“...And once the perfect world had been created, the crystals were hidden away forever, never to be found. Of course, this is just one theory among many that attempt to explain the origins of a mysterious figure in ancient history known as ‘The Wanderer’...”
The droning voice of the village elder echoed throughout Geldingstone’s town hall as he presented his lecture on Canterlonian history. He rambled about the origins of the towns and cities that littered the land, each with a miniature lesson on why they were built and the types of ponies who inhabited them. Due to his not-so-keen eyesight, he failed to spot the vast audience he had put to sleep. In front of him sat nearly fifty ponies, all of them there to 'celebrate' the rich and intriguing history of their land. There was only one pony who sat upright throughout the entire lesson, armed with a pen in her mouth that was furiously scribbling notes without pausing. It was a light orange pegasus with a chocolate-coloured mane, which sported a single cream coloured stripe on the side, and a cutie mark of a golden pocket watch on her flank.
Sepia Stripes could confess to having just two loves in her life: history and snow. She listened with great enthusiasm to the lecture she was receiving on the former, and she could see the latter beginning to fall gently and gather on the ground outside the window next to where she sat. As her two true loves began to combine, she smiled to herself. It was, in her mind, the perfect day.
The sky blue unicorn stallion sitting next to her couldn't disagree more. He had lost focus on the lecture somewhere between the mention of 'sacred crystals' and 'lost power', and he felt himself drifting off just as the elder was beginning to talk about the capital city, Piata. Sepia only noticed this when she heard the gentle snoring coming from her left.
"Starflash! Are you getting all of... What are you doing?!" She nudged the sleeping stallion on his cutie mark- a telescope- causing him to wave his hoof at her in a dismissive manner. She furrowed her brows as she heard him groan something incomprehensible. She tried to wake him again and received the exact same response, much to her annoyance. “Starflash?” she whispered angrily in his ear.
As soon as she tried to nudge him awake for a third time, she flinched slightly as she heard somepony violently clear his throat at the front of the hall. She knew exactly who it was from the way that everypony in the room snapped to attention at the same time. Everypony except Starflash.
"Miss Stripes, would you kindly awaken the lazy boy to your left?" the elder asked sternly. "I don't think he is going to learn much about Canterlonia when his mind is frolicking in the land of the lazy, is he?"
Sepia cringed as she saw, what seemed to her at least, a thousand faces turn towards her. Some of them looked disinterested and quickly turned back again, whilst others giggled and shook their heads. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as the faces stared at her. She began to shake Starflash awake with both hooves, desperate for him to awaken to avoid even more embarrassment. He awoke with a jolt, flailing his legs and blinking furiously. Once he had regained his bearings, he brushed his ragged dark blue mane from his eyes.
"Heh... I didn't miss anything good, did I?" He blushed slightly as the elder shook his head.
"Evidently not," the elder replied with a bit of irk in his voice, "as you found it appropriate to take a nap! Would you care to tell the rest of us why you think that?"
Starflash bowed his head, searching the floor for the best excuse possible. “Well... umm... It’s not exactly my fault when what you’re talking about isn’t exactly... uh... interesting?”
The elder rolled his eyes and raised his voice to address the crowd before him. "You ponies need to learn that outside of this tiny village exists a world that is vast beyond your comprehension. The first step to understanding the land you live in is to know the myths and legends that surround it! I’ve put this lecture on today for the entire town in the vain hope that at least one pony out there will learn something. Perhaps it will make the Celebration of Centuries, celebrating the discovery of our land two thousand years ago to this day, all the more meaningful. Am I making myself clear?"
The entire room was flooded with a sea of blank faces. All except a nodding pegasus in the back row next to the window and a slightly embarrassed unicorn sitting next to her.
“Good. Now, allow me to continue to enlighten you all on the history of the northern plains-folk. I promise you that it should only be another hour or so...”
