• Published 22nd Feb 2021
  • 4,123 Views, 131 Comments

The Endeavor of the Damned Shadows - dannny43

After having been stripped of everything but name, awakening to a strangely familiar world, and having all of his reality turned on its head, Austin Merkelo is determined to return to Earth, sparing no caution, effort, or opportunity.

  • ...

Chapter 3: Falling Down.




The slow rhythmic beet of a monitor machine was the first thing to register within my mind. Resurging from the fogginess of sleep, a throaty yawn escaped my mouth as I licked my dry lips. Saying that I felt like shit was a vast understatement, especially with my throat as dry as a desert. Trying to learn of my whereabouts, my crusted eyes slid open only to swiftly shut after observing a world of blurs and searing light. Where am I? What's happening? ...Is it over? Am I finally awake? This is a hospital, right? I must have recovered from the drugs or coma or whatever. About time. With that conclusion in mind, I was content with stretching, reorienting myself into a more comfortable position, and continue to rest. During all that, I couldn't help but notice my body and posture felt out of whack. Eh whatever, I've been asleep for a day or two, bound to have a cramped body after all that. I continued to lay there for a few minutes before the sound of a door opening and the sounds of movement was heard, notably the distinct sound of clip-clops. I refused to open my eyes, refused to acknowledge what I just heard. There's 'Bring your son/daughter to work day', that much I know. Never heard of a 'Bring your horse to work day' though. Denial didn't hold its sway much longer as I peaked one eye, taking focus on the yellow pony with a doctor's coat and a stethoscope inspecting the IV and monitor before me. It didn't take long for him to notice my peeping.

"Ah, good morning Mr. Merkelo. I hope I didn't disturb your sleep, although I doubt it since it seems the medication worked well enough seeing as you slept like a baby. Just checking your condition, no significant changes in the past three hours. My name's Healthy Horse or Doctor Healthy or likewise Doctor Horse but that's what my cousin in Ponyville goes as so it can be a bit confusing. Anyway, feel free to call me with whichever. Now the Princesses had informed me of the current situation surrounding you and your friend so for the time being, I shall be both your enlisted medical official. Before I continue further, are you currently experiencing any discomfort or pain?"

The impossible sight of the pony doctor left my mind blank for a few seconds. Regaining my composure, a soft request left my mouth, "Water."

The doctor fetched a small cup for me and I greedily gulped it down, barely soothing my arid throat. The doctor repeated his question, and the barest shake of my head prompted him to continue.

"No? Good, that means the medication is effective. Now that you're awake, I'll inform the Princesses. You've had them worried for the past couple of days. Before I go, do you need anything else? Another cup perhaps? No? Then I shall be on my way. Oh, one last thing, I will recommend you see an otolaryngologist in the near future, your snoring was driving Nurse Cross Heart crazy hahaha." With that said, the doc finished his inspection, administered some more medicine into the IV, and left me alone for the moment.

I could only lay in disbelief of the sheer audacity this dream had to last this long. Pain, rage, and confusion began to battle within me, enough so to make me crush the paper cup with my...hoof. "No...no...what. The. Hell. What the hell? It still ain't over?" Think, last night...or was it two nights ago? Noon? Whatever, I was... bleeding, profusely from my fucked up wings for whatever reason. There was excruciating pain and I felt sick to my stomach. Luna got me, took me to the other royals, a couple of questions asked and answered, more pain, screams, pain... then I'm here. So much pain... normally I would be cursing up a storm with what I felt yesterday, but I just gritted my teeth and fought through it, which isn't normal for me since I consider myself to be pretty sensitive to pain, but this is a dream so normalcy be damned. Nothing but a dream...or so I keep saying.

