A common human Alex gets transferred to Equestria. Desperate to return home at first, he starts noticing himself changing. Time comes for him to decide for Equestria destiny. Will he conform? Which path will he choose? Are Celestia's fears justified?
Here is the story of a human, despite being an alien in Equestria, not being an outcast, a door mat or a toy for ponies. His misery comes from inside, painfully at first he accommodates. Equestria changes him and time will come to return the debt.
A fierce lightning bolt ripped thick clouds and speared into the ruined castle tower so heavily that it made debris and dust fly in the damp air. When the mess settled a bit, partially taken down by the rain, which became really strong at that moment, it revealed the electric discharge being so strong that it carved a deep notch in the stone floor of what previously had been the upper room of the tower. At least when it had a roof. Now, as the rain poured inside freely, it made the strange curled figure in the middle of the lightning carved pit feel quite uncomfortable. Because seconds later a young man gasped and cringed in pain from the feeling of a bunch of burning snakes slithering through his entire body.
“Oh, my…” He wheezed faintly. “What in the name of the creator just happened?”
Slowly and painfully he kneeled. Perhaps it was not the best idea, as nausea struck him mercilessly, so he almost crashed back on the floor. But lying on the stone floor in the pool of rain water, which started gathering in the pit he found himself in, was neither. He realized that he started to freeze in the cold wind, blowing through glassless windows of what he recognized to be some sort of a ruin. That wasn’t nearly nice. His skin burned and reddened, as if he had gone through some fire, but thankfully it wasn’t burnt too much, yet it hardly made the feel better. His clothes now looked like a few shreds of the shirt hanging from the collar and cuffs, some remnants of the jeans wrapping around his legs and annoyingly getting in the way, the rest was completely ruined, burned as well. The charred edges and familiar smell spoke for themselves. At least he had his boxers and boots intact, the former simply missed their chance to burn, being under the rest of the clothes, and the latter were well made of thick leather for man’s sheer luck.
“Great,” He muttered to himself, shivering as another thunder strike rolled in the sky. “At least I don’t need to go barefoot…”
“Go where?” A sudden uneasy thought came to his mind. “And where exactly I should go from?”
Still feeling dizzy, he got on his feet and tried to look around. With the bright lightning flash he got an image of a medium size round room full of stone and wooden debris. It could be anything before, totally unrecognizable now as it was hardly the first thunderstorm hitting the unmaintained building. The roof fell in long ago, showing a few broken beams, which couldn’t stop the wind and rains from doing their destructive job. What could be some furniture, books, anything else now lay in decay. The time-worn chandelier, lying on the floor under the large boulder, appeared to be the most durable thing there.
The only attention-worthy thing in that room was a square opening in the floor near the wall. Surely it looked like an entryway to a bottomless pit in the darkness, but it couldn’t be really that bad. For all, what he knew about castles…
“Castle!” He caught himself screaming that in full voice. “What the flying hell is going on?”
“I can’t remember any castles nearby,” He said to himself, calming down a bit. “Damn, not nearby, not in the whole region, hundreds of miles round neither. What has happened to me?”
“Well,” He grinned painfully. “One step at a time, Alex, one step at a time…”
At least he remembered his name. Seemed not that bad, right? If only it could be worse actually. So… For all, what he knew about castles, they were made of stone and with the priority of safety and stability in mind. So, hardly the owners, builders, whoever stupidly jumped in the pit, there must be stairs under that opening. Hopefully stone ones, which haven’t been destroyed by the time, unlike wooden hatch on the opening – a few planks still hung on the ancient door hinges.
With another lightning Alex indeed saw dark, narrow stone stairs made slippery from the rain. He thought it was time to leave the open room – bombs never hit the same pit twice, but it was a lightning storm and… the day was “strange”. So he decided to err on the side of caution.
He ripped the rags – which were once his shirt and pants – off his hands, neck and legs.
‘Off you go,’ Alex threw them in a pile on the floor. ‘No warmth from you anyway, yet another chance to stumble or catch something and fall all the way nobody-knows-how-far down.’
