• Published 7th Feb 2012
  • 17,619 Views, 656 Comments

Displaced - Seven Fates

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

  • ...

Chapter 8

Warren was dreaming those bizarre dreams again; he knew it the moment his vision swam into clarity. The bizarre landscape that once stood before him besieged his eyes once more. He gazed across the verdant checkerboard fields and rainbow trees at the unlikely geometry before him. All of it was the same, yet ever so different. The land was not a solid mass, but instead large clusters of floating islands, floating precariously over an ocean of darkness.

He walked about his lone island, floating above the rest. He realized then that he wasn't a pony, but instead the man he once was. Looking down at himself, he saw his lanky form. It was not that of an athlete, or a craftsman. It was of a man of voluntary servitude. Such was fitting, clad in the suit of a butler; he was in servitude still, not to any man or woman, but to his own inadequacies.

“Contemplating the shortcomings of being human?” It was that voice, so sibilant and mocking. Not Morrigan, he realized. The tone was unmistakably and utterly male. “My dear sister does so love your kind, so brutal, efficient, and chaotic! So utterly boring if you ask me. Humans are too predictable.”

Warren turned to face the voice, for it was not in his head, but behind him. He wasn't at all surprised to see the Draconequus, laying there in a hammock of clouds suspended between two trees. After meeting Morrigan, he knew it would only be a matter of time before he dreamed of Discord. Is this really a dream though? Or a vision?

“Discord, I presume.” he said in an apathetic tone, adjusting the collar of his shirt and removing the tie. “I won't pretend humans are perfect. Heck, my kind has done a lot of things that would be frowned upon here in Equestria. But you know what? For every Hitler, there's been a Gandhi. For every Marquis de Sade, there's been a Mother Theresa. For every Klu Klux Klan, there's been a Habitat for Humanity. Say what you will about humanity; we may be a rotten lot, but we're the paragon of perseverance and self-betterment!”

Discord laughed, causing his chimeric form to sway in the cloud hammock. The laughter was so jovial, yet it stung like vitriol. “Do you even know how silly you sound?” He made familiar talking expression of a hand talking. “You humans are all talk, and too easily manipulated, even more so than ponies.”

“So what?” he spat. “You act like your kind is so superior, so evolved, so perfect, when really, you just treat the universe like your plaything. I've heard the stories they tell of you, and having seen your sister, I don't doubt for a moment she's partly to blame for the violent nature of my kind. I'm perfect through my imperfection.”

“Ah yes, my darling sister.” his voice sounded almost like some sort of whimsical reminisce. “Yes, she did say she'd be getting me out of my stone imprisonment. That's why she took me. It's only a matter of time.”

Maniacal laughter roared forth from the Draconequus as he spun and vanished. Around him, the world began to burn and crumble. He watched as the islands below disintegrated into the abyss. He knew the dream was ending, probably at Discord's desire.

Soon, only one other island remained in addition to his own. He could just make out a small orange and purple form cowering at the center of the island. Inside his mind, he knew it was Scootaloo. He watched as she tried to take flight, but couldn't; her wing simply didn't have the strength. The last of her island crumbled, and she began to tumble into the darkness.

Without a moment's consideration, he dove after her. The wind ripped at his clothing as he descended. It was silly to think about his lack of fear. It was all a dream after all. If this is a dream, I don't really need to save Scootaloo, right? Then again, this could all be some sort of test.

Drawing closer to Scootaloo, he could see tears and fears in her eyes. She was absolutely terrified, not that he blamed her. If this hadn’t been a dream, he had no doubt legs would have given out the moment he first looked over the edge, never mind jumping. When he was close enough to touch her, confusion spread across her face. She didn't know what to think of his form.

He reached out and grabbed a hold of her. Warren rotated in the air until he was between her and the dark void. Hugging her close, he stroked her mane gingerly. “It'll all be over soon.” he whispered. Then they struck something solid with a sickening crack.

- - -

I've done a lot of stupid things in my life, he abashedly mused over breakfast. Sleepwalking and falling out the window has to be somewhere near the top of that list, though.

