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dragonofruin

Out on the Road [Closed]

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Everything about Equestria was both strange and wonderful. Elysium had come to like it far more than the homeland, Maretonia. So much less.. restricting, and the species mingled freely without trouble. The longer they lived here, the more they found a liking to it, and to the freedom it granted them. They could wander forever if they wished, though -- they didn't. Exploration was just something enjoyable to do to see the sights of a kingdom they still barely knew.

 

As of right now, Elysium was in between places, their hooves traveling one of Equestria's many beaten dirt roads, packed down hard by the travel of hooves and sunken in where the wheels of many carts had all worn down. They were on the flat area in the middle of these wheel ruts, their purple eyes wandering over both the road and the woods surrounding them, admiring what they could see. There was faint birdsong to be heard, and the air was not quite so warm as it had been. The seasons were changing, and Elysium couldn't help but look forward to how Equestria would change then, and how it might look covered in snow. They could only imagine it until they could see it with their own eyes. It wasn't quite chilly yet; Elysium had dressed simply enough for the journey.

 

The unicorn was on their way to Canterlot from one of the coast-side cities, heading further inland to look into a few things they'd come across in Equestria's books. Magic was their prime interest, and a place like the old Castle of Two Sisters had caught their interest- if Equestria's alicorn diarchs once lived there.. was there anything left behind? Perhaps spellbooks of old? Elysium was lost in thought as they strolled along, pondering what sort of magic, dark or no, might be lurking within those ruined halls.

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Gray has been on the road for some time already. Moving his hooves slowly and to the beat of a tune that he was gently humming under his breath to accompany him on this road. This day was no different then the one before and probably no different then tomorrow will be. A Sun shining with a slight breeze that was moving through his messy mane. 

 

His target was Hoofington yet again. This old stallion was heading home again for some time. How long he will stay no one knew, not even nim, but probably not for long.

 

So there he was, steadly moving forward with packed pouches on his Back and a slight smile on his face when he noticed a shape moving in the distance. Gray squinted a bit and noticed that it was a pony going the other way. It was every day that Gray found someone on the trail, especially on The roads that long. And without a cart as well... 

"Who is that?" He Wondered to himself. Maybe a follow adventurer? Or maybe  A bandit... Well. He will see for himself soon.

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Elysium didn't notice the moving speck of another pony up ahead, as lost in thought as they were, but as the distance between them was steadily closed and the shape began to resolve itself into a pony.. their thoughts fell apart. Pale purple eyes squinted, focusing on the approaching traveler. Their pace didn't falter, though they did idly pluck at the straps of their bags, adjusting them against their sides. They had nothing of importance on them beyond traveling necessities: food and water, and the bundle of a small tent.

 

Though weaponless they might be, Elysium could wield their magic well enough should this other traveler prove dangerous- something, unbeknownst to them, the same was being thought of them. The possibility of meeting a foul character out on the road. The dual-colored unicorn kept a steely facade upon their face as the distance between them shrank, and they began to pick out more individual features. All grays, green eyes, bags packed. This approaching stranger struck them as unusual compared to most ponies: the entire lack of bright, pastel color that most Equestrians were blessed with. Were they a foreigner too, or.. just an unusual native? Their curiosity piqued, Elysium slowed and stepped off to the side of the road, carefully watching their footing in the wheel ruts so that they wouldn't trip.

 

Elysium stood still and waited, watching the pony- a stallion- draw near. "Good evening," they greeted, taking care to say what Equestrians did; their appearance and voice alone made it hard to determine if they were stallion or mare, as androgynous as they were, though there was some femininity about them.

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Gray continued to look at the pony that was slowly walking ahead of him, steadly getting closer and closer. His Green eyes jumped around a bit, taking some time to look at the bag that they had strapped to their back. They were oviously packed, so maybe they we're travelers just as Gray was.

 

Noticing the pony stop, he squinted and bit and took another close look at them. No weapon, but they were a unicorn. Might be a problem... Gray himself Has a short sword harden inside one of his bags in case something terrible happens, but he usually could do just fine without it.

