Chapter 2: Remedy for Ignorance
“What?” I nearly whispered, caught completely off-guard by his statement.
Geoff nods solemnly. “Yes...I am from Equestria.”
I thought for a few moments before shaking my head. “N-no, that can’t be true. Nothing like you has ever been there before...and between my friends and I, I’m familiar with almost everything that lives there.”
“Perhaps, but magic can do many things, my dear.” he explained cryptically.
I shrank back a bit and glanced up at him. “Um, w-what do you mean? That is, if you don’t mind me asking.”
He chuckled softly and shook his head. “Not at all. You see, who and what I am relates to Equestria’s history, as well as that of the entire world...both this one and the one you come from. It is a history that has been both forgotten and covered up.”
What he was implying caused fear and a strong denial within me, and I found myself speaking with an odd amount of confidence. “No...that’s not true. The princesses would never hide any-”
“If you truly believe that your rulers tell you everything, then I am sad to be the one to tell you that this is far from the truth.” he explained, his stare never wavering for a moment. He then sighed and closed his eyes, lowering his head. “It pains me that I must tell you that the harmony your world experiences is in no small way attributed to the ignorance of its people. The fact stands that certain things about the past are better left forgotten. Make no mistake, your princesses are doing the right thing by keeping certain truths from you.”
I still didn’t believe him, but still asked, “Why are you telling me this?”
He opened his eyes and leveled his gaze with my own, his expression pleading. “Because what I must tell you has much to do with one of those withheld truths.” Breathing another sigh, he quirked his eyebrow at me. “Are you sure you wish to hear this? I fear that if you choose to believe it, this explanation will change your view on your world...and perhaps, your princesses.”
Well, something I don’t believe can’t change anything, now can it?
I nodded. “I’m sure.”
He pursed his lips and nodded. “Very well. Perhaps first I should play on something you know...something you are familiar with, Kindness.” My gasp of surprise answered him, and he nodded with a smile. “Yes...I know what you are, Element-bearer. Its power practically drips off of you...I would have to be blind not to notice it. However, you need not fear me. I do not seek to hurt you or any of the other five, whoever they are. I simply wished to bring up the subject...the Elements of Harmony.” He then moved slightly closer and turned until he was completely facing me, folding his hands in his lap. “Now, what do you know about where the Elements came from?”
It took a few seconds for my mind to catch up, but when it did I relaxed a little and shook my head. “I-I don’t know...nopony does.”
He shook his head as well. “I’m sorry, but that’s inaccurate. Two definitely do...they just cannot say so. Care to guess who I am speaking about?”
“The princesses.” I answered without thinking.
He nodded. “Correct. And now I will tell you why they cannot say so. You see, the world you come from thrives on harmony. Most ponies may think that means all ‘good’, but that too, is inaccurate. Harmony is in fact the balance of both ‘good’ and ‘evil’, where neither is in excess or extremes. As you know by now, the Elements of Harmony can help that to be, creating harmony with their combined might. Long ago, it was done to forge the land of Equestria into a land fit to house ponies, and I am sure you and the other five bearers have done your own share of bringing harmony.”
I nodded when he paused. “Y-yes. We cleansed Nightmare Moon and brought Princess Luna back, and when Discord escaped, we sealed him in stone again.”
His eyebrow rose slightly as I spoke this, and he asked, “Luna has returned? She is well?”
“I-I haven’t seen her in a long time, but I think she’s okay. S-sorry...” I replied nervously.
Hazel eyes seemed to glisten for a moment in the moonlight before he looked at me again. He surprised me by gently grasping my hoof in his hand, and smiling. “Thank you, Fluttershy...thank you so much.”
I awkwardly returned a smile and answered, “Um, y-you’re welcome?”
He pulled his hand away and smiled sheepishly. “Sorry about that. It’s just...” he sighed and smiled warmly, “it’s just that I was there when Luna became Nightmare Moon...and it has been a nightmare I have been reliving in my mind for the better part of a thousand years.” He then clicked his tongue and nodded. “Right, first off, harmony can only exist when there are two opposite forces contending with one another, but neither gaining any ground, so to speak. So, if there is a being such as Discord, what would you immediately think should also be?”
I shrugged. “I-I’m not sure. Maybe somepony to keep him from being bad?”
He patted his knee with a smile. “Exactly! Unfortunately one does not exist in that world, which is why you need the Elements of Harmony to combat his chaotic nature. Follow me so far?” I nodded. “Good. Now then, if one were to combat Discord, one-”
What he had said earlier suddenly struck me, and I blurted out, “You’re a thousand years old?” I then realized that I had interrupted him, and shrank away in embarrassment. “Oh...s-sorry.”
