• Published 17th Aug 2021
  • 1,872 Views, 340 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.

  • ...

Chapter 2

Caleb shifted awkwardly in the purple alicorn’s embrace, discomfited by her and Willow’s familiarity. “Umm… thanks. Could you let me go now?”

Both mares stepped back, a little sad that they had not done much to reassure the human.

“So – what now?” Caleb asked with a tired sigh.

“Now we have a drink and chat about how to go forward from here,” Prince Mark replied as a maid rolled in a tea service trolley. “Tea Cozy here can serve you tea, coffee, or lemon squash if you prefer.”

“Coffee, I suppose.”

“How do you take it, sir?” the earth pony mare in a cute maid’s outfit asked him.

“Black with two sugars,” the man replied, curious to see how the mare would cope. He had spent an afternoon with Willow and still could not believe how dexterous these creatures were without hands or magic levitation.

Tea Cozy picked up a silver jug by a handle that was large enough to slip her hoof under. It stayed there firmly as she poured the dark brown brew into a mug with a likewise oversize handle. However, she didn’t have the benefit of a similar device when she took a spoon in her hoof to add sugar, but the utensil still stuck as if magnetized. Caleb just shook his head in wonder. No matter how many times he saw something like that, it always boggled his mind that the seemingly helpless animals were anything but.

The maid put the mug on a tray and brought it over to Caleb, the beverage perfectly steady despite Cozy’s three-legged gait.

“Thank you,” he said as he took the mug.

“You’re welcome, sir.” The maid then returned to her trolley to dispense more drinks.

Meanwhile, Mark had poured himself a mug of tea. While he was willing to avail himself of the maid’s services, he had few pretensions and thought nothing of helping himself rather than letting the maid do all the work. Cozy didn’t even bat an eye – she was quite used to the prince’s eccentricities.

The green alicorn gave the mare a smile. “Tea Cozy – please let Honey Mustard know that we have a couple of guests for dinner tonight. Caleb here has similar dietary requirements to Pearl.” The anthro mare was an omnivore and ate meat, but not to the same degree as humans. Neither did she eat hay, so Mark knew it would suit the human’s needs. “Willow and my son, Gallus, will also be there.” He turned to Twilight. “Joining us for dinner, Sparkles?”

The purple alicorn nodded. “Thorax is away at his hive tonight, so I’m free.”

“That’s four then,” Mark concluded.

“I’ll let her know, sire,” Cozy replied.

When the maid finished serving the drinks, she departed with her trolley.

While Cozy had been busy, Caleb found himself a chair and sat down. It was a bit too low for his tastes but otherwise quite comfortable. He sipped absently on his hot coffee while trying to make sense of the turmoil of his thoughts. He sighed in frustration as he saw no path to a bright future. He watched the maid depart, still bemused by the flawless execution of her tasks by a creature with only hooves to manipulate objects. A thought crossed his mind. “Won’t the cooks be annoyed at all these extra last-minute guests, especially someone like me?”

Trixie spoke up. “The kitchen crew is aware that our needs may change at a moment’s notice. Diplomatic necessities often require an alteration in the schedule, quantity, or even cuisine.”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “You just had to bring up my attempts to placate the Yaks, didn’t you?”

The blue alicorn continued like she hadn’t been interrupted. “Therefore, they always prepare far more than our normal family meal requirements. Just imagine if the Great and Genial Trixie was to invite a visiting dignitary to a fine repast and the chef could not oblige!”

“Doesn’t that mean that there’s a lot of wasted food then?”

Mark laughed. “Good grief, no. Any food not required at our table is given to the staff. Because we have many races employed at the castle including anthro ponies, there’s always someone eager to claim a fine meal.”

Caleb snorted. “You treat your staff way better than most places that I can think of. I can’t see any of them getting food fit for a king. Or prince and princesses in this case.”

Twilight smiled. “All of us Triarchs started as civilians – Mark wasn’t even a pony before coming to Equestria. None of us have forgotten our roots.”

