• Published 14th Jan 2013
  • 26,295 Views, 1,588 Comments

The Monster Below - Greenback



An earth pony seeks to transform himself into an Alicorn, but how far is he willing to go to get what he wants?

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The Talk

“Silverspeak.”

I groaned.

“Silverspeak, wake up.”

I blinked my eyes to find Beakbreaker standing beside the bed. It was so wonderful to see her; I smiled.

She wasn't smiling.

“Your parents are downstairs. They want to talk to you.”

She left.

I turned towards the clock and saw that it was noon. I had only been asleep for an hour and a half. Every part of me wanted nothing more than to return to peaceful oblivion and remain there as long as possible. But the look on Beakbreaker's face... I had seen her angry, furious, and sad, but this was something different.

It worried me.

A storm had come in while I had slept, and the sound of pouring rain hitting the windows followed me as I wearily got out of bed, almost crying at the pain in my legs. My muscles were so sore that I could barely move them. Taking a few unsteady steps, I was relieved to find I could still walk, at least.

Limping to the door, I slowly made my way down the stairs and to the living room. Mom and Dad were sitting in their respective chairs, with Beakbreaker on one end of the sofa. Mangus was there too.

None of them were smiling.

“Silverspeak,” Dad said. “Take a seat.”

Wincing, I made my way to the sofa and sat down between Beakbreaker and Mangus. I couldn't tell what the former was thinking, but the latter glared at me with eyes that could pierce steel.

“What's going on?” I asked, struggling not to yawn.

“Silverspeak," Dad said. "Did you do anything last night?”

I was suddenly awake. “What are you talking about?”

“When your mother and I woke up this morning, we found the basement door open. We went down and found part of the wall had collapsed.”

My jaw tightened.

“How did that happen?”

“I... I couldn't sleep,” I said, thinking fast, “so I decided to look around a bit. I went down into the basement, found that a part of the wall had fallen down, and I went in to explore.”

“Did anything happen?”

I shook my head.

My mother stiffened.

“Silverspeak,” Dad said, “did anything happen down there?”

“No.”

“Then why did we find blood on the floor? Or on the carpet outside the basement door, where it went up the stairs to the bathroom?” He saw my flank, did a double-take at seeing the bandage, and the tips of the slash that were still visible. “And how did you get that?!”

“There was a sharp stone coming from the wall,” I said as quickly as I could, cursing myself for my stupidity at not cleaning up after exiting the basement. “I accidentally cut myself on it.”

“Silverspeak," Mom said, "your father and I slept in until eleven. We haven't done that since both of us were teenagers coming back from an all-night party.”

“Well you were probably very tired," I said. "That happens every now and then.”

“But not from a day of taking things easy.”

“Maybe you've caught something.” I glanced at Beakbreaker, hoping a joke could lighten the mood. “Maybe you all caught Saddle Arabia sleeping disease, or something.”

No one laughed.

Mom took a deep breath. “When I went to brew some tea after waking up, I noticed that some of my herbs had been used. Your father doesn't make tea, and Beakbreaker says she didn't make any either. Neither did Mangus or the other guards.”

She said nothing more, but it was obvious what she was implying.

This was no time to take chances. Turning on my charm, I said, “Well, that's actually quite explainable. I put some of your herbs and spices into the soup last night, thinking it might add to the flavor. But how was I supposed to know they were ingredients to a sleeping tea?”

A bit of color seemed to fade from Mom's face. “I never said they were.”

My heart almost stopped. “Did I say sleeping tea? I mean, I thought they were flavor enhancers. I was mistaken, I didn't read the labels correctly, I-”

My backpedaling didn't fool anyone.

“You took all the necessary ingredients to make a sleeping tea,” Mom said. “The very same one I taught you to make when you were little.”

Everyone stared at me, and I could practically feel the air change as they put two and two together, realized the truth.

“You... You drugged us?” Dad whispered.

My charm goes a long way, but it can't cover up a blatant lie, or when an obvious truth is exposed.

“You drugged us.” Mangus growled.