He stepped on the spiral staircase, sticking to the outer wall and touching it with his left hand. He didn’t smoke and had no lighter or matches… And even if he did, that wouldn’t have helped him as all he had vanished with his jacket. As he remembered the stairs were not wider than the hatch. God only knew if there were beams, landings or even anything in the middle. He caught himself on the feeling that the wind became chilling in the tube of the tower… or was that staircase itself to blame. Alex was afraid of heights.
“I’m not taking any chances,” smirked Alex to himself sticking closer to the wall.
The car ate mile by mile of the empty Sunday road. Oncoming traffic was minimal and Alex could focus on his plans and expectations while driving. Surely not every 25-years-old man could think of a better career – benefits of the well planned and qualitative education, personal determination and, let’s be honest pure luck, but what job doesn’t require at least some luck – an IT specialist in a profit-making company capable of having personal transport, simple but comfortable apartment and no Damocles sword of debts hanging over the head.
Well, he really deserved it. Starting from the “ground level”, working with hardware, through endless night shifts, he finally noticed that it naturally started paying back. He could manage everything he came across his daily routines, but sometimes the feeling of completion was slightly tinted with regret. He could have spent more time with parents, with his almost-a-girlfriend. They were neither officially engaged nor limited themselves by any obligations… yet, but Elen was just-the-right-person for Alex. They understood each other wordlessly, they always found time to help each other, they could trust themselves being a stronghold one for another and above all, they both could easily make each other laugh happily or feel safe and serene, when it was necessary. No wonder Alex wanted to give Elen more attention.
But living forced him to prioritize. And it was rare chance to get to the next level of personal freedom and gain. He was offered a job in another company. Same IT field, almost the same duties, but in fact it was a direct promotion from the level he currently had. They have practically been ready to give him a whole subdivision to lead, obviously, that meant bigger income and further career opportunities. In common terms, it meant a private house after a short while and an ability to move in with his special somebody, whom he already asked about and got cheerful consent. Truth to be told, Elen would have been happy to join him in the old place without any special conditions long ago, but he didn’t ask and she didn’t find it acceptable to suggest herself.
Of course, it also meant moving to another city, but wasn’t it better done, while his parents were not too old and he could freely build his life? Besides, it was a neighboring city, not another country or another planet, it was only a few hours ride.
Considering all that Alex took a couple of days off to visit the new place and make the final decision. The new company was ready to give him from a couple of weeks to a month to make all arrangements at his old job and quit with as much dignity as it was possible. So he planned his days off to be Monday and Tuesday, thus having all weekend plus two days for a safe trip and acquaintance.
A few raindrops fell, leaving curvy tracks on the windshield. Alex frowned and raised the side window – the wind became stronger and blew some dust inside. He heard the muffled sound of distant thunder, then a bright flash sparkled in the sky. Soon the whole road ahead was barely visible through the heavy rain. Alex slowed down his car and turned on the lights. Thunderstorms were never a rarity in May, but as long as Alex remembered, there wasn’t any in that day prognosis. They promised warm, even hot, for that time of the year, sunny day without any precipitation. The whole cataclysm started all of the sudden. A few seconds ago it was warm and clear and in a moment the storm began… and the car didn’t even cover a mile during that change.
Flashes of lightning followed now one by one in a matter of a few seconds and Alex slowed down even more, when one of them lit a road sign at the shoulder – sharp turn. It was even darker here; the whole road was covered by the shadow of an enormous tree on the nearby hill. Alex could swear, he had never seen any of that size in his life. It was shimmering with millions of silvery green leaves on swaying in the wind branches. Alex thought it was very strange that no lightning yet struck that giant tree, despite it was standing as the only lightning-conductor in a few miles radius. He also thought, if that tree was guilty of quite a few road accidents every month, as the whole view was simply marvelous and there hardly was a driver, who didn’t lavish it with an extra amazed look.
