Standard disclaimer: This is a not for profit fan work. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is copyright Hasbro, Inc. I make no claim to any copyrighted material mentioned herein.
Chapter 7: Under the Sea
114 Harborside Way, Apartment 4B
Two Orchard Way
September 24, 1492 AC
Dear Blue Seas,
I hope this letter finds you well, and you remain enthusiastic about swimming. Although we are in the normal lull for competition, I make sure to visit the pool, or in my case ocean, every day.
As I mentioned when we met at the Equestria Games, I live and work in Atlantis part of the year. From October through February, I work with my father in building and maintaining currents in Atlantis. It’s kind of hard to describe to somepony who’s only lived on the surface, but it’s an important type of civil engineering.
My offer to you, to visit the home of the seaponies, still stands. You have the enthusiastic support of my parents, who made sure I could feel at home both on land and under the sea. If you just wish to visit, we can plan a visit. If you’d like to stay longer, you could learn our family trade. We can teach you what you need to know. If you choose this route, however, I recommend mastering High Tide’s Elements of Water Magic first. I would expect water magic to come easily to you, thanks to your heritage.
Please talk with your parents and write back when you’ve made a decision.
Your friend of two worlds,
Blue Seas refolded the letter. He had originally mentioned the letter when he had received it, but he knew that, with the harvest season coming, his parents had more important things to worry about.
But now, he knew what he wanted to do. He set aside the copy of Elements of Water Magic and headed downstairs. He found his parents in the living room, relaxing after a hard day’s work.
“Mom, Dad, can we talk?”
“Of course, dear,” Golden Harvest said.
“You know I have that offer to visit the seapony kingdom, and even stay and work there.” He paused. “I want to take up Azure Spark’s offer, and live with him this winter.”
“For how long?” his father asked.
“Maybe two months. December and January. I’ll need to coordinate with Azure Spark, but I wanted to talk to you first. Make sure I’m not letting down the farm.”
“You know you won’t let us down, son,” Golden Grain said. “You’re going to leave home someday. We know your destiny isn’t on this farm.”
“Still, are you sure you want to miss Hearth’s Warming?” Golden Harvest said.
“I don’t want to miss it, but I think it’s best for the farm to be gone for these two months. I promise to think of you, Mom, Dad,” Blue Seas said.
“Okay, son,” Golden Grain said. “Remember that no matter where you go in life, you will always have a home here.”
Two weeks later, Blue Seas had finalized plans with Azure Spark. That left another three weeks of anticipation. He worked hard around the home, preparing the year’s harvest for winter storage and helping with repairs.
On the arranged day, Blue Seas endured a teary farewell on the platform of the Ponyville train station. Many hugs were exchanged, with Cirrus hanging on to him as he boarded the train. He took his seat and waved as the train departed for Fillydelphia.
It brought back memories of his train ride to Baltimare. That was the first time he was away from Ponyville for more than three days. Now, not only was he going to be away from home, he was also going to be on his own, responsible for himself.
He was glad he had a friend for support.
The train trip was long, and Blue Seas wished he had something to do. But it wasn’t like he could bring a book where he was going. In fact, for a two month trip, he only had one small bag, mostly personal grooming items that Azure Spark had suggested he bring. He dozed off, meeting family and friends again in his dreams.
An overcast sky greeted Blue Seas when he arrived in Fillydelphia. He disembarked, his bag on his back, a letter with directions in his magical aura. He hadn’t managed to see much of Fillydelphia on his prior trip. Now, walking along its streets, he could appreciate one of Equestria’s largest and oldest cities. Tall brick buildings and narrow and twisting streets were in stark contrast to the open spaces of Ponyville. The streets were packed with ponies, moving faster and with greater purpose.
A delicious aroma greeted Blue Seas, and his stomach reminded him he hadn’t eaten on the train. Vendors on the street sold the famous Filly cheese hay sandwich, and if this was going to be his last pony meal, it might as well be something new and tasty. The sandwich was delicious, but weighed heavily on his stomach as he continued his journey.
Blue Seas’s destination was a six story apartment building, not far from the ocean. A building like that probably held more apartments than all of Ponyville, yet it was a small building for Fillydelphia. He walked up the stairs and found Azure Spark’s apartment.
His knock was swiftly answered by a middle-aged unicorn mare with a cherry red coat and a blue and yellow mane. “Oh, you must be Blue Seas,” she said. “Azure Spark has told me so much about you!” Before Blue Seas could react, she grabbed him in a hug.
Azure Spark trotted into the hallway, and mouthed “Sorry.”
Blue Seas extracted himself from the affectionate mare, and uttered “Nice to meet you.”
“Blue Seas, this is my mother, Red Tide. She’s an oceanographer.”
“Is that how you met Azure Spark’s father?” Blue Seas asked.
Red Tide nodded. “It is. Of course, I had to drag him to that bar on the shore to get him to loosen up.”
Azure Spark facehoofed. “Mom!”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “My son doesn’t like it when I tell these stories.”
“It’s like you want to embarrass me, Mom!”
“Um, can I talk to Azure Spark alone?” Blue Seas interrupted. “I have some questions.”
“Okay, dear,” she replied.
The two half-seaponies retreated to Azure Spark’s bedroom. It was sparsely furnished and decorated. “Thanks,” Azure Spark said, taking a seat on the bed.
“I can empathize,” Blue Seas said. “My mom’s not that bad, but there are many times I’ve felt embarrassed by my parents. But I thought it would get better when you’re older.”
“Well, I’m nineteen, and it’s only gotten worse as Mom’s gotten older. I’m kind of stuck with it. As long as I’m splitting time between the sea and the surface, I can’t realistically move out.”
“I still don’t know what I’m going to do, other than swim,” Blue Seas said. “I don’t even know where I belong. I’m hoping these next two months will help me figure that out.”
