• Published 10th Feb 2012
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Of Stars Descending - Taldaer



Human, deceiver, martial artist all these words have been used to describe me. Hi name's Stormcloud

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Ch 10. Consequences

Chapter 10 Consequences

Does it really matter?

I’d give the world to you if you just

Fly into the distance

Disappear for a while

I can’t make sense of this

But we’re here today alive!

No world is truly a paradise. To live with the notion that such a place exists is a fool’s mindset. The cold truth is that you will only set yourself up for disappointment in the future.
It is very much the same with claiming that you have perfected a certain skill. Am I saying that we should just go on with our lives in apathy then?
No, while you may never attain perfection you can strive for it. And while you may not find a paradise to spend your life, you can adapt. For if there is one thing us humans are good at it is finding ways to survive despite all odds, and to push our limits beyond what we could perform yesterday.

*~*

Sunlight… I woke up once again in Equestria, with mother bucking sunlight glaring in my face. Guess I’m not in a cell this time at least. I thought, still somewhat grumpy. My grumpiness soon faded in favor of curiosity as I tried to figure out where I might be this time.
I lazily raised one of my fore hooves to shield my eyes from the light. Now that I could actually see something, I found myself in a large room, in a huge white bed to be precise. The light from the morning sun was shining in through a large window to my right. The room itself was simple in its décor, if you can call gold inlaid furniture simple. No what I meant to say was that it wasn’t cluttered with furniture, it was more like a very nice hotel room.

A light snore brought my gaze to my left side, and nothing could’ve prepared me for the surprise that was about to strike me. There beside me was an alicorn fast asleep in a chair, using the bed I was on as her pillow. What was more mind boggling was the fact that I didn’t recognize this alicorn and that she was roughly the size of my pony body. In other words, she was far smaller than any alicorn I had ever seen before. Well beside the point when Luna had been released from the nightmare in the second episode. Now before someone asks how I knew it was a she, the difference in build is pretty obvious when it comes to comparing stallions and mares. The alicorn mare beside me had a pristine white coat with a long flowing pink mane; she was beautiful to put it simply. Beautiful? Where had that observation come from? I stopped to ponder for a second and then shook my head. I had more important things to figure out. Like, who the hay this mare was. My eyes scanned across what was visible of her body from my prone position. I couldn’t tell much except that she had pink tail to match her mane.

The mare rustled her wings in her sleep and for a second I could see the previously hidden cutie mark, a blazing sun.

"Celes… tia?" I spoke out loud before I could stop myself.

The mare stirred at the sound of my voice before sleepily opening her brilliant magenta eyes. For a second or two she seemed unfocused as the case often is when you just woke up. Then her eyes found me in my very much awake state.

"Cloud!" she cried out in relief, as she dove forward enveloping me in a tight hug.

First I was stunned at her sudden affection, but a moment later I returned the hug.

"Not that I’m complaining Celestia but it hasn’t been that long since we saw each other." I said with a small smirk when she finally broke the hug.

"I take it somepony saved me then?" I asked.

"Don’t talk like you were justified in sacrificing yourself like that!" she cried out, this time in anger.

"You can’t just throw your life away like that, not for a world that is not your own. Not when you have family and friends back home. Not when I-" she suddenly stopped her tirade, avoiding any further eye contact with me.

I was probably going to regret asking, but I did it anyway.

"Not when you what Celestia?"

"N-n-nothing, nothing at all." she stammered out, still refusing eye contact.

I let out an audible sigh. She was acting erratic, almost like she was attracted to me, but was unsure of if she should act on her feelings. Not to mention that she was doing the emotional roller-coaster thing that I had come to recognize in many females, when in a relationship. But that was impossible, right? I was aware that attraction could happen in less time than what we had spent together but in such cases I was usually actively trying to attract someone. What had transpired between me and Celestia had been light teasing at best.

It could of course be a huge misunderstanding on my part. I had handled it pretty badly, trying casually wave of my own near death experience. There was also the factor that I wasn’t knowledgeable in social pony culture, yet my instincts were telling me that the signs were there.

After taking a deep breath I spoke up once more.

"I’m sorry Celestia, I spoke carelessly. I never had any intentions to actually give up my life, but the circumstances forced me to take action. I just couldn’t walk away when I could make a difference, even if I almost did give up a couple of times out there."

