The surface was truly an amazing contrary to the underworld he once called home. The entrance was under a huge mountain chain that continued to extend to the north. None caves or lairs he knew seemed to be as huge as those monsters that ripped out of the earth like razor sharp teeth of a colossal beast. He could not see the top of it that was hidden in thick white clouds. Twilight was concerned about Ember long before they have finally went back on the surface. Afraid that he might lose his sight due his life in the thick darkness of the Underground; gladly his eyes adapted to the sun shine nearly rapidly even if he first saw only a one big white spot in the beginning. The region around the mountains was rugged and mostly wild, the horizon did not reveal any cities or villages.
Incredibly loud sounds that were nearly everywhere starting with the singing of the birds to the clashing of waves against the cliffs were just overwhelming for him causing an immense headache. Rarity seemed to have noticed that he was rubbing his temple;
- Do you have a headache?
- The surface is truly a loud place. – Ember said and continued to rub his temple. – Don’t worry I will get used to it with time.
- Indeed the underground was an awfully silent place. – said Twilight. – I’m afraid that you might get a migraine in the city.
Great – He thought. They went up on a hill form where he could see an impressive landscape, to the west there were many geothermic areas with a lot of hot springs.
- This land looks so abandoned. You don’t have any villages or cities in that area?
- Sadly no. This part of Equestria is pretty wild as you have noticed; even though the land is great for agriculture this place is straddled over two tectonic plates; the disadvantages are in the form of few volcanoes, earthquakes and other natural hazards. – Twilight pointed the hot springs with her horn. – The hot springs are one of some good things that came with the subterranean activity.
- Talking as a scholar as usual. – said Applejack and opened her bag or saddle whatever the ponies were wearing. – Our water supplies are short. We better refill them before we go back to Ponyville.
Rainbow Dash flew up into the sky with an immense speed and looked around. After a short while she landed back on the ground creating a small dust cloud that made Rarity complain about ruining her precious fur.
- Not far away from us is a small lake. We can refill our water bags there.
- Lets go then. – said Twilight and let Rainbow Dash lead the rather weird pack. Ember waited for a moment till the ponies were out of reach, then he turned around and looked at the entrance. He could not leave the entrance to the underground open like that; the risk that something might come out of it was too high. He raised his arm into the sky and started focusing energy on the hands surface. The energy he has collected was strong enough for the thing that he was intending to do. His arm went down, he released the energy. The bolt exploded inside of the entrance, parts of the tunnel started to collapse. A thick cloud of dust surrounded that area but he was able to see through it that the entrance has been sealed for good. The ponies waited for him till he joined them up, gladly they did not complain about that sudden act that scared them to death.
Ember was on the back of the group looking around in the open environment of the land the ponies called Equestria. It was a fascinating experience for him to travel on the surface. The fresh air, the wide open world was simply unbelievable; he was wondering if everything around him even the ponies were only a nice dream. The long forgotten feeling of grass on the skin though made him forget about this question because it was annoying him since he step on it; tickling him all the time. After a while they have arrived at the lake that Rainbow has spotted. The ponies started to refill their water supplies, in the mean time Ember was standing next to a tree that was growing not far from the lake. Something was familiar about the tree but he could not figure out what it was till he looked at the crown of the tree.
It was the tree from his flashback! With his shaking hand Ember touched the rough bark of the mysterious tree that has haunted him in the Underground. Nothing unusual happened; the fog that was surrounding his mind was still there. Disappointed he let his ears go down surprisingly similar as the ponies do, gladly the ponies did not notice anything. Whatever has happened here it was in the past, he had to accept that even if he had struggles right now. The water supplies has been refreshed, the ponies gathered together and started to discuss about the way they should choose. The debate was short and efficient that is why they journey to their home continued swiftly. Once again he was at the end of the group the ponies in front of him were AJ and Rainbow Dash that were talking about some kind of competition they would like to participate in.
Rainbows bag was not properly closed and something fell out of it, Ember bowed down and picked it up and right he recognized the item as a book. Not able to read the sign that were on it he increased his speed a bit till he reached the blue pony.
- Here it fell out of your bag.
- Oh thanks! – said Rainbow and grabbed the backside of the book with her mouth. She lifted her back leg a bit so she could put the book back where it belonged. Ember suddenly noticed that she had something on her flank. Thinking that it was a spot left by one of the blood veins he mentioned it to her. After she has checked her hip she laughed hearty;
- This aint a spot. That is my cutie mark.
- Cutie mark?
- What is it good for?
- A cutie mark is related to the personality, proclivity or talent of each individual pony. – answered AJ for Rainbow that right now was closing her bag.
Ember was deeply confused by the fact that some symbols on a flank might have reflected any personal information about a pony; the ponies noticed that he was trying to realize it and laughed at him. The others came by after they noticed that their companions stopped to move.
- Tell me then. – He said after he gave up figuring out things. – What do your marks mean?
- Mine tells everypony that I am great at applebuckin’. – said Applejack showing him her mark that were three apples in a shape of a triangle. She even performed a kick with her back legs what scared the poor Fluttershy that was not far from her.
- My cutie mark represents my expertise in magic and love for star gazing. – said Twilight. – Her mark was a big star that was surrounded by sparkles. Or was it in another way? He didn’t ask.
- My cutie mark shows that I am great at finding all sorts of gemstones! Besides that it points out my creativity! - Like AJ’s cutie mark, her mark had a triangle form instead of apples though she had blue brilliants on the flank.
- My cutie mark represents my skill in flying and the performance of the Sonic Rainbow Boom! I hope I don’t have to add that my mark is the coolest in all of Equestria! – Her mark was a cloud that looked like it was shooting a thunder that had rainbow colors. The other ponies looked at her certainly annoyed by that comment of hers, to fast avoid any fights he continued by looking on Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy.
- My mark shows everypony that I love to party! – Pinkie started to jump up and down smiling as always. – Oh oh oh! Besides that I am really good in making ponies smile.
- You will have a problem with me then.
- Oh really? – She asked with a look that was impressively challenging.
- Whys that?
- I don’t have a face if you didn’t notice that. Besides that I am not a pony.
- I’m sure I can handle it!
- I could get you a mask that would have a smiling shape, or even better I would paint a smile on your face so you would look like you would have a lucky day. – She turned around to the others. – Can you imagine a life without smiling?
Before they could say something Pinkie started to talk in such fast way that Ember could barely understand what she had in mind, at least he was not the only one that seemed to have a problem with that. Her mark was showing three balloons that were forming a triangle form. What’s all about those triangles? While Pinkie still talked, Ember looked down upon Fluttershy.
-How about you Fluttershy?
- Emmm…. I…. I…
- Relax little one relax. Remember what I said in the chamber.
- My cutie mark shows that I have a talent for communicating and caring for animals. – She answered still a little bit quiet but definitely louder than usual. Three butterflies were on her flank shaping a triangle form; he would not be surprised anymore if many other ponies had the same thing on their flanks.
- I see. – He looked upon the group. – I see that each of you have their own unique talent or abilities but it is still a matter of fact that I find it strange.
- I find it strange that you find it strange. – said Rainbow Dash and started to spin around in the air.
- As you all said your marks…
- Cutie marks! – They all answered in the same time. He cleared his throat one time;
- Okay cutie marks… show your talents to other living creatures. I would be afraid of having such thing.
- Why? – asked Pinkie that was hopping in the place as she usually did.
- An enemy could use it against me.
- Look I understand that you were living an extremely dangerous life, besides that you were a guardian you had to be more open minded about things but in Equestria is a rather peaceful place and we really don’t have many enemies. – Said Twilight that was sounding like a teacher.
- But there still are enemies.
- Yeah there are some enemies but we have faced them and even in the worst situations we made it out together.
His life has been always a one big survival game, since he has been send down into the darkness of the underworld; for him things like peace were merely a tale that could not exist in his mind. He felt a strange feeling of fear inside him that was constantly fighting against any changes that could have misshapen his survival instincts. Ember seemed have fallen deeply into his thoughts, he felt that something kicked him in the knee, it was Applejack; - Hey Equestria to Ember are you here?