“No.” My voice was tiny. “I didn't.”

“Don't lie to me!” Mangus said.

“But I didn't...”

Stop lying!” Mangus shouted. “You tried to kill me!”

“I wasn't trying to kill or drug anyone! How was I going to know the soup would put everyone to sleep?! And besides, I ate it! You all saw how tired I was!”

“But if you were so tired,” Dad said, “then how come you weren't able to sleep last night?”

I had no answer to that.

Mangus shook his head. “Sweet Celestia, you're pathetic! Even when the truth comes out, you keep lying!” He hit his hooves together. “Well, when I'm through with you, you'll-”

“Mangus,” Dad said. “That's enough!”

“Your son tried to kill me!”

“No combination of herbs in this house can kill anyone,” Mom said.

“Doesn't matter. This little creep needs to be taught a lesson!”

“If there will be any repercussions to this, it will be done by us, not you.”

Mangus' horn lit up, and he shoved my parents back against the wall. “Too bad!”

He turned to me, reared back for a punch, only to be magically blasted over the couch and into the wall.

“Mangus Bluehorn!” My mother roared, her horn glowing in tandem with my father's. “You are never again welcome in our home. You will leave this house immediately and never return!”

The door was magically opened, and Mangus was thrown out like trash, the door slamming shut and locking itself behind him. But my parents didn't stop there; all the blinds in the house were yanked shut, and spells were shot into the walls and windows, sealing the house completely, so that not even a magic user like Mangus could break in or eavesdrop.

The act done, my parents calmed down, took a moment to gather themselves.

I remained where I was, not knowing what to do. I had never seen my parents act towards another pony as they did.

When they opened their eyes once more, my parents came to the couch, stood before me.

“Silverspeak, please tell us the truth,” Mom said. “We're angry, but if you tell us why you did what you did, then we can at least understand.”

They watched me, waiting for an answer. So too, did Beakbreaker.

I thought about giving them a lie, telling them something they would want to hear. But if they could be made to understand, and if I could sway them to my side, they'd be potent allies against he inevitable confrontation with Mangus.

Knowing what I had to do, I got off the couch, started for the stairs.

“Silversp-”

I held up a hoof, indicating for everyone to stay where they were. Going upstairs, I gathered my saddlebags, then came back down and dumped them on the floor. The others watched, confused, as I took a deep breath, and pulled out the horn, setting it on the floor for everyone to see.

My parents and Beakbreaker gasped.

“Where did you get this?” Dad asked.

“Beneath the mountains,” I told him.

“What?”

“I went down there last night,” I said, my heart pounding. “I went down because I found Quiverquill's private diary. He talked of a lost civilization and the horn of it's king. I wanted that horn, so I... I drugged you all because I couldn't risk anyone waking up and finding me gone.”

No one said a word.

“I followed a tunnel Quiverquill had carved, and made my way into a labyrinth, eventually finding the horn. But on the way back, I was attacked by something. It chased me, and that's how I got this.” I yanked the bandage off, revealed how big my slice really was. “I got out and sealed the passageway. That was two hours ago." I sat on the sofa, feeling drained. “That's the truth.”

For the longest minute of my life, no one spoke. No one said anything. They just stared at that horn, and at me.

I waited.

“You... You were willing to risk the lives of your own family for... a horn?” Dad said.

“No. I had no idea that thing was down there-”

“But it could have made it's way up. It could have killed us.”

Dad was going down the path of shaming me for what could have happened, instead of what did happen. I had to stop him. “Yes, it could have. But I stopped it. I-”

“You almost killed this family, Silverspeak! And for what? A stupid horn?! Sweet Celestia, how could you be so stupid?! You-”

“Did you not hear a word I just said?! I didn't know it was there, okay Dad?! I didn't! I didn't know!”

Mom looked as if she was on the verge of breaking into tears. “Why? Why would you do something like this?”

“Mom, I-”

“Why? Please, tell me, why?!”

I couldn't bear to look at her. I turned to Beakbreaker, seeking support, comfort, anything. But instead, I only found a face as confused as everyone else.

