"I do not care for your demoralizing tone Mr Glass," stated a dark grey unicorn. "And further would appreciate any more such energy be directed towards the task at hand!"
The ship the unicorn was referring to was the royal exportation sloop, the Morning Light. A sight to be seen in a calm summer day, has been battered to a gaunt ghost of a vessel. The sails torn and near useless, the forward mast snapped just above the deck line, and the rudder, jammed purposefully at zero degrees, only affords it's captain to stay the course. A course, which had been from the start, wrought with bad luck and misfortune, as if the expedition was outright cursed.
Which were the exact words spoken by Mr Glass not a moment ago. Mr. Glass was a rather diminutive pegasus, only about 3/4ths the average pony. Although unable to sustain flight for very long, even in the best of conditions, he found himself particularly in tune with the weather. Able to understand the temperament of storms and where the more dangerous areas will be. On any other voyage, this helped in steering around such deathtraps. But this captain! He did nearly the opposite of every suggestion given to him!
"Thir, I was only thtating the empirical fact that," he blurted between waves, "given both out current predicament, thith voyage theemth at betht a fools quest!" The captain, having about enough of this, levitated his pistol from his belt, taking aim squarely at the lisping pegasus's globe of a head.
"I believe I have made my point perfectly clear Mr. Glass," a sense of steel clarity in his voice. "If this is our last day, we shall not leave as foals but as the officers we were commissioned. Now go do something useful and send the map and the log to our princess."
Mr. Glass, fully understanding now that the ship was doomed, backed away, turned and galloped off to the lower decks. The captain now alone on the wheel-deck sighed muttering to himself "Celestia... forgive me. I wasn’t enough.”
Below decks, Mr. Glass hurried to the communication and navigation room. Along the way he saw ponies donkeys and even a zebra all desperately trying to keep their vessel, their home, afloat. At one point he saw the quartermaster belting orders to those... less than willing to remain at their post. What was so important about this voyage that they must risk all their lives for? There was no tactical advantage this far at sea. Hell there wasn't ANYTHING so far as any cartographer knew on this heading. He pushed these thoughts into the back of his mind, realizing he could get an extra step faster with his albeit diminutive wings.
As he finally made it to the COM room, he saw a few of the communication dragons left, who weren't puking their guts out from the ship's listing, frantically scribbling messages to loved ones and sending them off with in a puff of flame and smoke. It was laid out as two rows of desks facing the wall twenty feet long, in and out boxes with varying levels of papers. Above every other desk was a collecting pipe for the outgoing smoke.To this group of reptiles, Mr. Glass belted "By order of the captain, we are to thend our current coordinateth and the voyage log to the Princeth immediately." The ruckus of flaming immediately stopped. Only the occasional gurgle and belch was heard over the tempest outside as all eyes turned to the royal messenger at the end of the row. This one dragon stood out from the rest by a Celestial seal emblazoned on his shoulder. Embedded in the wall facing him, was the door to black box safe, protecting the sensitive information collected along the journey. Whirring the dial left and right barley stopping to unlock the tumblers within, he opened the tiny door revealing numerous scrolls, bits, and most importantly, the official log of the expedition. Hopping from his stool the dragon turned to give the book to Mr. Glass for final confirmation before sending it off. As he reached to the pegasus, a great crash was heard against the side of the ship. The sound of wood splintering and metal screaming deafened the all other sounds in the lower decks as an enormous hole was being scored into the vessel.
Mr. Glass was thrown against the bulkhead pain searing out from his wing and flank. "What hit uth!?" his question answered itself as a boulder as large as the royal carriage, rested within both his deck and the one above. More peculiar than the bolder itself which seemed to have the word TOM scratched into the side, was the enormous chain attached to it. As he was staring at this rock sitting before him, the chain and boulder began to glow. The chain then grew taught and began to drag the rock out of the new porthole it had made. Mr. Glass backpedaled, dodging falling timbers, watching where this...thing came from. He followed the glowing chain out into the squall outside but could not see the projectile's origin. He strained to see anything in the inky blackness. A flash of lightning illuminated the sky and the surface of the water. He was only able to see the silhouette, but it made clear where the boulder came from. A massive vessel twice as wide in the beam and at least their length was bearing down on the Morning Light.
