• 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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4. New Discoveries

Chapter 4: New Discoveries

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It is a fact universally acknowledged that horses do not talk. For Robert, the concept of universally acknowledged fact became further warped and meaningless as he watched his unicorn companion converse with one of the camps' stallions. Within one day his simple view of the world was picked up by the scruff of its metaphorical neck, thoroughly shaken by the hands of insanity and then dunked in a bath of unwanted imagination.

He felt as if he drank too much of Farther Brian’s Bitter Brew, only without the side effects of headaches and dizziness.

“So… you can talk with horses?” asked Robert.

“Yeah,” the unicorn sighed. “He was just wondering if I was okay. They all saw my outburst and were curious about why I was talking to a ‘two-legger’.”

“Two-legger?”

“It’s their name for your species.”

He watched as the unicorn continued to tread across the dirt with her head down. Part of him felt sorry for the creature. If what she said was true, then all she wanted was to go home, where ever that was.

Another problem that was plaguing Robert’s mind was that unicorns do not exist. At least, they no longer exist…

He remembered back to when he was a child in his village. Father Brian, or Brother Brian as he was known then, always came to the village centre every Saturday afternoon to teach the children. He told them stories of ancient heroes who slayed dragons and rescued damsels in distress.

Robert never did find the meaning of the word damsel.

Other stories he told were from the Book of Solaris: how Solaris created humanity in his image and how he gave them many animals as companions. Horses were chief among these, and of all horses, unicorns where the most grand companions of all. Farther Brian always described them as majestic and fierce beings, protecting the weak and the innocent from evil, wand who were all-powerful, loyal and brave.

Robert never imagined them to be so… purple.

He remembered the day he asked Farther Brian why no one had ever seen a unicorn, ‘Unicorns, my dear boy,’ he replied. ‘The reason why we no longer see them is because they all… moved on. They sacrificed themselves to the darkness so that we may all live in peace.’

The stories were true. He knew they were because that’s what everyone said. But if they were true then how was Twilight here? The many questions that sat impatiently in that back of his mind finally broke thought the wall of ignorant bliss and bombarded his frontal lobe with questions like, ‘who is Discord, some sort of devil?' and ‘Is this Equestria the afterlife?’.

He rubbed his head and sighed, attempting to shake off the philosophical induced headache.

--------------------

Twilight was also having her own thoughts as she trotted along; head down and ears flopped to the side. She didn’t care where she was going, a part of her hoped that she would just trip over and land on the answer. She hoped those books would contain some knowledge, folktale or story that could point to a way home.

What is the way home anyway? She thought to herself. It’s not like they would just say, ‘Here’s a portal to Equestria; have fun!

She stopped moving when she found herself corned between a large crowed of humans, all of whom seemed to be looking in the same direction.

“What’s going on?” Twilight asked her human follower.

“It must be the King’s Speech,” Robert said in a hushed voice.

Twilight nodded and slowly made her way through the crowds and hopped up onto a cart to get a better look. At the front of the crowed a man sat upon a magnificent stallion. He wore regal robes of a deep red with offsets of purple over gleaming chainmail and plate armour. To the left of his hart the sun motif was proudly sown and to the right was a punching lion. He had short reddish hair and beard. Tucked under his arm was a regal helmet with a golden crown infused with protective steel.

“Who’s that?” Twilight asked.

“That is King Edmund the Lion,” replied Robert with a bulging smile. “He’s the one leading this campaign. He’s one of Albion’s gratis kings, up there with Arthur and Alfred.”

Another man on horseback rode up. His hair was darker than the darkest black whilst his armour gleamed in the sunlight. The fabric covering also seemed to absorb all light excepted for the embroidered white eight pointed sun with each point bending sharply to the left. His appearance was neater than anything Rarity could ever hope to envision and his eyes were so piercing that they could turn a cockatrice to stone.

That was just the horse. Its master was almost identical apart from two key features. One, he was human and two, he was far more imposing.

“And who’s he?” Twilight asked.

“That is Grandmaster William de Sable of the Holy Knight Brotherhood of Solaris’ Temple… or The Knights Templar for short.”