“Because of you,” I said.

Mom was baffled. “Us? But how do you-”

“Do you remember Mom, what you thought of me when I was little?” I turned to Dad. “Do you, Dad? Do you remember how you thought I was a freak? How you were ashamed of me? That I wasn't the precious little unicorn you always wanted?”

Mom shook her head. “Silversp-”

“Well, I do. My earliest memories are of both of you looking down into my crib and looking so disappointed. I wasn't going to be your precious little spellcaster who you could teach. I wasn't going to carry on the family bloodline. I was a pathetic Earth pony! You didn't want me!”

“Yes we did!” Dad said. “We did want you!”

“That's a lie!”

“No it isn't! It-”

“Yes it is! And you know it!”

Dad tried to speak, but hung his head. “All right, I admit it... We were disappointed that you weren't a unicorn. Ever since we were married, your mother and I wanted nothing more than to have a child who we could teach, and pass on everything we had learned. And when you were born, it... You're right son. I'm not going to lie. We were disappointed.”

My chest tightened up.

“But that changed. We changed, too. We knew you wanted to be something more, but I never thought you'd go so far as to actually change your species. It's...it's...”

“It's something unnatural,” Mom said. “Something that just shouldn't be.”

I bit my lip. “How long have you felt like this?”

“Ever since we saw the first newspaper reports. When you showed us the wings, I wasn't sure whether to change my mind, but after the incident with the heckler, and now the horn... I think it's time.”

“For what?”

Mom and Dad looked at each other.

“Silverspeak...” Mom said, “you need to give up those wings.”

“No.” I shook my head. “Never.”

“You don't have to impress us. Changing your species won't make us love you any more.”

“What makes you think I'm trying to impress you?” I said. “You think I'm doing this for you? No, I'm doing this for myself. I'm sick and tired of being a nobody!”

“But you're not a nobody!”

“I am! I always have been! Neither of you know what it's like, being the only pony in school who can't do magic, or being the only pony in an entire city who's different than every else, and who can never, ever change that.” I pointed to the horn. “With that, I'm finally going to be someone! Someone important, someone who can actually do something that matters!”

“But is it really what you want?”

“Yes!”

“But what has this bought you? Have these wings made you happy?”

I couldn't answer him.

“You need to give this up, Silverspeak. This... obsession of yours has brought nothing but bad things.”

“You don't know that.”

“You're right. I don't. But I do know the entire country is divided; half thinks you're the next big thing, the other half thinks you're a walking blasphemy against nature itself. You may be safe in here, but you have no such protection outside. And what's worse, you're turning into something you're not.”

“That's not true.”

Dad sighed, shaking his head. “Oh, son, how could you be so stupid? You-”

Before I was even aware of what I was doing, I had shot to within an inch of Dad's face. “Don't you dare call me that!” I yelled. “Do you hear me, Dad?! Do you?!

Dad looked at me as if he was seeing a stranger.

Mom took a step back.

“Silverspeak,” Dad said quietly, choosing his words very carefully. “There's something ponies used to say when they first came to Equestria-”

“Oh for Celestia's sake, not another one of your idiotic stories!”

“This isn't a story. It's a saying, and one you need to hear. Ponies of old used to say that deep within each of us, far below our skin and our bones, is a creature. As we grow, we feed it with our choices. We can feed it compassion, tolerance, and a willingness to change. But we can also feed it anger, intolerance, and selfishness. When we grow up, that force steers us: it can be a good creature... or a monster.”

I shook my head. “I don't have some creature within me, Dad. Neither do you. It's a stupid fairytale.”

“One that rings with truth.”

“The truth is that I am going to be someone, and none of your old stories is going to stop me.” I looked to Mom. “You both should be proud of me. I've already gone beyond what I was. And with that horn, I'll finally be what you always wanted me to be. I'll be able to cast magi! You can finally teach me, just like you always wanted to. Isn't that what you want?”

Mom looked at me for a long moment. “No,” she said. “I don't want that.”

She reached out and touched my chin.

“I just want my son.”

