• Published 10th Feb 2012
  • 10,856 Views, 155 Comments

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 15. Exploring the rabbit hole

Chapter 15 Exploring the rabbit hole

Erase me, don’t tell me
I’ll take you far away from here
Delete me, complete me
In the race to recovery

I’ve come to the end of a tunnel
I’ve seen that light exist
But it’s not part of your soul
It’s all beyond control

I have never claimed, nor will I ever claim that I know my way around a relationship. I have however enjoyed my time in them, but also my time outside them. And as such I usually find myself at a crossroad whenever my thoughts bring me down this path. I have ended relationships before when I could safely say that what I felt wasn’t love, but instead raw physical attraction. Such a relationship holds no meaning except perhaps a recreational one. I have also had relationships end due to negligence on my part, only to miss what I just lost later. I’ve made my way around, and yet I repeat the same mistakes or fall for a pretty face. By now you’re probably expecting me to start making a point out of my inane ramblings. The truth of the matter however is that I’m still standing at that crossroad, watching the dust fly through the wind, unable to make a decision.

*~*

Naïve! The single word raged through my mind. Had I really become so deluded that I had thought that everything here would turn out fine? I was angry. No, angry was not enough to describe what I felt. I was furious, not only had I lost sight of my goal, I had almost given in to a very tempting conclusion to my situation. To go home was not just a maybe, the second jump through the dimensions had proven that, and yet I had been ready to abandon it all. The life I had seen and eventually experienced here was like a dream, and yet I refused to just trade it for all the hard work I had put into my studies back home, my family, my friends, my achievements, even my failures, the list continued to grow for every passing second. I had been that close to just turn my back on all of it, and that scared me.

Shakily I took a deep breath to calm myself. I’m not ready to hear Luna answer my questions, but I cannot afford to wait any longer.
I would not be able to continue onward in ignorance any longer. I had to have my answers, they would dictate my final verdict on the matter at hand. But, dang it! I wasn’t ready! Going into to this with my current state of mind could prove disastrous. I really should head to bed and get some rest before talking to Luna. I tried to reason with myself. And yet I couldn’t move from that one spot in the middle of the empty corridor. Slowly realization dawned upon me, it was unlikely that I’d get any rest with these thoughts. So with steps more determined than I felt I turned and started to head in the opposite direction, toward the throne room.

Much to my surprise I reached a familiar set of doors after just twenty minutes of searching. Perhaps I started to get an inclination of the castle’s layout, or it could have been dumb luck. Either way I had reached the first stop on my current quest to find Luna. I had picked the throne room as my first destination for two reasons. One, there was a high chance that Luna would be present here since I had just spent time with Celestia. Two, should Luna not be in the throne room there were guaranteed to be guards there whom I could ask for directions, hopefully they had been informed of the agreement between Luna and I. Well, it’s a plan at least. I thought with a mental sigh as I approached one of the unicorn guards by the door.

"Excuse me but is Lu-, Princess Luna present in the throne room at this time?" I asked, while silently berating myself for almost casually calling her just Luna in front of the guards.

"The princess is not to be disturbed at this hour. You will have to wait until the next court session to see the princess, citizen." Came a clearly well practiced response.

Well, buck… This was a possibility I should’ve been able to foresee. The question now however was whether I should try to convince the guard to divulge Luna’s whereabouts, or if I should just try find someone else to tell me. Ultimately deciding that arguing with a guard would be a losing battle I turned around and started to head away from the door. The sound of the door opening made me stop and turn my head though.

I watched as a second pair of unicorn guards made their way out from the throne room, exchanging small nods with the two who guarded the door. As chance would have it one of the new arrivals noticed me. A flash of recognition could be seen in his eyes before he started to walk over to me.

"Hello there. You must be Cloud, yes?" he greeted, offering a hoof to shake.

"I’m Cloud, but I don’t think I’ve met you before mr…?" I asked, now slightly curious as to who this unicorn was.

"Oh I’m sorry, where are my manners? The name’s Light Keeper, and if the armor didn’t give it away I’m part of the day guard." the before this unknown stallion introduced himself.

"The armor is a dead giveaway." I agreed, before continuing.

"Not to seem rude- You know what scratch that I’m just going to be blunt here. Was there anything you needed from me?" I asked the newly acquainted guard.

"Heh, down to the point eh? I can appreciate that, and no I was going to ask you the same thing. I assume you’re looking for princess Celestia, right?" he asked.

"Err, no. It’s actually princess Luna I’m trying to get a hold of currently." I answered carefully, silently praying that this guard knew about Luna’s promise.

"Ah, yes of course. There was a mention of this during the officers meeting yesterday. Unfortunately Luna will be preoccupied for at least another hour, but I can show you to a room where you can wait while she attends to her duties." Light Keeper explained.