“You said you had questions?”
“Honestly, I just wanted to get us away from your mother. But, well, let me think.” He paused. “Do I need anything else before we go?”
“Did you master the water breathing spell?”
“I did. Spend an hour underwater with it.”
“Good. I asked you to learn the spell for emergencies, if you transform back. And you’ll want to carry this emergency water breathing potion around your neck at all times.” Azure Spark levitated over a luminescent violet flask. “Something my dad drilled into me. You can’t go overboard when it comes to being able to breathe.”
Blue Seas lifted the flask around his neck. “Anything else?”
“Here are some clams,” Azure Spark said, presenting another pouch.
“What do I need clams for?”
“Not the sea creature. Seapony money. It’s made out of shells. This is an advance on your wages.”
“I didn’t know that.” Blue Seas shook his head. “I’m going to be so lost down there.”
“I’ll be there to help you fit in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Now, do you need to store anything here?”
“One thing. I’ll just leave the bag here with it.” Blue Seas said. “I didn’t bring anything else that I couldn’t take underwater. Well, I guess I can leave my pouch of bits behind, too.”
Blue Seas nodded.
“Then let’s go!”
After the laborious process of saying goodbye to his mother, Azure Spark took Blue Seas to the ocean shore. He stepped into the water until it was up to his barrel. “Ready?” he asked Blue Seas.
Blue Seas followed him into the chilly water. “Ready.”
Blue Seas concentrated as if he were casting a spell, but his horn didn’t light. Rather, the magic flowed from within him, pouring into his rear legs. He felt a pressure like a muscle cramp, and then relief. His rear half slumped into the water, his seapony tail resting on the sand. With a few test kicks, he felt everything working. “How far is the trip?” he asked.
“About an hour by fin,” Azure Spark replied. “Follow me, but if you get lost, the glowing yellow rocks will lead you to Atlantis.” He turned and dove under water, the fins of his tail splashing Blue Seas.
Blue Seas followed him under the surface. For the first time while in this form, he felt in his element. Blue Seas began to appreciate this form and its inherent magic. His eyes adjusted to the darkness, and he could see as well as on the surface. He no longer felt the chill of the water. And when Azure Spark motioned and said “This way”, he could hear his words clearly.
About half an hour later, Blue Seas saw his first seapony. A lone stallion was swimming through a patch of kelp, inspecting the orderly rows. Growing up on a farm, he recognized the sight of cultivated fields.
Continuing on, Blue Seas started to see structures. At first, they looked like interesting formations in the rocky surface, but then he noticed signs that they had been worked. Windows and doors in irregular shapes were visible, once he knew what to look for.
The seafloor sloped down, and Blue Seas gasped as he looked over the edge. The city of Atlantis loomed beneath him, tall spires of rock and crystal, twinkling with lights of yellow, blue, and violet. And swimming in all directions were what must have been thousands of seaponies.
“Impressive, isn’t it?” Azure Spark said.
“Yeah. I... I don’t even know what to say.”
“We’ll keep you busy, but you should have time to see it all. Let’s go. I know where our first stop should be.”
As he neared the bustling city, Blue Seas caught himself picking up subtle shifts in temperature and current. Instincts told him to follow the stream. As he did, he noticed seaponies swimming along the same stream. “So this is like a road?” he asked.
“Yeah. It’s called a current, and keeping them flowing is going to be our job. Now, get ready to dive out. We’re heading there.”
Blue Seas followed Azure Spark to the seafloor. They were surrounded by buildings, but their destination was outside, a single seapony mare with a cart. The shape of the cart was different, but Blue Seas recognized a food vendor.
“Two,” Azure Spark ordered. “You’re going to like this Atlantis roll,” he told Blue Seas. “Trust me.”
The vendor opened a compartment. Bubbles escaped, and Blue Seas felt a bit of warmth come from it. She passed over two mystery items, cylindrical rolls of something wrapped in seaweed, about the size of a sandwich.
“Fish?” Blue Seas asked.
Azure Spark nodded and took a bite.
Blue Seas inspected the food. It felt warm in his hooves; just how seaponies cooked was another question he had to ask. He couldn’t really smell the roll, at least not in the pony sense, but he picked up savory notes in the nearby water that whetted his appetite. He glanced at Azure Spark, who was already half finished, and greatly enjoying it. He put the roll into his mouth and took a small bite.
Blue Seas’s incisors, now pointed like a seapony’s, had no problem cutting the roll, and he chewed the mystery food. A flood of alien tastes bombarded him. Half of him wanted to push it away, but the other half found the new taste appealing. The texture was different, but not unfamiliar; he experienced it when he ate fish back in Baltimare.
He decided he wanted more.
Blue Seas sighed after he swallowed the last bite of the roll. He worked his tongue over his teeth, trying to dislodge errant pieces of seaweed. He noticed his molars felt familiar, unchanged. “Are my teeth right?” he asked.
“You mean keeping some pony teeth? I have the same thing. I don’t know why it doesn’t change all the way. That, and our ears.”
“What?” Blue Seas raised a hoof to his ear; it felt unchanged. He looked over at the vendor, whose ears were similar, but tipped with small fins. She looked bemused about the whole situation.
“Let’s go, Blue Seas. We can talk more once we get home.”
“Can you at least tell me what I ate?” Blue Seas said.
“Sea bass, stuffed with lobster, and wrapped in seaweed. Why? Did you like it?”
“I think I did.”
Azure Spark and Blue Seas stopped outside one of many identical buildings, if that term could be used. For some reason, the rounded shapes reminded Blue Seas of a beehive. He tried desperately to remember landmarks, but everything looked the same to him.
“Your best bet is to remember the cutie mark,” Azure Spark said, pounding a hoof on the wall. The mark was three wavy lines, in blue, violet, and red. “Or ask for Split-Fin’s home.”