I shook my head. “I am your son.”

I took a step back.

“I'm just going to be the one you've always wanted.”

Beakbreaker finally spoke. “Silverspeak...”

I turned, heart sinking, for Beakbreaker's tone had already revealed what she was going to say.

“Maybe... Maybe your parents are right. I mean, maybe we could...”

I didn't hear what she said, furious at how this had all gone so wrong. First my parents, and now Beakbreaker... they weren't going to take my side. Had I been more rested, my charm, in combination with logic and reason, would have been enough to sway Mom, Dad, and Beakbreaker to my side. But I was exhausted, and any chance of swaying them was gone.

Mom looked utterly defeated. And as I looked to Dad, I expected him to be the same way. But instead, he was looking at the horn, then to me. He sighed.

“I'm sorry Silverspeak, but this has gone on far enough. I know you'll hate me for this, but you'll thank me later.”

His horn glowed, and the horn I had struggled so hard to get rose into the air. Dad closed his eyes, concentrated, and his own horn began to throw off sparks, and in an instant, I realized what he was going to do. While horns are quite durable, they are not unbreakable. An experienced spell-caster can, with enough force, break one.

One snap, and the horn would be useless forever.

Mom was still too shocked at the events of the past few minutes to magically restrain me, and Beakbreaker was too far away to grab me. Dad was focusing all his attention on the horn.

It was a big mistake.

“NO!”

My muscles, exhausted and worn, were forced into desperate action as I tackled my father into a planter. The horn fell from his grasp, and I grabbed it before he could recover. I ran to the door and kicked it open, running outside. I heard Mangus yell at me, but I ignored him, trying to get as far away before any of them used their magic to yank me back. But I was in no shape to run for more than a few seconds without destroying my legs.

Beating my wings, I took to the sky, soaring away as fast as I could, ignoring the ice-cold rain that pelted me. I had to get away from them all, and hide the horn somewhere safe, someplace where they couldn't find it.

Down below, Beakbreaker and my parents ran out of the house and started after me. I couldn't hear their yells over the rain, but I wouldn't have listened to them anyway. They wouldn't understand. If they refused to see reason, then they wouldn't help me even if I told them about Mangus. And if I told them about the library, they'd eventually tell the police if I didn't turn myself in. I had to figure out another way, some other method of getting that horn on without Beakbreaker, and to keep her and my parents from interfering. No doubt they would go to Coin Counter, and possibly the authorities to stop me, so I would have to move fast, and get all the power I could, and then no one could stop me.

I beat my wings harder, trying to gain both altitude and distance.

That's when it happened.

It was minor at first, just a slight pain in my right shoulder that lasted for a second. But then the pain came again, and so much stronger than before, coming from where the wing muscles had been fused to my back. I gasped and wobbled, trying to work my way through it.

Then the pain practically exploded, and my entire right shoulder was in agony. The muscles cramped, tightening until they locked up completely, and I swore I could feel the wet squelch of muscles ripping away from bone.

I fell, tumbling head over heels as I frantically flapped my left wing, trying to regain control, biting down hard on the horn, desperate to protect the treasure I had risked my life to get.

Looking down, I saw that it was not my fate to end up as a bloody smear on the grass, for I was plunging towards a lake nestled between the trees, one that I had swum in frequently as a colt. It had been a place of refuge then, where I could be free and pretend I was swimming into a sunken city in the clear, blue water.

But now the water was grey and murky, and I was speeding towards it.

I made one last, frantic effort to pull up, and my left wing strained with all its might... until it too, cramped, and I shrieked in agony, now free-falling with nothing to hold me up.

The water shot towards me, and I heard Beakbreaker scream my name.

There was a horrible feeling of slamming into an immovable wetness, and everything went dark.

Author's Note:

For any of you who would like to get the full-sized picture of Silverspeak going through the tunnels in "Darkness," go to this link: (http://img153.imageshack.us/img153/3838/a2fq.jpg). And as a reminder, the artist is Lilithanhart, so go check out her work (http://lilithnanhart.deviantart.com/)!

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