• Published 23rd Apr 2013
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That Others May Live - CptBrony

Two USAF Pararescuemen must search through an unknown land to find their charge and make it back home alive.

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Hail to the King

Hail to the King

Duke was the first to get up in the morning. As he got up, he stretched himself out and took a glance around. He could see Frost off to the side in his own bed, breathing slowly, but evidently soon to be awakening. In the corner, there was a grouping of standing shades set up to make a small room for the mare, Amel. Through the window, rays of sunlight encompassed the room, casting a yellow glow throughout. In another corner, their gear was piled up like dirty laundry.

The previous day, after they came back to the palace, they had been directed to their room. Afaf brought them there and left them to their own devices, always throwing a distasteful look toward Amel, who cowered from it every time. When they arrived at their room, Frost took the time to ask Amel some questions about herself, which occupied a lot of his time. Duke, meanwhile, checked their gear to make sure everything was there.

For the remainder of the day, the group stayed in the room, occasionally being visited by guards to have food delivered. During that time, Frost decided to learn more about his new equine friend.

Duke listened in as Frost went, just interested enough to want to hear a few things. “So, Amel.” he awkwardly began. “How exactly did you end up in that household?” he asked.

Amel was taken off guard by the sudden question, and stammered out a response that wasn’t in English. “English, or Equish, please.” he requested.

Amel took a moment to gather her thoughts. “I was taken from home by قاطع طريق , the slave sellers. They killed stallions, took mares, children. I was young.”

Frost nodded, taking in every detail, hoping that it would help her to be more useful by telling them about her. “I see.” he commented. Another thought came to his mind. “How did you learn... Equish, in the first place?”

Amel puffed her chest just a tiny bit. “Learned by listen to family and guests. Help from other slaves too.” She went on, adding, “When master saw this, he thought I could be helpful, made me learn more.”

Frost found himself genuinely interested, and continued on with his questions about her. He learned that she had been in a very abusive house after becoming a slave and the details of that, and a few things about her family, though she was reluctant to talk about that. It went well into the night, and once they were done, they all went to sleep and dreamed dreams about what was most on their minds.

Duke walked over to Frost, who was already on the path to getting up. “Get up.” he ordered, pinching Frost’s nose. It only took a second for Frost’s eyes to shoot open, at which, Duke instantly let go. “We gotta get ready.” He walked back to his own little area and made his bed.

Frost stood up and made his own bed, wanting to be respectful of their host. He decided that he would rather not find out what happens when you disrespect a king.

“Boss, do you think we’re gonna meet with this king today?” he asked as he tucked his sheets under the mattress. “We were supposed to yesterday, but he didn’t seem to want to see us. I’d say that doesn’t look good for our odds today.”

Duke finished his own bed and stood straight, cracking his back. “I don’t know.” he explained. “And I don’t think that speculating about it is going to get us anywhere. So let’s just wait and see.”

The two men were done cleaning their respective zones and thought about what to do next. They hadn’t been contacted since their dinner was delivered to them last night, so they had no idea what was going to be happening today. Duke went over to their gear pile and started going through it again, looking for the binoculars. When he found them, he set his elbows up in the window and set to looking around the city.

Frost had nothing to do though, so he just glanced around for a bit. The walls in this room, like everything else in the palace, were lavishly decorated and told of the greatness of past kings and whatnot. Frost had little interest in such trivial nonsense, so he kept looking. He spotted the zone that they had set up for Amel.

He walked over and knocked on the wooden frame of the shade. “Yo.” he said, though fairly quietly. He got no answer. “Alright, well, I guess you can just sleep for now.” he turned to Duke, who was looking out at the city, taking in everything there was to see. “I’m gonna go for a run, boss. See you later.” Duke grunted in response, and Frost set out.

He opened the door slowly and quietly, trying not to be loud, and hopped out, letting the door close on its own. It clicked shut, and he walked off.

He was halfway down the hall when someone called him. “Hey!” He turned around to see a horse in silver armor walking toward him. He sounded like he was mad, but Frost could hardly tell with all the stuff he was wearing on his face. “Where do you think you’re going?” he asked.

Frost turned around and let his hands fall to his sides in an unmenacing manner. “Just going for a run. Care to join me?” he offered. The guard didn’t reply. “Alright.” He turned around to walk away.

“I can’t just let you wander around the castle.” the guard said gruffly.

Frost turned back around, a pleasant smile across his face. “I know the way out.” he explained. “But feel free to join me if you want to make certain I go the right way.”

The guard didn’t move an inch. “I can’t let you wander around. Go back to your room and stay there.” He took a wider stance in preparation to fight. “Or I will be forced to bring you back.”

