• Published 1st Apr 2014
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Puppets of Tragedy - Iridescence T Wind

We all know the story, human from earth goes to Equestria from buying a mystical prop from a mysterious unnamed salesman to attend Comicon. But what you didn't expect was the prop to be a puppeteers crafting kit.

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Burning the Midnight Oil

Turned out, getting a feather from Celestias personal pet was a lot easier done than I had thought it was going to be. Philomena, the name of the phoenix, was already mostly done through another reincarnation cycle. Luna only had to ask the maid in charge of her cage for the feathers and came back with a few handfuls of them of different sizes and repair. Luna held each one aloft in her magic, and I opened a portal, this time to home, "Pinkie promise not to use this against me?" I asked again, and Luna nodded, "Cross my heart, and hope to fly," she began while repeating the gestures, "and stick a cupcake in our eye."

"Alright," I said, "Now give me a second to get a few tools."

I reached into the portal, above my desk, and bent down, dragging the contents already laid upon a rubber cutting board, On top of it was a small pile of premade supplies that had been gathered shortly after the newspaper article had been put down. The portal remained open, as a mechanical arm extended a small platform that had a small burner on it, the kind mostly used for science. But instead of a small glass jar there was a heated concentration of dye steaming hot in two different pots, one a light bright orange, and the other a nice steel grey. Nearby was also a bowl of water, not hot nor cold, just room temperature.

The other tools were a gem powered blow dryer, a painting set, some toothpicks, a bit of glue (still sealed as not to harden), Glitter made from crushed gems, a small bottle themed after an alchemic one, but far smaller than any mad scientists. A cork that went with the bottle. There was also a screw with a loop on the end, awaiting a painted a steel grey foam decorative wing design to be attached onto its end. Finally was an exacto cutting knife, a bit of sand paper, paint and several paintbrushes to go with it. Time to get to work.

Luna sat down opposite of me as I adjusted everything into place, first handing me a bright red primary feather. The phoenix was coated in two bright colors, I recalled, a solid red and orange, their feathers thick and single colored. I had hoped for a gradient, or gradual transition like a true bird, but the shows simplistic art style must of transferred onto this bird as the thing sat stubbornly one shade of red.

Luckily that was what the orange dye was for, as I took the feather I was forced to adjust my values. It was not hot or even warm, it felt... Normal for a feather coming from the bird many had considered made of living fire. I felt my hand bristle through the feather, as I examined it, bristles sliding back into place, and ever so slightly curved, it was strong yet soft, well taken care of before it had parted from the bird during one of its reincarnation cycles. I touched it to the bowl of water, and held my breathe for just a moment.

The feather for its part reacted like a normal feather, getting wet. Not boiling the water, or disintegrating, and I felt relief. Beginning to clean the feather, Lunas voice spoke up, as she sat down across from me, "What are you doing?" she asked.

I responded, "Cleaning it of any impurities, dirt, or otherwise that might be on the feather, as well as getting it wet so that it dosen't get as easily damaged for the next step," I nodded my head at the other pots, "Those are to dye it to the correct hues needed to advance this endeavor."

"I see..." Luna said, relaxing a bit as she watched, Once the first feather had been washed properly, another far smaller mechanical arm drew itself out of the portal and opened. I deposited the top of the feather there and let it gently clamp down, as it adjusted its course to putting the very bottom into the steel grey dye, and carefully measuring the depth until just under a third of it was slowly turning grey, with some of the heated grey liquid creeping up in an arc up the main shaft of the feather. While the dye did its work, Luna observed the gentle rotations, and I went on to the next bit of project. I picked up the foam, and began to carve away.

"Would you mind if I talked a bit?" I asked Luna, as the small block began to take shape.

"If you'd like, we would also like to ask you some questions as well." Luna responded, she had started in a formal sitting, legs underneath her, but as the minutes rolled by her pose adjusted to sitting cross legged on her pillow.

