• Published 17th Aug 2021
  • 1,884 Views, 349 Comments

Beginning Anew - Goldfur

A rogue portal dumped Caleb into an Equestrian desert and left him stranded in an unfamiliar universe. He has to start his life anew but a sympathetic earth pony mare offers to help him learn the ways of his new world.

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Chapter 1

“It has closed.”

Those three little words uttered by the yellow unicorn stallion caused Caleb Awad’s world to come crashing down. With a moan, the human sank to the ground, uncaring of the rough, rocky surface. He put his head into his hands, shutting off his view of the Equestrian desert as if that would cause it to go away and he would find himself back on his world.

“Are you absolutely sure?” asked Willow Branch.

Exact Point reluctantly nodded as he tapped the sheer cliff face where the portal had been identified. “I’m afraid the detection spell is conclusive. Judging by the fading magical signature, I would say that it shut three to four hours ago. If we had come to this location even a couple of hours later, we would never have detected anything.”

The earth pony mare sighed and looked over to her charge. The man’s despair was palpable and she could not blame him. He was stranded on an unfamiliar world, dumped here by a capricious portal caused by an arcane storm, and now he was cut off from home, family, friends, and everything else familiar to him. There was still one thing that might give him a shred of hope though. “Search the area for anything that Caleb may have brought with him. Remember, Prince Wells said that Princess Sparkle can tune in on the dimensional frequency of inanimate objects.” She had learned more about portals in the couple of hours spent with the Prince than she had ever wanted to know.

Exact Point said, “Yes, Sarge!” He looked up to the hovering third soldier in their party, a pegasus mare. “Hawkeye – use those sharp eyes of yours to check the surrounds while I search the proximity.”

The mare nodded and began her task.

Willow turned her attention back to the human. She walked over to him and put a comforting foreleg around his shoulders. “I’m sorry, but we’re grasping at straws here. However, I’m sure the Triarchs will support you until you can get back on your hooves.”

Caleb snorted. “I don’t have hooves.”

“Whatever those things are called.” She smiled. “You know, those flat stompy things with wriggly bits attached.” Her grin slipped when her attempt at humor fell flat. Willow sighed. “Anyway, it’s not the end of the world. Life goes on and you make the best of things.”

Caleb glared at the earth pony. “What do you know? How would you like it if you were cut off from every person important to you?”

That cut Willow deeply but she understood his pain. “My family has been military going back many generations. Several years back, my parents both died defending Canterlot from invasion by the Storm King. Later, when Grogar tried to take over the world, my fiancé was killed by one of his monsters. I took the Triarch’s offer of a compassionate discharge for everypony who wanted it. And I needed it.”

Caleb frowned. “I’m sorry for your loss, but it doesn’t look like you’re out of the military to me.”

The mare shrugged. “Like I said, it’s in our family’s blood. I became a reservist. When the Crown needs a fast response to a great need, they call upon us instead of trying to recall troops deployed elsewhere. Half of the ponies searching for the portal are the same as me. The Triarchs really pulled out all the stops to try to get you home.”

“At least you had something to fall back upon. What the hell am I supposed to do now?”

“Maybe Prince Wells can answer that for you,” Willow suggested. “He’s reputed to come from another world too.”

“Yeah, he does. Pity it’s not mine.”

“If there are as many different universes out there as he said there are, there may be one for you. Or you could start a new life here. I hear Equestria is a pretty nice place,” she said with a small smile.

Caleb stared at her for a long moment before shaking his head and suppressing a chuckle. “Biased much?”

Willow held up a hoof and waggled it. “Maybe a bit. Tell you what – when we get back, I’ll buy you a beer and we can talk about it.”

The man’s eyebrows rose. “Ponies drink beer?”

The mare poked him in the chest with her hoof. “Of course. I bet I could drink you under the table.”

Caleb smirked. “Now I know you’re military. Okay, you’re on.”

“Deal!” She looked up to see her compatriots approaching. “Find anything?”

“Nothing,” Hawkeye replied.

Exact Point levitated a tiny scrap of cloth. “I found this in the rubble at the base of the cliff.”

