They Were Already Dead

by Gray Compass


Gold Dust

It was a pleasant Sunday morning, and a few white clouds gently floated through the sky, casting blotchy shadows on the valley. At the top floor of one of the castle’s spiral towers, was no one less than the princess of night herself. She was comfortably asleep, tightly wrapped and curled under the silky bed sheets. While still immersed in her deep and magnificent dreams, Princess Luna couldn't feel better.

Naturally, it wasn't part of her daily routine – being the aforementioned routine, almost entirely reserved for the dim hours after the sunset – to wake up before noon. Even though the myriad of sounds originated from the pulsating metropolis frequently interrupted her rest.

Curiously, the annoying noises and disturbances were not the cause of Luna’s abnormal awakening; but the unnatural silence and quietude. A peculiar silence – morbid, I dare to say – uncommon to the point of making the sleeping princess sense its existence.

There are times when the silence screams louder.

Luna moved her eyelids, allowing the morning light to slowly flow in, and reflect the world on the back of her eyes. Her room – still a misshapen blur – was gradually making itself clearer. First were the starry bed sheets, then the walls and curtains, and finally the furniture and other smaller objects. Time ticked by, and a clock over her nightstand struck ten o’clock.

The princess stretched her hooves, arched her back, and let out a long yawn. Turning to the other side of the bed, Luna contemplated her face in the large mirror at the wall. She wasn't sure as to why her subconscious urged her to wake up, but there was something chewing her thoughts – and Luna never contradicted intuitions.

She stood up.

Her hoofs brushed against the cold stone floor, and she quickly walked towards a carpeted part of her apartment, wondering as to why she had never considered the idea of surrounding her bed with some of the woven fabric. It was always cold inside the towers, and not even their opulent fireplaces were able to overcome the lack of thermal insulation of the ancient walls.

As she liked to do whenever awake, Luna opened a small crack in the curtains and immediately, daylight filled the room, blinding her for a few moments. Canterlot stood magnificent, and the world looked beautiful down the hills – all the white clouds and their blotchy shadows, all the buildings and their golden rooftops.

For a brief instant, everything seemed to be orderly following its way.

Until a tiny, yellowish figure fell from the skies above – then a grayish one could be seen – and another, and another, and another. It wasn't long until the princess realized those were not mere droplets of rain, but rather living beings – Well… Not as alive anymore.

Birds of many species, pegasus of different sizes and colors, and even griffons; beings that typically can be found travelling at high altitudes, far above the very top of the clouds. All of them failing like heavy droplets of water.

While Luna stared in shock at the windows, a sound reverberated through the room. Composed of crackling and tearing noises, bones and wooden rooftops shattered at the same time, followed by a painfully loud thud on the marble floor.

It echoed, and echoed, and echoed – down the stairways and beyond.

Something had crashed and pierced the spiral roof. There was a hole in the ceiling, and lying on the floor right below it was the responsible. A white, injured Pegasus.

Luna didn't knew her, for certainly, she wasn't anyone special – maybe a humble florist, on her way to the tulip fields. Or a mother, coming back home. The fact is that she hadn't enough time to answer none of those ephemeral questions – she was confused, irreparably wounded, and barely recognized the princess, when this one approached her dying body.

Seeing despair in the anonymous mare face, Luna approached, gently placing a wing around her figure. “My dear … What’s happening?” The princess asked. The mare’s eyes shone with tears, as they had seen more than any pony should witness.

“T-the air…” She painfully coughed. Her purplish mane shrouded most of her pale face, and this veil was everything she had, between her soul and the void. “It’s i-in the air. There’s only a faint glow behind the obscurity.”

As more and more creatures crashed through the roof, Luna closed her eyelids, focusing her attention only on the Pegasus mutterings. “But t-they can’t see…” The pony whispered. “They can’t see. T-they were already… already…”

Dead.

That was the missing word.

And indeed, she was right. As Princess Luna galloped in torment down the stairs and through the corridors, fallen bodies were the only obstacles in the way. Royal guards still in their armors were lying on the floor alongside with their spears, maids unconsciously rested over plates and trays – diplomats, advisers, visitors.

Lifeless.

Their faces had no expressions; no pain, no fear, and no panic. Not a single mark, burn, or injury – It was like their souls had simply vanished away in a matter of seconds, leaving nothing but their empty shells.

Luna felt as if she was unable to comprehend – it was all too blurry and frightening, and above all else; it was hard to accept. Still, by the time she opened the doors to the throne room, hurrying to find her sister, the last strand holding her world tore apart, and deep inside, she asked herself a very simple question: Do I want to understand?

A soft breeze danced freely around the room, carrying sheets of paper in the wind, just like dry leaves in the fall. Through the wide open windows, a fine golden dust flowed in, ethereal and almost unnoticeable, as it shimmered under the sunlight.

A thin layer of fluid dust covered the floor, and as Luna made her way through the silent chamber, nothing but her hoofprints were left behind.

As a pearlescent feather, Celestia rested before the throne. Silent, her body was static like all the others. For Luna, the world was in still-life painting state.

She ran and halted, destroyed and ripped, collapsed and cried, as the world she knew vaguely faded away – and the dust in the air, in water and marble, suddenly flew through her lungs and her veins. At each step, each sigh, and each flutter of wings.

It gleamed like a trillion little suns, it was omnipresent and embracing, vivid and pure, and the faint glow behind the obscurity became clearer and clearer, as the spaces between her head and her heart disappeared.

Whatever it was, it had not spared anyone. It came down to her, it made her wonder –

What’s the purpose of being alive, in a dead kingdom?