"I would appreciate that, thank you." I said, trying to keep any relief out of my voice.

"Well then follow me Cloud." He said before turning to shout to the other guard that had exited the throne room with him.

"Oi, Fog! I’m taking Cloud here to one of the waiting rooms I’ll meet you down at the Old saddle later."

The guard in question nodded in acknowledgement, before trotting off down the hall. A moment later Light Keeper motioned for me to follow him. After a minute walking, with the clatter of our hooves against the marble floor being the only sound, Light Keeper spoke up once more.

"I’ve heard about your sparring match with the element of loyalty. From what I’ve heard you have a pretty relentless way of fighting when you get serious." he said.

"I suppose I do." I answered slowly when I registered that my guide had spoken to me. My thoughts had moved back to the pending conversation with Luna.

"Mind if I ask where you picked up that way of fighting? It’s not common for a civilian to be able to fight like that, even for a Pegasus I mean." Light Keeper asked.

Should I tell him? The others hadn’t really treated my existence as a secret after the sparring match. Oh, and I had told Swiftmend after all, one more ain’t gonna hurt. I mean it’s not like I need to tell him the full story. I reasoned with myself.

"Would you believe me if I told you it was in another dimension?" I answered Light Keeper’s question, deliberately not turning my head to look at the guard walking beside me. In my peripheral I could see him giving me an evaluating look though, as the two of walked on in silence.

"You know what, with all the crazy that has been going down lately starting with Discord breaking out of his prison, and then the invasion of these star monsters I’m just going to take your word for it." Light Keeper finally said, breaking the silence once more.

"That’s it? No further questions?" I asked, somewhat surprised that he wasn’t going to push the issue.

"Nope, every stallion has his own rights to keep a few secrets at heart. Also that sounds a bit too incredible to be a lie." He answered simply.

"How do you know that I’m not an excellent liar?" I commented.

"Okay do you want me to not believe you now? Besides, both the princesses trust you from what I can gather." he deadpanned.

"Aight, point taken." I conceded.

Silence once again reigned in the hallway we trotted through, and I soon found myself slipping back into my brooding thoughts. Had I really been trying to convince a royal guard that I was a liar? My state of mind seemed to be more scrambled than I had first thought.

For the rest of the walk the two of us remained quiet, and before long we reached an open door, leading to a chamber much like the one I had dined in with Luna a few days ago.

"Wait here. I’ll go and inform Luna that you wish to speak with her." Light Keeper declared before he turned and headed back the way we had just come.

"Thank you!" I called after him to no response.

Perhaps I had angered him somehow? I wondered as I started to examine the room I had been left in.

*~*

I let out a deep sigh as I sat staring out of the only window of the room I was waiting in. The sun had begun and finished its descent hours ago, or at least it felt like it. Truth be told it was probably closer to a single hour. Slapping the facts in my own face did little to alleviate my boredom though. Had it not been for the pressing nature of my upcoming conversation with Luna, I would’ve called it a night long ago. Now normally waiting an hour wouldn’t be much of an issue for me, however waiting in an empty room with nothing to take your mind of something potentially life changing is another matter.

Time continued to flow at a snails’ pace as I just sat there. Until finally, I heard the soft echo of hoofsteps coming from the corridor outside the room. Hoping that this was Luna my eyes fixated on the open door as the steps continued to grow closer. My hopes were realized as Luna entered through the door not a minute later.

"Young Cloud." she greeted me, before continuing. "It would seem that you have collected your thoughts, yes?"

"I have Luna, for better or worse I have." I answered the lunar reagent.

Hearing the seriousness in my voice had an interesting effect on Luna, as she looked at me appraisingly before speaking again.

"I have promised you answers to my best ability Cloud, yet I sense that some of your questions frighten you. And still you come here seeking the truth, it is an admirable quality to not shy away from reality." Luna commented.

"Now, ask and I shall answer."

If only I knew where to start, although if I don’t start soon I’m afraid I never will. I thought before launching into my first question.

"Last time we spoke you talked about how my ties to this world most likely were due to Tempest Cloud’s disappearance from Equestria. Have you found anything else to support this theory?"

"I can see why you would want to ascertain that, and yes I have in fact found some proof although weak. Would you like me to make a short elaboration?" Luna asked in turn.

As I only nodded in response Luna continued.

"From the many tomes I’ve studied regarding Storm Paragons lately I found a small inconspicuous book, upon reading it became clear that it was in fact a diary. As luck would have its owner had been no other than the very mare I believe to be your distant relative. What was more interesting though was the small drawn picture of a cutie mark drawn on the first page. While not an exact match to your mark it is very similar, and I’d like to point out that it is common for family to share marks related to each other. Just look at your friend Applejack’s family for example." Luna explained.

