Phobos

by Zealous Shift

First published

A human, dressed in villainous attire, get's stuck in Equus by mysterious means. After struggling with the Equestrian superpower, he has time to reflect on his actions.

A human, dressed in villainous attire, get's stuck in Equus by mysterious means. Using his powers for a darker shade of grey, he successfully managed to fight against the superpower that was Equestria. After being captured however, he has had time to reflect on his previous actions and ponder on whether or not they were worth it in the end. Will he persuade himself that his actions were for the best, or will he sway to Celestia's side of thinking? Regardless, he's going to have an awful lot of thinking to get through.

Start at the Finish

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You know, reading is actually quite the relaxing pastime. Granted I couldn’t do much else other than read, plus the material itself wasn’t exactly of the highest calibre, but it managed to keep me from going insane. After all if anything was going to break me, boredom certainly wouldn’t be it. The book I was reading was a copy of “Love and Tolerance; The Laws of Equestria”. It had been given to me by the Element of Loyalty, apparently she believed that an amoral, spiteful, monstrosity such as myself would need to learn some kind of ethics. She even gave me a free bookmark, which would have been kind if the image of Golden Oaks Library wasn’t plastered all over it. Unfortunately for her though, I already had my own ethics, so the book didn’t really help much in that regard. To be fair though, it did give me a hint of respect for her that she cared enough to try and “reform” by teaching me a moral code. It was too bad that I could only read Equestrian with the ability of a five year old.

It was quite a shame too. Aside from the obvious necessity that the ability to read was, Equestrian was a beautifully written language. Their penmanship, or “penmareship” as they called it, was astounding. Though perhaps that was because all the books I had read, or at least tried to, were written by unicorns. Regardless, the Equestrian language had a very unique style to it. The only thing that would come close would be some kind of pseudo Phoenician-Persian hybrid. It did lose most of its charm when they spoke in English though. Seriously, this intricate sixty seven letter alphabet and they spoke in English. They even sounded like they’re from Normaltown, America. Then they told me that English was most likely just a horrible rip off of Equestrian when I brought it up, because apparently I had an accent. If I was from Sydney, or Brooklyn then I’d understand, but no, we shared the same accent, my voice was just different because… I actually didn’t know why. Then again, they’re incredibly racist to zebras, griffins, dragons and windigos, so adding humans onto their list of xenophobic targets wouldn’t be that big of a stretch.

Not only that, but they also spoke French. Sure they called it Prench and added all the pony mannerisms, but it was still the most insulting thing that I had ever heard when they claimed responsibility for it. Then they said that Prench was derived from Equestrian. English, and Equestrian I suppose, were Germanic languages with Latin influences. French, or Prench, was Latin with Germanic influences. You cannot break down the English language and somehow get French! Not to mention that they speak “Germane-ian” here, which apparently is a younger language than both of them! I kicked the end of the bedframe that I was lying on.
The pained yelp I had reminded me that the bed was made out of iron, so kicking it with bare feet was quite the mistake on my part. The bed was designed for ponies, which in itself was idiotic because the amount of effort necessary for them to get into it would make you believe that it was a pony sleeping in a human’s bed, so it was noticeably too short for me. It could have been part of the punishment to make me feel cramped in, which might have actually led me to believe their Princesses had a spine beneath their fur, but the argument fell flat when I had silk blankets and a scenic view from the nearby window.

Perhaps the scatterbrained treatment made sense in their world though. The Everfree Forest, which I thought was pretty homely considering everything, was the most feared spot in the entire nation. The second being a cursed desert with so many venomous creatures that would have Australia piss its pants at just the thought of it. Every scientific principle I knew was broken by their magic and vice versa. I was still trying to wrap my head around the time that I saw Sparkle literally create matter. When God did it, it was supposed to be some kind of grand and awesome cacophony of divinity as the universe was being created. To ponies? Any well off unicorn could do it, fairly simple if they had the magical reserves. Then again, I managed to fry the brains of their brightest scholars with high school level mathematics, so perhaps it worked both ways. Perhaps the notion of imprisonment was just a stalling point to punishment itself? Maybe it was kind of like a last rights kind of thing, so they tried to keep the prisoner comfortable before executing him? Well, perhaps, if the Princess had any gall in that oversized body of hers.

The sound of the multiple locks and enchantments being disabled on my cell’s door distracted me from my thoughts on the situation I was in. A quick glance at the window confirmed that it was indeed dawn, for the oddest of reasons I woke up around four and couldn’t fall back asleep, meaning that it was time for breakfast. I placed the bookmark on the page I was on and left the book on the small bedside table. My chains clinked as I moved, leaving a strange echoing effect in the oddly spacious room. There were only three things in the room, my bed, the table and a cushion for any “visitors” who wished to pay me visit. Then again, the chains that kept me tied to the bed would have prevented me from using anything else in the room should it have been added. From the state of the cell, it was probably a guest room with chains nailed to the wall. Why a nation that gets invaded every month doesn’t have a proper dungeon for terrorists and super powered beings baffled me. Perhaps they were considering turning me to stone instead…

“Your breakfast is ready beast!” Ah great, this little ball of sunshine was back. Hasty Defence, I believe he was called. This pegasus had the worst attitude that I have ever seen. At least Rainbow Dash knew when the time was serious or not. This guy wouldn’t stop prattling on about how “Equestria would put me in my place,” and “my judgement is coming”. He thought he was guard supreme, the one who called the shots around the so called prison. The fact he kept on forgetting was how it was good ol’ Celestia who told him to make sure I live in acceptable conditions and make sure I don’t blow the palace up or something only proved how incompetent he was as a “Royal” Guard. Even with the chains and idiotic guard, Celestia was still upholding the fair treatment of prisoners. She had my thanks for that, whatever it may have been worth.

The tray skidded across the floor, my meal getting thrown around the plates and partially falling on the floor. It was the same meal every day, with the exception of the day being an apple instead of an orange. It was a good thing I liked burned toast and scrambled eggs, because that was all that the Princesses would give me. Until lunch, then I got a salad and baked potato at least. Though something was off with the meal… I squinted at the toast, noticing a good wad of saliva sitting on it.

“You spit on the toast… again.” I deadpanned. Seriously, you’d think he had better things to do than spit on my food. If I didn’t like it I’d scream my lungs out for Celestia, who’d come down in another couple minutes and order him to get me a clean lunch. Not only that, it was only the toast that he spit on. I mean, at least try the drink or eggs. If he was going to put effort into ruining my meal, he should have at the very least put enough effort in to make it somewhat hidden.

“You’re lucky that you get that, beast,” he replied with all the undeserving smugness in the world. I could only groan in response. It was the same pattern over and over again for the past two weeks. Maybe Celestia would beat her three minute record of pulling herself all the way here from the throne room. Whatever drove him to such stupidity I’ll never know, but unlike Miss Sunshine upstairs, I wasn’t going to deal with his idiocy for the rest of my imprisonment.

“Look,” I said with the most patient voice I could muster, “can’t we just skip the stupid vicious cycle for once and get me a clean lunch on your own? You know how this is going to end, whether you like it or not.” Hasty gave me his best “death glare”, which wasn’t that scary when compared to an innocent, little squirrel, in an attempt to intimidate me. Celestia or Luna might have been able to get me to sweat a bit, but some push over guard? No way. I folded my arms, or to the farthest extend that I could fold them with the chains, and sat back. Apparently not getting the response he was hoping for, he decided to open his big, stupid, fat mouth again.

“Why can’t you just eat the food I bring you?” he responded spitefully, “It’s much more than the likes of you should be getting.” Okay, he was totally asking for a good smack upside the head by this point. I had seen some of the less dangerous prisons in lower Canterlot. Thieves and rapists got better food than I did, and I just scared a couple ponies and caused some chaos. I didn’t even hurt anyone! Okay, okay, I didn’t kill anyone. Okay, I didn’t kill anyone that I knew about. Celestia didn’t actually read out my charges, so for all I know while I was getting captured half of Ponyville could have been set on fire or something stupid like that. Some minds were broken and some bones snapped, though, I’d admit that. Besides, most of the injuries were caused by other ponies. Why half of Ponyville wasn’t in maximum detention was beyond me. Whatever Hasty’s problem was with me, he wasn’t letting on to what it was. I mean he was pretty cool with Discord wandering around the place, but me? He looked at me the same way the Pope would look at Lucifer. The first time he saw me in my cell he tried to strangle me with my chains. His defence was that he believed I had broken in and killed the real prisoner. Why he still had a job after that I’ll never know, why he still had it for two weeks later only confused me more.

Despite what you may have thought, I never hated the Equestrians. Well, most of them anyways. There were a select few that I despised with all my being. The first was that pink fur ball Calamari or whatever her name was, but Hasty was a close runner up. I don’t know why, but the two of us just shared a passion for hating each other. “Love and Tolerance”, sure Celestia. I’ll believe that your ponies believe in the fair and just treatment of prisoners and foreign concepts when pigs sprout wings and breathe fire. Then again, with Sparkle around that would be any day now…

“Hasty Defence, I believe I can take things from here.” The two of us glanced to the door to see Little, or Large seeing as how she was nearly as tall as I was, Miss Sunshine standing in the doorway. Hasty rigidly stood at attention, saluted, then left the room leaving the Princess and myself alone. “Seeing as how nopony decided to come down for Day Court, I thought I should bring you your breakfast ahead of time.”

So Celestia decided to bring me a meal all on her own, eh? Maybe she wanted to be the one to spit in my food. A tray in a golden aura floated towards me, what looked like a large omelet with fruit salad and decently made toast waiting inside. She even remembered the butter, how very kind of her. The large platter gently sat down on the end of my bed, leaving Celestia just standing there with a frown permeating her features. It was a bit awkward really, it was like she was frozen in that spot. Her eyes seemed to flicker back and forth between the food and me, edging me on to eat something. She did realise if she was going to poison me, she could’ve just forced it down my throat, right?

“You’re welcome…” Celestia muttered as she teleported out of the prison cell, the former tray of food in her magical grip. Really? Was Celestia just too polite not to leave without saying it, or did she actually expect me to say for actually bringing me a proper meal for once? As opposed to having to call out just to get a meal that wasn’t spit on or defiled in some way? If it was the former, I’d understand given her character, but the way she said it made it sound like the latter. Regardless, there was a heaping pile of food lying nearby and I was not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

What did that saying even mean anyways? I took a bite into an apple as I thought into it further. It meant to not be ungrateful, I understood that, but why was it arranged like that specifically? What did “gift” mean relating to a horse anyways? I wouldn’t normally think about it so much if I wasn’t stuck in a world full of equines. As I continued to think, my mind only became cluttered with more questions.

Why would you look a gift horse in the mouth?
How does looking a gift horse in the mouth mean that you’re ungrateful?
Is Celestia a horse, or just a really tall pony?
Is there a difference between a horse and really tall pony?
Did I just look a literal gift horse in the mouth by not saying thanks?
hl2.exe has stopped working. You can check online for a solution.

I tossed the apple, along with the idiotic questions, across the room. There were far more important things to ponder than several century old sayings from England. For example, what was the situation in the Everfree? What happened to my allies there? How well was the rest of Equestria dealing with the half dozen international crises I had created since I had arrived? Lastly, although more out of stubbornness than anything, am I closer to getting home than I was when I began?

Hello God? Yeah, it's me, I think I've gone crazy.

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“Ah…”

It wasn’t an exclamation so much as it was making sure that my mouth still worked. It, along with every other fibre of my being was in a dull agony. Numb enough to feel disoriented, yet still livid enough to feel the aching bones and muscles realign themselves as I continued to twitch. My eyelids alone took several seconds to open as they felt like they were being tied down to the rest of my face. For several seconds, I was introduced to a view of the night sky. A night sky that was mostly obscured by trees.

I blinked, but to no avail the scene remained. A clear night sky, a crescent moon and what must have been dozens of trees. I repeated the process at least five times over, all of which resulted in the same view. The moon could clearly be seen overhead, a pale light washing over my incapacitated form. It was odd, usually it was too foggy to actually see the stars so clearly.

“This isn’t right…”

Obviously a lot of things weren’t right, I was supposed to be at a Halloween party with my cousin in Pittsburgh and I was lying drunkenly in the middle of some backwater woodland. The fact I was passed out drunkenly was another issue. The last thing I had remembered was entering the party itself, let alone having a drink or seven. I could have possibly bought the getting drunk excuse, but that left the question of where Peter was and more pressingly, where I was. After I had realized that I was still lying uncomfortably on my back, surrounded by dead leaves and branches, I attempted to get up.

“Come on, I’m not that out of shape…”

Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t lift either of my hands in my drunken stupor. I wasn’t an athlete by any means, but I could at least carry a ninety or so pounds. Why were they so heavy all of a sudden? In a very slow and painful process, I turned my cloaked head to take a look at my left hand. There it was, the same gauntlet that I had bought from the costume store back home. It wasn’t tied, pinned or generally kept down by anything. It was just sitting there, covered in old leaves, shining in the pale moonlight.

