My mind started racing when the princess dismissed Blueblood and I. It wasn't often I made a new friend. Ponies thinking I'm too odd. Stuck up Canterlot ponies. My only real entertainment was Blueberry here. Of course, he never thought it was funny. I think.
We both sat outside the large door. He had been in there for a while and the silence between the two of us was getting intense. I decided I would break it. “So, what do you think it is?”
“I think it might have to do with-” He cut himself off. “Wait, why would I tell you?”
“Mutual acquaintance?” I responded, hopefully.
“Mutual acquaintance my flank!”
“Blueblood, I would be careful what you say.” My father had appeared behind us without warning. “You wouldn't talk to your mother like that.” He looked over the two of us with a curious look on his face. “What could possibly get you two to sit together without tearing each other's throat out?”
“Star Hunter is in talking to the princess-” I began.
“And we're waiting for him to come out.” Blueblood finished.
It struck me as odd that he finished what I was going to say and I didn't care. I didn't miss the confused look on Blueblood's face either.
“Well, it's nice you two are getting along, but it's time for dinner.” He began walking away, then looked back at me. “Come Candent, we're going to be late.”
“I'll tell you later.” Blueblood said, scrunching his face.
“Huh. Thanks Blueblood.” It clicked as I was walking away from him. Somehow, Star Hunter changed our relationship. The lack of animosity was pleasant. I turned back to him.
“Won't your mother be mad if you're late?” My dad said back to Blueblood.
He glared at the ground. “Yeah, she probably would be. I'm sure we have something special planned tonight anyway.” He dragged himself away from the door and down the hall. It made me a bit sad.
“Don't worry sweet heart, I you'll see him tomorrow.” By the way he said it, I wasn't sure if he was talking about Blueblood or Star Hunter. Either way, he knew something about this and I was going to figure it out.
We began our walk to the dining hall when I looked back at the door one last time. My gaze lingered just long enough to see Star Hunter followed by Celestia. There was definitely something wrong though. He didn't look happy. Even from this far, he looked broken. His head hung low and a blank look on his face.
I hope he's alright.
Awake before sunrise as always.
It's become a habit of mine to wake up before the rest of the castle and sneak out. That's what had happened yesterday when I found Star Hunter.
That stallion. I wouldn't have moved if he hadn't seen me. I missed him.
Sigh. “I guess it wouldn't have done any good to be late for another meeting.”
The sun began to peak over the horizon. Too late to sneak out now. I moved to the window to watch the sunrise. There's something wrong with it. Whenever Aunt Celestia was angry at something, the sunrise was blood red. Whenever she was in a good mood, it was bright and full of color. Today the sky was almost colorless.
Aunt Celestia, what's wrong?
I found myself in the darkness. My eyes hurt from crying, but that didn't cause the darkness around me.
This all seems too perfect. Perfect. What a word. Maybe it's just a nightmare. Maybe I just need to wake up and I'll be back in the village with Rainbow Dash and Airheart and Mom and Dad. A dream. That's all it would be. Right?
So are you just giving up?
Yes. I'm just giving up.
There was a shimmer of light in front of me. There floated a silver unicorn pony. To be more correct, she was a white unicorn with a shimmering, silver mane.
A broken will. That's just sad. She shimmered away then reappeared inches from my face. Buck up kid. Crying isn't gonna do anything for you.
Nopony asked you!
Oh, so you do have a little fight left.
She drifted past me as she said it.
It's not like I have anything to fight for.
Oh come now. There' plenty left to fight for.
The sound of her voice piqued my interest.
What are you talking about?
I don't think I will tell you. Maybe he will.
With that, she was gone.
I opened my eyes a found myself back in the room I fell asleep in.
Still in Canterlot. It wasn't a dream after all.
My thoughts darkened once again with the feeling of loss. No Rainbow Dash. Mom or Dad. Airheart. Even Mr. Krispy and Grandfather. They're all gone. I'm all alone.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
“Star Hunter, are you awake?”
The sky was never like this. I began the climb to the highest tower in the castle and approached the balcony.
“Aunt Celestia?” I found her standing with her back to the door. Looking out over the land. Just the way she was slumped over said a lot. “Aunt Celestia, are you alright?”
She turned and looked at me. A weak smile crossed her face. “I guess you noticed. I'm fine Blueblood. Just a little...” She let her words trail off. “You know it's scheduled to rain today? It's fitting.”
I trotted up next to her and sat. “What's really wrong?” Then it hit me. “Does it have something to do with Star Hunter?” The elicited a reaction.