Robert went on to talk about other men who rode next to the king but Twilight had lost interest. Instead she was focused on the Grandmaster. There was something about him that worried her. Looking at him made her feel colder and his eyes seamed to dance with a red glow.

“Did you see that?” Twilight asked.

“See what?”

“His eyes. The Grandmaster’s eyes.”

“You don’t want to be looking in his eyes Twilight,” Robert hissed. “I once heard that a lieutenant of his lost a battle and was summoned before him. All what the Grandmaster did was stair at him, he didn’t say anything, he just stared. The lieutenant spent weeks shivering, mumbling to himself, having nightmares and then he just disappeared.”

“Disappeared?” Twilight asked. She couldn’t take her eyes of the man. Her eyes begged to be allowed to blink but she didn’t want to risk losing sight of the human. To make matters worse she didn’t even know why. Twilight hated it when she didn’t know things.

“Yes, vanished without a trace. Never to be seen or heard from again,” said Robert. “Although, it could just be a story…”

Twilight had stopped listening. Time seemed to slow as her eyes finally won over her irrational brain. They closed and opened again.

The Grandmaster was looking right at her.

He wasn’t just looking in her general direction or right though her as every other human besides Robert had. Instead the Grandmaster looked her right in the eyes, his face remaining cold, emotionless and less readable than a white wall. His horse looked over too and after for a brief moment surprise and confusion washed over its face before it eventually took the hint and gave her a deadly glare.

Twilight was frozen. Her body was more ridged then when she was turned to stone. She asked her mind for instructions but only received a response of ‘we’ll get back to you’. One part of her mind was however working into overdrive. It screamed at her to get away. Twilight agreed and sent an almost instinctual single to her horn. There was a flash of light.

Twilight had disappeared.

--------------------

Catherine stood in the shade of a group of heavily loaded carts. She looked around nervously as she clasped a bag to her side. She watched to see if anyone was looking, she was fortunate that most of them were focused on the King’s speech and when everyone’s attention was elsewhere she disappeared under a sheet. She smiled to herself and pulled out a rugged book from the bag as well as an inkwell and a wooden box containing a quill that would have been far too expensive of a common serving girl.

She let out a sigh of relief as she opened the book to the first blank page and placed it carefully on the ground. She opened the inkwell and gracefully dipped in the quill before removing it along with the perfect amount of ink. She pondered briefly of what to write before putting the quill to the paper and wrote the words ‘Dear Diary’ in handwriting that would make the greatest of artists give up their trade.

She smiled to herself and basked in the cool shade as she moved to write the next line. As the quill hit the paper a sudden loud pop echoed above her followed by a short scream. Her makeshift tent collapsed on her along with several boxes from the carts.

Catherine leapt back from the cluttering mess as the cloth wisped over her head and rolled into a large ball. As she lay in the sand, dazed and confused, the chiming of glass hitting the ground caught her ears.

Her eyes shot wide open.

“Oh no!” she scrammed. Shooting up the young woman hastily lifted her most precious book and quill away from the spilt ink and franticly checked to see if they were damaged. Once she was sure that the book was unblemished and the quill still in perfect condition she gave a sigh of relief.

Relief, however, quickly turned to anger as she glared at the moving mound under the former shade providing cloth. She carefully placed her book, quill and what remained of the ink to the side and turned to the clumsy, idiotic man who caused this mess. She was about to give him a piece of her mind when a purple hoof shout out from under the cloth.

A hoof was the last thing she thought she would see, let alone a purple one. Catherine watched as the mound of cloth lifted itself from the ground and fell from the being beneath it. The young woman found herself looking at a purple pony that stood just above half her height. Its mane was cut in an odd fashion and on its forehead was a horn—

“I really need to think about where I teleport too,” muttered the unicorn as she rubbed her head. She looked up and met the eyes of Catherine who had an expression that held a mixture of great surprise and disbelief.

There was a moment of silence.

The two began talking at the same time.

“You’re a talking unicorn!”

“You can see me?”

“Yes, I can talk.”

“Yes, I can see you.”

Both paused.

There was another moment of silence before Catherine broke it with a delightful squeal. The unicorn didn’t have time to react as she found herself swiped into a strong hug.