Next thing he saw were headlights of the oncoming car, which apparently moved considerably faster than reasonable on such a turn, with that kind of weather. The driver managed to swerve past him. Alex took a glance in the mirror and saw the car started sliding uncontrollably on the road, then it hit a smaller tree behind the road shoulder and stopped. Alex pressed the brakes all the way down, risking repeating that driver’s “trick”. He stopped at the wayside and turned off the engine.
“Merlin’s pants, I hope the poor bastards are alright,” he thought, when he rushed to the crash site. “What did they think about, when they were driving that fast… or were they just looking at that damned tree mammoth only?”
There was a woman behind the wheel in that car, she managed to get out herself. More shocked than hurt. She was still shaking off that dizziness, when Alex took off his jacket and pushed in her hands.
“The inner pocket,” he looked in her eyes to ensure that she understood him. “Take the phone and call the emergency.”
He already saw that there was one more person in the car, who definitely needed more help. A girl on the back seat, clutching something yellow and pink and evidently terrified and shocked. Alex tried to open her door, then the door on the other side to find both were jammed, while the girl’s mother was making a call.
Gasoline trailed up his nose and Alex realized, it was the matter of moments. He climbed into the car through the driver’s door and took out the keys. Still, he could swear, he heard the dreading sound of the sparkles somewhere under the hood. He then turned to the girl and forced himself to smile in the most soothing way possible in that situation.
“Hey, hold on, we’re going to get you and your… pony friend out,” he noticed the toy in her hands. “Just a moment longer.”
He then climbed over the front seat and unlocked the belt. The poor little one clutched to him hardly less than to her pony. She didn’t cry, only whimpered like a deadly scared kitten. Alex found that it was nearly impossible to get the shocked child out of the car the same way he got into. She was near the panic attack already.
“It’s raining, your pony needs some cover,” whispered he in her ear, while pulling girl’s head to his chest and covering her from any damage. He then twisted and hit the rear window with all the strength he could afford. After the second blow the glass gave up and out.
Alex grabbed the girl and pushed her out of the car through the opening.
“Here, take her and get away from the car,” he breathed out.
“Thank you, thank you…” Tears mixed with the rain on the mother’s face, when she got her treasure.
She then backed off the car with the daughter in her hands; suddenly Alex saw, how her eyes widely opened in terror.
“Please, hurry, get out now!” She shrieked on the top of her lungs.
Next thing he heard was a zapping sound and the car got lit from the bottom by inflamed gasoline.
And then the world around him dissolved in an unendurable white flash and the sound of thunder.
So the last thing he remembered, when the world around was normal, if being fried and electrocuted in a crashed car could be considered nearly normal (well at least it was real), was bright blinding light. That was the first thing he experienced here. But wasn’t the rest around him real too? Alex stopped. Wondering how silly that idea looked he took a small portion of the skin on his arm and pinched it as hard as possible for the resulting feeling to be enough to tell if he was dreaming.
“DAAAAAAMN IT!” The roar rolled down the tower, causing the rumbling echo in the corridors below.
‘Merlin’s pants, that was convincing!’ Alex cringed.
He was into RPG and fantasy, so it sometimes came afloat with the strong feelings. Unsure if Merlin had indeed something to do about all that Alex noted that the feeling of burning snakes inside him didn’t go away, it simply faded, muffled by more actual problems. Besides, he realized he was freezing cold already and started to shake. Like if that wasn’t enough, his legs started feeling numb, as the whole way down the stairs wasn’t that easy, despite being only a few minutes long. He saw absolutely nothing and was to proceed really slow, trying to feel the wall with his fingers and stairs with his feet. The tower had no windows and, while it could be lit by some torches (somehow Alex felt that there were exactly the torches or candles, never the electric light), when it was in its full glory, now it was pitch black all over.
‘I must be thankful for being claustrophobic not,’ grinned Alex. ‘Otherwise, I would probably be stuck in the upper room forever.’
‘So, what do I have now?’ he tried to summarize his score. ‘I was on the ride to a work appointment, when it started raining cats’n’dogs all of a sudden. I couldn’t see the road well enough, so I slowed down.’
‘And there was that sharp turn. And that tree nearby!’ The memory came so vividly, almost highlighted by a thunderbolt. ‘Yeah, there was the thunderbolt, the flash which made the whole surroundings visible, despite the clouds and rain.’
