• Published 14th Jan 2013
  • 27,523 Views, 1,607 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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From Small Beginnings...

The years passed, and life continued much as it had all my life: going to school, trying to escape Mangus, and keeping to myself. I eventually stopped rising for the sun, nor did I bother looking for Luna. But I didn’t become an outcast who hated everyone and everything. For all my problems, I still had parents that cared, and after a while, the stares and whispers faded as I grew up.

Still, I wasn’t content or at peace in Saddle Lanka. I longed for the day when I could leave and find my own place in the world beyond its borders.

At long last, that day finally came when I graduated from school. It was a joyous occasion, perhaps one of the happiest days of my life. My parents were proud of seeing their only child complete his studies and officially become a grown pony. By that time, they had managed to get over their disappointment in me being an earth pony, and had finally accepted me for who I was. As I walked across the stage to take my diploma, I beamed in seeing them among the crowd of adoring parents. I could feel their love and pride as I finally took that scroll of parchment, which was my reward for so many years of term papers, homework, and science-fair projects with those flimsy folding displays. Granted, I had to carry it with my mouth where everyone else magically carried their diplomas, but I didn’t care. I had graduated.

I was done.

At the party afterward, my fellow classmates and I gathered and talked, planning our futures and dreaming of all the wonderful things we were going to accomplish. Most would stay in Saddle Lanka to continue their magical studies; a few would go to Canterlot, having been accepted for the universities of higher learning. I could have gone too, if I wanted, for the universities of Canterlot offered studies in things other than magic. But even if they offered me all the bits in Equestria, I wouldn’t have gone. Why?

Because Mangus would be there.

I wasn’t surprised to see Mangus making himself the center of attention at the party, guzzling down most of the beverages and gorging himself on snacks and food, boasting that he was going to go out and the best student Canterlot had ever seen. It was no surprise, really, that Mangus had been accepted, but he hadn’t earned it. While his magical talents were undeniable, Mangus was, at best, a mediocre student, content to let others do most of the work for him when it came to studies and homework. And sure enough, his teachers, in their idiotic quest to make him the next Star Swirl, had pulled strings to ensure he got accepted.

As Mangus continued boasting, I chuckled at the thought of him going to the university. If he was going to be the best student ever, Mangus would have to upstage Star Swirl and Twilight Sparkle, who were generally regarded as the greatest unicorns Canterlot had ever seen. While his raw talent was roughly equal to theirs, he had none of the persistence or discipline they had.

I giggled at the thought. Such a pity I wouldn’t be there to see him fall. Let the moron find out that life isn’t so easy when nobody’s there to worship you and put you on a pedestal.

I kept to the sidelines of the party, content to be by myself. By the next day, I’d be far away from all the ponies in the room, never to return. I didn’t hold any ill will toward most of them; I just had no interest in getting close to those who had futures brighter than my own. As the sun went down, I figured it was time to take my leave and slip away from my unicorn classmates forever, especially Mangus. I remember hoping the next time I ever heard from him would be an article in the obituaries.

But, alas, fate has a sick sense of humor.

“Hey, Silversqueak!” he called out. “Where do you think you’re going?”

I tried to run. But he was well used to that, and cast his magic, dragging me back inside and dangling me before him like a pony would dangle a small animal. “I’m gonna miss you, buddy!” He scuffed my hair. “Say, why don’t you come along with me? We can be roommates! I mean, we’ve been together all these years? What’s another six?”

I wasn’t going to dignify the troglodyte with a response. When he sensed that, Mangus pulled me close in a disgusting mockery of a hug. The crowd roared with laughter, most thinking it was just a game –– either that, or they were slightly drunk, I’m not sure which. Mangus’s goons thought it was especially hilarious when Mangus pulled me in extra close. “Come here, schmooky wookie!”

Then, before everyone, Mangus kissed me. It wasn’t the loving, consensual kiss a couple who have only the most tender affections for each other. It was forced. It was a violation. It was Mangus invading my private space in a way he had never done before. The crowd laughed at the sight, cheering and laughing.

The laughter stopped when Mangus screamed and dropped me, blood trickling from his lips.

All those years of torment had been bad enough, but this had been the last straw, so I had bitten him as hard as I could, slicing his lip wide open. I don’t know how much he bled, for I immediately headed for the door. Everyone was so shocked that no one tried to stop me, not even Mangus’s goons.