“I can’t believe it! A real live unicorn fell from the sky! It’s just like I’ve always dreamed!”

The unicorn struggled under Catherine’s grip. Soon a meek voice spoke the words, “Can’t… breathe…”

“Oh, sorry,” Catherine replied sheepishly as she released the unicorn from her grasp. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. It’s just that I’ve always wanted a unicorn ever since I was a little girl... and... Oh boy. Please don’t tell anyone I said that.”

“No, it’s fine. I’m okay,” the unicorn sighed. “And you are the only other human I’ve meet who can see or hear me.” The unicorn paused, and then added, “Well at least I hope you are the only other one I’ve seen.”

“Really?” Catherine asked, “Why can’t anyone see you?”

Her mind was working in overdrive. In front of her was a creature that she had always dreamed of. Sure it wasn’t as grand as she had imagined, but it was far cuter, and best of all it talked.

She briefly wondered if those falling crates knocked her out cold and that this was a dream.

“I wish I knew,” said the unicorn, oblivious to Catherine’s pondering. “It’s probably something to do with Discord. I’m Twilight Sparkle by the way.”

“And my name is Catherine. It’s a pleasure to meet you Miss Sparkle.” Catherine smiled and gave the best curtsy she could whilst sitting.

“Likewise, and please, call me Twilight.”

After that Catherine got the first questions in and the two went into a discussion about where Twilight was from and how she was stuck. Catherine for the most part listened patiently and nodded in understanding. The unicorn was thorough in her story telling and left the woman with no questions. That was until Twilight reached a point that Catherine couldn’t go unanswered.

“Wait, so you’re the one who’s been stealing from the kitchen?”

“Kitchen? I-I—“ The unicorn stumbled over her words her eyes darted around as if to avoid that question. She spotted something in the corner of her eye. “Is that a book?”

Catherine this time went on the defensive. She shifted herself between the unicorn and her book and gave her best poker face. It was obvious she had never played the game.

“Book? What book? There are no books here.”

“Oh my gosh! You can read, can’t you?” Twilight said as a smile beamed from her face. “Please, you have to teach me!”

“I thought you said you were a librarian?” Catherine asked, still reluctant to move but reassured slightly by the fact that no one can hear the unicorn.

“I am, and although our languages are somehow spoken the same I can’t read yours.”

Catherine sat in silence. She had always kept the fact that she could read a secret, even from Miss Margaret. After all, a serving girl who could read was bound to raise some questions. Questions she didn’t want to answer.

“Please,” Twilight pleaded, “I know it’s a long shot but I need to find a way home. Maybe the answer is in a book. They always have been before, but I can’t find it if I can’t read. Do you have any idea what that’s like for someone like me?”

Catherine was silent for a few more seconds. She let out a long sigh and moved her book and quill back in front of her. “Very well, Twilight,” she said, thinking she would regret this, “I will teach you how to read Albish... How will this work?”

“Don’t worry too much. I have a spell that will help.”

“Spell?”

--------------------

Robert wasn’t sure what to think. The pony who haunted him for the last two days was finally gone. She didn’t walk off somewhere nearby or disappear for a few minutes. This time she just vanished in a flash of light and this time was nowhere to be found.

Perhaps she was gone for good.

Part of him was relieved at the possibility; he could know get on with is life without being insane. But another point at the back of his mind was worried. He didn’t even know why.

Unicorns do not exist. Or at the very least no longer exist. These great questions that were filling his mind were more unwanted than the purple myth herself. He was just a simple farm boy from a village no one ever heard off. And yet, he was the only one who could see her.

Why couldn’t it have been Sir Neville? He thought. He’s the son and heir of an earl! I’m just the boy who feeds his chickens!

Robert rubbed his eyes. Twilight can’t exist. At least she’s gone now. At least, he hoped she was. He still had the headache from the unwanted questions that he managed to wrestle back under control whilst explaining to the mare the leaders of this campaign.

And yet, no matter how much he wanted that thing gone, a part of him missed her.

Robert sighed and sat himself down on a conveniently high rock. He didn’t know why he felt that way.

“Robert? Are you oaky?”

The farm boy looked up to see his only friend Frank look at him with concern.