The dream was still occupying his mind so that he didn't even know how to explain to his gracious host why he dove out the window at the crack of dawn only to land in the hedges. He'd never been one to put much meaning into dreams, but he'd never been dragged into another universe and then haunted by a being he'd never actually met in his dreams, either.

Some part of him realized that he should probably have told somepony – anypony – about the dream, vision, or whatever it actually was. What Warren wanted, however, was simply to go to the party and give Scootaloo the support she deserved. He had no doubt that if he went to Twilight Sparkle with this news, she'd spirit him away to interrogate him. Surely the fate of Equestria won't be thrown into chaos because of a single party. That's just absurd.

Before he went anywhere though, he wanted to get a gift for Scootaloo. Sure, he'd nudged Pinkie Pie in the direction needed for her to throw the party for Scootaloo instead of himself, but Pinkie was doing all the work required to set up the party. She was taking care of getting all the decorations prepared, as well as all the catering. Even if he was made up to look like the filly's idol Rainbow Dash, it was because of a lost bet.

Helping clean dishes, Warren decided to put forth the question to Fluttershy. “Um, m-... Fluttershy?” He bit back the 'miss'. Usually he was all for politeness, but he knew he had to break the habit worked into his brain from years of butlering. It served him no good here, and only made it awkward to create any friendship outside the Cutie Mark Crusaders if he continued with the Miss and Mister.

“Yes, Goldenrod?” she inquired in that disturbingly sweet manner. Clearly she'd noticed the lack of miss in his speech. “Is there something wrong?”

“No, Fluttershy...” he started again. “It's just that I'd like to get Scootaloo some sort of gift to give to her at the party. Something that says 'get well soon,' like a bouquet of flowers. The issue is that being both from another world, and a child in the eyes of this world, my access to currency is practically non-existent.”

A look of quiet consideration played across Fluttershy's visage. “That sounds like a wonderful idea!” she said with a great big smile. If he didn't know better, he could have sworn that he'd heard it squeak. “I'm sure Scootaloo would love to receive some flowers.”

“I really don't want to impose though,” Warren added hastily. “I mean, I'm already freeloading off of you, and you've done so much for me. I couldn't expect you to do any more.”

She looked genuinely taken aback by his position. “Oh, w-well, if you won't accept the kindness of a friend,” she said in a quiet voice, sounding most uncomfortable with what she was trying to say. “Could you at least accept it as a treat from your legal guardian?”

Then in a quieter, disarming voice, she added “I mean, if that's okay with you.” Fluttershy gave him the puppy-dog eyes and he just knew that he'd probably die from sugar overdose before he could say no to her. It was almost downright sinister.

“Ah jeez!” he sighed, pacing about on the far side of the kitchen. “How can I say no to that?” In a more audible tone, he asked, “Where shall we get the flowers then?” Gently, focusing on using only the slightest bit of energy, he pushed his glasses up closer to his eyes. With luck, he managed to pull it off without so much as a wisp of smoke emitting from his horn. “We still have a few hours until the party.”

Fluttershy seemed to mull this over for a minute. “I always get my flowers from Rose, so I'm sure she'd be willing to help throw together a nice bouquet for Scootaloo.” Pausing, seemingly for dramatic effect, she smiled at him. “As for the rest of the time between now and the party, I volunteered to help Pinkie set up the decorations.”

- - -

Not surprisingly, a morning on what he assumed was a Saturday in the Ponyville midtown was quite lively. There were families milling about in the streets on various adventures and errands. Occasionally, Warren saw a mare or stallion trying to garner attention to one business or another. He found it all quite charming.

After stopping to speak with Twist, who had a stand selling homemade sweets in front of a house, he knew that Pinkie Pie had definitely made the rounds giving out the invitations. Twist told him that Pinkie Pie had burst out of Cheerilee's desk in a shower of confetti and invited the entire class, teacher included, to the party. He waved good-bye after telling her he'd see her at the party.

After only a few more minutes of traveling Fluttershy and Warren were in a part of town, packed with market stalls. Fruit stands, flower vendors, a textile stall, there were merchants of all shades and stripes; indeed, there was even what looked like a zebra apothecary set up on a sheet or tarp further down the lane. If he had to guess, this was probably the Zecora the fillies often spoke of.