“Wait a second…”

Shining, not radiantly like a star, but still reflecting some of the light from the sky. Light reflecting off of a metal surface wasn’t something unusual, only that last I checked I bought plastic gauntlets from that costume store. I tried clenching my fist, and sure enough the distinctive sound of metal scraping against metal was heard. Ignoring the ache in my bones and screaming agony from my muscles, I slowly propped myself into a sitting position. Both my gauntlets had turned into metal, I had guessed iron. Looking forward from my hands, I could see that my boots were in the same situation, slightly sparkling in the light. Glancing around, I could see my supposed mage’s staff lying several feet away from me to my right, the iron crown helmet hybrid I wore sitting a foot or so from my head’s indentation in the ground. The crown could wait, I could barely think without getting dizzy. If I was going to do anything, I’d need the oversized staff to lean on.

I stumbled forward, crawling like a baby, falling just before the staff. Instead of wood and plastic, if looked like it would have been used by an actual warlock. It was smooth with an elegant feel to it. Four talon-like prongs sprung forth from the end, clutching onto a perfectly cut violet crystal. For a brief moment, my thoughts wandered to how much the gem would be worth if I managed to remove it from the staff.

“Not the time, get the helmet…”

Walking, or crawling at that exact moment, was substantially easier with the staff, especially since I could reach a lot further with it in grasp. My mind was also a lot clearer than it was upon first awakening. My body still felt like it was eviscerated then glued back together by Satan in Hell, but I could move reasonably well. I couldn’t remember what had brought me into the predicament in the first place, but I could at least maneuver without stumbling like the town drunk. I got a hold of the helmet placed it atop my head. Why I thought putting a heavy metal thing on my head while assumedly drunk while being handicapped was a good idea, I had no clue. Perhaps I just didn’t want to carry it, maybe my subconscious reasoned it was the only place that I couldn’t lose in my state.
As I placed it atop my head, my thoughts began to get much clearer.

With my simple objectives completed and the effects of whatever made me pass out pass on, my senses were beginning to reboot. The forest felt, well like any forest should have, but what caught my attention was the sound of laughter in the distance. Laughter, that meant people. People on Halloween meant partying. Partying meant that there was at least a town nearby. I had maybe fifty dollars, I could probably get some change then bus back to the hotel. I definitely wasn’t in downtown Pittsburgh, but I was probably in the surrounding suburbs, right? With a new objective in mind, I began quickly limping in the direction of the sounds.

This forest looks more like something you’d find in Brazil than the northern United States.”

That was true, but it’s not like I could’ve taken a flight to Brazil while drunk. I couldn’t just jump continents in a couple hours while under the influence. Hangover or not, it simply wasn’t possible to end up in Brazil. Though I always did want to learn Portuguese…

Enough about Brazil, what about your costume? Even if you did get us out here, how could you have bought expertly crafted metal armor with a several thousand dollar gem on the side? And since you didn’t, who did?”

My mind played that last message on a loop for a while. I couldn’t answer that question. The whole situation was downright confusing. How did I end up in whatever woods I was in, where did I get real armor and how did it get put on me without noticing? To prevent the eventual aneurism I tried pushing said questions to the back of my mind. I could have also been going on an extreme high, while unlikely given my clairvoyance, which could have explained why everything looked so… bright.

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed likely that I had something slipped in the drink I didn’t remember having. I recalled getting to the party around ten o’clock, with night falling about four hours earlier. From what I was seeing, it looked like it was early evening. The stars were all out, not one of them being hidden by remaining sunlight, but it remained fairly bright out. It was like playing a video game, then turning on the brightness settings to maximum to help navigating a really dark level. It helped you see, but it seemed unnatural all the while.

The air was also off as well. If you’ve visited northern Canada or Europe, you’ve probably seen the stretches of wilderness that seemed to go to the ends of the world. The air in those forests was crisp and fresh with quite the scent of flowers. I took a trip to Mexico with my school, and those forests were more thick and ancient. What I saw and smelled didn’t match up. I wouldn’t have paid attention to something as trivial as the smell of a forest was it not for two things. One, why did a forest that looked right out of the amazon smell like some woods in the Yukon? Secondly, how far away from a Pittsburgh did I have to be to lose the smell of smog and gasoline?

On the way there, a thought entered my mind. I instinctively reached for the one pocket in my costume in hopes of finding my phone. Maybe a satellite could find out where I was. Fortunately for the cruel being that put me into that insane situation, my cell phone was nowhere to be found. On the bright side though I still had fifty dollars, so busing back to the hotel was still a viable option. I considered going back, when I had realised that between the trees, large rocks and vines, I couldn’t actually tell which direction I had properly come from. If I were to go back at all, I’d probably miss the miniscule clearing that I had been dumped in. My mind debated the issue for several moments until I heard the clear sound of children laughing. It was much closer than before, so I must have been close to the town. Trudging onward, I continued on my miniature “quest” to finding where I was.

After about five minutes of trying to piece together my location while speed-limping and stumbling, I began to see lights coming from what must have been the treeline. As I approached, I could make out the silhouettes of lanterns and the shadows of small-town houses.

“Finally!” I exclaimed to the empty air, and possibly God. The town didn’t look that big, but I could make roads and a train station out in the distance. I could find out what brought me into that predicament after I found a police station or payphone.

My body froze just as I was about to leave the treeline when I noticed something standing, or flying rather, with its back turned in front of me. There, about twenty feet ahead, was a pegasus. A three foot, blue pegasus. A three foot, blue pegasus with rainbow hair. A three foot, blue pegasus with rainbow hair and a tattoo. A three foot, blue pegasus with rainbow hair, a tattoo and a vampire costume.

“Huh,” it, or from the voice she, said, “I could’ve sworn somepony said something…”

A three foot, blue pegasus pony with rainbow hair, a tattoo, a vampire costume that also spoke English. My head twitched spastically, the rest of my body following suit in the next few seconds. Despite remaining upright, I was fairly certain I was experiencing a seizure. I had never had a seizure before that point, but that was the only thing I could think of as every scientific principle I knew was simultaneously thrown out the window into a flaming garbage compactor.

“Ah well, better get back to pranking,” she sighed, disappearing in a flash of dust and wind.

There she left me, standing in a confusing twist of horror and curiosity. Daring myself to continue looking around, I began to inspect the town. Sure enough, there were more of the damned things on the outskirts. Regular, if by sapient and of every colour under the sun you mean regular, ponies, pegasai and several unicorns trotted around in Halloween costumes. The town gave little to reassure my dwindling sanity, looking if it came from an insultingly inaccurate renaissance fair. Picking everything I saw apart with my eyes, I tried to muster up some form of sanity or reasonable explanation for what was going on. I could’ve stood there for ten minutes, maybe three hours, I wouldn’t have known the difference. Everything was getting set fire to in my brain. With logical reasoning failing and my prayers getting sent to voicemail, I was left alone to stand in my waking madness.

“Woah, look at that statue!” My eyes shifted downwards to look at three of the younger ones coming to investigate my presence. Honestly, it was a miracle that more hadn’t seen me, but I could feel my skin crawl when I got a look at their faces. There were no deformities, aside from what were quite possibly the biggest sets of eyes that I had ever seen in my life. They were so unnatural, any creature would have been blinded within weeks of birth with eyes as large as those.

Forcing myself to stare away from their eyes, I took in their appearances. The first was a unicorn in a witch’s outfit, which seemed oddly appropriate given their affinity to magic. The second was a pegasus in a pirate costume, somehow holding a rubber sword in its mouth. The third was a regular, ironically going as a cowboy. I could also see little bags of candy strapped onto their backs with a saddle, which seemed really out of place. What would sapient horses need with a saddle? Immediately regretting that train of thought, I brought my focus back on the three aliens standing in front of me. It wasn’t until they were practically on top of me did I notice how small they were. They were two feet, maybe even less. If I saw a giant statue of some kind of warlock that was three or four times taller than I was, I wouldn’t hang around it.

“It’s so tall!” The unicorn observed, straining to see my face from her position. I secretly sang hallelujah in my mind, the level of light and the dark hood I was wearing made it too dark to actually see my face from her position. I wasn’t even sure what I was supposed to do in that kind of situation. Would I try to talk? Would I run away? Would they think I’m a threat while in my apparently real costume?

“Yeah, but what is it?” asked the regular, with of all things a southern accent. The three girls, or whatever you call a young female pony, began circling me. The pegasus prodded my staff with her hoof while the unicorn examined the fabric in my cloak. I was able to keep a stable enough grip on the staff to stop the pegasus from accidentally knocking it out of my hand, but it would only last for so long until one of them noticed my arm shaking in panic.

“I think it’s a minotaur,” the pegasus commented, taking a look at my boots as well. The unicorn only shook her head in response continued to examine my outfit. The regular, somehow, positioned her hoof under her chin in thought. I honestly didn’t know how I was supposed to react to everything. One second I was in a kind of freaky situation, the next I was launched into Crazyland with an artillery gun. What would I even say? Every alien encounter I had ever seen on television ended with either the aliens or all of humanity getting blown up! Besides, it would count as first contact! How could I possibly represent all of humanity by drunkenly stumbling onto another species Halloween festival?

“I know!” cried the unicorn in an eardrum shattering, squeaky voice, “Rarity helped set up all the decorations, she’d know what it is!” Yes, just go and find “Rarity” and leave me alone. It’d take only a couple seconds of their backs turned for me to make a speed limp for it and hide out in the woods. No one would believe a bunch of kids about a giant monster in the woods on Halloween, so I’d just have to lay low before finding out what how to best approach them.

“Sweetie Belle, there you are!” called out an aristocratic voice. I shifted my eyes, not wanting to move my head and alert them that I wasn’t a statue, to see a taller unicorn walking towards the three. Her dress was a mix of gothic and Victorian era clothing, so she was probably going for the “evil queen” look. For a non-existent unicorn, I did have to admit that she pulled it off rather nicely. She was either an older sister, or a seriously young mother based on the voice. “What are you three doing over here, the Everfree is dangerous you know!”

Everfree, that must have been the name of the forest. The elder unicorn approached at took a good look at me before turning to the three younger ones. She looked back at my face, then opened her mouth slightly. There was a sense of confusion, but thankfully it seemed to be more about why the three were there than about me.

“What is that thing?” She pondered aloud, making the other three look at each other inquisitively.

“It’s a decoration, but we were hoping you could tell us what it was Rarity,” replied the regular. Okay, so she was the one that they were looking for to identify me. It’d only be a matter of time before she began to investigate me and come to the revelation that I wasn’t part of the Halloween decorations for the year.

“It doesn’t matter,” Rarity said as she nudged the younger unicorn, Sweetie Belle, “Princess Luna has just arrived and she wants to start bobbing for apples. She also wanted to see you Scootaloo.” My heart rate finally returned to normal as I realised they were about to leave. I just had to find a way to regroup my thoughts and try to find if there was a way these “ponies” could bring me back to my home without getting myself killed or lost in the world of insane mythical beings.

The pegasus, presumed Scootaloo, fluttered her wings in excitement before motioning for the still unnamed regular to depart. I breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of the four of them making their way back into Nottherenaissanceville and leaving me behind.

“Wait a second…” I heard Rarity say as she turned around and trotted towards me. My arteries practically exploded when I realized that she had heard me breathing. I immediately tried to stop breathing, my lungs tearing each other apart from the sudden lack of oxygen. Rarity still couldn’t see my face, so if I could hold out just a little bit longer, she’d give up and blame the sound on the wind. The tips of my lips twinged into a small smile at my reassurance, until her horn began lighting up and revealing me.

“Oh crap…” I muttered. Her eyes opened quickly when she realised I had spoken. Rarity flung her hooves to her forehead, inhaling sharply as if she was about to faint. Capitalizing on her over dramatic gasp, I swung my staff downwards to give her a good blow upside the head. I didn’t want to hurt her, but either the hit or her startled jump caused her to fall over. My ears probably would’ve heard what the three little ones were screaming for, if I wasn’t hauling my ass back through the woods as fast as my legs could carry me.

My dad once told me that adrenaline was the best painkiller, so that in an emergence I’d never have to worry if I could do it, but rather if I should do it. I never really asked him what “it” referred to, as I was only ten at the time, but I believed that “running away from a magical alien being as fast as humanly possible” could’ve fit under appropriate responses to that specific emergence scenario.

Though upon reflection, it was only the second worst first contact scenario I had ever been in.

Friendly Faces

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Despite my previous thoughts, I had actually managed to run back into the very same clearing I had ended up in. It was quite easy to tell, the indentation where I landed was still neatly pressed into the ground. I had just realized that I did in fact land there, seeing as how it was about three inches into the ground. My mind would have made something of it, were I not breathing so heavily one would think I was hyperventilating. Though I probably was anyways.

Though my dad did teach me about the benefits of adrenaline, he never did mention how it made everything feel even worse when it finished. I had a couple cuts on my face from all the branches I had run into on the way back, but fortunately none of the “ponies” followed me in. Perhaps it was due to the fact Rarity said it was dangerous? That should have been something that I paid attention to, but it wasn’t like I was in a position to leave. I was twice their size, looked like Sauron and attacked one of their kin. I couldn’t just walk out and say, “my bad,” to make everything all better.

The amour I was wearing didn’t help my position either. I walked fairly loudly and the weight of it slowed me down considerably. Either I had to wear it or risk walking around in the woods half naked. The cloak would still cover everything important, but I’d be walking around without footwear or any kind of head protection. My face would have been ripped in half if the helmet didn’t block most of the branches before they could scratch me. After a minute of debate, I decided I should keep everything with me.

