Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 143

Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Chapter 143

I might as well leave the CMC to their problem solving. I know that Clark isn’t really much of a drinker, hardly touching alcohol even when offered for free. Probably left once he figured out the ‘Frothy Mug’ was a bar, but I figure I’d go check there first anyway. Might have stopped to chat with some of the locals. I know for a fact that, out of all the places in Ponyville, that bar is the place where what you look like is the last thing on anyone’s mind.

I make my way to the Mug and find that there’s a sizable crowd of ponies blocking easy access into the building. At first, I’m afraid it’s a mob, and go intangible to pass through them. But then, I get inside the building itself, and see that there’s a stack of broken tables, and Clark is arm-wrestling a griffon, with a large number of cheering ponies all around. After a moment, I recognize the griffon as the chef, Maestro.

Needless to say, with that arm, Clark wins pretty easily, and it ends up breaking the table with the impact, explaining the debris. I walk up to the pair. “Heh, you think his strength is impressive, you should see him eat. The guy’s a vacuum cleaner hooked up to an empty void.” Nopony seems to get the analogy, but a few cheer anyways, and then the rest cheer as well.

Stoic moves another table into place, and Clark receives a large mug of some sort of brew, which he downs. The next challenger arrives, and it’s a potential loss for Clark. Big Mac sits down at the table, with nary a word, and sets his hoof in the starting position.

Oh man, this is gonna be good.

Clark takes the proffered hoof, and the judge calls the round, and the two begin to strain. I can see the two of them stare into each other’s eyes with a driving intensity, and I can feel the tension, like an electric charge, building in the air, a noticeably different feeling than when I’m actually sending electricity into the air though.

After almost thirty seconds of holding the pose dead-center on the table, there’s a splintering cracking noise, and the table simply falls apart, Clark and Big Mac not moving in the slightest as the table just goes out from under them. Big Mac looks like he always does, minus a slight knitting of the brows and narrowing of the eyes. He switches the side he’s chewing his wheat stalk with.

Clark looks like he’s determined to win, and I can see a sheen of sweat all across his face. His demonic arm is wavering only the slightest amount, and even then, it might be an average of the two participant’s blood pulsing.

Shit, I think one of them might explode before pushing the others’ arm down.

Finally, The two seem to come to some sort of unspoken agreement, and nod in unison. Slowly, they retract their respective limbs, shaking and stretching the abused limbs to give them some bloodflow back.

Clark turns to Stoic, and says, “It’s a draw, we buy each other drinks.” The bartender nods.

They each make their selection and the other pays for it. At least they’re sporting. Settling in at an intact table, I look at Clark’s pile of empty mugs, and consider it confirmation that nothing short of magical intoxication is going to work on me. I grin, and proceed to challenge someone to a drinking contest. Whoever loses has to pay for the drinks, and shell out fifty bits to the winner.

If I screw this up, I will be in debt for the next year or so... I think. Depends on how much we drink. Alright powers, show me what you got.

The first challenger is a yellow stallion with a brown mane and horseshoes for a cutie-mark. I recognize him as the spoon-maker dude from a while back. Ought to be interesting.

The first few rounds go well, until he finally has to bow out and puke into a bucket after his... twenty-fifth? Twenty-sixth? Somewhere in that range of drinks. The next pony to try get a little further, and the one after that doesn’t get even close. I’m feeling pretty good, until Clark sits down opposite me, and grins.

“Bartender, I’d like for this to be a special variant. Since we’ve both drunk our weight or more in alcoholic beverages this evening, I’d like to up the ante. Do you have any magical brews, with more potent effects?” Clark’s grin widens into a victorious leer as Stoic nods, and reaches for some bottles with fancier caps than the rest.

Crap, he’s going for the actual booze in this competition. Oh well, I’m not backing out.

“Come on man. Are you sure you wanna try this? For all you know, you’ll be on the ground in two drinks. This is gonna be strong stuff.”

“Oh, trust me. I can hold my liquor. Surviving on rotgut will do that to you.” He smugs at me. I’m not sure if ‘smug’ was an actual verb previously, but it is now.

That gets me to quirk an eyebrow. “This isn’t rotgut. This is actual magic booze. Nothing like it on earth I assure you.”

“Then let’s see who can hold it better.” He reaches for his first drink, and we clink our glasses together respectfully, then down our drinks.

Oh... oh sweet everything, I didn’t know magic hangovers could make you feel like your head is being literally cracked open and fried on a skillet. Although I don’t even remember being drunk! I just... I kept drinking, and drinking, and drinking, and then... my memory hits a black spot and I shrug it off. Oh well. I’m pretty sure I won though. “Alright buddy...” I turn to Clark. “You lose, pay up...”

“Oog... stop talking so loud.” Clark says in a whisper. The noise makes my head pound. Blinking, I realize we’re on the floor of the library, with a blanket on each of us, and a large glass of water with a note nearby each of us.

I down the glass of water without a second thought, then it takes me a minute to focus on the letters on the note.

I look over it and it’s a bunch of squiggles. I look back and try again. Eventually, an eternity of staring at the letter, the squiggles start to look like letters. It’s a note from Twilight, saying something about the gala happening soon. I put the note down and sit up, trying to regain my bearings. Still pretty sure I won though.

