"You took your sweet time back at Canterlot Borealis." Said Arranak who, like the rest of the group, was changing his traveling clothes for an attire suitable of meeting royals. It would take a while until they would be able to start their journey to the castle. Mostly due to the females who were making sure to represent their kind along with their own beauty with proper dignity. Their silent chuckles were echoing in the cave like whispers of ghosts, which made Borealis feel a little bit uncomfortable. In the mean time the stallion was able to take a bath and was about to put on his own richly crafted attire. One of the twins came back from the forest with a bag full of berries not so long ago and caught Borealis *naked*.
As strange as it may sound throughout the years the Nocturians started to wear clothes on a regular basis like the rest of the races living under the Mountain. The ponies had no problem with the biddings of their allies and since then they learned to live like that till this very day. This regulation was only a few generations old though. In certain parts of the Nocturian kingdom you could find ponies wearing nothing, but in the end it will probably die out. New generations know only that kind of life style and often declare that wearing nothing was crude and even barbaric.
After seeing him naked the twin quickly ran into the cave with a face so red Arranak claimed he could see her colors even in the dark. His laughter made it only worse for the poor youngling.
"Since our arrival we received no messages from our Kingdom. This worries me deeply... especially because we tried to establish a connection through the Chalice." Arranak let out a very long and depressed sigh. For a moment he dropped the mask he was wearing for the subjects, and all of the sudden signs of his age were more noticeable than usual. The elder Minotaur was tired, and very sad.
"After the last assault upon us... many younglings of my tribe sacrificed their lives for us to continue our mission. A mission which might bring nothing than disappointment, and a killing blow for the hope, which we barely managed to ignite."
With his remaining hand Arranak reached after his fake horns and started to loosen them. He placed them carefully next to his back bag and rubbed his muscular neck. In the right hands mithril would weight nothing and provide significant protection where iron would have failed. The horns were crafted in a different way though. Usually mithril required a certain amount of time to adapt to the work of a smith. Whoever made the horns did not wait at all, and shaped the horns in the natural form of the ore. The weight Arranak was carrying with him all day was astonishing. Borealis once tried to lift one horn with his hooks, and barely managed to lift it up to his chest. Laughter and jests were thrown at him until he let others try to do what he just did.
The jests and laughter ended as fast as they came.
"It is of upmost importance that we will not kill the hope we are holding on Arranak. Otherwise your words will become reality. This is something we cannot allow to happen. Besides that I trust the Royal Sisters and Twilight Sparkle. We must learn to trust others master..."
"I am nobody's master... how often am I supposed to tell you that boy." Usually the horned Delegate snapped at everybody who called him master. Until now he never explained why he despites to be called master by others. "But you are right lad. If I will allow weakness and doubts take hold upon me it will only cloud my mind and with it lead to false decisions."
Slowly his hand went under the grey shirt he was wearing, and pulled out a small necklace. The small object looked very fragile in the great hand of the Minotaur, but he was holding it like he would hold a new born child. On its side there was a small button which activated the hidden mechanism within. With a barely noticeable sound it opened and revealed a touching picture of Arranak and his family. His eyes were looking at it like it would be the only remaining ember of light in a world of darkness. "We all have something worth fighting for." With a quick move of his fingers he closed the necklace and hid it under his shirt. Besides the silent voices of the females and the sound of Pavel playing with a ruby there was only silence. Borealis knew that it would be for the best to leave him alone for a moment.
<Sometimes silence can accomplish more than any words.>
While Arranak continued to change his clothes the stallion's attention belonged to Pavel who kept playing with the ruby. His Diamond Dog friend smiled at him with his wolfish grin.
"I had a small talk with the twins before you came back. They kept talking about Canterlot and its beauty. I usually let that kind of comments not affect me." With his hand he asked him to get closer. Borealis followed his wish and came close enough to hear him whisper. "The females have a different point of view if it comes to beauty my friend, but in that case they might be actually right. Is it true what the twins said about Canterolt my four legged friend?"
"Indeed it is Pavel, but I personally think that no words could properly describe it."