‘That tree was enormous, I wondered if it was more than a thousand years old. There were quite a few such trees in the whole country, and that was probably the biggest one,’ Alex also thought that he had wondered exactly, if many drivers got into accidents, being distracted by the mere look of that silver-green giant. ‘Then another car appeared. It was moving too fast for those road conditions, no wonder they noticed me too late.’
As he remembered, that car lost control, as its driver tried to avoid the collision on the wet road. It slid by and crashed into one of the smaller trees at the road shoulder. The woman, who drove it, got out by herself, but the rear doors jammed after the impact. And there was a girl, about eight years old, on the back seat of that car.
Alex remembered that he had stopped at the shoulder, and rushed to the damaged car, risking to fall on the slippery ground. He had taken off his jacket and threw it to the woman, who seemed to be a complete wreck. There was a cell phone in the inner pocket. Alex told her to call the emergency and climbed inside her car. Taking the keys out didn’t ease the situation – he could feel the smell of gas quickly forming a pool under the car… and there were those damned sparkling sounds somewhere.
Alex tried to calm himself. Panic was nowhere near useful for solving problems. And he was afraid that he could scare the girl even more. She sat there, curling almost in a small ball; she wasn’t crying or panicking, just quietly whimpering. There was hope in her wide opened eyes…
He tried to open the rear doors only to find they both were jammed, then he told her to duck, and hit the rear window with his foot. It got covered in the web of cracks, but stayed, damn those tinting films. He hit once more and thankfully the whole glass flew out.
Alex shouted to the woman and clicked the kid’s seat belt open. He took the girl and carefully pushed her from the rear window into her mother’s hands. The little one gripped tightly to her plush toy – a pony it was… He remembered it so clearly, perhaps for the rest of his life – the yellow pony with soft long pinkish mane and tail. The woman shouted something, while she was backing from the car with her daughter.
‘Well, at least they are on a safe distance,’ he thought. ‘Time to get out of here before all hell breaks loose…’
‘And then the nightmare started!’ Alex closed his eyes, cringing at the memories.
With another sparkling sound the whole pool of gas under the car turned into the bright oven of doom. But before Alex could think, it was the end and a really ugly one – he started feeling heat almost immediately – he heard the ear-splitting sound of thunder and a bright blinding flash filled his consciousness.
Alex shivered. Was he brought here by lightning? By fire? For common sense’s sake, that was breaking the whole world order, he knew and loved. That was simply impossible. Yet it happened. The whole world around him was real. The feeling when he pinched himself was real. And the damnation, he screamed in pain, caused one damn real echo.
His foot stepped on a very real small mean stone… And Alex lost his real balance rolling down the real stairs.
“FUUUUUCK the castles!” He wasn’t sure, if he shouted all that in his mind or the whole castle was blessed loudly. Most likely mentally, as he was lucky to roll only a few steps. “FUUUUCK the stairs, cars and storms!!!”
“… And fuck the ponies!” assumed Alex, when his head heartily “greeted” the floor. With that reassuring thought he fainted.
Darkness fell upon Canterlot, muffling all the activity on the streets. Cicadas, occasional dog barking or hurried hoofsteps of rare citizens on their late way home were the only sounds breaking the serenity of the night. Everypony slept in their comfortable beds, resting from daily routines and even leaves on the trees didn’t dare to break the silence in the complete calm. Nopony noticed the distant and violent storm, which poured tons of water and ripped the dark sky with thunderbolts above the old ruins in the middle of Everfree forest. Even the hardest blast, which could easily compete with the light of full moon rising, was most likely unnoticed by anypony. Anypony but one.
Luna turned one ear to the approaching delicate steps of her regal sister, but apparently her attention was otherwise completely occupied by something else, as she stayed, where she was, observing distance through a telescope.
“Luna,” princess Celestia, the Ruler of the Day and Sun, called a bit louder, while she entered the observation balcony on the top of the highest tower of Canterlot castle. She waved her wings in unconscious contraction with a sudden windflaw. “Dear, are you here or several dozens of miles away?”