The contest outcome aside, Clark and I spend most of the morning letting the super-hangover whittle away to nothing, and relax.

Clark has started reading again, this time going through the Daring Do books, but he’s got a bunch of other books open at the same time. Probably so he doesn’t get bored while reading the childish tripe.

I check the note Twi left for Clark and see that it’s basically an offer from Fluttershy to stay with her while Twilight and I were at the gala.  Well, I guess he would benefit from staying here in Ponyville while I’m away. He should check the place out. It should be fine as long as he doesn’t run into Applejack or Myrna.

I figure I should head back to the Mug and see what went down after the contest ended. I get there and see that all the broken tables had been cleaned away, though they hadn’t been replaced. I sit down at the bar and turn to Berry. “So, I can’t remember a darn thing. What happened after I won? I didn’t do anything stupid did I?”

Berry bursts into laughter. “You didn’t win, Anthony. You made a good showing, though. You and your friend both passed out sitting up, staring at each other. Gave us a fright; we’d thought you died on us, until you began snoring.”

“Oh come on, really? I coulda sworn I’d win that! I mean, heck, I drank more than he did total last night, didn’t I?”

“Actually, he’d been going for a while before you showed up. He set up a pretty good game, too, that I think’s gonna come back. Each hoof wrestle, the winner drinks whatever the loser buys, but the loser can’t rechallenge until at least five others go.”

“Sounds interesting... but I still out-drank some other ponies before I tied with Clark. Come on, I totally could’a won!”

“Well, given that the rules you made said that each contest was per challenge... well, you still won a bunch. I had my youngest keeping the tally. You’re each six bits in debt.”

“Really? Wow, I figured I’d be broke for a year trying to pay you back. That’s a relief.”

“Well, you both won a lot. Actually, Clark won more than you did.” I do a double-take. “But he has to pay for all the tables he broke, so he’s right at the same point you are. Don’t worry, I won’t send Stoic to come break your knees or anything if you don’t pay, just keep it in mind that you can’t get drinks ‘till you pay your tab.”

“Right, Gotcha. Uh, hold on a sec.” I fish out the last of my money, just two bits left. “Oh well, owing four now is better than owing six later, I guess.” I put the coins on the table and make my leave. I need a quick way to earn some bits... Something I could do well enough to charge for...

I walk outside and see Clark be half-dragged, half-pulled by the CMC, who are all laughing and smiling like crazy. Farewell brother. I will be sure your funeral will not be a disgrace to your honor and glory.

I shoot him an apologetic look, and he only has time to give me a pitiful look before being yanked around a corner. I warned him... Oh well.

Now, get rich quick schemes... What can I do to earn a ton of money super quick? My eyes track down to the Lyre, attached to my belt. I grin. I could play music for anyone who wants to hear me play, but I could charge them! That could get me rich in no time!

Now how about a theme? I know a ton of songs, but I want them to be relatively similar without being the same... I’ll also need a name for the concert, and a list of songs I could play. This is difficult.

I head back to the library and sit down at the table with a notepad. After a long while, I can’t come up with anything. There’s that stupid annoying voice in the back of my mind keeping me from focusing, but it’s not telling me what I should be doing.

After a long while of pondering, I decide I should go talk with Myrna, get all this straightened out. I try to leave my sword here to prove I’m trying to be peaceful, but it just reappears sheathed at my belt as usual.

Sighing, I walk over to the park and, finding Myrna once again lazing about in the trees, call her down. “Hey Myrna. We need to talk.” I sit down on the nearby bench and wait for her to join me.

She coils up next to the bench and, after a while of silence from both of us, she speaks first.

“So... do you still wanna kill me?” I can’t really tell if she’s angry or sad or anything, to be honest. It’s just a straight question.

“No, and I probably never will. I just... he’s my friend. He means so much to me because, I thought he was gone, and I have him back after thinking he was dead all this time. And... now a bunch of you want me to off him just because he looks corrupted. I feel like he’s already been through hell, literally, and all these threats against him... I don’t want to.You understand, don’t you? I’m not defending a demon, I’m defending the closest person I have to my family.”

Myrna sighs. “I- I understand. I do. Just... my brother turned to them. He never got better, he never turned away. I just don’t think it’s so easy to just ‘stop being a demon’. I just... There’s no way I can trust him right now. Maybe if he doesn’t do anything for a year, or two, or whatever, I might, but I just don’t feel safe around him.” She shudders and slumps, holding her tail like a stuffed animal.

“Well, then I guess that’s that. But he’s not your brother. I know it’ll be hard, but I think we can fix Clark. He doesn’t need to be a demon anymore, so there’s a chance. He’s not insane, he’s not a monster, he’s just corrupt. But...” I turn and, making eye contact with her finally, I continue. “He is a symbol of my old life, who I used to be, what life used to be. I’m sorry, but if you really can’t get along with him... then it’s over.” I turn my head back to face the ground at my feet. “The end.” Next Chapter: Chapter 144 Estimated time remaining: 12 Hours, 49 Minutes

Return to Story Description


Login with