He chuckled and shook his head. “It’s no bother, I promise. Anyhow no, I am not one thousand years old.” He paused for a few moments before adding, “I am much, much older than that.”
I felt my eyes widen as I brought a hoof to my mouth to suppress a gasp. “Oh...how old?”
He shrugged. “I lost count after the first ten millennia. After so long, it just sort of blends together into one long day.” His eyes gained a faraway look in them before he shook his head quickly. “Anyway, what was I speaking about? Discord! Right. Anyhow, if the world were to have a being such as Discord, it should theoretically have another being to oppose his chaos, but the Elements of Harmony do that, yes?” I nodded, and he grinned mischievously. “Well, what if I told you that the Elements were not always available? What if I told you that once, many, many years ago, there was a pony to counteract the chaos?”
Slowly, ever so slowly, what he was saying was starting to make sense.
He continued. “You see, there are certain forces in the world that must be governed and balanced properly for harmony and life to continue to flourish. Day and night, for example. Your two princesses govern those of course, but there are also four other forces that must be governed by an intelligent being so as to allow balance to ensue. Chaos is governed by Discord...while peace was once governed by another.” He paused for a moment to allow the information to sink in before adding, “His name was Order.”
“What happened to him?” I asked, now genuinely curious.
He sighed. “He was banished from Equestria by Celestia in a rage. You see, some of the stories you have been told of Nightmare Moon and Discord are skewed. The fact remains that the Elements of Harmony cannot be wielded by only one or two ponies.”
I thought about this for a moment before asking, “So the princesses didn’t...?”
He shook his head solemnly. “No...they were not the ones who set Discord in stone and banished Nightmare Moon. It was in fact Order who did so.”
“But I thought you said the Elements of Harmony can’t be used by only one pony.” I retorted, his story suddenly having a gaping hole in it.
He nodded. “I did, didn’t I? However, the Elements of Harmony were not needed...as Order was in fact the culmination of their power. He was the one who created the Elements of Harmony.”
Slowly, the pieces of the story began to fall into place, but one glaring unknown still bothered me...
“What made Celestia banish Order then?” I asked with confusion. “If your story is true, then he sounds like a good pony.”
Be barked a laugh, startling me a bit before quieting and smiling at me. He shrugged and answered, “Perhaps he was, or perhaps he wasn’t. I’m not so sure of either anymore.”
I might not be as smart as Twilight, but I was observant enough to realize the next piece of the puzzle...
“You’re Order...” I whispered.
He smiled and nodded. “Yes. I am honestly surprised it took you so short a time to come to that. Well done.”
I shook my head. “But wait, why aren’t you a pony? And why are you here?”
Again he grinned as he answered, “And now I will reveal another truth about your world. Where have you been told the changelings originated from?”
I thought for a few moments, caught off-guard by his question. “W-well we aren’t told much of anything. The only thing I know is that they steal love to survive, they can change what they look like, and they’re really scary.”
He nodded solemnly. “I suppose they are now. It’s a shame, really...my children used to be so much more.” I gasped in shock as he continued. “The changelings are the defiled children of Order, corrupted by chaos magic from Discord. Ponies are the children of Celestia and Luna. Gryphons are the children of War, while dragons, believe it or not, are the children of Peace. War is known as Cadeyrn, while Peace chose to be nameless among the mortals...most don’t even know he exists, or even what he looks like.”
“Emperor Cadeyrn is War?” I asked in surprise. All of Equestria had heard about the crowned Emperor of Gryphonia, and how he swept across the entirety of the Warring States, often fighting on the front lines, and united the whole of the gryphon nations under one banner. Still, I had never thought him to be the force of war itself...but the more I thought about it, the more it started to make sense.
Geoff laughed loudly as he slapped his knee. “An emperor, is he? My, he has done quite well for himself.”
I sighed in frustration at how easily he got distracted, but calmed down enough to ask, “But I don’t understand. What are you exactly what do you really look like? And why were you banished?”
