• 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.

  • ...

Chapter 11 - The Weight of a Mountain

Scion of Chaos – Chapter 11: The Weight of a Mountain
By: SilentBelle

Even at a distance, the crystal felt warm and calm to her, not like the chaotic torrent of the river, or the intricately entwined energy of the leaves she had drawn from earlier. Sweetie Belle could feel the crystal's energy, merely through the extension of her own magic towards it.

“So I just grab onto it then?” she voiced her thought process, not needing an answer. After all, she had performed this process a few times before in the past couple of days. “Alright, here it goes.”

With a slight intake of breath, the unicorns' tendril of magic lightly touched the surface of the crystal hidden within the cave roof. In a moment, a smile played upon her lips. Contact with the crystal felt as if she had dipped her hoof into a warm, clean bath; it was relaxing and refreshing. As the tension within her dissipated, she gently began to coax the magic out of the crystal.

“Woah,” she whispered in awe.

“What, may I ask, could conjure such amazement as to take your breath away, my dear?”

“It's just, it's so much easier,” Sweetie Belle tried to explain as she watched the ruby energy of the crystal slip easily into the grasp of her own magic. “The crystal's magic, it just does what I want it to. It doesn't resist or try to drag me around, I don't have to force it at all. It really, feels nice.”

“Indeed, it is but a lump of magic that belongs to nothing else,” Scoddri affirmed. “As such, it will follow your will as readily as your own magic and naturally flow to become one and the same with your own magic. Truly, this is the closest thing to refined unicorn magic that you will find all throughout nature.”

The filly nodded at that, no doubt entered her mind that Scoddri was speaking the truth, even if the greater implications of such a statement fell slightly short of her ken. She could feel a similarity to her own magic, and she watched as the red magic flowed from the crystal and naturally shifted into an emerald hue almost the same as her own magic. She directed the energy to the pile of branches before her and held it suspended, right above the soon-to-be campfire.

“Say, Scoddri,” Sweetie Belle asked sheepishly. “How do I start a fire anyway?”

“Why, it's quite a simple concept my dear,” chimed the sly voice. “Now, think to yourself: What is it that makes fire what it is?”

“It's hot,” she said with a lightly trembling voice as she shivered.

There was a slight pause as she awaited his response. “Is that all that fire is, girl? Surely you must have noticed some other traits, other than it being hot. Remember, understanding how things work is what makes the craft of magic what it is.”

“Well, um, it gives off light too. Oh and it dries things, and it burns things.”

“Aha, now that's more like it. Indeed, it is a dry heat that consumes things. It's the most basic form of all of Chaos Magic. So basic in fact, that most wouldn't view it as any kind of magic. Still, for the fire to start, the wood will need to be dried, and that takes a fair amount of energy. Now take a closer look at the branches before you. What do you see?”

Sweetie Belle frowned into the darkness before her. Perhaps sight wasn't really the best word for what she sensed in the branches before her. She let her focus fall upon the the glowing branches and felt them. Within, she could feel a sturdy and supple stream of energy that seemed tightly bound upon itself. That must be the branches' magic, she determined. But then she realized there was a second energy which was much more subdued; it almost faded into the enveloping darkness, like clouds on a moonless night. It also felt slightly heavier, but far less sturdy than the branches' own energy had. At the border between these two different types of magic she could sense that their energy was shared between them.

“Say, Scoddri what's this heavier and squishy magic all around the branches?” she said in a voice of rapture, forgetting her chill in lieu of this strange, new wonder before her.

“Squishy?” The voice snorted blithely. “That would be the first time I've ever heard water described that way. My dear, you should use the crystal's power, which you are still holding onto by the way, and feed it into the branches.”

Sweetie Belle tilted her head in the darkness as she considered the concept. “What if I try this instead?” she mused aloud as she let go of the energy, which dissipated readily into the air around her. She then directed her own probing tendril of magic at the border between the branch and water. “Can't I separate the border between the two magics?”

Without waiting for an answer, she went ahead and tested the boundary in question. The unicorn pulled at the bond and found it to be very elastic. No matter how hard she pulled at it with her own emerald energy, it would snap back into place the moment she let go.

If Sweetie Belle hadn't been so focused on her task, she might have heard Scoddri's light chuckling.

“Come on, work, you dumb magic,” the unicorn muttered to herself and turned her focus back to the ruby crystal lodged in the ceiling. “Maybe if I use the crystal's magic instead...” her voice trailed off as she began implementing the plan that formed in her mind.

With a quick motion she pulled as much of the crystal's energy as she could and fed it directly into the border of the two magics. As she did so, she was surprised to see that the ruby light could slowly be forced in and the boundary began to glow even brighter than the branch itself.

She kept sending the ruby magic in and watched in awe as the glowing got brighter and brighter. Until suddenly, she felt a snap, like an elastic pulled too tightly, or a branch bent too far. In a decisive explosion, all the water within the branches was launched free.

Sweetie Belle let out a shout of surprise as she got showered by the water droplets.

