• 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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There Ain't No Strings On Me.

I found myself humming a tuneless song as I waited for the time to pass. Luna would be receiving me shortly after the dinner bell. I had bid Shining Armor good night after being released again to a new set of quarters within the second tallest tower of the castle, and while climbing it on foot had left my legs sore, it was certainly worth it. While somewhat barren I had a modicum of privacy now that I hadn't had in the past few days. Wide and spacious the half spherical room was mostly carpet with a bed framing the space on its own slightly elevated island that followed the back wall leaving about a three meter indent of a channel where a variety of empty shelves framed circular portion of the walls, only interrupted by a large desk on the closer end and a door to a massive balcony that circled around the tower. The desk itself was made for writing, and was posed in a way that a sudden intruder wouldn't immediately be able to read what was on it, as a pair of room divider screens provided a cover both at the desk and the bed in the event either someone came in while I was changing or writing something sensitive.

Oddly as I checked the dresser I found a variety of clothes already present. What more they were all already my size, a perfect fit at that. The look of them super fancy too. The fact that they must have had taken my exact measurements for these disturbed me and made me wonder both how much they had done in the hospital, but also how far along Celestia had planned this. These clothes must of cost a small fortune, and it was clearly not any hand me down type sets either, the gloves in one of the drawers were tailor made for my hands. Closing and vowing to myself to never open those drawers again, I had moved to try and get a work station set up at the writing desk, a card acting as both a table and as an emergency tool storage should I be interrupted. It took five more cards to block out the window after having ventured earlier to the balcony and realized that I did have a fear of several hundred foot drops, and that the balcony around actually did lead to my new neighbors door as well.

Speaking of my neighbor, Star Swirl the Bearded was also staying in this tower, and as I debated asking him if he knew about Celestias spell, I decided to let it wait as Luna was a far better judge of his character than I was. In the meantime, however, I was now at work. Crafting some replacement masks yet again, a constant trend in which I was sorely tempted to just build five of each so that the coming days would see at least one survivor villain other than Nox. The Nox puppet had lasted a surprisingly long amount of time in the field. While I hadn't recovered him during my brief bout of unconsciousness, it had been returned with my marionette tool when I had visited the other dimension. It worked well to have at least a second measure of personal security at least, and the time based master was usually in reserve anyway.

As the time passed, I managed to put together yet another replacement for the Aku masks I had been blowing through between fights, before sending him out when the paint dried to retrieve more supplies for a wig. Thankfully the small motor that powered my tools didn't require a fresh gemstone for a while, and there had been a nice stash of bits inside my crafting case thanks to Yoko presumably. I was normally one loath to recreate the same prop over and over again, but I did put in the effort to make another two backup masks of Aku considering how much of a frontliner the ultimate being of darkness had been put through. Which was understandable that he'd be rapidly targetted as Aku was the sort of being to be an unpredictable threat on the battlefield. Once they were done though, the first of the Aku masks had returned with the supplies I needed. Mainly in the form of a long blond wig, which I was soon trimming into an anime-esque pixie cut. Taking fine use of a mixture of irritating methods to make sure such things as the proper style and the odd cow-lick like strand of hair that many an anime character claimed as an emotive piece when they were too short for the camera to fully display on screen.

The fact this wig would normally be extremely uncomfortable with the amount of glue I applied was only counteracted by not actually feeling the prop being worn while it was in use, which made discomfort for as long as it was reasonable, far more bearable. The mask that went with it, one might mistake for a little girl, if being a sadist was normal. The grin was particularly fun to make, as it had been a while since I had used the human-like ballistic gel and plastics required for it, and using a mixture of soft skin-tone primers, ballistic gel compliant paints, and careful detail work, it was completed. The reason for the ballistic gel was simple.

