Unforeseen Consequences - Chapter 33

Mar 7th, 2020
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  1. >I was surprised to see the day was still young considering I passed out. The sky was blue and decorated with the puffiest white clouds I had seen in a while. Well, they were the first clouds I saw in months, back in the old cage they simply banished one day to never come back.
  2. >But that was exactly what made everything about this place so great! The air didn’t feel like I was always smoking like in the slums, and it didn’t have the weird taste the Void had. It was like my lungs were having a ride just on the air.
  3. >There was actual green grass under my hooves, not that stupid fake thing we had everywhere in the slums! Like, how awesome was that? It felt like I was standing on the fanciest carpet the market district had to offer. I had to stop myself from just rolling around it for hours on end.
  4. >Something the slums… and Discord taught me pretty well is that there’s always a catch for everything. Was it the same for this place? I mean, if I had to be that gal who just loves to about every stupid little detail, then I’d say the trees surrounding the glade were creepy as heck.
  5. >Like, they were tall, almost as tall as a small office complex, and their tops were so thick with these almost black leaves that they covered everything past them in a complete darkness. I swear I could see these creepy pained faces in their grayish wood if I squinted my eyes enough.
  7. >Who cares about that, though? Not me, that’s who! Creepy or not, Just the fact that I was surrounded by real trees instead of the dead piles of branches that were everywhere in my world, or whatever the heck was in the Void had my mind blowing over and over again.
  8. >I spent who knows how long just watching the landscape around me. If this is the world my dork was now living in, then I wanted to take him with me to explore every nook and cranny of it. I mean, with my magic everything was possible.
  9. >That’s why and despite how charmed I was by this little slice of heaven, a burning desire to explore the forest started to take hold of me. Like, come on dude! I didn’t risk my butt to come all the way here to become some sort of lame statue.
  10. >Since there was no rush, I took my sweet time to get up, stretch my limbs and use my talons to crave “Eris was here suckas!!” on the trunk of the closest tree I could find. Then, and only then I finally decided to explore.
  11. “A’ight, time to get moving and learn the neighborhood!”
  12. >I immediately realized something very important the moment I set a hoof past the trees: I wasn’t alone in this forest. I could vaguely hear the sounds of rushed steps, little growls on the distance, and that ever so lovingly feeling of being watched.
  14. >Whatever lurked in this forest was definitely keeping an eye on me, and no matter how hard I tried, it was impossible to distinguish anything more than vague shadows and small patches of weak light beyond those trees.
  15. “Oh wait, why the heck I’m getting all spooked for? I have magic!”
  16. >A lot of ideas came to my head to deal with whatever was stalking me beyond the barrier of trees. I thought on industrial-sized canisters of pesticide, mouse traps as big as tanks, tanks but I decided for a much simpler approach.
  17. “I ain’t exactly a gal that likes quiet and comfy evenings, Imma party animal, baby! So, hope y’all like some fireworks, ‘cuz I’m gonna start one heck of a party here!”
  18. >I couldn’t help to chuckle at my own little quip. Like, Discord and his stupid carnival would look like some granny tea party compared to what I was about to pull off. With a victorious grin on my face, I traced a circle with my paw and got ready for some chaos.
  19. “HERE WE GOOO…! Huh?”
  20. >Instead of the massive spectacle I had in mind, the only thing my magic produced was a small fizzle on the tip of my talons, followed by… nothing.
  21. “Come on, come on, come on! Don’t do this to me, not now!”
  22. >No matter how hard I tried to focus or what spell I tried to cast, nothing would come out, not even a spark. Suddenly, whatever lurked and stalked in the forest started to feel way scarier than ever.
  23. >I slowly turned around and took a good look at my surroundings. It was hard to tell, but I could’ve sworn that there were all sorts of shapes moving a bit beyond the glade. I gulped in fear and rested my back against a tree.
  25. “Uh… hello?”
  26. >A much more violent wind started to blow as the forest came to live with all sorts of cries, howls, growls and more. It felt like the forest itself replied back, and boy it made its answer loud and clear.