“Is that your father’s name?”
“Yes. Come on in.”
Azure Spark opened the door and swam in. He was soon met by an older seapony stallion. “Son!” he called. They greeted each other with a brief stallion hug: embrace, two pats, and then break.
“Dad, this is my friend, Blue Seas. Blue Seas, my father, Split-Fin.”
“Nice to meet you, sir,” Blue Seas said. He swam up, and they shook hooves. The stallion had a violet coat and shimmering silver mane, with scales of a duller silver. Looking at his father and remembering his mother, Blue Seas could see where Azure Spark had gotten his magenta coat and silver and blue mane.
“Azure Spark told me about you. Is it true this is your first trip to Atlantis?” Split-Fin said.
“First trip underwater at all. I didn’t even know I was part seapony until a few months ago.”
“That’s... that’s rough,” he replied. “We’ll both do our best to make sure you learn about your heritage while you’re here.”
“Thanks,” Blue Seas said.
“Let me take you to our room,” Azure Spark volunteered.
Blue Seas followed Azure Spark into a curiously-shaped passage. Down they went, and then they curved upward. For some reason, Blue Seas thought of the pipe underneath his kitchen sink.
The water up above now looked different; he soon found out why, when he surfaced. This room was filled with air; a strange kind of seaweed clung to the wall. Azure Spark pulled himself into a seated position at the edge of the tunnel, his tail comfortably covered by the water.
Blue Seas imitated Azure Spark and took a seat. Looking around, he was intrigued by the design of the room. Most of the room was at a higher level, completely out of the water, but the lower level where they now sat could allow seaponies to visit and not have to change forms. In the dry space were two piles of bedding, woven from seaweed.
“So you sleep in pony form?” Blue Seas asked.
“You don’t want to change back while you’re sleeping,” Azure Spark explained. “So you sleep in a lodge room like this.”
Blue Seas splashed the water with his tail. “Like a beaver lodge?”
“How does this work?”
“Magic holds the bubble in shape. And the skyweed there keeps the air fresh,” Azure Spark said.
The skyweed pulsed. “Looks creepy,” Blue Seas said.
“It is,” Azure Spark replied with a laugh.
“So, uh, sorry for having to share your room,” Blue Seas said.
“Don’t worry about it. This room is big enough. Besides, it will be nice to have that whole brother experience.”
“I’ll be sure to tell you all the problems with being a brother. Starting with sharing a room.” Blue Seas’s stomach rumbled. “I’m not sure my first seapony meal is agreeing with me.”
“It does take time to get used to, even for me.”
“I think I need to....” Blue Seas paused and looked around.
Azure Spark looked at Blue Seas. “What’s wrong?”
“I just realized that I have no idea how to use the bathroom with this body.”
“Well. Huh. Yeah.” Azure Spark swished his tail idly. “I mean, everything works normally, but you don’t want to do your business in the middle of Atlantis. You need to go to the shell room.”
“No baths, you know? Many seaponies will know what you mean if you ask for the bathroom, but many have never been to the surface. So, um, it’s probably easiest to show you.”
Blue Seas followed Azure Spark out of their room, and to a door that looked like any other. It opened to reveal an empty room, about the size of a closet. He entered and closed the door behind him. At that moment, water started flowing upward. He had to gently swim to hover in place. Noticing a handle, he wrapped his forelegs around it.
It helped for Blue Seas to picture himself using the facilities at home. And when he finished, he saw nothing left, the waste disappearing through a hole in the roof.
He swam out of the shell room. “So why is it called a shell room?” he asked Azure Spark.
“The main kind of grooming seaponies need to do is to slake off old scales. And they normally do this by scraping their tails with a shell. Do it in the shell room, because nopony likes to swim through discarded scales. You and I don’t have to do it as often, since we’ll be in our normal forms while we sleep, but you should find a shell at some point.”
“So, what now?” Blue Seas asked. “Are we going to work today?”
“Not today, but I was thinking of showing you what we’re working on.” He looked down the hall. “Hey, Dad?”
“In here,” he replied.
The two half-seaponies swam into what resembled a workshop. Split-Fin was puttering around, much like Blue Seas’s father was wont to do.
“You up for a swim to the vent?” Azure Spark asked.
“Sounds good to me. How about you, Blue Seas?”
“I’m not sure what it is, but sure.”
“It’s an impressive sight, that’s for sure,” Split-Fin said.
The three ponies swam, leaving Atlantis behind, traveling further from shore. Blue Seas noticed their path followed a current of warm water; whenever he felt the water cool, they corrected their course. After half an hour, he noticed a warm glow ahead. Then he saw seaponies at work, obviously construction workers. Despite the underwater environment, the similarities were obvious. Both seaponies and narwhals were working the stone in the area.
They soon reached the source of the glow. A large vent in the seafloor generated light and heat. By now, the nearby water was the temperature of bathwater. “This is... wow,” Blue Seas said.
“This steam vent is the source of the heat and magical energy that powers Atlantis,” Split-Fin explained. “The workers we passed are creating a new flow, letting the city grow.”
“The warmth allows the kelp beds to flourish, and will attract fish,” Azure Spark added. “And more importantly for our work, they affect the currents through Atlantis.”
“Our job is to adjust the currents, and then build new ones,” Split-Fin said. “And I recommend getting a good night’s sleep tonight, because tomorrow is going to be busy.”
The next morning, following a light breakfast of some kind of whitefish, Blue Seas departed for his first day on the job. He and Azure Spark were two of six ponies working under the guidance of Split-Fin. He gave orders to the others, who split off in pairs, and then he led them to someplace in Atlantis.
“So here’s an example. This current is running too warm,” Split-Fin said. “So we need to fix it.”
“How do you know?” Blue Seas asked.
