• Published 22nd Apr 2013
  • 1,671 Views, 210 Comments

Snickersnatch - SpiralWriter

Oddjob awakens to a much different Equestria . . .

  • ...

XV - Little Town, it's a Quiet Village


By: Quisky

Chapter Fifteen:

Little Town, it's a Quiet Village

"Stop sitting so close to me."

"But I love your feathers!"

"I will rip your rivets right out and watch you fall apart."

"I just wanna feel them . . . let me preen them for you."

"You're a robot! You can't feel anything!"

"I can pretend to." Penny giggled, rubbing her hooves along Agatha's wings, much to her dissatisfaction. After gathering information at the bar, and correctly following directions on a map instead of Goldguard's presumptions to head through Neigharlem again, we went to the Manehattan train station and boarded on a one-way ticket to Hollow Shades. The fare was pretty cheap, and Goldy once again paid our way through. I would feel bad, but he probably got paid a pretty bit to be a Solar Guard.

We had all boarded, being the only ones on the train, all in the same cart. I sat by myself, Legion by the exit door, Goldguard alone as well as he gazed out a window to the scenic Equestrian view. Penny and Agatha sat across from each other, which seemed to be . . . working out decently for the moment. I just hoped I wouldn't have to separate the two or keep Agatha from ripping Penny to pieces.

"How do you even know what preening is?!" Agatha griped, pushing the insistent little bot away. "You're only a couple hours old!"

"Couple months old, thank you very much." Penny stated with a huff, which only came out as steady beep in her voice.

"Whatever." Agatha deadpanned.

I chuckled, imagining that they'd have a very . . . unique relationship through this little venture. I had no idea how long we were going to be keeping the mercenary bird around, or even how long it would take to even complete this investigation. Days? Weeks? Months? I only knew that is was one of the few things that allowed me to explore this land, something I was richly craving.

Though . . . I couldn't help but feel that something was off about all of this. Suddenly being freed from ten years of stone just for Celestia to command me on a random search for changelings? Felt too set up to be honest. Felt as if something were in the works behind the scenes, as if a bunch of big players were gearing towards something very grand, whether it be for better or for worse.

As I rolled the thoughts around in my head, I stood up and stretched, careful not to bump my head on the ceiling like so many times before. I trotted over to Goldguard to try and strike up a conversation while we waited for the train to drive us towards our destination. I looked out the window, a view of green fields sprawled out before us. "Lovely place." I chuckled, sitting across from him.

"Equestria, paradise on earth." Goldguard replied, turning to me with a smile. "No other place like it. We got greenlands, forests, deserts, mountains, swamps, you name it. All picture perfect and pretty."

"I see that." I said, tapping the window with a clicking claw. "Where did you grow up in Equestria mate?" I asked, reclining back. Goldguard chuckled, deciding to relax as well, actually removing his helmet. Stoic-looking fellow with short-buzzed blonde mane, had the features one would see in a military man, in a pony sorta form, but had a genuine smile and kind eyes of blue.

"Canterlot, though I didn't grow up one of those rich ponies you see roaming the streets. Not everypony is wealthy there. I was raised in the old backstreets with my brothers."


"Yup. I'm the middle child. Big brother was Pewter Patrol, younger Copper Constable."

" . . ."

"We uh . . . all came from a family of law enforcement. Dad was a Solar Guard himself, mom a city guard."

" . . ."

"Anyways, we all looked out for each other. Got into plenty of tussles with all the other boys too. We always came out on top though." Goldguard said, sounding very proud.

"I'm uh . . . sorry. I'm still not over your brothers' names. Pewter Patrol and Copper Constable?"

After a lengthy discussion about name origins and destiny and all of that shit, Goldguard let me go with a chuckle. I sighed and moved on, thinking he needed time alone to think about his brothers. It seemed to cheer him up considerably talking about them. Wish it did the same for me.

I looked out into my train cart, Legion still standing diligent, while Agtha had somehow convinced Penny to go play with a ball of lint, all of us waiting out the ride. We had been warned by the conductor earlier that the ride would have been long. Hollow Shades wasn't exactly a tourist destination, and the traintracks were pretty rickety from under-use, so we had to go slower than usual or risk it collapsing underneath it.

I could at least try to make more conversation with our less than pleasant guest. I walked over to Agatha, her keen eyes narrowing at the sight of me, beak curling into a grimace. "What do you want?" She hissed out defensively.