I trotted out, smiling all the while. All those years of Mangus tormenting me, and I got the last laugh. He yelled something after me, but I didn’t listen. I loved the thought that the last thing I would ever hear from Mangus was his angry, incoherent shouts.

No sound, before or since, has ever been sweeter.


As night fell, I wasted no time in packing my things. In truth, I had been gathering my belongings for a few days, deciding what I would take with me and what I would leave behind. Mainly some clothes, my bits, a few books, and some family photos. Everything else would remain behind. Stuffing my saddlebags, I got into bed and tried to sleep. It was a futile endeavor; all those years of waiting, and come dawn, I would be leaving Saddle Lanka for good. I would have a better chance of fighting an evil dragon god than I would getting a lick of sleep.

The night sky darkened, then began to light up. And when the sun arose, I was there to greet it, pulling on my saddlebags and heading into the kitchen to eat breakfast. My parents were there as well. I had told them of my plan to leave first thing in the morning; I had hoped such a thing would let them emotionally prepare, but my mother, ever the more affectionate of the two, was trying her hardest to hold back tears as I entered the dining room. Even Dad, who had made me my favorite type of breakfast burritos, was having trouble staying focused. We tried to eat, but my parents weren’t very interested in their own food. After all, their precious colt was heading out on his own. How could they eat breakfast over that?

Needless to say, it was the most awkward breakfast one could imagine.

When mid-morning came, I took leave of my childhood home and started down the path to the train station, my parents right behind me. We made it to the station with time to spare, and thus, giving us time to say our goodbyes. But no parting between parent and child is ever easy, especially when they leave home and travel into the wide world. It wasn’t a scary world, though. I assured my parents that Equestria was safe enough. After all, the princesses ensured that we were safe and protected from any threats. And if that failed, the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony would be sent in to end the problem. I told them to relax, and that I’d be perfectly fine. And besides, there were plenty of jobs in Manehattan. I’d be on my hooves soon enough.

It didn’t help. My mom had become a blubbering wreck. Even my dad, normally quiet and reserved, was struggling. Like any good parents, they wanted me to stay close so that our family would remain together, but I wanted to head out and make my own destiny –– to find a place where I wouldn’t stick out because of the lack of a horn upon my head.

All too soon, the train’s engine started up. We exchanged our hugs and goodbyes over the hiss of steam. My mother tried to say something, but she was too worked up, and couldn’t get the words out. But Dad, however, managed to compose himself long enough to speak.

“Silverspeak,” he said, “I know you’re eager to go, and I can’t blame you. But before you do, I want you to share something with you… something my father told me.”

I wasn’t in the mood for a lecture, and Dad saw it. “It’s not long,” he assured me. “Just a little something to remember wherever you go. When I was about to head out into the world, I was nervous and worried about who I was going to be. My dad assured me that it was normal. We’re seeds, he told me. We start out little, but we’re meant to grow and become mighty trees. And that’s for every pony –– unicorn, pegasi, and earth alike. Magic or not, everyone can become great.”

The engine hissed once more, now fully warmed up.

“You were meant for great things, son. Never forget that.”

The conductor shouted his last call

Mom and Dad wrapped their legs around me and gave one last hug. Anxious as I was to get going, I enjoyed it... and then the moment was over. My parents released me, and I got onto the train. Taking my seat, I leaned out the window and waved to my parents, shouting goodbye, wishing them well as they became smaller and smaller.

And then the station faded among the trees, and they were gone.

I looked back longer than I thought I would. Perhaps it was a sudden dose of nostalgia overtaking me, but I watched Saddle Lanka for a long time, watching as the only home I had ever known faded into the forests at the base of the mountains. It was only as we got out of sight that I leaned back inside the train, and sat down in my chair.

I contemplated my dad’s words for a long while, but they eventually faded away as the reality and excitement of my situation hit me in full. My childhood was behind me, and I had never felt so giddy, or so excited.

My new life awaited me.


I spent most of the ride with my face practically pasted to the window, marveling at the scenery beyond me. I was no stranger to the lands beyond Saddle Lanka, having read about and seen it on TV. But it’s one thing to see a place on a screen, and something else to see it with your own eyes.

The wonders came almost immediately; we passed beneath Cloudsdale, which was lit in the rays of the setting sun. Even better was riding past the many rainbow waterfalls and how beautiful they were. The following morning sent us past Canterlot. We weren’t close enough to get a good look, but even from far away, I could just barely make out some of the towers in the mountains, but not if the princesses were present.