  27. “A’ight… I get it… I’ll just be on my way… uh”
  28. >I ain’t sure why it took me so long to realize there was no way back to Discord’s house. I was trapped in a forest filled with… who knows what dangerous creatures and without any magic.
  29. “Yeah, uh…”
  30. >Without any more delay, I dashed into the forest like a complete maniac. I’ll be the first one to admit that it wasn’t a really smart move, but it ain’t like I was thinking much during those moments, I was too busy being scared to the bone.
  31. >It’s really hard to tell how many times I tripped on rocks, fell down slopes, hit my head with branches and almost drowned in weirdly deep puddles of muddy water as I frantically made my way through the forest.
  32. >I couldn’t really stop, though. I could hear and sometimes get a glimpse through the occasional ray of light piercing through the lush tree tops of the many shadows who kept a close track on every step I took.
  33. >As good of a runner as I was I couldn’t go on forever. At the end of a particularly muddy patch, I caught the sight of a hollowed tree illuminated by a ray of light like and immediately slid in it to take a small break.
  35. >The tree was barely wider than myself, my limbs hurt for running so long, I was completely out of breath and also soaked in sweat, mud, leafs, and who knows what else.
  36. “Oh dude… the Void… doesn’t look so bad now”.
  37. >I had to keep moving, though. This stupid tree wasn’t gonna last before those things break through. I mustered all the courage I had left in me and decided to take a quick peek.
  38. >What I saw put the fear of the heavens in me. Even with the darkness I could tell that there were even more shadows after my bones. Like, it’s hard to explain their shapes, especially when some seemed to just flow and ripple through each other while others looked like someone had put several animals into a blender and stitched them into one.
  39. >Feeling my entire body trembling in fear, I went back to hiding and tried to collect my thoughts.
  40. “Y-Y-Yep, t-t-they’re s-still there! Okay… maybe if I… AAAAAH!”
  41. >Something incredibly big and incredibly hungry started to violently shake the tree. What exactly was it? I had no idea, it was so big that its entire body snuffed out whatever light managed to come through the tree tops.
  43. “Come on, dude! You don’t wanna… AAH!”
  44. >That thing pulled the tree out of the ground like if it was made outta paper and raised it, along with me, above its ugly head. At least I thought it was a head, the only thing I could really tell was that all the drool and teeth inside a hole wider than a bus.
  46. >It’s funny how some dudes say that you see all your life flashing in front of your eyes when you’re about to kick the bucket. Like, I saw some flashes of me and my dork but mostly I saw this weirdo glowy tree made of crystal.
  47. >Maybe the little time I had spent in the Void made me go completely crazy, but that tree was something else. I saw it in just a flash, but it felt so… warm and inviting but also sorta depressing. Like, I could swear it was calling out for something… or maybe someone?
  48. >Whatever the heck that thing was, it managed to make calm. Enough to made me realize that the monster was just holding me in there, did it suddenly changed its mind? I dunno, but it wasn’t eating me. I also realized something else too, something coming in my direction.
  49. “What the flying heck? Is… is someone singing?
  50. >Well, it was more like a humming but still… it ain’t something you’d expect in a place like this. If that wasn’t weird enough, when the humming got close enough, the monster gently put me down and retreated, along with the rest of those shadows, back into the forest.
  52. >The moment all the shadows disappeared and the few rays of light came back, a set of hooves appeared in front of me. Despite this, I didn’t move an inch. How the heck could I? Maybe it was another frickin’ monster looking for its dinner.
  53. >After gently stomping its front hoof and placing a cute basket filled with a buncha colorful flowers, the creature finally leaned down to greet me with… a friendly smile, the first one I had seen in a while.
  54. >It was an earth-pony mare, a very old one. She was wearing these huge worn out glasses that covered half her face, and one of those large hats that gardeners used in those old real state posters.
  55. >She didn’t seem to mind how much of a mess I must have looked like trapped in that tree. The mare just expelled this super warm and inviting aura with every word she spoke, “Oh, goodness gracious!” She said with a super genuine concerned voice, “Are you okay, honey?”