“I don’t know, Frank,” said Robert. He held his helmet in his hands as the two sat.

“Are you still talking to yourself?”

“No… I never was.”

“Then who were you talking to?” Frank chuckled, “The Invisible Empress of Reme?”

It is of some importance to note here that the Invisible Empress of Ream wasn’t actually invisible; it was just that no one had ever seen here. If it wasn’t the Emperor’s word and the fact that she has children, many people would say that she didn’t exist. Due to this, two conflicting rumours spread about her. One group says that she must be the greatest beauty to ever live. Others say that she was the ugliest woman to ever live. This discussion eventually caused riots in the imperial city killing hundreds…

Robert let out a small chuckle of his own. “No, it wasn’t. Although it probably would make more sense if it were.”

“Now, you’ve got me interested,” Frank said. “You’re… You’re not seeing your dead grandmother in things again?”

“No, no, no… It’s… complicated.”

“Suite yourself,” said Frank. He looked out towards the blue waters of the Meridian Sea. The last supply ships were leaving as the warriors and support carts were slowly gathering into their groups. “We’re leaving in a bit. Maybe you would finally do something.”

“I was there at the liberation of Hassiaf, you know.”

“Yes, but you just sat behind whilst I was the one to storm the city.”

“Sir Neville asked me to look after Joey. If it weren’t for him…” Robert paused. He looked into the back of his helmet ad sighed. “What was it like?”

There was a moment of silence as Robert waited for the response. He didn’t move. His eyes remained fixed on the distant sea yet never focused on anything. Finally Frank said, “Nightmares are more comforting that battle.”

After a minute of silence Robert finally decided to speak. “Do you remember the stories that Farther Brian used to tell us?”

“What about them?”

“What would… Unicorns do if they were still here?”

Frank looked at friend and raised an eyebrow in confusion. He thought of an answer and then said, “The world would be a better place... Come on, let’s go. We don’t want to keep Sir Neville waiting.”

Frank left. Robert slowly stood and looked at his helmet again. He made up his mind. If Twilight was real, then she must be important. And he is the only one who can help her…

He suddenly wished that he never left home.

--------------------

If Twilight was to say that the first meeting between Robert and Catherine was awkward, that sentence would be marked down as the biggest understatement in the history of everything ever. If Pinkie was to try and bake a cake to represent it, the cake would be at least five miles tall and wider than the world’s entire adult dragon population standing head to tail. The cake would also require Equestria’s entire supply of icing that has ever been made or will be made, and would also be decorated by mountains engraved with strawberry and chocolate sprinkle flavour enchantments…

Twilight’s stomach growled at the metaphor. With the lack of good food around her she would be willing to eat Sugar Cube Corner itself, mortar and all.

Twilight was telling Catherine stories about Equestria when Robert found them. The following conversation went like this…

“Oh, it’s you,” said Catherine.

Robert stopped all movement and stared at Catherine with a look of panic, confusion and what Twilight presumed was the human equivalent of Spike’s expression whenever he sees Rarity after a day at the spa.

The conversation remained in this silence for a time that felt at least ten times longer than it really was.

Twilight was the one to break the silence. She let out a nervous cough and said, “Catherine, this is Robert. He’s the one who found me. Well, I sort of found him but… well…”

“Yes, I know who he is,” said Catherine with a scornful frown and a voice dripping with spite, she successfully supressed a giggle when she saw Robert finch at her words. “He’s the one who’s been stealing from the kitchen.”

“S-S-Stealing?” Robert muttered.

“Umm… Catherine, I already said it was me who took the food,” whispered Twilight.

“I know,” Catherine replied. “I just like to see his squirm. How’s the reading anyway?”

Twilight looked down to the kitchen ledger that she was practicing reading. “I think that whoever did these sums doesn’t know how to count to anything above the number ten.”

The sound of Robert attempting to speak brought their attention back to him. “I-I didn’t steal from the kitchen… It… You can see Twilight?”

Catherine was about to give another sadistically playful answer however the unicorn cut her off. “Yes she can,” said Twilight. Catherine sighed yet continued to scorn at the man. “Isn’t it great? She even taught me how to read!”