"A continuation of the game then?" I asked, and she understood.

"From Nightmare Night?" Luna paused, considering it, as silently I continued to carve out the finer details, occasionally stopping to sand paper some of the rougher work into a smooth surface, "Same rules then?"

"Yep, and I believe I asked the last relevant question before we were talking about the Elements of Harmony being misnamed. So by your lead Princess, we shall begin."

"Just, Luna will do." Luna collected herself, as she considered what to ask first. Silence continued for a while, and as I finished carving the main stay of the foam feather, it was time to switch to drying off the real one in the pot. The hairdryer started, in the other side of the portal, to help mask the noise, but still in easy view of Luna. I focused the hairdryer on the steel-greyed side, letting it dry enough so that the dye wouldn't run. Focusing on it, she asked, "Tell us about what you are making."

"Its a magical tool." I replied, "One from lands far different and even further away than here. They went by many names, and continue to grow into new ones as new lands are formed, but they are all linked by a common name of 'Final Fantasy'." I continued to work, as I took a deep breathe to go on, considering what to say, "It is a violent set of lands, full of monsters, evils, and other horrors that would take too long to describe, but it is also full of hope, heroes, and has the general theme of Justice and progress as low grade rebels, slowly prove themselves and save the world in each of their legends."

I briefly paused to consider them, I myself hadn't played much of the games, of those, were the four heroes, Final Fantasy IV, XI, and XII-2, Dissidia, as well as tactics advanced. My favorite had been the last of that group and the one I was most familiar. I also recalled foggily the movie of that was the 7th game incarnate essentially, As well as having tried to play an old version of the tenth game only for a bad scratch to interrupt me shortly afterwards. Of all the villains Golbez had been my favorite up until his face heel turn into a hero, though the music of the mad clown god Kefka was something I found myself humming from time to time as well. I found myself tempted to talk about one of them, but I hadn't answered Lunas question, "This item that I'm making was made to revive slain members of an adventuring group of heroes who fell in battle. In some circumstances, it was to simply make them regain consciousness, but in others, it would stop death and revive the dead back to being among the living."

I didn't mention the hilarious use it had on undead enemies to instantly deal maximum damage, it was actually a logical bit of thinking that the ultimate healing device would be the ultimate bane of an undead enemy as it tried to return them to life. Much like the Golden Needle of the game, an item used to cure petrification, would kill rock based enemies as well, "This item was called the Phoenix Down, named after the creature from the land whose feathers and design contributed to it. It was considered a massive boon to be given a phoenix feather in that realm, as they were legendarily rare."

"It is true here too," Luna cut in, "Very few nests are ever found in the reaches of any land. At most their numbers are probably a few thousands, since it is rare for phoenixes to meet, let alone share enough time together to breed. Luckily their reincarnation cycles keep their numbers steady, though death can still fall upon the egg, and they can be killed if not allowed to be reborn from their ashes. Though the punishment for harming such a bird is on the higher ends, unless that has been changed as of late."

"Nice bit of knowledge though to have," I remarked, wondering just how things would of gone in the Dragon Migration if Celestia or Luna knew about what Garble was planning to smash one of those eggs.

"Though I do have a question for you as well Luna," I had been idly considering what to ask her, but honestly I just wanted to know more about her, "What sort of things do you like to do when you're not working for the betterment of the kingdom?"

Luna rose an eyebrow, leaning back onto her forehooves as a support behind her, "Our hobbies?" I nodded and she continued on, "Well..." Her horn lit up, and a few things floated out from various places in the room. she had been phasing between the royal use of we, and the normal use of I for a while, but it seemed she dropped it again as she continued, "I... enjoy a good read or two alongside a few other things." She held out various books, none of which I could recognize, alongside them, she introduced, "Board games when I have the occasional guest, though that hasn't happened in a long time..." She sighed, "Would adore to play a game of Ogres and Oubliettes, though I'm often far too busy to even attempt to host such a thing." She rolled her eyes, "As if Nobles could also be expected to stoop over getting excited at the roll of a dice, or pretending to be who they aren't."