She then approached her younger sister, princess Luna, the Ruler of the Night and Moon, Master of the Dreams. Something was apparently bothering her that much that she decided to abandon her usual patience and extended her foreleg to touch sister’s shoulder.
“Oh, Tia! Mine apologies,” Luna turned her head from the telescope. “Well, of course, I’ve heard thee. I’ve been examining our… strange issue in the Everfree and slightly captured by mine thoughts about. So what didst thou want?”
“So, you’ve already noticed,” Celestia nodded. “That overly strange and, I’m not afraid to call it that, impossible thunderstorm above the woods.”
“Above the old castle ruins to be exact,” Luna rectified with her eyes, returning to the swirl of clouds in the distance, which meanwhile started to fade.
“And what do you think about all that?..”
“It started moments after I raised the Moon, escalated really fast and now, after half an hour, is fading as suddenly as it started,” Luna touched her chin with the hoof, summarizing. “With clouds so thick and swirling in a compact circle, thunderbolts of that strength and the whole amount of water, which managed to come down in a short time, one might bethink, it needed quite an army of pegasi to stage such a performance.”
“Exactly,” replied Celestia with a tiny smile. “But…”
“But thither were no pegasi assigned to that wide-scale duty the present day at all,” continued Luna. “I have checked the prognosis twice and thither was nothing alike planned for tonight. Besides, what was the point of pouring tons of water in the middle of nowhere practically?”
Her strengthened Old language revealed Luna being a bit excited by the events, as normally she tried her best to accommodate to the modern style of talking. Being properly understood by your subjects was sometimes vital and the Royal Canterlot Voice wasn’t an ultimate tool to reach that goal. There was no point of being loud, while others were trying hard to grasp the mere sense.
“The storm started completely by itself,” Celestia emphasized with concern. “And that’s not something we have been getting here for hundreds of years. Not here, in the middle of Equestria. I admit that Everfree lives by its own laws quite often, but still…”
“Thou art concerned about some imminent danger,” Luna nodded in understanding. “Or rather somepony. As we hardly got something unruly without somepony’s assistance the last few times.”
“Even if they were not ponies,” she smiled mirthlessly.
“But I have sensed nothing. Nothing and nopony, possessing any magic at the least, be it malevolent or contrary to that,” Luna’s ears sadly flattened. “I don’t understand, Tia, what are we dealing with?”
“Neither do I,” confessed her older sister. “As you said, “sensed nothing and nopony”.”
“But we shan’t let it out of our attention. I wonder, if I should send some guards there right now, Luna,” Celestia threw a quick look over the distant ruins, but there was silence and peace over them at that moment, as the storm ended.
“I sincerely suppose that we should just wait for a while,” Luna returned to watching the sleeping domain below. “Guards will hardly find any…pony in the middle of the night, despite mine Moon. If thither is anything to look for, I’m unsure.”
“I trust your judgment of that, dear,” with a heartily smile Celestia nuzzled sister’s shoulder.
“Well, I’m not insisting… but I doubt, we are capable to take any effective steps right now.” Luna leaned back to Celestia. “Have some sleep now, Tia. It’s going to be a long day ahead. And I shall return to mine nightly duty.”
“Have it lightly. Good night, sister.”
Luna waved her hoof in the air, showing that she returned the wish, while her attention returned again to the old ruins deep amidst Everfree.
“AAARGHH!!!” Absolute darkness of unconsciousness was changed by the slightly less thick darkness of the old castle. ‘It becomes routinely to fall and get hit. Up to no good you are, man.’
Alex sat on the floor and waited, till the walls stopped spinning around him. As he gained normal sight, he noticed that it became less dark around. There was a hallway up ahead and the moonlight patches on the floor noted the existence of windows for once.