“WHO DID THIS?”

The forest shivered at the sound of the voice, ringing so loudly and clearly that the ground seemed to shake. Perhaps it was my intense headache, but it also echoed throughout my mind for several seconds after finishing. Regardless of the identity of whoever screamed, they seemed pretty mad. I knocked her over, it’s not like I shot her or anything. Deciding it was better if I found myself to get lost, as opposed to being found by the voice’s owner, I started to head deeper into the woods. Albeit at a slower pace, but much better than being found out.

Having the relative clarity of mind, I was left to go over the information that I had summarized since arrival. For whatever reason, I was stuck in an alien world of equine like beings. Said beings were sapient, spoke English and identified as ponies. While not that important, it would be useful is I was to ever attempt communication with them. Additionally, the Halloween costume I had on was also no longer a costume as it was turned into a real form. It had its pros and cons, but the situation with my apparel was more odd than anything else, which was a lot considering everything else.

Rushing water could be heard coming from the general direction of my wandering, so that meant there had to be a river within close proximity. Its presence addressed the worries of dehydration, but there was a high chance of some kind of alien bacteria inside. Unless I could purify it, which I couldn’t without some kind of container, I would have to brave the situation and pray that it wouldn’t kill me. Food would most likely not be an issue, considering that I was wandering the woods. I’d have to find some kind of fruit or vegetable, but it would still bring up the issue of being poisonous. What worried me however was the source of water nearby. If I’ve learned anything from National Geographic, the bigger the animal, the closer it’d be to water. God help me if the universe thought it fit to re-enact the boat scene from Jurassic Park 3 on me.

Pushing those thoughts to the side, I’d cross that bridge when I got to it, I continued reviewing my encounter. Rarity mentioned a Princess, meaning that some form of Royal family had to exist. She was apparently in town, which meant that there would be plenty of guards to accompany her. I took a moment to chuckle at the thought of an actual pony princess, but remained focused. The forest I was stranded in was known as the Everfree, which for one reason or another was dangerous. Whether or not it’d be dangerous for me was debatable. Was it the kind of “you could get lost in there” kind of woods, or “there are bears in there” kind of woods? Or secret supernatural option three, “Slenderman lives in there” woods? Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if Slenderman was in stuck in the woods with me. Well obviously I’d be very surprised if he spontaneously jumped out and killed me, but the concept of us being in the same forest by that point wouldn’t be.

A cacophony of wolf howls broke out somewhere around me. Fortunately, after visiting my great uncle in the Canadian Northwest, I learned something about survival. Granted I was just as ready to survive in the woods as a baby, but I knew how to deal with animals. Wolves, or at least the ones he told me about, would hunt in packs, but wouldn’t usually attack humans. You should never turn your back or run away from a wolf pack, as it’s a sign of weakness and often signals them to attack. Same thing applied to bears I believed. If you are cornered, you’re usually going to be put into a Mexican standoff with the pack alpha, so you just need to keep your cool until the alpha goes off to hunt for something else. Or attacks, but they usually ran off before they got desperate enough for that. Also, wolves feared fire, that was important to remember. Those tips, or so my great uncle had told me, would work on practically any land based, mammalian predator. Oddly specific, but there weren’t any more predators to be found in Canadian tundra.

Except for bears. Bears broke the laws of surviving in the Canadian tundra, because they didn’t care enough to give you hope. Bears did not fear fire. You may think that bears fear fire, but they don’t. Bears are not afraid of you either. If you think grabbing a stick from the campfire and waving it around will stave off a hungry bear, you’re dead wrong. Literally, if you’re stupid enough. Fortunately for me, that bear didn’t enjoy climbing trees, it did however enjoy my ham sandwich. I knew I never should’ve eaten in the backyard.

Continuing onward, the overgrowth continued to hinder my progress in slowly fleeing the area. The deeper I went, the more the vines seemed to grow in numbers. The staff also had some machete like qualities. If I swung fast enough, I could cut some of the smaller vines with the crystal. In truth though, it didn’t do much more than keep my footing. Though between my headache, my aching muscles and the severely uneven terrain, it was perhaps the best thing I could have had.

I had finally arrived at the river, only to have my hope of progress be dashed from my mind. The river looked pretty deep, the strong current didn’t help either. It was flat enough nearby to probably get some scoopfuls of water, but still too wide to traverse without getting myself killed. Thankfully it was still clear enough to see if there was anything dangerous lurking beneath the surface, assuming that said creature would be able to sit still long enough to attack me with all the current against it.
“Why hello there!” Came a voice from what could have been several stories above me.

I had to crane my neck, and take quite a few steps back as well, to get a good look at it. There, before me, was a purple sea serpent. Or would it be a river serpent? Regardless, it was easily as big as a dinosaur and bore luxurious orange hair and a mustache. Contributing the apparent hair on a reptile to the insanity of the world, I stood there in shock of the giant thing.
“You’re awfully big for a diamond dog,” he commented, wearing a comforting grin. His misidentification of me broke me out of my trance just long enough for me to form a reasonable reply.

“I-I… I’m not a d-diamond dog…” My voice, despite purposefully strengthened so he could hear me properly, still was broken into stutters.

He was taken aback for a moment, apparently embarrassed that he called me the wrong species. He put his right hand, which only baffled me as to why a giant serpent would need hands, underneath his chin in thought before replying.
“Oh I’m terribly sorry, I’ve never seen a minotaur before. Surely you can forgive me?”

“You’re forgiven, but I’m not a m-minotaur either. I-I’m a human, not that I’d assume you’d know what I am.” I returned. His face scrunched up in thought for a moment. I imagined he was thoroughly embarrassed by that point, mistaking my species twice in a row. The momentary displeasure was removed however as his grin returned. Despite his size, which was quite intimidating, he seemed like quite a likable character. While my first encounter with equine-kind was rather… poor… I could compensate with a better first encounter with serpentine-kind. Or, at least, I hoped.

“Well then my dear, human friend,” he began my clasping his hands together merrily, “I am Steven Magnet, though as a friend may call me Steven.” Steven eh? It was surprising, but for an odd reason. Steven, was by all means a very common and simple name. No one in their right minds would question why a man would be named Steven. The issue was that I was speaking with someone who was not a man, nor were the two of us in a place that was designed by someone in their right mind. Regardless, if he thought it best to set our relationship to friends after only meeting, I thought I should return his decency in kind.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Steven,” I replied, subconsciously extending my hand in greeting. “I’m Henry. It’s good to see a friendly face in this neck of the woods.” Surprisingly, and at tad shocking with how I didn’t realize I had done it, he shook my hand. It was awkward with the size difference, but it felt very real.

I would have continued to talk with my new found ally in a world of madness, had I not noticed the distinctive silhouette of a pegasus flying in the distance. A pegasus, that was apparently flying towards the two of us. I dove for the nearest bush and lay flat on the ground. Before Steven could ask me what was wrong, I began giving him instructions.

“A pegasus is flying up behind you! Don’t turn around! Chances are it’s looking for me. If it asks about anything unusual, tell it you’ve seen nothing and wait for it to get a good distance away. After that, I’ll answer any questions you have.”

I couldn’t hear a reply, but there was a definite nod through all the leaves and branches I was hiding in. Surely enough the pegasus, one with a unicorn’s horn no less, eventually did reach the river. To his credit, Steven acted as though he were doing something as to not look suspicious. He must have actually trusted me. Although I had just met the guy, I had an immense amount of respect for him for covering me in that situation.

“Great serpent,” declared the dark blue pony in an antiquated voice, “one of our subjects has been attacked by a fell demon. Have’st thou seen any sight of the beast?” While I couldn’t see his face with his back turned to me, I could practically feel the turmoil playing out in his head. A shimmering crown was on her head, so no doubt she was the princess previously mentioned. I noticed him slightly fidgeting, but held hope that he wouldn’t turn me in.

“A demon? I’m sorry Princess but I wouldn’t know anything about a demon in the Everfree. I haven’t seen one of those in well over a year.” While my heart rate slowly decelerated, my interest was piqued by the mention of a demon. Even if it was no longer around, it would be an interesting topic to ask him about later on. The Princess, either far too trusting or in too much of a hurry, said her thanks and moved on. Steven waved as she left, but quickly turned back to the bush I was sitting in. At that moment, he didn’t look as merry as when I first met him. His arms were crossed, with a deep frown engraved into his face. If just to rub salt into my petrified wound, his sneer revealed quite amazingly long fangs.

“I want answers. Now.” His voice had a pinch of malice inside it, which was quite unnerving. Everything he did had a sense of gaiety to it, despite his size and shape, I never would have suspected such as sense of anger from him. Reluctantly I got out of the bush and wiped some of the dirt off of my cloak before addressing him properly.

From that I told him of my story, or at least the parts he was likely to believe.

I wasn’t quite sure if laughter was a good sign or bad.

Oh to Have a Home Again

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“And then I ran into you.” For the previous half hour, or so I had thought, I had discussed my situation to my serpentine comrade. Well, everything with the exception of being from another world. While he seemed quite upset that I had hit Rarity, who was apparently a friend of his, there was something that kept on making him smile. Regardless of his reasons for chuckling, Steven didn’t look like he was going to kill me anymore. Upon me finishing my explanation, he started laughing like an absolute lunatic. Apparently, he had been stifling himself while he waited for me to finish.

“Ah, that brings back memories…” he sighed, wiping a tear from his cheek. Memories? Did he go through the same problem I did?

“Care to elaborate?” I asked him, causing the large purple serpent to suffer a blush of all things. He tentatively rubbed the back of his neck as he chuckled awkwardly. A smile remained on his face, but it looked more like he was trying to hide the sudden redness.

“Long story short,” he began, “I accidentally ‘crashed’ a pony beach party. It’s why I prefer the Everfree to be honest.” I didn’t want to pry further, but I did imagine something akin to the beach scene from Jaws, only with a misunderstood, vegetarian shark. It was a funny scene indeed, but it was sad that the incident drove him to live in a river in a forest that no one would enter. Rarity had indeed befriended him, and over the course of our conversation so he had explained that others had apparently, so he wasn’t completely alone. I’d have to visit him from time to time, before I left anyways. Assuming I could get back with the help of the ponies. Assuming there was a way back at all…

I dismissed the negative thoughts away so I could focus back on the conversation. Survive, thrive, then find a way back. I may have been sucked into Crazyland in a couple seconds, but it sure looked like I wouldn’t leave it in the same time. The forest provided a natural barrier from my pursuers and Steven, in all his generosity, also gave me a run down on all the safe plants to eat. I was surprised to find out that the Everfree had most fruits and vegetables in common with Earth. How oranges, apples and rice could all grow in the same forest however, I had no idea. Fortunately, there was a fairly unprotected apple orchard and farm at the edge of the forest and plenty of berry bushes that grew up near the river.

The only thing that I had to worry about in the Everfree were the predators. From what I could gather, it was effectively a magical Africa crossed with Greek mythology. Manticores, along with giant cats, dogs and insects roamed around the forest. The cockatrice was what worried me most. They could turn you to stone, but you had to maintain eye contact with one for it to take full effect. When I asked about the close cousin of the cockatrice, the basilisk, Steven had told me that they only lived on the other side of continent. How very reassuring that only most of Greek mythology was coming to kill me in force. Fortunately, and oddly, enough predators completely disobeyed the regular laws of instinct. My previous worries about getting ambushed near a water source were dashed. Perhaps they were afraid of Steven, I had no idea, but they all seemed to cluster around the pony settlements. Though that just made it easier for me to get water in the future.

“Hey Steven,” I said, “Is there any place nearby that I could live in? An abandoned cottage or something? I need a place to rest up.” While predators probably wouldn’t pick a fight with me thanks to my new found comrade, I couldn’t just sit around on the mud banks. I needed a headquarter of operation. Besides, if ponies would be going to him to ask if he had seen me every time they flew by, it wouldn’t be very wise for me to remain so close.

“Well,” replied Steven slowly, “there is one place that you could try… The old palace of the pony sisters has been abandoned for over a thousand years. It’s pretty well preserved and fairly close, so I suppose you could hide out there.”

An abandoned palace of the pony sisters. Okay, guessing that it must have been some descendants of the princess, that still left the question of why the place was abandoned. No one in their right mind would just pack up and leave a perfectly good fortress. Was it invaded, or did the Everfree make it do dangerous to keep? According to Steven’s miniature history lesson on the general area, the Everfree was more than a thousand years old, so the palace and the forest once existed simultaneously. Regardless, if there was any place that I could remain in relatively safety inside the Everfree, it’d have to be the castle.

“Show me the way,” I commanded, my voice regaining a semblance of its old confidence.

“Just keep walking in that direction and you’ll run right into it,” Steven gestured over his shoulder, “You might be able to see a couple of the old towers from here.”

“May you give me a lift across the river?” I asked, realizing that I still had to cross the river. He lowered his scaly hand to the bank of the river for me to walk on. It might have been my imagination, but I could’ve sworn that the river bank had risen since I began talking with him. Regardless, I stood upon his outstretched hand and was lifted over the river. After saying our respective farewells, I went onwards north. Or at least I believed it was north, Steven had said that the pony settlement was to the South and I made a beeline in the opposite direction from that, so unless I got turned around a bit, I should’ve been heading north.