He shrugged as his eyes grew a bit distant. “What I am and what I truly look like are illusions. I am everything, and I am nothing. It is this ability that I gave to my children, and it is this ability that changelings use to change their form. To a far lesser degree, of course. I look however I need to, whether it be as I am now, as a pony, or some strange being neither of us has ever thought of before.” He then sighed sadly as he said, “As for why Princess Celestia banished me, it’s quite simple really. I banished her sister to create harmony, because she was a danger to the world and life itself. Celestia was too young to understand, and only saw what I did as a personal vendetta. She had the power to exact revenge upon me, and so she banished me from Equis. In my final moments, I knew that for her to do so would cause the entire world to collapse, so with my last breath on your world, I created the Elements of Harmony to promote harmony in my absence.” He then gently placed his finger on my chest and said, “You, in essence, are now a part of what was left of me.”
I shook my head with a sad sigh. “I’m not an Element of Harmony anymore. I left the necklace back at my house under a spell that Twilight made.”
I was confused when he started laughing again, but he quickly stopped when he noticed my confusion. He wiped a tear from his eye as he continued smiling and said, “I’m sorry, I just forget sometimes how little normal people know about things.” He scooted a little closer to me until he was sitting against the headboard, and I didn’t find it so scary anymore. “Well, to put it simply, you are Kindness, Fluttershy. You don’t just represent it, you are the Element of Kindness. It is true that you need the necklace to channel its power into a Harmony Wave, but the power itself is within you. You weren’t just chosen to wield Kindness, you became it.”
I couldn’t help but think that this was probably something that even Twilight didn’t know. Oh, she was going to be so jealous when...
“Oh no...” I muttered as the emotions began to overtake me again.
As I closed my eyes, I heard and felt as Geoff moved beside me. “Fluttershy, what’s wrong?”
I sniffled a few times to try and keep from crying again as I said, “I’m stuck here now, aren’t I?”
I expected a sigh and an explanation that I didn’t want to hear. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I even halfway expected Geoff to lay a hand on my shoulder or try to hug me...but that wasn’t what happened.
Instead, he chuckled.
It took him a moment to stop, but when he did, he smiled at me. “No dear Fluttershy, you are not. In fact, thanks to you being here, I can return as well.”
I nearly hopped up and out of the bed, but the sheer weakness I felt kept me from doing so. Instead I answered, “Well let’s go right now! Um...please.”
I expected him to laugh at what I said, but instead he surprised me again by frowning slightly. “We cannot...not yet.”
“W-what?” I questioned worriedly. “Why not?”
He shook his head sadly. “The spell that could take us home draws upon the magic inside you, and upon your very soul. At the moment both are far too weak, as they are attempting to repair the damage done to your body.” He sighed and locked his eyes with my own. “We have to get you well again first, and from the looks of it, that could take some time.” The sheer amount of deflation I felt must have been visible on my face, because the next thing I knew he was gently rubbing my shoulder as he said, “I will not risk your life simply to get us home, Fluttershy.”
I didn’t particularly like the answer, but I did understand his reasons. Truthfully, even though I missed home, I didn’t want to risk my life to get there either.
I closed my eyes as I tried to fight away the tears of frustration, and nodded. “Fine...I guess I have to wait.”
I felt as the hand on my shoulder snaked around my back to the other, and soon his entire arm was holding me against him. It was the closest I’d been to anypony in a long time, and even though I was just getting to know Geoff, it felt nice to be held by him. It reminded me that I wasn’t alone anymore, and even though I didn’t fully understand who and what he was, I trusted him.
“I swear to you Fluttershy,” he began, tightening his hold on me slightly, “I’m not doing this to be cruel. I simply wish for you to survive the trip back. I will nurse you back to health as quickly and safely as I can.”
I nodded again, squeezing my eyes closed to keep the tears from falling. “Okay.”
He tightened his grip on me slightly before releasing me, and moving away. “Now, we should get some food in you if you’re up to it. There is some soup left that I can heat up for you if you’re feeling hungry.”
Now that he mentioned it, I did feel rather hungry. I hadn’t gotten a chance to eat much before I had taken a nap in the bowl of soup. So, I nodded gently. “Yes please. Some soup would be very nice, thank you.”
He smiled and stood. “Very well. Please wait here and I’ll return in a few moments.”
I watched him leave as he trotted (or walked, I guess the correct term would be) out of the room. For the first time that night, I actually took a look around the room I was in. It was rather simply decorated, having only the bed, a single dresser, and a nightstand with a lamp. Upon the nightstand was a single picture frame, and in it was a photograph of Geoff, another human with longer hair and softer features, and two smaller humans. The other taller human had a mane of blonde and bright green eyes, just like Applejack. The two smaller humans had a mix darker version of the blonde hair along with Geoff’s blue, and the other’s green eyes. The photograph itself was yellowed with age, and the clothing style Geoff was wearing in the photo looked very different from what he was wearing now.