"Gah..." Scratching himself behind the ear Pavel showed Borealis a message only few would understand without any words. Basically it meant that he has lost a bet, but since he was scratching so fast it only meant that he lost a bet with Marie. Arranak was the first who noticed it throughout the countless missions and journeys they went through. Diamond Dogs were not only gifted in craftsmanship, but they also loved the thrill of bets. Some of them even claimed that it was a curse bestowed upon them by the Mountain itself because they were the first who craved for its riches.
"What was it this time hmm?" Asked Borealis and playfully hit Pavel in the shoulder. "Last time you had to carry her bags for over a week."
"Oh compared to what I have to do now I would rather carry her bags for two weeks." He growled annoyed about the situation he got himself into. "I am not allowed to drink anything with alcohol besides Satyr Ale. For a whole month." A noticeable shiver went through the body of the Diamond Dog delegate, like a cold wind of their mountains. It was common knowledge in the group that Pavel hated Satyr Ale beyond anything. The ale itself was not bad, but some Diamond Dogs responded quite unusual to it. Some get drunk only after few sips, others speak only the truth after consuming, but the most hilarious part about it were the harmless hallucinations some consumers had. Unfortunate for Pavel he was speaking only the truth after drinking it.
Marie was as fierce as fire if it came to holding upon a bet or word. A longer while ago the Satry lady lost a bet with her Diamond Dog friend. In a pub called "Whistling Bat" Marie had to perform a traditional Belly Dance of her people, while wearing a very seductive attire. Annoyed about it she danced an entire night in the inn, and with it helped Pavel to pay off his debt to the happy innkeeper. This memory made Borealis smile for they have come to see her dance as well.
"Come on Pavel. A month will pass by quicker than you can say Satyr Ale."
"You know very well that I do like to have some drink from time to time. The annoying part of the bet is that I am supposed to drink the ale with her... at any time she wants it. I am at her service for a month."
"I cannot imagine this group without you two." The stallion was hiding his smirk with his wings, but it was a very predictable move which only made Pavel mumble angrily. "Do not worry too much Pavel. Marie might be like a viper if it comes to holding your word, but she also has a soft spot for you in her heart."
Pavel's wolfish grin seemed to light up the area a little bit. "So do I my friend. So do I. She does know how to wrap me around her finger. Her part of the bet was to sing the symphony of stones."
What the Diamond Dog was talking about was a very special kind of music. Satyrs believe that everything around them has its story and its own sound. Throughout practice of voice and magic they were able to find particular sounds, which were unable to be caught by their ears. Borealis once heard that symphony while visiting the main city of the Satyrs called "Drem" which means Peace in satyr language. The sounds unleashed by their spells were astonishing and very hard to describe. One could compare it to caught sounds of a shell, but it felt more alive and colorful to the listener.
Pavel once claimed that his mother found out that, while he was still a cub, he loved to listen to those symphonies. This explained his love for the music, especially because Marie was very good at it. It was an inborn ability of the Satyr race. For the ancient satyr language was deeply connected to magic, and although it was not directly a spell it had a certain effect on the environment. The best example for this stunning phenomenon are the reactions of the stone trees of the Satyr lands. The trees have been once made out of sapphires but due to an unexplained event they suddenly turned to stone ages ago.
In one of the oldest satyr legends a young female satyr wept over the sudden change of the trees. Her sorrow was so true the trees themselves reacted to her voice. The entire surface of the stone was glowing variously depending what kind of sounds the woman made.
And thus she was the first to find out about the hidden talent of her people. Since that time her bloodline remained the most gifted in this most remarkable talent. The study of such symphonies remains until this day a very important part of the Satyr society. Through Marie's veins flows the blood of the first female "Voice Weaver" as her people tend to call her ancestor. Pavel saw her for the first time in the "Great Stone Theater" of Drem where she was performing an act of the voice for a group of handicapped children.
To the great surprise of all Marie decided to not become the leading Voice Weaver of her family. Her surprised younger sister took the role of the Voice Weaver and was leading the family since. For only few knew that Marie's true ambition and love was tending the ill. Her talent and compassion brought fourth upmost respect from her mentors and those she was taking care of. But her family pleaded her to not simply throw away her heritage and status among the subjects.