"It’s not quite enough to convince me fully yet, although I’ll keep an open mind on the matter." I said, not knowing if I should feel disappointed or relieved that there was nothing more concrete.

"A sound stance to take. Now what other questions may I help you with?" Luna replied.

"Yes but the next question is a bit personal so you do not have to answer me if you so desire." I said hesitantly.

"Ask your question Cloud, I shall not be offended." the night alicorn proclaimed.

"Alright then. When you merged with Jealousy were you aware of what was happening?"

"Ah, I can see why you were hesitant to ask. It is a dark secret you wish me to share Cloud, however I will share it. The short answer is yes, I was aware but this question requires a longer answer than that. Bear with me for these are not proud memories I am about to share. When Jealousy and I merged my view of the world around me had already been distorted to the point where I could see nothing but schemes against me and anger towards those I thought to be the cause of my loneliness. The merging process only amplified what dark thought and emotions I had already allowed into my heart. So in a sense I was truly aware of my actions when Jealousy entered me, however by that time I already saw nothing but a distortion of this world. Almost like looking through a flawed lens made of colored glass." Luna said dejectedly.

"I’m sorry for poking around in old wounds, but I have one more question related to this. If I may of course?" I asked carefully.

"Go ahead, the faster you ask your question the faster we can leave this dark subject. Although I fear any other questions you may have will not be much lighter." Luna remarked with a dark chuckle.

"Jealousy could merge instantly with you since the two of you had become attuned to each other, correct?" I asked carefully.

This time it was Luna’s time to respond with only a nod, prompting me to continue.

"Theoretically speaking, could the stars possibly force themselves onto their intended target, or is the alignment to their respective nature a prerequisite for them to take over?"

As I posed my latest question, Luna had raised one of her hooves to thoughtfully tap her muzzle.

"Yes, I believe that they could. However if they did that, it’s highly possible that you would have a chance of fighting back mentally. A strong mind may very well be able to push them back out, or at least resist their whispers long enough for help to arrive. Else there would be little sense in Jealousy waiting so long to merge with me." Luna said finally.

"So in other words we have nothing but strong arguments supporting the theory?" I summarized with a follow up question.

"I am afraid that it seems to be the case. My guess is that they themselves created the appropriate conditions for taking over the bodies that they possess now. Or at least the one Grief is still in possession of. But just as you said it is nothing but guesses at this point." Luna confirmed.

"Okay, I have one more question and this will be the last one." I said, bracing myself for the one question I dreaded the most to ask.

"Understood, I shall do my best to answer it." Luna said with a small nod.

"The reason no action has been taken against Grief yet is tied to me right?" I almost whispered, and upon seeing Luna’s facial expression change I knew I had hit dead center.

"Yes, your perceptiveness is impressive Cloud tell me how much have you managed to piece together?" Luna replied carefully.

"Not much more than the fact that me being here is causing some sort of complication, one severe enough that it precedes finding and blasting Grief with the elements." I answered truthfully.

"I will give you the answers you seek Cloud, but before that I must stress that you under no circumstances should feel any pressure. The situation is not as bleak as it most likely is going to sound. Oh and I almost forgot, one more thing before I begin needs to be clarified.
This information is highly classified, the only three ponies who know about it are Twilight, my sister and I." Luna started to explain.

"I will not tell a soul." I promised.

"Very well then. The major complication lies with the rift between our worlds itself, or rather why it has never collapsed in on itself. Spatial magic is at best highly unstable, at least something as advanced as creating a bridge between dimensions. Moving between them when the bridge is established is a simple matter, but maintaining the bridge is incredibly complicated. The last pony alive that could even hope to perform such a feat was Starswirl the bearded. Well that’s not entirely true, Twilight has the potential to reach his level and beyond, but she’s still decades from achieving that. Now the only answer we’ve been able to find as to why the rift has stayed open for countless years is that someone, or perhaps something is more appropriate, has been actively maintaining it." Luna started to explain, and I felt the pieces begin to fall into place.

"Yes, I can see that you’ve made the connection yourself Cloud. If Grief was to be defeated at this very moment, the rift would collapse and with it your path home would be lost. This is the scenario we’re trying to avoid if possible, so while Grief is content with hiding we shall not pursue." she finished her explanation, unknowingly confirming some of my worst fears.

"So-" I began, pausing to swallow. "So then it’s a race against time?"

"Indeed it is, but have some faith Cloud we will manage to solve this." Luna said in a comforting tone.

"Sorry but I’m an atheist." I murmured to myself.

"What is an atheist? I thought you were human?" Luna asked with a confused look on her face.

"That is a discussion for another time Luna." I replied tiredly.

"Very well we shall take that as a promise for another conversation with thee." Luna stated, before adding.

"Now were there any more questions you had for me Cloud?"

"No, you have given me enough to ponder on for now. You have my thanks Luna, you’ve brought light to many of the missing facts I needed." I answered her sincerely.

