Embers Fall

by CrimsonWave

3 - Secrets Lie in the Sacred Sand

“Do you think Project Euphorius might be sufficiently appropriate and over the line?” another pegasus asked. Obscurus was curious; “I’m not trying to be rude or anything, Wave Rider, but what exactly is Project Euphorius about?”

“Oh, I thought you knew already. It’s something me, Eight Track, and Train Spot have been investigating.” Wave Rider, a dark-magenta-colored pegasus, replied. He galloped towards a laptop and projector, which he almost knocked over with his wings in the process. “Gather around, everypony.”

He opened a map of Neighvada. “This is the Stone’s Throw Desert; it’s about two hours from the city of Reino.” “This little dot right here is the Duskgem Basin. It’s a clearing that hosts a rather interesting event known as the Gathering of Embers.” Wave Rider explained. “It is, apparently, connected to an aspect of the regional heritage.”

“The event is a celebration of unity, creativity, sharing, self-reliance, and light.” Obscurus tapped a hoof in boredom, seemingly awaiting a more casually exciting explanation. “Or, in other words, it’s the most insane week of your life.” Obscurus sprung to life.

“It’s hard to truly define, but it’s got a lot of artsy stuff; cool sculptures, riding around on a bicycle you customized with a bazillion LEDs, some dance game that blasts magical fire at you if you do badly, and so on.” he informed.

“There’s also bands and DJs too; primarily those you approve of, maybe even you. Sometimes they ride around on fancy trucks made to look like a draconequus or some other creature. Plus you camp out under a sky where can actually see the constellations for once. For once, it’s good to be in the middle of nowhere” As a slide show.of photos and videos from previous Gatherings splashed across the wall, Obscurus seemed giddy.

“However, in recent years, it’s been run amok by our enemies.” Wave Rider briefly elaborated.

“Enemies as in the aforementioned fast food musicians and respective ‘fanmares’, right?” Obscurus interjected.

“Yeah. The purists are complaining that it’s attracting ‘parasprites’ that think this is a glorified music festival, and don’t care much about the arts or the event’s principles.” Obscurus was shaking in excitement.

“They’ve also been complaining about the ‘rich parasprites’ who build extravagant campsites with lavish amenities all for themselves. The purists think they’re cheating.” Wave Rider continued. “The Gathering celebrates the flame as something that brings everypony together to ignite a community. It’s represented by a giant, wooden alicorn sculpture they burn on the penultimate night.”

“Perhaps it should also symbolize how their careers are about to go up in smoke.” Obscurus snarked and giggled, in chorus with everypony else.

“Anyway, they say the burning of the ‘blazicorn’ symbolizes a tyrant who tried to ‘bring fire’ to a nearby village; the residents managed to elude it by moving to a shelter community in the Duskgem Basin. It was marked by a massive bonfire seen on the horizon”, he lectured. “They left no trace of their presence. But to celebrate their survival, they vowed to return to that exact location annually to ‘rekindle’ their community, by burning an effigy of the tyrant on the ‘sacred sands’ that kept them safe many years ago.”

“Kind of like Colt Fawkes?” Obscurus pondered.

“I … guess?” Wave Rider replied with uncertainty, “You’re the one who did shows in Trotterham, not me.”

“But, don’t believe what everyone tells you.” Eight Track warned. “2 out of 7 ponies think that particular origin story is a lie. They say the organizers have been re-writing history to justify what this event has become in the modern day. But don’t worry, the Clausula Records family is 100% sure that we can do something there that will make us forever feared. No questions asked.” he boasted. “Oddly enough, Obscurus, what we found may just tie into what you’ve been trying to do with your own powers.”

“Some have said that this cultural event is built around what is actually a ritual for something else. Supposedly, there is a mythical device buried under the desert.” Obscurus and Train Spot let out a gasp.

“It is some form of construct that allegedly controls dimensional stability. But, it is heat powered and it needs to be “refueled” approximately every year by placing a large heat source above its core for a period.” he continued. “The core is, approximately, right below where they traditionally place the blazicorn.”

The construct normally stays in a ‘standby’ state. However, if it is charged with flames above all eight of its conduits at once, it can be boosted to full power mode. In this state, it can be controlled manually, allowing you to ‘bend the reality’ around a localized area.” The science fiction writer in Eight Track seemed to be showing, or was it? “I don’t know exactly how it functions, though. It might be a larger-scale version of the virtual reality thing you were trying to do at that festival.” Now Obscurus was really interested.

“I must warn you that it may just be an urban legend.” Wave Rider disclaimed. “However, our level of confidence is currently at 55%, and Train Spot has been researching this event as a side project.”

Train Spot chimed in as well; “Me and Wave Rider have actually wanted to go to the Gathering for about two years now. When we come back for the fall semester, there’s always a stallion or two at the university that brag about going down to Duskgem to become a follower of the Embers. They always call it ‘coming home’.”

“The purists appear to be quite dedicated” Obscurus commended, as a video from a DJ’s performance at last year’s Gathering played on the projector and speakers. “Regardless of whether we even execute Project Euphorius, I am now legitimately interested.”

But then, she noticed something; “OH MY GOSH HE’S PLAYING ONE OF MY SONGS!” she squealed in excitement. It was common for Obscurus to become extremely flattered when one of her songs pops up on a podcast or radio show (or in this case, a bootleg from the desert).

“Anywho, with that in mind, we need to do some planning. We need to learn when this is, the rules, what we need to bring, if there’s a dress code, how DJs get gigs there, how you even get there to begin with, and so on.” she explained. “We have to learn their commonly-accepted practices. If we’re doing things ‘wrong’, people won’t trust us. You have to be subtle”

“A few of my friends on Ponyhoof have there before. I could ask them questions for you.” Train Spot offered. “Thank you.” Obscurus said. “There are a ton of websites and forums about it too.” Train Spot added. “You’ll be able to find out everything.”

“Good.” Obscurus affirmed. “I also bet you that despite the following it is, the Gathering is probably such an obscure event that the Chaotic one isn’t going to be there, let alone has ever heard of it.” she declared.

“Now, onto our next topic of discussion tonight, Wave Rider told me that he’s got new single to share with us.”

“I sure do. It’s as lit as that wooden alicorn!” He exclaimed, as everypony giggled once more.