That was another thing that bothered me. Though I didn’t show it, I internally gagged when he mentioned the name of said settlement. “Ponyville”. Why would anyone name a town that? Was the next town over called Humanopolis, a bit further west was it Princessland? Why would you name the town after your species like that? Or at the very least, couldn’t they name it something that didn’t sound so incredibly stupid? If that was the name of some backwater town near the Everfree, I shuddered as to what their capital would have been called.

As I approached the old castle, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of it still standing. I had visited Roman ruins, they were pretty much holes where buildings where actual Romans used to be. The castle looked like it was ditched last year. There were some churches and other buildings that survived over the centuries, but you didn’t just keep a structure that big preserved by leaving it in the magical woods. What was more disturbing was that I recognized the design. The main building, what I assumed to be the palace, looked nearly identical to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. The dome, the walls, they even had the four towers after it was turned into a mosque. I would’ve assumed I was in post-magical-apocalyptic Turkey if the crescent moon and star was on the top of the dome.

Regardless of the painstaking similarities, I continued forwards. The castle would provide me with an excellent hiding spot with enough ruined sections to conceal me from any patrols that came nearby. My plan, as it was at that moment, was wait out for a week or so and approach the settlement for some kind of negotiation. Once I had explained my actions and admitted my guilt, they would surely feel sorry for me. All that was necessary was waiting out the period of anger that they’d hold against me. The only thing I had to worry about then was getting a reliable source of food and water, which according to Steven, wasn’t that big of a concern.

I walked towards the grand, bronze door and attempted to open it. To no avail, I might add. As expected, the door had rusted and jammed over time. While I didn’t want to risk breaking my staff, I had to use it as a lever to pry the giant doors open. The painful screeching of metal against metal echoed in my ear drums as continually applied more pressure. Fortunately, the doors were quite thin and my staff appeared to be made out of obsidian. Minecraft obsidian. After roughly two minutes, give or take a few seconds, there was an opening big enough for me to squeeze into.

The Hagia Sophia rip off, thankfully, was a lot more different from the interior than the exterior. The inner room looked like some kind of throne room. Two thrones were raised on equal pedestals, the one to my right was embedded with the mark of a sun, the one to my left with the mark of the moon. While they didn’t look that comfortable for a few nights of sleep, they’d do. I approached the lunar throne and sat down on it, replicating the pose of the Thinker as I did. My head rested on my right hand as I clutched my staff in the left. I silently gave one last prayer that it was all a horrid nightmare before falling into a deep sleep.

Rude Awakening

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I awoke groggily from my surprisingly dreamless sleep, momentarily forgetting where I was and why I felt like I fell asleep in knight’s armour. I had little time to actually think about what was going on when my heart leapt out of my chest as I stared into two, beady, red eyes. As any reasonable person would have done in such a situation, I screamed like a little girl and swung the staff, that I thankful still had in my grasp after a night’s worth of sleep, to try and scare the thing away.

The eyes’ owner, which looked like a game of Spore gone horribly wrong, floated back in surprise at my outburst. Despite the fact it had both a bat and eagle wing, it didn’t flap either of them to remain floating. Perhaps it was the memories of the previous night flooding into my mind or just the failed comprehension of what was in front of me, but my previous headache had kicked in with a lethal vengeance. The creature gave an unsettlingly toothy grin before clasping an eagle claw and lion paw together in excitement.

“Oh good, you’re finally awake!” it, or rather he, exclaimed, “I was wondering if I was going to have to just sit here for another four hours!”

“You were watching me for four hours?!” I screamed in response, the mental image of whatever it was in front of me hovering just above my face for so long nearly giving me a heart attack. The only response the creature, which had a distinct serpentine quality to it, had was a brief moment of silence. He raised the index… claw… from his eagle hand into the air while he opened his mouth to make a response. Silence greeted both him and I as he soon realized just how twisted his previous statement actually was.

“Perhaps I should introduce myself,” he began awkwardly, placing his lion claw upon his chest, “I am Discord, friendly neighbourhood draconequus and reformed spirit of chaos and disharmony.” With a snap from his claw, a business card appeared from a bright flash of light and suspended itself in front of my face. The card was a blank white, with the word CHAOS brightly written in what looked like rainbow ink. My brain was still trying to catch up with ‘Discord’s’ apparent ability to summon business cards when it disappeared in another flash of light.

“It’s rude to not give your name to a stranger you know…” Discord hissed into my ear. In the brief few seconds that his introduction had taken, his snake-like body had curled around the throne that I had sat down on. Despite the fact that most of his torso and tail were still in front of me, his head and neck had slithered around the right side of the throne and ended up at my left ear.

“H-Henry,” I quickly replied. Satisfied with the answer, and making me wet myself, Discord’s head detached itself from his neck, floating back to his body in time for the rest of him to snap back in place and reconnect. Needless to say, both my heart and brain were ready to hemorrhage from the presence of Satan’s jester before me.

“It’s nice to meet you Henry, I’m sure we’ll be the best of friends,” Discord said as he vigorously shook my hand. His smile, which had a large fang on one side, was terrifying. Perhaps it was his blatant disregard for physics, or perhaps it was the fact that his claw had fallen off at the wrist and was still shaking my hand, but just the action of looking at him made me feel queasy.

“You look a bit pale there, Henry,” Discord continued in a slight tone of worry. The ‘draconequus’, if I remembered his species’ name correctly, grabbed his claw and reattached it with a click. Discord placed his paw on my forehead then quickly retracted it. As if he was a cartoon character, his paw shone red with small trails of steam dissipating off of it.

“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” he voiced, “Besides,” Discord continued as he peeled the flesh off of his paw to reveal a watch around his bones and arteries, “we don’t have much time.” With a snap yet another bright light appeared, the difference afterwards being quite a bit more drastic. His body was sitting down in an office chair, one large enough to fit his elongated body comfortably, and he wore a black suit with a fedora wedged in between his two horns. A pocket watch could be seen dangling from his suit pocket and a blue dress shirt’s collar poked out from beneath. Even, to my insanity, he was smoking a freshly lit cigar. Despite he had to time to light said cigar, or even looked like he had a lighter, it was still burning.

“We need to talk,” he said with a twinge of an Italian accent. For one reason or another, he was trying to pull a Godfather impression on me. Why, I had no idea, but I shouldn’t question the logic of a supposed being of chaos and disharmony. My brain, to save me a brief vestige of sanity, was running on minimum power so I wouldn’t think myself into an aneurism.

“About what?” I replied in the calmest voice I could muster to speak with. Discord, as both a being and personality, didn’t make sense. I wanted to question him, Lord knows how I wanted to question him, but simply put I couldn’t think of anything else to ask except about what. He was the impossible being, even in rainbow magic land, nothing should evolve in such a way to look like a crossover between Frankenstein and Pet Semetary. Magic, which was apparently real, also broke practically every scientific law and principle I had been taught and I had only known him for about a minute. If Discord was creating objects instead of teleporting them, a possibility I didn’t want to think about, he would’ve broken all those laws twice.

“Your arrival here,” Discord responded simply. Thankfully he had lost the Italian accent, but his insane smile had turned into a neutral frown. He didn’t look upset as much he looked to be in deep thought.

“Did you bring me here?” I nearly yelled in retort. My blood pressure spiked again, the difference from the last several instances being out of anger instead of fear and possible insanity. I stood up, my full height with the addition of the throne I was standing upon giving me a good foot over him. I wasn’t stupid enough to point my staff at him, or make any other sufficiently threatening gestures, but I could feel my upper torso trembling.

“Yes. No. Partially,” Discord replied in a calm manner. “If by here, you mean the Everfree Forest, then yes I was the one who brought you here. You were originally heading right towards Canterlot, and trust me you did not want to end up there. If by here you meant Equus however, I have no idea what summoned you. Just be thankful you aren’t the toilet of a pigeon in the Royal Gardens right about now.”

“What do you mean by ‘toilet of a pigeon’?” I asked, my mind calm enough to convince me to sit back down. Based on his brief explanation, it sounded like Discord had done me an immense favour. With his personality however, I was dreading a scenario where he came to collect on the favour he gave me.

“Stone, I mean,” Discord corrected, “Statue, eternal prison, modern art project, take your pick.” The nonchalant way he replied gave me pause. The idea of being turned into a statue was ridiculous and horrifying at the same time. Did I get stuck in a rip off of Narnia? What kind of psycho would turn me to stone?

“But I haven’t done anything!” I exclaimed loudly, finally getting a reaction from Discord. He seemed to have a knowing look on his face, but it disappeared by the time I had registered he made it. The eagle claw and lion paw linked together as Discord rested his head on top of them.

“I know you haven’t, but Celestia doesn’t know that you’re you instead of you being not you.” Discord’s reasoning through me for a loop, but before I could question his response he was already continuing with the conversation.

“Long story short, Henry my boy, is that you look a lot like a demon that attacked Equestria about four centuries back. According to little Lulu, you caused quite the chaos at Ponyville last night. While chaos is always a welcomed sight, for me anyways, it’s heading in an unfortunate direction. Celestia’s mobilized the whole country to come looking for you.”

“WHAT?!!?” I sputtered, nearly choking on my own spit, “The WHOLE COUNTRY?!?!” I was dead then. If Celestia, a name that I suddenly remembered from the brief class on the royal family Stephen had given me, was after my head, I was done. Even with the stealth advantage of the forest and it’s apparent deterrent, I couldn’t hide for more than a week from her.

“Can’t I just tell her that I’m not him?!” I partially asked, partially screamed at the draconequus. My hopes for salvation were taken down like a dove in an atomic explosion, quickly and ruthlessly. Discord shook his head somberly before looking back up into my panicked eyes.

“From what I can tell, the demon that the royal family believes you are was a very deceitful liar. She scanned every single guard to make sure they weren’t him before even getting close to them. The last time she did that, was… well… when I got out, so there isn’t much a chance of you convincing her. Especially when you’d literally be stoned before you even got to see her. I’d try to convince her that you’re not him, but if ol’ Tia even caught wind that you and I had this conversation, we’d both be lawn ornaments.”

My heart had plummeted to far down into my chest I was surprised it didn’t just rip itself out of my body. I ran my armoured hand through the brief amount of hair that the crown allowed to fall out as I laid back in my seat. It was an execution in the making. Either being turned to stone would kill me, or keep me in suspended animation for all eternity, both of which were horrible ways to end. I’d probably be frozen on my knees, begging for my life before being eternally silenced.

“Don’t worry though, I have a plan,” Discord announced, breaking me out of my depression, “Seeing as how I’m reformed, and I never want to see anyone ever turned to stone again, I’m going to help you out of this mess. It’ll take a while for me to find out just how and where to sound you back, but all you have to do is not get caught for a month or so. I’ll try to stall things as much as I can back at the palace, but don’t go around trying to cause chaos while I’m gone. Not until I can send you back at a moment’s notice, anyways. Good luck and I’ll be seeing you.”

Discord then stood up, his grand office chair disappearing as he did, and tipped his fedora before vanishing in a blast of bright light. A ring of smoke from his cigar slowly dissipated in the air, leaving me to my thoughts in the empty castle. It was a lot to take in, not even including the random appearance of the draconequus.

Celestia, who was an alleged immortal ruler, and her sister had convinced themselves that I was a demon coming to wreak havoc on the world. A whole nation was coming to get me and the forest would only hold them back for so long. If they were as persistent and as angry as Discord made them out to be, I’d give them three days before setting the Everfree on fire just to flush me out. I’d have to wait out for nearly a month if Discord’s estimates were even remotely accurate to get home.

At that point I wasn’t worried so much about how long it’d take to get home as I was if I’d ever get home. How was I supposed to stand up to a whole nation? Granted it was a nation of peace loving ponies, but a nation none the less. Even if I could hold out in the castle for a while, they’d just Zerg rush me with numbers.

“By the way,” Discord called as he reappeared in in the centre of the room, “a hundred royal guards are on their way to secure the castle and they’ll be here in about twenty six seconds.”

“WHAT?”

Just like that the draconequus, my only hope, had teleported away again. He didn’t even bother to teleport me out of the castle to get away from the… hundred… guards… headed straight for me…

“DISCORD!!!”

Well That De-Escalated Quickly

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In what could have been described as half throwing myself and half sprinting, I was on the move again and bolting down the nearest hallway. It had taken me two or three minutes to get the door slightly open, it’d take ten seconds for an army to bust its way inside. If I could distance myself far away enough from the door, I could possibly escape through a broken wall section undetected. There was still the risk that patrols would be guarding the exterior, but I’d rather run through them than into the main force.

Sunlight shone in through the cracks in the walls, thankfully giving me a proper line of sight down the hallway. While I didn’t exactly have time to take the tour of the building, I did have a good memory when it came to travelling. As long as I had a general idea of what the place looked like, I could double back without issue. The fact that the hallway looked nearly identical all the way down was a bit nerve-wracking, but as long as I remembered which doors I went through and which I didn’t, I’d be fine.

I started off in the throne room and took the first right I found. About six doors down I took a left, then a right after another three. I had no earthly idea where I was going, but I was hoping that the confusion strategy would work to my benefit. If I had no idea where I was heading, how could anyone else? I had passed five, no, six doors down my current hallway, which meant that I was running pretty fast for a guy that never exercised back home. Though running for my life was a good incentive to keep that speed up. In my haste, I had hardly noticed the odd looking stone in the middle of the hallway. As I stepped on it, the rock sunk into the ground and caused me to trip on it.

