out and they weren’t the most useful.

“Just flashes,” I replied. “Times where the helmet wasn’t controlling me. Flying with other dragons, falling out of control.”

I glanced at John. “After I landed in the village and my helmet moved. Then John before I passed out. The helmet gave the feeling of obedience.”

I frowned and looked to the floor in thought again. “To me, I guess it made me not want to question it. Had to follow orders. Something from a King? Made me believe he was my King.”

“Do you remember a name?” the unicorn pressed.

I stared at the floor, screwing up my face in thought. I shook my head as I tried to focus, to pull up anything from the times I wore the helmet. I raised my gaze to look at the unicorn again. He was watching me very closely. “Something about being sombre?”

John gasped. Both me and Spears looked to her. “What you said after the dark unicorn put the helmet on you.”

“You’re asking a lot there,” I commented.

“Once the helmet was on you, you stood up, saluted, so did the others, and you said ‘Long live Lord Sombra’. I remember now.” John’s eyes were wide as she looked to Spears.

When I turned to him again, Spears looked confused for a moment, then a concerned expression washed over his face.

“Troubling,” he muttered. Looking at us again, he said, “This information may prove invaluable. I will have it relayed to my superiors immediately. Get some rest, we may need to ask more of you shortly.”

As he turned to leave, John spoke up, causing him to stop short. “Lieutenant Spears, is there something wrong?”

“If what you have said is true, this is very troubling,” Spears stated. Without further word, the unicorn strode out of the tent, leaving me and John in the cell; John standing while I lay on the ground, still in the bindings I woke up in.

* * *

We waited for a while. Thankfully, the guards had used their magic to sit me up before bringing us something to eat and drink. Not to mention the numbness in my body felt like it had passed. In its place was a warmth I had never felt before.

Turning back to the events at hand, at least the guards brought something for John to eat. I snickered a little at the ration of hay, flowers and bread. John didn’t pass them up though. She just sat down and started to eat from her plate.

What the guard brought me was something I never would have expected. Two gems, one red, the other blue, both a little bigger than my formerly human hands. They must have been worth a fortune and here I found myself staring at them as another unicorn used the magic of their horn to float them in front of my face.

I snorted. Like I could grab them. I was still restrained. Not to mention, shouldn’t they give me some meat or something? What was I going to do with a couple of jewels? Buy my own food?

“Well?” the unicorn asked, letting the gem bob a little in her magical hold.

“Well what?” I asked.

“Aren’t you going to eat?” she pressed.

I stared at her as my mind ticked over the thought. Eat gems? Is she serious?

“Come on,” the guard said, her tone becoming harsher. Seems I was annoying her. “Do you know how much we had to scramble to get you these? We weren’t exactly prepped to care for dragon prisoners.”

All right then, if it meant they were less mad at me. Not like I knew how things worked here. I opened my mouth and noticed John shudder. My teeth must be a sight. She kept watching me though. Apparently, she was just as curious to see me eat gems as I was.

The unicorn floated the gem a little closer. I leaned forward, took part of the gem in my mouth. This had to be the weirdest thing for everyone to watch. The gem was smooth in my mouth. Oddly, I started salivating at the taste of it on my tongue. Reflexively, I bit down. I expected the gem to resist but, after a soft groan, there was a crack and a sharp shattering sound as my jaws snapped shut.

I could see John watching me as I started to chew. Dragon mouths and digestive systems here must be really tough. I quickly crushed the gem into tiny shards then swallowed. Never did it hurt and I couldn’t taste any blood.

When I started munching on the rest of the first gem, John asked, “So, what’s it like?”

“Not bad,” I said, my cheeks puffing up as I chewed. “Crunchy but sweet, a little like rock candy.”

John continued to warily watch me as I finished off the second gem then sat back, content with my meal.

We waited through a second meal for the Lieutenant to return. John spent a lot of the time looking anxious while thinking. If it was about our situation, there really wasn’t much we could do about it. The only thing I wanted to do, other than have my arms and legs freed, was take some time to get a good look at myself. I was yet to have a real chance to do so and being restrained limited how much I could twist about to see.

When Lieutenant Spears finally returned, he was flanked on one side by a grey-blue unicorn with deeper blue mane and tail. On his other side stood the most plain looking winged pony I was yet to meet. Not very large and without armour to weigh her down, this little mare was brown all over; coat, mane, tail and feathered wings, you name it. Her only real distinguishing feature was a pale blue streak which ran the length of her mane and tail.

Spears fixed both me and John with a hard stare before speaking.

