• 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 13. As the pendulum swings...

Chapter 13 As the pendulum swings…

Pieces of us all in bloom

Covering the walls of empty rooms

Pieces of your soul sealed in this tomb

By others’ influence on you

A common notion is that we grow as humans with the passing of time. I would argue that while some may grow, it is equally possible to just stagnate. To actually learn and make something of the life you live, you need a driving force within you. That force doesn’t have to be anything significant, but it still needs to be there as a catalyst of sorts.

*~*

It had been more than a week already. More than a week since that event filled day, where I had not only faced off against Rainbow Dash in a serious sparring match. No I had also finally gotten to know just how much anguish a pony must experience to almost become human. But the tragic tale of Swiftmend had served as a nice slap across the face for me. Just as like veil being lifted, I had been able to regain full control over my mental landscape. And as a direct result I had gone and kissed Celestia. In hindsight that may not have been the wisest decision, as I was still torn between returning to the life I had before all this, and to pursue the possibility of a life here in Equestria.

In that endeavor may have had already screwed up royally, no pun intended, but at least I would not go back on the paths I choose. Day by day I would tackle challenges as they arose, but I wouldn’t spend my time worrying. That being said, the week that had passed was by no means uneventful. Allow me to recount some of the more interesting happenings and recurring events.

*~*

Day one after the match

*Knock, knock, knock!*

I released a tired groan and slowly cracked my left eye open, as the individual knocking at my door had effectively roused me from my sleep. A sleep that I felt justified in having last a bit longer for once. See this time I had even taken the sun into account by carefully closing the large curtains before I went to bed yesterday evening. What I hadn’t counted on though was someone deciding to come knocking at my door this early. At least I thought it was early, there wasn’t much in the light department coming from behind the curtains. Well either that or the curtains kept an unholy amount of light out from the window. My mind decided that it had to be the former so naturally I did the only sensible thing.

I turned over and tried to go back to sleep.

*Knock, knock, knock!*

With an annoyed grumble I swept the blankets off of me using my left wing, before slowly rolling out of the bed.

Feeling like a zombie I slowly made my way over to the door. Using one of my wings again I pushed the handle down, and with the application of some force the door swung open to reveal Twilight Sparkle.

And even though I was tired, my mind registered quite a few things about Twilight that made me want to scream in dismay. For starters she wore a large smile and her eyes practically sparkled with barely contained excitement. Next were the bulging saddlebags she wore which, if the parchments and quills sticking out of it was anything to go by, were filled to the brim with writing material. Last was the scroll of questions that, while incased in Twilights magical grasp, levitated beside her.

"Good morning Cloud!" she greeted in a chipper tone. "Celestia just raised the sun so-"

*Slam!*

Nope, bed’s calling. Not dealing with this now. I mentally stated as I started to head back to my comfortable haven of dreams and rest, after slamming the door shut.

I had however not even gotten halfway back to bed before the knocking returned twice as persistent. Why? Why can’t I just get to sleep in for once? I mentally whined, as I felt incredibly sorry for myself. Turning slowly on the spot I started to make my way back over to the door.

Suppressing a yawn, I slowly opened the door again. Twilight was standing with her hoof frozen in a knocking motion, her smile seemed somewhat forced now.

"Why Twilight? Why aren’t I allowed to sleep?" I asked before she could say anything.

"Ah… Well… What I wanted… You see…" she started to hurriedly explain, but seemed to be having trouble formulating a proper response.

I tiredly waved a hoof to make her quiet down before speaking again.

"Just tell me why you’re here, it’s obvious you won’t go away until you do."

"Oh yes, that. Well you see I really wanted to know some more about your world and possibly what happened when princess Celestia and you were teleported there." she quickly supplied.

"And you thought this early was a good time, why?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Oh, err I just thought that we could get around that with coffee..." Twilight trailed off, a sheepish smile adorning her features.

At the mention of coffee my ears literally perked up. I hadn’t had coffee in this world yet, something I had missed quite a bit. Perhaps this might be worth it? I thought, as my drowsy brain slowly started to boot up.

"Aight, we’ll do it. But I must be allowed to choose which questions I want to answer, and I want the right to ask questions of my own. Is this agreeable?" I asked.

"Yes! I mean, yes that is perfectly fine." she said as the sheepish smile turned into a gleeful one.

"Okay let’s get going then." I said, motioning for Twilight to lead the way.

*~*

A couple of hours had passed since breakfast. To be perfectly honest it was a couple of hours after lunch even, and Twilight was still not showing any signs of slowing down with her questions. In the very beginning of our game of questions I had almost given up and headed back to my room, or I would’ve if I could have remembered the way back to my room and if the call of caffeine hadn’t been so great. But then again, when she had casually remarked that the scrolls in her bags were just for the morning session my right eye had acquired an irritated twitch.