The sun goddess stopped avoiding my eyes as I spoke and I was once more grazed with the view of her magenta eyes.

"Will you at least promise me to not do it again? The spell that was used to save you can only be used once." She said her eyes now locked with mine. Her face was locked in an expression somewhere between anger and pleading.

Could I give such a promise? Could I truly promise that I would not risk my life again? I was shocked at where my thoughts had jumped the instant Celestia had phrased her question. Who in their right mind would even consider risking their life a second time? Yet as I questioned my own sanity I came to understand that I had changed. My moral compass had shifted ever so slightly since this entire crazy adventure began. With that realization I gave her my answer.

"Celestia I cannot promise that will not act in order to save another by giving my life in return. I can however promise you that I will only do so once every other option has been spent."

Celestia’s eyes gazed into mine as she mulled over my answer. After a short while she gave a quiet sigh as she shook her head slightly.

"Had it not been you, but any other pony I would’ve been surprised by the fact that you didn’t stumble over your own words in eagerness to express how you would never do something of the like again." She said as a smile, so faint that I almost did not see it, found its way onto her features.

"Oh and Cloud just call me Tia, I think we know each other well enough for that now." Celestia continued as an equally faint blush joined her smile.

I felt one of my eyebrows start to rise in response to her latest statement, but I quickly suppressed it. There was no doubt any more, Celestia was indeed interested in me. She had after all expressed that the nickname was quite personal to her. Did I feel anything for her though? It was a long time since I sought a relationship over a one night stand. It wasn’t the species barrier that made me think, I had been a xenophile for the longest of times. No, what caught me was the fact that if I were to return home, which indeed was my goal. This romance would end in tragedy.

"If that’s your wish Tia then I will oblige." I responded, as my thoughts had taken less than a few seconds. I would play the game passively until I had some time to figure out what I wanted.

"Now, what did happen after I saved Spike?" I asked, with the hopes of leading the conversation away from its current direction.

"I-I’d rather not talk about that right now."

This time I didn’t stop my eyebrow from rising

"Um, what? You’re saying that I don’t have the right to know what happened?" I asked trying my best to keep my voice calm.

"Nonono, not at all it’s just that you will be better off not knowing the details at this point in time. I promise you I will tell you everything at a later date." Celestia quickly amended.

I studied her pleading expression that asked me to play along for now. With a sigh I shook my head slightly.

"Okay I’ll be patient Tia, but I do want these questions I have answered." I conceded.

After all, we had been through too much for something like this to come between us now. If she didn’t want to tell me now she probably had a good reason for it. Judging by the relief that washed over her face I could only assume that I had made a correct decision in not pressuring her. Deciding to take the conversation in a new direction once again, I instead opted to ask what had transpired after our separation in the Everfree.

And so I listened as she retold her past few days since our separation. I could hear in her voice that she felt betrayed and confused, as the happenings here had most likely brought up old memories. At least she had been treated better than I had I thought, but the longer I let my thoughts run I came to realize that she had suffered through a different type of distress than I had. I would have to ask her in more detail at some point when she had been allowed some semblance of a grace period to settle back in.

"-and from there you know everything since you woke up. Hey are you listening Cloud?" Celestia asked me while giving me a concerned look.

"Oh, sorry Tia I was lost in my own thoughts. Could you please repeat the last part?" I responded with a somewhat embarrassed expression. I had not meant to disappear quite so deeply into my thoughts.

"I said that you’ve slept for roughly two days and you know everything after that." she repeated.

"Two days, huh?" I asked and Celestia just nodded in response.

Considering the punishment my body took I was amazed that it had only been two days. I felt like it had never happened, so whatever spell or spells had been used on me had worked wonders. Opting to not dwell on it for now, I pushed that line of thought away.

Soon the conversation between me and Celestia had moved to more trivial matters, were we mostly discussed things about our respective worlds. For although we had seen parts of each other’s past we needed context and concepts to understand. Before we knew it an hour had passed and a light knock was heard at the door.

"Princess Celestia, ma’am? Princess Luna wishes to see you in your quarters." A voice I did not recognize called out from the other side of the door.

"Thank you lieutenant I will be there within five minutes." Celestia called out toward the door before turning to face me once more.