Only now taking in my surroundings, the pristine and clean textures adorning every aspect of the hospital room became forefront to me. Not a speck of dirt, dust, grime, or stains could be seen anywhere from my view and the floor and walls themselves looked to have a coat of gloss, all of which was a testament to the horse society's cleanliness. They literally already have the 'next to godliness' part covered. The medical machine and IV stand were both almost exactly like the human counterpart, except a distinct lack of cables or power outlets was noted. Instead, the machines had the barest hint of a coating of some aura, magically powered was what I presumed, however that worked. Depending upon what medical career I will go with, if I can even get into medical, this room could be what my workstation will be, that would entail some aspect of nursing maybe, and that's not something I'm too keen to go into.

After a few minutes, the clip-clops of hooves could be heard outside my doorway. I struggled for a second to orient myself onto my stomach and face the doorway to present myself more appropriately. Princess Luna, followed by the doctor from before, stepped into the room before shutting it closed. Luna's horn shimmered to life as her magic proceeded to engulf the door and surrounding walls. "What's with the magic?"

"Confidentiality," the doc noted, "While H.I.P.A.A dictates disclosure of information between only doctor and patients exclusively, the system will allow an exemption for the Princess only under an agreement of classification of a royal investigation, which entails strict measures of secrecy for any and all parties associated, thus the soundproofing of this room. With the Princesses involved, it was required albeit easy to file. The only thing left is for you to complete a few forms."

Said forms were handed or... hoofed... to me. My attention was immediately drawn to the plethora of statements, clauses, and inquiries of myself and personnel information of a wide variety. That's when I took note of the title of the forms, 'Central Equestrian Services: Medical History Form.' followed by 'Central Equestrian Services: H.I.P.A.A Disclosure Agreement Form'. "What...what...what the fuck are these?"

"Those are the C.E.S verified medical and disclosure forms that are necessary for the Dean to file into the records and for the operation to get underway."

"Doctor," Luna began, "Those forms can and will wait, Austin here doesn't yet know of his condition and the operation is already prepared for him to go under. It cannot wait."

"Condition? Operation? The fuck is happening here, seriously someone start spilling the beans!"

While Luna held a bewildered expression upon hearing my metaphor, the doc wasted not a second to inform me, "Mr. Merkelo, do you have any memory of what transpired? Two days ago during your morning interview, an excessive pile of blood was discovered within your guest quarters of which caused a small scene. Not a moment later, the Princesses called for a medical emergency of which was stated that you proceeded to void blood and bodily fluids before succumbing to unconsciousness. What we uncovered in the medical room was your wings bearing a remarkable case of severely advanced Necrotizing Fasciitis or more commonly known as the Flesh-Eating Disease. If what you had informed the Princesses to be true, then should you have been afflicted with the disease from the beginning, severe symptoms would not show for at least a weak. Yet having only been in Equestria for at most a day, your body was heavily afflicted overnight which with normal pony anatomy should not have been possible. To further complicate the issue, any and all attempts to use magical treatments resulted in a drastic increase in the disease's progress. After consulting with the Princesses on alicorn anatomies, we now also believe that the increased healing factor that all alicorns possess is also to be blamed for how far this disease has progressed through your system."

"This healing factor is a basic magical component ingrained in the D.N.A of all alicorns. This is what allows Celestia and I along with Twilight, Flurry, and Cadence to maintain peak medical health against most if not all diseases and bacteria that commonly plague our ponies. The magical healing factor circulation is most prominent within our horns and wings as they are fused with the most magic of anywhere on our bodies aside from our mane. Upon confirmation of the disease also prevailing within your horn, albeit at a less severe stage, I believe that the healing factor is still ingrained within you but lacks the magical element that provides the healing itself, thus leading us to now confirm a new predicament that we feared when we first met you."

"A new predicament? What, you mean there's more than a fucking flesh-eating disease?"

"I'm afraid so. After detaining your friend, we committed ourselves to finding you. We used a mana tracking spell to find your trail within the forest. This wouldn't have worked had it not been for Pinkie's recounting and Ethan's retelling of the area from which you were last seen in. Normally a tracking spell can detect the magical signatures of any creatures with excellent accuracy within a certain range, but it was virtually impossible for us to track your signature. Tia and I had to use our combined Alicorn magic to garner a hint of your residue which produced the equivalent of a bread crumb trail at best. What this all means is, just by standing in front of you, I can tell that you have no unique mana within you, alicorn or otherwise. The only traces I can detect in you is that of background signatures, you are invisible on the mana spectrum."

