• Published 31st Aug 2020
  • 407 Views, 22 Comments

The Pony Loa - Leila Drake

A troll couple accidentally summons ponies to Azeroth. And a flustered human. But for the trip back they need the help of a mage as powerful as Twilight Sparkle...

  • ...

Chapter 21: Ghost in a Bottle

Vol'Shalai winced as Darren finished wrapping the bandage around his arm. He also grinned, though, so it could not be that bad.

"There." Darren stepped over to the water bowl to wash his hands. "That should do. But you better change the bandage every day."

"Normal rate, got it. Thank you, my friend." Vol'Shalai inspected his arm and nodded. "I been a likkle worried there might have been poison. But it seems ta be alright. Da Spirit of Water agreed to heal me for da most part, but..."

"Wish I could heal you properly, but those days are over," said Darren.

"You mean you could use healing magic when you were a paladin? Before the Scourge killed you?" Eclipse asked. He looked pale, probably not used to the sight of that much blood. The red liquid stained the makeshift bandage Darren had replaced with a new one and it had already begun to harden and turn brown.

"Exactly," Darren replied without further explanation.

"Why don't you use your Light powers anymore?" Eclipse pressed on, his wings half spread.

"I lost the right," Darren said curtly. "We better go downstairs, our food is getting cold."

Eclipse narrowed his eyes and grimaced. His ears splayed back, he pushed his plate away with a hoof. The spoon landed in the brownish-green dish with a small clatter. Small carrot pieces dotted the stew in a futile effort to make it look tasty.

"Guess I'm not hungry," he said slowly.

"Dis needs salt," said Vol'Shalai, nodding sagely. He stood up. "Be right back." The troll left for the kitchen. Vol'Shalai knocked at the door and a young human opened it. The apron around his waist and the cloth holding back his hair confirmed Vol'Shalai's suspicion that he was the cook. When he saw who had knocked, he paled and made half a step backwards. His head tilted back to look up at Vol'Shalai's face.

"Hi," said Vol'Shalai with a jovial smile. "You be da child of Allison?"

The boy nodded, swallowing hard.

"Can we have some salt, please?"

Frank stumbled to the stove. A shivering hand passed a blocky glass vial on to Vol'Shalai. A salt shaker.

"Thanks. Be right back." Vol'Shalai turned to leave, then he spun back to face Frank again. "You okay?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

Frank nodded again. He cleared his throat, blushing, and finally spoke.

"Sorry, my, my mother isn't here tonight. And-I-think-I-forgot-the-salt."

Vol'Shalai's smile shrunk a little as the boy kept his rigid stance. "Yes. But hey, shit happens, no? Next time, take a spoon of da sauce and try it before ya give yar guests da food, seen?"

Frank nodded, the corners of his mouth twitching.

"Thanks for the advice," he mumbled.

"You're welcome."

Vol'Shalai rejoined his friends, salted his meal and that of Eclipse, then he passed the shaker to Nylene. He raised his eyebrows, pursing his lips.

"You tried," Eclipse said, trying to smile at the troll.

"Sure. Sure." VolShalai smiled back at him. "Patience ain't my strongest..."

"Virtue," Darren helped out.

Vol'Shalai nodded and snapped his fingers. "Yes. But I been tinking. About Levinia. Did ya try and call her in ya sleep, Eclipse?"

The colt nodded. "Yeah. That's how I found you. But we have this idea that you could try and summon her with your Loa of the Grave ritual."

A blue light bloomed on the wooden floor of Khadgar's library, growing and twisting. There was a flash, then the light faded and revealed a grey pegasus colt. He blinked and shook his hooves as if to check whether they were still attached.

"Hello, Eclipse," said Khadgar, looking up from his notes.

Since Eclipse's last visit two days ago, the pile of documents, books and scrolls had grown exponentially. If Eclipse remembered correctly, that was the word for growth faster than the linear kind. He put the purple Kirin Tor hearthstone he had used for the teleport back into his saddlebag and trotted over to the wizard, a scroll under his wing.

"Hello," Eclipse said shyly, passing the scroll on to Khadgar. "Is that all your homework?" he quipped.

"Precisely." Khadgar smirked, then he grew serious again. "How are you feeling?"

Eclipse grimaced. "I'll be okay," he said vaguely.

Khadgar unrolled the scroll. His eyes moved quickly from left to right several times. "I see," he said. "So, today there will be training. Well, that's fine by me as long as you get to translate another passage for my research. I managed to figure out some more of Twilight's portal setup but I've been stuck at a certain passage."

"H-huh?" Eclipse stammered, taken aback.

