• Published 7th Apr 2012
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Scion of Chaos - SilentBelle

Sweetie Belle plans on learning the basics of magic, but what she discovers is so much more.

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Chapter 10 - A Storm to Come

Scion of Chaos: Chapter 10 - A Storm to Come
By: SilentBelle

In her travels, the young filly passed the numerous trees at a steady pace, but paid them no heed. In these dark woods she kept her eyes trained to the ground, making certain that she wouldn't trip. Even with the aid of the glowing flora, if she wasn't careful, a root would still cause her to spill over.

The action became rhythmic and thoughtless, and Sweetie Belle quickly became lost in her own thoughts. She imagined all the others making their way through the forest. They would be tracking her hoof-steps, looking for bent branches and crushed twigs that she had left in her wake. Her sister would be wearing a determined scowl, Twilight a look of worry, Applejack and Rainbow Dash would be arguing over something insignificant, just to keep their minds at ease. All of this because she ran away from home.

No, the filly told herself, shaking out her mane in an attempt to clear her mind. I made my decision and I'm sticking to it. If they choose to follow me, then that's their choice, not mine. I need to think of something else.

“Hey Scoddri?” the unicorn called out quietly.

“Yes, girl, I'm still here, if that's what you're wondering,” he quickly quipped. “Although I'm certain you have no idea where exactly 'here' is. One part of this forest looks much like another, and the stream looks very similar to how it has always looked.”

“Hmm,” Sweetie Belle slowed her pace as she considered for a moment. “Say, where are you exactly? I mean, I hear your voice just fine, but where's your body?”

“My body is a very useless thing to me in its current state. It's proven to be naught much more than a deadweight for the past while. So I figured that haunting a little filly would be the best use of my time.”

“So, are you dead?” she questioned skeptically, as she stopped by the riverbank for some refreshments, though she hardly viewed the grasses as 'refreshing'. “I thought only ghosts and spirits could haunt other ponies.”

“Oh, I am far from dead, girl, but you seem to think that spirits have to be dead in order to commune with the living. Know this, girl, only the living can influence the living, the dead are an unknown that even I have never seen.”

“So, you're a spirit?”

“You can call me whatever label you like, but I am what I am, and I don't try to change that,” the voice said, dourly. “Not anymore.”

She stood with her mouth opened for a moment, but before the words could fully form for her next question, the filly decided to bite her tongue; she knew the voice disliked her prying questions. Although surprisingly, it was Scoddri that decided to change the subject first.

“It's going to rain,” he said flatly.

“Oh, how do you know? I thought the Everfree Forest had random weather, how can you know what random weather will be?”

“It's really quite simple, girl,” his voice claimed crudely. “It's really the same idea behind how looking at a bunch of random letters on a page will let you read a sentence. It's truly the epitome of the unknown, well, depending on the author. The weather, however, now that is a story that is far easier to predict.”

Sweetie Belle glance through the thin clearing that snaked its way through the looming boughs of the trees that crowded the river bank. Above, she could see the sky had taken on an entirely bleak demeanor while she had been within the confines of the woods. With a gasp, the filly noticed that she could see something else as well. Some clouds seemed to glow brighter than the others, and some spots seemed entirely subdued. It was as though there was some deep mosaic of magic that patterned the sky. And by no means was this mosaic orderly; it was a snarl of ever-shifting magic that seemed to flow and pulse on unseen currents.

“You see my dear, magic has a role in everything, even in the most mundane and boring parts of life. Some would deny this, refusing to even consider it as plausible, let alone fact. But for a select few, the truth of such matters are revealed quite plainly before them.”

The filly was still light of breath as she watched in wonder, eventually she managed to put a voice to her thoughts. “Scoddri, how many others have there been before me, that can see magic like I can?”

“Sadly, they have been few and far between, even to the point where such a gift can be regarded only as a curse. For the things they see are far too removed from what most others perceive. This eventually places them in a position against the rest of the world, and anyone who decides to throw themselves against the entirety of the world will inevitably be crushed.”

“But what if they chose to never talk about it, what if they chose to never admit that they could see it?”

“Ah Sweetie, you could live the rest of your life telling yourself that, but you would still see it, in every sight you ever saw, in every sound you ever heard, and any other sense as well. Magic is present in everything, once you've seen it, you cannot forget it. To do so would be like pretending that you are blind. Some ponies might buy into it, but it's a charade that's bound to fail at some point. Sweetie Belle, this sense of yours, it's something that belongs to you, as much as your cutie mark will, and your sense of self. You may not want it, but you are stuck with it. And I look forward to seeing just how you deal with it.”

