• Published 13th Jan 2013
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The Lion and the Unicorn - Feather Book



When Twilight finds herself stranded in an alien land of sand and war, she must find a way home from this crazy wold.

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3. Of Books and Men

Chapter 3: Of Books and Men

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Flags fluttered in the dim glow of torchlight. These flags were black and the white sun motif in the centre was stylized with each of the eight beams of light twisting to the left at a ninety degree angle half way up their stem.

A shadow moved though the light as a black cloaked figure hurried past armour-clad guards and into a large tent. In his hands was a plain and unassuming box. He hurried into the tent and bowed before a man sitting on a regal stool.

“My Lord Grandmaster, please forgive me for this intrusion,” the cloaked figure said.

“What is so important that you must disturb me at this time of night, Grand Librarian?” the Grandmaster asked. His voice was one that could make rock tremble with anxiety. His black hair was neatly swept back and a trimmed beard presided upon his strong chin. He wore black robes with the same sharp sun motif that donned his banners and his men’s armor.

“Grandmaster,” said the Grand Librarian as he placed the box out before him. “There is something you should see.”

“Is that what I think it is?” It was a statement rather than a question. He could recognize that aged oak box with its well-polished surface and brass hinges anywhere. The Grand Librarian nodded and slowly lifted the lid. An unnatural red glow filled the room and wrapped it in an uneasy darkness. “What’s happened to it?”

“I do not know,” replied the Grand Librarian. “It began this morning. I’ve looked though all my books and they provide no answers.”

The Grandmaster raised himself from his seat and walked closer to the box. The rare sight of a small smile spread across his lips as the red glow bound around his eyes like a juggling dragon. He reached out and gently closed the box before grasping it in his arms as if he were a mother grasping her child.

“You can leave it with me,” he said. “I’ll keep it safe. Go back to your books and find me an answer. I will study the artifact myself.”

“Of course, Grandmaster.” The Grand Librarian bowed. “If you require anything, I’ll be in my tent.”

“Yes, I’m sure you will,” the Grandmaster half-heartedly replied. He had lost all interest in the robed man. The Grandmaster’s hands stroked the boxes surface as the retired to his seat. “I sense that this is the beginning of something big,” he said to no one in particular. He was the only one in the tent.

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Robert slowly opened his eyes and let out a long yawn. It was early morning. A light sea breeze fluttered though the tent’s fabric as the sun already began to heat up the land. He looked around the small tent and found it to be empty. Frank’s bedding was empty, and apart from a scattered pile of fabric in the center, nothing was out of place. He gave a sigh of relief and allowed himself a lie-in. Perhaps it was all just a bad-

“Hello.”

His eyes shot open to meet the deep purple eyes of Twilight Sparkle. She smiled. Two bowls of food levitated in a purple glow to her side. “Good morning,” she said. “I brought you some breakfast. It’s probably not much better than last night. I don’t even know what it is.”

The bowl lowered itself into Robert’s hands as he sat staring blankly at the unicorn. Twilight stared back with a frown.

“Remember that talk we had last night?” she asked.

“How could I forget,” Robert muttered.

Twilight made herself comfy on the floor and watched as Robert took the first bite of his food. As he didn’t choke it out, Twilight hesitantly placed a spoonful into her mouth. It wasn’t as bad as before.

“So, today I was wanting to get some answers. Do you know where the nearest library is?”

“Library?” Robert looked at the unicorn over his gruel full spoon.

“Yes, a library, or at least someone with some kind of books about magic and stuff.”

“Magic?” It was then Robert’s mind finally clicked into the realization that this formally mythical creature before him was capable of magic. “Magic!?”

“Yes, magic.”

“No-no-no-no; you don’t understand Magic is-it’s...it’s impossible.”

“And I’m a talking unicorn. Guessing by your reaction is that really a valid excuse?”

“I guess not,” Robert muttered. “Just don’t summon any demons or curse any of us please?”

“And why in Equestria would I do that?”

Robert was saved from having to explain as Frank, dressed in his armor and his sword by his side, swung back the tent’s door and looked in. “You’re awake then. Get your stuff and load up the wagons. We’re moving on today.”

“What?!” Robert leapt to his feet. “Since when?”