 

When Gray approached The pony he stopped and smiled Warmly "Good morning..." he said with a stop as he tried to figure Out it he should use miss or mister... But he couldn't Tell so he decided to say nothing at all "What are you doing on this Road? It is getting quite late"

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The unicorn's expression was a neutral one in the face of a smile given their way by the stranger, who had finally closed the distance between them and returned their greeting. One of their ears twitched back as they struggled how to respond- socializing had never been their strongest forte, and to know that they were in a foreign kingdom made them self-conscious. A hoof idly scuffed at the worn wheel rut in the road as they gathered themself.

 

"Seeing more of Equestria," Elysium replied. "It's been an interesting experience for me, and it's given me a chance to learn more about it on a more.. personal.. level than books, though I do not entirely shun them, and hear all the legends that ponies believe in here." Their simple answer helped them find something to mention, something they thought might be of a passing interest to a stranger that was out on the road like themself. And, Elysium wouldn't admit it, mentioning it just to see what this gray stallion thought, a look into what this pony was like. Besides, it didn't hurt to use one of many things they were interested in as a topic of conversation in the absence of anything else to say.

 

Though, Elysium wasn't sure how much this stallion might care to hear about their studies of magic.

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Gray listened to The stranger with interest. There weren't many ponies he would meet along his travel, So The ones he met, were usually the ones with the most interesting stories.

Now Gray took a closer look of The pony in front of him. A defenietly unusual colors and paterns on their body defenietly stood out. Maybe they were a zebra... But they didn't talk in this weird pattern... 

"So you have never been to Equestria before?" Gray's eyebrow rised. So they were a traveler from really far away... "Where do you come from, if I may ask?" The stallion asked and took a look at the bags of The pony in front of him. They seemed to be full so Gray assumed they came from far away. "Legends you Day?" gray smiled a bit as he nodded a bit "Equestria is filled with legends and tales so you won't have a problem finding them"

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Elysium still couldn't be sure if they'd run across a potential threat this day, even if the stallion had been friendly enough thus far, and they judged him by his response. "Maretonia," they replied. "I've been in Equestria for some months now, merely exploring." They weren't sure why they were spilling some of this information to him, not that it had any worth or use. It just felts right. They shrugged.

 

"Ye.. Yes. I've found a few already and I can't help but find myself intrigued about this Castle of Two Sisters I've heard about. Perhaps you could give me more information about it? About its location?" Elysium queried, sounding a little hopeful. If they got more information, then perhaps their journey to it wouldn't be as difficult if they had a better idea of, well.. everything. "There must be a lot of old Equestrian.." they trailed off, struggling to think of a proper word and failing, "stuff left in their castle. Old spellbooks. I wish to see what I can find." The unicorn couldn't help but leap into asking about what drew them most, but.. Elysium didn't feel like they were wholly into it. Like they were simply going through the motions since they'd run into some stranger out on the roads. Almost.. pointless.

 

The unicorn frowned to themself, angular gold eyes averted from the stallion's green ones; it wasn't just because they found it difficult to hold eye contact with ponies, but because they were uncertain about what they were meant to be doing, here. "I.. suppose I should ask, who are you?"

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"Maratonia..." Gray echoed The traveler. Gray was never personal There but he heard some stories and planned a couple of trips There but never got to it ad other trips took priority "It is quite a place! Heard Many stories about it" Gray said with a warm smile on his face. "Just walking around is one of The best things to do in Equestria. From my perspective, that is" The stallion added. He was a travelers so hearing that someone else liked to just Wander around as well made him happy "Where have you been up until now?" 

 

Hearing The name of The castle Gray though for a second. He did know about it. Even wisited it Long time ago, When he just started his travels. But he wasn't sure if he could pin point exact rout to it. "Well.. yes. I know where it is. But it is quite a while from here... A couple of Days of travel on hooves I would say.." He sated after a couple of seconds of silence. "When it comes to The stuff. I can't be Sure. Never inspected it too well. it is a weird place..."