Frost sighed and put his hands in his pockets, which prompted the guard to snort. “Fine.” he said, still smiling. “I’ll go back. This is your house, after all.” He sauntered in the direction of the guard, who had been taken by surprise by Frost’s actions, and the guard sidestepped him quickly. “Though I would like to know when I will be allowed to roam in the areas where your average civilian would roam. Soon, but not now.” The guard eyed him suspiciously as he walked away, then let his guard back down and went along his rounds.

Frost was back at his room and about to knock on the door when he heard a conversation from the other side. it sounded like Duke was arguing with someone, but whoever the other one was, they hadn’t spoken yet. Frost waited for a moment to enter.

“So no, you can’t just take whatever you want from us. This may be your house, but these are our things. You no touchy.”

The other one spoke. “We don’t want any of the other things. Those are yours and yours to handle.” It was a male voice. “But SHE is not to stay here. She may be free now, but she is still a peasant. She is not permitted to be here.”

Frost took this as the moment to enter. “Hey!” he said, smile still ever present. “What’s going on?”

He looked around. He could see Amel hiding behind Duke, looking terrified at the guard and hugging her shield’s legs. The guard looked incredibly unhappy with her being here and at Duke for allowing it. Duke, though, was looking at Frost already, his expression saying, I’m glad you’re here, but please deal with this. The guard turned to Frost and slicked his tongue.

“Human who is known as Frost.” he said, giving a slight, choked bow. “Please, understand this. She is a peasant, she is not allowed here. You must talk to your friend and explain.”

Frost’s smile faltered for a moment, at which Duke moved Amel back a bit. “You know, it was my idea to bring her here.” he said, walking forward toward the guard. “I don’t feel like making her leave. She’s a living, intelligent being, like you or me. She didn’t do anything to be where she is.”

The guard snarled, not having seen a this coming. “You clearly do not understand-”

“No, I understand perfectly.” Frost said, his smile gone. “I just don’t care. You can tell your king that she’s a close personal friend of mine. He’ll be hard pressed to make her leave with that bit of info. He wouldn’t want to offend his guest, now, would he?”

The guard looked at Frost, then to Amel, then back to Frost. “I know that you only met-”

“Her yesterday, and yet, I still like her better than you. What does that say about you?”

The guard’s jaw went stiff, and he just stood in his spot like a statue, eyes going between human and pony. Finally, he said, “Fine. But the King shall know.” Frost chuckled. “What’s so funny?”

He sighed, his easy smile returning to his face. “Let him know. I’m sure he’d rather have us as allies anyway.” The guard frowned and walked out.

Frost turned to Duke and Amel. “So, what exactly was that all about?” he asked.

Duke stepped aside, exposing Amel, and put his hands out. “Please, after you.” he said, and walked back over to his bed to sit.

Amel looked down shamefully. “They say that slaves are not allowed. We not worthy.” She poked at the ground with her front hoof. “ I thought that free meant I worthy. But I not.” She turned around and walked over to her sleeping area. “I think I should leave. I don’t want cause trouble.”

Frost looked back at Duke, who was just fiddling with his weapons. He sighed and turned back to Amel. “No, you don’t have to go.” His father treated him the way she was being treated; he couldn’t just allow that, even if Duke could.

She turned to face him. “But I cause trouble.” she said. “I can’t make you seem bad. That is bad of me.”

Frost shook his head. “Don’t worry about it. I’m certain that if this King wants us to like him, he’ll allow you to stay with us.” When he spotted Amel’s uncertain look, he walked over. “Even if he isn’t the best of guys, he should still be a logical guy. It’ll be fine.”

Amel looked up at him, and a small smile formulated across her face. “حسنا.” she said.

Frost stood up. “Good. Now, there is something I need you to do.” Amel looked up at him nervously, unsure of what to expect from her new friend. “I need you to learn better English, make it easier to communicate. Can you do that for me?” She blinked, then nodded. “Good.” Then he remembered one other thing. “Can you read?”

She replied in the negative. “Alright.” Frost said. He turned to see Duke, who was looking on with a look of mild interest. “Duke, I think we need to teach her to read, if she’s gonna help us to travel and carry our stuff.”

Duke thought it over for a moment, then replied, “Sure. Makes sense to me.”

They spent the next couple of hours doing a few things to pass the time. Duke did some exercises, push-ups and curl-ups. Frost got a start on teaching Amel how to read and better speak English. At the end of those couple of hours, there was a knock on the door.

“Hello?” Duke shouted and waited for a response. When none came, he walked over to the door and knocked back on it. “Who’s there?”