"So... what you're saying is that I have... no magic in me?"

"As far as we can tell, yes, you hold no unique magic within you."

"But what does that have to do with the disease? why do I even have it to begin with?"

Doctor Healthy allowed Luna room to explain the rest herself, "The magical circulation within our wings and horns acts as the blood that applies to the rest of our body, bringing oxygen and nutrients to supports the cells. Without it, there is simply not enough blood circulating within them to maintain the health state. The healing factor is left to double the increase and spread of the rot. Add in the fact that the natural field of magic all across Equis is also increasing the spread, the disease grows at four times the normal rate in your body. As for why you lack any magic, I am not sure. Discord said you were of a chaotic nature and reeked of chaotic decay, and not being originally from our reality is perhaps the reason why. Nevertheless, it appears the disease is isolated within your horn and wings alone, but it will not be long before the rest begins creeping throughout your body. Hopefully, the surgical removal and subsequent regeneration of your horn and wings will re-establish the magical circulation within you. We have delayed the operation enough as it is. Come Austin."

"Princess, I'm sorry but without those forms, the operation cannot begin."

"Austin's anatomy is similar enough to ours's doctor. One of our files should be supplement enough."

"Perhaps, but without the files-"

"The operation cannot be delayed any further, they will wait."

"But Mr. Black and Mr. White are alrea-"

"Should they prove themselves a hindrance I shall simply enact a 16b. clause on them."

"But... as you wish Princess."

"Come Austin, we must hurry."

So much was happening so fast, I have a disease and no magic and operations and paperwork. Why brain, why? All this detail and terms and fucking paperwork, what the fuck are you doing? What the fuck is even happening anymore? What am I supposed to do? Confused and angry over the never-ending and complicating pony tale, I fling myself off the side of the bed and hold my ground, "No. No. No. No. I can't even begin to comprehend what any of this is supposed to mean but I have had it up to hear with this horse dream! Fuck your operation, your disease, and your magic! Just point me to Ethan and let me end my suffering."

Having completed my rant, Luna paused within the door frame, a slow turn of her head to her side showed me the rising ire within her eye. Her voice held no room to argue further, "Austin, I am in no mood to deter your mind from the thought of dreaming a fictional realm. Real or not the sooner we be done with this simply means the sooner it will be done, there is no room for further delays."

But having come to my wit's end, I argued further despite what her tone inclined, "The sooner I find Ethan the sooner all of this will simply be done. If you aren't willing to help then stay out of my way." My piece said, I began to walk myself out of the room, only to be forcefully lifted off the floor by Luna's magic. Panic and sickness began to rise together and before long I was desperately flailing my legs in all directions, trying to find traction anywhere I could. In the process, I accidentally flung one of my feet into Luna's glowing horn, giving it a nice good but relatively forceless smack. Surprisingly this seemed enough to cease her magic and leave her rubbing her horn in slight agitation. using this surprise as my chance to escape I flung myself down a hall as fast as my horse legs could carry me, riding like Bull's-eye on the wind. But this daring escape managed to last about fifteen seconds before the glow of Luna was once again encompassing me.

Slowly and gently, Luna manipulated me towards her. Before long I was held within social distance of her, whereupon I expected her ire to still be within her eye, yet she held no such flame any longer. "I'm terribly sorry, Lone Star, for my behavior. My anger and frustration became too much for myself back there and I should not have used such force upon you. But I cannot let you go endangering yourself with this untreated disease and let you succumb to an unnecessary death. Please, I know that your mind cannot handle this 'dream' much longer but this must and will be done. Stop fighting it. Please."

As much as I wanted to deck her horn again, the way she spoke, so downtrodden and... real, I just couldn't make myself do it. "...Goddammit. Let's get it over with. The second I'm done in there is the second I'm finding Ethan. I promise you that much."