"I’m sorry Cloud but it seems that our time for now is up. It seems it’s time for me to actually focus on my royal duties once more." She said as she started to rise, but before she got all the way out of the chair she swooped down to give me a small peck on the cheek.

Celestia blushed madly as if her mind just now had caught up with her most recent action, not that my mind was faring any better. For by the time I broke from the daze that had befallen me she had already excused herself once more and hurried out of the room.

"Well that was interesting…" I spoke out loud, when my mind had settled enough to allow speech.

Okay new day. Body in prime condition, what to do? I thought idly as I looked around the room. I should probably wait in bed, but Celestia hadn’t said anything about requiring more bed rest. Eh, buck it. I thought as I crawled out of bed to start exploring the room I had been provided.

*~*

I had explored the entirety of my quarters in less than 20 minutes. There really wasn’t much to it. Just the main room that I had woken up in and a small personal bathroom, of course there was the door leading out to a grand hallway arrayed with a multitude of doors that lead me to believe I was in Canterlot castle. But I held no desire to go explore without a guide, with my sense of direction I would be helplessly lost within an hour. So now I just lay here on the bed, staring at the ceiling, listening to music with the help of my phone that had somehow survived the recent events. That I had zoned out was an understatement at this point, so there was no wonder that I did not hear the knocking on the door. I didn’t even notice that someone, or rather somepony, had entered the room until I heard a polite cough to my side.

Slightly startled by the new source of sound my head snapped in its direction, where I found nopony other than Twilight Sparkle. I was still unsure of what I exactly thought of the young prodigy after our recent encounters, but the awkward and perhaps a bit forced smile told me that she wasn’t here to pick a fight.

"Twilight." I greeted her, after taking a moment to pause my music.

"Err, hi Cloud. I understand if you have no real desire to talk to me after you know…" she began before trailing off, a hoof rubbing the back of her head as the smile grew more forced before it devolved into a grimace.

I sighed mentally. I wasn’t a person to hold a grudge and ultimately I doubted I could stay angry at the girls even if I had been truly angry at them in the first place. They had been misled by a quite cunning manipulator; I too had been deceived by Dreamcatcher’s innocent guise. So here I stood at a crossroad of choices, although a part of me already knew what I would pick before I even started to answer the purple unicorn.

"It’s... alright Twilight. I’d rather have us clear any misunderstandings between us now, while we still have time to do so." I told her, as a genuine smile played on my lips. They would have to find better reasons to make me condemn them to being hated.

As I finished speaking Twilight had perked up considerably the ears that had been drooping were once again attentive. What I could read in her face though was disbelief, as if she didn’t believe she had heard me correctly.

"I’m sorry but are you saying that you’re ready to forgive us, forgive me just like that?" she asked, the disbelief could be heard clearly in her voice.

"Yes Twilight that is exactly what I’m saying. We might not be friends, not even acquaintances. But I think we can both agree that the circumstances were quite unique." I answered as I got off the bed so that I could stand in front of Twilight.

"Now will you accept this peace offering or do I have to force you?" I asked in a playful tone as I extended a hoof toward her.

"Nono, of course not." Twilight exclaimed, as she hurried to extend her own hoof to meet mine. Although it was clear that she hadn’t expected me to act the way I did. Our hooves met in a hoofbump, although I was not quite sure if this was the equivalent of a handshake or if it stood for something else entirely. What truly mattered though was that we had finally made peace with each other again.

"So Twilight, I can only assume that there was something else you wanted since you came here in person?" I inquired the unicorn.

"Oh yes! I would love to ask you a whole heap of questions that I didn’t get to ask before you left. Then there’s the heap of questions about what happened after that, but all that can wait. First and foremost I need your help with Pinkie Pie." She quickly summarized.

I tilted my head to the left as her request only served to confuse me.

"Not to start our mending relations off by sounding like an ass, but why do you require my help with Pinkie?"

"Well you see, err… how should I explain this. Ah yes, you mentioned that you had some knowledge of this world correct"’ she said as she studied me for affirmation. When I simply nodded in response she continued.

"Well, are you aware of Pinkie’s occasional bouts of depression?" she asked, and received another nod from me.

"Good that’s going to save some time. Right now she’s in the middle of one of these low points and I think it’s tied to you somehow."