“This here is Corporal Iron Lock.” The Lieutenant’s horn lit with magic and I suddenly felt the bindings on my arms release. Looking down, I witnessed the magic as it removed the bindings from my legs. “He will accompany both of you wherever you go. You are both still regarded as prisoners, but I have been instructed to grant you such leniency due to the assistance you have provided and that which my superiors believe you can further give.”

His head turned slightly to the right as if addressing the winged mare. His attention, however remained fixed on me and John, even as I rubbed at my wrists to take the opportunity to examine my arms as well as my clawed hands.

“And this is Specialist Boo,” Spears stated. The winged mare standing behind him gave a salute with a hoof. “She’s the best infiltrator we have. My superiors have decided to request your help for a mission they need completed.”

I cocked an eyebrow at that and John jumped in to speak.

“But we’re civilians,” John said. “We aren’t even from here.”

Spears nodded and replied, “Something I made very clear to my superiors, however, they believe you have greater knowledge of certain things than any guard currently serving.”

Flexing my claws, I felt a tickle against my back. Peering over my shoulder, I spied a set of leathery wings and did my best to give them a little flap while Spears continued.

“Although I don’t like conscripting civilians into military operations, the call wasn’t mine to make,” Spears explained. “Princesses Celestia and Luna are very interested in the teapot you mentioned. Even more so if this Sombra you mentioned has it. An artefact such as it should be studied and kept out of dangerous hooves.

“The Captain of the Royal Guard is on his way to personally oversee our forces here, he will also be working to help the refugees displaced by the battles so far. However, we are to put this plan into action before he arrives.”

I stopped messing with my wings, pressed my clawed hands against my knees and stretched my back, arching it as my spine audibly popped in several places. Exactly how long had I been tied up?

When I looked to Spears again, he appeared rather angry at me seemingly ignoring him. I did my best to try to prove him wrong. “So, you want us to do what exactly?”

Spears grumbled to himself but pushed on. “What we need is for the both of you to travel with Boo and help her in finding this ‘teapot’ you mentioned. Iron Lock will accompany, as previously stated, and is not to leave your side.”

I leaned back against the bars of our cage and nonchalantly rolled my hand in the air a few times as I said, “And I’m guessing you’ll be busy with some sort of distraction to try and keep the heat off us?”

John shot me a look and hissed under her breath. “Can you not piss off the military of the people who are helping us?”

“Helping us?” I suppressed a giggle. “They’re talking about magic, princesses and they have us locked up. I don’t even know or remember doing what I’m supposed to have done to be in here.”

“You know this isn’t a movie, right,” John shot back. “We may be different creatures now, but death is still death in this world.”

“Of course,” I nodded. “Just feeling a little antsy. Blood’s a little fierier than a human.”

“Did you forget, that dark unicorn has our transformed friends under his control?” John pressed. “My sister and her best friend. What about Schmidt? He’s now not only not in his own country anymore, but in another world.”

I simply snorted at John and surprised myself when some smoke escaped my nostrils. Okay, possible fire breathing. Awesome!

John turned to Spears and urged him to continue. When I locked eyes with Spears again, he was giving me a very hard scowl. As was Iron Lock. I inwardly groaned. Oh, he was going to be a treat to work with. Boo on the other hand, she didn’t appear annoyed. In fact, she remained rather neutral.

Spears took a deep breath before letting it out through his nose. “Anyway, while the four of you undergo your mission, the guard will be making an assault near the front of Sombra’s current encampment. You probably won’t have much time. He pushes his forces hard. We’re surprised he even let them rest now.”

Spears eyed me again. “Though losing one of only three dragons our scouts have spotted amongst his troops has probably forced him to change his tactic.”

His hard stare never left me. “Can. You. Do. This?”

I rolled my eyes at his attempted dramatic emphasis. Again, John jumped in to speak for both of us. “We’ll do what we must to help our friends.”

John looked at me the entire time she spoke, trying to sound as tough as possible. I sighed and pushed myself onto my feet. My balance came surprisingly fast as my thick tail slashed itself into a counter balance.

I didn’t say a word. I simply nodded.

With our agreement, Spears lit his horn with magic and opened the door to our cage. John exited first. I stretched even more as I stepped into freedom for the first time since arriving in this world.

The others still looked annoyed with me. Thing is, I wasn’t kidding about my blood feeling hotter. With these claws, hard scales and what felt like a fire burning inside of me, I felt like I could take on the world!

And, pretty soon, we would be doing just that…

Author's Note:

You have no idea how happy I was when I had William and John playing off each other in the first section. Meant I had made them correctly.

Also, I'm so happy to finally introduce Boo, even if she got little time. Her backstory will be in this first arc, just not until the end.