“Getting acquainted with my family, are you?” Geoff’s voice commented from behind me.
I jumped a bit in response, and whipped my head around to see him standing in the doorway with a tray of soup and toast, and he was wearing a smile on his face. I turned back to the photograph and asked, “These humans are your family?”
“Were my family.” he corrected as he made his way to sit on the bed beside me.
I turned again to look at him and asked, “Were?” It was then that I understood, and I gasped as a twinge of sadness ran through me. “Oh...I’m sorry, Geoff.”
He offered me a smile as he reached over and stroked his fingers softly on the glass of the frame. “It’s alright, Fluttershy. I will always miss them, but they lived long and happy lives. In fact, I believe my great-grandson is still around somewhere in the UK, though I know not where, exactly.”
I nodded, but still felt a little sad for him. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose your mate and foals, but you keep on living.”
He sighed as he scooted over to sit directly beside me. “It is painful. There is no doubt about the fact that it is difficult, and the process of healing is long and arduous. As an immortal though, I learned early on how to cope with the loss of loved ones. It is something all immortals learn quickly, lest they lose their minds to grief.” He gently dipped the spoon in the small bowl of soup and turned his gaze back to me. “Now, let’s get you fed.”
When I realized he was preparing to feed me like a foal, I held my hoof up to stop him. “I-I can do it on my own.”
His eyebrow raised as he pointed to my hoof. It was shaking. “I could allow you to feed yourself, but you’d end up making more of a mess than is necessary. Now sit up straight and blow.” Geoff then placed the steaming spoon in front of my nose.
I knew the tone of voice he was using. It was the same tone I would use with animals when they were being difficult in order to let them know that I knew what I was doing, and they needed to listen to me. Much like the animals would, I stopped resisting. His voice was soothing, though I couldn’t really put my hoof on why exactly. Still, his tone also brokered no room for argument, so I blew on the spoonful of soup and opened my mouth.
It was an hour later that I was finished eating, and Geoff and I were sitting in his room, talking. Instead of him speaking about his life though, I told him about mine. I told him about my time on this planet, the loss of Angel, and everything I could remember about the events leading up to me being sent away from Equestria. I shed a few tears when I mentioned Angel, but Geoff was right beside me to comfort me.
Eventually though, the day began to wear on me as I felt my body as a whole begin to slump. I watched as Geoff left the room with the dirty dishes in hand, and returned a few moments later with a glass of water. I greedily gulped the liquid down with a multivitamin he had provided me, and settled into the bed. He then tucked me in and sat down beside me, talking to me as I lay there peacefully. I found myself feeling a little upset that he was doing so much for me. Perhaps it was the fact that I was so used to taking care of animals and my friends, but I hated feeling like an invalid. That’s not to say I didn’t appreciate him, but I didn’t want to be taking advantage of his hospitality either. Perhaps when I was a little stronger, I’d repay his kindness somehow.
Some time later, he stood up off the bed and lowered the shades in the windows, closing out all but a few slits of moonlight. He then prepared to leave the room, but for some reason, I felt the need to make my uneasiness known.
“Um, w-wait.” I softly spoke, causing him to stop and turn around. I gestured to the bed and said, “I-I can’t take your bed. Where would you sleep?”
He shrugged. “Strictly speaking, I can go a day or two without sleep safely. You need it more than I do, so rest. The loo is to your right, and I’ll be downstairs if you need me.”
Yet again was that tone that told me, “This is the way it’s going to be. Deal with it.” In a kind way of course, but also stern.
With that in mind, I opted not to argue further, and just nodded. “O-okay. Goodnight, Geoff.”
He smiled as he stepped to the doorway. “Goodnight, Fluttershy. Sleep well, and may you have sweet dreams.” He then stepped out and closed the door over, leaving it only slightly ajar.
Now that I was alone again, I let my mind drift to all I’d been told. I couldn’t help but smile slightly as I thought about how Twilight would react to the information I’d just been given, and I found myself smiling even more at the fact that I could now hope that I would get home again. Home wouldn’t be quite the same without Angel there, and I was still a little sad about it, but working with animals for as long as I had, I’d become pretty used to death...probably more than my friends would expect. Still, for the first time in what felt like an eternity, I could feel a sense of excitement and hope flooding me once again.
The warmth of these thoughts lulled me to sleep again as I lay my head down, content to look to a brighter dawn.