- Pardon me. – Something was wrong, his sight suddenly started to fade. The voices around him became low pitched, he lost the power in his legs and fell down on the ground, the ponies were yelling at him but he did not understand it, then once more he entered the darkness.
The dark is my friend, the dark is my home. For the dark doesn’t hurt others, as I did. The dark is my comfort, the dark is where I hide and dark is my heart for this how it comes. The dark was caused by me, the one who hurt and betrayed; for this is what I see; Dark and Suffering.
A shock woke him up; he was entirely wet, his open eyes created a steam that took his sight for a short time. What was going on? His throat felt so dried out, he didn’t have the strength to get up, and if he tried he felt hooves pushing him against the ground. His breath was fast and uncoordinated; again he tried to get up and he made it even with the persistent hooves pushing him down. He gained his sight again, in panic he looked around for the lake. Ember spotted it ran to it as fast as he could, followed by the ponies that were yelling at him but he couldn’t understand them. He arrived at the lake; he fell ungentle on his knees, pushed his face into water and started to drink the cold and refreshing element of life. The ponies watches with wide open mouths how he swallowed liter after liter till the dry feeling was gone, relived he stood up and sat down on the ground.
- What in the name of Celestia was that all about?! – He started to hear again but he didn’t recognize who was talking.
- I’m so hungry… - Ember was talking more to himself than to the ponies. He heard that the ponies were splitting up in two groups, one group looking for food group the other staying with him.
- The dark is my friend, the dark is my home. For the dark doesn’t hurt others, as I did. The dark is my comfort, the dark is where I hide and dark is my heart for this how it comes. The dark was caused by me, the one who hurt and betrayed; for this is what I see; Dark and suffering… What does it mean? So many questions so many thoughts, make it stop! Make it stop…
Once more he lost consciousness but only for a short time because right away he got a cold wake up shower in a way too big amount. The ponies were right in front of him all of them. Maybe it was not that short as he thought? Right next to him was a strange looking pile that had a sweet scent he could not recognize but deep in him something was telling him that he knew it but he really could not remember what it was.
- Eat up. – Said somebody and without waiting he started to swallow the brought food. Nopony asked him how he was devouring it without having a mouth. The pile was gone in minutes, yet still he was hungry but he did not mention it. What was going on? He searched the ground for magic sources after he found one he connected with it and started to feast on it till the hunger that seemed not to have an end finally ended.
- Ember what happened?
- I wish I could answer that… - Said the guardian with a weak voice so that the ponies had a hard time with understanding him for a while.
- He really was hungry the poor fellah I won’t mention his thirst.
- When was the last time you ate or drank something? – asked Rarity concerned.
- I don’t know….
- The underground was a rough place with nearly no water supplies and we did not find many things that could have serve as food. – said Twilight. – What were you eating down there?
- I was not eating nor drinking. I was guarding.
- That can’t be possible! Every living creature has to eat and drink.
He thought about her words soon he had a theory;
- The crystals... I think they were keeping me alive.
- Twilight is that possible?
- I am not certain about that Dash. The princess might know the answer. One thing is sure with those crystals gone his exhausted body needs normal treatment.
His eyes started to close by themselves, he couldn’t control it and to be honest he didn’t want to control it. The blaze of his eyes started to fade.
- Look at him! He starts to fall asleep… Can it be that he was not sleeping either?
He didn’t hear what came after it. Ember was already lost in his dreamless sleep.
The ponies decided that they would continue their journey back home after Ember regained his strength and had enough sleep on his bill. They made a small camp around him, keeping him warm with a camp fire but they were not sure if he really needed that; his body temperature seemed to be higher than the temperature of the campfire. Applejack and Rainbow Dash were still on search for more food while the other took care of the sleeping Ember, none of them have ever hear a such snoring creature like him; even a dragon would be impressed. Twilight was watching the fire dance in the slowly ending day. Thinking about the things that happened in the last few days, she didn’t know how to properly report all those things to the princess, everything had a great value and could not be forgotten.
Rarity was playing with the red opal Ember gave her; it was reflecting the light of the fire in a very pretty way. It size was incredible she was sure that Rarity would find a great use of it. Fluttershy did not leave Embers side since he fell asleep; it was easy to figure out that she started to like him even though he had that scary looking appearance. Pinkie was sitting with her at the fire, strangely silent what was really unusual for a pony like her.
- Hey Pinkie you look troubled is everything fine?
- Oh Twilight the things Ember have told us are troubling me.
- Yeah I know what you mean. – She looked on their new sleeping companion; Fluttershy was quietly singing to him what seemed to affect him somehow because his tense state and strange breath normalized.
- He was down there for sooooo long… All alone in that dark place, without any friends that could cheer him up a bit while we had such good time in our lives.
- Can you please repeat that thing he said before he fainted?
Pinkie repeated the dark poem the guardian had tell while she was gone with the others, cold chill ran down her spine after she ended;
- He really had a bad time down there if he is thinking that way. - Thought Twi and shivered in her mind.
Rainbow Dash and Applejack returned with full bags of wild fruits they have managed to find, while Dash was stacking everything up Applejack went to the sleeping Ember that right now was sleeping like a small filly. She surely was concerned about him after the heroic jump he dared to safe her from the deadly fall. Fluttershy told her that right now things seemed to be alright what cheered AJ a little bit.
- What do you think Twilight what will the princes think of all this? – asked Rarity that stopped to play with her gift. – It surely sound like a good fairy tale.
- I am starting to ask myself if the princess felt the crystals or him.
- What makes you think that way?
- Didn’t you feel the magic within those chains after they appeared on his body?
- I did but it faded right away after they fell to the ground.
- It is only a thought but… - again she looked at Ember. – What if the princess felt him not the crystals?
- Maybe, maybe not. Right now we should not think about that. – Rarity sighted delicately.
Fluttershy went to the camp fire after she chatted with Applejack that now took her place, she did look quiet exhausted.
- How do things look like?
- I’m not sure Twilight. One thing is sure though, he won’t wake up overnight.
- We will have to wait till he is back on his legs. That’s only a bad moment for such long sleep; the princess might get nervous about no messages.
- We could try to talk to her telepathically. – Suggested Rarity. – I will help you with that.
- It’s worth a try.
The unicorns started to focus, their horns started to glow with a slight light each with a different color. Both of them bowed a bit a chain of pure energy connected their horns. After they were sure that the connection would be strong enough to reach Canterlot the ponies lifted their heads hoping that their call would be heard by the princess. It seemed that they would not make it but then they heard Princess Celestia's voice in their minds.
- Ah if that is not my faithful student Twilight Sparkle and her friend Rarity.
- Excuse us that we interrupt in a late time like this your highness. – started Twilight. – But we have a story that has to be told.
- There is nothing to be sorry about Twilight. It sounds like that it’s rather an important thing. Let’s hear what you have to report.
The time passed by while Twilight reported their adventures in the underground, Celestia listened patiently, and interrupting her only if she had some questions, after she told her everything Celestia went silent for a very long time. At least she was establishing the connection between them that’s why everypony in the camp could hear that conversation.
- This is quiet a story Twilight Sparkle. The events that occurred could not be predicted and I feel bad that I have sent you all right into this dangerous region.
- Nothin’ to worry about princes. – said Applejack. – The most important thing is that we all made it out.
- Yes that’s true. I assume your new friend emmm Ember was it? Is still in his deep sleep?
- Yes he is.
- You all have experienced enough danger in this place my little ponies. I will not sit idle on my throne while you are there, I will immediately start action of bringing you back home.
- What about Ember? We can’t just leave him like that! – protested Applejack.
- Don’t worry Applejack I intend to take him with us back to Canterlot. But you will have to understand even if I believe in your report that I will have to imprison him for some time. Till I am sure that he is not a threat to the inhabitants of Equestria.
- He went through a lot princess. –started Fluttershy. – We don’t know how he will react if he will wake up in a prison.
- He risked his own life to save us from the dragon! – said Pinkie and hit the ground with her hove.
- He healed my injury and even gave refugee to us while I was unconscious! – said Rarity, with her telekinesis she showed up the opal. – He even gave me a gift as an act of good will.