A small smile made itself know on Luna. "Thank you." With that she, while still floating me in her magic, made her toward the operating room, apologizing along the way for inducing the sickness from her magic grip. Before long we enter a lounge room whereupon Luna is beset by two near-identical ponies. Said ponies were sporting attire akin to that of the secret service, sunglasses, suit and all. both sporting a buzz-cut hairdo and both holding a somewhat stern look upon themselves. The only discernable trait they held was one had a black coat with black hair and the other with both white.

"Princess Luna." spoke the black one.

"Mr. White."

"Princess Luna." spoke the white one.

"Mr. Black."

...Pony names everyone.

Mr. White turned his... no wait Mr. Black turned his head to the side of Mr. White and spoke in a 'whisper,' "She's not gonna go through with it. We're wasting our time. She's just gonna give us the 16b."

Mr. White equally inclined his head and just as softly whispered back, "Doesn't matter, we have to try."

Mr. White cleared his throat before addressing the Princess, "Princess Luna. We can't help but notice you have Austin within your hold and are making your way straight towards the operating room, even though we have yet to receive either form to properly follow hospital and C.E.S protocol."

"Gentleponies, I understand that you both follow protocol to the letter, and I commend your service to it, but Austin is in critical condition and needs this operation now. The forms will have to wait. I do not wish to enact 16b."

"I understand Princess," Mr. White continued, "Unfortunately as the representative of the C.E.S, I must inform you that nopony is above the C.E.S laws and guidelines. Protocol dictates the quick and swift acquisition of the necessary files, in which in this very rare and specific case, means all the most prominent ones."

Mr. Black continued after his counterpart, "And as a representative of the E.R.S, the situation surrounding Austin and Ethan is one of particular importance to our agency, as well as the C.E.S, and we wish to swiftly sort it out with the utmost efficiency and maximum benefit for all parties involved."

"If you wish, you can file a complaint to the C.E-"

"Mr. Black, Mr. White."

"Oh boy here it comes."

"I hereby declare a 16b. clause from the Royal Equestrian Constitution. Stand Aside, please."

"As you wish, your Highness."

And just like that, both ponies seemingly dropped the issue without batting an eye. As they trotted past me, Mr. White... or was it Mr. Black? Fuck it, the white pony shifted his head towards mine, "Once you are done with the operation Austin, at your earliest convenience we wish to begin sorting through Ethan's forms. You will be necessary for the completion of our works. Seek us out at the cafeteria. We shall be waiting."

Without a word more to me, both continued their trot, not without conversing within my hearing. "Perhaps we were being too rash that time. Austin is in critical condition and we were holding him up."

"I will not argue against that. We failed to uphold the C.E.S standard in etiquette."

"...And we kinda stood in the way of a pony and his salvation."

"Well yeah, of course, but I mean c'mon. He's an alicorn, Celestia and Luna have survived worse than some bacteria...right? Anyway, he'd be healthy as a horse by tomorrow no worries."

"...That's some messed up thinking, friend. You shouldn't downplay our actions like that. I think you need some help."

"...I'll... I'll get my vacation days in order."

They finally concluded their talk after reaching the corner of the hall and promptly disappeared.

"What was that all about? That 16b. clause thing."

"Royal Equestrian Constitution. 16b. clause, in a nutshell, 'you are to cease all actions and confide unto the princess's command.' a handy if not tedious clause."

"That's it? Do what I say? I thought being a Princess, ya-know the head of Equestria itself meant you could do that already."

"Over a millennia ago, perhaps. What was a basic display of our royal power has now been reduced to that of a last resort of convenience. At least for me. Sure we can still tell ponies to 'Do what I say' with little argument, but higher officials or the occasional stubborn mule must be subjected to a 16b. for my sake if nothing else. It drives Celestia crazy having to deal with the complaints following a clause. She saw it fit to have it essentially come with a fee for the crown every time it is abused."

"Which is every time you use it I'm guessing?"