Caleb snatched it out of the air to look at it more closely. “This must have ripped off my T-shirt when I fell out of the portal and cut myself on the rocks below. Maybe this will be enough for tracking down my homeworld.”

Willow looked at it doubtfully. “I dunno. Looks awfully small to me. I don’t want you to get your hopes too high.”

“What choice do I have? Let’s go!”

Willow nodded. “Can do. First, let me put that scrap into my saddlebags so it doesn't get lost.”

Caleb shook his head. “Don't bother. I'll put it in... my ... pocket?"

The earth pony mare grinned while waiting for the human stallion to come to the obvious conclusion. She wasn't disappointed.

Caleb glared at her and held out the small piece of cloth. “Fine.”

Willow shrugged before taking the scrap and putting it away. “Not my fault minotaurs don't like pockets.” She tried very hard not to smile... too much.

She turned away, all business again. “Exact – set up the daggerscale portal to take us back to base.”

The unicorn quickly did as he was ordered and the party soon transited it along with all their equipment before it closed once more. Sadly, none of them noticed the almost empty beer can lodged in the middle branches of a nearby bush where it had landed after Caleb had dropped it as he fell out of the portal.

After reporting their discovery to Lieutenant Aerial Ace, the commander of the search team, he ordered Willow to take Caleb to Canterlot and inform Prince Mark Wells. He then set about recalling the search teams while the earth pony mare organized a portal to the capital.

Upon arriving there, the Royal Guards on duty at the portal room informed her that the prince was still holding court but was due to finish soon. One of them escorted Willow and Caleb to the hall outside the living room where Mark Wells would be joining his family prior to mealtime. They did not have to wait long but it was enough for Caleb’s depression to gnaw at him once more. His shoulders slumped and his gaze sunk to the floor.

As soon as the green alicorn spotted the human and his earth pony minder, he said, “Report, Sergeant!”

Willow saluted him. “Your Highness, we found the site of the wild portal. It has already closed.”

Prince Mark sighed. “I feared as much.”

“We did find this scrap of cloth though,” Willow added, holding it up for him.

The alicorn took it in his magic and looked at it skeptically. “It’s awfully small, but we’ll give it a try.” He turned to the Royal Guard who had brought the two there. “Find Princess Twilight Sparkle and pass on my request for her to join us here. Tell her that it’s in regards to Caleb.”

The Guard saluted. “Yes, Your Highness.” He left at a trot.

Mark then addressed the human once more. “While we’re waiting for Twilight, please join us. Even if this scrap is enough, she won’t be able to do anything with it until tomorrow. There’s also plenty of room at the dinner table later.”

Caleb blinked uncertainly. “Actually, Willow and I kind of agreed to go have a couple of beer–OW!”

The earth mare had rapped him in the shin with her hoof. She glared at him meaningfully as she said, “What Caleb means is that he’ll be delighted to accept your invitation, Your Highness.”

Mark chuckled. “At ease, Sergeant. You can join us too. You can always have your beers later if you wish.”

“Me, sire? I’m just a reservist.”

“And I’m just a pony looking forward to relaxing and having something to eat. Relax Willow. Consider yourself off-duty. I sure as Tartarus am, and I don’t give a buck about rank at those times. Come with me.”

The stunned mare hesitated before another mare stepped up. Willow’s eyes widened at the sight of the glossy black carapace and the glittering mane and insectile wings. She gave the earth pony and human both a fang-filled smirk.

“While my husband is affable to a fault, it would not be wise to ignore his invitation.” The changeling queen then followed the prince.

Willow gave Caleb a shove in the same direction as she hastily complied.

“Who’s that?” Caleb hoarsely whispered.

“That is Queen Chrysalis of the Canterlot Hive and herdmate to Prince Mark Wells. Don’t piss her off!” Willow advised in the same low tone.

“Is she some kind of bug-pony?”

“She’s a changeling. Now, shut up and behave yourself among the royal family!”