A familiar voice rang. “Afaf. Please let me in.” Duke stepped back with his hand on the door handle, pulling it open as he moved. “Thank you.”

Afaf stepped in and tried his best not to look at Amel, the hate stuck to his face like sweat to a desert-residing man. He entered the room as nonchalantly as possible, but it was clear that something was exciting him. Duke shut the door with a little click.

“What brings you back here, Afaf?” Frost asked, standing and leaving Amel with a book. They had asked for some earlier after deciding to teach her to read. “Is something going on?”

Afaf turned to the human, locking his gaze on him. “Yes, the king would like to see you!” he announced excitedly. “Come, come! We must not keep him waiting!” He turned and trotted out of the room, leaving everyone else to eat the dust.

Frost turned back to Amel. “We’re gonna go meet this king now.” he explained. “Do not let anyone in here. They will not have any reason, regardless of what they may say. Keep the door locked and keep our stuff in that pile.” Amrl replied in the positive, and Frost nodded back.

“Let’s get going, Frost.” Duke said, tidying up his uniform and encouraging Frost to do the same. “Don’t wanna keep the king waiting.” The two men exited their room, and as they left, they heard the click of the door locking behind them.

Afaf had come back for them after rudely leaving them behind and escorted them through the palace. Frost spotted the aggressive guard from earlier, and as he passed, he sneered at him, earning a grumpy “harumph” from the guard. Duke elbowed his partner to behave, and both men put on stoic faces as they made their way through the remainder of the massive palace.

They were back at those massive doors from the previous day, overly decorated and wishful in its glory. The guards at either side set out their weapons to block passage, but Afaf spoke quickly to them and pointed back at Duke and Frost, and they pulled their weapons back. As they did so, the door slowly began to open, the bottom just barely scratching the ground as it moved, creating an incredibly irritating screeching noise.

“Let us go. He is inside awaiting us.” Afaf led the men through the door and to the king.

Inside the throne room, there was even more decoration than the rest of the palace. Duke had half been expecting for there to be very little, but the amount of stuff was absurd. The walls were lined with jewels and gold, and vines slayed out onto part of the wall from the windows. There was a small marble fountain in the center of the room, and the red velvet carpet they were walking on split and went around it.

As they approached the end of the room, a large iron throne with a very large horse became visible. The horse wore a golden crown, the style you might see old English kings wear, and he wore long, purple robes. His throne was an ominous black, serving almost as a curtain of iron to prevent one from seeing anything behind it. Around him, he had what was likely his elite guards, each one with matte black armor on.

Afaf bowed down at the end of the carpet they were walking on, saying something in their language that sounded to the effect of: “Oh great king, we are not worthy of your excellence. Please, allow us to bask within it, so that we might learn to be so great.” The kind of thing you would hear in places that feared their ruler.

“بما فيه الكفاية.” the king said, interrupting Afaf’s monologue. He turned to the humans, who had not bowed down. “I see you have brought some very... interesting guests.” He stood up and walked down to the men. Once in front of them, he squinted his eyes to get a better look at them, studying every detail he could muster. “It’s good to see that there are more of you.”

He turned and walked back to the throne, robe trailing behind him as he moved back up. “Afaf. لدي القليل من الوقت لالعوام. تأكد من لا شيء يأتون إلى هنا اليوم.” Afaf nodded to his king and ran off.

As Afaf ran off, the king settled into his chair and let out a relaxed sigh. “Okay. Now that he has left, we can talk. You needn’t worry of my guards; they do not speak Equish.” Duke and Frost remained stoic. “Ah, men of action, not words. That is good. You will need to be.”

Duke’s brow furrowed as he processed what that meant. “I’m sorry, but what exactly do you expect us to do?” he asked. “We’re here to find someone, a friend of ours. We’re too busy to help you.” He desperately hoped that he could get out of this whole thing.

Alas, that was not to be. “I know who you look for. The other human, correct? From the Celestia’s agency?” Duke and Frost were both glad that he didn’t know that OGA was from the OGA. “I understand that you want to find him. Well, I would gladly tell you if I knew.”

Frost looked up at the king, unfazed, given that he expected as much. “Well, why should we help you then?” he asked. “If you can’t help us find our guy, then why would we help you with whatever your problem is?” He knew their problem.

The king nodded. “I understand what you say. But our problems are connected, you see.” He stood up and moved to the side of his throne. “Come.” He walked past his throne, followed soon after by the two wary humans.