- Ember jumped into the darkness after the bridge collapsed! To safe me from certain death! – complained Applejack.
- Princess… Ember has shown us the symphony of the stones a thing that I would have never imagined to exist. We could learn more from him I am sure of that… but he cannot be imprisoned again! Only recently he has gained his freedom and I am afraid if we will threat it he might defend it to the bitter end.
The princess went silent again but her connection was still there, the situation was getting tense, everypony was waiting for her respond.
- I will have to think about it girls. – She finally responded. – But I can’t promise you anything, his good deeds are indeed honorable, still it is unknown for us all what he is capable of. I will move out personally to get this matter done. Right now my little ponies get some rest.
She cut the connection leaving the ponies with many questions and bad feelings about the upcoming day. Ember was still sleeping, it was good that the poor creature didn’t hear the conversation between the princess and them; hopefully Celestia would be merciful as she always has been.
- Ok girls you heard the princess. Let’s get some rest; we will need our strength for the tomorrow journey. – Said Applejack and lie down next to Ember.
- I just hope that nothing will go in a bad direction. – said Dash and ate a small apple. – He has faced that gigantic dragon Twi! What kind of threat would ponies be for him? None!
- Let’s hope for the best. We have to put trust into the wisdom of our princess- said Twilight but in her heart she didn’t know what to think. Celestia's words didn’t allow proper sleep; - The princess would never do a thing that might hurt other creatures.
An imagination of Ember chained and left once more in the darkness has been following her through the night. She saw that she was not the only pony that could not sleep; the air was filled with the quiet snoring of Ember the only one that was sleeping. The ponies were watching the sky that already presented all its beauty. After a longer time the most ponies feel asleep besides Applejack that was still wondering how that entire situation would resolve, the campfire nearly went off a cold wind came from across the sea that was not far from them. She shivered and after a while she decided that she would join up the other ponies that were sleeping close to each other to keep it nice and warm. She did not notice that behind her a light blazed in the night.
Ember opened his eyes, first confused and without anything to hold on but gladly his memory returned fast with the blowing wind that brought a nice chill for his overheated body. It was dark but he seemed not to realize it. Ember got up and saw the ponies that were freezing in the wind while they were sleeping, trying to not make some loud noises, he got behind them then he open up his wings so far he could to give them protection from the wind, as the weather allowed it. Then for the first time since he was sent down to the underground he saw the beauty of the night that made him let out a surprised gasp. Thrilled by it he watched the sky with fascination, each star a sparkle of light that brighter up the darkness that he felt inside him. The sky was a great remedy for his mental injuries but still left many questions without an answer, the first memory that he had was the most bothering.
It seemed that once there was somebody that was important for him; the scream he heard in the end was freezing the blood in his veins. But for now he pushed those thought away easily after he concentrated at the sky, the night so pretty so graceful a truly gift for those who admire his own thoughts. The time passed slowly for him, with each passed hour the sky seemed to show more and more of its beauty, he fought against the sleep so good as he could but he seemed to lose it though stubborn as he was he found a way to keep his mind busy with something else than his bodies needs. Ember started to create a poem, he did it so many times while he was down in the chamber, the marking on the walls were always a big motivation for him but the sky he was looking at right now topped it easily. After struggling and thinking he finally managed to create a poem he found acceptable;
Night after night I will look at the sky and ask why you are not here. Night after night I listen to the overwhelming sound of my heart. Night after night I look around and see that you are not here. Night after night I sit and feel the emptiness that you have left behind. Night after night I look upon the sky and hope where ever you might be you have found happiness. As did my eyes watching the stars.
A bright light fell upon him that came direct from the moon he did not know what was going on; he could not see what was happening the shine of the moon was too strong to look directly into it. The light went not through his wings, preventing the wake up of the sleeping ponies. As fast as it happen as fast it ended, he could see a silhouette not far from him moving directly towards him and he could see that it had to be a pony as his companions. The pony was moving with a grace that not even Rarity could perform. The fur had a creamy blue color the long hair that had the color of the night sky, glittering like it would have starts in it. The pony in front of him was bigger than the ponies he knew, soon it stood face to face with Ember right away he noticed that that it was a mare. Still confused by the fact that she appeared out of nowhere he didn’t know how to respond.
She had a horn that made him think that she is a unicorn though then he saw that she had wings. What she really was remained a secret to him. While they both were gawking at each other Ember realized that she seemed to wear some sort of clothing on her chest that had a emblem of them moon. Surprisingly he noticed that she had boots on her hooves that were shining like the stars; besides that he noticed that she was wearing a marvelous black crown that he first did not notice because of her horn. The silence was awkward so he decided that he would respond first;
She didn’t respond, she was looking at him with those inspective turquoise eyes what made him feel like somebody was drilling a hole into his belly.
- Excuse me if I am saying things wrong, the language you ponies use is still new to me.
- I am surprised that you are not scared of me! – She yelled all of the sudden creating a small shockwave of air that hit him in the face.
– Oh excuse me I’m still in practice with my voice and vocabulary. – Her voice changed rapidly, she smiled at him with an innocent look. Now he was scared… a little bit. Besides that he was thinking that he should have been the one who should have asked why she was not scared of him.
- Who are you if I may ask?
- You may call me Luna. How am I supposed to call you stranger?
- I don’t know my true name… But it is necessary to have one so I called myself Ember.
- A pleasure to meet you Ember.
- The pleasure is on my side. What brings such uncommon pony to this place?
- The poem I’ve heard from above brought me here. It deeply touched my heart.
- You heard my poem and came down from the sky? –Ember asked irritated.
- Dash mentioned that Pegasus ponies live in the sky but it is hard to believe for me.
- It seems like you are new to Equestria if you don’t know who I am. – She took a graceful position. - I am Princess Luna the younger sister of Celestia.
- I have not heard about a second princess… and yes I am new to Equestria but in the same way I’m not.
- What is that supposed to mean?
- I came from the Underground.
- That explains why I could not find out what species you are. Interesting…
Ember could not let her out of the sight; she reminded him of the sky of a cloudless night, that he started to love;
- This is my first time after thousand years that I see the sky again. – He looked up to the stars. – I can’t forgive myself for forgetting it.
- You like the night? - Asked Princess Luna with a happy tone that was followed by some expectation.
- I’m sure that the clear sky of the night, that reveals all its beauty outmatch everything that rise up with the sun.
He noticed that Luna was acting differently, moving from hove to hove, he even noticed that her cheek changed its color.
- Is everything alright? – This question he heard many times in the last few days at least the roles have changed for him in that case.
- I am fine. – She giggled happily. – It is only rare to hear compliments like that.
- About the beauty of the night. Everypony enjoy the wonderful day brought by my sister but most of them sleep through the night so they don’t see its beauty as you do right now.
- If I could I would not sleep at all. Everything is new to me the day and the night are fascinating me; the constant switch between them is a thing I truly missed in the deep tunnels of the underground.
- May I know about who was that poem of yours?
Ember sighted once more, the questions that he is being asked and he cannot answer are deeply bothering him, he could not see what was happening with his blazing eyes as Luna just did. The light of the fire started to disappear turning into a color that reminded her of a perfect midnight, surely though even if she found it fascinating, she understood that this was reflecting his feelings in a rather unusual way.
- I don’t know. – He finally said something. – I lost my memory of everything that I once knew in the darkness of my old home.
She didn’t know what to say, the creature that frightened her first revealed that he was capable of showing feelings. An intelligent living form that right now was bothered by the fact he didn’t know who he really was. She could not imagine how it had to feel like;
- I’m sorry Ember.
- There is nothing to be sorry about your highness. I’ve lived with that burden for a long time, found a way to live with it without losing my mind. Still loneliness leaves a scar that cannot be seen by others.
- I know that feeling way to well.
He did not ask what she meant, he could see more in her eyes than words could tell him, she knew how it is to be alone he could feel it. Eyes can be like a open book if you are able to read out of them, he didn’t know where he have learn it but right now it didn’t matter.
- Why are you sitting like that? – She changed the topic and looked on his wings.