“Oh crap!”

To worsen the situation, the floor opened up in front of me to reveal a convenient staircase for me to fall down. The image of my neck snapping in half pleasantly greeted my mind as I cringed waiting for impact. The impact was as good as you’d expect, quite painful and in a hurry. My bones cracked as I rolled down the stone staircase, but I didn’t hear or feel anything snapping. I thought that I had dislocated my shoulder for a moment as I landed, only to realize that I had awkwardly fallen on top of it. The armour was jutting into my skin, but my arm was only bruised. It would’ve been a lot worse were it not for the steel protecting me.

“I love you costume…” I breathed as I tried to get a good look of my surroundings. From the small strands of light that managed to bounce into the tunnel I could see several other staircases leading back up. Perhaps it was used as an emergence tunnel for evacuations? Why they’d have the button that unlocks such a tunnel be placed right next to the rest of the cobblestone, I had no idea. The castle seemed to be made more by griefers in Minecraft than actual architects.

My staff lay on the ground forlornly and my cloak had a few new tears in it. I felt bad that my costume had taken such a beating, seeing as how it had possibly saved me from several broken bones. Granted the costume may also have been why I was being hunted down by guards, but I didn’t want to focus on the negatives. Besides, having a naked first contact wouldn’t have gone well for humanity.

Odd crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling, giving a strange blue glow. It would make sense to have some kind of lighting system, but how such a system had the power to last one thousand years… I couldn’t fathom how much power these gems could contain. Magic was the obvious answer, but that only made me think. Could magic store so much energy inside one of those crystals that they’d last or long, or did they have the ability to recharge? Were the crystals magic made material? Were they millennial batteries that were on their last legs? It was ingenious really, the crystalline lights, but the fact that half of them were dimming and the other flickering reminded me that I should hurry and find a way out of the castle.

As I picked up my staff, the distinctive sound of sliding stone graced my ears. I turned around and to my horror, saw the floor, now ceiling, closing in and sealing me beneath ground. As quickly as it had opened in front of me, it had again closed. In a vain escape attempt, I tried bashing my way through the stone with my staff. After about fifteen seconds of this process did I finally realize how futile the attempt actually was. The chandeliers still offered some light, so I could possibly still find a way out.

I approached the first ascending staircase to the left and slowly crept up the steps. Even with a stone floor between me and the rest of the guards, I didn’t want to make too much noise. The top of the stairs left only an empty room. I could see another hallway though a window of all things, but nothing else. If I took a minute or five to catch my breath, I could use my staff to break through the window and continue running. A loud sigh escaped my lips as I sat down on the cold rock to rest. To my horror, a patrol of about a dozen guards walked right passed the window.

Not a single of the ponies turned around to look at me. Could they have really been so blind? There was a giant window big enough to fit a cow in through and they couldn’t see me or the glowing blue lights? Two regulars, who appeared to be carrying rations and what might have been a box of tent building supplies, paused in front of the window. They looked directly at me, their giant eyes devouring my soul.

“These paintings are pretty creepy,” murmured the first one to the second. A painting? They thought I was some kind of painting? How insanely thick did they have to be to assume that I was a painting? I wasn’t even looking back and I could still see the flickering of blue off the walls.

“Yeah, how many pictures of the moon did they hang up around here?” replied the second. Wait, the moon? The realization that dawned on me nearly brought me to laughter. It wasn’t an evacuation tunnel, it was a secret passage. Magic, for once, had saved me. It was a one way mirror, they saw a painting and I saw the people behind it. The amount of paranoia needed to install such a surveillance system was lost on me, but I couldn’t help but crack up slightly at the relief. I nearly had a heart attack over nothing.

“How about we just keep on moving?” a unicorn asked shakily as she slowly walked past the two. Based on the lack of armor and the thermometer mark on her, I had to guess she was some kind of field medic. Despite her pale blue fur, she was wearing a green cloak around her neck with a pink heart sewn onto it. I reasoned that the pink heart was the equine equivalent to the red cross as the symbol for doctors and physicians.

The two regulars mumbled agreements as they let the unicorn go first. She looked scared out of her mind, which actually gave me a twinge of guilt. The castle was already insane enough, crumbling and built by the most outrageous architects the nation had at the time, the fact that a ‘demon’ was wandering around must have frightened her to no end. I pressed my face up against the glass to try and get a look at how far down they were. If a patrol just passed, then it’d be a while before another one came down this direction. If I waited it out for a couple minutes, I could break through and no one would be the wiser. I saw the two regulars bring up the rear as they turned to the right, assumedly going around a corner that I couldn’t see.

“Dead end and no secret entrance, turn back,” called one of the guards. All the better from my point of view. If the hallway was a dead end, no one would come back looking for me there. They’d be gone for a while and by the time they had the brains to come back and look there, I’d be gone. Hope was my hubris yet again, as my plan was dashed from my mind when one of the patrol members stepped on another trigger stone. The group froze up just as they came back into my view.

“Trap!” cried what I assumed to be the squad captain. Five pegasai, all wearing golden armour, spread their wings out trying to cover as much of the rest of the group as possible. With all the group now in view, I could see that only half of them were proper guards. Five pegasai in uniform, four regulars each carrying supplies that they’d no doubt use to set up camp and the unicorn medic. If every patrol was like that, then only half of the army that came looking for me would actually be equipped for fighting. The other fifty percent would probably scatter at the sight of me. Not to mention the fact that the guards would be more preoccupied with keeping the others safe than attacking me. Chaos was a beautiful thing, I had realized.

My smugness was ripped away as I found the wall spinning around, taking me with it. In a few seconds, I was stuck on the other side with about ten absolutely terrified ponies. The only other female, a regular, fainted on the spot and the unicorn broke into tears. The pegasai clutched spears with their hooves, an action that only befuddled me as to how, while the rest of the regulars bolstered the front line, albeit shakily.

“Remedy, the whistle!” one of the guards hissed. The unicorn’s horn lit up in a violet glow and a whistle in the same hue floated out of one of her bags. The few seconds that she took to panic and clear her throat gave me enough time to realize what she was going to do. The voice of CABAL from the Command and Conquer series announced, “Enemy reinforcements have arrived,” in my mind. She’d summon the whole army in a matter of seconds.

“Not a sound!” I declared loudly, my staff pointed directly at her. The crystal turned a violent shade of crimson and sparks began to discharge around the focal point. I had no idea of what it was doing, or if it would do anything, but it seemed intimidating enough to make the guards flinch and the unicorn to drop the whistle.

“Give it to me.” I commanded in the darkest voice I could give. The whistle was practically thrown at me with the speed that the unicorn tossed it over. One of the guards looked like he was going to punch her, but immediately backed off as I pointed my staff in his general direction. Thankfully the ponies were a lot more scared of me than I was of them, because I wasn’t sure if the staff actually had any power to hold off ten of them at once. Well eight, counting the crying and unconscious one. I slipped the whistle into the inner pocket of my cloak and took a small step back, still keeping the staff raised.


“Here’s what’s going to happen,” I instructed as I took another step back, “I am going to leave here and you will report back to your commander to say that you need a replacement whistle. Your excuse will be that one of the traps caused the unicorn to drop and lose hers. You will not report that you have seen me, or that you’ve even heard of me. Is that clear?” The majority of the group nodded nervously as I had successfully begun my retreat. I was about twenty feet away from where I had gotten dumped out and was getting ready to sprint down the nearest hallway. Again.

“The demon!” screeched a voice from behind me. I quickly turned, my staff still pointed at its original targets. Behind me was another group of guards, no doubt having heart me yell before. I cringed as their unicorn blew a whistle as loudly as his lungs could let him. The newcomers were already advancing on me while I could hear the thunderous sound of reinforcements on the way.

“This is just getting worse and worse, isn’t it?” I muttered under my breath. I was screwed. Completely and utterly screwed in every possible sense. Ten of pony wusses? Sure. Twenty? Possibly with divine intervention. One hundred? Not a chance in Hell. There was nothing I could do unless… unless…

“God, please forgive me for what I’m about to do…” I sighed as I turned back and leapt towards the first patrol. My size, weight and just general presence barreled me right through them like a bowling ball. Most of them scattered immediately, but I wasn’t so concerned about them. A quick shove knocked the captain back, which left me and my target. I picked up the unicorn, Remedy as the guard called her, and pressed the crimson tip of my staff to her throat.

The hall became eerily quiet as everyone took in just what I was doing. The two groups formed one wall blocking my only exit as they all shared increasingly worried looks between themselves. I could feel her throat scrape against the crystal as she swallowed, which only made me grind my teeth in frustration. She struggled breathing, trying not to hyperventilate and to not get cut by the gem. I moved my staff back ever so slightly, enough to let her breath without hurting her but still close enough to let the rest of them know I could impale her at a moment’s notice.

“Please,” she gasped loudly, making me break my eye contact with the rest of the group momentarily, “I have a filly in Canterlot! Please don’t kill me, I just want to go back to my daughter! Please!” My teeth gnashed together harder as I convinced myself not to let her go. Her tears were streaming down the side of her face and onto both the staff and the gauntlet I was holding her with. Any sign other sign of sympathy and they’d realize that I didn’t have the guts to kill her. While keeping her hostage would only reaffirm my cruelty in the eyes of the royal family, I didn’t want to take chances. Trying to be friendly, as Discord had said, would only be a part of Celestia’s mass Byzantine conspiracy that surrounded me.

“I want free passage out of the castle,” I announced darkly, “You are not to follow me, or give a report to the royal family. I will release her when I feel I have gained enough distance from you. If you attack, she will die. If you follow, she will die. If you consider betraying me, she will die.”

“How do we know you won’t kill her anyways?” challenged the opposite group’s unicorn. He had a point, and the sound of approaching hooves didn’t help my case at all. While most of them looked ready to fold, the captains still looked ready to fight. I just had to apply a bit more pressure and they’d cave. If the herd is what made them strong, then it should be what makes them weak as well.

“It is the only possibility that she has a chance of surviving.” I responded coldly. The look of concern was all that I needed to know that the captains were going to let me go. The first of the reinforcements were starting to arrive, but by the looks on their faces they didn’t look like they were going to oppose me any more than the rest.

“Let it pass!” hollered the second captain down the hall. The wall of bodies broke apart, giving me a clear route all the way to the presumed exit. The sound of hooves stopped and I began walking towards my eventually freedom. With every step I took the unicorn began to squirm more and more. I was beginning to lose my grip when I had finally had enough. I was going to die if she escaped, so I did the only thing that I could do to make sure she’d stop moving. In a swift movement, I cut into her right cheek then applied pressure back on her throat. The slow trickle of blood down her face was enough to pale some of the guards as we walked by. The worst she’d get was an infection, but I doubt she’d get that far as a doctor herself.

“Please!” she continued to yell, “I don’t want to die! Save me! Please!” The guards shuffled in place, but did nothing more. My small act of violence was more than enough to dissuade any action. It felt wrong, even more than it normally would have. Ponies were more like children, even in the army. Their wide eyes of horror and fear bore into my soul ever quicker. They saw me as a monster, which under circumstances did make sense. My hostage continued to call for assistance weakly, but no longer struggled in my grasp.

Aside from the unicorn’s crying and bawling, the way out was dead silent. I could see her cry harder as her tears began to fall into the open cut. My heart felt broken inside, but my resolve was still strong. She’d have a small cut and nightmares for a week, a small price to pay for me keeping my life. In my position, I’m sure she’d have done the same. As I began to see sight of the throne room, I noticed the lack of guards. They were sparsely occupying the majority of the hallway, only maybe sixty at the most. The paranoia of where the others could have gone was picking at me.

Upon entered the throne room itself, I immediately looked up to see the answer that I was expecting. About twenty pegasai, all carrying spears, were hovering near the ceiling. The look of shock that hit their faces was hilarious. I actually chuckled slightly from their predictability, which only garnered a more fearful reaction from them. Their big trap was for naught, and I still held the hostage safely within my steel grasp. It wasn’t even that hard to figure out really, their tactics were as poor as their stomach for fighting. Dejectedly they flew down to the floor, looks of sorrow and pain adorning their faces.

The unicorn, Remedy, took the failed trap as well as one would expect. Her calls for help ceased and she fell limp in my arms. It was pathetic really, I wanted to comfort her more than anything else. I purposefully walked out the main doors, heading towards the rising sun. I would flee from the castle and find a better place to hide. After releasing her, I’d double back and head in the opposite direction. Perhaps, in given time, I would be able to make peace with them all. At that moment however, I wanted nothing more than to be done with them. Peace could come later however, I had to prepare for war.

Red, Blue and Green

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My metallic boots pressed deeply into the moist earth. Were the guards to wisen up, they’d have a perfect trail that led right to me. I’d either need to find sufficiently dry dirt or a stream that I could lose both my footprints and scent. While I wasn’t expecting equines to be that familiar with dogs, I was still weary of the possibility that they could use them to track me. I had been found out, but by my estimates I had roughly an hour before the guards were going to start looking for me. Hostage or not, there wasn’t much time before Celestia herself started joining the chase. Ponyville was only a couple minutes away for a pegasus, the capital city supposedly less than a day from there.