Ballistic gel was the closest texture to actual human flesh that I could get my hands on without attempting to find a magical analogue. A few theories had pulled itself over the weeks and been tested with, but the mask, while unfeasible for my own personal wearing would fit perfectly fine over a puppet, the main agonized subject of the experiments. From what I had noticed, the closer and more true to the character the prop was, in intent. The better it turned out when converting my own power into the animating fuel that drove the prop to behave like its fictional counterpart. While I'd likely never be able to emit the powers of an actual god, driving such villains as Darkseid, or Thanos's infinity gauntlets into discarded idea piles... Theoretically if I wanted, say a proper lightsaber that didn't drain large amounts of energy like a cross country delivery truck chugging fuel... Making such a thing out of components it would actually be made out of would make it dozens if not hundreds of times more efficient than making it out of plastic. Unfortunately for me, maybe reaching a hundredth of what it normally cost for a plastic model might be impossible for a large number of objects, since things like Kyber crystals didn't actually exist, or spaceship grade metals, but it did mean a lot of the lower technology options were easy to make far more better on my Mana economy. Hence the experiment.

The mask of the psuedo-German character before me was an odd case of a mix between interests to befriend on the behalf of the genuine like for Luna, and the desire to have a bit more of an area of effect capable air-fighting force among my puppets. As oddly, most of mine puppets lacked a good air option, or those who had them either took to the air themselves, as a giant target, or had a silly minion such as a winged version of a basic ground mook. While I was loath to introduce Equestria to guns, it made a good reserve troop in the event of say, flying changelings, pegasus armies, dragons, or in the worst case scenario, Alicorns. But the mere thought of Luna sent what I was now referring to as The Shackle attempting to influence me again. That Celestia was of good intention, and that I should try to be even more outgoing towards Luna.

I promptly mentally slapped the shit out of the suggestion and renewed my vice grip upon it.

With my limited view on magic, I was tempted to visit the library, as asking another unicorn about this might just tip Celestia off, and for how much I enjoyed the stage magician who had put herself into my home, Trixie was hardly an expert on Celestia tier magic. There was another option, I had been debating. But going to that particular stallion was a hit or miss, as I was unsure where his loyalties may lay after a thousand years of being dead in stone. The fact that he was now my neighbor was eating me inside, as I put aside the newest mask alongside a small carving of a waterfall that my hands had messed with as a break between Aku masks. The topic of Starswirl was something my mind had considered a strayed point. The Show was clearly different on the matter, as my other self had seen a bit more of the mlp verse, only scraps in comparison to the first few seasons, but enough to witness the whole pony of darkness arc, and that apparently this stallionwas supposed to be sealed in a magic circle of rocks somewhere until released several years past this current point. Given that Celestia had also appointed him to being my aid during Training, was not helpful as well in the slightest.

Instead, as I fiddled around with my new belongings, awaiting the dinner bell, and thus the start of Luna's day. I found myself drawn to figuring out what I could of the chain. Focusing on it while my hands fidgeted with the objects in my grasp. Moving over from the now unproductive workstation, to sit cross legged on the bed as I closed my eyes to the world around me. Letting Cards return to normal sizes, and puppets vanish as I focused upon the chain that was trying to restrict my flow of thought. Initially I could only feel a few shackles, around the mental collar that was attempting to compel my obedience to the crown. But as I grabbed onto it, and began to search like a blind man for a coin he dropped upon the gorund, or a needle within a haystack, I soon found another... Then another... Then another...

Tick Tick Tick, went the clock, as I fell into the trance of trying to find the next link, again and again. Focusing, studying as I searched. My breathing deepened, as I lost track of time, and was startled when a knock on my door interrupted me from my focus. Senses rapidly returning, I opened my eyes to find the sun already near setting outside, and dinner being brought in by a castle maid, who looked absolutely petrified to be serving me, "Leave it where you like." I told her, and she gulped and placed it literally on the nearest surface before bolting back out the door, closing it shut behind her as she went. Sometimes I forgot how alien I could loo-.

I could see the chain.