An hour later, the doors of the library creaked open, followed by the large crowd of zombie-like ponies who were beginning to revitalise themselves in the afternoon sun. The only one who bounced from the building was Sepia; she had to stop herself from knocking down several of the less enthusiastic members of the crowd. Once she reached the bottom of the stone stairs she stopped, remembering to wait for Starflash.
She looked around, dazzled by the beautiful scene before her. The large fountain in the centre had completely frozen over, the marble pony sculptures holding onto the water they would normally ‘spit’ in mid-air. Icicles hung from the sloping rooftops in a perfectly symmetrical fashion, like decorations. Fillies and colts were playing in the snow-covered plaza, diving around and tackling each other, hurling snowballs or sculpting great snowy statues. Sepia was ready to join them, had she not been pulled back by some mysterious force. She glanced behind her to see a familiar yawning unicorn gripping her tail with an outstretched hoof.
“Don’t you think you’re a little old to be playing in the snow?” he asked with a grin. Sepia turned away from him and began to walk towards the fountain. “Hey, you’re not mad at me for napping during the lecture, are you?” He got his answer when Sepia shot him an angry glare.
“Why did you have to go and embarrass me like that? You can’t go anywhere intellectual without falling asleep!” She shook her head as she sat on the edge of the fountain, and snowflakes that were beginning to collect on her mane were scattered in a great cloud which fell gently to the ground. “You knew that I wanted you to go, so why did you try to dodge out of it?”
“I didn’t know that you meant it was today!”
She replied with a cold, steely stare. “Despite me reminding you several hundred times?”
“I... Well...” He sighed heavily. “Like I said, that kind of thing bores me,” he replied, knowing that it was useless to lie to her. “Now if it was on swordplay or astronomy—” The rest of his sentence was garbled by a hoof in his mouth. Sepia’s hoof. He gave her an awkward look, and she looked at him with a smile.
“But it wasn’t about astronomy, was it? We don’t live in space! We live in Canterlonia. Or, if you want to be smart about it, in Geldingstone.” She furrowed her brows as Starflash rolled his eyes. She removed the hoof from his mouth, wiping it on the snowy ground to remove most of the drool. “So why did you feel the need to humiliate me in front of everypony like that? All those eyes, staring right at me—”
“First of all,” Starflash interrupted, “I think I embarrassed myself more than I embarrassed you. Secondly, I had that lecture more times than I care to remember when I was in school. I could recite the entire history of Canterlonia, myths and legends and everything in between, in my sleep! And thirdly-”
Sepia held up her hoof, silencing the unicorn. “Before I put my hoof in your mouth to stop you again, which I really don’t want to do, I suggest that we just forget the whole thing. I’m not interested in your excuses anymore. Now, I want us to do something that we’ll both enjoy!” She scooped up a lump of snow and began to form a ball with it. Starflash knew what she was hinting at, and promptly backed away.
“As much as I’d like to play, I can’t right now. I have a practise session to catch up on. I can’t believe I missed three hours of sword practise just to listen to that old coot ramble about the past!” He turned his back to Sepia and began walking across the plaza. “See you in a few hours, Sep. Have fun playing in the snow with the fillies and colts.”
“Well I... Wait, what?!” She leaped from the fountain and ran after the unicorn. “But I thought that you’d at least want to have some fun first! It’s not like we get snow every spring, you know.”
“Of course I do,” Starflash replied. “That’s why I’m heading out into the forest today. I’m going to challenge myself. It’s time to put my skills to the test.”
Sepia stopped as she tried to figure out what he meant by “skills”. She remembered the events of two weeks ago, where he had almost chopped his own tail off after a magical mishap with his blade, and the week after where he had almost lost a leg when he had taken his eyes away from the target he was supposed to attack. Now, she was left wondering how Starflash thought he was ready to ‘challenge himself’.
“Just what do you mean by that? You’re not thinking of hunting something, are you?” she asked with concern. Starflash slowed his pace and turned to face her, hesitating before answering.
“Of course I am. I know I’m ready, Sep! Trust me, I’ve been practising like crazy and I know what I’m dealing with.”