The only way to survive the sure fire disaster that was heading my way was to treat it like it was, a disaster. I had taken a hostage and I had yet to actually find an easily defendable source of food and water to live off of. My mind went into ‘strategy game’ mode as I began pondering what my first actions should be. Sustenance was top priority of course, followed closely behind by shelter and some form of hygiene. Bathing, assuming I could find a relatively shallow river, would be simple. The idea of going a month without any kind of sanitation, soap or tooth paste was going to be a dark one. I’d live through it, hopefully, but I’d feel terrible by the time it was all over.

“This isn’t a vacation…” I muttered sourly under my breath. Remedy’s ears twitched in response, a vain attempt at hearing what I was saying. My immediate problem, aside from the lack of breakfast and most likely lunch and dinner, was the hostage situation. If I went too far, she’d probably die trying to find her way back to the castle. If I let her go within safe distance, I’d be left with no defence from getting attacked. Then again, there’d be a point when they’d attack me regardless and having to carry her for so long would be both tiring and slow.

Every couple minutes or so I’d pull a Crazy Ivan, that is turning around sharply and pressing the tip of my staff against Remedy’s throat. The first time I had done it, she had broken out into a quick scream. After the third, it seemed to just startle her more than anything else. She still cried, thankfully in relative silence, all the way though. I wondered if she actually had a daughter back in Canterlot. The inner cynic inside me briefly considered that she only brought up a daughter to trigger a sympathetic reaction from me, but I quickly pushed the thought aside. Truth or lie, she was still just as valuable. Besides, I had already taken her after the first mention of a daughter, I wasn’t sappy enough to let her go as I was approaching the clear zone.

As if to reflect my mood, clouds were gathering overhead. I would have called it clichéd, were it not welcoming. Water might wash away my footprints, as well as my scent, so I’d have an easier time getting away. The darkness would also decrease the line of sight, so if I was being followed it’d be a lot harder on the hunter. The only thing that bothered me about the prospect of rain would be if my costume would act as a lightning rod. I had figured yes, but reasoned that it’d most likely hit the giant trees above me before it’d actually me.

“Please…” Remedy croaked weakly, her voice strained from the crying, “I just want to see my daughter again. I won’t tell anypony about you, I’ll even quit the Royal Guard, but let me go…” My face contorted in anger, trying to keep hold of the survivalist instinct inside me. There was no way she was going to guilt me into letting her go. I’d walk for another fifteen minutes, then tell her to run back to the castle. Her ramblings continued on for a while though, slowly breaking my concentration. Everything she said started to sound like a droning whir.

“You’ll get out of this if everything goes according to plan,” I replied emotionlessly, getting her to finally break out of her melancholic state, “But,” I emphasized, “I want you to be quiet for the time being. You can scream as loud as you want after I let you go.” Remedy didn’t say anything after that, she just sat limply in my arms. Were it not for her rhythmic beating, I’d think she was dead. Then again, she probably did think she was dead if she annoyed me enough.

Her lack of crying allowed me to listen more closely to the forest around me. The sound of thunder had been approaching for the past twenty minutes, but at that moment it resounded like the beat of drums. It kept me focused and helped me keep pace in a metallic march. Birds and other beasts called out spontaneously, but none close enough to warrant attention. A murder of crows sprung forth from one of the trees, dispersing into the open air and leaving me perplexed. Birds, and practically anything with wings, would fly off at any sign of trouble. I wasn’t close enough to warrant them flying away and as I scanned the trees around me I couldn’t see a thing. The sound of powerful wing beats only came to my ears as my mind had realized that I should have looked up sooner.

I instinctively tried to duck, but instead got driven right into the ground. I had been launched a good ten feet before finally colliding with the dirt. Both my staff and Remedy went flying into the nearby trees as I felt four hooves press down onto my chest. On top of me was the pegasus from the night before, her magneta eyes looking more frenzied than girly. Her wings were still flapping as she tried keeping me pinned to the ground. While I didn’t have a hostage or weapon anymore, I’d be damned if a children’s mascot like her was going to be the one to bring me down. My gauntlet grasped her throat and ripped her to one side. The blue menace was off of me, but still just as determined.

“You’re going down!” she declared, dragging her right fore-hoof into the dirt. Under any normal circumstances I would’ve laughed in response, but the amount of power she must have put into that charge to knock me over scared me, if only slightly. I got back to my feet and planted my boots into the earth and twisted. My neck cracked as I rolled it back, the sound causing the pegasus’ ears to flinch back ever so slightly. Remedy, my staff in her magical grip, came sprinting back behind the pegasus and stood in shock horror at me.

“If violence is what you want, I will not back down,” I replied menacingly. Even with her wings, I still had the advantage. I was much taller and had the armor to take a couple hits. The speed and power she was able to pull off was impressive, and to a degree terrifying, but there wasn’t enough room in the forest for her to accelerate to such a speed. It was odd, to say the least, that I was about to have a throw down with a magical, blue pegasus that was only three feet tall, but my mind could only focus on how to best anticipate her movements.

After giving her best Braveheart scream, rainbow hair was flying towards me. I rose my hands up in a defensive pose before quickly ducking to the side. She didn’t expect me to dodge though, as her left wing didn’t move out of the way fast enough to escape capture. With one wing still desperately trying to flap, she was beginning to spin both herself and I around like some sadistic top. I let go of her, only to see the pegasus go flying off into a tree. She didn’t look that injured, but it was obvious she wasn’t going to be fighting anytime soon.

Despite the seriousness of the whole thing, I couldn’t help but saying “Fatality” out loud. My brief distraction was my hubris, as I was struck in the back of the head by my very own staff. My eyes were alight as I turned to face Remedy, her face in such a look of terror and fear that she actually wet herself. A low growl escaped my throat as I snatched my staff back from her magical grasp, my vision blurring slightly as I did. Remedy stuttered as I stepped towards her with murderous intent. I raised my staff in the air to pound her horn in as I staggered slightly from my newfound headache.

“Rainbow!” came a southern accented yell. There was barely enough turn and get a look at my orange attacker before getting hit by her. I wasn’t knocked over, but I could practically feel my stomach and lungs crash into each other as I got kicked in the chest by a regular. Another regular, as pink as the grass was green, soon followed with what looked to be a purple pegasus / unicorn hybrid. Based off of the status of the blue one from last night, I had to guess that the one before me was the recently coronated “Princess Twilight Sparkle”.

A sharp exhale left my mouth before I looked back up to my hat wearing opponent. I gave her a quick, iron slap across the face before pointing my staff at ‘Twilight’. Before I could even blink however, I found myself being lifted into the air by a lavender glow, the same hue as the glow coming from the pegacorn. My body was suspended about ten feet above the ground. While I was freaking out, I couldn’t help but grin at the amount of effort that she was taking to keep me immobile. While I was no scholar in the field of magic, the amount of sparks coming off of her horn and the fluctuating lights definitely couldn’t have been healthy.

The pink one moved to check on Remedy, while cowgirl was sprinting over to see if rainbow hair was alright. In the background however, I could see a yellow pegasus helping Rarity towards us. Rarity was looking terrible, though I already knew the answer why. A large black eye was on the left side of her face, with a small patch of lost fur just beneath it. My attack on her was much more painful than I had originally thought. Aside from the blunt force of hitting her, a small cut had also developed into an infection just beneath the eye. The fact that Rarity was able to move at all, was incredibly. Had I known what would have happened in the aftermath I would have kicked her instead. Though as I have already realized, hindsight is a cruel, cruel thing. The cut probably got infected because she couldn’t stay still enough to treat it with it being so close to her swollen eye. Guilty conscious aside, I was about to get my ass sliced off and handed back to me.

“Elements,” Twilight struggled, “use the Elements…” Rainbow hair limped back with cowgirl, yellow and Rarity stepped forward beside Twilight with pink regretfully abandoned Remedy to stand next to her comrades. It was then that I noticed the jewellery pieces that they were all wearing. They all bore a golden necklace with a unique symbol, the only exception being Twilight with a similarly designed tiara. Upon further inspection, I had noticed that the symbols on each of the pieces matched up with the marks that they had on their flanks. Since Rarity did not have her necklace on the night prior, I could only assume the Elements were the jewellery pieces themselves. What they did however, I had no clue.

Seeing as how Twilight was waiting for them to be used, I had to guess that they were some kind of weapon or containment device. The Elements were probably going to be used to contain me so that I couldn’t just run away and escape again. Something that would keep me contained until I could be brought back to Canterlot. Something that would stop me dead in my tracks... Something that could keep me imprisoned indefinitely…

“Oh God, have mercy!” I cried out as I realized what the Elements were supposed to do. My voice fell on deaf ears, or was blocked out completely, as the six of them didn’t react to my plea. Celestia wasn’t going to fight me herself, the weapons needed to turn me to stone were already close. Stephen or Discord never mentioned the Elements, if they had I would have hauled ass at the first sight of a pony.

Their eyes shone a bright white as a rainbow coloured bow encompassed each of them. I shielded my eyes from it, how bright and devastating the display was. Time slowed to a halt, my mind and heart going so far into overdrive I couldn’t even react properly. The light grew more intense as it weaved towards me, slithering like a snake in the air, closing around me as it absorbed everything. It went through my armor and cloak as though they never existed and enclosed upon me. The sea of colours and mystery was as beautiful as it was terrifying. It spun wildly and chaotically, disorienting me to the point of nausea. Even with my eyes closed, it still shone through without relent. When the light touched my skin, I screamed out for God and forgiveness. It burned like balefire and liquid sulphur. It was having salt poured into your eyes, ants crawling through your veins, your head being held in ice water.

It only touched me for a brief second, but that was all it took. I felt its wrathful presence leave me as the blinding light and colour disappear. My senses rebooted just in time to catch the latter half of an earth shattering roar rock the ground beneath us. I could see the ponies under me panic at the sound. The pink one was sprinting back through the trees with Remedy in tow, while Rarity and the yellow one began swivelling in every direction. I could actually see the ground tremble as the titan approached, hear the sound as trees snapped beneath it. The behemoth, whatever it was, growled as loud as a jet engine would scream. Cowgirl and rainbow hair, along with yellow and Rarity, dashed into the trees. Twilight, using her last remaining ounces of magic, tossed me in the direction of whatever was coming.

The last thing I saw was an overwhelming view of blue.

Deja-Vu

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“Why does this always happen to me…”

In an odd twist of fate I had found myself in a very familiar position. Like the prior night I was lying in the woods and nearly paralyzed from how stiff my muscles were. The only difference being from said night was that I was stuck in a tree. Twilight, in a grand display of her intelligence, decided that throwing the ‘dangerous demon’ towards the oncoming titan would be a brilliant idea. She was also blind, apparently, as I didn’t even see the damned thing in the direction that she threw me. The only thing I saw was the colour blue and a bunch of leaves before passing out.

While I was still quite concerned about the titan that was no doubt still on the loose, I had two bigger problems to worry about. First of said problems, would be how to get myself out of the tree. The second, and more important of the two, was how to do so without breaking my neck. Based on the slight, blurry view I had on the ground I was about seven feet up. While that wasn’t too bad, I was lying horizontally on a tree branch with all my muscles seized up. While I could have waited it out to climb down, that could take anywhere between an hour to a day and I didn’t want to take the chance that the Royal Guard would do a check up to see if I was actually dead.

The destruction, from what I could see in my leafy loft, was catastrophic. It looked like Godzilla had just taken a leisurely stroll through the woods. Trees were uprooted and bushes were stomped right into the ground. Fortunately, and coincidentally, enough Twilight had thrown me right on the edge of destruction. Half of the tree I was in was gone and I got stuck in the surviving half.

“Stupid purple pony princess,” I laughed. It was a sentence that I never expected to actually say, but I was never quite so happy to say it. My lungs felt like they were filled with water, but I couldn’t help but continue to laugh in the treetop. Perhaps I was delirious, perhaps I was just thankful to be alive, but in that moment laughter was the only thing to come to mind. Sweet, painful, laughter.

My laughter slowly turned to chuckling, which in turn transformed into raspy breathing. In a strange way, I felt relaxed. Maybe that old saying about laughing and medicine was true, but it gave me sound enough mind to properly think about my situation. A large crow, who I could only assume wanted to investigate the crazy man in a tree, landed on a nearby branch with a befuddled expression. As I struggled in the branches to get a better look at it, a low cracking sound came from the tree. The bird took off for a few seconds before sitting back down on the twig, confident it wouldn’t collapse on both of us.

“Do you have any idea how I can get down from here?” I asked the crow, the list of ideas in my mind exhausted with how fragile the rest of the tree was. It tilted its head in a cartoonish way before looking down to the ground then back up at me. The bird flapped its wings for a few seconds, never taking off and continued staring blankly at me.

“I can’t fly, but thanks for the suggestion,” I responded dryly. The crow bowed its head, apparently deep in thought. A light breeze passed by through the leaves, causing the tree to sway ever so slightly. Yet again, branch I was resting on cracked ever so quietly. Whether I moved or not, the tree was going to break out from under me. The only question was which would hurt more, jumping or falling?

