• Published 9th Jul 2013
  • 1,976 Views, 242 Comments

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Stories and poems too short for individual publication (including some award-winning minifics).

  • ...

From The Stars

On harvest-turn, a star fell from the sky.
The white flame of its falling lit the night,
Glowing was the tent-wall like a lamp,
The world outside a light-moth in its cage.

The sky-priest dashed outside to see it drop,
And bright indeed the flare of impact was
When into White-Plume Mountain slammed the star,
In eerie silence for a frozen breath,
Quick-followed by a roar that shook the earth
As if the Eldest Dragon bellowed out
In wounded cry at spear-pierce from the night.

The wind that followed set ablaze the tents
And flung them as a hoof-sling flings a stone
A half-day's journey down the valley floor,
The drying sweetgrass also all ablaze.

Our tribe of fliers bold and shamans wise
Was blasted by the cruel and scouring winds,
And of the two-score sleeping in our tents,
Just six would reach the muddy river's edge
To soak our pelts and salve the burning wind.
We breathed through moistened reeds to guard our lungs
From searing sky-ash, as the water turned
To black with grass-char from the roasted plains.

Morning dawned as silent as the grave,
And weakened by the horror of the night,
We spoke of where to flee, and looked about,
To see a star-touched world laid to waste,
A barren land of cinders and still forms,
With not a stalk unburned on which to feed.
The sky-priest named us victims of a curse,
Our tribe laid low by vengeance from above,
And said our only hope of clemency
Was travel to the mountain where it fell
To supplicate our hostile visitor.

We salvaged from our camp what feed we could
And limped on swollen legs up barren slopes,
Until the sky-priest faltered and then fell,
Unable to pick up his wings or hooves.
He asked that we would leave him where he lay
And press on with our journey to the star,
To beg forgiveness for our ruined earth.
My clanmates held their tears and trudged along,
But I refused to leave the sky-priest's side,
And sobbed into his chest and clasped his hoof.

He smiled at me, and whispered in my ear,
"My little moon, your soul I see aglow,
The purest light a foal has ever cast.
If anypony ever is to glean
Our mercy from this vengeful fallen star,
It will be you to draw the heavens' tears.
So you must dry your own and move along,
And be for us the hope I cannot be."
With that, he closed his eyes and sighed aloud,
And when he moved no more, I dried my eyes
And looked up at the remnants of my tribe,
The ponies who had once seemed proud and strong
All waiting in dull silence for my gaze,
And when I staggered to my hooves and walked,
The other four fell into step behind.

The fallen star was glowing in the night
When first we cast our eyes upon its form,
A strange and sleek conglomerate of lines
Of substance I had never seen before.
Spider-Eyes, our scout, whose wings had flown
To valleys far beyond our fertile plains,
Picked up a tiny scrap of fallen star
And named it "metal", saying that the points
Of spears used by the furthest northern tribes
Were fashioned of the same celestial gift.
Upon the star glowed many foreign runes
Whose purpose none could glean, but Laughs-Out-Loud,
Who bartered with the tribes far to the east,
Suspected that they were a naming-spell,
And that the name resembled "canters-far".

We camped upon the crater's-edge three nights,
Unable to proceed into the heat,
Our feed-stores dwindling while we slept and prayed
To Canters-Far, that she might hear our voice.
Until a storm swept through the autumn sky
And mighty rains blew down the mountainside.
The star released a mighty serpent's hiss
That lasted through the night and through the storm,
And morning found its glow had faded down.
I gave my final oats to Spider-Eyes,
And asked her to approach the quiet star
To see if she had offered any sign.
So Spider-Eyes flew up to Canters-Far,
And on returning said she spied a cave
Of pony's size into its darkened heart.

I bid the others wait for me, and pray,
And staggered to the star with trembling hooves,
To find the jagged edge where metal ripped
And clashed upon the White-Plume Mountain rock.
Into the star I trod, where cool winds blew,
And ghostly lighting flickered deep within
Through straight-edged caves of metal lined with doors.

I listened as I crept through Canters-Far
And heard a hollow, flattened distant voice
Speak words which no mare's ears had ever heard.
I froze, then raised my voice to speak my pleas,
That she might offer mercy to our world
And open up her heart to hear my plea.
Upon my words, a serpent's-hiss burst forth,
And for a moment I knew I was done,
Until a door behind me rolled away,
Revealing a square cavern holding eggs.

I entered, and approached the central one,
Where through its shell a star-light softly shone.
Within the egg, a lovely sleeping mare,
With hair afire like all the northern lights.
Another serpent's-hiss, an icy breeze,
And then I saw the mare open her eyes.

"Sister," said I, "Sister from the stars,
Let us heal this world from its fire.
Let us heal the scars of Canters-Far,
Let our tribe renew their nights in peace."

Then the mare reached out a hoof to mine,
Pressing to the inside of the shell.
Gazing straight into my tearful eyes,
A gentle, lonely smile crossed her face.
"Sister," whispered from her silent lips.

Author's Note:

This was written in two hours for the Iron Author competition at Everfree NW 2013. Because I am insane, rather than a prose story I wrote 121 lines of blank verse. It was ineligible for the competition because I was one of the judges, but in my opinion it's worth posting anyway.

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