Still trying to rack myself up on everything that had transpired, Luna could be heard heaving a heavy sigh just over my shoulder. "The burdens of bureaucracy have only strengthened since the time of the two sisters, before the Nightmare. For all our sakes Austin once this is done, fill the paperwork and save yourself from any repercussions otherwise, it is simply not worth the hassle."

"Hehehe. I'll be long gone before having to deal with any of that shit Luna. Let you have all the fun."

A simple roll of her eyes followed my comment. "Oh but of course. I keep forgetting you believe this to be only a dream." A calm silence reined for a minute before being broken by her soft, melancholy voice. "When it truly hits home, as they say... I shall be here for you... for no one was for me."

Nothing further was spoken between us as I was ushered closer to the operating room. The surrealism of this dream could not contrast further to how real Luna was at that very moment. The sheer emotion was enough for me to truly believe it was real, if for just the fewest of seconds, but I knew better. My body was released to a nurse within the room as Luna excused herself from my sight. One more time into dream-dream land and hopefully this will all be gone when I open my eyes. If not, then Ethan. Resolve whatever Ethan did and I will be free. It's all I got left, it has to work. It will work. The nurse attached a breathing respirator to my mouth and began pumping the no doubt gases of anesthesia. Sure enough within a matter of seconds, my world became the familiar darkness of sleep.




Once again, I awoke to the sound of a monitor machine, only this time I didn't just feel like shit, I felt sore as well. Grand. My back and head were pulsing dull but constant pain, enough so to make me believe I was finally awake this time. Fool me once, shame on you. Twice, it's on me. Three times and well...something, something treasure chest? What was I doing again? Oh right waking up. Opening my eyes revealed another patient room of a similar design as the other. Lifting my hands revealed instead two hooves, confirming my growing phobia of never waking up. Then I remembered about Ethan and managed to calm myself considerably. Ok, third time wasn't the charm, but Ethan is apparently the key out like I've been thinking of this whole time, that's fine, just gotta let my things regrow and they'll let me out no problem. Yeah, almost over.

Taking a minute to rest, it wasn't long before the nurse from before entered my room. "Hello, Mr. Merkelo. It's good to see you up. How are you feeling?"

"I'm fine, nurse. A bit sore on my back and quite the headache."

"I'd bet. Well, the operation was a success. We managed to stop the spread before it could invade the rest of your body and we can safely say that because of your alicorn nature, your wings and horn should be properly healed within the week."

Her comment managed to catch my attention, "W-Week? Did you just say a week? But I thought me being an alicorn came with an increased healing factor? The magic circulation blood stuff?"

"Well yes, it's because of the healing factor that you are managing to recover from the surgery at all. While the surgery is complete, none of us are sure as to the effects that are to come. Our hope was that with the regrowth of your horn and wings, so too would the circulation regrow, but there is no guarantee."

"But that could take up to a week to find out?" A nod was just enough for Austin to make his decision. Sorry Luna, but I ain't waiting a whole week. This ends today. Just as the nurse was about to leave, I prompted a last-minute question. "Nurse, I don't suppose you know the directions to the cafeteria do you?"

Sneaking out of the room and meeting Mr. Black and White was surprisingly easy. Luna was apparently dealing with the dean and the consequences of her clause, and the amount of hospital personnel that were aware of my true nature was severely limited, it also helped that I hid my wings with Celestia's cloak. Mr. Black and White were all too eager to get underway with resolving Ethan's issue and I was ready to put MLP behind me so win-win. It turned out that I was hospitalized within the infirmary wing of the castle. Could have fooled me, the place was fricken huge! In a matter of a few minutes, Black and White lead me towards the dungeons of Canterlot, but even then they were far too clean and pristine for me to call them dungeons. Little to no ponies were within the cells themselves, save Ethan and another, but the mare was only in because she was too tired and without bits to rent a motel for the night and was kindly offered a cell here. Before long we were outside Ethan's cell, which was abnormally quiet, most likely sleeping.

"This is his here. Has relatively behaved for the most part unlike what his file states from Ponyville."

"Has he said or done anything since then?"