My avian comrade, who probably couldn’t think of anything, flew off into the forest and left me alone in my slowly breaking tree. I hoarsely called goodbye to him, I thought it was a him, and went back to thinking. If I tried to move the branch would collapse, but I’d get footing for when I hit the ground. On the other hand remaining still would ensure that the branch would take most of the damage, assuming I braced myself properly.

As if to make matters worse, I heard the roar of the titan bellow across the landscape. I couldn’t see if it was heading my way, or even see it for that matter, but I was certain it was fairly close. The ground shook violently and I heard the distinctive sound of bark snapping. Exit route two it was then. I immediately held onto the nearest sticks and branches that I could grab onto as I felt my head tilt back with the tree giving way. The branch hit the forest floor and I flipped over to get a good face full of grass. It only hurt half as badly as I thought it would have, but I wasn’t quite sure of what was stabbing my neck. No, wait, that was my staff, never mind.

I propped myself up on my staff to try and stretch my muscles, only to fall back over when I realized that both of my legs were asleep. Why I hadn’t noticed earlier I contributed to the fact that most of my body was numb as well. Which, upon reflection, was probably why the fall from the tree didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. The Elements, as devilish as they were, also dulled my senses enough that it wouldn’t have been as painful as it could’ve been. Though if the reaction I had was based off ‘baby’s first statue imprisonment’, I shuttered to imagine what would have happened without the dulling.

I didn’t notice the small shadow that flew overhead as something small and red collided with my face. After slowly reaching up with my iron enclosed hand to make sure that my nose wasn’t broken, I titled my head to the left to see what had hit me. There a shiny, if slightly bruised, red delicious apple sat on the ground. Luck was finally looking my way as I had been gracefully delivered my first meal in Equestria. Why an apple fell from a maple tree wasn’t on my mind as I was just grateful to actually have something to eat. Before I could sink my teeth into the apple though, I was distracted by the cheerful caw of a crow. I roughly sat up to see my friend from before sitting on the fallen branch, looking rather proud of himself. For a bird, he sure was quite expressive. Then again, I had already held a conversation with him so I shouldn’t have questioned the expressions of an apparent sapient crow.

“Did you bring me this?” I questioned, holding the apple before him. Sure enough, the crow nodded vigorously as it chirped merrily. “How very kind of you.” As you might have expected, I was stunned at the display. I was given an apple by a friendly, sapient crow. I know I had already befriended a spirit of chaos and a river monster and was being hunted down by a nation of pastel ponies, but for some odd reason the crow was what surprised me. A simple gesture, just the offering of food, spoke volumes to me. It was so human, but was carried out by something so definitely not human. Funnily enough, I had made myself an avian companion. The growl from my stomach reminded me why the crow was so kind to give me the apple, as I immediately bit into the delicious fruit.

The crow sat there happily as I bit into the apple. I had never had very large meals back home, so the apple was relatively well sized for breakfast. The fact that it was one of the best apples I had ever seen helped as well. Granted I didn’t wash it, but if I was going to be infected by alien bacteria water wasn’t going to help me at all. The sun, I had noticed, was in its noon position, so I had to have been out for at least three hours. The sun was still early rising when I had left and I doubted that it ascended very far in the half hour I had been walking around with Remedy.

Remedy… My heart sank as I recalled the name. I already had justification for my actions, but what concerned me was the titan attack. She didn’t have wings and she didn’t look like she was a marathon runner either. I could only hope that she didn’t get killed in the attack, but hope was the only thought I was willing to give her. Regardless of her possibly painful demise, I was still in a life and death situation. The involvement of such a large creature would only warrant the necessity of more reinforcements. It was tragic, yes, but I wouldn’t let myself get shut down by it.

I found that I had been staring at the ground with apple core in hand for some minutes as my newfound friend was pecking at my boots for my attention. Broken out of my stupor, I looked to him to see what was the matter. He jumped back and chirped lowly, which I took as bird for ‘Are you feeling okay?’. I shook my head to dispel the negative thoughts before attempting to stand back up. As luck would have it, I fared much better than last time. My legs held together, but I couldn’t move them very much without them wobbling about.

“Would you like the rest?” I asked, holding up the apple core for my companion. In a quick spring of action, he took off and snatched the core from my hand and sat back down on the ground to get a peck at my left overs. “I’ll take that as a yes then.” The beast from before roared a third time, though it seemed to have gained some distance since its second. The crow seemed alarmed at the development, even more than me. His head bounced up from the apple, twitching spastically in every direction before lowering back down to continue eating.

“Do you know of any place that I could use to rest up?” I asked my hungry friend. The crow’s head bobbed up again, nodding quickly then descending into the fruity flesh again. “Away from pony settlements?” It, I assumed he, stopped eating and hesitantly looked up at me. His head was tilted ever so slightly, eyes slanted enough to be half way between confused and suspicious. He nodded again, but slower than before and took one last bite of the apple before turning back to me.

My avian companion straightened himself, stretching his wings out before taking off. He circled around me for several moments before heading off into the woods. I made haste to follow him, wobbly limping as fast as I could with my staff in hand. My legs screamed, the exhilarating feeling of blood rushing through them seeming foreign after being numb so long. A strange sense of clairvoyance had taken me and helped to keep my eyes tracked to my newfound friend. Perhaps it was a side effect of the world’s magic or maybe it had something to do with my situation in particular, but I was recovering much faster than I would have back home. I reasoned that the numbness from magic wasn’t as potent as it would be from drugs, but it was really more of a quick answer to keep my attention directed forward.

Thankfully the forest was much sparser as I followed the crow deeper into it. While the trees didn’t seem as claustrophobic, the rocks however did pop up in clusters. Once or twice my staff would get stuck in a small hole or crevice, but nothing very worrying. My friend was kind enough to wait for me, apparently having quite the reserve of patience, and our journey went relatively smooth. Relatively was the key word, as my friend had evidently forgotten that I did not have the capability of flight. I did have to wade through a three foot stream, falling in once or twice, but aside from that there wasn’t any notable issue.

The air got moister as we continued on, I could practically feel my pours open from the humidity. It was odd to have such warmth in the forest during the fall. Most of the Everfree nearby Ponyville looked dead and ready for the winter. The trees were much greener in the interior, but the path I was being lead in felt like a swamp. What was next, a winter wonderland? It was like every season was crammed into one single forest, utterly ridiculous. Based on the slight decline, we were definitely heading for a basin of some sort, but not some swamp. Stupid ponies and their magic, they were probably the ones to blame for how idiotic the weather was on their world.

We had arrived at our “destination” after roughly an hour of travelling. The crow had lead me to some kind of old campsite, if one could call it that. An old lean-to stood up from the surrounding bushes, offering only slight protection from the elements of nature around it. There was also a fire pit, forgotten by its creators and the world, filled with leaves and rainwater. The rest of the encampment was underwater, as some high power found it amusing to divert a small brook over it. Granted the stream was only half a foot deep, but it didn’t help the situation. It was a source of water and it appeared to be quite clean, getting water from the basin was a lot filthier than it was at the source. Still, I supposed, beggars like myself didn’t get a choice in survival.

“Thank you,” I called to my friend, who I should have thought about giving a name earlier. The crow beamed in apparent pride, a look that birds really should use. It was unsettling with that blinkless stare he gave, but at the same time welcoming. He may not have had reality bending powers or giant strength, though that made him a bit easier to relate to. Ironic, considering that out of my three friends / allies, he was the only one that couldn’t actually speak to me. He took perch upon the roof of the lean-to and watched me expectantly to go inside.

I approached the old structure slowly. It seemed to be sturdy enough, not groaning under the stiff breeze that flew by, but I was quite paranoid of the possibility that hundreds of insects were sitting in the dark corners inside. I was okay with a couple ants, but spiders, centipedes or anything of the like and I was sleeping outside. The lean-to, a now given blessing from God himself, didn’t have bugs inside it. After three thorough inspections, I found nothing wrong with it. There were a few crevices that ants could get through, but the only thing that I found was a dead fly. There was some kind of scratching on the wall, but I couldn’t read out what it said. Of course I’d have the luck to end up in an alien world that spoke English but didn’t write in it.

“What is this place anyways?” I asked aloud. My comrade whistled, trying to charade me the answer back. He wiped his beak with his left wing before falling back lazily, emanating a noise that sounded like a bird’s imitation of a snore. From what I could gather, the area was some kind of pit stop for tired travellers. It was either in close proximity to the edge of the forest or some kind of road because there was no reason for there to be a campsite in the middle of the dangerous woods. It’d be like having a convenience store in the middle of the Sahara Desert, no one in their right minds would build it.

“If it’s a pit stop,” I questioned, “why has it been abandoned for so long?” My comrade in response gestured towards the stream before pointing off into the distance with his beak. My puzzled look and tilted head must have convinced him to explain more, as his wings swooped down in a fast motion into an outlaying branch. The gestures stopped, leaving me to figure out what he was trying to explain. The brook went down a ways and it must have stopped when it reached the basin at the marshlands. The swinging motion looked like it was describing an impact, so maybe the river washed away some kind bridge used to get across the basin? But a river this small couldn’t wash away a bridge unless…

“It floods near the end of the river, doesn’t it?” I asked. True to his silent nature he shook his head before flying to a nearby tree. He must’ve noticed food or something, because he bounced around the branches looking for it. With my new resources and free time acquired, I began to take mental stock of what was going on.

First of all, I had shelter and water. The journey to the site revealed the location of several nearby berry bushes, so I wouldn’t have to worry about starving to death in the immediate future. Vitamin and protein deficiency was concerning, but there was nothing I could do about it. I’d either have to stumble upon a conveniently abandoned farm house or take up the hobby of hunting the local fauna. Seeing as how the former was dumb hope and the latter would most likely be reversed on me, I was at a loss on how to maintain a proper diet. On the bright side, I did have a bird which would act as a brilliant partner to warn me of approaching predators and ponies. Plus, assuming that he had maintained a hunter’s instinct over the years, he’d be excellent for finding game. It would be based more on luck, but it was still a possibility that could turn out favourably.

While I was concerned on how Discord would be able to find me again, my mind reasoned that a magical chaos thing like him wouldn’t have much trouble locating a guy wearing a black in the middle of the forest. He had done it once after all, so it stood to logic that he should be able to do it again. Unfortunately, Discord didn’t seem to run on any kind of logic that humanity was familiar with, so it could have been a while before I would I see him again. His antics did bother me, more from making my head hurt than actually annoying me, but I had enough trust in him that he wouldn’t throw me to the wolves. Err, ponies. Perhaps we’d even be friends by the end of the whole ordeal, which was both uplifting and depressing. I’d have a new friend, but by the time that we’d actually be able to act as friends I’d be sent home.

My mind briefly considered staying an extra couple days to say goodbye and make amends with Equestria. The voice in my head rejected the idea outright, which I expected, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. To home, I was either missing or dead. By the time I made it back, people would have already assumed the worst and possibly have moved on. Staying another day or two wouldn’t make that much a difference. Then again, it could make a huge difference as well. Another day to be imprisoned, another day to be hunted, another day to fall ill to some kind of infection or attack, another day to leave my parents in the misery that their only son was lost and alone…

“Oh God…” I muttered aloud, sitting back on the soft grass as I thought of it. My parents must have been heartbroken. Peter must have looked everywhere for me last night. My stomach turned as I thought of him walking back to tell mom and dad that he had lost me. My mom would have broke, going on wild fantasies that I had gotten lost, kidnapped, or worse. My dad might have taken it better, either by going vigilante all around Chicago to find me or just take hope in the fact that I knew how to handle myself.

The Hell was I even thinking? I didn’t know how to handle myself. I should have had my ass handed back to me on a silver platter the night before, everything after that was luck or divine convenience. Bear Grills would’ve given up at that point, yet there I was thinking that I could survive for more than three days. The Equestrians probably wouldn’t even find me, my corpse either devoured by the beasts in the woods or rotten away from disease. I might not even get home. Even if I did survive long enough to wait out the month, which was a miracle in of itself, there was no reason to believe that Discord could actually find me a way home. He didn’t know how I was brought there, so what would make him know how to send me back? Whatever brought me to Equestria, a spirit, a portal, God or just the forces of the universe itself, wasn’t just going to let me go.

With the time that I had been given and the thoughts I had willingly brought, I sat on the smooth grass. I sat on the smooth grass alone. I sat on the grass afraid. I sat on the grass and cried like a child.

Aftermath

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Ten minutes, roughly, had passed by as I cried my miseries out to the world in the mud and dirt. My wails, assuming there was anything around to hear them, would have been heard from a mile away. Upon reflection I should have stayed quiet, but at that moment I didn’t care anymore. No matter how hard I willed it, I simply couldn’t stop the stream of tears. I tried to push away the thoughts of my family and home, but each attempt only provoked a stronger return.

“Y-you can d-do this…” I brokenly assured myself,

“You j-just… you just… j-just…”

Ripping the gauntlets off of my hands, I shielded my eyes from the rest of the world. The gravity of the situation had finally sunk in and it was tearing me in half. One part of me wanted to go on and try to live out the next month or so, the other simply wished to die and rot. How could I continue on if I did make the deadline only to find it had all been in vain?

Eventually, after another ten minutes of me snivelling and crying, I had tired myself out in grief. The former half of me, the half that wanted to live, stood triumphant, whatever it was worth, and my mind switched from sadness to survival. I reattached the gauntlets to my hands, wiping away errant tears with the sleeve of my cloak.