Khadgar put the scroll down and raised his eyebrows. He rose from his chair. Eclipse swallowed hard, taking half a step backwards.

"What do you mean?" he managed to ask. "Training? Darren's my teacher."

"This scroll," said Khadgar, motioning at said paper, "says that Darren wants me to give you some pointers. So you can use your powers better."

"Oh," Eclipse muttered. He frowned. "Guess Tarik told him I lost control." He groaned angrily. "Stars. This sucks!"

"It does? Why?" Khadgar's pale blue eyes were like lamps focused on Eclipse but they were also kind. It was hard to look away. It seemed that he already knew the answer but wanted to hear it from Eclipse.

"Because I don't wanna let them down. I lost control before, back home. That was such a big mess. Darren's memories are kinda private and also really... well, he's a death knight. And now that we're looking for Levinia - they need my help. But I can't do anything when I'm stuck as a shadow. Or angry all the time. Or tired all the time."

Khadgar's eyes narrowed as he understood what Eclipse was hinting at.

"All right," he said slowly. "I have an idea what to do, then. You see, I worked together with all kinds of people. Death knights, and priests of both Light and Shadow. We fought together against... a lot of demons."

"The Burning Legion?" Eclipse guessed, remembering that Nylene had mentioned them several times. The way she said their name suggested that she liked them about as much as Darren liked the Scourge.

Khadgar's eyes widened. "I'm not going to ask how you know that," he decided, smiling wryly. "Anyway, let's just say we exchanged notes, the priests and I. It's theoretical for me but we'll adapt it so you can try it out. Do you want to learn how a Light Shield works?"

Eclipse's frown twisted into a smile.

"This list is longer than I expected." Darren folded the piece of paper Vol'Shalai had given him. "Considering that Tarik has the other half."

Nylene nodded. "What do we need to get?"

They stepped into the sunlight, Nylene could feel the difference of temperature on her face and arms. She had decided to wear a shorter cloak that covered only the upper half of her wings. Her glaives were safe in a chest at the Gilded Rose.

"Myrrh for incense, beeswax candles, a ceremonial drum, butterflies..." Darren read, unfolding the paper again.

"Butterflies? Why in the world would he want butterflies?" Nylene asked, frowning.

"Ancient symbol of rebirth," Darren explained. "The list goes on. Thank the Light Vol'Shalai has his totems because shaman magic is much harder for him without them. Seems most of the stuff on this list is either connected to the Elements, like his totems, or to Death."

"Wonderful," Nylene sighed.

"It makes sense. The ritual was meant to call for the Loa of Death."

"Right." Nylene went through the list in her mind. "Where do we get a ceremonial drum? Should we try the Auction House?"

Darren hummed, barely audible over the chatter of a group of women that passed them by. Their conversation halted for a few seconds when they were closest to Nylene.

"That or we can ask around at the Cathedral," Darren went on. "Maybe we can find a Draenei shaman who'll let us borrow one."

"That should go smoothly. Let's just walk up there and say, 'Greetings, we are a death knight and demon hunter and want to defile, pardon, borrow your sacred object. But don't worry, it's not for us but a troll shaman to locate our friend, the pegasus ghost. So you shall definitely get it back soon.' I think our chances are better at the Auction House, Darren."

"Auction house it is," Darren agreed. "Let's buy those butterflies first. I think there's an Alchemy shop in the Mage Quarter. They should have most of what's on the list."

Darren was quiet for a while. Nylene followed him as he lead the way across the canal to the Mage Quarter. She watched his aura as it shifted around him. He was worried.

"We could ask Khadgar," Nylene suggested. "For the drum. He might know where to find one."

"Maybe," said Darren, then fell silent again.

After they passed an archway, the cobblestones were replaced by grass. They were now in the Mage Quarter. In any other place, the feet of all the people would have trampled the leaves to dust in no time. Here, the grass was soft and muffled their steps as they followed the inclining street. Was Equestria like that? Eclipse had told stories that the ponies used magic to tend the land.

"Is this what the Crystal Empire is like?" Nylene asked.

"A little," Darren said. "Actually, in appearance, the Crystal Empire is closer to Dalaran. They also have a force field." He motioned to the left and Nylene followed him around a corner.

She could not keep the conversation going. Nylene sighed inwardly. This was useless. Darren was so focused on his task to save Levinia that he avoided any distractions. He also did not share his worries, not really. She wanted to help him, and not just by buying things for their quest.