  56. >This whole thing had me so frickin’ scared that I swear that I could even hear my own heart beating like a crazy metal drummer. I looked at the old mare with my eyes open as wide as plates and frantically nodded with a super forced smile.
  57. “Well… I ain’t dead… that gotta count for something, right?”
  58. >“Oh hun, that’s what everypony says when they’re not ok!” The old mare spoke with so much kindness that it almost felt like she was talking to her own grand kids, “Come ‘ere so I can get a good look at you! I promise I won’t bite”.
  60. >I hesitated for a few moments, but it ain’t like I had something else. After gulping down my fears, I wormed my way outta the hollowed trunk and kept a safe distance between me and the mare.
  61. >She didn’t say anything, at least not at first. Instead that mare went through her basked and pulled out a cute little crystal bottle filled with some weird green water, a couple bandages, and a little pink box.
  62. >The mare looked at me in the eye and playfully waved the bandages, “May I?”
  63. >I gulped again and extended my arms to her. The mare gave me a little nod and a “Thank you, hun” before handing me the pink box with a soft smile on her face, “Take these, I’m sure you need them more than I do”.
  64. >Up to this point, I expected the box to be filled with poison gas, explosives, or all the stupid things that Discord… and life itself love to threw at me. So I can’t really say how big my surprise was when the box turned out to be filled with cookies.
  65. >This was something completely new to me, so much that I immediately looked at the mare without really knowing what to do. She just nodded at me and said “Hope you like them, I made them myself”.
  66. >I probably should have said something, but to be honest I was so hungry that I just started to stuff the cookies while the old mare treated my wounds.
  67. >“My, you’re one strong girl!” She playfully said as she applied some of that green stuff on a bruise. It kinda hurt, but I didn’t do more than flinching a bit, “I thought I’d need to pull me ole nurse skills to the test, but thank Celestia I was wrong!”
  68. >I threw a cookie inside my mouth and flexed an arm to her.
  70. “You said it, sister! I’m nothing but pure steel and chaos!”
  71. >The old mare let out a cute and almost silent laugh, “Is that so? Still, I’m so glad I got ‘ere in time. The Everfree can be… more than rough on most folks”.
  72. “The… Ever… what?”
  73. >“Mhm! The Everfree Forest, that’s how we call this place, hun”. The more nodded as she finished placing the last bandage on my left arm, “Oh look at me here! I already finished patching you up and haven’t even introduced myself! My name’s Spring Cookie, what’s yours hun?”
  74. “E-Eris”
  75. >“That’s a beautiful name, hun!” The old mare put the now empty bottle and what was left of the bandages in the basket, “Did you like the cookies? They go great with tea. We can try it at my home, is not too far from here”.
  76. “Well… I ain’t sure…”
  77. >Going back to an old pony’s place, huh? I had been there before, lotsa times actually. Old folks back in the slums loved to drag non-ponies with treats and promises of sick dinners only to then call out the patrols on them. That’s how I frickin’ lost my brother in the first place!
  78. >I wanted to yell so badly at this old gal, to tell her I could see through her lies and the she could stick them where the sun doesn’t shine… and yet, there was something about her that just stopped me from doing that.
  79. “Listen sis, I don’t wanna sound like a jerk, but back where I come from there were these two old guys. They were super nice and inviting just like you, but… they did some really bad stuff to me. So again, I don’t wanna be a jerk, but I ain’t about to go down that road again”.
  82. >Spring looked at me with some real sadness behind her eyes. She walked up to me and gently held my paw with her front hooves, “Hun, I can see you’ve gone through way more than anypony deserves, and I’m really sorry for what I’m going to say… but this isn’t where you come from, right?”
  83. “Yeah, but…”
  84. >She held up her hoof to let her continue speaking, “I know there’s a lot of things going inside that pretty head of yours, but… maybe all you need right now is some good company. You can drink tea and eat cookies, or just rest if that’s what you’d like. Just… trust this old mare and open your heart again. You don’t want that pain to eat you away”.
  85. >I stood silently looking at the ground while thinking about everything she said. I remember Discord telling me something very similar before, and know what? Maybe they were right.
  86. >I let out a sigh and picked Spring Cookie’s basket. Then I gave her a soft smile and slowly nodded.