“I know, but for you, I recommend using a thermometer.” He pulled out a temperature gauge and passed it to Blue Seas, and then spread out what looked like blueprints, but on a paper made of kelp and inked with some phosphorescent substance. “As you can see, it’s supposed to be two degrees cooler.”
“So then what do we do next?” Blue Seas asked.
“We adjust the seafloor outside Atlantis, making both physical and magical changes, until the warm and cool waters are mixed like they should be.”
“Dad’s already engineered the changes. We’re here to build them,” Azure Spark added.
“Come on,” Split-Fin urged.
They headed to a spot outside town. Split-Fin used what looked like the underwater equivalent of a surveyor’s tool to check his distance, and then marked two X’s in the seafloor with his hoof. “I’ll build the ridge here, and then you create the eddy there,” he explained.
Blue Seas watched with fascination as Split-Fin pressed his tail to the seafloor. Using his inherent seapony magic, he pulled sand and stone together, reshaping the seafloor over the course of several minutes.
“Let’s go,” Azure Spark said. “We’re going to be working with Swiftwater’s Fourth Current Spell.”
“The one that creates a whirlpool when it goes out of control?”
“Yes, but we have nowhere near that kind of magical strength.”
Visions of Princess Twilight Sparkle casting the spell filled Blue Seas’s head. He shuddered and focused on the ritual. Placing his hoof against Azure Spark’s, they cast the spell together, relying on each other to balance the spell’s energy demands and even its output. While Blue Seas wasn’t certain about the intended impact of the spell, he felt the water’s change in his tail
“Now what?” Blue Seas asked.
“We do the same thing elsewhere, following the blueprint. Afterward, we go back and check the results.”
“Then if there’s a problem, we adjust the spell?”
“Right. I’m pretty good at reviewing the problem, but I always check with Dad first.”
For the first half of the day, Blue Seas and Azure Spark followed his father’s plans. They broke for lunch; Split-Fin passed out cold fish rolls. Blue Seas found the meal to be filling but nothing special, rather like the common daisy sandwich on the surface. Then, going back in the direction of their first construction site, they checked on the currents.
The first check revealed a temperature slightly off; after conversing with Split-Fin, they strengthened their spell slightly. The second check revealed another problem, which Split-Fin fixed with an adjustment to the seafloor.
The third check also revealed a problem. “Is this normal?” Blue Seas asked.
“Very much so. But note we’ve only needed to make small adjustments. We haven’t had to cast a different spell. So that’s success, as far as I’m concerned.”
“It still feels like we’re duplicating effort.”
“It’s not the most fun kind of work, but you’ll be happy once you’re swimming through Atlantis.”
Blue Seas felt tired after his first day of underwater work, more tired than after a day on the farm. Back home, he watched with curiosity as Azure Spark prepared dinner. Watching a fish being prepared for consumption was a bit disconcerting at first, but he reminded himself he had already eaten fish multiple times. And then there was the cooking. Azure Spark opened a small door and put the fish into a cubbyhole that shone with a warm orange glow.
“Is that like an oven? I’m guessing it’s magic,” Blue Seas said.
“Yes to both,” Azure Spark replied. “That vent we visited? This oven is made from the stone in that area. It can hold magic for a long time, generating heat.”
“I didn’t really think it was possible to cook underwater.”
“It’s not necessary to cook fish, but I prefer the taste. What I really wish is for there to be some way of making bread down here.”
Blue Seas thought about all the delicious baked goods back in Ponyville. “Please don’t remind me.”
“How did you like your first week down here?” Azure Spark asked.
“It was surprisingly ordinary,” Blue Seas replied. “Work, taking care of the home, cooking, reading, grooming. There are a few big differences in function, but otherwise it’s been very ordinary.”
“And now we’re shopping.”
Blue Seas nodded. “This marketplace looks a lot like Ponyville’s.”
“I’d like to see that. Back in Fillydelphia, I’m used to established storefronts.”
“Really? You’d want to visit Ponyville?” Blue Seas asked incredulously.
“Of course! The town has its own castle and princess, and a rather large number of famous ponies.”
“I guess that’s nothing out of the ordinary to me,” Blue Seas mused. “If you ever do visit, I’ll be happy to show you around.”
Azure Spark noticed Blue Seas staring off into the depths. “Thinking of home?” he asked.
“Yeah. If I were home, I’d probably be getting ready to go to a party right now.”
“We could do that,” Azure Spark said. “A friend of mine mentioned a little get-together going down. Just young stallions like us. And mares, of course.”
“I think I’d like that,” Blue Seas said. “I’m learning a lot from your father, but I’d like to spend some time, you know....”
“With ponies our age. Yeah.”
Blue Seas and Azure Spark headed out following dinner. Swimming through Atlantis, Blue Seas was able to appreciate what the city looked like at night. It was dark out, or at least that’s what his seapony eyes told him, but the city made up for the lack of natural light with sparkles of artificial color. Stones glowed with the energy of the underwater vents. Carefully tended patches of phosphorescent algae glowed dimly. And the lights from hundreds of residences shone through windows. It wasn’t a common sight in Ponyville, but he recalled Baltimare looking like this at night.
The party was held outdoors, so to speak, in an area that reminded Blue Seas of one of Ponyville’s parks. He guessed there were about thirty ponies there, ranging from his age to mid-twenties. A two-pony band played music, one using a variety of rocks as percussion instruments, the other blowing on a variety of shells. The vibrations he picked up with his seapony ears translated to something akin to horns. And the omnipresent food vendors had set up here as well.
Blue Seas wasn’t feeling that hungry, but he had hard-earned clams in his pouch, and the skewers of shrimp sure “smelled” good. He swam over and ordered a skewer. As he paid, he felt something brush the fin at the end of his tail. Blue Seas turned and noticed a mare. She smiled as she swam away, twisting her tail in a way he couldn’t help but notice.