I raised my hands in a sort of peace sign. "Just here to talk is all."

"Nothing to talk about." She replied with a bit of a mope in her voice. After officially unofficially arresting her, I had thought of dropping her off at the nearest jail, but thought better of it. Her changeling employer felt connected to all of this somehow. What cold I say? I liked to follow my gut sometimes instead of analyzing and situation and thinking it through.

"Could find something to talk about." I said, sitting down in front of her, causing her to inch away from me, her leather armor rustling over her sleek form. We had opted to give her back her longsword because Goldguard got tired of how heavy it was, and it now rested beside her in it's sheath. A beauty really, looking perfectly crafted to open up intestines and remove limbs from bodies.

". . . Nice sword." I began, motioning towards it. The griffon eyed me funnily before replying. "It is. Had it before I could even fly."

"Bet you could barely swing it." I chuckled, imaging a tiny hatchling trying to pick up the blade.

"Better than you can swing that stupid stick of yours." She retorted sharply.

"It cracked your boss's jaw wide open." I said with a shrug. "And that's all I really need it to do."

" . . . But it's like . . . a magic stick right? You see some of them in the merc business, mostly held by unicorns though. Didn't know you could do magic."

"Um . . . I can't." I admitted. "Really have no idea why I was even given it." I shrugged, pulling the stave out of its holster on my back and holding it up for examination. Agatha smiled at it in a knowingly way, one who was attentive to the detail of a fine weapon.

"Has an arcanite core?" She asked casually, to which I raised an eyebrow.

"Um . . . yeah. How'd you know?" I replied, curiously eyeing my own weapon.

"It brims, hums." She shrugged. "Raptor vision and hearing. Plus, look at the ornament." Agatha pointed at the ornamental dragon head, just at the open mouth. "It's an opening point for the release of the magic source."

". . . Know your stuff."

"Gotta. I stole plenty of them in my time."

". . ."


"I thought mercenaries were paid just to do jobs and stuff?"

"Yeah. I was paid to steal a lot of staffs and staves at one point."

Thus I learned the inner-workings of a bloodthirsty band of mercenaries and their various dealings, ranging from bodyguard and escort work to some high-stakes grand theft shit. It was interesting enough, but it made me unsettled at how Agatha seemed to be enjoying her work, whether it be slicing up a poor bloke who couldn't pay up or taking away precious goods from an unaware salespony. I think she was just generally happy with breaking the law, any law in fact.

I nodded at the sellsword, who had become partially more tolerable with me, nodding back. Standing up and stretching, I gazed out the window, only to see that the sun was beginning to slink over the horizon, cascading the land in a glorious hue of orange. I think our ride was almost over, feeling the train pick up speed a bit, but that didn't mean I didn't have to stop my little run of conversations. Felt kinda nice, as if I were in a RPG game.

Penny smiled as she rolled the ball of lint around between her hooves, gazing at it as if it were the most fascinating thing in the world. I sat down beside her and chuckled. "That lint ball is pretty interesting, huh?"

"It is." She pipped. "Every time I roll it around, the lint strands move in a different direction. Thus far, strand 1372 has coaligned with strands 245 and 1034 twenty eight times in a row."

"You've . . . counted all the lint pieces that make it up?"


". . . I'll come back another time."

I did not need miscellaneous information about lint. A convo with Penny would have to wait as I felt a bit of lurch underneath me, signaling that the train had come to a stop. "Destionation, Hollow Shades!" The conductor shouted out, to which we all picked up our heads, nodding to each other and heading outside.

The moment I left the comfort of the cool train cart, I felt the extreme shift in conditions. The air was almost physically thick with humidity, something that I didn't mind, but could tell that it affected my more warm-blooded companions. 'Cept Penny. She was staring at a group of fireflies in the distance.

With the sun finally finishing its rounds of the day and the moon rising to take its place, Hollow Shades remained what I had envisioned it to be: creepy and a perfect visage of its namesake. The main area of the village was only roughly a dozen or so buildings and homes, all within close vicinity of one another. They appeared to be log cabins and huts, something befitting the natural resources available around them.

The sound chirping crickets and bellowing frogs echoed through the night, the area surrounding the village encased in a thick marshland of rising dead trees and unsavory-looking bogs of water filled with muck and scum. Yup, seemed like such a welcoming place.

As the train picked up and rolled off, I noticed one last thing, strange thing in my examination of our newest surroundings: There were no ponies in sight.