• Published 7th Feb 2012
  • 18,433 Views, 657 Comments

Displaced - Seven Fates

A unicorn colt has an accident, and nopony knows him. His wild claims go widely ignored until...

  • ...

Chapter 10

It occurred to Warren just how foolhardy it was to agree to racing Rainbow Dash. Right off the bat he knew he was at a major disadvantage. The rainbow mare had the advantage of being fully grown, her longer legs permitting further strides. Adding in her wings and her status as an experienced athlete, he didn't really stand a chance.

Yet here he was, standing at the starting line, beside the pegasus mare, anxiously waiting for the starting whistle. Staring out across the hastily constructed track, he took in everything around him. The track itself was nothing more than a grassy lane flanked at either side by a column of tables. At the far end of the lane, no more than 150 yards, the finish line was marked by a re-purposed banner held up on two tent-poles and a line drawn across between the poles.

Rainbow Dash must have seen how nervous he looked. “You know, kid, you can still back down now.” she said with a chuckle. “I doubt anybody would think less of you.”

Glaring at her out of the corner of his eyes, he let out a derisive snort. “Don't call me kid. I don't know how old you are, but in reality I'm probably older.” he replied through gritted teeth. Then he relaxed his facial expression and said, “Besides, it's a bit late for me to quit. These folks want a show, so we may as well give them one.”

The mare gave him a confused look. “Look, Goldenrod, I really don't know what to think of you.” She said at last. “You're all over the place with your behavior. It's even more random than Pinkie Pie.”

Warren threw her a halfhearted smile, and muttered “You've just summed up my life experience with my own kind.” In a more audible tone he added, “Humans are complex. Even we don't completely understand ourselves.”

It appeared as though she were mulling over what he'd said. Just as she looked ready to respond, however, another voice cut in loudly. “Fillies and gentlecolts, our super special main event is about to start!” Pinkie Pie's voice carried quite well from her tree-top vantage point thanks to a megaphone. “Racers to your starting positions! This no-holds barred competition is about to get underway!”

I'm almost afraid to ask where Pinkie got that thing on such short notice. He glanced at Rainbow Dash, and imitated her stance. His entire body felt coiled like a spring, but even if that were to somehow help, it still wouldn't be enough. That's right! I did say no-holds barred, didn't I? A cocksure smile spread across his face.

Igniting his horn, trying his best not to be blatant about it, he carefully turned the grass around Dash's hooves into almost indiscernible snares. It all seemed simple enough, except that he was still pretty worn down. If he was going to do this, he either had to make this incredibly quick, or hope that it'd be enough to draw on the surge of energy that he reckoned would come with the adrenaline of the race.

The instant he heard Pinkie blow a whistle loudly into her megaphone, he snapped the grass-snares shut and tightened their structure. From his side, he heard a grunt and a thump as his competitor attempted to take off across the starting line, only to trip and fall to the ground. A unanimous gasp could be heard from everypony in the audience. A wave of dizziness washed over him, but he shook it off and took off at a gallop.

“Barely out of the starting gate and this no-holds barred race is already shaping up to be a dirty one, everypony!” Pinkie spoke in a strangely sing-song tone. “Goldenrod has tripped up Rainbow Dash with some sort of dastardly grass-snare, and taken an early lead.”

Goldenrod kept on running, not looking back. The feeling of blood pulsing through is body brought a smile to his face. He hadn't felt this alive since hang-gliding with the Cutie-Mark Crusaders; he was really enjoying himself.

“Oh, but look! Rainbow Dash has torn herself free!” Pinkie cried out. “She's really tearing up the turf, catching up to Goldenrod in no time at all!”

Chancing a glance over his shoulder, he saw a rainbow blur catching up to him. He faced ahead again, and screwed his eyes shut. He had to throw up every obstacle between them that he could think of in order to keep his lead. His horn began to glow brightly, and his head began to throb.

“But what's this? Goldenrod is making a bold play in order to keep his lead!” The pink mare shouted into her megaphone to be over the astonished cries, jeers, and cheers of the crowd. “Just look at those pillars and walls of grass erupting from the ground! I've never seen anything like it before, well, except that one time I dreamed—” A moan of pain sounded over the megaphone; probably somepony hitting her with an apple to get back on track. “Oh! Right! Look at Rainbow Dash weave through this maze cropping up before her! This is really working out well for Goldenrod; Dashie can't get up to her full speed dodging and weaving!”