Blue Seas returned the smile, but swam off in another direction. He stopped and ate, watching seaponies swim around each other in an aquatic display that resembled dancing. And then he felt another brush along his tail. It was a different mare this time.
Unsure of the situation, he found Azure Spark and swam over to him. “So, um, when a mare brushes your tail, is that what I think it is?”
“Yes. That’s a kind of flirting.”
“So far, I’ve had two mares do that,” Blue Seas said.
“But why me? I’m nothing special.”
“I remember feeling the same way the first time I came down here, Blue Seas. Why me? But look around. The reason why is obvious. We’re exotic.”
Blue Seas looked over the crowd, seeing the blues, greens, violets, and silvers of the seaponies’ coats. He thought of his own coat as silver, but it was far lighter than anypony else. In fact, the only pony who stood out more than him was Azure Spark.
Azure Spark motioned to the crowd. “Go out there and enjoy the attention.”
Blue Seas rubbed his hooves together. “But I have a marefriend back home, and I, I mean we....”
“I, uh, understand,” Azure Spark said. “It wasn’t that long ago that I was in your horseshoes. So, I guess my big brother advice is, don’t do anything you don’t want to do.” His horn glowed, and he pulled a small sealed item out of his pouch. “But carry this, in case you change your mind.”
Blue Seas blushed, and quickly made the item disappear into his own pouch. “Thanks,” he mumbled.
“Now go out there and have fun.”
Blue Seas swam up to a small group of chatting seaponies and introduced himself. He thought back to meeting his fellow athletes at the Equestria Games, and hoped things would go as smoothly. Fortunately, they did. Throughout the night, he found seaponies eager to talk to him. He told his story several times that evening, and they found the strangest details to be fascinating. Being from Ponyville and living on a farm were crazy and unique things to a group of ponies who had never even traveled halfway across Fillydelphia. And mentioning that he had met Princess Twilight Sparkle got a lot of oohs and ahhs. He gathered that the lord of Atlantis wasn’t as friendly a pony.
Blue Seas swam and “danced” with the locals. He was having such a good time that he had no idea how late it had gotten. The party eventually slowed down, and Azure Spark swam over to him. “Did you have a good time?” he asked.
“This was fun. Are there more parties like this?”
“Bigger events like this only happen once or twice a month. This was sort of a Hearth’s Warming party. But I get together with several of the ponies here frequently. We get lunch, race and play aquaball, or just hang out.”
“What’s aquaball?” Blue Seas asked.
“It’s a game with two teams, trying to score in each other’s goal, with the ball only manipulated by your tail. So, something between hoofball and lacrosse,” Azure Spark explained.
“Sounds like fun.”
“I’ll try to get a game together.”
“So seaponies celebrate Hearth’s Warming too?”
“It’s called Unity Day, but it celebrates the same thing. The seaponies and narwhals came together, and brought forth the warmth from the earth. And that was said to be the founding of Atlantis.”
“There are a lot of similarities here,” Blue Seas observed.
“Land or sea, we’re all ponies.”
“Are you ready to go?” Azure Spark said.
“Hold on, I need to finish grooming,” Blue Seas replied. In the shell room, he was scraping his tail with a scallop shell. He had discovered that not taking care of his tail made swimming irritating, like getting a rock stuck in one’s hoof. And since he had a long swim ahead of him, he went over his tail one more time.
Hearth’s Warming was approaching, and the three seaponies were returning to the surface for two days, to spend the holiday with Red Tide.
Blue Seas gave his tail one last shake to dislodge any remaining loose scales. “Okay, ready.”
The swim back to Fillydelphia was uneventful. The water grew colder as they left the area controlled by the seaponies. After all, it was the time of year when, even with his love of swimming, Blue Seas only swam indoors.
Blue Seas breached the surface and breathed in the crisp winter air. He pressed his forehooves into the wet sand and stood up on his front legs. He concentrated, and his seapony tail split and reformed into his hind legs. He stepped forward, and promptly fell, getting a muzzle full of wet sand.
“Careful. You need to get used to walking on four legs again,” Azure Spark said.
Blue Seas stood and shook himself off. He tried moving each leg individually until he got used to his normal body again. Split-Fin was doing the same. His transformed form was a muscular earth pony with a muted violet coat.
The weather in Fillydelphia was clear and cold. The sun did little to fight the biting wind. Blue Seas was glad they didn’t have far to walk. Soon, they were inside the apartment building. They headed upstairs and knocked.
Red Tide answered the door, and promptly grabbed Split-Fin. They embraced and kissed like two ponies who hadn’t seen each other for months. Which they were, Blue Seas noted.
Azure Spark motioned for them to go around his parents. “They’ll be like that for a while.”
Red Tide’s apartment was warm and inviting. A wonderful aroma greeted them, and Blue Seas started to drool. “Cookies?” he wondered.
“Mom always welcomes us home with cookies,” Azure Spark said.
Azure Spark and Blue Seas headed to the kitchen. Holiday cookies cooled on wire racks. Blue Seas stared at them hungrily. And they waited.
Red Tide and Split-Fin finally joined them in the kitchen a few minutes later. She hugged her son. “Welcome home, dear,” she said. “You too, Blue Seas.”
“Thanks,” Blue Seas replied.
“Can we have the cookies now?” Azure Spark asked.
“Of course, sweetie.” She levitated the cookies onto a platter, and then moved the platter to the table.
Blue Seas snagged a cookie and took a bite. “Wow, these cookies are really sweet!” he said.
“No, it’s more like you haven’t had anything sweet for the last month,” Azure Spark said.
Blue Seas nodded. The meals he had eaten as a seapony had a variety of savory flavors, ones that were hard to compare to pony food, but nothing that could be called sweet.