Her head slumped a little bit. “The village he's from. Did he tell you about it?”
“Not much. Just that it was North of here in the mountains."
She let out a sigh. “Yesterday afternoon, after the two of you left the library, I received some,” she paused, looking to the sky again, “news. A pegasus from the village had flown here non-stop to request help.”
“What happened?” I asked her.
“His injuries were heavy and he was barely able to speak. He told me that something had attacked the village during the night. It was still there when he escaped, but they needed help from us.”
I didn't like this at all. “Where is he now?”
“He-” she choked up a little bit, “He didn't make the night.”
“It's alright Aunt Celestia.” I said, leaning against her. “There wasn't anything you could've-” I stopped when a thought occurred to me. “Does he know?”
She nodded. “I told him last night.”
“I'm sorry. I wish there was something I could do, but-” I paused to think of the right words. “I have to go.”
“I understand.” She gave me a half-hearted smile, which I returned to the best of my abilities. “Oh, and Blueblood.”
“Yes Aunt Celestia?” I looked back at her.
She looked like she was about to say something important, but stopped. “Thank you.”
I gave her a smile and rushed out the door.
She'll be alright, but she's not who I'm worried about.
Morning again. The sun didn't shine through my window like usual though. The smell of rain filled the air, but that wasn't one of my concerns. There was something else on my mind.
I need to find Star Hunter and find out what happened.
I didn't waste any time leaving the my room. My dad must have already left. I headed directly into the main hall, but I wasn't sure where to go.
That's when I saw him. Blueblood was sneaking around the castle. Not sneaking persay, but it was clear he didn't want to be seen.
He knows where Star Hunter is.
It wasn't easy to follow him, that's for sure. I had to stay out of sight, but he couldn't make it simple.
It never is.
Thankfully, he wasn't the most observant colt I've met. He finally stopped in front of a door in a separate wing of the castle.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
“Star Hunter, are you awake?”
The door opened without a sound and he entered.
Great, he got there first.
I decided I might as well sit and wait. Not like I had anything better to do.
Blueblood voice came from the room first.
Before me was the most depressing sight you could ever see. His coat seemed pale and his posture was sickly. Worst of all was the energy that surrounded him, only added to by his empty eyes. The only sign of light on him was the faint shimmering given off by the disc around his neck. Star Hunter was broken. That's all I knew for sure.
How do you approach a situation like this Blueblood? You should've thought this through.
Here goes something. “Star Hunter. Are you all right?”
Just the abyss stared back at me.
“I heard about what happened. Are you all right.”
Still no response.
I realized there was no use talking to him. Not sure where to go from there, I decided I would wait him out. I trotted over to the window and just sat. He had to talk eventually, and when he would, I'd be here to listen.
Truth is, the silence was nice. In a place as loud as Canterlot, silence was a rarity. So I just sat and watched the rain fall.
Rain was always nice. It was so clean and cool.
“The rain is nice, isn't it.” To my side was Star Hunter. His voice was shallow and sad.
“Yeah, it is.” Now's as good a time as any. “Are you alright?”
The sadness surrounding him deepened.
“Alright?” He gave me a cold stare. “No, I don't think I am, nor will I ever be. I don't have a family. I don't have a home. My entire village was leveled and I'm alone.”
The pain echoed in his voice, but there was one thing. “You're wrong.”
“I said, you're wrong. You aren't alone.” I turned to him and gave the most sincere smile I could muster up. “I've only known you for a day, but I know that I like you. I'm here for you and, while I can't replace what you lost, I can try and make it easier on you.”
“You....” He narrowed his eyes at me. I thought he might get mad, but instead he said “Thanks. I think I needed that.” He gave me something that resembled a smile, but there was no heart behind it.
“It's what friends are for.” That was my que to leave. “If you need anything else, I'll probably find you.”
He nodded and I departed from the room. As the door shut behind me, I found myself face to face with the last pony I thought I would see.
“You know Blueberry, you're not too bad.” She smiled and walked away.
A smile crawled across my face.
Friendship is a bit contagious, isn't it?
What Star Hunter and Blueblood said echoed through my mind all day.
His village was destroyed. No survivors. I can't even imagine it.
Somehow, that heartless Prince had made a friend out of him. I couldn't figure it out. He was rude and arrogant and never considered anypony's feelings but his own.
So why are you so nice to him?
I wasn't getting anywhere talking to myself, and I still hadn't seen Star Hunter all day.