Then she held aloft a sheathed rapier, I paused to consider the action as she continued on, "Elsewise we enjoyed fencing with our guard, and the occasional activity of watching others dreams. Though..." She paused, and stated, "have yet to find yours. When do you sleep?"

That was her question eh? "Mostly early morning to early afternoon, though I've had times where Coffee was used in place of sleep." I replied, "Been sort of paranoid of a dream visit early on as well as trying to survive long enough to get going..." She gave me a questioning look so I continued, "Considering my introduction was literally breaking into the celebration meeting of defeating Discord and then jumping out one of your palaces windows?"

"Ah, you were afraid we would of tried to take you down when you slept." Luna realized, not using the royal we this time but evidently adding her sister and the elements of harmony into the mix, "A smart move, considering the lack of protection an unconscious mind normally has if untrained."

"Figured as much." I responded in turn, "I wasn't ready to pit myself against everypony at that moment, so I fled and only had to deal with Shining Armors small squad instead of you, your sister and the element bearers."

As we spoke, the carved feather of foam was getting a metallic coat of paint, the hole inside it had been joined by another loop of the same material, cut in the same go, and refined to a smooth polish, I had already let the priming black paint on it dry and sanded the rough dry black layer of it to a smooth layer again before applying the next. The phoenix feather itself had been put into the process again, only this time the proper end of the feather had been dipped into the orange end and dried to make the feather the proper colors. Now it was drying as well as the silver layer of paint, which I had touched up and gently kept paint from flowing overly into the creases by using a fine brush to do touch ups around there instead of a wide brush. The charm itself would also gain another layer of white dusting to give it a more polished look once it was dried and lightly sanded smooth yet again.

My attention returned to the feather itself again, as I took out the glue and glitter, coating the faintest tip of a toothpick with glue and glitter, as I worked ever so slowly on giving the colored feather a bit more sparkles imbued into it. The mixture was of finely crushed rubies and topaz which worked to help highlight the 'magical nature' of the feather I was working on. Detail had long since proven important, and the more I worked on something the better the end result would be. Once the feather was ready, I needed its container. It wasn't strictly needed, as the feather has been without a container in many games, but I felt it would help.

Gently I set the feather aside to dry naturally with its center glittering in the window and portal light, I asked, "Favorite food and drink?"

Luna's eyebrow rose again, that same adorable face that she had when she rose it prior, "Drink wise, most coffees, and food wise..." She paused, only for a moment before rolling her eyes, "While I'm not a big cake fan like my sister, I do prefer the occasional devils food chocolate, in the form of a cookie, with a few extra chips mixed in."

I chuckled and she asked, "Why are you asking me about this sort of thing, when I'm asking about more serious details? Let alone why do you want to help me?" Luna looked at me, that endearing curiosity reaching its peak as if she stared hard enough she could pierce the mask to what was underneath.

"Mostly because I wanted to know more about you." I replied earnestly, without hesitation, "Of all the princesses, you're the one that I like the most, both from your history as a former and now redeemed villain, and well you just being you. Don't want to know you as a distant princess, from a far away land too high up to be only respected from such a gap, but rather personally. I want to know what you like, dislike, how to make you laugh, and what to avoid to make you angry or cry. Just that simple."

Goddesses I probably could of phased that better. Or something a bit more villain like, but the words came tumbling out of my mouth faster than a tumbleweed interrupting a corny intro sequence. To divert attention away and change the topic, I asked another question before either I or Luna for that matter could dwell on it, "Have you considered reforming Discord yet?"