Fluttershy didn't seem to notice. She had her eyes locked on a particular market stall. It was a flower vendor with a sign above it depicting a trio of flowers. Tending the stall was an older looking mare with an off-cream coat, and a rose-red mane. As she went about her job, he spotted a rose on her flank.

Fluttershy trotted up to the mare, Warren running close behind her to keep up. The mare saw Fluttershy and smiled warmly, accentuating laugh-lines under her leaf-green eyes. “Good morning, Fluttershy!” the mare exclaimed in a friendly tone, yet somewhat unhappy. “How are you today?”

“Oh, I'm well enough, Rose.” Fluttershy's voice was pure sugar. “I just wanted to pick up some flowers today.”

“I'm sorry, Fluttershy,” Rose sounded genuinely upset. “Those flowers and herbs that you ordered from the monks in Neighjing have been delayed because of all the troubles in the east.”

“Oh that's quite alright, Rose. They're only tea ingredients.” She smiled sweetly at the red-maned florist. “My friend and I were just looking to pick up some flowers for a friend in the hospital. One get well bouquet please.”

“Might I interest you in some azaleas then?” Rose suggested.

“Azaleas sound wonderful,” replied Fluttershy with a thoughtful look. “What do you think, Goldenrod?”

Warren had never much cared for botany, but his mother had been a florist. As such, he'd gotten to know a bit about flowers gifts and the meaning behind him. “Azaleas are nice, but the 'take care of yourself' message behind it kind of implies a lack of future presence from the giver. I plan on being there for her.” Shaking his head, he glanced at the florist's stall. He was about to commit to the azaleas when he eyed a long, leafy-stemmed plant ending in multiple white blooms.

“I think some yarrow would be nice,” he said at last. “Not only is it also a symbol of good health, but it's the kind of multipurpose medicinal plant that can be used in a pinch. That's why despite it's weedy appearance, it's a really good gesture.”

Rose gazed at him with an amused look, and then looked to Fluttershy. “This colt sure knows his flowers.” She laughed. “So what will it be, Fluttershy, yarrow or azaleas?”

“Well, Scootaloo is only a filly, so the gesture might be lost on her,” she spoke in an unsure whisper. “Whatever you think is best, Rose.”

“A bouquet of Azaleas it is, then,” Rose said with a smile.

Warren watched as the mares exchanged currency and flowers. He felt offended, even though he knew he shouldn't. They were right, after all; Scootaloo was probably too young to recognize the gesture. What's with all of the childish feelings lately? He couldn't help but dwell on that thought as he and Fluttershy began to leave.

As they walked away, he heard the florist call after them, “Goldenrod! Maybe when you're older, you might like to come work with us!”

- - -

Warren decided to make his colorful makeover a surprise for everypony attending the party, so when the time came, he split up with Fluttershy. He watched as she walked over to an open area not far from the entrance. There was large tent, not unlike a circus tent. From it, he could smell baked goods in the making.

He could see Rainbow Dash, flitting about tending the weather and helping hang decorations. Luckily, she wasn't looking in his direction. It wasn't that he didn't want her to see him, but he wanted Scootaloo to see Dash's genuine surprise; he thought it would amuse her.

Rarity was there too, using her magic to assist Rainbow Dash in hanging decorations outside the tent. Unlike the pegasus mare, Rarity did notice as Fluttershy and Warren approached. She gave him a knowing wink before returning her attention to the decorating. She definitely had an eye for detail. Twice as he stood there, he heard her scold Rainbow Dash about the placement of a ribbon or banner.

When Twilight Sparkle stepped out of the tent, everything else clicked together. Applejack and Pinkie Pie had to be in the tent. Who else could it possibly be, making those wonderful baked goods? It's certainly not the hospital cafeteria.

Without a moment's hesitation, he entered the hospital as he had every day since the incident. While he drew the odd glance from the nurses, they seemed rather impartial to his appearance. Either they weren't surprised to see a filly or colt of his perceived age imitating Rainbow Dash, or perhaps Rainbow Dash had suffered some bizarre afflictions in the past. It occurred to him that in a world where magic was possible, a pegasus taking the appearance of an earth pony or unicorn wasn't out of the question.