Because of her younger sister Marie agreed to participate in the politics of her people. The dedication for both professions was astonishing. During her servitude she encountered Pavel on the way to one of the main wells of a cavern roughly named "Mouth". Injured and robbed of his belongings he was at the verge of death. Without knowing who he really was Marie openly spoke about her thoughts and political dilemmas. One of her greatest wishes was to close the rift between the Diamond Dogs and Satyrs.
Conflict between the tribes of the Underground were common before the creation of Nocturia. In times long passed Satyrs have been often victims to slavery. The males were cheap yet very effective laborers while the females have been abused as sex slaves and even breeding machines. Because of their unique physiology the satyrs are able to successfully reproduce with other races. Although the offspring would be always a Satyr despite the father being a Minotaur as an example. Raping was nothing uncommon for female satyrs back in the dark days. During a diplomatic meeting the first King under the Mountain was shocked to see how Diamond Dogs and Minotaurs were toying around with the fate of intelligent beings.
The elder scrolls provide information about the outrage of the king and his relentless actions against slavery. Once there have been many clans which were earning their living through slavery. Without any warning the forces of justice have attacked the slavers. Their surrender came as fast as the unexpected attack and they have been imprisoned. Not for long though. King Caelen decided that his own justice has been already passed onto the slavers. Whoever remained was given to the former Satyr slaves. For the first time in decades the Satyrs have been granted the chance to strike back at their old masters. None have survived the wrath of the grandfathers, fathers, husbands, brothers and sons who have witnessed the raping of their beloved ones.
Only one time genocide was performed by the Satyrs. Through the King under the Mountain this peaceful race quickly learned that other Minotaur and Diamond Dog clans were not like the slavers which they have known their entire life. The society grew and new relations have been born. Drem was build inside of a huge uncharted cavern and gave the Satyrs a chance to write history on their own.
Back while Marie was tending to Pavel's wounds the Diamond Dog was deeply touched by her dream of peace between both races. Once delivered into safety he openly declared whom she has saved from death. Since that day both worked together in the name of their race. Pavel and Marie are living examples that every race of the Underground could live in peace. Which is why this mission cannot fail.
"It seems that the ladies are finally ready." Scratching his beard Pavel pointed towards the laughing silhouettes which were moving towards them. He stood up and made sure that his own attire was sitting properly. Borealis followed his example and eagerly both awaited the approach of their female companions.
"I was starting to worry if you will eve..." Pavel stopped his sentence after his friends shyly came out from the shadows. Borealis was also breathless after his gaze laid upon the jewels of the group. There they stood ready for the upcoming meeting with the two royal sisters.
Marie was wearing a turquoise dress which was tightly hugging her body. Beautiful patterns which resembled lilies were decorating its entire surface. The lilies pattern was made out of a very expensive magical weave. Thousand small jades were following the shape of the flowers creating a interesting effect which made the viewer believe that energy was flowing through it. A simple yet clear message about Satyr ideology of everything having its own sound and history. The entire dress represented Marie's nature. Serious, experienced, beautiful, sensitive and even seductive. The symbol of her family, a small shard of the stone tree, was decorating her forehead with is rough yet pretty appearance.
Only her right arm was not covered by the expensive cloth but not simply without any reason. For there was another sign in the middle of the arm which was representing Marie as a Delegate. It was a tattoo which was bestowed upon the Satyr throughout the use of magic. Its shape resembled the infinity sign with a loop that was stretching out first only to end up in a path that escaped the loop. Back in the old days every Delegate would receive such sign from the King himself, but since the tragic fall of King Eridanus such signs had to be imitated though simpler kind of magic.
Lyria and the twins had quite similar attires since the sisters were her maidens. Her silver gown looked simple and not suitable for the meeting with royals first. But its true nature came out once light fell upon the cloth. Whoever created this knew his or her craft very well. Under the silver color a pattern was hidden in a quite sneaky way. Various shapes and forms were spreading all over Lyria's gown. A mix of caught moon light and mithril were the key to the webbed enchantment. Like Arranak's horn this pattern was reflecting the light in various ways. Everybody could look upon the spectacle of light without being blinded by it.
The enchantment made it look like something was flowing on Lyria's body. But once the mare moved the spectacle changed and so did the shapes on it. One could say that the gown was telling a tale on its own.