Sullenly, Sweetie Belle got back into motion and followed the serpentine flow of the river. But why me?

* * *

By the time mid-afternoon had settled in, the clouds above cast their subdued gray light down to forest below and Sweetie Belle plodded on, though her legs were starting to ache. She and the other two Crusaders had always had an eye for adventure, but hours of walking had drained the excitement out of the day to the point where she was quite content with the idea of just laying down on a soft carpet of grass until evening.

“Girl, why are you stopping?” the voice asked sharply.

“I can't take it anymore, my hooves hurt, my legs are tired and the scenery always looks the same. I need to rest,” she complained to the voice as she starkly sat down and rolled onto her back.

“Oh, come now, you had a rest two hours ago. Didn't you know that adventures were comprised primarily of monotonous travel? Surely your crusading taught you that,” Scoddri remarked with a chuckle.

“We never got far from Ponyville on our crusades. Our families would never let us, the furthest we ever got to go was to Zecora's hut.”

“And here you are now, two days of travel from Ponyville and you are already tired of such a grand adventure.”

“I never wanted to go on an adventure!”

“Oh?” the snide voice asked. “Then enlighten me, Sweetie Belle. Why did you leave Ponyville?”

“Because I had to! It was the right thing to do! If I didn't leave, Twilight would have been in danger.”

“Hmm, perhaps. But then, why are you still out here? What does this place hold for you? If it's not a sense of adventure, then what is it that drives you away from home?”

“It's more complicated then that and you know it!” Sweetie Belle retorted. “Sure, it sounds simple when you ask it like that, as if you had nothing to do with it! I thought about it, really hard, and I made my decision, and I'm sticking by it. I'm not going back until I learn how to use my magic.”

“Ah, so you just wanted to validate your own mistake. I see how it is. However, if that's what you wish, then I might advise that resting too often can often times prove detrimental when trying to stay ahead of your pursuers.”

With a resigned sigh, the white filly got on her hooves again.

“Or, for that matter, when it starts to rain.”

As if for emphasis, as soon as Scoddri finished the sentence, a peal of thunder split the sky. Sweetie Belle could feel its reverberations echoing throughout her body even while under the cover of the thick canopy.

“Quick girl! You need to find some shelter, before the worst of the storm is upon us.”

* * *

“Are you sure there's shelter up ahead?” Sweetie Belle asked for what seemed like the hundredth time. She nearly had to shout to be heard over the gusting branches and whirling leaves of the trees around her. She spat out as her mane managed to blow right into her mouth. “If we don't find some place soon, a tree is going to fall down on me!”

The only response she got was another rumble of thunder and the ominous tread of raindrops upon the upper canopy. The treading slowly built into a running crescendo.

“Oh, pony feathers! It's raining!” she exclaimed and pulled herself into a full canter, in spite of the abundance of roots that littered the forest floor.

“Just a little further,” the disembodied voice called out over the storm. “Look at the river! See where it leads?”

Sweetie Belle squinted against the lines of rain that obscured her vision, while still running. She could see the glowing river went through the base of what looked like a giant rocky outcropping, but she couldn't make out any further details without some sort of illumination.

With a feeling of relief, washing over her, as assuredly as the rain was, she made a beeline to the cave mouth. On the way, she noticed the river had become much more swollen in a mere few minutes of rain.

She made her way along the river bank, just within the shelter of the surrounding trees. Only yards from her destination, she felt the strongest gust of wind she had ever experienced. She felt as her whole body was nearly pulled from the ground itself. The trees all around her bowed deeper than she had ever seen any tree bend. Then, she heard an audible crack like a thousand bones breaking, which echoed as though it were thunder, a precursor to a new kind of rain.

Left, right and all around, numerous branches fell as Sweetie Belle stumbled in her surprise in a last ditch effort to avoid being hit. With a most ungraceful tumble, the small, soaking filly found herself deposited upon a large bough that had broken off from some distant giant above her.

With a groan, she pulled herself up to untangle herself from the branch and winced. A dull jolt of pain throbbed through her fore-leg as she stood up. With a shake of her mane, and a face narrowed in determination, she continued the rest of the way through, to reach the mouth of the cave.

Thankfully, it wasn't too far, as the ground below her had become increasingly slippery with every passing moment, and her leg wasn't performing as well as she would have liked. With no small amount of effort on her part, she managed to reach her destination.