Sepia raised her brow. “And what exactly are you dealing with?”
“A timberwolf,” Starflash replied nonchalantly. Sepia’s eyes widened at the mention, and her jaw dropped for a split second.
“You’re going to fight... but... you can’t do that! That’s insane! You’re not skilled enough to take on something like that!” She ran in front of him, blocking him from further passage. He chuckled and patted her on the shoulder.
“Hey, relax! I wasn’t serious you know. You think that I’d take on one of those things?” He shuddered as the gnarled and twisted jaws of a wolf-like creature snapped furiously in his imagination. “No, I’m just going for regular practise in the woods to take in the scenery. Like you said, it doesn’t snow every spring.”
Sepia sighed with relief and smiled at him. “Well if you’re going to the forest, then I’m coming with you. After all, you need somepony to show off your ‘skills’ to, don’t you? You need somepony to witness the knight vanquishing the monster to save the princess... or something like that?”
The unicorn nodded while stifling a laugh as he briefly imagined himself standing proudly in shining armour. The snowy scenery of the village seemed to fade away as he envisioned himself standing on the edge of a cliff in the middle of a thunderstorm, facing off against the mightiest timberwolf in the land. As he parried and dodged the ferocious beast’s blows with ease, he gracefully lunged and slashed at its bark-like hide. In his mind the battle seemed like a routine exercise, and he could hear the whoops and cheers of a crowd of admirers, urging the heroic stallion to slay the monster. And just as he was about to deal the decisive blow, he could hear—
—Sepia yelling in his ear, which snapped him out of his fantasy. He shook his head and looked at her apologetically, and he cleared his throat.
“Well, if you’re coming along then I’d suppose we’d better get ready. Meet me at the edge of the forest in fifteen minutes, okay? By the old tree stump.”
Sepia opened her mouth to say something, but before she could, Starflash turned away from her and began walking out of the plaza. She decided that it was better to not ask him about his daydream. Sometimes, they were just plain embarrassing. She spread her wings and began to flutter away from the plaza, thinking about getting back home to prepare. The snow was beckoning to her, and she had to get away from it as quickly as possible. There would be time to play later, she thought to herself.
Starflash sat on the tree stump at the forest’s edge, half a mile from Geldingstone, awaiting the entrance of his assistant and audience member. It’s not like her to be late, he thought to himself. The short sword buckled to his right foreleg was beginning to chafe against his skin in the cold; he knew it was a bad idea to leave with the proper attire. The stump was covered in ice, meaning he had to painfully peel himself away from it. He couldn’t tell from the cold, but he swore he got a splinter or two from it. His problems were short lived however, as he spotted a familiar orange pegasus trotting towards him. He hopped from his perch and waved to her, and she picked up speed accordingly whilst adjusting a satchel around her flank.
“Somepony’s a little late, isn’t she?” he asked with a raised brow. “Did you take a detour to play with the fillies in the snow?”
Sepia rolled her eyes. “Oh ha ha, you hilarious stallion, you.” She dropped the bag, opened it and took out a small pastry, holding it out to Starflash. “I stopped by the market and picked up some celebration treats for us. It’s the first time they’ve made these to commemorate the Celebration of Centuries. You’d better stock up on them, because it’s going to be another hundred years before they make them again.”
The unicorn inspected the treat in his hoof. It was small, yet drenched in what looked like a honey syrup. He levitated it towards his muzzle, sniffing it. Without a moment of hesitation, he stuffed it into his mouth, chewing noisily and licking his lips once he had finished savouring the sweet, sticky treat. “Finally!” he said with a beaming smile, “something amazing to come out of these celebrations instead of some boring lecture!”
Sepia prepared to scold him once more about the events that caused her so much embarrassment earlier that day, but she decided against it. Instead, she took out another pastry and nibbled on it, wiping her mouth with her hoof after every bite. “So what’s the plan, then?”