"How so?" I asked as my confusion only grew. I hadn’t done anything that could incite this from Pinkie, had I?

"Well I’m not quite certain myself but she has been mumbling about laughter being a lie and that she was wrong. It’s quite hard to follow her line of thought but she has mentioned your name on occasion when we try to talk to her." Twilight elaborated.

"Hmm, well I’m still not sure what all this is about but I’ll lend you a hoof." I offered.

"You will? That’s wonderful, thank you!" She exclaimed, visibly relieved that I had agreed so easily.

"Um one more thing, you don’t think I could ask you some questions while we get there and perhaps some more afterwards and some tomorrow?" she added in a hopeful tone.

I rolled my eyes in response. I should’ve seen that one coming. I thought before answering while motioning with a hoof toward the door.

"Sure Twilight, but I think we have somewhere to be right now?"

"Oh." She said as a faint embarrassed blush crept onto her cheeks.

"You’re right, let’s get going."

*~*

Twilight lead me through the winding corridors of what she had confirmed was Canterlot castle. But that was the extent of questions I had been able to ask the young unicorn simply because of the torrent of questions she directed towards me. I did not complain though, it was strangely pleasant to answer her inquisitive nature. It was certainly an improvement over being named an evil demon. I was also grateful that she kept the current questions to a rather conversational level. It was possible that she didn’t feel quite comfortable with asking some of the questions she no doubt had in store. Or perhaps she intentionally held off until a better time presented itself. I would never know as she suddenly stopped in front of a door, not any different from the others in my eyes, and interrupted my answer on human alphabetical systems.

"We’re here. Now hang on a second while try to get her to open up." the purple mare announced as we came to a halt outside a door that looked no different to rest according to me.

Twilight knocked on the door, only to receive the sound of faint shuffling and murmurs from the other side.

"Pinkie I know you’re in there. I brought somepony that you should talk to." she called out but got no response.

With a frustrated huff Twilight opened the door herself and walked into the dark room that lay behind it, with me following her in a second later. At a first glance the room seemed to be roughly the same size as the one I had woken up in. But it was hard to tell due to the low light levels caused by the heavy curtains that had been pulled shut over the windows. From the light pouring in from the still open door I could make out a pony shaped silhouette further into the room. If this was the mood Pinkie was in it was worse than what I had originally expected, I idly wondered what could’ve caused this reaction from Pinkie. Twilight seemed to have spotted her too since she was making her way over to the pony form that staring at one of the walls while she muttered to herself.

"Pinkie." Twilight spoke again when she got closer to her.

"Pinkie, Cloud is here to see you."

A second passed, then two, two became five and five became ten. Just as I thought that Pinkie would once more refrain from answering a lifeless voice emanated from the pink pony.

"Yeah right, why would he come see me? You didn’t see him Twilight, laughter is a lie. Not even Nightmare Moon’s laughter was that cold. No just leave me here, I’m not worthy of being an Element of harmony."

Oh dear, she must’ve seen me at some point during that night. I thought before speaking up.

"Oh, so you’re just going to give up and sit in this room from now on then?"

Pinkie swiveled around so fast that she almost knocked Twilight down, her eyes showing a mix of anger, fear and sadness.

"Why?!" she demanded.

"Why did you show me that side of laughter?"

I let out a tired sigh.

"Twilight would you mind leaving us for a while, this is going to take time and I would like to keep this conversation to stay between four eyes if possible?" I asked, turning my head toward the unicorn.

"Okay I’ll be in my room reading. It’s two doors down to the left from this one if you need anything." She said with a small nod, before walking out of the room.

The door swung shut, leaving the room in almost complete darkness. The only sources of light were the faint trickles of light that made it through the heavy curtains and the line of light beneath the door. It was in this darkness that I sat down on my haunches as I waited for my eyes to adjust to the low lighting conditions.

"Okay I’m going to talk to you whether you like it or not Pinkie." I declared as I locked my eyes on Pinkies form in the dark.

"I’m going to trust that you won’t spread this to anypony else Pinkie, not without my express permission. I will tell you the reason behind everything I do and how I act. To put it simply it is to protect my core, but you deserve a better explanation than that. Oh, and you have my pinkie promise that I will not lie during this conversation."

"Your core?" came the response and I could hear the confusion in her voice.