He got up to be greeted by his grumbling stomach. What a nice change: just when he realized the flaming snakes feeling was still with him, he was almost naked, cold and bruised, his stomach decided to remind that it existed and needed attention. The mere fact that the last decent, moreover any, meal Alex had, was past noon didn’t encourage as well. Trying not to think that he should rather be concerned of not being eaten in that godforsaken place, than having something to eat (the castle seemed to be abandoned for a few hundred years and could be anywhere deep in the wild), Alex proceeded to the hallway.
The storm was over during his “blackout” and the full moon looked through the numerous bowed windows of the long corridor with dark regular winged statues standing in the arcs. The night seemed to be young still and Alex noticed that he shivered less here than in the tower. Strangely the storm ended without any sign of it taking place, except water, the air outside was still warm and brought the faint scent of unknown flowers. Alex looked out of the nearest window.
‘Bad, bad idea!’ He managed to notice the green sea of trees, apparently surrounding the castle and shimmering silver in the moonlight and breeze… just before the whole picture doubled or even tripled in his eyesight and his guts tried to make a backflip.
‘I’m too high above the ground,’ he said to himself, accurately backing up from the dreading opening. He then added. ‘Great, I’m in the middle of nowhere and still need to find a suitable way out of that castle.’
He was a bit ashamed to confess, he wouldn’t use the faster exit, even if it was twice lower or there was water below. Back home he was never able to enter a balcony higher than the first floor, here it seemed that he was on the fourth or something alike. And the ceilings were high given that it was the castle.
The sudden memory about home was painful. Alex had no faintest idea, how he was supposed to get home without practically anything: the documents, money, his car. The thought that it would be great at the very least to define, where he was and where his home was, didn’t provide much optimism either. Without the phone, map or any clues about the area it wasn’t going to be a game. Alex released a deep sigh. It seemed, he was to stay inside till morning – he couldn’t notice anything outside, which can be used as a landmark, except the very castle, but it wasn’t enough to proceed. He was still uncomfortable about walking around in the wild in underwear only and hoped that perhaps he could find something for the covers. Finally, it was simply stupid to walk through some unknown forest in the middle of the night.
‘So let’s check the other rooms,’ he said to himself, while stepping further into the hallway. ‘If only that annoying pain inside faded, I’d be completely happy.’
The closer look at one of the statues quickly brought the now-almost-native feeling of unease back. There was something familiar in the statue, something that Alex still couldn’t remember, yet making his skin crawl. No, they were not some gargoyles or any sort of other ugly stone abominations so usual for the ancient castles. What stood in front of him was a sculpture of a… unicorn. There was something strange about it: it wasn’t of the size of a normal horse, but smaller, almost like a big pony. However, it was more slender, than a pony any of us could portray, more graceful. In addition to that, the statue was “wearing” the armour. Quick examination made clear that the armour was more like of a soldier, than a battle animal, besides, there were no saddle, no harness, in other words, nothing normally used to ride a… pony. Alex also noticed that not all the statues were the same, as it seemed to him from the first look. Half of them were unicorns, another half had wings, thus being technically pegasi. He giggled nervously.
‘Yet this feeling that I have seen those somewhere…’
“Well, dude,” Alex slapped the closest statue lightly on the muzzle with a cackle. “It seems, there going to be more ponies in my life from now on.”
According to his “internal clock” Alex was wandering around the castle for about an hour already. He tried to keep the general direction of getting down to the ground floor, thus walking down every staircase, he could find not ruined. Yet he felt that he was covering much more distance horizontally than actually descending, not mentioning that he was to backtrack twice because of corridors blocked by collapsed walls.
Alex completely forgot about his hunger. Now he was concerned about warming himself and getting some safe place to sleep without any risk to freeze completely till morning. He wasn’t sure if it was going to get any colder before the sunrise, considering he had no idea, where exactly the castle was situated. What he saw through the windows clearly showed that it wasn’t some polar region. For which Alex was immensely thankful. But every compartment without windows was noticeably colder; the stone walls didn’t keep warmth like probably they did, when the castle was full of life.
He didn’t know if it was bad or good that he apparently was all alone there. Remembering now the yell he gave, when rolling down that stairwell in the tower, he came to the conclusion, that wasn’t the best thing to do. But the sound startled nobody and nobody came to check of the trespasser. So he guessed that tiptoeing wasn’t absolutely necessary, opening the few remaining doors, despite them screeching mercilessly, was safe as well.