- The cold wind woke me up from the sudden slumber I had. I’ve noticed that my friends were freezing so I gave them protection from it.
Luna passed his wings to look at the friends he mentioned, she looked surprised after she saw the sleeping ponies, and she came back to him where she still had eye contact with him.
- I know those ponies.
- I’ve noticed that…
Their conversation moved on for a long time, a time he truly enjoyed soon though Luna started to look at the position of the moon more often till she finally stood up;
- It is time to for fill my duty.
- A duty? What duty?
- I have to lower the moon.
- Will we meet again?
- I look forward to it Ember.
The she jumped in the sky, she turned into a one big magical aura and then she disappeared; followed by the moon that slowly started to hide behind the horizon. Soon the light of the sun started to rise from the east. The wind was long gone but he did not intend to hide his wings, a few hours more for the ponies to sleep that’s what they all deserve now.
Twilight woke up first, sleepy as always she stood up and looked around. The others were still sleeping. She yawned and decided to go to the river to wash her face, after she turned around trying not to wake up the others she bumped into something that reminded her of soft leather. She took some steps back to see what it was soon she realized that it was Embers wing she bumped into.
Twilight passed the wings to check on him, he was not sleeping anymore, the fire of his eyes was blazing as usual but in a different way she could not explain.
- Good morning Twilight.
- Good morning. How do you feel?
- I am fine for now.
He noticed that she was looking at his open wings; - I gave you protection from the cold wind that woke me up.
- Ahw that was kind of you Ember but I hope you were not freezing for our sake?
- I actually enjoyed it, my body was extremely overheated. Somehow the wind brought balance to my poor body.
- You were up all night long?
- Yes. – He looked up to the sky. – Even though the sky of the day has its own beauty the sky of the night was truly fascinating.
- From time to time I love to look into the starts. Astronomy is one of my favorite subjects sadly most of the time I am so tired after the day that I oversleep it.
Ember laughed quietly about that statement.
- What’s so funny about it?
- She said nearly the same thing you just did Twilight.
- Who? – She asked irritate.
- Wait what?!? Princess Luna was here?
- It seems that Luna was truly here and not an illusion of my tired mind. – Ember allowed himself some fun.
Twilight was speechless for a while; - What did she want from you?
- I was asking the same after I saw her silhouette appearing out of the sky; apparently my poem brought her down to me.
- A poem?
Night after night I will look at the sky and ask why you are not here. Night after night I listen to the overwhelming sound of my heart. Night after night I look around and see that you are not here. Night after night I sit and feel the emptiness that you have left behind. Night after night I look upon the sky and hope where ever you might be you have found happiness. As did my eyes watching the stars.
- You know Twilight Sparkle if you would live long under the earth you would like to find something to kill the time. After I found out how to read the runes on the walls I’ve started to create poems; inspired by the overwhelming beauty of the night this came out as a result.
- It is a beautiful poem Ember but it is sad too. You miss somebody?
The guardian looked at the tree that was not far from them. Twilight was not sure but she saw that his eyes changed their size for a while.
- I had a flashback before I found you ponies, I could hear a voice of a woman, a voice that made my heart beat strong; fill it with heat like I have never felt like. The realization that she is no longer among us… - he stopped and did not end what he has started. Twilight did not push, she could hear in his voice that it was painful for him to talk about it, especially because he mentioned it several time now that he has lost his memory.
- Tell me though.
- While I was sleeping I could feel a magical presence that I could not identify. It was strong very strong, it might be that this presence actually woke me up; the wind just did the rest.
Twilight told him about the conversation with the princess, she did not mention though that she might imprison him way to afraid to see his reaction about it. It was hard to find out what he was thinking right now, the missing facial reactions made it nearly impossible but his eyes though remained calm without any sign of anger or sadness.
- I see. – He said after she was ready. – Soon I’ll have the honor to meet the older sister of Luna. Is it fate or simply a bunch of coincidences, I never can decide.
Ember told her more about the meeting with Luna, in his story she sounded the way she knew her but in a way Twilight could see that Luna seemed to have fond enthusiasm in him.
- In the end she lowered the moon as she said and then she disappeared with the rising sun.
Both heard that the ponies slowly started to wake up, as herself the other girls bumped into Embers wings, what looked hilarious because their faces went through the leathery wings only to be pushed back by its elasticity. Twilight could not hold it out she simply had to laugh about it. Ember closed his wings and stood up to stretch his body, the ponies still sleepy walked by him without noticing him till his bones cracked. As expected they all ran to him and started to talk all in one time what created a symphony of being worried and chaos. Ember tried his best to tell them that he is fine but the caring mares did not stop questioning him about food or anything else he might need, the poor guardian seemed to get an headache from all this. In the end he could not hold it longer so he decided to stomp to keep them quiet. It worked!
- If you really want to know if I want something, I would like to try out the hot springs if I still have the chance.
Soon everybody were in bathing in the hot springs, Ember chose one for himself, let the ladies had their own one.
- Hey Ember why you don’t join us here it’s enough place to put you twice in it including us! – yelled Pinkie.
- I may have been under the earth for a way to long time but I still have some tact in me.
- Like we would have something to show! – Rainbow Dash and splashed the water right on his back.
- Don’t play with fire hot wing.
- Or what? – She splashed him again, the other joined her.
- You asked for it! – He jumped high with the help of his wings and plumped right into the middle of their big hot spring making all the ponies wet, ruining their precious hair. Ember laughed his guts off after he saw their faces; - I have warned you.
After the refreshing bath in the hot springs they came back to the camp, he decided that he would fly around for a bit, his first flight in the sky of Equestria began. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy joined him; while he was just flying around they both were playing in the clouds. Ember noticed that they could stand on the clouds what made the entire live in the air tale seems to be possible; he looked down to their camp where the other ponies were watching them from below. He landed far from them;
- If you want I can take you up to the sky.
Rarity insisted that it would ruin her hair that she somehow has fixed it after the bath. Twilight was a bit nervous about it only Applejack and Pinkie seemed to like the idea. Ember did not wait long; the winds were calling for him. He grabbed all ponies at once, with one swing of his wings he was back in the air; he was flying gently and slow so none of them would be afraid. The screeching Rarity and Twilight that were holding each other finally open their eyes and saw the landscapes of this land in all its greatness.
- I’ve never seen this place from above. I really regret it that I didn’t do it. – said Twilight.
- Look girls! Look at the sea! – Rarity pointed at the mighty sea that started to spread around in their eye of sight, the green mixing up with the crystal clear blue of the sea was truly a wonderful sight for sore eyes. Ember decided to fly above the water, the ponies could see their own refection in the water.
- Hold on little ponies!
He rapidly increased his speed and suddenly with a might swing he tossed himself right in the sky, the impact created a fountain; he slowed down and looked at the water masses that were slowly falling down leaving behind an appearing rainbow. The ponies reaction to the sudden change of speed was not fear; they enjoyed it and even demanded more, what he did with a big pleasure. They were diving in the clouds, spinning around with Dash that was performing great acrobatics in the air, while Fluttershy lied on a cloud watching flying birds. He enjoyed the time with them as long he as could. Then he felt it, the energy he felt during his sleep;
- I think I can sense your princess.
- Put us down then! Put us down.
After his landing Twilight was acting strangely hysterical or maybe with over joy he could not recognize it. Anyway the presence came closer and closer. Ember had a bad feeling about it, soon everybody saw a caret being pulled by three strong looking Pegasus stallions, behind them in the cart Princess Celestia was sitting on a small throne. He felt something in the air, he didn’t know what it was but it was of magic nature, whatever it was it made his senses hit the alarm button. He vanished in the shadows…
The ponies kneeled down on their front legs and greeted princess Celestia with great respect, Twilight was ahead of the group she greeted her hearty and bowed once more.
- It is wonderful to see you again Twilight Sparkle. I came here as fast as I could. - She looked on the other ponies that started to gather behind her. – It is always a pleasure for my eyes to see your friends but if I am not mistaken one friend is missing.
- What? – They all said and turned around. Ember was gone; he disappeared like he was made out of air.