He grabbed a second cookie. If this was his one chance to eat dessert for a two month period, he wasn’t going to pass it up!
“What’s our plan, Mom?” Azure Spark asked.
“Your father and I are going to go shopping, and look at the Hearth’s Warming decorations around town,” she replied. “Then we’ll make the holiday meal. Did you two want to come?”
“I think we’ll be fine here,” Azure Spark said.
“Then have fun, you two. We’ll be back this afternoon.”
After the parents headed out, Blue Seas spoke. “So I take it that means you don’t need to shop for a gift?”
“Yes, I picked up some things in Baltimare for my family. You?”
“I did bring something from Ponyville for your family. It feels weird, only buying one gift.”
“You have a large family, right?”
“Two brothers, two sisters.” Blue Seas sighed. “Feels strange not to be with them.”
“Then let them know you’re thinking of them.”
“You’re right. I’ll write a letter.”
Blue Seas sat at the desk in Azure Spark’s room. He picked up the quill and started to write.
It’s the day before Hearth’s Warming as I write this letter. It feels so strange to be in a quiet house on this day. It’s the first time I’m away from home on this day, and I’m thinking about you. I’m thinking about Mom’s candied carrots, and Dad’s holiday rolls. I’m thinking about the old Hearth’s Warming decorations that still smell like cinnamon after all these years. But most of all, I’m thinking about you. My thoughts are with you always. But don’t worry about me; I’m with a friend this Hearth’s Warming.
By the time you get this letter, I’ll be back underwater. I really can’t put into words what it’s like down there. So many things are similar, but every so often there’s something that surprises me completely. It’s been nice to experience this part of my heritage. I’ll be sure to tell you all about it when I get home in five weeks.
P.S. Cirrus, no touching the candy Mom and Dad got for me.
That evening, Blue Seas joined Azure Spark’s family for the holiday meal. He watched with interest as Red Tide revealed her family’s stew. The scent of tomatoes and spices greeted him.
Blue Seas looked at his bowl, seeing something that didn’t resemble a vegetable. “Does this have fish?”
“Yes, it’s made with cod,” Red Tide said. “This stew represents our unique blended family.”
“That’s interesting, you eating fish at all.”
“Well, at first I thought it... distasteful,” Red Tide said. “And then I got pregnant.”
“I had to keep going into the ocean to feed her cravings,” Split-Fin said.
“I realized that it actually tasted good. Not that I eat it often, but I always make fish for the few meals I share with my husband.”
“And I love every one of them,” Split-Fin said.
Following dinner, they exchanged gifts. Blue Seas brought out the gift he had left in the apartment before they departed, a large bottle.
“Cider,” Split-Fin said.
“Sweet Apple Acres cider,” Blue Seas said. “Best in Equestria. My neighbor makes it.”
“Let’s be the judge of that,” Red Tide said as she levitated in four glasses from the kitchen.
“And we have something for you,” Azure Spark said. He passed over something cylindrical
Blue Seas recognized the item was seapony-made. He opened it, seeing one of the scrolls they used in place of books. He pulled it out and unrolled it.
“It’s the tale of unification,” Split-Fin said. “Someday, you’ll have foals, and you can tell them about your heritage, and how the lesson of friendship and harmony is universal.”
“Thanks. That’s a very thoughtful gift,” Blue Seas said.
Food, family, gifts, and the warmth of the hearth. Even away from home, Blue Seas enjoyed the holiday. But something still weighed on his mind as he got ready for bed. He stretched out on the cot in Azure Spark’s bedroom. Azure Spark entered; he cast a spell, and the room felt quieter.
“What was that?” Blue Seas asked.
“Silence spell. The bed in my parents’ bedroom squeaks.”
“I know the feeling. I normally just put a pillow over my ears.”
“Is something bothering you?” Azure Spark asked. “If you want to go home, I’m sure my father would understand.”
“It’s not that. It’s.... Well, I had this idea that, down in Atlantis, I’d see my natural mother. And there’d be this connection, and we’d meet, and there’d be this happy reunion.”
“I know you met your father like that, but it’s still unlikely. Atlantis is a pretty big city, after all.”
“Maybe I should ask around town,” Blue Seas said.
“But you don’t know her,” Azure Spark said.
“I have her name. Melodia Starsea.”
“Melodia’s a pony name, Blue Seas.”
“What do you mean?”
“Haven’t you noticed how seapony names are physical characteristics?”
Blue Seas thought about it. Split-Fin, Blue Scale, Long Tail... he had been so focused on the names, he hadn’t thought about what they meant. “So then, even if they knew her, they would know her by a different name?”
“Right. And Starsea only helps a little. It’s like a clan name, but it’s shared by maybe one-third of narwhals.”
Azure Spark pondered. “Maybe there’s a chance of finding her, if you swim in the right school. The political class is pretty insular, but if there’s a chance of meeting them, I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thanks, Azure Spark.”
Blue Seas tried to not dwell on his natural mother, rather focusing on his unique opportunity to live as a seapony. Returning to the sea, he continued to work, and joined in Azure Spark’s circle of friends for swimming races and aquaball. He was really getting into the seapony sport. A little too into it.
“How’s your foreleg feel?” Azure Spark asked.
“Still a bit sore,” he replied. Blue Seas had executed a powerful “kick” in the previous day’s game, one accomplished by swimming in a complete loop first to build up speed. But he lost control, and jammed his foreleg against the seabed. It only hurt when he tried to turn suddenly while swimming.
“Dad thinks you’re ready to learn seabed manipulation. You’ll want to know both kinds of magic if you want to make this a career.”
“Okay. Sounds good.” Although he certainly used his seapony magic when racing, conscious casting using his tail was something he hadn’t had a chance to practice.