“Well, I suppose that is one way to dry off the branches,” the amused voice hummed, “far more exciting than just evaporating the water.”

The unicorn shook out her mane and shivered. “Did it work?”

“Indeed, the hard part is over. Now all you need to do is start the fire.”

With a frown that nopony could see in the darkness, Sweetie Belle bit her tongue, determined not to ask for any more help from the voice. She had figured out how to remove the water from the branches, and she was certain she could figure out how to start a fire. After all she had done so before, albeit, by accident.

She turned her focus to the crystal and, in a mere moment, she once again held a cloud of ruby energy firmly in her grasp and watched as it spun around her own magic, changing into the shared green colour. With a gentle movement, she brought it down upon the now-dry branches. Burn, she thought with gritted teeth as she forced the magic into the branch. Be hot and burn!

As she concentrated, she felt her magic respond to her thought. The threads of magic moved following her instinct until they formed a simple pattern, which for some reason she associated with fire. The filly started as she heard a crack and a sudden plume of flame sprung into sight. With a sigh, she sat down before the fire and welcomed its gentle warmth and light.

She was more exhausted from the whole ordeal than she had thought. A fact which was emphasized by an unimpeded yawn as she curled up on the ground shivering in the firelight.

“Aha, so you figured it out. How clever of you, girl. And you didn't even have to ask how to do it. A pleasant surprise, if ever I came across one.”

Sweetie Belle barely heard his words as she closed her eyes, surrendering to a wave of fatigue.

“And so the realm of sleep draws away my entertainment for another night. May your dreams be wild and exciting girl. For dreams are the greatest treasure you can ever know.”

* * *

In the shadows filled of darkest coal.
Under the light of a single feeble star,
She has an understanding of the unknown.
To be content in being lost,
And being lost in contentment.
She passes her time
Musing over the wonders before her,
While listening to those songs she used to sing
Amidst the sound of a fire's light;
A rhythmic flicker of memory

* * *

Sweetie Belle could hear the crackle of wood as it burned away, distant, yet warm. Like the memories of her friends and family. But she left the fire alone in the corner of her thoughts, as she did with her memories. Everypony needed something to keep them going when they were all alone. And to her, the memories of her friends and Scoddri's voice, those were enough to stop her from giving up. So she moved onward, past those thoughts, feeling comfortable and warm.

She looked upward to the dark gray stone above her. Within its deep mass, she could make out only that single ruby gem. It had a single hairline fissure running up its once-perfect surface. I must have done that when I used it to make the fire, she concluded. I wonder how much energy it has left.

The filly spun around the ruby freely and examined it further, but she quickly realized that she had no way of determining any further information about the crystal. Though she could feel that it still shone nearly as brightly as it first had before. So instead, she looked at the rock surrounding the crystal.

Her curiosity was ignited as she noticed just how different these two materials were from the water-soaked branch from earlier. Despite the ruby touching the rock, it wasn't bonded at all to the encompassing gray stone. The gemstone truly was, to Sweetie Belle's limited understanding of magic, entirely free from outside interference; even if it was, physically, nestled snugly under half a mountain of solid stone.

With a mind still full of wonder she turned her full attention to a smaller piece of dark stone. The entirety of the coarse, gray ceiling above her seemed to be composed of thousands of rocks, all varying in size. She then focused on one particularly small chunk of stone in the ceiling. Hmm, I wonder if I could use its energy like I've done with other things. It doesn't seem to have that much, judging by the glow. Maybe it will be easier to use than the plants and the stream, plus it's even smaller than the ruby. After all, the leaves and grass were pretty easy to use, but I couldn't even manage to take any of the magic from a tree. Size is probably important.

With a new goal planned out, and nopony else to consult, she dove right into the task. She pulled at the latent magical energy that glowed dimly from within the small chunk of rock. But it didn't budge, not in the slightest.

Below her, she could feel her sleeping form frown in irritation before she decided to change her tactics. So she reached out to the ruby gemstone, once again, and siphoned away as much energy as she could hold. Now brimming with energy, she focused it upon the small chunk of gray stone which she was looking at before.

She poured all of the energy that she held into the chunk of stone, which accepted the energy quickly. In a moment, the stone shone noticeably brighter than its surroundings. She felt a smug smile form upon the lips of her sleeping body below.

First step of the plan: complete, she told herself. Now, let's see if it worked.

Sweetie Belle tried once again to draw upon the energy of the stone, now that it was readily glowing. However, the energy seemed to be trapped within the rock as strictly as the rock's own energy had been. Maybe if I put enough energy into it... she mused. Drawing upon the crystal once again, she focused even more magic into the stone.

A long time passed, though how much, Sweetie Belle was unsure of. What she was certain of, was that the small chunk of stone now glowed brighter than the crystal. Even so, the stone seemed to absorb any amount of energy that Sweetie Belle could feed it. She was now more curious if there was a limit to how much energy the stone could absorb, than she was about absorbing the stone's initial energy. So she continued on, until something unexpected happened.