"Then I will bid you good night Cloud, a reagents life is seldom without tasks that needs to be taken care off." She declared as she stood up.

"I understand fully, and I wish you a good night as well Luna. Once again thank you." I responded.

With that Luna turned and left the room where we had been talking for the past half hour, leaving me to my newly agrivated inner chaos. After shaking my head violently I stood up. I would not come to a conclusion right here I needed time to melt all this new information, and more time to process it. With that in mind I walked out of the room and started to head back to my room.

*~*

It was with tired steps that I reached the door to my room. My walk had not cleared my thoughts and despite Luna’s words I could not help but to feel a bit of guilt. She had seemed very urgent in convincing me that there was plenty of time to come up with a solution yet. It was most likely for Tia’s sake. I decided on as a pushed open the door and slipped inside. Another push with one of my wings caused it close again with a soft click. A good night’s sleep would hopefully help me. Well if I could find any with all the spinning thoughts.

"Aw, the paragon seems to be having some problems. Isn’t that cute." A sickeningly sweet voice called out from behind me, causing me to snap around in an instant, preparing to face whoever had lied in wait for me.

Or I would have if hadn’t been hit by a raw blast of telekinetic magic the moment I started to stand, sending me flying. With loud *thud* I slammed into the opposing wall, feeling the air forcibly getting exhaled from my lungs. Blinking rapidly in hopes of clearing away the disorientation, and tears caused from the quite painful impact I slowly raised my head in hopes of at least getting a look at my attacker. And what I saw scared me, for there wearing a mask of contempt stood Dreamcatcher.

"My my, I expected more of the renowned Storm Paragon." She drawled mockingly as she advanced slowly, keeping me pinned to the wall with magic.

"And- And what could you possibly want?" I managed to squeeze out between my gasps for air.

I had to keep her talking everything hinged on help arriving! I thought, slowly growing closer to panicking.

"Your life as a compensation for the one you stole from Lord Rage would be a start!" She snarled, causing me to stop my attempts to breathe for a second before Dreamcatcher continued.

"But alas, I’m not allowed to do that. Mistress Grief has asked me to come here to extend an offer Paragon. She will allow you to go home, given that you don’t tell the elements or the princesses of this interaction."

"Do you- Do you think I’m a fool?! That- that has trap written all over it!" I exclaimed between breaths, once I remembered to breathe again.

My response caused Dreamcatcher to chuckle darkly.

"Oh you truly are a piece of art aren’t you? Of course I think you’re a fool, and a trap? Really what would we gain by that? I could kill you right now if I so desired."

She was right! I realized, panic now seemingly growing closer by the second. Had it been a stand up fight I might’ve fared better but this feeling of utter hopelessness was getting to me quicker than I’d thought possible.

"We will give you five days to think about our most generous offer. But if you aren’t by the area you called your home during your first weeks here after five days have passed, we shall consider it as you declining. And then I will have my mistresses blessing to do whatever I desire with you." Dreamcatcher declared before levitating me away from the wall, only to slam me back into it again.

My vision swam before my eyes, with a flash the shape of Dreamcatcher vanished, and with her went the force constricting me to the wall, causing me to fall down into a heap of wings and hooves.

Out of the ashes and into the fire. I thought grimly, as my world slowly but steadily stopped spinning. Still feeling a bit lightheaded I struggled to my hooves, I needed help but there was no one I dared ask now was there? Or wait perhaps there was one… With that thought I hobbled towards the door. Looks like there would be no rest for my weary mind yet.

*<>*

Swiftmend woke slowly, and for a few seconds confusion reigned. Why had he woken up? The clock on the wall told him that barely two hours had passed since he went to bed. Just as he decided that going back to sleep would be the only logical course of action a light tapping was heard by the door. Why the hay would the innkeeper disturb me at this hour? He thought irritably, as the tapping stopped. Just as he was about to ignore it and deal with it tomorrow the tapping returned ever so slightly louder. Curiousness finally won over the freshly awoken Swiftmend as he threw the blanket with a quick burst of magic. The tapping returned for a third time, causing Swiftmend to grumble.

"Yeah, yeah show some patience will ya." he muttered in low tone.

Lighting his horn he slowly unlocked the door and let it swing open. He was meet with the sight of a familiar, scarred, pegasus. A familiar scarred pegasus, with ruffled feathers all over the wings, who was breathing heavily as if he had run the entire way from the castle to here.

"Hello Swift, I need to ask you for a favor." said Stormcloud tiredly.

Author's Note:

Well then here's chapter 15 I hope you enjoy it. I'd also like to extend a thanks to everyone who favorited, commented and up-voted the story following chapter 14, having people actually show interest is a wonderful motivator. So just pray that I don't get caught in Planetside 2's claws again, at least not more than I already am.