Blinking, and rubbing my eyes, to make sure I wasn't just seeing things, I could see the chain that was binding me. A light yellow little thing, floating in the air like a parallel to the ghosts of Christmas past's regrets from a scourge movie. Only these were no thick iron chains, merely thin strands of links leading from me to some missing end point in a density that made them look like it belonged on a fine necklace. While I could see the fine chain, across the room, it ended just short of the door itself, and as I gave it a slight tug with magic, it simply floated towards me as if air, raveling and making more chains as it approached me, before slowly sliding back from a jumbled mess into a more or less loose straight line, approaching the way it was facing, caused more of it to simply phase out of view as I approached the door, proving that these chains had an ethereal property to them, and that I really needed to get a second opinion of what spell I was under.But given the maid had just delivered dinner, It would be rude to just interrupt the sagely wizard while he ate his own delivered meal most likely.

Luna's own invitation for later tonight, aproximately three more hours from now had also been delivered to my room at some point, and that left about two and a half hours of time where I could attempt to ask Starswirl his thoughts. Once my meal was done, a fine sushi experience, I waited about another ten minutes before poking my head out of my room front door, and fought the urge to blink again.

Of the four guards that were standing guard over the two doors that had people living in them, I could see dozens upon dozens of chains. All centered on them, and leading to other people including each other, floating away in various directions. Was Celestia such a paranoid dictator that she bound all her guards to relating to each other and then some? Disoriented, I shut my door, attempting to calm down as I wondered how far this folly ran. Luna was going to have to see this for herself, I'd lend her my own damn face to show her on purpose this time. In my head my voice snidely commented, Magic is Friendship and for one I had to angrily agree that by this logic, should it be what I feared, all these friends people made with each other were all based on lies and magic forcing compliance. No wonder groups of ponies could break out into synchronized song, and dance at a tip of the hat, or find highly unlikely friendships such as that between farm pony and fashionista. I had long wondered what the heck 'Magic' had to do with friendship, and my interest for the show had waned from being a season bringer due to Twilight going mary sue with wings without any actual explanation of why it was an element of friendship, or how did she earn her wings for essentially fixing a problem she herself caused.

Recollecting my thoughts and tempering my growing rage, I took the step out, crossing the hallway and doing my best to ignore the trees of chains around me as I knocked upon Starswirls door, receiving a gruff 'come in', a few moments later, and gladly sighing a breathe of relief as I entered, and shut the door behind me. I did notice among the guards one chain in particular that was pink instead of dark golden in color, but it only took a small theory to place it on Cadence. After all, the show had artfully shown Cadence doing much the same as Celestia had been doing in the Canterlot wedding part 1, when Cadence settled a couples argument by force of magic to return them to a lovey dovey state in, as Twilight put it, the name of 'spreading love wherever she went'.

As I turned, both clearing the growing list of unpleasant thoughts, and to gain my bearings into the room I had just entered, I was unsurprising to find Starswirls study and bedroom to look more akin to a library, albeit with modifications to account for his flaming facial hair. The signs of a messy writing desk that made up most geniuses supposedly and an oddly left painting easel near the window marked the artistic and scholastic sides of the master mage of magic that had ruled the dark ages of Equestria as the mage-supreme. Supposedly he was the teacher to Celestia, and like me he bore few chains, but seemed to be unaware of them, as one was idly slapping him in the eye, as it tried to face itself back towards the direction Celestia was in. That or he had a good poker face.

"Starswirl, pleasure to meet you properly today." I spoke, first greeting.

That earned a casual chuckle from the wizard as he sat at his desk, chair still turned towards me, "Well do feel free to make yourself at home, and sit down to stay a while. To what do I owe the man who saved my life so recently ago their visit at this hour?"

"I've come with a few questions in regards to magic, among other things, and I seek an answer for them. Things that you are uniquely suited for and might find issue with others in regards to their wanton use." I studied the stallion, whose face was practically unreadable, from the wise expression that reminded me of just about any old man wizard, and the flaming beard making it hard to stare at his face without burning a phantom image of his beard into my eyes for an extended period of time.

"Oh by all means, I do have my own questions in regards to you as well, if you don't mind." Starswirl nodded to me in agreement, waiting until I sat down near him on the step of his own rooms island before giving me the go ahead.

"I would like your opinion on mind altering magic." I asked, and that broke the facade, as Starswirl went from being about to take a sip of tea he had procured from somewhere within the mess of his desk, to staring at me in mild surprise.

Given the expression... This was going to be a long night.

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