To his credit, my avian companion looked concerned over my mental health. I ignored him briefly, pretending as though my episode had never happened, only to give him an “I’ll be fine,” when the silence became deafening.

Realizing that sitting around in an abandoned campsite wasn’t going to do me any good, I reached for my discarded staff and began the laborious task of getting back up. It wasn’t so much difficult as it was cumbersome to move around in so much metal and smelling like rust. I had water, food and shelter, but I still had to learn how to defend myself. I was decently active back on Earth, so I wasn’t completely screwed. However most of my muscles were in my legs, which was both good and bad. I could outrun a lot of the things coming at me, but if it got physical then I’d be at a huge disadvantage.

The only equalizer that I had, in terms of weaponry anyways, was my apparently magical staff. It changed colours from purple to red when I wanted to look intimidating, so perhaps magic was derived from emotion? Using emotions as a tangible energy was both an interesting and terrifying concept. Would it drain me of my emotions the more that I used it? The unicorns looked pretty happy when I saw them, or is that because they simply channel everything negative into it? Overreaction was a staple of mine, but there isn’t a person alive that wouldn’t be paranoid about the sudden use of magic. There was power that was created through creation itself. It was an energy that could be harnessed and put to use by living things, apparently and seemed to bind the world together. By that logic I wasn’t sure if magic disproved or credited all religions at the same time.

The conundrum of my staff could only be answered through trial and error. I could have waited to ask Discord, but I wasn’t completely sure if he could give me a proper answer. He could use magic because he naturally had the power, I had to channel mine through an artifact, which could have been completely different. Then again, it could have been completely the same and he could have answered all my questions. It’s magic after all, so what would I know about how to use it logically?

There was a large rock, roughly two feet in diameter, on the other side of the clearing which seemed like a good training dummy for magical spells. Staff pointed forwards, I began to think on some kind of reaction. Push, pull, levitate, something that would have been a simple starting point. The gem on the staff turned a snowy white with several sparks flying from the tip as my concentration increased, but there wasn’t a single reaction. My avian comrade squawked in encouragement as I tried to move closer to the bolder. I had realized that it would be a lot easier on me if I moved closer to the rock, so I took appropriate measures and closed half of the distance between me and the rock.

“Levitate!” I demanded, a flurry of white sparks emanating from the tip of the staff. Still, the rock stood still as if it were being faced by an unsure breeze. My anger was spiking from the lack of success and the apparent mental strain that magic had, and walked right up to the oversized pebble. I stood maybe five feet away from it before trying again.

“Levitate!” I yelled to no avail, “Hover! Elevate! Ascend!”

White turned to scarlet as my temper rose with each demand. I could feel that something was happening, that was for certain. A foreign pressure was being directed through my staff and towards the rock, it was unmistakable, yet the insipid thing refused to budge an inch. After several more attempts to convince the rock to move, my mind running out of synonyms for ‘levitate’, I settled on simply insulting the thing.

“Damn it!” My staff collided with the ground as I angrily threw it away. My migraine had returned and it felt like I had just sprinted a whole marathon. I pinched the bridge of my nose as I tried to calm myself down, only to jump back at the sound of an explosion. To my horror, the rock, which I was still only a few feet away from, erupted into black flames. Fire licked at the stone's sides, desperately trying to devour the rock whole. Despite clearly touching the very dry looking grass, nothing but the rock burned. The display lasted for several seconds before the hellish fire realized that rocks were not, in fact, flammable and died out.

“The Hell?!” There was really nothing else to say, I was completely dumbfounded by what had just happened. It was also appropriate, considering that I might have just used demon powers to attack a poor rock. Even my crow companion was surprised, his beak slightly open in what I could only assume was a cross between awe and horror.

The gem in my staff had turned from vibrant red to a nauseous combination of dark purple, sickly green and black. Purple sparks were still coming from the tip, though thankfully in less dangerous looking amounts. I hesitantly reached down to touch it before shying my hand away from it. The staff, assuming I understood it correctly, just attempted to damn something to Hell. Magic or not, there is no fire that naturally looks black. If I touched it, I could easily find myself in the position of the rock. Then again I was focused the rock, and not myself, so unless I was feeling suicidal it was very unlikely that I could inadvertently harm myself with it. It was just a tool, it didn’t have a soul or a mind of its own… I hoped.

Reclaiming my courage, I grasped my staff quickly and brought it back up to standing position. The gem quickly turned back to its default purple state. It definitely seemed to be powered, or at the very least influenced, by emotions. By that logic, all I had to do to cancel a spell was simply will it to cancel. On the other hand it also seemed to be stuck on which ‘setting’ I had it on last, as the crystal only corrected itself when I came into contact with it again.

While my mind still felt exhausted, a small part of me wanted to keep on going. It was apparent that levitation was going to take some work, but I believed that I had discovered something important. If I could spontaneously create fire, then it stood to reason that I was inclined to elemental magic. Or, at the very least, pyromancy. Granted it was demonic fire, but if I could do that then regular fire should be quite easy in comparison.

Aiming my staff at the rock yet again, I decided to try one last spell before focusing on gathering food. I had realized that fire would probably set the grass ablaze around it, so I was going to test my theory on elemental magic. As I closed my eyes my thoughts pictured ice and snow, something that by comparison wasn’t so dangerous, and let the magic flow through me. Upon opening them, I witnessed a blue beam spring forth from the crystal and strike the boulder without hesitation. Frost and ice began forming on the side, even without water on the stone to freeze. Continuing without additional magical support, the ice formed nearly all the way around the rock before stopping. The crow began awkwardly applauding by cawing and flapping its wings together.

It was a victory, if a tiring one. Both my body and my mind felt exhausted. Hazarding a guess, I reasoned that it was roughly one o’clock. It was supposed to be a little after lunch and I felt like I was ready to turn in for the night. My grumbling stomach however reminded me that while the apple helped, I should have been looking for more food. While I didn’t have a basket to keep any of the fruit or berries around, I still carried a distinct memory of blue berry bushes nearby. It’d take some time, but I’d finally have a proper meal in this crazy world.

Ponyville

(Sorry, no proper page break yet. I know a person and hopefully she can help me create a custom one that doesn't look bland or terribly created.)

Quick Remedy sat in Ponyville General Hospital, her newfound friend Pinkie Pie on the other side of the room looking for a checkerboard to help pass the time. The two of them had successfully escaped the Ursa Minor, along with the rest of the other Elements, with the exception of Twilight Sparkle. In a burst of courage and bravery, as Rainbow Dash described it, Twilight had run off to try and lead the Ursa back towards its den. While nopony knew what had set the beast off on such a rampage(Tangents involve talking), they had their suspicions that the demon was involved. They were sure that Twilight would be fine though, her new wings ensured that she could easily escape if things got too bad.

“Hey!” Pinkie Pie called cheerily, “I couldn’t find the checker board, but I found a chess board! It’s too bad because I think red and black looks much better than black and white, but it’ll work!”

Remedy broke into a smile at her friend’s bubbly personality, her mood finally lifting after a long medical examination. While the cut on her cheek was easily healed, she had sat on the hospital bed for well over an hour while the doctors ran checkups to make sure that the demon didn’t implant any harmful spell or illness in her through the staff. They said it was very unlikely, but they checked regardless. Pinkie Pie was kind enough to take time out of her, ‘Ponyville Anti-Demon Planning Party’, to make sure that Remedy was feeling alright.

“That’s great Pinkie,” Quick Remedy replied kindly, if a little dryly. She was grateful for Pinkie’s willingness to keep her company, but couldn’t help but get distracted by thoughts of her family. After nearly dying half a dozen times earlier that day, part from the demon and part from the Ursa Minor, she had realized how little time that she had spent with her family. Her husband must have been worried sick about her being deployed in the search, he would have had a heart attack if he knew that he was hospitalized.
'I’ll have to ask Princess Celestia for some time off…' she thought idly.

“Red or black?” Pinkie asked, quickly setting up the board on the side of the bed. The younger mare had been one of the few things that kept Remedy going throughout the day. Pinkie Pie had even gone as far as to bake a cake to help her feel better. It looked absolutely delicious, but the doctors told her not to eat in the hospital room without permission.

“Red.” Remedy answered, a legitimate smile forming on the side of her cheeks. The sound of chatter and hoof falls coming down the hallway gave the two of them pause however. Remedy leaned over on the bed to hear better while Pinkie flicked her ear at the door, a slight twitch coming over her tail as she did.

“Right this way, she’s in the room to the left at the end of the hall.” Nurse Redheart could be heard saying to a visitor of some kind.

“Thank you so much Nurse Redheart,” the masculine voice returned. A look of realization seemed to come over Pinkie, leaving Remedy to struggle with remembering the voice’s owner. She didn’t have to think long however, as the owner soon stuck his head in through the window in the door, his mismatched eyes filled with excitement as the broken glass fell to the floor, giving an almost musical quality to the derranged being's entrance.

“Pinkie Pie, it’s so nice to see you again!” Discord began merrily, waving ecstatically with a disjointed arm as he slithered through the broken window, “And you must be dear Remedy, I’m so sorry to hear about what happened. Please, take these as my condolences.”

The chaotic spirit coiling around the bedframe, Quick Remedy found herself showered in flower bulbs and chocolates with cardboard coming out of them. Discord meanwhile let loose a hearty, if infamous, laugh, one which caused her to chuckle awkwardly in return. He might not have remembered her specifically, but she had certainly remembered him. Every morning on the way to the barracks she found herself getting doused with chocolate rain along with everypony else in the vicinity. It seemed like he was going for her personally. Then again, most of the Royal Guard could make that claim.

“Uu-h thank you for the gifts Discord,” Remedy hesitantly said, “They look… nice…” She put on her best smile to show appreciation, but the spectacle was more disturbing than heartwarming in her books. Discord was universally known as a psychotic prankster and Remedy was half expecting the flower bulbs to explode.

“Don’t thank me yet!” Discord yelled with a toothy grin, “Now where is… oh yeah, she’s in the lobby…” an eagle claw collided with his bushy eyebrows before dragging itself across his face, “one moment please!”

With a snap the deranged draconequus was gone, only to return a second later with a purple filly held in his arms. She looked around briefly before locking eyes with Remedy and screamed loudly.

“Mommy!”

“Recovery!”

Pinkie Pie was quick to swipe the checkerboard away as the little unicorn leapt up and embraced her mother. The little filly was crying, though it appeared to be from the joy of seeing her mother in good health. Discord and Pinkie stood next to each other, watching the reunion unfold. The former looked upon it awkwardly, not really used to such emotional moments, the latter was dabbing her eyes with a tissue that hadn’t been in her hoof seconds before.

“What’re you doing here?” Remedy asked through a large smile and broken up laughter, “I thought you were supposed to be at school, in Canterlot!” Her daughter, Instant Recovery, nodded energetically before gesturing towards the hovering draconequus.

“Mr. Discord found out what had happened and signed me out of school!” Recovery replied excitedly, “He brought me to Ponyville to see you and got me a chocolate milkshake!”

The two mares in the room turned to the draconequus, who was bearing a grin with so much pride the Prince would call him stuck up. After blowing lightly on his knuckles and rubbing them against his chest, Discord did a theatrical bow. The sound of applause rung out from the empty space in the room as rose petals materialized above him.

“Yes, it was all me!” he declared smugly, “The new and reformed Discord!”

Moving over slightly so that he could whisper to Pinkie Pie, “Can you mention this little good deed to Princess Twilight Sparkle? She’s been breathing down my neck for the past week on not doing anything helpful, so this would really be a friendly thing to do.”
Pinkie Pie nodded hesitantly, but smiled brightly back at the draconequus. It was nice of him, even if it was partially to his own benefit.

“How did you know about what happened?” Remedy asked, her attention focused towards Discord with a drip of suspicion in her voice. The aforementioned spirit of chaos’ eyes shrunk for a moment as a brief pause overtook him. As if struck by lightning, he quickly burst back into action as he floated up from the floor again.

“It wasn’t that hard to hear Lulu screaming back in Canterlot, so I came to visit Fluttershy this morning to make sure everything was alright,” Discord explained, his ‘expository accent’ kicking up as he slipped into one of his more talkative moods,
“She told me about the Ursa attack, which I also helped Sparklebutt out in getting rid of might I add, and learned about little you sitting in the hospital. So, as the kind and generous draconequus that I am, I thought that I’d bring you a little gift to help cheer you up! I couldn’t find your husband though, something about guarding day court or something of the like…”

“Awww, how sweet!” Pinkie exclaimed, wrapping her hooves around Discord’s torso in a hug, “You really are reformed now, aren’t you?”

After the brief moment that it took him to realize what Pinkie was doing, Discord returned the awkward hug accordingly. Instant Recovery didn’t hesitate to start talking to her mother in the few seconds of silence, explaining every little detail of her day and teleportation journey from Canterlot to Ponyville.

“I suppose I am,” he replied softly as he took the moment to appreciate her words.

“I’m sorry but I really must be off! Celestia’s got me on demon hunting duty and I have a couple ideas of where he might be. Say hello to everypony,except for Rainbow Dash, for me!”

With that, the chaotic being was gone.