Warren could almost feel Dash's frustration building as he continued to keep his lead. Opening an eye a crack, he saw it wasn't far to the finish-line. Victory was within his grasp! It was then that he heard the crowds shout, and dreaded what Pinkie might announce next.

“Frustrated by Goldenrod's sneaky tactics, Rainbow Dash has taken to the sky!” Pinkie sounded as engrossed in the race as either racer. “Now that she's free of his obstacles, she's taking back the lead in no time at all!”

Darn, it's all over now. I can't possibly win! Unless... He stopped all delaying efforts and focused on a mental image of a large plant-limb hitting him with enough force to propel him to the finish-line. Up ahead of him, a large leafy tendril sprouted from the ground. It bent sharply and coiled around itself.

“Rainbow Dash is so close to the finish that she can taste the victory!” cried the pink announcer. “Goldenrod gave it his best, but how can he possibly make up for the distance?”

Warren passed the plant, and willed it to uncoil. He felt a sharp pain in his flank as the plant struck him. He began to rocket through the air towards the finish line, his sudden increase in momentum almost sending is glasses tumbling from his face. It looked like a clear path to the end from his standpoint.

“With a risky move, Goldenrod is back in this!” cried Pinkie in astonishment. Indeed, the crowd had gone deathly silent. “It's Goldenrod, no, Dash! It's-”

Without warning, Warren careened off to one side, ricocheting off of one of the tables and sending him spinning through the air. He was still on track to the finish-line, but he couldn't see it; his glasses had gone flying after the ricochet. A second impact sent him tumbling as he struck the ground. The crowd gasped loudly, and then all went quiet again.

“It's a tie!” Pinkie Pie finally announced cheerfully. “Rainbow Dash and Goldenrod crossed the finish at exactly the same time! Can you believe it?” The ground began to rumble as everypony began stamping their hooves on the ground in raucous applause.

He heard Dash's voice then. “Not bad!” she said with a laugh. “I'll admit, I didn't think you had it in you. You aren't fast, but you sure did your best to make up for it.”

Looking in her direction, he thought he saw a hoof extended to him, an offer to help him up. “I almost didn't have it in me,” he wheezed, still stunned from the ricochet and subsequent tumble. Awkwardly, he attempted to rise, but a churning in his stomach put him back down. “I think I'll stay down here for a bit.”

“Suit yourself!” She laughed.

It was then that everypony gathered around the competitors. Crowding tightly around him were Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, and Applebloom, all cheering. At that moment though, a strong need to sleep washed over Warren. His eyelids became too heavy to keep up, and it was all he could do to keep his head from smacking hard against the ground. With a yawn, he mumbled, “I think I overdid it.”

- - -

The world returned to him hours later. It felt as though he was tucked into a bed. That wasn't quite right, though; he was laying on his side, his back pressed up against something soft and warm. Draped over him was a soft, down like blanket. As he laid there, though, he could feel a heartbeat that wasn't his own.

Easing his eyes open, he saw that he was not on a bed at all. Through the blur of his vision impairment, he discovered he wasn't in a bed at all. Assuming that he wasn't incorrectly interpreting the colors all around him, he was on a blanket beneath a tree. Hunkered down beside him, her pale yellow wing draped over him, was a pink-maned pegasus mare that could only have been Fluttershy.

He yawned, looking towards Fluttershy's face. “Fluttershy?” he asked, wiping a hoof across his eyes. He made a mental note to find his glasses sooner rather than later. “What's going on?”

Fluttershy snapped her head upright. “Oh, um...” Clearly she'd also fallen asleep. “Well, when you finished the race, you fell asleep. Twilight said it was probably magical exhaustion, and that you just needed to rest. So I thought it'd be nice for you to rest under this old willow tree.”

As she pulled her wing back from him, he shakily rose onto his hooves. “But why were you right up against me?” he asked with some embarrassment.