While it was already astonishing to look at the Delegate her maidens were wearing shorter gowns which were pretty matches to their mistresses attire. Obviously all eyes were supposed to focus upon Lyria but the natural beauty of the twins would surely win some views. Every female had the same hair grip with a tumbled emerald. Some may think that it would only be a pretty decoration but the real meaning of it would be known only to few. Diamond Dogs are the most gifted gemstones hunters and shapers throughout the world. Through their knowledge magic and trading between other races became a crucial aspect of the national society.
It was them who taught the other tribes the meaning and effects of the gemstones. Emeralds are supposed to represent hope among their people but also bring reason and wisdom to the wearer. Years ago Pavel gave Marie the fines emerald he has ever own as a sign of his gratitude. While explaining what it was standing for the Satyr was overwhelmed by emotions and apparently (if you can believe his words) she kissed him for that. Since that day their friendship became a pillar for two races, followed up by Arranak who quickly earned their respect and hearts. Since that faithful day Marie was always carrying an emerald with her.
Lyria and the twins also wanted to bear a peace representing hope. If the two royal sisters will recognize the meaning behind will be determined later. Arranak's heavy step echoed in their cave but both Borealis and Pavel were too busy with devouring the females with their eyes. He himself was wearing an impressive tuxedo which was showing off his muscular body. Despite of his age his body remained in a great shape at least from the point of view of Borealis. A short cloak was covering the stump of his missing right arm. The very same infinity sign as on Marie's arm showed that he was a Nocturian Delegate.
"Hi frolok brit Marie." Said Arranak in the Satyr language with a very noticeable Minotaur dialect. Basically he said that she looked beautiful. Marie blushed without any control and smiled shyly at him. Then his gaze fell upon the three mares who were also eager to hear what he had to say about their hard work.
"Lle naa vanima. Oio naa elealla alasse' " He smiled at his friends and children with pride and bowed as graceful as his huge body allowed it.
< You also look beautiful. Ever is thy sight a joy >
Borealis could not stop looking at his future wife. She was emitting an aura which could be described as power but also the willingness to help. More importantly her warm smile made his heart beat faster. Although she was pleased with Arranak's compliment Lyria's full attention belonged to her stallion. Blushing prettily she came closer to and inspected his own attire. Borealis decided to wear not only his best cloths he took with himself but also the breastplate which was given to him by the Princess of Nocturia. With her hooks she fixed a thing and two she found. Once she was one hundred percent satisfied with his looks the mare grasped his hooks with her own.
"It seems that we are ready to go." Smiling she looked at Marie and the twins who were tending to Arranak and Pavel. Both males seemed to be a little bit annoyed but never then less they allowed them to change a thing or two on their attires. "Nearly."
"As much as I am happy that Equestria will aid us... I am still afraid." Borealis lowered his tone so only Lyria could hear him. She simply touched his cheek with her hoof and smiled.
"So am I Borealis. There is no shame in that. Also I would be worried if you would not be afraid to be honest."
"The two royal sisters are awaiting our arrival eagerly my friends. You do not have to worry about the travel. They were kind enough to send us flying chariots and Pegasi soldiers who will deliver us as fast as possible to Canterlot."
After hearing this Pavel turned completely pale. In that moment the Batwing remembered how his Diamond Dog friend was afraid of flying and heights. Marie was on his side already and scratched him behind his ear. She showed experience in her profession because this was the Diamond Dog way of showing that she will be on his side in the time of need. The group left their small refugee and went towards the nearby clearing. Arranak was carefully carrying Twilight in his hands and made sure that she would reach Canterolt in one piece.
As announced the flying chariots and the Pegasi were already expecting them. While others were taking their seats in them Borealis saw how Marie gave Pavel a small bottle. Right away he recognized it not as Satyr Ale but Diamond Dog Whiskey. Eagerly the canine delegate emptied the content of the bottle and thanked his companion for it. With a smile on his face Borealis took his pace next to Lyria. Once they were all aboard the Night Guard gave a signal and they flew in the direction of Canterlot.
< Consilio et animis > By Wisdom and Courage. Thought the Batwing and embraced the winds like an old friend. While Pavel's terrified screech filled the air with its shrill sound. Followed by the hilarious sound of laughing Marie.