- This can’t be! – Twilight was totally confused right now, how could such a big creature like Ember disappear like that? That was way too much for her. – Princess I don’t know what is going on… Ember was here few seconds ago!
- Calm down dear. – Said Celestia and sat down on the ground. – I am sure that your new friend had a reason to disappear like that?
- Not at all princess. – Said Applejack. – Few minutes ago we all were enjoyin’ a flight with him but then he felt your presence that’s how we got back on the ground.
- Ember is able to fly? That’s truly interesting. There are not many creatures that can have such abilities. Being able to use magic, able to fly up in the sky and even learn things from other species only by connecting with them. So Applejack you say that he felt my approaching?
- Yes Mam'.
- It seems that Ember has a deep connecting to magic; I could not sense anything at all while we approached your camp.
- I must admit that Ember sounded a bit scared after he mentioned your presence. – said Twilight. – Maybe he is afraid of you, your highness.
- It might a possibility, I have never heard about creatures that could sense other magic users especially if they were not using magic in the first place. Anyway I suggest we will wait till he comes back.
They all started a friendly conversation among friends, chatting about things that were going on in Equestria and Ponyville. Twilight felt always happy if she was talking with the princess even happier if her friends were with her but right now she still was trying to figure out how or why Ember hid from Celestia. The ability of feeling magic was truly marvelous maybe he could teach her things about magic that she did not know. The princess was sharing the same thought about Embers magical skills and was hoping that they could learn more about the very nature of magic.
- I cannot teach you any of the mentioned things.
Suddenly they all could hear the voice of Ember. Everyponies moth went open, besides of Celestia, after they have noticed that Ember was standing behind her, a second ago he was not there. Celestia could feel that he was behind her; she could not hide the shock after turning back to him. The monarch of these lands was bigger than her small sister Luna, her fur was pure white like he has never seen before. Her mane seemed to be floating but if you would see her in front of you, you would see all kind of colors on her hair. Somehow it reminded him of the shine of the crystals that were always activating themselves all alone creating a wonderful variation of colors. A truly majestic crown was on her head, Celestia seemed to wear some cloths on her chest with a royal looking emblem and if he was not wrong she had shoes on her hooves that had a golden color.
The way she regained her stature was impressive and the aura that was all around her made him shiver.
- This world seemed to be really young if you are not able to feel things as I do.
Ember bowed down with grace and unexpected knowledge of royal ethic. While he was bowing down he held his wing with one hand what made it look like he was wearing a rather unusual but not ugly cloak.
- Please excuse my behavior but indeed I was afraid of your presence monarch of Equestria.
- I can assure you that you should not expect any harm from my side Ember but you have to understand, that if I will be forced to step into motion that I will not hesitate.
- Wise words that were expected from a monarch. – He passed her and sat down close to Fluttershy.
- Allow me that statement your highness but you really remind me of your sister.
Celestia lifted one eye brow; - You meet my sister?
- Yes I did. It was a very interesting meeting, interesting and surprising in the same time. But I am sure that you did not travel to this place to hear about that meeting.
The princess smiled and nodded. – Even though I received Twilights report I had to check several things myself, matters that were bothering me for a longer time.
- What kind of matters do you have in mind princess? – Asked Twilight, her ears went down, she looked disappointed for some reason.
- Don’t worry Twilight you and your friends did well by informing me about your adventures. The magical activity that I was feeling seems to be gone and I am glad that it went away. That source seemed not to be natural and I was afraid that a disaster could have resolved out of it.
- I assume that the mentioned activity were the crystals that I was guarding in the depths of the Underworld.
- It might be possible Ember but still one point is bothering me.
- And that would be your highness?
- According to your story you were under the earth for a time that words could not describe properly but the magical activities had been spotted several days ago. Why would we find out of it existence in such a short time period?
- I don’t know if I will be able to answer that question your highness because I was not feeling any activities while I was still under the earth. If the mentioned thing is true I would feel that activity within the tunnels with an extremely big intensity.
- It is troubling to hear that an activity like that does not just come up without any reason. The energy that I was feeling had an incredible massive core but I was not able to indentify its true nature. After that I’ve sent my best to investigate this case, the rest of the story you do know yourself. Twilight…
- Yes Princess?
- Did you spot any unclear activities before you meet Ember?
- No your highness nothing at all, in fact it was very hard to use the easy illumination spell in those tunnels, it felt like something was trying to stop any magical attempts. Back in the chamber where we have encountered Ember only with extreme effort I managed to attack him with a bolt.
- That is something I am able to answer. – Ember open his wings, seemed like he was stretching them. The ponies looked at them with big fascination because the light of the sun made them shine in a truly beautiful way that Ember could probably not see – It is a defense mechanism that prevents the most creatures of using magic. I was deeply surprised by Twilights attack but gladly I was able to stop the upcoming impact.
Pinkie giggled what reminded Ember of the way he removed the spell.
- Why would there be something like that? – asked Twilight with a fascinated tone.
- Its quiet simple. I barely left the chamber where I was guarding the crystals; there are many creatures below the earth that are capable of using magic in the most dangerous ways. The crystals were establishing that defense mechanism with they own magical source that never seemed to fade away. An enemy that could not use its magical powers against me was most of the time an easy foe to encounter.
- Can you explain it then why you were able to use magic?
- This is harder to explain… Sometimes while I was connecting to the crystals I always had the feeling that they were acting like living creatures. Since I was guarding them I always suspected that the magic field was not affecting me… at least I thought so.
- What do you mean? – Asked Celestia that was listing to him patiently.
- I think that my amnesia has been caused by the crystals I was guarding. Before the crystals *somehow* have been destroyed I had no flashbacks or any kind of things that would remind me who I was or still am. My entire life has been put upside down by the events of the last day and I hope I can get things in line within time.
- Twilight report told me that you were acting differently while the crystals were still intact, that in fact your actions let it look like you were controlled by them. The torture of Rarity is a good example for that.
Rarity shivered a bit after she heard it;
- I agree on that one… I don’t know what was going on with me, everything happened so fast I could not control it. You have to know that the Underground is a place where mercy cannot be found. I had only one rule that I was following while I was there: Me or them. But…
- But since the crystals are gone you were acting differently, you openly talk about the crystals, and you saved the ponies from a grim fate at the cost of your own life what is really honorable.
The conversation went on like that for several hours. The ponies were listening to Embers story quietly while Celestia seemed always to find questions or thoughts to debate about. Gladly Ember did not have any problems with it and he openly answered to everything if he was able to do so.
- I really enjoy that conversation Ember but I cannot stay here for much longer there are still duties to be done. – The ponies suddenly became very tense that has been noticed by Celestia and the old guardian.
- I would not like to be on your place your highness.
Celestia giggled at that statement, stood up and went back to the caret; - I hope that we will meet again in Canterlot, all of you. - Ember noticed the revealed faces of his small companions, the smile on the face of the princess that was looking at her subjects; complete confused by that situation he did not understand he remained silent.
- But I have to warn you Ember. It might be that the court of the magi might not welcome you with open arms.
- If that is the case the court should not expect kindness from my side.
- I wish you all a good and swift travel.
Then the caret flew away and left the group in their camp;
- Ember! – Twilight stood up to him. – Why were you hiding!? No wait how did you do that in the first place?
- What do you mean?
- You came out of nowhere behind the princess!
- Oh that one… I became one with the shadows.
- Oh my how did you do that?
- I cannot tell you that Twilight. – said Ember harshly to her. – Otherwise I would take you all the excitement of researching.
- Could you give me at least a hint? That seems to be useful!
- Listen carefully to what I have to say. The knowledge I posses do not fit into this world; it is not prepared for things like it. If I would start sharing the knowledge of things I do know; it could outbalance your world in an unpredictable way. That’s why I would ask you to not ask me more about that. – I might change my mind if I will see what your species is capable of – He thought in his mind.
Twilights ears and her head went down, he could see that she might have been an eager student but right now he should find out more about the knowledge of the ponies maybe then he would be able to do teach her a thing.
- The only thing I can offer you is my help in your magical studies.
- You would do that? – She clapped with her hooves and made a happy yay!
