• Published 10th Jun 2024
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I Curse My Stars In Bitter Grief And Woe - PULL MY DEVIL TRIGGER

... that made my love so high, and me, so low.

  • ...

Mission 1: An Unusual Meeting

“If the Sun and Moon should ever doubt,
they'd immediately go out.”

V’s eyes were glued to his book as he sat on the far-too-small cot, hunching slightly as his eyes focused on the verses in front of him. The smile he wore was one of happiness, looking through his old notes was quite a joy, especially now.

“Psst, V, any ideas on how to get out of here, exactly?” The ink pulsed slightly on his skin as Griffon spoke in hushed tones, only just masking his slight unease at being in a cramped room. He shook his head at that.

“Sadly, no. The guards have been rather… Accommodating, though. I get the feeling that we aren’t in as much danger as once thought.” Still, his eyes glanced to the bars leading outside. Far too small for a pony, never mind him, but tempting to let Griffon blast the bars. Speaking of…

“Ugh, V, look, I get that you don’t wanna cause a scene, but you’re not exactly a fighting guy. What if they decide to just, off ya?” The familiar was nervous, and they both knew that. If he died, so did Griffon. “Now’s not exactly the time to speak prose to them.”

He just smiled knowingly.

“Perhaps not. But I know you’ll come in handy if they do decide to take… Drastic measures.” He snapped the book shut, pocketing it in his coat as he looked to the door. Griffon’s form pulsed against him in begrudging acceptance but said nothing else for the moment.

“Only cuz you’re puffing up my ego…”

The pair fell into silence, only ruined by the occasional door opening or closing inside the halls of the prison as the guards patrolled or took over for others. The sole guard that passed him shot him a nervous look. Must have been new to the job. Of course, he did nothing in response.

Before long though… Clacking rang through the halls shortly after the doors opened once again. It stood out against the other hoof steps of the guards, and they were only getting louder. Someone was coming.

“Uh oh.” Griffon did his best to keep still, only trembling lightly. “That sounds like your death date, kid. Hope you’ve got a plan.”

V stared at the door in silence, expression unmoving, only slightly tense. There was nothing he could do if they turned out hostile. His book’s weight felt comforting against him at that moment.

“... This is the cell?” A warm voice spoke, just shy of his sight. If he knew angels didn’t exist, he’d be inclined to call the voice one. Yet he knew all too well that looks could be deceiving.

“Yes, your highness. The creature was found in the gardens, as I’m sure you’ve been told. It came without a fight, so we saw no need to restrain it once it was in the cell.” He swore he recognised that voice, but all the guards he heard sounded the same. Didn’t truly matter though.

“Keep quiet, Griffon.” He kept his voice low, still watching the door. “We don’t want to startle our… Judge.”

As expected, Griffon said nothing. Yet another reason he was reliable, obedient when push came to shove.

“I see. Well done, guards. I’ll see the creature now. Leave me.” A pair of quieter hooves signalled the guards were indeed leaving as she ordered before the owner of said voice finally came into view.

And she truly was intimidating. Standing much taller than any other pony he’d seen so far, with both a horn and a pair of wings… An alicorn, if his memory served correctly.

“I take it you’re the ruler of this castle?” He kept cordial, keeping his gaze firmly on hers as he spoke. Weakness wouldn’t do for this conversation. She just smiled in response, nodding.

“Indeed. I am Princess Celestia, Co-ruler of Equestria. And you are…?” Her gaze, ever gentle, waited for his response. That look reminded him of…

He shook his head lightly. Now wasn’t the time for bittersweet memories.

“You can call me V.” If she was confused by his name, she didn’t show it as she nodded along, accepting it.

“Hello V. If I may ask, what were you doing inside my gardens? There was simply no way for you to get in without at least being spotted by my guards beforehand, seeing as you’re a grounded creature.” Still wearing that patient look… He blinked, taking a second to collect himself again.

“Well, dear princess… I don’t quite know. Without getting into specifics, I don’t think I was supposed to end up here. I’m about as clueless as you, as a matter of fact.” Again, she nodded, accepting all of this as one would if she had asked her about his lunch.

“I see. In that case, could you explain why not two minutes before, two of my maids were telling my guards about an unusual bird in those same gardens?” She tilted her head, still smiling patiently. Griffon pulsed slightly against him as if his breath had hitched.