Starflash scraped his tongue around his mouth to catch the last few pockets of chewed up pastry before answering. “Well, you’re going to hide in the forest and prepare some snowballs and I’m going to come in after you. You throw the snowballs at me and I hack them up. It’s a win-win situation! You have a snowball fight with me and I get my sword practise in for today. Deal?”
Sepia nodded without hesitation; if his sword training gave her an excuse to pelt snowballs off of his head, then she was all for it. Once she had finished her snack, she was prompted to run into the forest and get ready by Starflash. She darted into the trees, scooping up a large chunk of snow as she raced by. Once she saw that she was a comfortable distance from the entryway, she searched for a good spot to ambush Starflash.
When it came to getting ready for a battle in the snow, Sepia made sure that she never missed a single detail, no matter how insignificant. She scanned each and every tree trunk and base, taking a mental note of ammo reserves, cover, whether she could get the jump in on the enemy...
Then she stopped for a second; she remembered that she wasn’t supposed to be having a snowball fight with Starflash. She was—
“Ah! What the...?!”
—wondering what had just collided with the back of her head. Her eyes darted around the scene, searching for something. Anything. After a few moments of looking, she tilted her head skyward. The treetops were totally covered in snow, save for a few holes where the light shone through like the beam from a torch.
“It must have fallen from—”
Another collision. This time, it hit her hard on the flank and she turned just in time to see the cold, powder-like snow wash over her body. But it wasn’t from the treetops. This time, she knew it was a snowball. She prepared to call out to Starflash, thinking that he was behind this. Although she wasn’t angry, she was—
—freezing cold from the spray of a third ball hitting her. As she brushed the snow from her coat, her ears pricked as she heard a faint giggle. She stood rooted to the spot, frantically darting her eyes about to find her attacker. Whoever it was, they were going to pay once she had found them.
“All right, who’s there?! Starflash, is that you?” she called out into the dim depths of the forest. After a few silent moments, she furrowed her brows as the culprit revealed herself; a light yellow earth pony with a wide grin on her face, partially obscured by a long, spring-green mane. Both mares stared eye to eye at each other for what seemed like an eternity to Sepia before she spoke up.
“Honeysuckle. Why am I not surprised?”
“Well, it took you long enough!” The yellow mare laughed as Sepia brushed the snow from her mane. “I swear that cutie mark shows your special talent is being slow!”
Sepia glanced behind her, spotting her cutie mark. “Oh how witty of you. Did you skip the lecture just so you could spend all morning and afternoon thinking of that one?”
“Me? Skip the lecture?” Honeysuckle brought a hoof to her face as she gasped dramatically. “Of course I wouldn’t! At least not on purpose anyway. Let’s just say it ‘slipped my mind’ to attend.”
Sepia rolled her eyes as she said this. She was reminded of the excuse Starflash tried to give earlier that day.
“Whatever, like I care. I couldn’t imagine you liking it anyway. Not enough gossip for you,” she said flatly. Honeysuckle stifled a laugh as she began to walk towards the pegasus.
“I suppose you’re right there. But at any rate, the snooping and gossiping business has to be put on hold. The forest flowers hate the snow, so I’m busy clearing it up for them.” She bent down and swished her tail about on the lightly snow covered ground where Sepia stood, revealing a small patch of flowers with purple and yellow petals. Without warning, the earth pony scooped a small rock in both of her front hooves and hurled it at the blanketed treetops. Sepia jumped back as a small chunk of snow rained down onto where she stood. She shot Honeysuckle an angry glance, unaware of the new wave of sunlight that was now beaming down on the flower patch.
So you do have a talent outside of being an irritating, cheeky and sneaky pony, Sepia thought to herself with a smirk. And here I am, thinking that the posy on your flank was just a cruel and ironic way of expressing how annoying you are! What are the odds...
“So I suppose you’re here with Starflash, are you?” the yellow pony asked her. Sepia shook her head as her train of thought was temporarily derailed and she nodded at Honeysuckle.
“I’m helping him with some private sword practise, if you don’t mind. Speaking of which, he should have started looking for me now.”