“Since the King said so. We’re marching south. We’re here on a mission, remember? Not just to have fun,” said Frank. He picked up a sword and tossed it towards his friend. “You’ll need that. Oh, and it’s best if you stop talking to yourself; People may think that you are crazy.”

“I think I already am,” Robert muttered to himself as Frank left.

“So,” Twilight broke the silence, “I’ve been meaning to ask. This is a military camp of some kind. Why are you here? Are you fighting with something?”

“You could say that,” said Robert. He rose to his feet and proudly gestured to his linen covered chest. “We are Crusaders.”

“Crusaders? Like the Cutie Mark Crusaders?”

Robert raised an eyebrow at the unicorn. “I’m… not sure… Anyway, we are men who are sworn to take back the holy land from the Aysyrrasin heretics in the name of Solaris!”

“Solaris?” Twilight asked. She was slightly disturbed at the human’s enthusiasm.

“Yes, Solaris. You know, the creator of all, bringer of the day, the Almighty Father,” Twilight stared at him blankly. “Anything?”

“Well, Princess Celestia brings the day where I’m from, and she says that it was her mother who created the world.” Twilight replied.

Robert’s eye twitched, his brain considered his options and rebooted itself. “Close enough,” he said with a shrug. “Now, um, if you don’t mind, I’d like to get changed.”

“Oh, sorry.” Twilight blushed a little as she backed out of the tent and into the early morning sun. The camp was busy with men in armor lowering tents and placing gear into wagons.

“Excuse me,” Twilight said to a nearby black stallion. “Where can I find a bathroom?”

The horse cocked its head. “Bathroom?”

“Yes, you know, somewhere to wash and brush my teeth.”

The horse chewed on some dry grass, “Brush… teeth?”

“You know what, nether mind.” Twilight muttered as she went in search of any form of sanitation. Her hoof stepped into something soft, warm and moist.

She looked down.

She screamed.

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“Catherine, have you seen the soap?”

“No, Miss Margret,” Catherine called back as she loaded a pile of pots and pans into the back of a cart. “It should be with the other washing up stuff.”

“No it ain’t,” the older woman called back. “And a bucket and towel is missing too!”

What they didn’t know was that, hiding behind a nearby tent, Twilight was franticly scrubbing away at her foreleg with the commandeered soap. At least she hoped it was soap. It seemed to do the job. She had been scrubbing for about an hour when she was finally disturbed.

“Twilight? What are you doing?” Robert asked as he made his way behind the slowly disappearing tents.

“Doesn’t anypony, horse or human here understand simple hygiene!?” Twilight asked. Her horn glowed as, for the fifth time, she attempted to purify the limb with a burst of purple flames.

“Hy-what now?”

Twilight gave him a deadpan stare. “Please tell me you’re joking.” When Robert didn’t reply the unicorn sighed and turned back to her foreleg.

“You do know that soap is made from…” Robert slowly trailed off.

“Yes I know what soap is made off,” Twilight muttered, “Lye and oils with some other ingredients.”

“Um, yes. Of course it is.” Robert gave a faked chuckle.

The unicorn didn’t notice. She sighed, dried her leg and slowly stood. She should have expected as much. She remembered stories that Shining Armor told her of his time training. She couldn’t believe that camping would have been that bad, especially with the Royal Guard’s budget. This was probably worse.

Shining… Her mind drifted to thoughts of home again. Her brother, Cadence, Spike and her parents, she hoped that they were alright. Last time Discord escaped, her parents were barley affected beyond having their home turned upside down along with the rest of the street.

She shook her head. There was time later to worry about home. First she had to find a way back. It was then she realized that she had no idea where to even start looking. If only she had some-

“Books!”

“What?” Robert asked.

“Books, I need books!” Twilight turned to him with more enthusiasm that he had ever seen. “Please say that there are some books nearby. Good books, books with facts and knowledge. Books that can help me get home.”

“Umm… I think Father Brian has some books like that,” said Robert. Twilight made a sound of pure glee and disappeared in a cloud of dust, galloping between the remaining tents.

Robert sighed and began to follow.

“And where do you think you’re going?”

He stopped and turned to meet a glare from a brunet haired woman. It was at that moment, his brain decided, that he had never seen anything more beautiful in his life.

“So you are the one who’s been stealing from the kitchen,” said Catherine.

“I-I It, I… Who-“

“Don’t play dumb with me, just give me back the stuff you stole and I’ll let you go.”

