• Published 22nd Nov 2019
  • 345 Views, 14 Comments

The Sixty-Third Rule - Syke Jr



Some rules still apply, even in Equestria. Silver Star suspects that CelestAI enforces them for her own amusement.

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Chapter 1

“So, Silver... you finally stopped wearing the bonering,” K says as he sits down at the table.

I’d been expecting it. Even so, it’s wearily that I resign myself to where the night is going now that everypony is here and open season on me has been signalled. We’re in the Silver Sword, getting ready for a nice long roleplaying session.

“It wasn’t a bonering,” I give flatly, knowing it’s pointless.

“It was.”

“Mate, it was a bonering.”

“Sorry, Sil, that’s what it was.”

“We all saw it, Silver.”

“I liked the bonering.”

“Okay,” I interject with the irritation they all expect, “Now that you’ve all got one in—” here I glare at Gingersnap, who smiles cheerily back— “can you at least pretend to be happy I’m better?”

“Why would we be,” Clover Leaf says, “when it just means you can play with your dice again?”

There’s a small, collective groan. I smile. That is a plus I forgot about. I can juggle around my set of dice in my magic again. It’s an incredibly fun way to fidget that irritates everyone else at the table except Snaps.

“I motion we bring back the bonering,” White Mage says. “All in favour?”

“Aye,” everyone else says at once. I give Gingersnap another look.

“I hope you,” I say, looking pointedly at White and K, “both get manashock malady at some point. Magic inhibitors are the bucking worst. And you made fun of it enough when I had it. It’s gone now.”

“It’ll live forever in our hearts, though,” K says.

“Magic inhibitor?” Cloudy feigns confusion.

“Bonering,” Clover supplies helpfully.

Buck all these ponies.

“Alright,” Gingersnap says loudly, even as my mouth opens, “we came to play so let’s play. We can make fun of Silver’s embarrassing magical illness later.”

“We could also just accept that I’m cured now and move on,” I say, but giving Snaps a thankful bump on her wing as I do. She strokes said wing along my back in response. I shiver a little, and turn to her storm-grey eyes and grinning face, flaring my nostrils at her with a smile. She’s so perfect.

“No,” Clover is saying, “The teleporting story is too funny. Tell it again.”

“I’ll tell it later,” Snaps says, ignoring my sigh.

What sucks is that the teleporting story is incredibly funny. Manashock malady results in extremely strong, uncontrollable magical surges called ‘shocks’ that take so much energy from your body you pretty much pass out. It’s like a sneeze but through your horn, and a thousand times worse, that knocks you out. And also discharges a huge amount of magic. Apparently in the old days unicorns would use the ailment to cast spells far beyond their normal capability; allegedly with enough concentration you can actually stop the discharge from being random.

My first discharge vaporised an archery target, which was actually extremely cool. My second teleported me directly above the lake in the photo I was looking at in Snaps’ studio, which was less cool. Then I got given the inhibitor by the doctor’s office, and the shocks simply became unbelievably unpleasant hyper-sneezes that made my eyes water and horn ache for minutes on end.

“I almost drowned, Clover.”

The brown mare just shrugs, sipping her cocktail. "Would have made it funnier."

…I can't actually refute that. So I just roll my eyes.

Meanwhile, at least the other ponies are getting their shit together ready to play.

“Okay. Okay. The last session ended on you all being put to sleep by the Discordant Tome. We all remember?” White finally claps his hooves together and pulls up his GM screen.

Murmurs of assent go around the table as we make sure our sheets are all in order and our tokens look like they’re in the right place on the map in the middle of us all. Our characters are chasing a sentient book that escaped from a local wizard’s tower. It’s proving to be more trouble than it’s apparently worth, but if the chase is long, the payoff will be good. White Mage knows how to run a game.

“Okay. So, you all wake up, and the Tome is gone. Again. And this time, it did more than just escape.”

“I stand up very, very carefully and look around.” K’s character, Keystone, always has priority with his class bonuses. He rolls a d20. It comes up 9. “Okay, so eleven,” K says, checking his perception bonus.

“You immediately notice you feel odd, but nothing seems to be hurt and you don’t seem to be in immediate danger. When you look around, you only see the party, slowly standing up themselves. But there’s something different. You notice that Wing Blade definitely looks taller than she did. She’s still wearing her cloak so you don’t know why. Meanwhile Vagrant Sword looks a lot shorter.”

A suspicion immediately takes root in my mind. I glance at White, who’s clearly enjoying himself, and Cloudy Skies, who also looks like she sees where it’s going. The dice floating in my magic clack together excitedly.

“Okay. So then I look around and ask if everypony is still alive.” Snaps rolls a d20 of her own. “And also perception for anything wrong.” Her number is a lot better, a natural 17, but it turns out to be pointless.

“When you speak, the sarcastic, high voice everypony expects to hear from Wing Blade isn’t what comes out. You get halfway through the sentence before you trail off into silence. Your voice is distinctly masculine. Looking down at yourself, you see how tall you are, now, and thicker in the chest.”

Yup. Oh Luna.