Honeysuckle let out a slight giggle. “Don’t tell me... he’s probably daydreaming or napping. Honestly, he wants to learn how to become a swordspony and he can’t even be bothered to keep to his practise schedule?” She shook her head while smiling to herself. “If he’s napping, that’ll be the second time he’s embarrassed you today!”
Sepia’s eyes widened as she said this, and she stepped back. The sea of staring faces started to reappear all around her, smiling at her mockingly. She blinked a few times, and the ghostly figures vanished instantly. “Oh... You saw that?”
Honeysuckle leaned down and examined the flowers she had rescued from their snowy prison, brushing away some stray snowflakes that clung to the petals with her hooves. “I may have skipped... sorry, missed the lecture, but I couldn’t resist a quick peek at what was going on in there. It was just as I expected; a lot of bored ponies, save for a certain nerdy pegasus and her unicorn friend who can’t seem to take his head out of the clouds.”
Sepia cringed as she reimagined the whole scene in her head. Although she knew that she shouldn’t let the embarrassment at the lecture get to her, it seemed to for some unknown reason, no matter how hard she tried. The hundreds- no, thousands- of faces turning towards her. Just then, she heard a soft gallop coming from behind her and she quickly turned on the spot.
Starflash stood a fair distance away from the two mares, and Sepia glared him. “Well, you took your time!” she said with a sense of irritation in her voice. The unicorn looked away in embarrassment, spotting Honeysuckle as he turned his head.
“Good afternoon Starflash,” she said with a grin. “I trust you found the history lesson entertaining?”
It took a few moments for Starflash’s brain to catch onto what she trying to say, but thanks to Sepia’s icy look, his silence was short lived. He couldn’t help but laugh and blush while brushing his mane away from his eyes. “Well what can I say? I have a keen interest in history, and the village elder’s lesson sounded like fun. Turns out that it didn’t disappoint!”
“Mm, yes,” Sepia said, “but I think it’s time we got on with your practise. Alone.” She glanced at Honeysuckle, who just smiled back at her.
“Practise? I don’t suppose you mind if I watch you two? Or better yet, maybe I can help you!” The earth pony scooped up a lump of snow and quickly sculpted it into a ball.
“Well, I suppose having two throwers instead of one might help me become a better swordspony twice as fast,” Starflash said. He clapped his hooves together and, with a faint glow from his horn, unsheathed his sword. “All right, let’s go!”
Honeysuckle dashed behind a tree with a giggle, followed by a groaning Sepia dragging herself in the opposite direction.
Well that’s wonderful, the pegasus thought, a perfect day ruined. Hopefully she’ll get bored and go back to her flowers.
She closed her eyes, using her hooves to form a snowball. She began to count in her head. On three, she would let Starflash have it. Honeysuckle didn’t exist, she told herself. It was just him, herself and—
“Hey Sepia, think fast!”
—another snowball colliding with her face. She wiped the powdered cold from her eyes and looked in every direction- behind her, opposite to her and even above her- whilst she gritted her teeth. She began to lump more ammo onto her payload, whispering to herself.
“Ignore her, Sepia. You’re not here to start a war.”
“Oh really?” somepony whispered behind her. She jumped and spun around, only to be met with two blinding flashes of white. She yelped and stumbled backwards, tripping on a tree root.
“Hey!” she yelled. “You’re supposed to be aiming for Starflash, not me!”
“Oh but I was,” Honeysuckle said with a grin, “but I can’t help it if you got in the way, can I?” She spotted the extra-large ball that Sepia had crafted and swiftly crushed it beneath her back hoof. “Honestly, you should stick to your books and dusting off bits of junk in that museum.”
The mention of the museum caused Sepia to pause. The words dwelled in her mind, as if they had some hidden meaning or intent. After a few seconds of thinking, she immediately sprang upright while blinking furiously. “The museum... Oh my gosh, I forgot!” She dashed for the entrance of the forest where she had entered, tripping and slipping on the icy grass as she quickly picked up her saddlebags. Starflash leaned out from behind one of the trees, sheathing the levitating sword he was controlling.