The Foal Mountain came next, followed by Neighagra Falls, and a trip underneath the Hollow Shades Mountain. And when we emerged the next morning, going with the rising of the sun, I looked out toward the coast and the rays shining out toward the Celestial Sea. Far beyond it lay the land of the griffons, but I didn’t care about them. I was at the front of the train, leaning out through the windows, for ahead of us was the Bucklyn Bridge, as long and tall as I had seen in pictures, the twin horseshoe towers stretching high above us. And as we reached the edge of the bridge, I finally saw it: Manehattan.

I still remember the awe I felt at that moment. I had gone from a small community to a big city for the very first time. Saddle Lanka’s buildings were three stories tall at their highest. Manehattan’s were ten times as tall, and some were even bigger. As the train crossed the bridge, the towers only got bigger until there was nothing but skyscrapers of steel and glass lit in the rays of the rising sun.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. Even as the train pulled into the station, I got off and continued to gaze about, as if ensnared by a spell. But towers were not the only things Manehattan had to offer. As I looked around, a form flashed before my vision and then another. It took me a few moments to realize that they were pegasi, all flying about and darting between the towers, heading to and fro on errands, or simply flying out to enjoy the morning. I had seen pegasi before, for they were usually the ones who took our mail, being the swiftest ponies in all of Equestria –– though that was debatable; one grey pegasi with slightly crossed eyes occasionally mixed up what mail went where.

The pegasi may have had dominion over Manehattan’s skies, but the streets were the realm of those who had no wings. And there were thousands of them in all manner of shapes, sizes, colors, and hues, creating a rainbow-colored river that flowed across the pavement. Those who weren’t hurrying to their destinations were chatting with each other and with unicorns, not as outcasts, but as equals.

I couldn’t stop grinning as I got off the platform, and took my first steps into Manehattan’s streets.


I had no destination in mind as I walked through Manhattan, marveling at so many new sights, sounds, and smells. With so many ponies around, I felt like a pebble within an avalanche, just a tiny piece of something much larger than myself. Caught up in the excitement of seeing a new city, I barely noticed as the sun reached its peak and then then dipped below the horizon several hours later, the orange sky darkening with the onset of night. Only when the streetlights came on did I realize that I was, technically, homeless.

My exploration turned into a nearly frantic search for lodging. Manehattan plenty of places to stay, and I could always rent a hotel room for the night, but fate smiled on me that day, for I came across a towering apartment building, and a sign that read, “Rooms for Rent.”

I went inside and talked to the manager. Like all apartments in Manehattan, the first month was free, provided you put down a small deposit at first, which only cost me a small fraction of the bits I had saved up throughout the years. And just like that, I was given a key to my room. I took the elevator to the fiftieth floor, emerged into a posh, well-painted hallway, and found room 825.

I was home.

My place wasn’t much: a living room with plenty of space to stretch out, a tiny kitchen that would have given my father fits over how little space there was to store food and seasonings, a bedroom just big enough to hold a single bed, and a tiny bathroom. It was a small place, but it was just the right size for someone like me. But the real marvel came only after the moon had started into the sky. From my position halfway up the skyscraper, I had a bird’s eye view of lights coming on as ponies began their nightly activities in the nearby towers and the streets below. I was like a leaf within a forest of golden light, surrounded on all sides by the warm glow of artificial light.

I stayed at my window for a good hour, for I had never seen so many lights.

It was easy to unpack everything, and within ten minutes I had everything all set up in my new home. With no appliances or televisions, there wasn’t much for me to do, but I didn’t mind. I was still riding high on the excitement of a new home. Sleep didn’t come until late at night, for I laid upon my bed and looked out the window to the city beyond, and all the possibilities it held.

For that day, and the first few days afterward, I was in a position that few ponies had: I could wake up in the morning and forge a completely new life for myself. I had no ties to the past, no responsibilities to hold me down. I could do anything I wanted. Anything at all.

The endless possibilities would have overwhelmed any other pony, but not me. I knew exactly what I had come here to do. My dream was not to leave the prideful residents of Saddle Lanka… no, my dreams were far grander. And as I finally got to sleep and enjoyed the rest of those about to fulfill their dreams, I knew I was the seed my father had spoken of. But I was about to take hold and spread my roots.

And once that was accomplished, no force on heaven or earth would stop me.