“Yeah,” piped up the green batpony colt. “Whenever we foals acted like we were better than the servants, Mom and Dad sent us to the kitchen to scrub pots or with a maid to clean the bathrooms. We sure learned that lesson.”

The blue unicorn filly laughed, “Except you were the one who got the most punishments, Verdant!”

“Shut up, Allura,” Verdant grumbled as the others chuckled.

Caleb had to smile. Royalty or not, this was a family dynamic that he knew well. With his mood slightly improved, he asked, “Since I’m stuck here, do you think I can get some decent clothes?”

“We’ll take care of that tomorrow like I promised,” Mark replied. “However, as the full Triarchy is scheduled to hold Court tomorrow morning, we’ll have to do it after lunch. I’ll have someone assigned to you to help you out until then.”

Willow said, “I can do that for tonight, Your Highness. I still intend to take Caleb out for a couple of beers later.”

Mark gave her a thoughtful look before nodding. “You said you are a reservist, right?”

The mare nodded. “Yes, sire.”

“When does your duty end?”

“As I was activated to assist with the search effort, I assume that I will be released again now that it’s concluded. I just have to report back to my commander.”

“I see. What’s your normal profession?”

“Construction laborer, sire. But I’m between jobs at the moment.”

“Oh? Then I will be extending your reservist duties. Until further notice, you are to act as Caleb’s guide to Equestria. Help him deal with anything that he finds unfamiliar. Protect him in difficult situations. Can you handle that?”

“I believe so, sire,” the earth pony replied, a little surprised by her assigned task but not displeased.

Twilight said, “I’ll have my castle set up a room for Caleb which he can use until he finds more permanent accommodation.”

Caleb thought that was a strange way of phrasing it. Perhaps she meant her castle staff?

“Good idea,” Mark replied. “He’ll probably be more comfortable in Ponyville than Canterlot anyway.” He looked at Willow. “By the way, where do you live?”

“As a matter of fact, I’m a resident of Ponyville too.”

The green alicorn grinned. “I thought you looked familiar. I’ve seen you on my walks about town. Weren’t you working on the new communications center?”

“I was, sire. My part of the construction job has been completed, so I’ve been waiting for the next building project to begin.”

Twilight said, “The way that Ponyville has been booming in growth lately, that shouldn’t be long.”

Willow nodded. “There’s always work for experienced earth pony laborers.”

“Maybe Caleb and you can chat about what you have in common. You would probably find his welding work quite interesting.”

“I overheard some of that while you were talking with him on the cart, sire. It sounds fascinating.”

Caleb smiled. “It’s like nothing you have here, apparently.”

“Almost,” piped up the strange black-carapaced creature who had been introduced to Caleb as Lacewing. “Allura and I have been bugging Dad about setting up a workshop. We’re fascinated by that kind of stuff.”

The man lifted an eyebrow. “Oh? How do you know about modern welding techniques?”

Allura held up the magazine she and Lacewing had been reading. “Comics! They got us interested in human world technology.”

“May I see that?” Caleb asked. Allura levitated it over to the man and his eyebrows rose. “Iron Man? You know that this is science fiction armor, right?”

“Yeah,” Lacewing replied, “but as Lu said, it got us interested in the real thing.”

“Show Caleb your special trick, you two,” Gemini said.

The changeling and the unicorn looked at each other and then at their father.

“Go ahead,” Mark agreed.

Caleb watched as Allura allowed Lacewing to climb on her back, then gasped as the changeling burst into green flames. As the fire burned down, her form seemed to flow over the unicorn’s. In less than a second, the two were transformed into a pony version of the human superhero. They spread their translucent wings and lifted into the air.

“We are Iron Mare!”

Caleb gaped. “How…?”

Chrysalis spoke up. “My people are called changelings and shape-shifting is our special ability. My daughter has formed a special bond with Allura and they turned their passion into a reality. However, their abilities in that form are powered by magic, not technology.”

The man just shook his head in wonder. “That’s the most extraordinary thing that I’ve seen here yet.”

Trixie smirked. “You have been in Equestria mere days. You have yet to see all the wonders of this world.”

Caleb slumped back in his chair. “I’m going to need an aspirin or two to deal with all this.”