Luna snorted, even that was cute, "Even I have heard how you spirited away the Element of Loyalty after the Mare Do Well incident. Even if we wanted to, we can't without the Elements of Harmony or something stronger to release that particular curse. Nor do I fancy the idea yet. Tia has been leaning towards it, but still is debating risks, since without some way to re-seal him shes stalled until the situation changes."

Woops, I mentally cringed. Sorry Dissy.

She shot back, a question, this time a personal one, "What is your favorite drink and food?"

I responded in turn after a moment of refining the carving work on the painted wing, "Coffee for burning the midnight hours, as well as a good slice of apple pie."

Now that the wing had mostly dried, I had taken to it again with a very fine grip on the exacto blade, carving more details of wind in the foam wing, while the smaller metal hands worked on the glass jar, adding a swirling fire detail to the glass by use of glue as the drawing line, and glitter as the color, in shifting hues of red and the yellowish orange of topaz. Luna watched in interest as both pieces went on, and with the knife, I cut a thin line through the connected chain, as to allow me to attach it to the loop of the screw, gluing the cut back into place and painting over it again as a bit of touch up detail. The momentary silence, slowly cut itself off as I asked next, "Music preference?"

"I enjoy a good choir." Luna said, "Not the noisy kind, but the kind that reveals a story, and calms the heart, so classical in a sense. The new age beat of..." She paused trying to consider what word it was, "Rave music is just noisy to me."

Well there goes her being friends with Vinyl Scratch.

She continued onwards, "My favorites among them were written by a unicorn called Neighderic Hoofin and Moz'arff, a diamond dog with the rare and under appreciated talent of piano music back from before I was banished.

She sighed as she considered the past, so far far away. Friends no doubt long dead over the ages. As I finished the designs, she asked, "What is the deal with the mask you wear anyway? You never seem to take it off."

"Blame Discord." I said in turn, it was a harmless thing to ask initially, "Though I'd need an additional promise that you not touch my mask unless given permission, as well as a vow of silence on the matter if you want to know more."

"Hmm. Deal." Luna said.

I sighed, as I slowly pushed the feather in, rear end first so that the feather wasn't ruffled on the way in. Soon as the tip was in the neck of the bottle, I plopped the cork over it, and twisted the screw into the top of the cork, attaching the wing charm to it. By the time it was Done Luna had completed the promise, and putting the bottle to the side, I grimaced, "This is going to be awkward to say, but please remain calm."

I removed my mask, revealing the blank face, and Lunas eyes narrowed, as the mask that was my face continued to speak, "He removed my face and left me with this mask in its place."

It felt incredibly horrible to be without my face on. My chest tightened, and my nerves on edge, as if I was in a horror game rather than having a calm conversation with the princess of the night. I shut my eyes, as I awaited the scream. It never came. Slowly I put the mask back on, and let out a slight breathe of relief, opening an eye to gauge Luna's response. She was staring, her wide eyed expression calming down from shock to something more sympathetic and confused, "Discord removed thou's face and still you seek his redemption? What sort of loyalty has he inspired in thee?"

"Nothing." I responded in turn, "I just know he isn't evil, just a spirit of chaos. His idea was to give me an ironic curse before he went to stone I guess." I needed to divert the topic, I didn't want to dwell on it, but as I cleaned up, I said, "Well the Phoenix Down is now ready for the test, I guess." She helped clean up, and took the small glass jar into her grip as she looked it over, "You believe this will bring back Starswirl the bearded?"

I nodded, but added in as I realized her focus was on the glass jar, "Yes. Provided it works. I haven't exactly done this sort of thing before."

I returned the puppets back to base, their watch wasn't going to be needed at this point, and I'd rather have my concentration mostly intact as they dropped one by one into the chest before their wearers faded back into non-existence. The tools also went back into their storage areas as they shut down. Only GLaDOS remained online, and her attention was minimal in comparison to the dozens that had been in operation until just now. There, now with everything set, I took the vial as Luna levitated the urn, "Here goes nothing." I said, and uncorked the vial.

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