That's something worth looking into. The thought was out of the blue and took him by surprise. Why would that be something worth investigation? If things work out, I'll be going home, so the knowledge would be purely academic, and utterly worthless back home.

A devious thought crossed his mind then. Who was to say he had to be Warren? He could pretend to be Rainbow Dash. Surely Twilight's magic misfired from time to time, right? Grinning to himself as he approached the door to the foal's ward, he removed his glasses and tucked them carefully into his mane. It took some effort, but he managed to set them in a spot where they wouldn't fall unless he stood on his head.

Puffing up his chest, he tentatively pushed the door open. Without the glasses, he couldn't see more than the colorful masses. Three distinct masses were present, all sitting on a bed together. They seemed to be doing something, probably playing a board-game, and he was fairly certain they weren't looking at him.

As he inhaled and made to speak, however, he had the distinct impression that they had turned to face him. When he was greeted with a “Hi Warren!” from Sweetie Belle and a twinned “Hey Goldenrod!” from Apple Bloom and Scootaloo, he knew that the jig was up. Knowing that he'd been caught in a childish prank, he carefully removed his glasses from his mane with magic and placed them on his face.

“What gave me away?” he asked, looking at Scootaloo. “Besides the fact that you were all in on this, I mean.”

The pegasus filly looked like she was trying desperately not to roll around laughing. “Honestly? It was the bandage around your horn.” She giggled thoughtfully. “Sweetie Bell and Apple Bloom were right; you really do look like Rainbow Dash, if she was a unicorn.”

“Ah reckon Rainbow Dash ain't the type to bring flowers,” Apple bloom said, frankly. “Nice touch with the rainbow flowers, though.”Apple Bloom laughed, pointing at the flowers Warren had clutched in his tail.

Turning his head he was doubly surprised. At first, he was surprised because he realized he had been carrying the flowers with his tail, without a thought. I've been around Pinkie Pie too much, he concluded with a laugh. Then he cast his gaze up at the azalea blooms, and it suddenly struck him what Apple Bloom had actually said. The petals of the azaleas were now mirroring the colors that had been dyed into his mane.

“What the-” he muttered under his breath. Those were yellow this morning, I know it! Could I have done that? But how? I didn't even feel myself using magic! Could it be because of my damaged horn?

Scootaloo hopped down off of the bed, and trotted eagerly towards him. “Whoa, where did you get those flowers? They're so cool!” She danced around him, looking at the flowers at all angles. He didn't peg her for a flower girl, but it was probably the fact that they were rainbow azaleas that they were so interesting. “Are these for me?”

He swallowed anxiously. “Um, well yeah!” Why was he so flustered? He laughed, attempting to save face. “That's the idea. You're supposed to bring a gift of flowers for an ill friend.”

“Is this what they call hitting on somepony?” No sooner had he heard Sweetie Belle's comment did he try to cover his face with a hoof. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Scootaloo start to blush. He didn't know where to begin, if he even wanted to comment at all. In no time at all, Sweetie Belle had managed to fill the atmosphere with enough tension that a knife could cut it.

How could he possibly explain the way he felt about Scootaloo? Despite only knowing her for roughly a week, he cared for her deeply. There was this intense need to protect her. Going against his every desire to return home, he wanted more than anything to be here for her, to let her know that she isn't alone. A big brother, he realized, is what he wanted to be for her. We barely know each other. I'd sound like some sort of creep.

Looking to break the tension, he glanced at the clock. They still had a lot of time to kill before the party would be ready. They'd have to keep Scootaloo occupied until someone came for them. One could play board-games or card games for so long before they felt compelled to flip a table out the window. No, perhaps he could find a way to entertain them while testing a theory that was formulating in his mind.

After putting the bouquet of flowers in a conveniently present vase on Scootaloo's bedside table, he looked around the room. Scootaloo returned to the bed, sitting with Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom There were plenty of flowers in vases scattered about the room, abandoned after other inhabitants had been discharged. Experimentally, he focused on some goldenrod in a vase not far from Scootaloo's bed.