"I will explain it all to you Pinkie, but you have to realize that nothing is as simple as black or white in my world. I sure you have examples of greyscales here in Equestria too, but from what I’ve seen so far it hasn’t been as prominent."

Pinkie nodded, so I went on with my attempt at restoring her to the Pinkie I knew and loved. I was fumbling in the dark here, but some part of me screamed at me to fix the mess I had unknowingly created.

"Well then, my core. You’ve seen my core once Pinkie, and I think that this is the source of your confusion. I’m going to make an assumption here and say that you are having trouble comprehending how I can genuinely laugh and in the next moment kill off every emotion, making the laugh become a hollow imitation of what it was a second ago. Am I close?"

The pink pony nodded again and now I held her attention.

"The answer I’m going to give you might not translate well to you Pinkie, but it’s the only way I can explain my innermost workings and most importantly why. This is my most precious secret Pinkie, and in this world you will be the second to know it."

*~*

I lost track of time as I spoke, but the effect my words had was slowly becoming apparent. As I told Pinkie about the many masks I had worn and still wore in my life, I could see an energy returning to her eyes in the form of curiosity. In time she started to ask questions which I answered to my best ability and soon I could hear her normal giddiness start to return to her voice. She was finally beginning to understand, to accept that what she had experienced was just the effects of an incredibly complex type of lie, but a lie nonetheless.

"So there you have it Pinkie, the key to my very being and the answer I can offer you at this point." I concluded my explanation.

From Pinkie’s expression I could tell that she was balancing on the brink of accepting it all but something was holding her back, so I voiced my concern.

"Is there something still bothering you Pinkie?"

"Well no, but at the same time yes. Where does this leave us Cloud? Are we friends?" she asked, and I could hear a hint of nervousness in her voice.

"Pinkie I would be honored to call you my friend, but I doubt I deserve to do so." I said as I offered the pink earth pony a smile.

As soon as those words left my mouth Pinkie’s mane re-inflated, I swore I could see confetti flying as well, and found myself in a bone crushing hug.

"Thank you. Thank you for talking me through it." She murmured before releasing me.

Pinkie was smiling again and I was happy. I had managed to repair some of the damage I had caused.

"If you feel like you have recovered Pinkie I think we should go talk to Twilight." I said as I started to get back onto my hooves.

"Alrightie! Lead the way Cloudy." Pinkie said in a sing-song voice, as she got up to follow me out of the room.

*<>*

Celestia was pacing back and forth in her private chamber, while Luna studied her from where she lay positioned on the bed.

"Sister, you need to calm down. If he has the strength of character as you make him out to have then there shouldn’t be a problem." She said as she her sister stopped her pacing to frown at her.

"I just don’t know Luna. Was I wrong to do this? Was there another spell I could’ve have used to save him? There are so many variables that I didn’t even consider when I cast it."

Luna rose from her position on the bed and walked up to stand beside her sister. Odd, that I’m the taller one for once. She thought idly before pushing the thought out of her head.

"Normally I would frown on the use of a forbidden spell, especially the one you used. Such spells are forbidden for a reason, but I will not blame you sister. I understand why you did it, perhaps more than you think I do."

"You do?" the temporarily smaller alicorn asked.

"Why yes dear sister you love him, do you not?" Luna said with a confident smirk.

"What, nonono of course I do no-" Celestia started to protest, but was cut short as she saw Luna’s smirk turn into a “do you think I’m blind” kind of expression.

"Oh, okay! I’m fonder of him than any other individual I’ve been over the past five centuries." the sun princess admitted with a growl.

"And you’re afraid of the reaction he will have if he learns the full truth of his recovery? That his final choice will be influenced by an obligation toward you? Rather than him being allowed to think for himself and to return your feelings in earnest?" Luna pressed on.

"Yes." came Celestia’s response so faint it was barely heard.

"How could I possibly tell him that I split a piece of my soul to save his life?"

Author's Note:

I hope you enjoyed the latest installment in Of Stars Descending. Although I'm sorry that I failed to not end without the cliffhanger. I really tried to not do it this time. Oh yeah, I need an excuse for this chapter taking so long to get out...
Err, lots to do at work? Well that's partially true at least, main reason is still Planetside 2 I'm afraid. Anyhow Like, favorite and comment should you find the story worthy of praise.