  87. “A’ight, you win… let’s have some more of those cookies”.
  88. >… … …
  89. >… …
  90. >…
  92. >Everything went smoothly for the first six or seven rounds, Twilight would ask a question after apologizing for it being off-topic and you’d answer it right away. Then, she’d take out a couple of bits from a cute purple coin purse and politely handle them to you.
  93. >While the overall atmosphere wasn’t as thrilling as how it was before she arrived, it wasn’t a funeral either. The guards cheered, gasped and threw all sorts of fits after guessing an answer wrong. Spike was always by Twilight’s side, and completely enthralled by the little show.
  94. >It’s true that you couldn’t really throw the kind of high energy shows you liked to, but it was hard to complain with all the fun you were having and of course, the bits Twilight couldn’t stop throwing at you.
  95. >It was after the eight or so round when things took a turn for the worse. Twilight had asked a mildly complex question about chemistry that you of course answered without much hesitation.
  96. >You took the bits just like the previous rounds and feeling completely confident on your skills, looked at Twilight with one heck of a smirk.
  97. “C’mon Twi, you gotta step up or your game or I’m gonna leave you without a single bit to pay the rent!”
  98. >Twilight looked at you with this calm, yet friendly expression and slightly shook her head, “That’s something me and Spike don’t have to worry about, at least not for the time being. Isn’t that right, Spike?”
  100. >For a brief second, all the happiness extinguished from Spike’s eyes. It was like the guy had just learned that he was going to be sent to the front lines. He awkwardly rubbed his left arm and kept his sight on a small tree not far away from your position, “Yeah… that’s not a problem”.
  101. >Before you could cheer up the guy or even ask him what was wrong, Twilight directed your attention back to her by tossing a couple of bits to the pile. Her expression was still calm, but there was something else behind that, something that made you nervous. “I’m so sorry, Resonance. It has been a good while since I had this much fun.”
  102. “I-I mean, that’s why we’re playing right? To have fun, you don’t really gotta be sorry about that”
  103. >Twilight locked eyes with you and smirked back, “But I do, because now I know what your weakness is”.
  104. >The way she spoke and acted took you completely off-guard. Where did that attitude come from? Was it bluff? It had to be, right? There was no way that someone like her could suddenly get such a hard read on you.
  105. >Despite these and many other rationalizations that your mind came up with, you couldn’t help but to be thrown into a high-alert mode. You narrowed your eyes at Twilight and defiantly said.
  106. “Okay, then put your money where your mouth is and shoot the question, Twilight!”
  107. >She calmly shrugged and let out a small giggle, “Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you! Can you tell me what are the five postulations that everypony must consider when casting a transmogrification spell on a living being?”
  108. “The five what for a what?”
  110. >“I’m afraid that’s a wrong answer”. Twilight proudly nodded to herself, “That means I win this round!”
  111. >You just stood there as she used her magic to levitate four bits from your pile into her coin purse. Needless to say, you were completely flabbergasted by this stunt.
  112. “What the heck? That’s cheating!”
  113. >“Did I?” Twilight asked with a clearly faked innocence, “Can you please explain me how I cheated?”
  114. “C’mon man, magic ain’t fair! We were gonna stick with math remember?”
  115. >“Hmmm, that’s funny because I don’t think that’s what we agreed”. Twilight pondered before pointing at you with her hoof, “You said that we should use math for the test round, and after that we could go with whatever topic we thought”.
  116. “Yeah, but…!”
  117. >Twilight quickly cut you off as she imposingly started to advance forward, “But we never stuck with math, first round was a physics problem, remember?”
  118. “I-I mean…!”
  119. >The more ground she took, the smaller and more defenseless you felt, “AND we never used pure math for any other round, I asked questions about chemistry, kinetics, thermodynamics, but never pure math. So why is magic suddenly not allowed, hmm?”
  121. “I-I…”
  122. >How bad you must have looked at that moment that Spike had to try to rescue your butt? That guy timidly tugged Twilight’s leg and mumbled something like, “Give him a break, Twilight! Isn’t that like one of the craziest spells you know?”