 

When The pony asked about who Gray is, The stallion caughted "Oh, right. I am Gray Shield. A wanderer and ex-bodyguard. Pleasure to meet you..." He said, raising his eyebrow, waiting for whoever they were to introduce themselves

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"Elysium," the unicorn simply replied with an unenthusiastic little nod following Gray's amazement over Maretonia. Personally they never did like it much, especially the cities- they were too restricting. Their entire life in Maretonia had been too restricted, but now they were free here. Free to do as they wished, pursue what they wished.. and they had the freedom to find out who they really were as a pony. It was difficult when they hadn't really gotten to figure themself out when so much had been stifled; a reason that they were always so outwardly calm.

 

"It's certainly been.. nice, and so few dangers. I've noticed that things get worse the further away from the capital one is." Pausing, they thought about the places they've visited thus far. "Manehatten, Hoofington recently.. and a few of the smaller towns. I did get to see a little of the capital but I never stayed long." They quietly made a mental note about the distance that they'd have to cover to reach the Castle of Two Sisters, glad to know that it wasn't terribly far now thanks to Gray's answer. "So, you were an ex-bodyguard?" Elysium asked, their interest piqued. "How.. curious. I was once a soldier, but I escaped that life.. for the most part. I daresay I could never forget how to fight, and that some part of me yet still itches for that excitement." It didn't scare them, nor did any form of magic; the latter fascinated them deeply, and wielding that which ponies called dark had always given them a certain thrill. Learning it thrilled them.

 

"My armor has come with me, though it currently rests at the cabin I'd moved into."

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Gray listened to the pony in front of him as they spoke about their city. The name they gave him wasn't a great help for this stallion to decide whether to speak to them as he or she... or maybe something else? He was not used that. Almost everyone he met was easy to recognize from the first glance. It wasn't that easy here... But it was something fresh, something new, something interesting. Maybe a small sort of mystery... 

"Having a safe place to live in is always nice..." Gray said as he tilted his head a bit. Of course, he wasn't a great fan of just staying in one place, but he appreciated the peace from time to time as much as he appreciated his venturing. "Ah... Yes. Those are probably the biggest cities around here you can find" He said as his hoof raised a bit. When Gray first went away from Canterlot, Manehattan and Hoofington were one of the first cities he visited and they brought him many memories.

"Yes... Back in the days..." He chuckled a bit as he realized he sounded like an old pony "I used to fight and I used to get money for that... Maybe not my most glorious days..." The stallion commented on himself. The jobs he took weren't always exciting and full of excitement. Most of the time it would be a simple routine... And weirdly, he remembered more of the routine then of other bits...

"You were a soldier?"  Gray's eyebrow raised as his hoof pointed at the pony in front of him. They seemed to be quite similar to Gray... Travelers, with military connections... How interesting "Well... Fighting is one of those things that you never forget" He chuckled and shrugged slightly "Well... My fighting days are well past me. Maybe one day I will face a foe for one more time... We will see, I guess" Gray didn't long for a fight, but the thought of standing face to face with danger again filled him both with excitement and disgust. It was a part of him that would always remain split.

"Your armor? You kept it? I heard they don't let anypony do that... At least in Equestria..." Gray said and thought for a bit "You don't happen to have like a drawing or picture of it, do you?" He asked.

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Elysium could only nod their agreement. They were rather large cities, though Canterlot wasn't quite as big as the others, being that it was built on the side of a mountain. It was an impressive feat of architecture to have managed such a thing without it all.. falling apart. They had to wonder how it was maintained to keep its supports from growing weak from time and wear..

 

The curiosity was set aside in favor of Gray, who had asked them a question. "I was, and.. I did. I didn't think they would disallow me something like armor. I can understand the concern they'd have over weapons, though. I left mine behind, since I don't have much of a need for them." Elysium tilted their head forward, indicating their horn. "I.. don't have a picture, but I still have a means of showing you." A little glint had appeared in the unicorn's eye for a moment and their horn lit up gold. Using their magic, they managed to make a transparent illusion of their armor on their body, and they held it there long enough for Gray to get a good look, and once they were sure he had, they let the spell go. The illusion disappeared, leaving Elysium dressed in their black outfit again with their saddlebags strapped over it.