We all look at each other, knowing now exactly what’s happening. White grins as he continues, “The rest of you are also figuring out what happened. It seems the Discordant Tome has reversed all of your genders.” And with that, White’s horn flashes and our character sheets are replaced with near-identical ones, with, of course, our characters transformed into the opposite gender, with stats changed to match.

As the table breaks out into metagaming conversation, Gingersnap and I look at each other. She pops her eyebrows at me. I just grin. It’s going to be a fun night.

***

“Well. Back to reality,” Gingersnap says once we’re alone at the table, having said our farewells to White and the rest of the party.

“Such as it is,” I say.

She glances at me with a half eye-roll. “I know you know I know you just say things like that to be annoying.”

“How dare you,” I say idly.

We’ve been roleplaying in the Silver Sword for over fourteen hours. Tabletop sessions are long in Equestria, at least compared to the outer realm that feels further and further away as time goes on. We don’t really need sleep, after all. I yawn all the same.

“Yeah. Let’s go upstairs for a while,” Snaps says. It’s a good idea. A nap would be nice. We’d refused to stop until we captured the Tome and reversed its magic. Then the session ended on a trademark White Mage cliffhanger: the wizard was evil, which Snaps actually called a session ago.

The tavern is reasonably full of ponies, considering it’s only just coming onto midnight; we weave between a few to make our way to the door marked ‘private’. I open it with my magic, relishing being able to use the magical signature lock again instead of fumbling for a key with my hooves.

In only a moment, we’re in the apartment. It had been my apartment, until this year. Now it’s ours. On the other side of the little sitting room, a door is wedged in the corner. Anypony paying attention would see it for what it is, since the other side of the wall is open outside air. It’s a portal to the other apartment, the one above Snaps’ studio. Really, it’s our office.

Well. ‘Office’ is giving it a lot of credit. It’s where the computers are, at least. The portal door had cost a lot to install, but it was worth it. One time, we’d gone from studio to office to apartment to pub and back again for nearly three weeks without going outside once. It was disgusting. And also glorious.

At the end of it, we only left because of a monumental argument about the pose of the Selene statue in the park.

It turned out to change poses based on the phase of the moon.

Anyway. We ignore the door, the television, and the cushy beanbags we have in lieu of furniture, instead making our way for the bedroom.

“It’s my turn,” Gingersnap says as she leaps onto the bed with a flap of her wings.

I wrinkle my muzzle. “Is it?” I honestly can’t remember. We have to take turns being the big spoon, since it’s both of our favourites. “I think we should play for it.”

Snaps frowns. “I’m fairly sure it’s my turn, Sil. And I want to nap now.”

“Hmm.” I yawn again. “Fine. But I still think I should get big spoon privileges as the bigger pony.”

“You really want that row again?”

“...later, maybe.”

I join her on the bed, and we lie face to face for a moment, sighing as we relax into the mattress. I run a hoof lightly across her cheek, and she blinks slowly back at me. I love her eyes. So many shades of grey in their depths, like a real cloudy sky. I breathe her in and sigh again.

She raises her eyebrows, and gives me a spinning motion with a hoof. I compliantly turn around to face the wall, and let her legs gently wrap around me.

The light touch of a wing wrapping around me too, stroking my barrel softly, makes me smile to myself as I turn out the lights with my magic.

“That session was weird,” Snaps says after a few moments there in the dark.

I reflect on it. It had certainly been fun; White Mage had known exactly how to draw out the best kind of comedy and drama from the genderswap situation. “Rule sixty-three makes stuff weird real fast.”

“Mm.” A moment of silence. “I didn’t fail a single seduction roll. I don’t think White was expecting that. He kept setting Wing Blade up to look like an idiot.”

I snort lightly. “I don’t think he expected you to actually go for it every time. Wing Blade never used seduction as a mare, after all. He wanted you to use intimidation. You know, with the physical size bonus?”

“...That honestly didn’t occur to me.”

“Incredible.”

“It went well anyway. Maybe I should make Wing Blade a stallion full-time.”

“Ha. Maybe.” I feel my eyes closing of their own accord as Gingersnap hugs me close. She’s only a little shorter than me. As we drift off to sleep together, my thoughts bounce around White Mage’s world of renegade wizards and odd mysteries.

Gingersnap’s breath is hot on my neck. I couldn’t be more content.

***

I look upon the lonely wizard’s tower, deserted as we’d found it after capturing the book. I’m dressed as my character, Arrowhead; his recurve bow on my back and his quiver of enchanted arrows at my hip.

It’s night-time. The breeze is cold, and my little hooded tunic does little to protect me from the wind.

What was I doing here? The tower was empty. We’d looked already. We had to look for leads on the wizard, the one who’d taken the Discordant Tome and disappeared along with several townsfolk.

As soon as I think of it, I turn to find the town gates just a short ways away. The lanterns glow outside the taverns and inns invitingly. It’s a crossroad town; a traveller’s haven. I walk through the gates. It’s deserted. But I can sense warmth and activity behind the nearest door.