"Only asked for you. Refused almost all questions and just said 'Talk to my guardian.' Which of course was you. Speaking of which, how exactly are you his guardian? You're what five-six years older than him?"

"Something like that. I'm going in."

"Yeah ok just let us know if yo- hey wait you need to read his fold-" He didn't get to finish his statement before I fully closed and sealed the door shut before turning around to look upon Ethan for the first time in like...days.

Said asshole was stroking the sides of his horn with his hand-wings and had a look of focus before noticing me to his right. "Oh hey...about time you showed up. Shit's been boring in here."

"...We're gonna have a little chat."


"Easy! Goddamn! you trying to burst my fucking ears?"


"Dude she was totally asking for it and she was like two years younger than me. A minor for humans maybe but being stuck in hear I've come to learn you aren't an adult until at least twenty so we were both ok with the law. Cool it, fucking seriously."

"Oh why this? Why fucking this? When that freaky lizard thing and skittles-hair pony said you got touchy-feely I thought they meant something like a slap on the ass or maybe some groping or something, something mild, but no. Oh no, no, no, no! A minor! A fucking minor! Do you realize the shit this will do for me? As if I didn't have enough Ethan! I'll have to establish meetings with the parent's and I'll have to listen to their story and their demands then hire a lawyer... because I'm your guardian... and I'll have to...take...responsibility...."

Austin stood there for seconds staring at nothing, leaving Ethan room to talk after his rants. "Dude, I don't think that's how the law system works."

"...What... am I doing. This... isn't real. I'm screaming at myself...at nothing. I..." I couldn't be bothered to say anymore. I was losing it. I was screaming at nothing real, wasting my time on nothing, in a dream of...nothing. Exiting the cell, Mr. Black and White were still waiting for me, with them a briefcase that seemed stuffed full.

"Merkelo. It sounds like it went well in there."

"Indeed. Now that it seems you've gotten everything out of your system, we will be going over the essential files and forms that will be necessary in order for you to fill out if we are to get this whole issue resolved."

They were speaking words. Talking to me. But I heard none of it. I was thinking. Searching. Ethan was a dead end. Not dealing with him or his crap. Not dealing with anything anymore. Can't take this anymore. Must end it. How? The Bed. Fall off the bed. Wake up. Fall off. Wake up. Fall...awaken.

"In this folder, we have the most prominent forms on hoof. C.E.S Medical History from before, H.I.P.A.A Disclosure Agreement also from before, Background Information Form, Citize-"

"The landing platform...where?"

"I'm sorry, what was that?"

"...Chariot... landing... platform...where...is...it."

"Austin please, save your questions once we divulge the-"

"Where. Is. It." Neither Austin nor Mr. Black or White noticed the tiniest sliver of dark sparks that accumulated for the briefest of seconds where his horn's tip would be. Austin was barely holding himself with uncontrollable rage and slipping sanity while the other two were surprised and startled by the complete turn around in Austin.

"It's... uh it's up from the dungeon entrance. Just take a right past the Courthouse and you'll see it from there."

Not sparing the two any more of his time, Austin followed the directions given. A simple but final plan set in motion.

It didn't take a genius for anyone to figure out where Austin would've gone, especially with Black and White absent as well. So it took no effort for Luna to decipher his whereabouts. However, by the time she arrived at the dungeons, the bureaucrats were already making their disappointed trek back to the headquarters. Startled by her appearance, the two made a halt just before exiting.

"P-Princess Luna, what can we do fo-"

"Save it. You both brought him down here. Where is he?"

"He's um... heading towards the ...sky chariot platform."

"And for what purpose precisely?"

"We're um... not sure."

"He just kept mumbling about falling. Fall and wake up I...think... uh-oh."

Uh-oh, indeed. A split second of thinking was all she needed to realize what he was trying to do. She didn't know how much time she had before he'd make it so alerting the guards was not valid. Deciding on stopping him herself, she swiftly and elegantly displayed her aerial skills in one swift motion of raw Pegasus power, enough so to garner her enough speed to make it towards the platform just as Austin reached the edge himself.