“Sep? Where are you going?” he shouted after her. He glanced to the side as he heard a short burst of laughter. “What’s so funny?”
“Nothing,” Honeysuckle replied, “she just bolted when she remembered something about the museum. She’s so passionate about her work, sometimes I think it totally dominates her mind.”
“She’s going to the museum on a day like this?” Starflash said. “Does she realise that it’s her day off?” He looked at Honeysuckle, who gave him a shrug. “Well, one of these days she’s going to work herself to death.”
Honeysuckle turned away from him and muttered to herself.
“That would be a shame, wouldn’t it?”
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you decided that work was more important than a day in the snow. Good on you! There’s a stack of paperwork that needs doing, so if you’re not busy get to it!
More importantly, I also have a new exhibit sent in by some old coot who thinks he’s got himself a rare heirloom of sorts; a necklace to be precise. You should have seen the letter he sent with it too- the story he gave about how he found that necklace... Well, let’s just say that in the autumn years, your memories often give way to some rather interesting fantasies instead.
The necklace is on your desk next to this letter. Research it. Even though I’m not convinced that it’s antique or that it even has any value outside of that of the sentimental kind, I suppose that it’s our duty to find out as much about it as possible. I can’t date it off the top of my head, nor can I say anything about its region of origin, but I’m sure that you can figure it out!
Well what are you waiting for? Snap to it!
The gold necklace lay on Sepia’s desk, the small, smooth white orb-shaped gem which hung from it sparkling with brilliant flashes of blue and white as the light of the evening sun reflected from its surface. She picked it up with a lazy hoof and watched the decoration dangle freely before her. As she stared at it, she gently swung it from side to side like a delicate gold pendulum and one thought filled her mind.
I really hate that mare sometimes.
She looked at the spherical decoration for a few more seconds before deciding to place the necklace around her neck. With the lack of a mirror, she didn’t bother to try and see if it suited her at all. She headed straight for her office door.
Well, I might as well try and get this looked up then. If it keeps me away from her for the next couple of hours, then great. But Starflash... I’m sorry you have to put up with Honeysuckle all by yourself.
The clopping of her hooves against the marble floor of the corridors echoed throughout the building as she made her way to the staircase to the basement. The only other sound which could be heard was the jingling necklace chain. She turned left into a room with a dim blue glow surrounding the walls.
The astronomy section... Even though you’re not here Starflash, there’s absolutely no difference. Nothing is getting done in here, as per normal!
Once she had made her way to the other side of the room, she turned towards the stairs to her left. A sign above the aging oak door at the bottom of the steps read ‘Archives.’
Rows and rows of bookshelves stretched for what seemed to be miles in the dingy basement. Several of the dusty tomes that rested on the shelves looked as if they would crumble and fall at the slightest touch, and some were even covered in cobwebs. Sepia took the half-melted candle that stood on the small table next to the door and lit it with a broken match from the tiny box.
“I should really clean this place out sometime,” she whispered. She took the small dish on which the candle stood and placed it onto her back, being careful not to place it too close to her mane. She had been here countless times, so she didn’t worry about having a naked flame on her back.
Walking carefully, she made her way past each of the bookshelves in turn. She gave an “aha” as she spotted a thick book which rested on a bottom section of one of the shelves in the corner. She placed the candle on the floor and read the gold letters on the spine.
Crafting Throughout History, Vol. I
“This shouldn’t take long,” she said as she removed the book from the shelf, remarking in her mind about the sheer weight of it. Once it was hanging out enough, Sepia picked it up in her mouth and dragged it over to the desk, gagging as she tasted the many layers of dust that had built up over the years. It landed on the table with an echoing thud as she dropped it, sending a cloud of dirt flying into the air.
“Let’s see what we’ve got here...”