Next doors Alex faced were large, heavy, built of thick noble wood. Amazing ancient carving, highlighted by the moon light, coming through the high window behind his back, covered the door leafs. When he pushed them lightly, he was amazed by how easily and quietly they opened. It seemed that particular room was of great importance to the castle inhabitants, so they treated all the stuff inside with great care. The furniture stood intact in the dark room, most likely being of the finest quality, so it survived whatever disaster happened.
“Gasp!” Alex stumbled in the doorway, as he noticed something deep in the room. A human figure in another passage at the far wall.
At first he was worried a bit, but only for a second or two…
“Hello!” Alex rushed inside the room. “I’m lost and…”
He found himself staring at… Alex, same tired and bruised Alex in his dusty boxers and boots; Alex with quite a stupid look on the face, which already managed to grow some stubble. He extended his hand to touch a giant dimmed mirror about 10 feet tall. Alex gave out a deep sigh of relief and… despair.
“Nasty mirror,” he muttered. “I almost thought that I found some help.”
He took another look across the room, which, as he noticed, was a bedroom of some regal person most likely. Closer examination of the king-size bed revealed it being of no use, as there was nor sheets neither mattress left (they were probably that pile of dust beneath the bed). The wooden frame survived, but not the delicate cloth. Alex thought, he was going to have no sleep tonight, as other furniture in the room, at least the chairs and banquettes, were somehow not comfortable for him to relax properly. He remembered that every unbroken seat, he found previously, was as well… perhaps too low for his comfort. Other furniture like tables, cabinets seemed to be alright though.
Alex proceeded through more and more rooms: spacious halls and small cabinets. Checked more bedrooms and bathrooms with the stone basins built into the floor – all with mostly time worn and broken furniture. He passed an enormous library, thinking that he probably was to wander around that castle till morning looking for the exit. He checked a couple of books (more automatically than hoping to find something helpful) one of which crumbled to dust in his hands. Nothing that could help, some historical stuff that could be interesting, if he wasn’t almost falling asleep on the spot.
Well, if he wasn’t, he might have noticed that, despite understanding, what the books were telling, there was no single word written in plain English in them. But his tired mind noticed the content and completely missed, paid no attention to form – the symbols the books were written in.
Finally, after one more staircase, he found himself on seemingly the first floor of the castle, in the long high hall of some regal value. High windows on both opposite narrow ends of the hall let enough light inside for him to see columns, chandeliers at the walls and ends of ceiling arcs, more sets of horse… pony armour, standing on their eternal duty along the walls, another single staircase at his end of the hall, going down and most likely to the castle front doors at some point. With the idea that going outside was definitely some daytime business, Alex headed to the opposite end of the hall, where he noticed a stepped podium with two… thrones.
After approaching that three steps elevation with two large thrones Alex noticed, they were still in nice condition, not only stone frame, but also the soft seats and backrests. Another sign of those being made for the top-class noble asses, as Alex giggled inwardly. One throne was covered with a large ancient tapestry, also quite well retained. It must have fallen from the wall behind the thrones, as a similar tapestry hung behind the second throne.
Alex rose the steps and took the tapestry by its edge to unfold it. The cloth was of amazing quality and lightness, unbelievable for its age, nowhere heavy and rough on touch, unlike almost every common tapestry. This one was made in black, all sorts of blue and silver colours with white outlining. Presumably night sky with stars and bright moon above and a dark blue slender winged horse figurine below facing… flying down. Another tapestry on the wall was generally in blue, white and gold, depicting the sky, sun disc high above and a white slender winged horse figurine flying up.
Alex closed his eyes. The same feeling of unease flooded him again. Both images were painfully familiar, he knew he had seen them somewhere already. But they were parts of a single image in his memory.