He was so close. So close to finally ending this eternally damned dream. Never in a million years could he have thought he could be broken just by dreaming of MLP for three days straight or was it six? Who cares, the edge was right there. Time to end it. Walking ever closer to the edge seemed to bring a sense of clarity that Austin had been Lacking since the dungeon. Step by step a sobering sense filled his mind until at last he was at the very edge, all senses and sanity restored for just that moment, which was enough to let him falter at the last second, of which Luna exploited on the spot.

Summoning her magic, She caught Austin in his moment of trepidation. "What do you think you're doing Austin?! What has gotten into you?!"

"Huh... wha... Luna? No. No! Goddammit, I was so close! Put me down now! I can't take this dream any longer! It just never ends!"

"So flinging yourself is the answer for you!? Why can't you understand, comprehend that what you're doing is crazy? This is not a dream! Time and again you've woken up here and yet you still refuse to believe your senses, your experiences. This not some fictional world you once knew Austin! Please, open your eyes and look."

"I... no. Just stop. Brain just stop. I've had enough, clearly I've had too much...hahaha... I'm talking to my brain... in a dream. Please Luna put me... Ugh... argh oh god... your magi-" Before he could finish, Austin was left floating in Luna's magic before once again voided his stomach of slight blood and bile.

His actions were enough for Luna to realize the harm she was inadvertently causing, thus ceasing her magic as Austin fell to the floor limp from the purging. "Austin I'm so sorry. I-I didn't realize. I-I'm sorry...we have to get you down from here. You need to go back to the Infirmary. You need to be resting." Trying to lift Austin from the ground proved more challenging than she would realize, but not long after, Austin began pulling his own weight, and soon both were able to stand upon the platform.

"Luna... I'm sorry but this... can't go any further... I won't let it."

"Austin, please. I can help you. We all can help you get back home, but you are the only one who is stopping yourself from moving forward."

"There's... nothing to... help... I've already found a way. You are the only one stopping me now. Not anymore."

Before Luna could even react, Austin's façade of weakness came crashing hard against the base of her horn with a strike from his front hooves. Temporarily without magic, she was unable to stop his self plummet from the platform towards the Canterlot Falls below.

Falling felt far too real for Austin to simply hold a smile knowing the end was coming, what elation he had was now replaced with stark terror and adrenaline as the cloudy mist of water vapor obscured the waterfalls and ground below. Meter by meter he could see the horizon become slowly shrouded from the mist, so close, and yet he was having a strange feeling that he was gonna regret his choice. Ha! Fat chance for that! Bedroom floor here I come!

But of course... it was not meant to be. For Austin failed to take into account the wings that Luna possessed and the earth pony strength she wielded to barely halt his descent into the waiting mist. Inch by Inch she managed to raise herself and Austin away from certain doom or freedom, and Austin was having none of it.

He may not have the magic of the unicorns or the flight of the pegasi or the strength of the earth ponies, but he had adrenaline and desperation to spare. He gave no room for diplomacy with Luna and neither did she as he furiously attacked and maimed Luna like a wild cornered animal, as she continued to struggle both fending off the attacks and haul Austin to safety.

Strike after strike, blow after blow, bite after bite until Luna could no longer sustain her weight and his own in the air and with one last assault, was forced to let go.

Had they not been over the waterfalls themselves, Luna might have had a second chance to catch, but the moment she let go, his body disappeared into the rolling mists of below.

Once again free to plummet, Austin was left with his own thoughts as the mist blocked everything within a few feet. Only now having his senses come back, he was horrified with the sheer rabidness he displayed to Luna, even if she was only a dream or a part of his subconscious, it was something he would come to regret for some time.

But those were thoughts to ponder for later, for the mist had cleared and the rocky grounds below were displayed in clear view. That sense of fear from before returned full-heartedly as the ground came rushing to meet Austin with open arms. Again Austin couldn't help but wonder why all of this felt so horrifyingly real. Whatever the case, it didn't matter anymore. So long Equestria! Hello Tex-