Robert glanced down to the bucket of water and almost dissolved soap.

“Yes, that stuff,” Catherine said.

Robert nodded and picked up the bucket, soap, and towel and held it towards Catherine who snatched it back from his hands.

“Now if I ever catch you or your book loving friend stealing again then I will get angry, understand?”

Robert weakly nodded. He never would have thought that something so dangerous could be so attractive.

“Good,” she huffed before turning and walking away leaving Robert staring after her. It was a short while after she disappeared when he shook the thoughts from his head and went off in search of the unicorn.

Twilight wasn’t hard to find. A purple horned pony amongst the dirt and sand landscape stood out well enough for Robert to see her digging though the carts of the United Friaries of Dewnenshire.

“Found them!” she triumphantly called as a cartload of books and scrolls floated around her.

“Do you mind keeping them down?” Robert asked with a hush. “We don’t want to be drawing any attention.”

“Oh, sorry.” The Unicorn giggled as she lowered all but one book back into their place. She made herself comfy on the cart and opened the largest tome she could find.

“An’ did þos fēt in alden time.

Ƿalkest upon Ælbions mountains ȝrēne:

An’ Ƿas þē hōly Lamb of Solis,

On Ælbions plēsent æcers sēn!”

“I knew it wouldn’t be that easy! Why do you have to speak the same language but not use the same alphabet?” Twilight sighed slammed her head into the pages out of despair.

“It can’t be that bad, all we need is to find someone to read it,” Robert suggested.

Twilight yet out a muffled “yes” from the pages, she lifted her head and smiled. “That’s it! I know a translation spell that will work. I just need you to read the first couple of paragraphs for me.”

“Read… yes, of course,” Robert let out an uneasy chuckle as the book was shoved into his hands.

“I need you to show me the words as you read them,” said Twilight.

Robert cleared his throat and gulped. “Err… There once was a… a Duck! Yes, there once was a duck that… that… umm-“

“Robert?”

“Yes Twilight?”

“Do you know how to read?”

Robert answered. Never before had he heard anyone shout in anger as loud as Twilight did.

“I’msorryI’msorryI’msorry!” Robert stemmed from his new place on the ground.

“How could you not know how to read!?” Twilight yelled, glaring down at the pathetic human from the cart.

“I never needed to read before!”

“That’s no excuse! What did they teach you at school?”

“School?”

Twilight let out a frustrated scream. Robert could have sworn that her mane started smoking. Twilight sighed, her anger had ran out and twisted itself into sorrow as she collapsed into her hooves and then let out a sob. “I-I just want to go home.”

Robert clambered to his feet. He never had to comfort a pony before, the closest experience he ever had was comforting his little sister when her favorite toy broke. Slowly he reached his had forwards and tapped her on the side of her head.

“Calm down Twilight. I’ll help you find your way home. I promise.”

“B-But, no books…”

“All we need to do is find someone else who can read.”

Twilight sniffed her final sobs and looked up at the human. “Yes, yes. Your right.”

“Robert, are you feeling alright?” The human and unicorn both shot round to see a concerned Father Brian.

“Father. Yes, of course I am. Why wouldn’t I be?” Robert said with a nervous chuckle.

“Oh, are you? It’s just that you are talking to a book.”

“Talking? No, no I wasn't. I was just trying to read it.”

“Ask him to read it,” whispered Twilight.

“I didn’t know you could read,” said Father Brian.

“I can’t,” Robert admitted, “but could you possibly teach me?”

“Teach you? Well, yes I could. But not now though. Remind me next time we set up the camp for a long peaceful period.” Father Brian lifted the book and stowed it away neatly before raising the cart’s back.

“When will that be?” Twilight asked. Robert asked the Father.

“Well, I’m not sure. His Majesty is about to announce where we’re going. It would be good to finally get Solaris’ work done. Oh, and between you and me,” he added in a whisper, “those horses have their eyes on you.”

It was true. All the nearby horses were staring at the trio with a looks that Twilight could only read of interest and confusion.

“Are you okay, ma’am?” One nearby stallion asked.

Twilight’s cheeks flushed with embarrassment, she gave a nervous chuckle, “Yes.”

Author's Note:

Bonus points for whoever can translate the text for Twilight.
Does anyone else think that this deserves an Alternative Universe tag because of the episode “Keep Calm and Flutter On”?

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