  123. >“Sure, the transmogrification spell is by no means an easy feat”. She then turned to you with fire behind her eyes, “But most things I asked are crazy hard too and he answered them in a split second! I say my question is fair”.
  124. >It was all over, Twilight had you on the ropes and you could not find anything to pull a comeback on her. You let out a sigh in defeat and dropped your head.
  125. “Alright… you win”
  126. >Twilight placed a gentle hoof on your shoulder and gave you a friendly smile, “Cheer up, sad lad! The fun of learning is just beginning!”
  127. “Sure… woo-hoo”
  128. >The group of guards cheered like a bunch of crazed fans, Spike gulped and Twilight simply continued slapping you with question after question, and even worse, taking the bits with each round that went by.
  129. >You were sweating profusely and choking with every word as your pile of bits was starting to look like a little more than grocery change. You had to really step up your frickin’ game, the question was how.
  131. >There really wasn’t much to go with, either. By this point Spike had joined the guards in the chanting and Twilight, probably fueled by their vibe, wasn’t gonna change topic anytime soon.
  132. “Ms. Twilight…”
  133. >That’s when it hit you like a bucket of cold water. Maybe you didn’t had the answer, but Eris would have. If she was here, she’d tell you to stop trying to come with some stupidly convoluted plan and keep it simple.
  134. >You couldn’t win but you could make Twilight to not want to win either. Before she could throw a new question, you looked up to her and pulled out your ultimate weapon against ponies like her: the puppy eyes.
  135. “C-Can we stop now?”
  136. >The trick worked like a charm, you could see clear as the day how Twilight’s motivation was snuffed out like a candle on a windy day. She took out a deep sigh and gave you an apologetic smile, “Heh, heh! I think I went a little too crazy! Maybe we should do something else, Resonance. I’m still all for picking flowers if you want”.
  137. >Of course, the guards immediately protested against the idea. “Hey, what’s the big idea?” “Getting’ scared already, kid?” “Yo, you saw how she shot down Fancy Scrolls?”
  139. >Twilight turned at them with a certain air of self-confidence and politeness, “I’m really sorry, but we’re not going to continue if Resonance doesn’t feel like playing” She then smiled softly, “What kind of friend would force another friend to do something they don’t want?”
  140. >The guards looked at each other, not in the ponderous and reflective way that Twilight probably hoped to. You knew better, though. Just like those drunken ponies back in the slums, the only one way to deal with these guys was with a good threat.
  141. >You didn’t even glance at them, instead simply started to pick what few bits you had left and said in a way that felt careless but that it was loud enough for them to hear.
  142. “Let them stay, Twilight. I’m sure Captain Moonlight will be super thankful that we made it easier for her to find these guys”.
  143. >That’s really all it took. The pure fear that name alone put into their hearts was almost palpable. All of them started to sweat while desperately looking at every direction, as if Moonlight was about to jump out at them.
  144. >There was some respect to be had for their leader, Wind Spear. That guy was clearly scared, but he had at least he had the guts to try and negotiate, “Come on my guy, I’m sure we can go for a couple more rounds before she even thinks on looking here!”.
  146. >By this point there was no more bits you could juice out of these feather brains so you saw no point in keeping the game going. They simply had to go.
  147. “C’mon man, I know you don’t really believe that! I ain’t that close with Moonlight, but I know she can put one heck of a hunt. You really think this ain’t the first place she’d look up for her missing squad?”
  148. >Wind Spear let out a frustrated sigh and mustered, “Can’t believe I can’t tie the score with this kid…” He then flew back to his friends and spoke in a more militaristic voice, “Alright ponies! Time to get back to work!”
  149. >The guards groaned, but followed his orders fast and efficiently. In less than a minute you were completely alone with Twilight and Spike. After taking a deep breath to enjoy this small victory, you looked up to her with an apologetic smile on your face.
  150. “So… uh, wanna pick those flowers?”
  151. > Twilight looked up to the sky as she ponderously scratched her chin, “Actually, I’m not sure anymore…” She then raised an eyebrow and playfully chuckled, “You know, that game really left me wanting to know more about you, Resonance. What do you say if we find a nice spot and just… talk?”