Two hundred pages and many hours later, Sepia rubbed her eyes as dry air began to irritate them. The lack of light and all the dust wasn't helping either, as her bloodshot eyes were beginning to itch as if sand had gotten in under her eyelids. She rested her head on her hoof and began to flick through the book one page at a time, whispering ‘nope’ as she compared her necklace to the ones in the book. She squinted, her eyes unable to tell the difference between the yellow of the paper and the golden colours in each picture.
Five hundred pages later, she was gritting her teeth; Not one piece of jewelry in the book matched the necklace. She groaned as she slammed the book shut.
“Nothing?! There has to something on this thing somewhere!” She lumbered to the bookshelf from which she had gotten the first book and took another one of the hefty tomes, this time labelled Vol. II.
“I’m getting to the bottom of this. I didn’t give up an afternoon in the snow for nothing! I don’t care if it takes all night!”
Sepia stood alone. The scene before her stretched for miles around in every direction. The plains were bare: no flowers, no houses, not even another pony. Just her and the grass. The sun was high in the cloudless sky, and the gentle breeze felt cool and calm on her fur. It took a few moments for her to take the scene in, but once she was used to it she smiled.
Where am I? How in the hay did I get here? And who—
She stopped as she spotted a lone figure in the distance, standing there rigid motionless. She cautiously walked towards it, the fresh grass crunching beneath her hooves as she made her way closer. As she approached, she saw that the figure was, in fact, a pony shrouded by a black cloak which fluttered gently in the breeze.
“H-Hello?” she called out to it. There was no response, but it moved its hoof slightly and dug at the ground. Sepia inched closer, trembling slightly. Her shaking soon stopped as she plucked up the courage to stand directly behind the pony.
“Can you hear me? Hello?” she asked again.
Slowly, the figure turned its head towards her until a white snout, and nothing else, was visible. Sepia stared at the pony’s mouth as its lips formed a single word in a whispery, sweet sounding voice.
Sepia stood there blinking. It took a few moments for the mare’s word to sink in. When she finally figured out what it had said, she shook her head. “Follow? You want me to go with you?”
The mare didn’t respond. She simply turned her head back in the direction she was looking in.
“I-I don’t understand,” Sepia said quickly. “Who are you? Where am I?”
She heard the pony exhale, and before she could say anything else, Sepia could feel the wind rushing about her and causing the great field of grass to move in powerful waves. As the wind became more fierce, Sepia’s mane began to move like the grass she was standing on and she felt as if she was about to be lifted off of her hooves. The stranger’s cloak still moved in a gentle motion, as if the wind were still just a breeze. The sun was beginning to become unbearably bright too, forcing Sepia to hold a hoof to her eyes as she felt them burning.
And with a great flash, she awoke.
She sat behind the desk in the pitch black basement, the scent of a smoking candle hanging in the air. She could feel the layers of dust that had been rubbing against her face and groaned, stretching her legs.
“What? I fell asleep?” she said with a yawn. “It couldn’t have been that long, could it?”
Looking about the room, she groped about for the matches. Once she had laid a hoof on the box, she struck it and searched for the door with the meagre light.
Well, I suppose I’ll have to leave it for tomorrow now, she thought. She closed the door behind her as she blew out the match. She shrugged as she noticed that she didn’t have a key to lock the door, and that she was still wearing the necklace.
Ugh... I can’t be bothered to put this back in the office, she thought as she poked the decoration on the chain. I suppose I’ll just wear it home. It’s not like it’s going to be missed between now and tomorrow anyway.
With a slouch, she made her way to the museum entrance and began the short walk back to her house across the plaza, under the cover of the full moon which lit the sky with a pale white light. She shivered, the still air of the night chilling her to the bone. Looking about the scene, she crept through the snow. She noticed that the area was totally deserted and silent, even for such a late hour.
What a day. Maybe sleep will help me to—
Sepia stopped dead. Her eyes widened and her tiredness was instantly replaced with shock.
Standing across the plaza was an ethereal figure in the shape of a pony, which was glowing with a faint white light.