With surprisingly minimal effort he managed to extrude a leafy tendril from the plant, and then another. The three Crusaders watched him curiously, wondering what sort of magic he was up to. Carefully, he snaked the tendrils underneath the bed. With a jolt, the bed lifted free of the floor, sending the fillies into bewildered hysterics. Yes, I think I can keep all of them occupied like this. He smiled inwardly at the fun he knew that would soon follow.

- - -

The preparations outside were complete. Fluttershy watched Twilight confer with Pinkie outside the tent over a scroll the librarian had produced. Even when party-planning was Pinkie's passion, it seemed Twilight couldn't help but try to push a little organization. Nearby, Rarity was fussing about arrangements upon the tables.

Meanwhile, a nearby tree proved the napping grounds for two ponies. Up on a branch near the top of the tree, Rainbow Dash lounged. Far beneath her dozed Applejack, her stetson tipped forward to keep the sun out of her eyes. Both had been catching a little shut-eye since finishing up their parts in the party preparations.

Fluttershy would very much have liked to join them, but she knew that her part was coming up. It was her job to bring Warren, Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom, and the guest of honor Scootaloo out to the party. Scootaloo's party attendance had already been cleared with her doctors and nurses with the stipulation that a nurse be allowed to keep an eye on the filly. Pinkie had said at the time that anypony was welcome. “It's unfair to hold a 'get well soon' party for just one pony outside the hospital and turn away other sick or injured ponies.” was the way Pinkie put it.

Turning away from her friends, Fluttershy entered the front doors of the hospital. She pondered what sort of fate had her frequently visiting the hospital lately. Immediately, her thoughts were interrupted as she was greeted by Nurse Redheart. She approached Fluttershy smiling warmly.

“Is it time for the party then?” The white mare asked. “Come on, then. I'm sure little Scootaloo will be thrilled for the opportunity to go outside.”

“Oh yes, I'm sure she'll love the party.” Fluttershy agreed as they walked through the sterile halls of the hospital. The anti-septic smell of the place made her uneasy. It didn't at all smell of healing; it lacked all the smells of life. She could only imagine what being cooped up in here was doing to poor Scootaloo.

As they drew closer to the foal's ward, the pair began to hear bizarre rustling sounds, and muffled voices. Fluttershy could just make out Sweetie Belle saying “Easy now...” This was quickly followed by a thud and what sounded like Apple Bloom shouting, “Wh- hey! Be careful! That hurt ya know!”

The pink-maned mares exchanged quizzical looks, before glancing back ahead at the ward door. By the panicked flush on Nurse Redheart's cheeks, she clearly had the same impression, however awkward it might be, that Fluttershy had about what was going on in the ward. They broke out into a full on gallop, clearing the last stretch of the hallway in moments.

Nurse Redheart bucked the door open and stormed in. “Now what are you four up to in my-” Fluttershy heard the nurse trail off, distracted. She quickly followed her in. Immediately her eyes were drawn to a massive, figure looming over Apple Bloom. Clutched at either side of it was Goldenrod and Sweetie Belle. Scootaloo was nowhere to be seen.

Panic flooded through Fluttershy. Some unknown creature was attacking the foals, and may very well have eaten one of them already. She responded in the way anypony would in her horseshoes; she screamed, before blacking out.

Author's Note:

Well, we’re at the point where the story is starting to pick up its pace things are really going to start happening from here on out. There’s the party you’ve all been waiting for, a character development for Scootaloo, and an event I’ve been planing for a while for a while all slated for the next chapter. Then things are good to go for the real buildup of events.

Sorry for being so late in getting this chapter out. It was kind of difficult getting things to flow. I knew very well what I wanted to write, but it just didn’t want to convert itself into words. As is probably apparent at this point that I won’t be making the weekly Saturday postings. I’ll be trying to keep things weekly for you all though.

I’m also pleased to announce that we are entering the final week of the Cover Contest on deviantART, and we’ve gotten some really good entries. We can only assume we’ll be getting more in this last week. Soon enough, you’ll all see the winner. Stay tuned to find out more.

I’d also like to give you all a heads up, after the release of either Chapter 9 or Chapter 10, I may choose to take a week or two long hiatus. This will only be if I cannot get a working flow, of course, but here’s hoping we won’t get another repeat of this week in the near future.