It was then that the pony in the garden caught my attention. Apparently being trapped in a room all day was still pain for a pegasus. He sat there in front of a bed of flowers, just staring at them.
“Star Hunter?” I asked.
That must've startled him a little because he flinched ever so slightly. “Hi Candent.”
“I... uhh.... I heard what happened.”
“It seems everypony did. It doesn't help me though.” He looked back down at the flower bed. “Can you tell me the name of this flower?”
I walked up next to him to get a better look. “They're lilacs.”
“Lilacs. I think I like them.”
“You don't have a home now, do you?”
He looked surprised by my forwardness, but I wasn't one for beating around the bush.
“N-no. I don't have a home.”
“That's unfortunate.” I paused, hesitating for once to ask what was on my mind. I decided to go ahead with it anyway. “What were they like? Your family I mean.”
A real smile crossed his face. “They were amazing. Stories I've heard say that some of the best pegasi in Equestria came from Cloudhoof. If you met my mother or father, you would have no choice but to believe it.”
There was a twinkle in his eyes. Talking about his family brought him back to the pony I had met the day before. A new fire in his eyes. His father, the captain of the weather team, was the fastest pegasus in the village. He said that his mane shone with colors of the rainbow, a very rare sight indeed.
“Of course, nopony would believe that there was a pegasus that was faster than him. He always said that's how he met my mother. It was a simple race that she won. I was born first, then-” his smile faded and the twinkle disappeared. “Rainbow Dash.”
“Your sister?” I asked him.
“Yeah. Little sister. She was something. Always had an absurd amount of energy. Except hen she was sleeping. She was always talking about how she would be the greatest flyer in all of Equestria when she grew up.” His eyes glazed over and a tear ran down his cheek. “I'll never see them again.”
“I'm sorry Star Hunter. I'm really sorry.” I told him.
He got up without a word and left the garden.
I think I just made him feel worse. I must be a horrible friend.
I was almost in tears when he turned back to me before leaving.
“Thank you Candent.”
I guess just having somepony listen is enough.
Darkness had fallen before I returned to the room. Candent and Blueblood. I had only met them yesterday, but they were there.
“Gold and Silver are nice colors on you. Trust them.”
“Not quite gold and silver Krispy, but it'll do.”
Thank you two.
It was easier to get to sleep this time, but the dream that came with it was something. Just something.
I found myself in the darkness again, but it didn't hurt this time. My body felt lighter and I didn't feel all alone.
Why am I here?
The words seemed to echo on forever, until they were answered by hoofsteps. I couldn't see where they were coming from, so I guessed it was that mare from the night before.
I waited for what seemed like an eternity for the light but it never came. Nothing continued to happen. I decided I might as well try to find a way out of here.
I began my walk in no direction in particular. The lack of ground beneath me caused me to feel uneasy and the deathly calm air didn't help.
Another eternity later, my eyes began to pick up a shape. Upon my approach, I found a large stallion. He was just sitting there. I was relieved to find another pony here, but also a bit confused.
Excuse me sir.
He looked down at me. His gold mane covered parts of his face, but I could clearly see his red coat.
Do you know where I am?
Could you tell me?
I stared at him, waiting for him to elaborate.
You aren't going to tell me, are you?
Do you know why I'm here?
You're not going to tell me though.
Now yer catchin' on.
There was something distinctly familiar about this stallion. I don't think I've ever met an earth pony like him before, so what was it that rang a bell.
What's hanging around yer neck?
I looked down at my neck and saw a golden feather pendant hanging there. Something was unnerving about it.
Yeah, what about it?
Do ya know why he gave you that pendant?
It was a going away gift.
It's t' protect those important to ya. He poked my chest with a massive hoof.
His words echoed through my mind “protect those you love.”
A lot of good it's done for me. I've lost everything in a matter of days and there was nothing this pendant could do about it.
There it was again. That tone of voice. Except this time, I didn't wake up. Beams of light began the illuminate the area. The darkness above began to be replaced by a grey sky. We were surrounded by piles of rubble, the ground was cold, and snow was falling.
The white unicorn from the night before floated past us.
No. It couldn't be.
The place in which I stood was Cloudhoof Village, or what was left of it.
“Star Hunter?” A voice said behind me.
Before me stood the last pony I thought I would see.
My eyes bolted open. Orange light had filled the room. I looked out at the setting sun. That emant I had slept an entire day. More important than that. Rainbow Dash was alive. She was in the village. And I was going to find her.