Mr. Glass knew of every ship and boat in the Equestrian fleet, and none came close to this monstrosity. He needed to warn someone, anyone of this dreadnaught before it destroyed them. He whipped around to COM Dragons but they were not as lucky as the pegasus when the boulder hit. He prayed one of them were still yet alive to send the message, and the log. The log! Those on that ship must want the log. They were explorers, knowledge seekers. There was no treasure on this ship save for that book. He hurried into the rain and green blood drenched pile of timbers looking for one messenger just one. "No. No. No. No. Yeeeeth. No." Then he heard a faint moan. "Thank Celestia" he thought. Moving the pile of desks Timber and scaled appendages, he saw the most diminutive of dragons. Like himself he seemed smaller than most but he will have go do. He took the shoulders of the dragon and shook as hard as he could. "Nooooo mom just five more minutes." mumbled the reptile. There was no time this. Mr. Glass turned an bucked the snot out of the dragons stomach, which wasn't really that hard but definitely got the dragon's attention.
"Ok ok I'm up!" rubbing his eye he gasped "What happened here!?"
Mr Glass grabbed the dragon by the scruff, dragging him to the gaping hole in the side of the ship. "That. Can you thketch?"
"Sure enough!" the dragon boasted. "I wouldn't be the ship's chart-maker if I couldn't."
"Great. Watch out there and thketch what you thee when the lightning flatheth"
They both stared for what seemed like an eternity. Mr Glass began to worry that it wouldn't happen in time. But just as he began to doubt his weather sense, a brilliant multi branched bolt screamed from the clouds illuminating their assailant once more. Before Mr Glass could speak, the dragon feverishly scratched his quill to the parchment.
The pegasus watched in terrified astonishment as the image took shape. But it was somehow different than what he had witness not a few seconds ago. Details missed in the moment, emerged clear as day on paper. Even with the tempest, the dragon seemed to notice aspects of the ship that most would miss in the bright of day.
"Done!" he exclaimed as if it were a race to be won. His youth betrays his expertise.
"Are you thure thith is what you thaw?" the panic in Mr. Glass' voice apparent to the young dragon.
"I only draw what I see..."
"Then Celethtia help us."
From inside dreadnaught, what looked to be large cast iron barrels taller than any pony, alive were aimed directly at the wheel-deck and mid-ship of the Morning Light. Behind these barrels, a large figure stood surveying the damage inflicted on the ship before them. A commanding yet sinister voice came from this creature. Not satisfied with merely crippling the ship it growled out "FIRE". In response, the unicorns standing sentry along each barrel concentrated their horns at each base. A buildup of magic propelled the same enormous boulders, back into the Morning Light right where Mr Glass and the COM dragon were standing. As the first boulder hit, the ship nearly cracked in half, sending timber and sail flying every which way. Finally satisfied, the dreadnaught turn to port, away and into the darkness, leaving the survivors to their fate.
As most of the Morning Light slipped beneath the waves, the remaining crew cried out into the night for rescue, which will never come. Many of these doomed sailors clung to the largest bits of the ship that could support them. The stern, not yet submerged, still had sealed compartments intact, retarding its descent. From the top-deck some of the air-stacks still remained connected to the lower decks. Silently, a large green swirl of smoke seeped out of one of these few remaining stacks into the torrent away from the carcass.
Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, following a long and particularly drawn out day of mundane political business, flopped onto their personalized pillow-couches in the privacy of their joined common room. The sun had been set but it was yet time before raising the moon. This was the time of day Celestia and Luna enjoy the most, for they get to just be sisters and not the rulers of devoted subjects.