This friendship thing was fascinating. Eclipse had a strange influence on her. Since becoming a demon hunter, she had always had a short fuse. Now she wished to share kindness with her friends and wanted to see Eclipse laugh and Darren at ease. Everything else was... less important.

Oh, by the light of Elune, she had to look for her sister! Guilt wormed its way up in her belly as Nylene remembered why she had originally come to Stormwind. She had completely forgotten about it and not even noticed it.

After her visit with Vera Fletcher, though, Nylene was not so sure if she even should return to searching for lost family. Darren had the advantage that he was basically back to human. Nylene, on the other hand, was still half demon. Permanently. She would be shunned even by her own blood.

Fel fire was unthinkable magic among Night Elves. It was the magic that had destroyed their greatest source of power and invited the demons into Azeroth. Lord Illidan had shown Nylene that sometimes you had to fight fire with fire. And so she and her allies had done precisely that, fighting demons by stealing their powers, sometimes almost becoming demons themselves. But also at the cost of their family ties. If she was completely honest with herself, her chances of rejoining her family were so slim that she could dismiss them as non-existent.

No, better to focus on something that had at least a chance to succeed: finding Levinia and bringing Eclipse the little pony home to his own family. A worthy pursuit. And even if she would not succeed, at least she would not regret using her time for it. Eclipse did not care about her demonic side in the slightest. And judging by what he knew about the Scourge, Nylene was sure that the colt had a slight idea what that meant to her. Becoming friends with undead and demons and trolls, that little pony was a special creature. The most confusing about the whole thing was that it felt right.

Nylene smiled to herself. She had a purpose again. She would not turn away from it.

There, the Alchemy shop. Darren had just ascended a short ramp and entered a house. Nylene opted to wait outside in the sun.

Vol'Shalai tugged at his shirt. It was made of linen, light blue and incredibly soft. His new pants were dark green and went down to his ankles.

"Thanks for da clothes," he told Tarik. The two of them were on their way to the Old Town. Tarik had mentioned that he knew somebody who could get them rush'kah paint.

Tarik nodded, his eyes wandering over a slip of paper almost identical to the one Vol'Shalai had given Darren. He frowned, maybe trying to figure out what the things on the list were for exactly.

"Surprise ya found pants and shirt that fit me," Vol'Shalai remarked.

"Not really. Allison collects the clothes that the occasional inn guest leaves behind. But her son is still growing. And humans only make it to six feet, more or less - so there you go."

"Wait a minute... dis be Night Elf stuff?!" Vol'Shalai exclaimed. A dwarf they passed by shot a dark gaze at them. He lowered his voice to a normal volume. "Well, that explains da smell."

Tarik rolled his eyes.

"By da way, I feel kinda naked without my armor and axe," Vol'Shalai continued. He put his hands in his pockets and looked curiously at the people they passed by, fascinated by the mixture of fear and disgust on their faces. Some humans did a double take, probably because of those Night Elf clothes. His bare two-toed feet, tusks and red mohawk still made it perfectly clear that he was a troll and not a treehugger.

"You get used to it," said Tarik absent-mindedly. "We should be close. Ah. Over there." He pointed at a house that sat between two taller buildings. It was only four yards wide, looking as if it had been compressed to fit into the gap.

"Haha, sponge house," Vol'Shalai giggled. "Poor ting can't even breathe."

Tarik's frown deepened. "Better refrain from such comments. The owner's sensitive on that subject. One question, though."

"Uh-huh," said Vol'Shalai, tilting his head back to get a better view of the narrow house. There was only space for two windows and they were on top of each other, their distance from each other suggesting that the upper floor was probably too small for Vol'Shalai to stand upright.

"What's the paint for?"

"Oh, dat be for a Kaz'kah." Noticing Tarik's clueless expression, he added, "Special totem. Ya can call it death totem."


"Says da death knight." Vol'Shalai smirked.

"Fair point. Anyway. Let me do the talking." Tarik knocked at the door, folded the paper and tucked it away. Vol'Shalai noticed that the doorknob was very low, at the height of his knees. He half expected Twilight Sparkle or Arcus to open the door.

Instead, a little gnome stood there, clad in robes, and jumped when they saw Vol'Shalai.

"My! Tarik! Uh, er, hello! Didn't know you were in town!" They talked pretty fast, making it hard for Vol'Shalai to understand them, like a clock that was wound to tight.

"May we come in?" Tarik asked, suddenly very polite.

"S-sure, yes, yes, of course, come in before there's trouble," the gnome said, stepping aside and hectically gesturing with their free hand.

"Trouble? Are you expecting any?" Tarik asked, pointing at the doorframe to warn Vol'Shalai about its insufficient height. They followed the gnome who quickly shut the door again.