- So what are we waitin’ for? Let’s move out! – yelled Applejack and so they journey started once more.
The landscape started to change rapidly more and more green appeared everywhere. The mountains that were over his home seemed to not lose its size even with the growing distance. Eventually though even those giants had to disappear behind the horizon before the last step Ember stopped, turned around and looked on it one last time at least he hoped so. The ponies knew what was going on in his head; they gave him the time he needed to leave things behind him what never was easy.
- Let’s move on…
After the mountain disappeared the journey went on way easier for Ember, his mood rapidly changed what the ponies noticed after he started to sing songs in a different language, that had an interesting sound what made all of them join it what in the end became a hilarious show that would make even a mule smile. His new companions were a very talkative folk among themselves and while talking to him, with each new step they seemed to create new questions or start new topics about things he could not understand but he was kind enough to listen to them.
- How far do we have to go? – Ember asked while he was levitating Pinkie that asked him for that.
- If there will be no complications on the way we should reach the town of Ponyville tomorrow probably in the night. – Twilight answered first as always. – I would say that this is a good timing isn’t it? There should not be any ponies there at that time. No offense…
- None taken; I know how I look like. How do you think will your folk react? I don’t want to start panic or something…
- Don’t worry sugarcube. – said Applejack that called him that way for the first time. – The ponies can be prepared for that, but I suggest you will hide somewhere.
- Oh, oh AJ he could hide in your barn! – said Pinkie that was pretending that she was floating in the air. Applejack did not expect that statement you could see it on her face.
- If that is a problem I will hide in the woods or maybe in a cave.
- No wait you don’t have to do that! But before you enter I better inform my family. If granny would see you she would get a heart attack.
Ember looked on her with his glowing eyes, she could not tell what he was thinking but there were several things she had in mind for this situation. After some hours of walking the slowly started to end that is why the group decided that they should find a place to sleep for the night. Not far from them to the north, Ember noticed a large territory that was inhabited by a dark looking forest.
- What is that place over there?
- That is the Ever Free Forest. – said Rainbow Dash trying to hide that she shivered a bit what Ember noticed right away. – This place always creeps me out.
- It is a dangerous place you know, full with wild animals and other monstrosities. Deeper you go in than more dangerous it will become.
- Sounds like the surface opposite of my underground.
- I don’t like both of them. – said Rarity that right now was looking at her hooves. – Dangerous and dirty eww.
- Besides that… oh never mind.
- End what you have started! – said Ember that was even more curious about that place.
- The clouds are moving all by their own without pony intervention! – said Rainbow Dash.
- The plans grow alone too! – replied Applejack.
- And the animals take care of themselves. – said Fluttershy quietly.
Ember started to laugh so loud that his laughter echoed deep into the forest what scared all kind of birds. It would have be a frightening thing to look a creature like Ember laughing with his demonic voice about the statement he thought of being a joke. After he saw the look on their faces he noticed that they were not joking at all.
- Wait you are serious aren’t you?
- Of course we are serious! – Rainbow Dash hit the ground angrily.
- Explain yourself!
- I don’t get it...
- What did you mean with the clouds move all alone without intervention?
- The duty of a Pegasus is to maintain the weather all over Equestria, besides some exceptions like this part of the land and the Everfree Forest itself.
He could not believe what he was hearing right now!
- You… you manipulated the weather? The flora and even the fauna?!
- Yes we do. Why are you so surprised about it?
- This is… not natural at all. Tell me more about it.
Ember listened to the ponies about the duties and things they were doing. With each mentioned thing like a traditional celebration they call Winter Wrap Up Ember became more and more speechless about that topic. In the end he just nod and did not answer the questions Twilight started to state.
- Some water would be nice now. – It was Fluttershy that said it even quieter than usual what helped to change the topic. During their travel the ponies were choosing the pony that was caring the water bags for like an hour or two. Ember offered them his help but they kindly refused it. If he recalled it right it Rarity who was the last water carrier.
- Oh my… - said Rarity and looked on the last remaining water bag that was once full of water. It seemed like it had a leak in it because now it did not even half full. – They always talk about good quality but in the end we get rubbish.
- What are we goin’ to do now? – asked AJ. – As far as I remember there are no lakes and rivers in the area. – She gasped. – Besides they are in the Everfree Forest!
Ember stood up and moved right to the place where Fluttershy was sitting. With his arm ready to hit it looked like he was going to attack her. The poor pony got scared by his unexpected charge but then Ember stopped right in front of her. He grabbed her with his magic, moved her away from the place where she was sitting; then he hit the ground, his hand went surprisingly deep but he has found what he was looking for. After he ripped his hand out of the ground he turned around to Fluttershy, the ponies saw that a bit above his hand a water ball was floating in the air.
- Here you go.
The water ball went to Fluttershy that was looking at Ember with an irritated look but after he nodded she finally drank. The water ball seemed not to get smaller;
- Oh my… that water taste so good. Wow!
Ember let the ball levitate in the air; he went back on his place;
- I removed any kind of dirt that might have been in it, it will be enough for all of you.
- How did you know that there was water below us? – asked Applejack that was impressed by it even more than Twilight if he was not mistaken.
- I felt it.
- You would be a great help at the Sweet Apple Acres.
- That’s the place where you live and work right?
- I doubt it… I would just leave many holes in the ground. – He pointed at the place where he has ripped out the water ball. Soon a conversation between him and Twilight started, most of it was about magic that was Twilights bread and butter. She really knew much, he had to talk more often with her about it to find out more about their knowledge. Ember changed the topic after he noticed that the ponies were just bothered by the scholar conversation, what seemed to upset the poor Twilight. Telepathically though he continued to talk with her while he talked with the others, right now he would not get enough talk. He didn’t care about what it was; from work in the fields to the animal care; he listened and enjoyed every minute with them.
- Oh if I only could talk about such things like them. – He thought and totally forgot that he still was connected with Twilight that got ashamed right away; she wanted to say something but he asked her to not do it now. Pinkie was playing with the water ball together with Rainbow Dash that was kicking it back from the sky, Ember could not resist. With a movement of his finger he changed the form and size of the ball, making it look like a wide open mouth of a strange creature he knew from the underground. The Pegasus pony screamed in fear and flew away into the clouds. Everybody below was laughing about it, she herself joined up congratulating him for this joke. Right after that the ponies were telling him to change the form of the water, he did not like to be a show off but they seemed to like it.
The ball became everything they asked him to be, a bird, book, jewel, apple, cake and a thunder. He suggested showing them some of the fauna of the underground; especially Fluttershy was excited about it. Like they would watch a movie the water was showing and changing its form and flying through the camp. In the end the water flew up high, took the form of his old nemesis that was roaring silently in the air. Ember felt a sudden pain in his chest, the water in the air plopped and fell to the ground, he did not grab his chest trying to not show that something was happening;
- The wind was too strong to continue like that. – Ember answered hoping that they would not notice the change in his voice of course it seemed that he failed;
- Do you have pain Ember? – asked Fluttershy. – Your breath sounds so heavy.
- I am fine… I … I just have to get used to the surface that’s all. Now excuse me. – He stood up and went away from the group, he had to. After he was sure that they were not following him, Ember threw up in the near bushes, he saw and smell blood.
- What is going on with … - he threw up again. After that it finally stopped, once more he ripped out the water from the ground and drank so many as he could, washed off the blood from his chin and went back to the ponies. Then he saw that they were there behind some trees all of them;
- You are really bad at hiding.
They came out all of them worried about him what touched him but made him angry in some way too.
- I really appreciate your concern but please stop that. – They wanted to say something but he interrupted them. – I don’t know what is going on with me! I don’t need your compassion! – he roared like he did the first time he saw Fluttershy, just with more hatred that was mixed up with pain and pity for his own cursed fate. The ponies to afraid to say something or even to move towards him stood frozen in the place, Fluttershy with teary eyes, Applejack hid her eyes from him with her hat, Rarity and Twilight turn around with lowered ears, Pinkie wanted to do something to cheer him up but Rainbow Dash showed with a head shake that she should leave it for now. The ponies went back to the camp while he stood alone with the scent of blood in the air, feeling bad and foolish for his acting.