“I have no clue either. Perhaps it was simply unrelated?” If he had his strength, he’d be standing up by now. A sign of his nerves, perhaps, but thankfully he couldn’t without risk of falling. She just smiled, almost as if she knew he was lying.

“Oh really? Alright then. If you wouldn’t mind me asking then… Why were those patterns moving just now?” She kept that same damn stare up, reminding him far too much of his mother. He felt like a child with the cookie jar at the moment.

“... Hm? Perhaps it was a trick of the light? They’re simply tattoos.” Two could play the patience game, though. The years of his life alone had taught him that.

“Hm.” She didn’t show any signs of cracking, instead taking a moment to observe him. “If you’re going to keep at the lies, V, then I’m afraid I can’t help you through this. If you want to return home, then I need to know I can trust you.” There were the negotiations at least. Something he would predict and work around.

“And how, pray tell, would you be able to help me if neither of us have any clue how I came to be here?” A hand found its way running through his hair, white locks brushing out of his vision as he kept his calm smile up. “I mean no offence princess, but I have no clue of your capabilities.”

She nodded at that, accepting the point. A small part of him, the childish part, felt vindicated at his wits.

“That is a fair point. But let me ask you this. What do you exactly plan to do? I can’t let you go running around, and disrupt my little ponies, now can I?” For a brief moment, her gaze hardened. “I don’t want this to end sourly, V. Far too many events have ended like that for my liking.”

And like that, he was reminded of the power at play here. This was a ruler of a kingdom, and he was an outsider. She had all the power in the world to seal him away, to kill him, or many untold things. He didn’t like it, but she was right. He didn’t exactly have a plan this time. Not like when Urizen started seeking power. This time, he was in unknown territory.

“... I see. So that is how it is.” Still keeping his easygoing smile, he lifted an arm to his side. “Here, now.” Another pulse against his skin as Griffon sighed.

“If you’re sure, kid.” With only a slight rippling noise, His familiar appeared on his arm, perched and staring at the Princess. “So this rainbow’s the head of the kingdom, huh? Seems rather cliché, don’t ya think, V?” He could hear the grin in his voice.

“Heh, perhaps. Perhaps this is indeed a fairy tale.” He turned towards him for a moment. “I don’t suppose you’ll play the part of the hero’s partner, will you?” Griffon cackled at that.

“I see now.” The Princess’s voice demanded his attention once again, which he obliged without a word. “This is the bird I heard about… And that energy…” Her eyes narrowed a little in thought. “I don’t suppose you don’t know what he is, do you?”

He glanced at Griffon again, humming. Best to play dumb until she revealed her hand a bit.

“I don’t know what you mean. He’s just my familiar.” Another chuckle from Griffon, preening at his feathers a bit. “Loyal, if a little loudmouthed.”

“Hey, someone’s gotta talk for the two of us, since you’re so quiet and broody.” V huffed a little at that, smiling still.

“V…” Celestia’s voice cut through like a knife. “I’m afraid if you keep withholding information from me, I can’t treat you with the trust you desire. You’re going to have to open up a little more if you want out of this cell.”

Griffon sighed in exasperation, sagging a little bit.

“Sheesh, it’s never easy in the life of the two amigos, is it?” She shot Griffon a stern look as if scolding him, which made him pause. “Ah, eh, uh… Right.”

“... What do you suspect then, dear Princess?” He couldn’t risk agitating the ruler. “If I can dissuade your fears, it’ll be the best for the both of us.”

It had been a long forty-five minutes talking with the Princess, explaining what he could without divulging too much about his origin. As far as she knew, he was a human who had been practising a spell with the assistance of his familiar Griffon when he’d been transported there. Of course, he couldn’t hide the fact that he was using a demon as a familiar, nor the fact that he had two more potentially out in the world somewhere. Idly, he wondered how they were faring without him. They were still bound to him so they wouldn’t fade, but their strength was certainly sapped being so far away from him.

As such, Celestia had permitted him to come along with her, but he wasn’t to move out of her sight. She may have accepted his words, but she didn’t fully trust him as of yet, seeing as, in her eyes, he had no qualms about aligning with demons of evil.

Needless to say, Griffon was sour over the apparent disrespect and was busy sulking to himself as he flew above the pair of them. He found it rather amusing, seeing the shoe on the other foot.