"With a troll, there's always trouble," said the gnome, then they winced as if expecting immediate retailiation from Vol'Shalai. "Sorry, sorry, meant no offense!"

Vol'Shalai just shrugged. "In Stormwind, I agree wit ya," he said, smiling apologetically and thinking back to his time in prison. His hand went to his bandaged, throbbing arm.

Meanwhile, the gnome zipped around, lighting additional candles in the already bright room. The glasses on a sturdy desk suggested that the light was needed to make reading and writing easier. That was confirmed by the hundreds of scrolls filling a shelf that covered the entire left wall. Now that it was brighter, Vol'Shalai got a better look at the gnome. They were slightly taller as Eclipse, with a relatively big head as usual for their species and full green hair that went down to their neck.

"Vol'Shalai, meet Zizmo Topplescratch," Tarik said. "I have never met a gnome with more scrolls, inks or smarts than them. Best chance for us to get what we need."

"Greetings," said Zizmo, fiddling with the match they had used to light the candles, then flicking it into the unlit fireplace. "Tarik, why did you bring a troll into my house? I thought we were friends." They winced again.

Tarik frowned. "Vol'Shalai is... aiding me with something. We need a certain... kind of pigment?" He looked at Vol'Shalai who nodded.

"Nice ta meet ya, Zizmo Topple-Scratch," he said. He grinned. "Never talked to a gnome before. Not da weirdest ting that happened. Anyway! Da paint is made from herbs ya can only find on Kalimdor. And I only know da names in Orcish and my own language."

"Oh, I think I have just the book for that," squeaked Zizmo. They went to the shelf and reached for the stepladder. "The illustrations," they panted, pulling a large tome from the shelf that threatened to bury them under it as they did so, "are extraordinarily detailed. Just describe to me what the herbs look and smell like, where to find them, and I'll look them up for you. But what do you plan to do with the pigments?"

"We lost a friend. She's been taken and we can't find her without magic," Vol'Shalai said. "I understand you don't trust trolls. But I won't hurt ya. I just wanna buy da paint."

He watched Zizmo as they dragged the tome to their desk. He had the feeling that it was better if he kept his distance to the nervous gnome. He did not want to upset them or anything. They cast looks at him like a nervous pony, ready to run at the smallest hint of danger.

"Did she die and you want to resurrect her with your 'voodoo'?" Zizmo asked sharply.

"Oh, no, no, she didn't go to the odda side," Vol'Shalai said, hiding a grin.

"Well, then that's fine, I suppose," Zizmo stated. "All right, tall one, if you would start describing the first herb for me, we can begin."

"This is gonna take a while," sighed Tarik, leaning against a chair, his arms crossed.

Khadgar ducked, quickly raising his hand to conjure a force field.

"Ah, crap!" Eclipse called out. The bang of the lightning bolt echoed through the tiled chamber, thrown this way and that by the tall walls. Luckily, there were no books or pieces of furniture to burn. Only a few scorch marks dotted the floor now, harmless black spots.

"I'm fine," Khadgar assurd him, letting the purple sphere dissolve that had formed around him. It had easily absorbed the lightning bolt. "That wasn't a shield, though, but an offensive spell."

"Uh, er, well, I didn't mean to offend you," Eclipse stammered, gliding to the floor on his little wings. The smoke around his eyes dissipated.

Khadgar laughed. "That's not what I meant. But I can see the problem now. So far, you have cast Void spells exclusively. Not a single Light spell. Even the Dispel is basically a Void spell."

Eclipse's ears splayed back. "So there's no balance," he stated sadly.

"Very - yes, exactly." The wizard pursed his lips and seemed to think hard. "You learned meditation?"


"Let's try something else, then. I will call for some help, alright?" Khadgar suggested.

Help? Another stranger? Eclipse sighed. "Do we have to?" he asked. "I'm kinda tired, Sir..."

"Oh, don't worry, you already know her," said Khadgar. "But you're right, we should take a break." He raised his hand and said some complicated words. A small table appeared between them, along with a chair and a large pillow. Then, simple porcelain plates, a cake, a knife and a large water bottle appeared, landing gently on the unfolding blue tabecloth.

"I love magic," Eclipse said with a grin. "Sometimes I wish I was a unicorn."

They sat down at the table and Khadgar cut up the cake. "Magic does have its advantages," he admitted, "but it can't solve the real problems. It's great for creating them, though. I hope you like chocolate."

Eclipse dug into his piece of cake. There was silence while both of them chewed.