- I’m sorry… so sorry.
He did what he probably knew best… he vanished into the shadows.
The ponies went back to the place where few minutes ago all of them had their fun with Ember. The feeling of being helpless bothered them deeply; they did not know what they should do especially after his wild behavior. Pinkie seemed to have the biggest problem with that; she loved to see everypony happy, she was great in making others smile... Embers reaction though gave her a hard time, the other ponies had the same feelings about this situation;
- Poor Ember… - said Twilight. – What is going on with you?
- Do you think… – started Fluttershy – That because he is not in his own environment it is not healthy for him?
- It would explain the blood…
- What do I hear? And what is that strange smell in the air?
- Zecora! – Everypony shouted after they saw her, a zebra friend of them that lives in a hut in the Everfree Forest.
- Greetings! A strange place you have chosen for your meetings.
- We do not meet anypony Zecora. – said Applejack. – We’ve choose this place for a short rest from our journey.
- I have heard your conversation. It seemed like your friend is ill, please tell me his location.
- Zecora darling listen up. – Rarity got up. – Before we tell you where our friend is you have to know that he is not a pony.
- And that the first meeting can end in scaring you. – Fluttershy ended and smiled a little. Zecora laughed hearty about that statement.
- Can it be true? There is somebody who put aside my scariness out of view?
They all saw that Ember appeared behind her while she was laughing; he was watching her with a rather interesting look;
- I did not expect that I would see a Zhevra in this region.
The surprised Zecora, she was so surprised that her tail was standing tall, turned around and saw Ember; everypony was expecting that she would yell and ran off but she was just standing there with an open mouth more irritated than scared.
- By my old teacher! – She finally said something and moved a bit away from the guardian. – A shadow creature!
Embers eyes did not show any kind of influence after calling him a shadow creature; in fact he seemed to be even more interested;
- You know what I am Zhevra?
- Why are you calling her a Zhevra? – asked Rainbow Dash. – You spell it wrong! It should be Z-E-B-R-A.
- Uphold the peace of mind. – said the zebra and looked back to Ember. – How do you know the true name of my kind?
- I don’t know…. It came so suddenly.
- What does that mean? I don’t trust you evil thing.
The blaze in Embers eyes now changed its intensity and slowly started changing the color into a deep red;
- Please Zecora listen we will tell you the story. – said Twilight and started to tell her the story she told Princess Celestia. In the meanwhile Embers sudden emotion change was gone and his eyes had a normal color of fire. Mostly thanks to Fluttershy that went to him and gently stroke his wing. Zecora listen patiently though everypony could see that most of the time she did not let Ember out of sight. Soon the story was complete, followed by silence in the small clearing.
- I admit I am surprised. The shadow creatures actions should be praised.
- Why do you keep calling me a shadow creature?
- Listen up then because it’s quiet a tale. It is about creatures living beyond the veil.
- What is the veil? – asked Rainbow that seemed to have a problem with understanding Zecoras way of speaking.
- The veil is a dimension that is bound to this world, one of many that share the same bound. The only one out of many that has such strong connection that it would allow the creatures that dwell within to enter this world; if they possess the knowledge to do it. – Answered Ember that had few neighborly meetings with the creatures of the veil back in the chamber of stone.
- I’ve read about that dimension you mentioned Ember, in the old books of Canterlot.
- I am impressed that your folk know such things already but there are things that none book can describe properly or even slightly. The veil is a place beyond the imagination of the most living creatures. – His attention came back to Zecora.
- Those tales are in fact very old. Many of them remained forgotten or untold…
Zecora had a saddle bag on her back, she put her hove into the small bag and put out a green powder that she blew it in the air, like his water ball the powder changed it form showing all what it uphold. Zebras appeared in huge groups that were dancing around a big camp fire, Zecora suddenly was touched by that sight of a small zebra that was jumping and running wild, enjoying the dances and happiness in the tribe. An old looking zebra appeared in front of the filly, smiled and performed the same move like Zecora did in fornt of them. The illusion started to become grim because misshapen and twisted forms appeared above the zebras. Abominations that were unknown to Ember soon though more common creatures appeared that he knew from the underground; the ponies were watching the spectacle with huge eyes, enjoying the uncommon sight.
The beasts of the vale started to chase the tribe, spreading panic and fear, feasting on the feelings of the fleeing zebras. The illusion vibrated suddenly after a roar that seemed so realistic that the ponies looked on Ember thinking he was the cause of it. Then all beasts kneeled down before a horned lord, that appeared above them all, it was like looking into his own reflection, like he would be somehow be involved into the story. The creature roared once more and banished the creatures of the veil back where they belonged. The zebras were thankful for their rescue but were afraid that the creatures might return; the shadow creature taught the zebras how to use spells that would protect them and gave them the wisdom of the alchemy then he disappeared into the veil.
- I don’t get it Zecora. – said Rainbow Dash. – The shadow creature was helping the zebras, why do you call Ember an evil creature?
- The answer lies still in the tale. Watch it carefully or the tale will not prevail.
The zebras were practicing the magic the way they have been told to do, some of them though practiced in it new different ways abusing their new powers for their own intentions. The horned lord returned and was furious about it, he warned them to not abuse his gift for personal matters, of course the zebras apologized soon after the shadow creature was gone they ignored his words and continued their dark studies. The power that they could not control turned them into evil creatures, once more the horned lord came back but this time he did not forgive those who ignored him, he took them their power and with it their life. Then all of the sudden the power that came back to him started to affect the creature, strange lines were moving along his body, the horned lord roared like Ember has never ever heard before.
The hatred that was stored in the energy he has taken from the Zebras, was overwhelming and it overcame the shadow creature; turned the once good spirit into a contrary of his former self. He assaulted the zebras like the smaller minions did before him, destroying village after village but then a small filly crossed the way of the raging monster and stopped his rampage with a simple begging for forgiveness. The horned lord regained control over himself, ashamed of his deeds and his new form he left the land and sealed the entrance of both worlds; in the vale the creature lost himself in the darkness of his heart and the once good spirit once more became the abomination. The illusion ended with a roar that let Ember shiver inside. The green smoke faded like it never has been in the air
- And so we arrive at the end of the tale, changing the fate of the creature beyond the veil. Since then the creature prevailed in the darkness among his kind. We hoped we would never see one of them again, we were so blind…
All of them looked in Embers direction where he was sitting on the ground, wings pulled over his shoulders in a way that made it look like he was wearing a fancy cloak, his eyes were closed what took him the last thing on his face that could have told them something about his feelings. A rather unpleasant thing to look at, if he would not breath it would look like he was dead. Gladly he open his eyes and the well known blaze came forth that did not have a big intensity more like a small glimmer. None of them knew what it possibly meant but the small glimmer changed into the bright blaze that brought forth Embers normal colors; he seemed to be fine;
- I thank you for this story Zecora. – She looked suspiciously into his eyes. – Now I know where I maybe come from I could not ask for more. There is still one thing I would like to ask you.
- If it has to be then ask. But please hurry up I still have to do an undone task.
- What is happening with me? Since I left the underground I get sick each time worse.
- The answer for your question is our air.
- What do you mean? – asked Twilight. – In what way does our environment harm him?
- For us a nice refreshing air breeze is for the shadow creature like a disease. But do not worry.. Ember will be fine after some time.
Ember did not ask more he only nodded at the enchantress after that he seemed to be far away in his thoughts.
- It is time for me to leave. There are still herbs that I must achieve. Goodbye my friends.
She left the group and went straight into the Everfree Forest and disappeared in the labyrinth of trees, Ember got up stretched his wings. None of his companions said something but he could see in their eyes that were trying to figure out what he was thinking about the tale from old times.
- I am tired. – He moved to a nearby tree, lied against it with his back and closed his eyes what shrouded him even more. – Good Night.