The yellow mare seemed to shrink into herself. “I'm sorry...” she apologized. “It's just... when the Weather Patrol moved the clouds into the sky for the scheduled overcast afternoon, it cooled off quite a bit, and you looked awfully cold. I just wanted to keep you warm.”

The sincerity in her voice brought a smile to his face. “You don't have to apologize for that, Fluttershy.” He attempted his best to console her. Maybe I came across too harsh out of embarrassment? “That was a really sweet thing of you to do.”

“Oh, that's a relief.” She seemed to come out of her shell a bit. “I was worried you were angry.”

Squinting his eyes, he tried to find his glasses. After some searching, he found them in front of Fluttershy's crossed hooves. Attempting to pick them up with magic failed miserably – he couldn't even light his horn – so he used his hooves instead.

Now able to see, Warren looked her in the eye, giving her the warmest smile he could. “Do you remember how you told me why you joined the emergency foster care system?” he inquired. “You said you wanted to be like a big sister to a foal in need.”

“I remember.” Fluttershy responded, unsure.

“Fluttershy, in all honesty, you're more motherly than sisterly.” he said in a monotone voice, not losing his warm smile. She looked disappointed hearing this. Heck, she looked on the verge of tears. “That's okay though.” He winked at her. “I know that you'll make a great mom. Any filly or colt would be lucky to have you as their mother, be it foster or other.”

She let out a soft sob before embracing him tightly in a hug. “Thank you, Goldenrod. It really means a lot to me.”

As nice as it felt to make Fluttershy happy, he wanted more than anything to get back to the party. Peering over Fluttershy's back, however, revealed that time flowed quite freely with or without him; it was well into the afternoon now, and everypony was either packing up or dispersing.

He could see Twilight and Rarity using their magic to do something to the tables. It looked as though the tables were simply disappearing in puffs of smoke, leaving him wondering whether the tables had been real, or if they were simply conjured with magic. Applejack could be seen taking down the tent with the assistance of Rainbow Dash, while Pinkie seemed to be doling out gift-bags, possibly filled with leftover treats from the party. The ones Warren didn't see, though, were the three Crusaders.

“Fluttershy, where did Scootaloo, Apple Bloom, and Sweetie Belle go?” he asked as the Element of Kindness finally released him from her hug. “Did I really sleep that long?”

Fluttershy pulled back from him, to look him in the eye. “Nurse Redheart took Scootaloo back inside.” She sounded a bit saddened. “She said Scootaloo was getting a bit too rowdy and was going to hurt herself if she continued.”

“Oh...” he mumbled. “Let's go see how she's doing now. I'm sure the three of them are eager to talk my ear off about the race, being excitable children and all.”

Fluttershy smiled and nodded. “Yes, I'm sure she'd like that very much.”

- - -

Scootaloo fidgeted discontentedly on her bed, wishing Nurse Redheart hadn't pulled her inside, putting an end to her fun. Surely the nurse could understand that being cooped up in here all the time was driving her crazy. She was just a filly; she needed to be outside, playing with her friends, not bed-ridden!

Still, she understood that she had been getting a bit too rowdy. After seeing Goldenrod and Rainbow Dash race, she couldn't help but want to race too. Nopony would let them use the circuit on which her two friends had raced though, so she ultimately just ended up running around with Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom until Nurse Redheart put the kibosh to it.

Now here she was, stuck in the foals ward again, contemplating her hooves while the others cleaned off the tree-sap and pine-needles the other two had inexplicably accumulated. It occurred to Scootaloo that if she ended up unable to fly for the rest of her life, her hooves would get a lot more use before the end. She'd already lost track of the amount of times that she wished they'd never gone hang-gliding. At least before, she'd had a chance of actually being able to fly. Now she might not even have that much.

Quickly, she forced herself out of her dark reflections by directing her thoughts back to the party. It truly had been something spectacular, even if it was something she'd come to expect from Pinkie Pie. Everypony had put so much effort into cheering her up and how much they cared really shone through today. The race was just the cherry on top. Never in a million years did she think that Goldenrod would have taken Rainbow Dash's challenge, never mind ending the race in a tie. It was unfathomable that he could—

A knocking on the door interrupted her thoughts.