 

"I don't use it anymore. There's no need to. I'm.. glad there is no need to, but I keep it for the memories and.. I guess, for that 'just in case' moment." Elysium nodded to Gray, quietly indicating something that he'd said- that chance he might face off against a foe for a last time. "Being a.. bodyguard must have been an interesting experience for you."

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Gray smirked a bit as the pony said that they let them keep the armor. Guess they were a bit luckier wherever they served. Gray kept some pieces of his old armor as well, stashing them in his house, but he was a mercenary. A bodyguard. And this armored belong to him and not an army or something like that. When Elysium cast the illusion onto himself to show the armor Gray took a quick look, tilting his head to the sides a bit, seeing the armor from another point of view

"Well... I guess it looks good. Cannot say much, since it was transparent and a bit hard to catch the details of" Gray said after the illusion disappeared. This type of magic was nothing new to him, as he even started to study some illusionary art for himself. Not with great results, but still something "If I may know. Where did you fight?" The stallion asked with curiosity in his voice. He found that topic interesting, and even though his bodyguard days were long behind him, he still had some sort of personal connection to this type of lifestyle.

"I highly agree. I hope there will be no reason for me to put on my armor again, too. Well... Not out of necessity at least" He said as the side of his lips twirled up slightly into a smirk. He had two types of memories connected with his equipment. He both remembered his travels, friends and brothers in arms and all the suffering he went through during failed jobs. That was the risk of being a bodyguard. "Well... It was definitely different. Sometimes repeating itself job after job and sometimes throwing anything it can at you to throw you down to your knees. There is no predictability in being a bodyguard..." 

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Elysium may have misunderstood Gray's question about the armor. When they'd left Maretonia, they'd simply kept it. They'd had no qualms about taking something they felt now belonged to them, not when it was fitted so well to their body. "I recreated it through illusion the best I can, but nothing could compare with the physical thing," they replied, somewhat apologetic. They'd tried.

 

"In Maretonia. I never participated in any wars. I.. suppose were used for little more than general enforcers when anything happened at all. Merely guards, outside of drills." Elysium shrugged. "Occasionally we might've been required to defend against a threat." It wasn't exactly peaceful like Equestria was, especially with the way the three pony species were separated the way they were, but.. it wasn't terribly exciting either. Some part of them wished there was something they could do to put their skills to use before they could grow rusty, but it would cut into the time they spent pursuing their hobbies and interests.

 

"I can imagine," Elysium mused. Traveling with the one you were meant to protect, or simply settled in some tavern.. and having to fight off an assassin, or some stray threat.. Ponies, creatures, they were all unpredictable. It was to be expected of intelligent, sentient creatures. "So, are you headed to.. Hoofington?" they queried, curious. Gray appeared to be heading in the direction they were coming from; they lacked something more interesting to ask Gray and instead settled on this question. "What do you seek there?"

 

 

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Hearing the apologetic tone in their voice Gray chuckled a bit and waved his head slightly from side to side "No, no. Don't worry. I greatly appreciate that you did that. And it still is quite impressive" The stallion said and gave a warm smile towards the traveler, feeling like he might have hurt them a bit. "it must have served you well..." He took a step back, giving a bit more personal space to the pony in front of him.

"Yeah. I haven't heard of many major conflicts that would have to involve an army... Of course, there probably were some issues here and there, but that's not what the army is for." Gray noticed and placed the hoof on his chest with a slight smirk "That's what mercenaries are for. Good or not, we do the job." He did sound a bit cocky, but it was just out of pure playfulness of the stallion. He didn't mean to discredit the army or the guards by any means. They were definitely needed

"Yes! I'm going back... Well, you can say home. I call it my HQ" The stallion gave off a slight chuckle "I don't spend a lot of time there, mostly go through my stuff, sort some things out and I am on the road again... But maybe this time I will stay for a bit longer. Who knows?" Gray shrugged and moved the dirt on the road a bit with his hoof "It has been quite some time since I last visited the place. To be honest, I'm not sure if it still technically belongs to be" He chuckled slightly, with a hint of nervousness in his laughter

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A small smile tugged at the corners of Elysium's lips and they nodded to Gray. "It did, and may still serve me should I ever have a reason to use it again. I did like wearing my armor on occasion, if only because it helped me feel.. prepared." They shrugged and listened to Gray talk, taking what little information they could out of what he had to say about the differences of an army, and mercenaries. It wouldn't hurt to try out a mercenary job once in a while, Elysium pondered. It'd pay well, and it'd at least break up some of the monotony that'd settled. As welcome as it was to have such monotony in Equestria, sometimes it left them wanting excitement. Something they were a willing participant in, and not forced into it as they had been as a soldier.