That was one of those family days, when Alex and his parents were visiting relatives from another city. The latter lived in suburbs, without plenty means of entertaining people, especially younger ones. This and them having two daughters, 12 and 8 years old, practically meant that, while older members of the family were discussing all, what was usually discussed on family meetings, girls were totally Alex’s business. Besides cousins were under the impression of the 19 years old sibling, that sort of impression, which usually leads to looking up to with eyes wide opened, giggles, unintentional innocent flirting and tons of teasing. All harmless, at least until it starts coming at you as a storm… That day wasn’t going to be an easy one, as Alex told himself earlier in the morning.
The relatives lived in a cottage with a large garden. So hide and seek, play catch, some more random running around, while both girls contrived to almost run him over a few times, made Alex finally unsure if he had two cousins only or maybe four… or even six already.
“Hey, girls,” called he, getting up from the grass. “What about getting inside and having a bit quieter entertainment… before it becomes traumatic?”
“Boo, spoilsport!” Older cousin bumped into him and grabbed in a bear hug. “Right when we started having fun.”
“Two of you are too much for the “old Alex”,” he stuck out his tongue, teasing her.
“You’re not old,” she wrinkled her nose, making her freckles jump. “Just a bit grumpy and into your computer stuff too much. Tell me the point of going to the gym, when you can just have fun outside for free with the same result.”
“Yes, yes,” Eagerly jumped the younger, while Alex thought about a dignified answer to the previous question. “We can view some cartoons. Just got a new show on DVD.”
She took Alex’s and her sister’s hands and rushed into the house, sweeping away all possible objections.
“OK, what will it be?” asked Alex, when they sat in the living room. ‘Girly stuff,’ he shrugged mentally, while younger cousin turned the TV on and set the disc into the player already.
It was the new show called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. As he suspected typical girly stuff. Yet despite pinkish gamma and girly hyper voices, what he watched was fun. It was the first episode, where a few pony girls were searching for some relics to prevent an evil alter ego of one of the two rulers of the land from returning from her 1000 years banishment. The land was called Equestria. ‘So original’, smirked Alex to himself. It was ruled once by two sisters: one reigned over the day and Sun, another – over the Night and Moon. The younger sister – Luna got jealous of Celestia, the older sister, thinking she was getting more attention and love, naturally being the princess of the day. Luna went completely mental, being spoiled by the shadow and turned into Nightmare Moon, who tried to take over the whole land and establish the eternal night by refusing to get the Moon down and let Celestia rise the Sun.
It was impossible how Alex could still remember all those names and facts from the show.
Celestia then entrapped her younger sister into the Moon, using those relics and started ruling the country on her own, day and night, Sun and Moon, while mourning of her once beloved sister. But after 1000 years certain conditions were met for Nightmare Moon to return and attempt revenge…
With the help of the relics, the pony girls (main characters of the show) managed to cast out Nightmare Moon and return princess Luna as former kind and sane self. But those were details…
There was the old castle of Two Sisters in that show. And there. Was. That. Sign! Of two regal sisters, rulers of the Moon and Sun.
Alex dropped the tapestry and covered his face with hands. It wasn’t obvious if he was going to shriek, cry or curl on the stone platform in disbelief and despair.
‘That simply can’t be true!’ cried his mind. ‘Come on, it was just a blasted movie, a cartoon for kids!’
Well, last time he tried to check, if he was sleeping or delusional, was painful and real. From all forms of insanity, this could be the least possible, Alex could imagine for himself, if thinking about insanity was his common practice.
After a few minutes he managed to bring together, what remained of his trembling, tired and frustrated self.
‘I am regally screwed!’ he gritted his teeth heavily. ‘But, damn it, I’ll deal with this tomorrow!’
‘I’m too tired for logical conclusions. No ponies or nightmares or else will take away my sleep. And I’ve finally found some “clothes”,’ Alex let out a sad grin.
He grabbed Luna’s tapestry…
‘Oh, dear Lord, please, let me be mistaken!’
… and made some kind of toga, wrapping it around his tired body and finding it surprisingly nice and warm.
He then climbed with his legs on that throne in front of him and curled, trying to find the possibly comfortable pose. Minutes later overloaded by today’s events Alex passed out.
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