“You’ll feel better after you have a good meal,” Mark promised. “Let’s head for the dining room now if you’ve finished your drink.”

The man drained the dregs of the coffee and put the empty mug on the table beside him. “I’ve got to admit that I’m hungry,” he said as he got up to follow the others out of the room.

Once seated at the table, it wasn’t long before servants emerged laden with trays of bowls. While some were floated in magic levitation fields, others were balanced on the backs of the ponies. Despite the first course being soup, Caleb did not see the slightest amount of slop while transporting and placing the bowls. He found that downright uncanny. The soup was a vegetable broth and delicious, and he quickly forgot about that feat.

The main course was varied according to the species. Caleb was presented with what looked like salmon served on a bed of rice with a creamy herb and garlic sauce. There was also a side of asparagus grilled to perfection. Not normally a fan of fish, the man was willing to be converted after tasting the delicious meal.

If that wasn’t enough, they had dessert too – sticky date pudding with caramel sauce. Caleb was thoroughly stuffed by the time he finished the last spoonful.

Ponies started excusing themselves from the table after that. Mark got up too. “Normally, I would invite you to chat with us a bit more, but I think it best if you got settled in first. So, I’ll leave you in Twilight’s capable hooves. Goodnight, Caleb.”

“Same to you, Mark.”

As the green stallion left with his herdmates, Twilight touched his arm to get his attention. “You and Willow follow me, please.”

The human and mare accompanied the alicorn to the portal room that Caleb had been to once previously and they transitioned to Twilight’s castle. She then perplexed him by putting her hoof onto the crystalline wall. There was a magical glow and she said, “Please prepare a room for our human guest.”

The glow brightened for a moment before an orange dashed line extended down the hallway.

“What’s going on?” Caleb asked.

“My castle is a living thing,” Twilight explained as she followed the indicated path. “It will create a room ideally suited to your needs.”

“It can do that? That’s amazing!”

“Don’t forget to thank the castle later. It’s rather proud of what it does.”

Caleb could not decide if the alicorn was pulling his leg or not, so he decided he’d take her advice… preferably when there was no one there to see him making a fool of himself.

The line led to one of many identical doors. Conveniently, his name was inscribed on a nameplate, so he could identify his room later. They stepped inside. At first glance, it reminded Caleb of a five-star hotel room. There was a dresser, a desk, a sofa, and a couple of lounge chairs beside a coffee table. The room was tastefully decorated albeit with Equestrian-themed art. And there was a huge bed, easily at least king-size, and more than adequate for the man’s needs. A door to one side led to an en suite bathroom which had a shower stall big enough for two humans. He supposed that the quadrupedal ponies needed the extra floor space though. Huge fluffy towels, brushes, and various lotions were provided too. An identical oversized robe clued him in: The furnishings and accessories were likely procured for minotaur guests. During the time it took to get to his room, the castle had somehow transported everything here. ‘Magic’, Caleb supposed.

“This is great!” Caleb said. “I feel like a VIP.”

“All my friends are VIPs as far as I’m concerned,” Twilight replied cheerfully. “You’re welcome to come and go as you please. I’ll let the Royal Guards know to let you pass at will. If you have any problems, Spike can help you sort them out. Anyway, I have a busy morning ahead of me and I need to finish my preparations, so I’ll bid you goodnight now.”

Before Caleb could stop her, the alicorn gave him a parting hug.

When Twilight was gone, Willow said, “Wanna get those beers now?”

“Give me a few minutes to freshen up first. I wish I had something else to wear besides this robe though.”

“It’s a warm night – why bother with anything?” Willow asked.

Caleb frowned and replied, “I’m not walking around naked, okay?”

The mare shrugged. “If that’s your fetish, I won’t stop you.”

As he headed to the bathroom, the human wondered how a species could regard wearing normal clothes as a fetish. Several minutes later, the two left his new quarters and headed into town.

# # # # # # # # #

Author's Note:

Mark has a lot to learn.

Illustration by Foxenawolf. If you're enjoying the story and art, please consider giving me a tip on Ko-Fi.