 

"Oh, you live there?" Elysium made a noise in their throat. "So you're a traveler. I pass a few out on the road on occasion, whenever I'm wandering. There seems to be a fair few of us, and I admit it's a nice change to be able to move about and wander so freely. Regardless.. some rest is required from time to time." A small smile made it's way onto Elysium's face then, their angular golden eyes glittering with some amusement. "You look to be carrying so much for a mere traveler, after all."

 

"What will you do if your home is no longer yours? Find another, or retreat to an inn?" The unicorn asked and paused. An inn- that was something they ought to ask about, if there were any along the road ahead or if they'd have to settle for sleeping in their small tent for another night. Uncomfortable, but not unbearable; they could always hold onto the hope of the next time they sleep, they would have a bed.

 

[somehow i missed that it was my post oops]

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Gray completely understood Elysium. This piece of metal and hide could sometimes make the difference between life and death and wearing it did feel just... safe. "Agreed. Sometimes it just feels good to wear that metallic uniform" The stallion said with a smile on his face, remembering his own armor. It was a long, long time since he put it on, and yet, he remembered every aspect of it, how it pressed onto his back and the metallic cling it would make when being put on. It had its own special place inside of this old stallions memory and heart.

"Yes. Luckily, or not I have my house there. If you can call it that. It is more like a shack. I don't really use it often so a bed and some storage space are more then enough for me" Gray's voice was a rather blank one, speaking of his home without any excitement. That building may have been his house, but what made it like this, were the things he held inside. Without those, Gray wouldn't even care about it. 

"A traveler, an explorer. I have been, am and will be one of those to my grave" Gray chuckled a bit "Personally, I rarely meet others on the trail. Maybe that's just my luck. Who knows" He shrugged "And being able to move freely is why I even started what you can call, MY adventure," Gray said exaggerating the word MY for dramatic reasons, which he then chuckled off. "Uf. My grand days are way past me" He said and moved his hoof through his mane, which already had a couple of white hair here and there.

"If I don't have a house?" Gray echoed Elysium's question, thinking for a second "Firstly an inn, then I will need to think..." He answered after a second "To be honest, it would be hard for me to find another house, but maybe... Probably would just move in with someone else... Or become a nomad. Who knows!" Gray shrugged and smiled "I don't plan for that far! It's too stressful!"

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Elysium could only nod to Gray's agreement, a half smile tugging at the corner of their mouth in the wake of the earlier, fuller one that had just faded. "Indeed?" they replied. "It is good to be an explorer, to fill your life with seeing what you have never seen before, what others may never experience when they live every day the same way," they said, their tone wistful. They'd always been a little bit of a romantic, if just to try to find the wonderful things in life in order to brighten up their own. It had never been -- all that great.

 

"You speak as if you are so terribly old, yet you don't look that way to me. How old can you possibly be? Middle-aged? Older?" Elysium snorted and took a few steps around Gray, eying him. Grey fur, black mane.. There wasn't much that gave away his age to them. Their eyes even sought out any form of wrinkles on the pony's face, even so much as crow's feet, to try to judge for themselves. They flicked their purple tail, the hair glittering softly in the light. The sun was still high in the sky, and a glance told Elysium how many hours they might still have left in the day. It wasn't something to really worry about yet.

 

"We can only hope you still have your house. I feel that is something I'm not going to be worrying about, not with the little cabin I'd found out in the woods and claimed for my own. It hadn't looked like anypony had lived in there in some time.. It's nice, secluded. Only me and a little cat I've taken in. Maybe you can find such a home; I'm not sure how willing I would be to invite you into my home when you're just a stranger I met on the road." Their voice had a joking tone to it. "Still, it would be good to consider what you'll have to do if your house is taken."

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