* * *

In a cave where day beckons
Through the teeth of an open maw,
A tremor rings through its walls,
As a peal of thunder from within.
With a jolt, she bolts upright.
Echoing all around
Is the outcome of insatiable curiosity,
As she realizes the weight of a mountain,
In a moment of regret.

* * *

“What have you done girl!? Get up! Run! Now!”

Sweetie Belle woke with a start, to the sound an enormous crack as well as Scoddri's shouting. The campfire before her, had long since expired into dark piles of soot and ash. Inside the cave, the darkness had abated slightly as the gentle light of an overcast day could be seen shining in from the mouth of the cave. Nearby, just over the cascading river that flowed through the cave, she saw a series of bright lights, like orange glowing water droplets, falling from the ceiling. She didn't even have a moment to do more than register them, for she suddenly felt tremors coursing through the walls all around her.

“Run deeper into the cave girl, the roof is collapsing at the entrance!”

The unicorn sprung to her hooves and quickly looked to the entrance of the cave. She wasn't particularly keen on the idea of running deeper into a collapsing cave. She saw and heard large chunks of the ceiling falling apart, crashing heavily upon the solid floor. Fissures in the ceiling branched out, from right above her, all the way to the cave entrance. The whole section of the cave looked ready to collapse, in fact she was surprised it hadn't already. With a gulp, she quickly spun around and ran into the darker recesses of the cave, just in time to avoid being crushed under the shattering ceiling.

Sweetie Belle couldn't even hear the sound of her own galloping upon the hard stone of the cave floor. All she could make out was the echoing sound of heavy rock, cascading down upon itself. In the next moment, all light disappeared; the entrance to the cave was blocked.

She almost tripped over her own hooves at the sudden darkness. Luckily, after blinking a few times, she could make out her path using only the glow of the natural magic around her. Not for the first time, she was extremely glad that she could see magic in this manner.

After a minute of running, the rumbling stopped. Sweetie Belle came to a breathless halt. “What happened?” she asked.

“That's what I want to know, girl,” Scoddri said in an irritated voice. “What did you do to the crystal in the ceiling?”

“What do you mean? I was sleeping wasn't I?”

“Indeed, and while you were sleeping you did something with the crystal. Now, I wonder what that could be.”

“So, then the dream was real?”

“You had better believe it girl. After all, you remember it, don't you? Those are best sorts of dreams to have, while your body sleeps, your mind keeps itself entertained. And during it all, you did something with the crystal.”

“Oh, that,” Sweetie Belle said in sudden understanding. “I thought I was asleep, so I didn't really think too hard about what might happen, but I wanted to see if I could pull magic out of a normal rock. Then, since I couldn't, I decided that if I put enough energy into it, then I probably could do it eventually. I don't know why I thought that, but I decided to do it anyway. Then after a while I fed the rock a lot of the crystal's energy and then I woke up to the explosion.”

“That would explain the liquid rock and the cave-in.” Scoddri stated simply and gave a small chuckle. “You almost made yourself into pancakes for breakfast. Just remember, even in your dreams, curiosity is the single greatest trait and downfall of any great magician. Do keep it in check.”

“Wait a second,” Sweetie Belle interjected, as she looked back in the direction where she had run from. “What do you mean? How does that have anything to do with the cave-in?”

“Allow me to enlighten you dear. Surely at this point you are aware that we are beneath what some would call a small mountain,” he paused for no more than a moment, waiting for the filly to nod in acknowledgment, before continuing. “And we had a sizable crystal embedded within the rock. Now these mountains weigh quite a bit, and that crystal was helping to hold up some of the rock above it. However, after using much of its magic energy, the crystal began to fracture and dissipate, which caused much of what it was holding up, to fall down. This in turn caused a release in pressure amongst many other portions of the cave, and in short, caused the cave-in.”

“Huh,” Sweetie Belle said with a voice saturated in skepticism. “I remember taking a brick out of the side of a building once, and nothing collapsed then.”

“Oh, but I can imagine that the brick you took was already loose. Correct? If you took out a brick tightly packed in the middle of the building, you could imagine just how devastating it could be.”

“So then I actually caused the cave-in?” she asked in a frightened voice. “I never meant to do anything like that.”

“Indeed, curiosity can get the best of us, and quite often, the entirety of the consequences are seen only far after the event itself. Don't dwell too hard upon it, Sweetie Belle, everyone makes mistakes, and the best of us laugh at them. Just remember what you've done before and continue on all the wiser.”

“Even you make mistakes?” Sweetie Belle asked in innocent disbelief.

Especially me, it's just that I, unlike many others, see these mistakes as the greatest moments of my life. They are my pride and joy, and I seek to continue in my blunders.”

“You're weird,” the unicorn surmised with a chuckle, as she turned her attention back to the only path available to her.

“So I am,” he said heartily, “and it's a wonderful thing to be.”

Sweetie Belle simply smiled at his optimistic attitude and set forth into the bitter darkness of the cave. Her only companions being the ambiance of the river and a voice in her head.

Maybe I'm weird too, she thought to herself in a moment of levity.

End of Chapter 11