Split-Fin took the two half-seaponies to an empty field, or the seafloor equivalent, to practice. “First, physical contact is necessary to establish the connection,” he explained. “When you’re connected to the seabed, you’ll feel a warmth, an affinity. Only then do you use your magic. Urge the sand and rock to shape to your desires.”
“It’s a similar feeling to shaping water with a spell,” Azure Spark added.
Blue Seas nodded, and pressed his tail to the seafloor. He opened his magical core and focused through his tail. He patiently waited until he felt a spark, a bit of fire in his soul. He focused on the channel, building the connection until he felt ready to act. He willed the seafloor to rise. Finally, he felt it shift beneath him.
“How’d I do?” Blue Seas asked.
The others snickered. He looked, and saw a barely noticeable shift in the seabed.
“Well, it’s a start,” Split-Fin said.
With some more practice, Blue Seas was able to move the earth with greater effect. Azure Spark joined him in practicing. “The next project is a big one,” he said. “And it’s mostly shaping.”
“We’re constructing a new current,” Split-Fin said.
“I can’t wait to see the blueprint,” Blue Seas said.
Sure enough, the design was impressive, a monolith of rock with a hole in it. Split-Fin explained that the natural flow of the water from the vent would be focused through the hole to form a warmer current. And miles away, the flow of water would form a new “street” through an area of Atlantis under construction.
“This is the main construction that needs to be completed before anything can be built closer to Atlantis,” Split-Fin said. He spread out the blueprints, showing multiple stages of the build. It started as a U shape, not connecting to form the loop until later. “And for this first step, it’s best done by drawing up the spires at the same time. That’s where you two come in. I’ll stabilize it.”
Azure Spark and Blue Seas took their positions, about ten pony lengths apart. They focused, and slowly pulled up the seafloor.
“Slow and steady,” Split-Fin urged, his own tail pressed to the seafloor. “If you’re feeling drained, call for a break.”
The spires of rock rose in fits and starts, with a low rumbling spreading through the water. It was tiring work, even more draining than hours of sprints.
“Are you okay, Blue Seas?” Split-Fin asked.
“I think I can get this up another step,” Blue Seas said. He paused and rested his forelegs on the spire.
“You don’t want to do that,” Split-Fin warned.
The warning came too late. Blue Seas’s hoof was caught in the next shift of the spire, and his foreleg moved at an unnatural angle before his body was dislodged from the spire. He hissed in pain.
Split-Fin waved to Azure Spark to get him to stop, and then swam over to Blue Seas. Fortunately, the injury didn’t look serious to the seapony. “Can you move your leg?” he asked him.
Blue Seas moved his leg slightly, and winced. “It hurts.”
“Better safe than sorry. We’re taking you to the hospital.”
Split-Fin and Azure Spark steadied Blue Seas as he swam. “I’m just glad I didn’t hurt my tail,” Blue Seas said.
“Actually, if you hurt your tail, you can just transform and transform back,” Azure Spark said.
“It’s fixed me the couple of times I’ve hurt myself. I don’t recommend testing it yourself, though.”
Throughout his stay in Atlantis, Blue Seas had noted the many similarities between seapony and pony cultures. And the hospital was another. The rooms of the hospital had the organic design of all seapony buildings, and the staff didn’t wear uniforms, instead apparently using necklaces to identify themselves. But other than that, everything was familiar. Medical equipment, stretchers, the nurse station, the waiting room.
It was hard not to move his injured foreleg as he waited patiently to be seen. Finally, a nurse called his name.
Blue Seas swam to the examination room, where a narwhal doctor greeted him. “We don’t see many half-seaponies below the surface,” he observed.
“We don’t see many above the surface, either,” Blue Seas quipped.
The doctor examined a seaweed scroll. “You have an injured right leg, a possible sprain. Or should I say foreleg?”
“Say what you want. It hurts either way.”
“Can you describe how you injured it?”
Blue Seas recounted the circumstances of his injury as the doctor gave his foreleg a physical examination. The doctor then used his magic to scan the limb.
“The good news is it’s only a sprain. There’s no tissue or bone damage. But you’ll want to keep the limb immobilized for a week,” the doctor said.
Blue Seas sat as the doctor and a nurse immobilized his foreleg in a sling. Feeling a bit chagrined, he headed back to the waiting room, where Azure Spark and Split-Fin were waiting.
“How is it?” Azure Spark asked.
“Just a sprain. I have to keep it immobilized for a week.”
“Well, that’s good. As one athlete to another, be sure to listen to the doctor.”
“And best of all, your injury isn’t bad enough to stop you from working,” Split-Fin said.
Blue Seas groaned as they departed. He paused as he saw a new patient swim into the waiting room. A seapony stallion, well along in his pregnancy, came in, supported by his wife.
“Ugh. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing that,” Blue Seas said.
“You know, if you fall in love and stay here, that could be you some day,” Azure Spark said.
“I’ve never been happier to say I have a marefriend. A unicorn marefriend.”
Near the end of January, Blue Seas and Azure Spark joined Split-Fin at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The ribbon was seaweed, of course, and the politician in charge, something like a deputy mayor, cut it with his teeth. With that, a throng of seaponies cheered the opening of a new neighborhood. Blue Seas felt the flow of the current around him, the current he had helped build.
“I have good news,” Split-Fin said. “There’s a party within the Coral Palace grounds celebrating this grand opening tonight. And since I was one of the project leaders, I secured us invitations.”
“This is probably your best chance to discover who your mother is,” Azure Spark added.
“I know. I kind of gave up hope. Now this gives me a slim hope.” He paused. “What’s this party like?”
“Boring,” both Split-Fin and Azure Spark replied.
“Very much akin to that party after the Equestria Games,” Azure Spark added. “There’s the equivalent of formal dancing, music that will put you to sleep, and ostentatious displays of food.”