“Come in!” Scootaloo called out, still somewhat giddy remembering the race.

After a moment's pause, the door opened, granting entrance to Fluttershy and Goldenrod. Fluttershy simply smiled politely at the filly as she entered. As Scootaloo gazed at the colt now in front of her, however, she saw by the haggard look about him that his long nap had done nothing to rejuvenate him. He simply made a show of yawning before grinning at her.

“Wow,” she began with a smile. “You look like how I feel.”

Rubbing the side that had hit one of the race-lane barricades during his ricochet, Goldenrod said, “A little tired and pretty sore, but no worse for wear, really.”

Scootaloo trotted up to him, an eager bounce in her step. “That was amazing!” she exclaimed. “I've seen Rainbow Dash race tons of ponies, but even most adults can't give her a run for her money! You went and tied with her though!”

“Nah, it's not that big of a deal!” he joked. There was a bead of sweat making its way down his brow, and she could just make out a reddish tint spreading across his cheeks. Looking down, he idly kicked at the floor. “Besides, I'm pretty sure she didn't give it her all. Just ask Rainbow Dash. I'm sure she'll tell you the same.”

Scootaloo watched as he gave an imploring look to Fluttershy. The mare glanced from the filly to Goldenrod, and then back to Scootaloo. “Oh yes, even Rainbow Dash wouldn't give a young colt a hard time of things.” The yellow pegasus spoke, as though she weren't completely sure herself.

The filly only grunted, unconvinced.

Goldenrod put a hoof on her shoulder. “Don't sell your idol short.” His warm smile was almost infectious, even as he tousled her mane with his hoof. “So what if I caught her off guard with some less than savory tricks? I guarantee she'd never fall for the same thing twice in a no-holds barred race. Peop- Ponies like her constantly evolve; they better themselves with each race!”

Scootaloo chuckled. “You really are from another world, aren't you?”

“Yes, he is.” A voice like ice cut in very suddenly. “I would very much like for him to come with me. Mr. Ashland has something that simply does not belong to him.”

- - -

Out of the corner of his vision, Warren watched as the shadows in the room distorted and spread themselves, coming alive with angry red eyes throughout. Each eye was fixated solely on him. The voice was one he knew too well. He'd never forgotten the encounter in the Everfree.

“Morrigan?” He took up a defensive position in front of Scootaloo, but then realized how foolish it was. The shadows were everywhere. If they became solid and attacked, they could come from any angle. “I don't know what you're talking about. Why can't you just leave us alone?”

The shadows in the room began to gather at one point, coalescing into an amorphous mass. Still, Morrigan's voice rang out into the room. “It is as I said, child.” The Draconequus sounded most displeased, even as the shadows began to take the familiar shape of the creature. “When you came to this world from your own, you took something from me. I intend to take it back.”

Warren turned to Scootaloo and Fluttershy. “Both of you, run; it's me she wants.” He watched with satisfaction as the filly and mare took off through the door. Returning his attention to the Draconequus, he stomped a hoof and snorted. “Like I said. I don't know what you are talking about. Unless you plan on returning me to my own home, leave me alone.”

Morrigan sighed. “You humans are so quick to forget your loyalties.” she said with a shake of her head. “Long ago I made a deal with the chieftain of a human tribe here in Equestria. I would provide his tribe with a place to prosper and intermingle with more of his own kind, and he only needed swear the fealty of all of humanity to me.”

He eyed her warily as she waltzed about the room dramatically. It occurred to him that he was at a serious disadvantage if this turned into a fight. Warren had no magical reserves after the race, and he was still pretty exhausted. All I can do is hope that they send help.

“Oh, and I suppose you are hoping your little pony friends are going to come to help you, yes?” The Draconequus released what sounded almost like an amused chuff. “I assure you that they will be quite busy. My dear baby brother, Discord, is ever so eager to see them again. He told me as much when I finally set him free.”

Warren stared at her bleakly. So this is it, huh? I'm going to just go out with a whisper and not swinging? No. I can't just lose here. His gaze moved from Morrigan to the door. Even if she hadn't placed herself firmly before the door, he didn't doubt that she'd simply close off the door before he was halfway there. If you want me, you're going to have to take me.