Inside the living room, a blue alicorn was lounging on a sofa while reading to a foal. The purple pegacorn colt was enraptured with every word as the mare dramatically enhanced the text with a waving hoof and the occasional flash of colored motes of light cascading from her horn. A yellow unicorn mare and a very green batpony stallion, both youths, were playing some kind of board game on a nearby table. A white unicorn mare was engrossed in fitting a dress to a very tall orange dragoness while a bipedal unicorn mare watched and occasionally made a comment on the outfit. A powder blue unicorn mare and a female changeling were excitedly poring over a comic book on the table. Another female changeling, almost as big and gaudy as Chrysalis but much younger, was studying a book while lounging on another sofa.

“Oh, good,” Mark said. “Looks like most of the family is here—”

Before the alicorn could continue, a large wooden creature bounded through the double doors that led to the courtyard. The canine monster leaped at the Prince, knocking him over and standing on his chest, pinning the pony to the floor.

Caleb watched in horror as the creature lowered his jaws toward Mark’s head and then… started licking his face?

“GALLUS! Get your dog off of me!”

The human blinked in confusion. That was a dog? He turned to Willow, his expression begging for answers.

The earth pony said, “That’s the pet timberwolf of the Prince’s son, Gallus. I’m told that he’s completely harmless, although I admit that I wouldn’t want to be in His Highnesses horse shoes right now.”

“Twiggy! Heel, boy!” a voice called from the doorway.

The ligneous creature barked and bounded over to his master, a blue griffon dressed in military uniform. Gallus scratched behind his pet’s ears and its leafy tongue lolled in pleasure.

“Sorry about that, Dad,” Gallus said. “I wanted to surprise you but I didn’t have time to shut Twiggy in his yard.”

Mark climbed back to his hooves. “Let’s face it, son – he’s just too excitable to control when you’re home. Speaking of which, I thought you were still deployed in Abyssinia?”

“I’m on leave for a week. I figured I’d surprise you.” The griffon then noticed the human staring at him. “Who’s our guest, Dad?”

“Glad you asked,” Mark replied. “This is Caleb Awad, a visitor from another Earth who got dumped in Equestria by a wild portal. We’ve been trying to get him home. Caleb – these are my herdmates and our children.”

The alicorn proceeded to introduce everyone including the two the human had met already. After Mark had proudly given a kiss to each of his wives – Trixie, Rarity, Penumbra, and Chrysalis, he introduced his children – Gemini, Allura, Pearl, Verdant, Diadem, Lacewing, Spotlight, and adopted son Gallus. Caleb learned that the dragoness, Smolder, was mated to the griffon and thus the alicorn’s daughter-in-law.

“Wow! How do you deal with all of this?” Caleb asked in wonder.

“Frankly, I have my mares to thank for that,” Mark admitted. “You’ll learn that it’s a very different social dynamic here in Equestria.”

Before the man could inquire further, they were interrupted by the arrival of a purple alicorn mare.

“I got here as fast as I could when I heard the news,” Twilight Sparkle said, slightly out of breath from having galloped to join them.

Caleb had met the alicorn mare before but his curiosity had been aroused. “Are you Mark’s wife too?”

Twilight snorted and tossed her head. “Why does every being ask me that?”

Most of those in the room began laughing.

“There’s room for one more mare in the herd, darling,” Rarity said with a broad smile.

“I’m fine with my husband, Thorax, thank you!” Twilight said with a roll of her eyes, eliciting more laughs.

Mark said, “They located the portal, Sparkles. It has already closed though. However, they found a scrap of cloth from Caleb’s shirt.” He held it up for his co-ruler.

Twilight took the fabric in her magic and her horn glowed bright for a few seconds before her face fell. She looked at the human and said, “I’m sorry, Caleb. The dimensional frequency is very faint and there’s a minimum amount of mass needed to detect it. This scrap is far too small to be useable. I’m afraid that I can’t get you home with this.”

Caleb stood silently for a long moment before taking a deep breath and letting it out in a long sigh. “Yeah, I figured as much. Didn’t let my hopes get too high. Well, all the cards have been played now and I’ve lost everything. I’m stuck here for life.”

Twilight startled him by stepping up and giving him a hug. “You haven’t lost everything, Caleb. You have friends, and that is no small thing.”

Willow approached the human and put a hoof on his arm to draw his attention. “What she said, and you can count me in.”

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