“But there’s always a crowd of influential seaponies,” Split-Fin said.
“I’ll go,” Blue Seas stated. “But I have nothing to wear.”
“We’ve got you covered,” Azure Spark said.
That evening, Azure Spark introduced Blue Seas to what seaponies considered formal wear.
“Necklaces and bracelets?” Blue Seas said.
“The heavier the better,” Azure Spark said. “Gives the message, ‘I don’t have to swim under my own power.’”
“You know, I haven’t noticed carriages.”
“They’re much rarer than on the surface, but they exist. Red Crest, Lord of Atlantis, has a huge one.”
Blue Seas examined a chunky bracelet. “Is this, you know....”
“Yes, it’s the style for stallions. Mares’ bracelets are even worse.”
“Guess I’ll have to get used to it.”
The three ponies departed, swimming to the heart of Atlantis. In his time in the city, Blue Seas had only seen the Coral Palace at a distance. The seat of the seapony government was, as its name implied, a palace fashioned out of colorful living coral. It was decorated with stones and phosphorescent lights. The design of the building did remind Blue Seas of a castle he had seen, but not the one in Canterlot. And then it hit him; it reminded him of the Palace of the Royal Pony Sisters, which had been under restoration all his life.
Two seapony guards with tridents stood outside the entrance to the palace grounds while an official checked invitations. He nodded after examining their invitations, and they entered. Blue Seas gawked at the magnificent architecture as they swam by the buildings.
Finally, they reached the ballroom. Other than the seaponies, it looked very much like the ballroom in that Baltimare mansion.
“They have rectangular rooms!” Blue Seas said with amazement.
“You’re right. Hmm. I never noticed that,” Split-Fin said.
They swam in, and Azure Spark took Blue Seas to the side. “Good luck, Blue Seas. Do you know what you’ll do if you see her?”
“No,” Blue Seas admitted. “I’m hoping that, like there was with my father, we would each feel that connection. And then we could talk in private.”
“Yeah. Just be sure to try and avoid doing anything that would get you sent to the dungeon.”
“Always good advice. I’ll meet up with you later, Azure Spark.”
Blue Seas swam slowly through the series of ballrooms, stopping to pick up a plate of hors d’oeuvres. He pictured in his mind what his mother possibly looked like. A narwhal mare, that was certain. No younger than 35, probably not older than 45. Given his own coloration, she probably had a silver coat and some amount of green in her mane.
It didn’t really help much. Seaponies lacked the variety of colors of ponies on the surface.
The party also skewed older. He didn’t find any fast friendships, like he did with Azure Spark’s friends. The seaponies certainly recognized he was from the surface, but that only elicited a few polite questions. So Blue Seas remained an observer, watching the stiff swim strokes of seapony formal dancing.
One aspect of the architecture caught his attention. One of the rooms featured an enormous doorway, guarded by two seapony and two narwhal guards, the largest he had ever seen. The crest on the door was familiar to him, that of Red Crest, Lord of Atlantis. A seapony swam up to the guards, presenting a different invitation; the guards nodded and opened the door, just enough for the seapony to enter.
Blue Seas asked Azure Spark about it the next time he swam by him. “Yes, there’s something more exclusive than an invitation to the Coral Palace. An invitation to the Grand Hall,” Azure Spark said. “That’s the only place a seapony can meet the lord.”
“So if my mother is somepony important, she could be in there? And I couldn’t see her?”
“Unfortunately, yes. But there’s always the chance she leaves early.”
“And still the chance she’s not here at all,” Blue Seas said morosely.
“And if she isn’t? Remember the ponies who are here for you.”
Blue Seas nodded and swam away to enjoy the party. But his eyes never strayed long from the giant doors. Infrequently, seaponies entered or left the Grand Hall. But none looked like his mother. None felt like his mother.
“Chin up, Blue Seas.”
Blue Seas looked over to Split-Fin, who had swum up to him. “I’m trying.”
“Look. It’s not like you’re never going to come here again. You’ve been a good worker over the last two months, and you’re welcome to work here anytime you want.” He gazed off to the entrance to the Grand Hall. “I work with a lot of seaponies, including a bunch in the government. I’ll ask around, maybe figure out who this mare is. Okay?”
“Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of this affair.”
Blue Seas and Split-Fin met up with Azure Spark, and the trio departed. Blue Seas cast one last look on the party, wondering one last time about the mother he never knew.
“Got everything you need?” Azure Spark asked
Blue Seas nodded. He had spent some of his earnings on seapony wares, gifts for his family and Pumpkin Cake. He also picked up an aquaball for himself, and idly wondered if it could be adapted to any surface games. And so, he hefted a mesh bag with his souvenirs, his personal supplies, and the rest of the clams he had earned. “I guess it’s back to the surface, pick up my bag at your mother’s place, stop by the bank to convert these clams to bits, and then buy a train ticket home.”
“Don’t forget to write,” Azure Spark said. “And I’ll see you at the next swim competition.”
“I’m looking forward to it.”
“Take care, Blue Seas,” Split-Fin said.
Blue Seas shook hooves with Split-Fin and Azure Spark. He swam away with a final wave. And following the currents, Blue Seas swam along the road home.
Four hours later, Blue Seas was seated on the bench of a train bound for Ponyville. His foremost desire for this trip had gone unmet. But as he thought about it, he realized how much he had accomplished. He learned more about his heritage. He learned a trade that could support him anytime he visited the seapony lands. He made new friends, and grew closer to a good friend and competitor. And finally, he had a sizable bag of bits, something he could use to support himself as he trained for the next swimming competition.
His thoughts turned to Ponyville, to home. It would always be his home, no matter what his heritage. He looked forward to seeing his family and Pumpkin Cake. He wondered what he missed during his two months under the sea.
It probably wasn’t anything special.