With a snort of anger, he lowered his head and dropped into as close to a sprinting stance as he could get without being too obvious. Not knowing how much good it'd do him, he closed his eyes after glancing at the door. It's now or never. Bolting, he choked back the fear he felt. Sorry I couldn't be there for you a bit more, Scootaloo.

Two things happened in very quick succession. First, a large amount of kinetic energy slammed against him, sending him tumbling into the wall. Doubled over in pain, he snapped open his eyes. He spat blood onto the floor, though he had no time to ponder what sort of internal injury it had caused.

No sooner had he opened his eyes did he see a blinding white flash in the room. Bedazzled by the sudden light, he saw the room had many more occupants now. Fluttershy, Twilight and the rest of the bearers of the Elements of Harmony were all present. That wasn't the most surprising thing, however. It was the presence of a second Draconequus—the very one that had been haunting his dreams. Discord.

Morrigan didn't seem to notice, or at least, she pretended not to. She cast a stony gaze towards Warren. “You forget your place, human,” she shouted angrily. “I think you would benefit from a lesson in pain, as well as a reminder of what you are.” She made an arcane gesture at him, and then his body exploded in agony.

- - -

The pain Warren was experiencing was like nothing he'd ever felt before. His muscles felt as though they were boiling off of his skeleton, only to attempt to crawl back up. It was as though every bone in his body was constantly breaking, healing, re-breaking and then healing again. It was almost too much for him to take.

The pain itself blinded him to all sense of passing time. Each crack of bone could have been seconds apart or hours apart. The agony of it all made him want to black out, but he couldn't if he wanted to; it was a most maddening state. He was left suspended in a white fog of searing torment.

It could have been hours or minutes before his brain began to to adapt to the sensory overload of the constant torture. All that mattered was that he was beginning to hear again. He could hear raised voices, and crying.

“You imbecile!” shouted one voice. “Why did you bring them here?”

He heard what sounded like throaty laughter. “I thought it would be fun!”

Warren knew these voices. The first one spoke again, “Are you so quick to forget the results of past underestimation of these meddlesome ponies?” It had a name... Morrigan, wasn't it? And the other was... Discord.

“Please, sister.” Discord laughed. “They're harmless without their Elements of Harmony. Besides, what fun is it if they don't get to see such a sight? They're too horrified to do anything other than sit there and cower.”

“Still as arrogant as always, Discord.” Morrigan snorted with disapproval. “At least the human has stopped screaming.” Now that they mentioned it, his throat felt harshly dry and incredibly sore. Warren hadn't even realized that he had been screaming.

He also found that he could see now. He could see the six mares, all of them terrified. Fluttershy had her face buried in her hooves; he could hear her sobbing. Rarity's face was aghast, as though she could faint at any moment. Pinkie looked horrified, her hair slightly deflated. Applejack and Rainbow Dash both cringed away. Twilight Sparkle's reaction was that of a horrified scientist; she was absolutely mortified, but couldn't help but stare in an analytical fashion.

His eyes then crossed a mirror, and he took sight of his own reflection. He was mostly human, and wholly naked now. His flesh hung off him like ragged scraps, seemingly randomly. Even as he watched, it began to reattach itself. The hair on his was still a motley rainbow, a bit longer, showing again his blonde roots. The glasses he wore just barely sat on his face, which still bore the cyan splotches on his face, remnants of the dye. Most striking was the horn that still poked through his forehead.

There's no time to check yourself out, you dolt. Get up and do something. Warren shifted painfully to his feet. Unbalanced by almost two weeks walking on all fours, he almost fell over immediately. Everypony in the room watched as he rose. Even the bickering demigods turned to watch him. Without warning, he plodded over to the ponies, and fell to his knees in front of Twilight Sparkle.

He looked pleadingly at the light-purple mare. “Twilight,” he croaked weakly. “Get us out of here.”

Twilight sparkle stared at him for a moment, before she understood what he meant. Lighting her horn, she charged a spell. Casting one last glance over his shoulder, he looked Morrigan in the eye, and watched them light with malice. Before he blacked out, a light-purple sphere of light enveloped him and the mare sextet and collapsed in on itself.