I had however managed to ask a few questions of my own. So at least some of my curiosity had been sated. I knew now for example that Ponyville had been evacuated hours before the two star-beings had made their presence known to Equestria. It had been Dreamcatcher who had instigated the evacuation, something that now obviously seemed to have been a ploy to gain the trust of her fellow ponies.

As much as I had wanted to find out more Twilight was, no matter how strange it might sound, not the correct pony to ask. So after I had managed to get my hooves on that piece of information I had let her ask questions to her hearts content. So far I had expanded quite a bit on the subjects that I had mentioned during my first explanation for the mane six, all those weeks ago in Twilight’s library. It is quite possible that we still would have had been talking about the different measurement systems of Earth and where they were employed had it not been for Rainbow crashing the session sometime during lunch.

Rainbow didn’t leave until she had my word that we would exchange techniques and train together the following day. The entire situation had derailed the previous line of questions completely and not to mention had me bewildered at the 180 turn that Rainbow’s attitude toward me had taken. My only conclusion was that she was feeling some sort of guilt. I was also kind of thankful that she had come barging in at the time she did, because it had actually allowed me to actually eat some of the lunch that Twilight and I had ordered. For before that I hadn’t been able to take one bite due to the never ending torrent of questions from the unicorn. I will quote what Twilight had innocently said when my stomach had rumbled as the hour had begun to edge closer to lunch. "Oh, if you’re hungry we can just have some food brought up here to this study. I mean we can eat and talk."

I silently shot a small prayer of gratitude for Rainbow Dash’s timely interruption. As I continued to elaborate on the current subject, martial arts.

"Ah, well you see Twilight the techniques I used during the duel against Rainbow were by no extent advanced. They were at the core some of the more basic techniques that I know. Martial arts in general isn’t too difficult to perform, what is difficult is practicing it to the degree that the motions become second nature."

"Okay, so when you say second nature do you refer to changing the behavioral pattern of your body?" the follow up question came a second later.

"To an extent yes. What you want to strive for is the point where your body will instinctively react to an assault, and perform the proper response instead of flinching. That being said, it is not an easy thing to achieve and I still have a long way to go before I will consider myself happy with how I perform. However I have already crossed the threshold where martial arts has become such an integral part of my life that I wouldn’t be able to stop, even if so desired."

"Interesting, now would you care to elaborate on what you mean when you say that you wouldn’t be able to stop." Twilight followed up once again, the scratching of her quill only stopping for a few seconds as it was dipped into an inkwell.

I took a deep breath and threw myself into explaining the latest question of the studious mare sitting across the table from me.

"Well you see at a certain point in my training my…"

*~*

"Auuugh" I groaned tiredly, as I slowly paced away from the room where I had been Twilight’s prisoner for the past dozen hours. Looking out through one of the many windows of Canterlot castle I could see the sun slowly but surely growing closer to the day’s end. Had I really been cooped up with Twilight for an entire day? I wondered absentmindedly. A stab of hunger reminded me that I hadn’t really eaten anything since the small lunch break that Rainbow had made possible.

With food in mind as my new goal I set out on a new quest through the corridors. I was at least going to find a decent dinner for myself.

"Stormcloud?" a voice called out from behind me.

I turned to find myself face to face with none other than princess Luna herself.

"Oh good evening Luna, is there anything I can do for you?" I asked, a bit of caution in my voice. I was really hungry after all and didn't want to get roped into another long talk.

"I would like to borrow some of your time for a bit, there are a few things I’d like to discuss with you." she quickly replied in a voice that told me that a no wasn’t an option.

"While I normally wouldn’t have anything against it Luna I was in the process of finding something suitable for dinner." I tried to explain, despite knowing it would be shot down.

"Well, then we’ll eat and talk. Now come along." Luna amended before starting to walk down the corridor, having unknowingly copied Twilight from earlier.

Oh no, not her too. I thought with a remorseful sigh as I followed the night alicorn, my hopes of finding food grew dimmer by each step.

Within a few minutes of walking Luna had led me to a small dining hall, and as I entered I dared to hope that perhaps I had been hasty in my thoughts. Perhaps there would actually be a chance to have a bite to eat. Luna walked around the table and sat down, motioning for me to sit down on the opposite side. Not wishing to drag this on any further than necessary I followed her silent suggestion. As I settled down Luna spoke up again.

"Now Stormcloud I believe that you’re wondering why I brought you here."

"I would be lying if I say I didn’t, and just Cloud is fine Luna. Stormcloud was only a persona." I said, silently pondering why I had corrected Luna when using my made up name but not any of the others. I had a clear memory of me telling them that it wasn’t my name when I had first revealed myself.

"Very well then, Cloud. I promised that we’d eat and talk so I think asking the staff to bring something up from the kitchen would be a prudent step to take, wouldn’t you say?"