The ponies followed his example and went sleep. Gladly all of them have found peace and the rest they would need for the upcoming day. The ponies were the first to wake up. Yawning and other typical sounds of the morning filled the air, mixed up with the songs of the birds and the snoring of Ember. The singing of the birds caused to wake the snoring guardian that noticed that several smaller birds were singing on his horns. After he got up the birds flew away scratching at him angrily. The ponies greeted him with a hearty good morning and asked him right away to supply some water. His small companions ate their breakfast, all of them bringing him smaller piles of berries they have managed to find nearby. He was not hungry what he mentioned right away but after he saw them looking at him with those big puppy eyes he ate up everything they brought to him. Filled with new energy the herd collected their stuff and was ready to continue their journey.
- I suggest we move on.
- You know if you don’t feel right we can wait a bit longer. – said Fluttershy, he could see that her caring instincts were on.
- Something that won’t kill me will make me stronger. – Ember said with an annoyed tone. – Lets go.
During their journey the ponies finally started to talk openly with him about Zecoras story, he did not want to talk about it but Ember could clearly see that the ponies were really concerned; Pinkie that was always smiling had a long face. He could not stand a sight like that. The hours passed fast and their journey went on smoothly without any problems. Soon they all noticed an upcoming storm from the south, Ember felt the change in the air long before the clouds appeared but he did not mention it to his companions. The air had a different smell, he could not really describe it but he was sure that he could feel that the storm has probably crossed the sea; soon the group had to find a place where they were safe from the rain but there were no caves where they could have find refuge and the thunders that started to rip though the air in the distance made the plan ‘’let’s hide under a tree’’ way to dangerous.
- The mass of this storm is huuuuuge! – said Rainbow Dash. – We better find a place to hide!
- My mane will be totally ruined! – cried out Rarity.
- Do you always have to think of good lookin’ girl? – said Applejack that was trying to keep her hat on its rightful place.
- We don’t have the time for such things ladies. – said Ember and looked at the dark clouds that had the same color as his skin maybe even darker. – The wind has changed its direction we better hurry.
They all started to run so fast they could. The ponies were slow, way to slow for his standards but he keep the right speed so they could hold on with him. The first raindrop started to fall from the sky they would not find a place to hide, Ember even said they should go to the Everfree Forest but he meet the stubborn statement that it is too dangerous to go in that forest.
The ponies stopped;
- Why do we stop in the open field we must go on! – said Rainbow Dash.
- There is no use of running from the elements we won’t win it! Gather in front of me. Closer!
The ponies did as he said without complaining; he squat down and closed his wings above them creating a pavilion like protection for the ponies. Right after it a heavy rain started to rain, the shower was incredibly nice, and he looked down at the ponies that did not get wet;
- I hope you have found a comfortable place. It might take a while till the storm passes us.
Ember was moving his wings a bit so that the water that, started to collect itself on the surface of his wings, could fall on the ground. He could protect their heads and the main part of the body but not their hooves, Rarity was complaining about it with all the air she had in her lungs;
- Think on the bright side. – Said Ember, Rarity looked at him with a grim look on her face. – Your wonderful mane will not get ruined.
The compliment seemed to have worked right away, Rarities mood changed right away but everypony could see that the mud on her hooves was still bothering her. A thunder lightened the sky and the environment, scaring the ponies that squeeze together.
- Don’t be afraid my friends. I am surrounded by a protection spell, the thunders are no threat to us.
Pinkie Pie still had that long face, the bad weather seemed to make it worse Ember decided to cheer her up a bit showing her a stupid trick.
- Yes? – She asked and looked at him so did the other ponies.
- Look at this….
He concentrated, his sight started to spread getting wider and wider, the ponies looked at his eyes that started to move along his face making different movement that made them look like fishes that were swimming in the water, Pinkie started to laugh right away at the funny and strange spectacle the other joined right away. Embers eyes were now moving away from each other, they actually left his face and were now moving on the surface of the wings, soon though it was too much for him so he let his eyes go back on their place. The mood of the ponies changed rapidly, songs followed jokes and a friendly chat, the rains power started to fade.
- Is the town of Ponyville far away from here?
- We are close that’s for sure; if the storm did not stop us we would be home now. – said Twilight.
- Since Zecora left us I was thinking of her words about the affection of the environment.
- Are you concerned about it? – asked Fluttershy. – Don’t worry will aid you! Somehow…
Ember could not stop a happy laugh;
- Kind as always. I thought it might be better to stay away from your city till I’m fully adapted to this place.
- But where will you stay for that time? We don’t know how long it might take for your body to adapt. – said Rarity
- I am not sure about it. The sky is apparently the home of the ponies like Dash and Fluttershy, it seems like I will have to go to the woods or to the mountains.
- Are you sure about it? We could inform the citizens about you so they might be prepared at least a bit. – said Twilight.
- You cannot prepare the folk for a sight like me Twilight.
- Maybe if I would make a party for Ember the ponies would not be so scared of him! – said Pinkie and started to hop around what of course made all around her dirty.
- Stop that! – Everypony yelled at the grinning Pinkie.
- No I have made my decision. It’s for the best of all of us.
- But how will we stay in touch? What if you will need help? – started Applejack.
I will never really separate with you. – said Ember in the ponies minds. – I will be able to see what you are doing, how the life in your city looks like. I think this is good enough for now.
The worst part of the storm has passed them already Ember could still follow its trail the lightning was still noticeable in the distance. Soon the wind took nearly all storm clouds with it and moved on wherever it wanted what seemed to depress Rainbow Dash. Ember could not feel any raindrop on his skin, he moved his wings away from them back on its place, the water that was still on the surface of the wings splashed the ground behind him everything in the sight of the eye was full of mud and puddles. His dragon like feet sunk deep into the soaked earth with a small effort he freed himself stood up and stretched his bones. As usual with the stretching the sound of cracking bones followed it that caused the ponies to make a one big loud ewwww. He saw that they had their problem with moving forward, Dash and Fluttershy were in the air while the others who did not have the luck of having wings tried to move on, only Rarity was not moving way to afraid or disgusted to move in the ground. Ember sighted and said;
- With that rate we will never reach your home my little ponies. I will take you for a ride we should reach your home in no time.
The ponies, especially Rarity, accepted the offer and soon they all were again in the sky followed by the Pegasus ponies, the air was fresh and refreshing. The sun started to slowly make place for the moon that was still hidden behind the horizon, right away he thought of Luna Celestias younger sister. Daughter of the night, no queen of the night the incarnation of the night. The ponies were directing him, the wind was on his good side so he did not have any unnecessary problems and the extra boost made him fly faster without any particular usage of his power. In one moment though the ponies started to arguing which way he should take till they have finally find a way out he was fling in circles what made him depressed for a while. The real problem began when the ponies could not see where they were so he had to describe them at what point he was now, Pinkie was incredibly annoying.
Every time he said what has fallen into his eye she asked all types of questions like are there hills or maybe trees a river, he had to be patient with her and he hoped that the ponies would make her quiet or he could not guarantee that all of them would make it back home. The day ended and the night started to reveal it beauty that won the heart of the guarding right after his first meeting with it. After few hours he finally saw light at the horizon, the ponies recognized it as their hometown Ponyville, half way on the hooves he landed on the main road leading into the town;
- Our paths separate here girls. – He put them gently on the ground. – I better start searching for a place to hide.
- Are you sure that you don’t want to stay in my barn? – said Applejack still trying to convince him to go in the town.
- I would cause only problems if somepony would see me. Besides that I prefer to be outside for a while. I will scout that place and if I get sick of moving around, I will connect with you individually.
- Sounds like a plan to me. Still if you change your mind you can still stay in the barn…
Ember bowed before the ponies; - We only part to meet again.
The ponies faces cheered up, the bowed down before him as well. Ember jumped into the air, waved at the ponies that were still watching him and then he flew in the direction of a mountain he has spotted not so far from Ponyville. He became one with the night so nopony could see him by accident. To be honest he changed his mind, he flew back to the ponies and watched them from above till they separated. After he was sure that everypony was safe he flew back to the nearby mountain where he was looking for a cave, eventually he found one big enough for him, he sat on the cold stone bothered by the fact that he was alone now besides that he felt like he was back in the underground. That is why Ember cursed in a long dead language and decided to get the hell out of the cave.