"I disagree," Eclipse said slowly. "I think Friendship is great for solving problems. I've seen what Friendship and Love can do. Everything else is just fancy tricks compared to that kind of magic. Like a bunny in a hat."

"You consider Friendship to be magic?" Khadgar asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Hay yeah!" Eclipse's eyes widened as his shout echoed through the hall.

"Wait, you mentioned Twilight Sparkle had something to do with that," Khadgar remembered.

Eclipse nodded, reaching for another piece of cake. "She's the Princess of Friendship. Princess Cadence, I mean the ruler of the Crystal Empire, is the Princess of Love, Princess Celestia raises the sun, Princess Luna raises the moon and Princess Flurry Heart, er, she doesn't really do anything yet cause she's a baby. But she's powerful, too. Anyway, Twilight and her friends used Friendship to save Equestria so many times that I don't even know about all of them. Like, there's Discord, the spirit of Chaos. He wanted to take over the world but they stopped him. And now they are friends. I heard he likes pranks but he's not mean anymore. Not very much, anyway. I think he annoys Jonathan, he said that Discord turned him into a pony once and... well, that's an example," he finished feebly. "Sometimes they can't reform somepony, though, then they have to seal them away so they can't hurt anyone anymore."

"I see," Khadgar muttered. "Maybe I've approached this the wrong way. I will summon Miindra and then we can try something else. I think if you focus on protecting a friend rather than just conjuring an abstract energy sphere, you'll make progress pretty quickly."

"That sounds okay," Eclipse agreed. "As long as she isn't in real danger."

A door opened. As the beam of light grew wider, revealing the shilouettes of two bipeds, Levinia perked up. Her light shone a little brighter as as she floated into the middle of the bottle to get a better look.

One of them approached her. His hood was down so Levinia could see his face. He was maybe around thirty, with black hair and brown eyes. He did not look particularly evil. He was just a human guy. His hand closed around the bottleneck and Levinia was shoved into a bag once again. The bottle jumped up and down with each step the man took.

They took the bottle out in a different room, a much brighter room. It was perfectly round, covered by a dome, built of heavy, white stones. There were no windows, just a single door. The man uncorked the bottle and Levinia quickly flew out of her prison. But before she could get any further, the woman said a strange word. She threw a metal ring to the ground, made of something that glowed like radioactive steel. It was maybe two or three human feet in diameter. As soon as the ring was still, the runes on it glowed in a sickly blue light. Levinia felt heavy. She was pulled in, forced to stay above the strange ring.

She could finally change her shape, though. Reforming into her natural pegasus shape, she glared angrily at the humans.

"Who are you people?" she demanded. "Where am I? What do you want from me?"

"You were right, she can talk," said the man, looking impressed.

"Of course," said the woman. She was still wearing her hood, concealing her face. "Now shut up. I want to do this right."

The man respectfully stepped aside, casting a curious look at Levinia. His lips moved as if he wanted to say something but then he folded his hands behind his back and watched.

The woman reached under her cloak and withdrew a large dagger. Did a dagger count as a sword if its blade was as long as the bearer's forearm?

"I'm not dangerous!" Levinia said quickly. "We can talk about this!" She shivered. He mane flowed wildly in the ethereal breeze. Something about this dagger was not right. Is had runes similar to the ones on the containment ring and, now that she thought about it, the runes on Darren's sword, too.

The woman raised the dagger and with a swift movement she stabbed Levinia's foreleg.

Levinia screamed, half in surprise, because it hurt worse than she had expected. The pain shot right up her leg, spreading in her entire body and in her mind, too. She glowed brighter than usual, the blue light casting eerie shadows on the ground and wall. The woman twisted the blade and moved it to the side, taking a bit of ethereal flesh with it. It was a strange substance, a little like blue gooey powder, a little like liquid light. She picked it up with her thumb and finger, making her hand look like pincers. Was she disgusted?

Hands are weird, Levinia thought through her pain. She held her leg close, covering her wound with the other hoof. She could not help the whimper that escaped her as needles of pain ran up and down her leg. She felt weaker than ever before.

"The bottle," said the woman and the man held it in front of her. She slipped the bit of soul into the bottle and sealed it again. "Get it to analysis," she ordered the man. He nodded and hurried away.

"My friends will find me," Levinia told the woman. "And then you'll be sorry."

"Too late," the woman said, her old voice even. "I'm beyond 'sorry'. But you - you may be of use to us yet." She turned on her heel and left. The door banged shut behind her.

Levinia floated above the circle, slowly sinking to the ground. Her quiet sobs filled the round chamber.