"Tia, how did you do this for thousand years!? I've only returned but less than a year, and I am almost ready for another thousand year banishment!" Luna said lifting her diary, her horn barely glowing with the effort.
"Nay dear sister" Celestia replied "I think I was the fool then. I banished you to a place of seclusion and rest. I should have sentenced you to a thousand years of bureaucratic pencil pushing. Maybe Nightmare Moon would have been worn down in a fraction of the time" Removing her crown and other vestments, she began her newly rediscovered post-sunset ritual of personal TLC. As she was about to begin brushing her coat, she could see could see in the mirror a rapidly moving shadow approaching the castle.
"Wonderful!" she thought "A report on friendship from Twilight. I wonder what new experience has taught my little ponies." This thought was short lived however as she noticed that the plume was much larger than normal. She stood and approached the balcony where the message was aiming itself to meet with her. It swirled and exploded with an audible POOF into a book?
"Most peculiar" she whispered.
Luna glanced up from her diary noticing the particularly concerned expression on Tia. "What is it sister? A new book for the library? What is that on the cover? Is that....*GASP* "
"Yes Luna. Yes this is a book and yes that is blood, both pony and dragon to be precise. This is a ship's log, from a vessel named the Morning Light that I had commissioned not long before Nightmare Moon escaped from imprisonment. Only the captain an adolescent dragon on board knew of its true intent, and that is how it must stay. As such, the contents of book will never be seen outside this room, let alone a library.
In a flash Princess Celestia furrowed her brow, concentrating on the book for only a fraction of a second, just long enough to lighting the leather bound book in a brilliant blue flame. Luna, personally flabbergasted by the burning of any book, lunged al Tia trying to stop her sudden madness. But the look Celestia gave halted her faster than stare from a cockatrice.
"I hope" Celestia began uncharacteristically stern, " you can understand that certain things must remain...secret. At least for the time being." Luna looked at her sister and then at the book, replying meekly "I do. Just don’t scare me like that and please don't burn any more books."
But just as fast as her madness took over her, it seemed to evaporate. She sauntered to her couch, "Oh dear sister, I would never incinerate a book! I know your love of hard bounds. Look inside; the book is perfectly unscathed."
Luna nudged the book open and, true to her word, although still tainted with blood, the pages inside were perfectly fine. The only thing missing were the words.
Luna satisfied, but still concerned for her sister, turned and slowly clopped out onto the balcony to begin the night. Before taking off though, she glanced over her shoulder at a pony that, even after a year of getting reacquainted with, still confuses her.
What was in that book? What was the Morning Light looking for? Why was Tia so intent on keeping both a secret? These questions would have to wait, the night was almost late and she hates being tardy. As she crouched to take flight, a communication smoke rammed itself a quarter way up her nose startling the alicorn. It materialized itself as two scrolls sticking out her nostrils causing Luna to crash into a decorative bush at the end of the balcony.
"Are you injured Luna!?" called out Celestia. "Do we need your old training wings?" she giggles to herself.
"Ha, Ha. No for your information it was a comm...." she quickly considered her next words. These may be able to tell me something more about Morning Light she thought.
"It was a bug! A parasprite flew up my muzzle!"
"Oh my. We must contact Twilight's friend, Miss Pie. I think she still has her tuba. I'll send a.....
Luna was no longer listening. She was more concerned with these new tidbits of information. She called out her goodbyes to Tia and went off into the twilight to raise the moon.
Following her nightly duties, she went off to the library to research the scrolls. She silently made her way into the reclusive area so as not to be disturbed. Although it was the early morning she was still concerned about Tia catching her disobeying her ruling. She lit a candle and unrolled the first scroll. It resembled a map, however it had symbols unknown to Luna and it look like no coastline or landmass in Equestria. It barely resembled a cohesive map or at least any map that could be navigable. She set this aside and unrolled the second parchment. It seemed to be a sketch. A very detailed image of a magnificent vessel in a tempest unlike she had seen in a thousand years. In the corner smeared in blood, read only one line:
"Beware the return of the son"