“You can read now?” Robert asked. A delightful smile formed on his face. “So you can go home?”

“Once I find a way, yes.” Twilight let the joyful thought flow though her and gleamed a smile in response not caring that Robert’s answer sounded overly joyful. “Of course I would love to study your society whilst I’m at it. I have so many questions.”

“Well, I would be glad to answer as many as I can,” Catherine said with a smirk. “And I’m sure Robert here would also help.”

The word Robert rolled of her tongue like a poison from a joke shop. Twilight was the only one to catch the mischievous side of it.

“First he has a war to help win,” a voice called. Three heads turned to see Sir Neville ride up on…

“Joey?”

“Hi, Twilit!” The horse called.

“It’s Twilight,” the unicorn replied. Catherine watched with confused interest whilst Sir Neville, dressed in his armour, turned to Robert and began speaking to him. Twilight, however, remained focused on the stallion.

“Oh, sorry,” said the horse. “I’m not very good with names.”

“It’s okay.”

“So what have you been doing? I’ve been having a great time, don’t you just like the look of these clothes? Oh, and this shiny metal sheet!”

“Yeah, sure…” Twilight said as she observed the blissful stallion’s armour and cloth covering that had both the sun motif and what appeared to be a chicken resealing with a flower sown into it. “You do know what you’re getting yourself into, right?”

“Of course I do!” Joey exclaimed. “Don’t you find it fun exploring new places? After all before this all I used to do was… Oh, sorry, got to go,” Joey said as his master spurred him on with Robert walking by his side. The young man looked back briefly at the unicorn and kitchen girl before they disappeared into a mass of matching warriors.

“So… What was that about?” Twilight asked.

“They had to go.” Catherine shrugged. “Everyone is moving out south towards Ashetilon.” She paused before giving the unicorn a questioning look. “So… you can talk to horses?”

“What does everyone asks that?”

--------------------

In the overbearing sun, the marching mass of steel and cloth glinted and shimmered much like the sea that they followed. Clouds of dust rose from the feet and hooves of its participants leaving a trail along the coastline. One cloud, however, was moving the wrong way.

The Grandmaster galloped upon his black steed towards the supply caravans at the back of the marching line. Few he passed paid him any attention as he weaved between carts and waggons towards the order’s black standard.

He approached a cloaked man sitting in the back of a cart with a large tome spread open in his hands. “Grand Librarian, something urgent has happened,” said the Grandmaster. The Librarian looked up from his book and gently bowed his head.

“Is it to do with the amulet, sire?” he asked.

“I’m not sure,” whispered the Grandmaster. “But it is an urgent matter that must not be shared with anyone else. Am I clear?”

“Of course, sire.”

The Grandmaster didn’t trust the Grand Librarian; he didn’t trust anything, not even his own mother who never told a lie in her life. What he did know was that the Grand Librarian was low on his list of the least trustworthy things. No matter what he wanted the Grand Librarian would see it done to the best of his abilities, and so far he has never been wrong.

“Good,” the Grandmaster said. “I’ll get strait to the point. There was a unicorn in the camp.”

“A unicorn?”

The Grandmaster shot the Librarian a glare. “I know what I saw, Librarian. It was a unicorn.”

“I didn’t mean to insult you, sire. Has anyone else seen it?” the Grand Librarian calmly replied.

“No, it was standing in the middle of a crowd and no one paid it any attention. I suspect it has something to do with the amulet.”

The Librarian nodded in agreement. That was another thing that the Grandmaster didn’t like about the Librarian, he never revealed what he was thinking unless he said it aloud. Nothing could startle him or make him cower. He instead always kept a calm appearance and took his time to speak. “I suspect it does, sire,” he said. “But the appearance of a unicorn is troubling. Do you know what it says in the Lost Chapters of Isaac, my lord?”

“Yes, Librarian, yes I do. I read them myself after what it took to acquire them for you.”

“Then, what do you wish to be done, sire?”

The Grandmaster thought for a moment. He looked out around the carts and matching guards yet failed to see any sight of that purple creature. He turned back to the Librarian and said, “I want you to find it. Use whatever you need. Just find it.”

“And what then, sire?”

“Then, Librarian, I want it dead.”

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