They walked under a golden arch and through a large hallway, though now, there were no decorations. There was nothing ornate at all about this area. It was all just bare wall and floor. At the end of the hall, there was a room with a large round table with gold cups at each chair in the middle and a big square made of wire in the middle.

“You see, when the other human arrived here, he was very intent on getting home to wherever Pakistan is.” Frost chuckled silently, but was further silenced by Duke’s elbow. “He said that his world is very different from this one, and that he had to get home as soon as possible.”

The king led the human around the table to the biggest chair and sat upon it. “I told him that I knew how to get him home if he helped us deal with the invading Griffons. At first he said no, but I convinced him otherwise.”

“And how did you do that?” Duke asked suspiciously. “We know who he is and what he does. And we also know that it would take some mighty powerful words to ‘convince’ him to do anything.”

“Yes, well. I told him that I know of a way out of this world.” The king shrugged. “I cannot get it myself, but I know who has it. And I told him that in exchange for his help, I would tell him where his way home is. Obviously, he took the deal.”

The king started sipping a drink at the table as Frost spoke. “Well, what did you want him to do?” he asked. “If he isn’t here, and you don’t know where he is, you must have sent him out.”

The king set his cup back down and looked between the two men. “I sent him on his mission some time ago. It was supposed to be a few days at the most, but he has not returned. According to my sources, the Griffons have him.”

Duek and Frost went stock still. Neither had been expecting this to happen, for OGA to have become involved in a foreign conflict. He had changed the game completely by doing that. If the enemy of which the king spoke of had taken their man, they would have no choice but to go after them.

“Hang on.” Duke said. He grabbed Frost by his sleeve and urged him aside for a moment so they could talk in peace. The king didn’t object, he likely knew what they were going to be talking about.

“Boss, I don’t like this.” Frost cautioned. “OGA got involved in a foreign conflict without permission from his higher-ups. We aren’t even supposed to be out looking for him.” He turned to glance at the king, who seemed to be off in his own little place. “Maybe we should just find our way home and tell the guy that his man is gone.”

Duke thought for a moment. “I agree, but I don’t think we can. If we want to get home, we’re going to have to play by this guy’s rules, and that’s going to mean fighting it out with these Griffons. And if OGA was sent to them for something, he’ll probably want whatever it is that OGA was supposed to get.”

“Damn.” Frost cursed. “Can this get any worse?”

“Don’t say that, Frost,” Duke warned, turning back to the king. “It can always do just that.”

They walked back over to the king, who sat with an almost smug look on his face. The men didn’t comment on it. “Well, what was that you were talking about?” he asked.

“Nothing to worry about.” Duke dismissed. “But one thing; what did you send OGA to do exactly? What was his mission?”

The king stood from his seat and began walking back around the table. “That.” he said, pointing at a sheet of paper. “We sent him there to spy on our enemy, to see what they are up to. Celestia herself was interested in this knowledge.”

Ignoring the reference to this Celestia character, Frost took the paper and started looking through it. “As you can see, the conflict affects all of us.” the king explained. “We sent your friend, ‘OGA’, to get information on weapons, weapons of great power that could make this fight much more difficult. We need that information.”

“And we need to find our man.” Frost said.

“Yes.” the king said. “So I would like to offer a deal; you help us to find him so that we can get the information, and then you can bring him home to Pakistan.” His face became serious. “You will have to fight in our war. But that is because your man is already in it. In order to find the chest at the end of the dungeon, you must first enter the dungeon yourself.” The king walked over and extended his hoof out to Duke. “So. Is it a deal?”

Duke looked to Frost, who silently deferred to Duke’s judgment. Duke looked back, and, against his better judgment, took the hoof. “We accept. But we will have terms to discuss.”

The king nodded understandingly. “Yes, I understand. We can discuss this more tomorrow. In the meantime, please, enjoy my palace, and all it has to offer.”

The men nodded and began to walk off when Frost remembered one last thing. “I don’t think we ever exchanged names.” he said.

The king shook his head. “Whoops, how silly of me. I am King Sauri, son of ‘Adl Ahad.”

The men nodded. “I’m Frost.”


King Sauri smiled gleefully. “Great. The guards will be informed of your status, and tomorrow, we will speak again. Good day.” He trotted off another corridor, leaving the men to find their own way.

It took a few minutes, but they were able to find their way out of the room. As they walked down the stark hallway, the men thought about what they were getting into. On the one hand, it would be easier because they wouldn’t be shot at by guns. On the other, the enemy could fly. It was too confusing to think about without more information, so they just left it at that.

But as they made their way back to their temporary home, they figured that one thing was a given; this was going to be different from any operation that any special forces operators had ever done before.

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