“And you stop grinning at me, paper boy! I’m not messing around!” Griffon darted at him, just missing him as V turned his head slightly.

“What was once proved, was once only imagined.” He turned to Celestia, mildly thankful she was keeping close. One wrong step and he would be on the floor. “Ignore his temper tantrum. In time, he’ll… Come around.”

“Will you stop talkin’ poetry?! I’m serious here!” Another dash, and yet another miss, and a yelp as a pony watched the bird dart across the hall, before scampering away. Celestia chuckled, having slipped back into a lighter tone during their walk.

“It’s no bother, truly. If he’s bound to you, he’ll behave. I know contracts are important to a demon.” Her gaze fell to the bird as he flew around to face them again, still glowering at V. “Besides… I believe that giving others the chance for friendship is important, no matter the creature.”

V was thankful for that. Though he did find it rather… Naive, he wasn’t about to disrespect her while he was on a short leash.

“Sound advice.” The pair fell into silence, V sidestepping Griffon’s lazy attempts to knock him down as they did, as they headed towards their destination, only occasionally getting a strange look from a member of staff as they travelled the long halls. Before long, though, he found himself curious. “If you don’t mind me asking… What exactly is your plan?”

She glanced down at him, a gentle smile still on her face. Again… He blinked the memories away.

“I plan on writing to someone near and dear to me, first. She’ll be rather… Excited, shall we say. Besides, it’ll be a good learning opportunity for her studies.” Her horn lit up with a golden glow as the door in front of them swung open on its own, stepping inside quickly. “Come. I know you’re feeling weak at the moment, take a seat.”

Following her inside to some kind of meeting room, he obliged his aching legs, reaching for the first seat he could get to as he sighed, Griffon landing beside him quietly, having calmed down a little bit. From the dishevelled feathers though, he was still rather angry.

“Studies, hm? Is she a scholar, then?” He rested his elbows on the (just a little too low) table, resting his head on his clasped hands. “Or is she some sort of royal figure like yourself?”

Celestia took a moment, taking a seat across from him as she nodded.

“Indeed. She’s my student, living in another town for the time being on my request, and her wishes.” Her smile felt… Forlorn, talking about her, yet happy all the same. “Having just spoken to you, I believe she would be more suited to assisting you for the time being than I would. Being the ruler of a kingdom, with a sister or not, is still incredibly busy.”

Griffon, still agitated, grumbled to himself.

“Great, another bookworm. As if we need more poetry.” A quick clap to the back of the head followed suit. “Wuh- Ow, what the hell was that for?!”

He just smiled at him, knowing yet silent.

“We don’t want to disrespect our host now, do we?” He turned back to the Princess, humming. “That is, if she will be hosting.”

She nodded, albeit with some hesitance.

“If you manage to get along with her during her visit, then you shall accompany her back home. Though it’s not really you who is of concern to me…” Her eyes stared at the demon in the room with the pair, who squawked in annoyance.

“Great, gang up on the poor bird, sure, not like I’m innocent in all this anyway.” He turned away, huffing again. “Not like I’m that bad anyway…”

V nodded, focusing his gaze once again. That reminded him.

“Princess, if I may ask… Keep an eye out for my other familiars, as I said. I’m sure you’ll know them if you see them.” Civility was key, and it paid off in spades.

“Of course. Familiars or not, it is still a matter of security. It will be up to you to control them should they turn hostile, understand?” Again her gaze hardened, not taking anything less than an affirmation, which he was more than happy to oblige.

“Indeed. That was my plan.” With another smile, he clapped his hands together. “If that is all… I believe I should get some rest, and maybe a meal. That spell wore me down a lot.”

She nodded, standing back up with a thoughtful look. “Perhaps they’ve got my cake ready yet…”

Far off from the cities of Equestria, buried in the trees and hidden away from sight, a lumbering figure laid, mortally wounded.

“Ah…” Its voice warbled in agony as it shifted, trying in vain to stand up once again. Alas, its energy was drained, still recovering from the final battle it was in. Indeed, he had survived, although barely. He needed to find a way to heal, and quickly before the wounds became too much to bear.

“Blood…” Anything would do at this point. Human blood was the prime, but something a simple animal would do to stave off death. “I need… More, power…”

He would never fail again. He would never be weak again.

He was power, absolute. He would rise to the top once more, no matter what it took to get there.

All that mattered was strength.