  152. “Sure, I can do talking!”
  153. >Spike let out a small and smug laughter as he clumsily started to pick up whatever you brought for the show and put it inside Twilight’s saddlebag, “Maybe we can go over the smack down he got”.
  154. “Hey man, no fair! I didn’t know she was gonna bring all that wild magic stuff!”
  155. >Spike laughed again, waving his chubby claw in a dismissive manner, “Yeah, everypony saw that. It was amazing! You should’ve seen your face when… whoah!”
  157. >In the blink of an eye, the tip of Spike’s tail was engulfed in a magical purple aura. Then he got quickly levitated towards Twilight, “That’s enough, Spike!” She sternly said before placing him on her back,
  158. >After making sure that the entire area was clean and that her little coin purse sang with the sound of her newly won bits, she looked at you with a really friendly smile and motioned you to follow her, “Want to get moving? I know a fantastic place where we can… huh, what’s this?”
  159. “We call them birds or flying rats where I come from, why?”
  160. >You really couldn’t understand why both Twilight and Spike were so fixated on this brown, little bird. At first glance it was no different from all the other little birds chilling out in the castle gardens.
  161. >Spike leaned forward and tilted his head, “Hey Twi, isn’t that one of…?”
  162. >Twilight nodded at him and raised her front hoof, “One of Fluttershy’s bird friends, yeah”. Much to your surprise, the little bird actually landed on Twilight’s hoof.
  163. >That’s when you realized what made it so special: The little bird had an even smaller piece of paper attached to one of its legs with a cute, red bow. Twilight brought the bird closer to her face and smiled at it, “Hello there! Is that note for me?”
  164. >What you saw next forced you to slap yourself a couple times to make sure you weren’t in some sort of fever dream. The bird not only understood what Twilight had just said, but also nodded and chirped as if it was actually replying to her.
  165. >As your conception of reality continued to fall apart, Twilight used her magic to pick the little note and unfold it. With each passing word her face became sterner.
  167. >Spike took notice of that, he slowly leaned forward to try and get a peek at the note, “Is everything ok, Twi?”
  168. >Twilight frowned and quickly hid the note inside her saddlebag, “I’m not sure, Spike. The note says that Discord wants to meet us at the town’s hall. It sounded pretty urgent too”.
  169. “Discord?! Hey, I know that guy!”
  170. >Twilight didn’t seem to listen to what you said. Instead she gave one final check to her surroundings and adjusted her saddlebag, “I hate to leave like this, especially when visiting Princess Celestia… but we’re really needed somewhere else.”
  171. “C’mon, man! Don’t leave me hanging like that! I’ve got some business with that guy too!”
  172. >Spike rolled his eyes and crossed his arms, “Yeah, you and half of Equestria”.
  173. >You were really taken aback by that sudden change in his behavior. That guy spoke with a lot of resentment… a lot of venom about Discord.
  174. “What the heck does that mean?!”
  175. >Twilight closed her eyes as her horn began to glow with magic, “Take care Resonance, I’m REALLY looking forward for that talk”.
  176. “But…!”
  177. >A flash of purple light and pink glitter after and both of them were gone, leaving you alone with these mixed feelings of anxiety and confusion. You looked up to your small pile of bits and kicked one.
  179. “At least let me say goodbye, man”.
  180. >It didn’t take long for Celestia to finally show up. Funnily enough, she wasn’t kidding about making lunch for everyone. Despite her best attempts to say that everything was fine and that she loved cooking regardless, you could see the disappointment flaring up behind her eyes.
  181. >Maybe she noticed your own worries about her, or she was curious enough to ask, “So, what did you think of my ex-student?”
  182. “Eh… she’s kinda up tight but kinda ok too”.
  183. >Celestia let out a genuine laughter, one that made your heart feel warm. She then gently hit your shoulder with her front hoof and motioned towards the castle, “I don’t really like food going to waste, especially food as good as mine. So what do you say if we go with Luna and have a nice lunch just the three of us?”
  184. “Yeah, I’d really like that”.
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