When she finally limped her way in through the mouth of the cave and stumbled into its depths, she was relieved to find that the river only ran through the lower, middle section of the cave. The cave was divided into two sections of dry stone on either side.

Sweetie Belle breathed a sigh of relief as she tenderly collapsed herself upon the cold, hard stone of the cave floor. At last, she was out of reach of the massive storm. A small pool of water collected around her from her drenched coat as she settled down.

“Yes, you are indeed safer in here, but it's not over yet. Sweetie Belle, get up and look at the river flowing through this cave. Quickly girl, this is important.”

“What is it Scoddri?” she asked with a scowl, as she examined her foreleg. She shivered while she wiped her tangled mop of hair away from her eyes. From what the unicorn could assess, her leg felt bruised and slightly swollen from when she had tripped in the storm. Overall, she was glad that the injury wasn't too bad; she could recall a few times where she'd gotten worse from some of Scootaloo's various crusading ideas.

Her scowl faded to genuine curiosity as she pulled herself up once more and plodded close to the crevice that directed the flowing river, and looked over its side. Amidst the glowing waters, various sized, darker objects flowed by.

“Okay, so why's this important?” she asked with a sniff.

“Because you need to pull out a few of those floating branches from the river.”

“But why?” she asked plainly, hoping for a real answer this time.

“I thought your were sharper than this Sweetie Belle, perhaps the cold water has gotten to you already. Girl, you need a fire before you go to sleep, or you may awake to naught but a dream. And the only thing in this cave that's going to burn is wood.”

Sweetie Belle sniffed once more and nodded. With a moment of concentration she focused her magic through her horn. Which already seemed to come more naturally than it had the evening before. With a quick motion, she lashed her magic out at one of the smaller looking branches.

She wrapped her magic around the branch tightly and efficiently. It's just like picking berries, except I don't have to be delicate. Once she was certain it was secure in her grasp, she gave it a tug, willing it out of the water and up to her.

The branch lifted slowly from the water, wavering as it did so. “Oh, come on, you dumb branch,” she muttered to herself. “Why are you so heavy?”

Half a minute later, panting and sweating despite her chill, a soaking wet tree branch now lay before the unicorn. “Okay, I got the branch, now what?”

“Oh, my dear,” Scoddri said with a gentle chuckle, “Surely you don't think that one single branch is enough to start a fire.”

Sweetie Belle's only response was to groan her dismay as she went back to the arduous task of fishing for wood.

Half an hour passed, while the storm still echoed outside of the cave, and the river flowed more fiercely than it had before, echoing loudly through the entirety of the cave. What little light that had marked the mouth of the cave was now gone. The now-shivering filly had finally gotten enough branches for Scoddri to give his approval, and if it hadn't been for her ability to sense the magic around her, she may as well have been blind to her surroundings.

“Alright girl, now pile them up so they are all together, and then light them on fire.”

“Um,” Sweetie Belle deadpanned, her teeth chattering, but with the emerald glow of her horn she arranged all the branches into a heap. “So how do I light them on fire?”

The first answer she received was nothing short of a storm of laughter. “Why, 'Chaos Magic' of course. I'm surprised you didn't guess that yourself, after all, I do recall a certain clubhouse burning down.”

“But the clubhouse was dry, this wood's wet, it won't burn. Besides the only thing in this cave is the river, and I know what happened the last time I used the river's magic.”

“Indeed, the cold must be dulling your senses, girl. Look up, tell me what you see.”

The unicorn looked up and was surprised to see the faintest of lights filtering from from the cave ceiling. It looked like a firefly under a blanket. Perhaps, it was only because there was no light around her that she could sense its existence at all.

“What is that?” she asked, her curiosity piqued.

“It's a crystal composed entirely of magic; one of the first clues that unicorns found which suggested that magic could be found naturally forming outside of a unicorn's body. Since their initial discovery, many unicorns have forgotten about them. Its structure reacts easier to the touch of magic than it does to a physical touch. Often unicorns will use them as a centerpiece for more complicated spells.”

“I'm going to use a crystal to start a fire?” Sweetie Belle began and sneezed. “Isn't that dangerous?”

“Indeed, however, it's no more dangerous than what you've already been through. You could, of course, just lay down on the damp rock floor and shiver until the morning comes, it's your choice.”

“Alright, I get it. I just hope that this works,” she said with a nervous gulp.

“As do I.”

End of Chapter 10