When I simply responded by nodding Luna took it as a sign to continue.

"I will have them bring something up momentarily, but first I believe I should clarify my reasons for this. If may be a bit blunt, it has to do with the stars. As I understand it you have been unwillingly pulled into some old scheme they set in motion a long, long time ago. And thus I have decided that it’s only proper for you to know just what the stars are."

Okay I had to be honest with myself here. This was certainly not what I had expected. I opened my mouth with the intention to ask the multitude of questions that were now bubbling inside me. But Luna held up a hoof to silence me.

"I understand that you have questions and rightfully so. However if you would be so kind to refrain from asking them until after I’ve finished with my explanation I would be most grateful." she said.

"Aight, I will be patient." I responded plainly. This was after all one of the main topics that I was looking for information on.

"Alright then young Cloud, listen well for these are secrets not even the elements are fully aware of, namely what the stars really are." Luna began, seeing that I was already listening intently she continued.

"By now I think that you’ve managed to puzzle together that they aren’t of this world just like you are. Although while both of you share that trait it is also what makes you different. The stars, or the siblings as they call themselves are from this universe but they have journeyed through the cosmos for many millennia. You on the other hoof are a dimensional traveler, but I believe you have ties to this world as well."

How? The question echoed through my thoughts, canceling out all other questions I had previously thought of. Luna seemed to quickly catch on to my state of mind.

"I understand if you’re feeling confused right now Cloud, but please remember that you promised to withhold questions until the end. I will cover my theories of why you have a connection to this world, but first I need to pave the foundation." Luna started to explain again.

I nodded once more to show that I indeed wanted her to continue.

"As I said before the stars are not of this world, in fact no pony had ever had any contact with them until one year before I first turned into Nightmare moon. I was a different pony back then, jealousy ruled many of my actions and part of me longed for a time before the great cataclysm."

What’s the great cataclysm? I idly wondered before continuing to listen.

Then, one late autumn evening I met them, the four entities that presented themselves as Jealousy, Rage, Grief, and Doubt. At first I thought little of them, they were after all little more than forest wisps in appearance. I learned that they traveled the vast heavens searching for more of their kin. That they had traveled the sky that I spent so much time working on intrigued me. And so I kept coming back to converse with them, for they were in return willing to listen to my pleas. After a few months they bid me farewell saying that while they didn’t want to leave they had to continue their travels. What happened next shocked me at the time, but now I understand just how masterfully they had me fooled. Jealousy declared that she wanted to stay with me and possibly help me. For the remainder of the year we were never far apart, an invisibility spell kept her out of sight and careful planning made it so that we could converse at even intervals. Although I was blind to how she slowly started to influence my actions more and more until the fateful day where we finally merged, creating the abomination known as Nightmare moon." Luna narrated, ending with a deep sigh before continuing once more.

"The rest is history, although many of the finer details remain buried by the sands of time. The important parts however are that both Doubt and Jealousy have both been destroyed. Doubt burned his essence to break the ward that kept Jealousy and I locked away in the moon, and Jealousy was destroyed when the elements succeeded in purging her from my body. And now even more recently, Rage met his demise as well against the elements. Something that you played a great part in making possible Cloud. Which leads me to the statement I made before, the one concerning your ties to this world."

Luna was about to start explaining one of the more intriguing parts when a knock at the dining room door interrupted her.

"Ah, that must be the food. Do enter." she said, raising her voice slightly at the last part.

The door to the dining room swung open and revealed two ponies dressed as waiters along with a cart that seemed to contain two full meals, and some sort of dessert. Luna stayed quiet as the two ponies that had just entered set the table. They exchanged a few words with Luna after leaving the room quietly.

"Ah, seems like the kitchen made Cinnamon fried Aubergine this evening, as well as a light salad on the side." Luna noted, with content smile as she surveyed what had just been served.

"Now don’t wait for me please dig in by all means."

For a few minutes the two of us ate in silence. Something that required an effort of will on my part. There was so much that I wanted to know, answers that I had been looking for were possibly right here within grasp. It would seem that my impatience was not as well hidden as I thought it was as Luna spoke up, an amused tone slipping into her voice.

"I see that you crave answers, fear not Cloud for I will give them to you. Let us eat and talk as I said before. Now I mentioned the ties you have to this world. Before I elaborate do you have any guess of your own?"

Seeing as the elusive Storm paragons was the only consistent clue I had been presented with time and time again, I vocalized my thoughts.

"If I would have to guess I would simply say that it’s tied to the legacy of an old pegasi clan known as the Storm paragons. Although recently I’ve had my doubts about this as Dreamcatcher tried to convince me that this was the truth. I’m not about to make a habit of listening to the whispers of deluded unicorns."