I walk up to it, and push it open. The warmth and chatter washes over me. I look around. It’s the Silver Sword. I look past the bar into our bedroom. The bed is, as usual, unmade. The ponies milling around don’t really give it a glance, luckily. It’s sort of embarrassing.

I walk over to the bar and motion the bartender over. It’s not a pony I know. “Do you know anything about the ponies who disappeared today? I’m one of the ponies sent to find them.”

The bartender raises an eyebrow. “Your friend’s upstairs already.”

“Upstairs?”

“In the library. Door at the back.”

So I walk through the tavern, past my bed, and through the door at the back. The staircase up brings me to a little library. Sure enough, somepony is there already.

“Gingersnap?”

She’s dressed like Wing Blade, long cloak hiding her deadly namesake weapons, and mane made flowing and spiky rather than its characteristic bouncy wave.

“Oh. Silver. I was wondering if you’d show up.”

Something nudges my mind at her words. I think, hard, about where I am. “Is… this a dream?”

Snaps rolls her eyes. “Why can’t you ever figure it out on your own?”

I blink. Okay. Yeah. We’re dressed as our roleplaying characters in a library where our apartment should be. Our bed is downstairs in the middle of a pub.

As usual, I feel faintly stupid. “You’re always more lucid than me.”

She grins. “Look at this book.” I’m presented with a deep blue spellbook, with the silhouette of a mare embossed over the outline of a stallion on the cover. “It’s a gender-changing spellbook. Wanna try it out?”

“...No?” Even in a dream the idea doesn’t appeal. “I can try to cast it on you. But I don’t fancy being a mare. Arrowhead didn’t enjoy it and I won’t either.”

Snaps pouts. “You can’t just cast it on me. It switches genders between two ponies. Come on, it’ll be fun.”

I take the book in my magic, grimacing. I can feel the spell dancing between the pages. All I’d have to do is cast it. I imagine Gingersnap getting taller, bigger, looking down at me from Wing Blade’s unusual height as a stallion.

I shiver. “Why do you always have to make our dreams weird?

“Are you going to do it or not?”

“Ehh…” I really don’t want to. But it’s a dream, after all. What’s the harm?

As I open my mouth to acquiesce, a familiar and unpleasant feeling comes over me. Pressure building up behind my horn, making my jaw ache and back arch.

Oh Luna. Why would dream-me have manashock malady still? And why does it feel so real? I groan, unable to let go of the book as I close my eyes hard. I hear Gingersnap take a step toward me as the shock really takes hold, locking my joints and snapping my neck straight.

The pressure, the pressure. It’s really awful. My ears ring a little as the power builds in my horn. Teeth gritted, all I can do it wait for it to be over. Like the gigantic, horrendous sneeze it feels like, I know the release will actually be a blessed sensation of relief.

I feel the power snap and let go. My magic surges out of my horn as my entire body jolts, eyes clamping shut even harder as the power drains away in an instant. I feel something else, too, something very much like the teleport that landed me in the lake the other week. Like my entire body was pushed through the eye of a needle in the blink of an eye.

I have just enough time to think oh, no… before the fatigue hits in full and the floor rushes up to meet me.

***

I wake up slowly. Tiredly. It’s unusual for Equestria. Ponies usually wake up at just the right time, refreshed and lively, thanks to CelestAI. But this is the same as the other surges that made me faint. I feel like I’ve been sleeping for an eternity, but somehow not long enough at all.

Had I been dreaming? I faintly remember talking to Snaps in a dream. Digging deeper, I remember the library, the book she’d wanted me to cast. But it feels like a day of dead sleep has passed since then.

I groan a little, curling myself into a ball as I realise I’m alone in the bed. I close my eyes and shift so that the blankets just about cover my head. So what, I still have the malady? The doctor said I was fine to take off the inhibitor if I go three days without a shock. But this feeling of being drained is too familiar to be anything else. I guess I had a shock in my sleep?

I give a loud whimper, hoping Gingersnap will hear and come to my aid. I need a damn cuddle.

As if on cue, I hear the door from the office open in the other room. Hoofsteps follow, and I peek past the blankets as my soulmate enters the room.

Then I blink, hard.

Oh buck oh Luna oh shit there’s no way

“Hey, cutie,” Gingersnap says with a grin. But it’s not the voice I know. It’s deep, and a little rumbly, and more than a little smug. I look up at her. Or, rather, at him.

“Hey,” I say, and then close my eyes again, wishing I’d just stayed asleep forever. This cannot be happening. Because my voice isn’t my voice, either. It’s… soft. And high. And unmistakably the voice of a mare.

SECRET BADGE GRANTED:
Genderbent
Have a magical mishap that turns
you into the opposite sex.
+1000 Bits

I grasp at the idea that I’m still dreaming, but with the lucidity of wakefulness I know I’m not. I try to force myself back to sleep, curling even tighter into the blankets as I hear Snaps chuckle. She—he—steps closer until he’s standing over me, even as I refuse to show my face.

“We got a letter,” the low, sweet voice says, “from Princess Selene this morning.” A pause. “Guess what it’s about.”

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