"I understand where you’re coming from with that reasoning Cloud, however I’ve drawn the same conclusion, allow me to explain. While your cutie mark is decidedly that of one related to a Storm paragon bloodline, it is not uncommon that ponies that never were related to the paragons receive a lightning or storm cutie mark. Nor is it your ability to withstand an extreme amount of voltage running through your system without instantly sustaining near fatal damage. While the latter is rare, it is not unheard of. No, what made me sure of your ties is not how you survive lightning but rather what you did with it."

As Luna spoke, a glimmer of realization started to form as my mind started to play back the scene where I was diving down through the cloud layer, the air crackling around me. Luna, being as perceptive as ever, seemed to have noticed that I was starting to understand, as she spoke again.

"Yes, I see that you’re beginning to understand. What you performed that night was a crude version of an old paragon technique simply called Nova. A technique originally used to combat unicorns during times of old, as it renders the area around impact a null zone for arcane energy. Furthermore, I have learned the last pegasus capable of performing this technique was a mare called Tempest Cloud, who mysteriously vanished sometime after my banishment. I have no solid proof that you are related to this mare, but there are too many pieces that fit together here for there to not be a grain of truth hidden somewhere."

My previous flood of potential questions had come to a grinding halt, instead I turned inward questioning myself since Luna, more or less, had repeated what Dreamcatcher had told me in that cell. What else of what she had said was true? How much of this was coincidental and how much was played out according to a plan?

‘I understand if this is a lot to take in.’ Luna said, mistaking my silence for a state of disbelief.

If only it had been that simple. I thought tiredly. Now that both sides had given me the same information, there really was no reason for me to question it. Deciding to play on Luna’s assumption I made the choice to try and end the meeting here and now. For while I had follow up questions to the information that had unwittingly been confirmed by Luna, I would need to time to formulate questions that actually got me the answers that I wanted.

"It’s a bit hard to believe, I’ll admit that." I lied, keeping my features neutral.

Strange how it felt so natural to slip into such a mask once again. I thought idly.

"We understan- Sorry. I mean, I understand Cloud." Luna said, slipping into the royal we for the first time since I started to talk to her.

"I’m curious about this Nova technique you mentioned though." I said, trying to further divert the conversation from the big chunk of information that Luna had dropped.

"I’m afraid that I’ve given you all the information I have on the matter. It was a closely guarded secret among the paragons and I only witnessed the technique being performed thrice." Luna explained.

"Ah, a shame then. It would’ve been interesting to know more. I think I’ve gotten enough answers for one night Luna, I’d like some time to process it all before I ask any further questions. So if you don’t mind I’d like to retire for the evening." I quickly responded with a half lie.

For while I wanted to ask more questions about the stars and my connection to Equestria, or if Celestia had been aware of the stars before Luna had fallen to just name a few, I truly did need some time to think. To be honest part of me feared what the information would bring, and what ties it would bind to me. While some say that knowledge is power, knowledge may also restrict you in ways you hadn’t even considered before.

"I see, well if you feel that you have no further questions at this time then I believe that we should take care of our respective obligations for now. Oh, and I don’t think I have to say this but please keep what has been said here a secret for now." Luna said, rising from her sitting position.

"Aight, Luna I wish you a pleasant evening." I said with a nod as I stood up and started to walk toward the door.

"Ah yes, one thing before I forget Cloud." Luna spoke up again, making me turn around.

"I know that my sister and you seem to share something of an attraction for each other. While Tia is perfectly capable of making her own choices, I do not wish to see her shed any more tears. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you ever make her cry I will personally end you." Luna said, the threat clear as her moon shining in the sky.

I swallowed, knowing that there was no lie in that threat. Just what had I gotten myself into?

"I understand perfectly. Now, good night princess." I quickly said before making my retreat.

*~*

Luna watched as the human turned stallion left the room in a somewhat hasty fashion. It was good to see that his facades, although impressive, could be broken. He might be a good match for her sister, from what she had heard of him he was a quick thinking individual with plenty of humor and sense of seriousness when it mattered. But that was beside the point, he didn’t hide his emotional responses as well as he thought he did. When she had explained her reasoning about Cloud being tied to Equestria there had been a definitive reaction in his eyes. Of course he had tried to divert it away from the subject after that, a rather impressive act of misdirection and partially eloquence. Had she not been as skilled as she was at reading ponies she might’ve missed it. She would not push the matter though, not unless it became of interest for the wellbeing of her subjects or her sister.

With all that being said, it didn’t make her threat any less real. She would truly hunt him down if he did manage to hurt her sister.

Author's Note:

Well then, there you have it. Better late than never I hope. This time I won't make a promise about a release date as it turns out they really don't agree with me.
Anyway I hope that you enjoyed the chapter and don't forget to comment, vote and favorite should you have desire to so so.