• 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 16 - Fresh Air

Scion of Chaos - Chapter 16: Fresh Air
By: SilentBelle

Her hopes had been in vain, it would seem. Even as the unicorn braced herself against the impact of the diamond dog's monotonous motion, she could feel the movement slowly wearing away at her. Every bound that Ruben made with his loping long legs sent a jolt through Sweetie Belle, causing her to wheeze slightly, and she could even feel the throbbing of her headache begin to synchronize with the jostling.

Ow, his shoulder is boney.

Try as she might, she could do little to ignore the irritating movement. But thankfully, the movement was short lived, for a bright light suddenly fell upon her closed eyes, and the plodding motion ceased. But that was not all; she noticed the air as well. A simple intake of breath and she felt a sensation she hadn't ever experienced as strongly before as she did now, but she decided to think of it as 'refreshing', even if it carried the full brunt of summer's heat.

In surprise, the filly opened her eyes and in the next moment, she felt Ruben, with his firm, yet gentle grip, easily lift her from his shoulder. She saw a blue sky and small leafy trees as she was momentarily hung upside-down by one leg, before being deposited upon a soft patch of grass.

“I have brought Pony out of underground. As I said.”

Sweetie Belle smiled softly as she lay there and looked up at the deep blue of the sky. Surely the sky had never been this blue before. Turning her head gingerly, she looked to the diamond dog. His was turned away from her, and he began to plod back to the tunnel.

“You did. And I want to thank you for that Ruben, that was very, um,” she paused while searching for the word she wanted, “chivalrous of you.”

“I don't need thanks, pony.”

“Well I'm still giving them to you. Thanks Ruben. Oh, and you can call me Sweetie Belle again.”

The diamond dog simple turned his head sideways to give the youngster one last look. A small grin tugged at his mouth, otherwise he remained expressionless. “Goodbye, Sweetie Belle,” he said, then promptly turned back to face the tunnel.

“Wait, where are you going?” she called in response, struggling to get up from her prone position. “Why are you leaving?”

“That is a silly question, Sweetie Belle. I am doing as I must, as always. I need a new ruby, so I am going back into the underground,” he said simply and then bounded off into the tunnel.

Sweetie Belle let out a soft sigh as she watched the dog vanish into the darkness. “I wonder if we'll ever see him again.”

“Perhaps you will, one day. Though chances are he'll see you first. But that day is not today, for there is still a certain matter at hand. And that is, you are still being chased. So you must be on your way as well.”

“Right,” she replied and turned from the cave mouth, then took a few unsteady paces. That's when she felt something. A tingly sensation? No, that wasn't quite right. It was as though her eyes didn't want to see anymore. They grew irritated, so she closed her eyes to a welcoming warm darkness and stopped walking. She felt her breaths getting heavier and her knees began to quaver slightly.

This is weird, she thought to herself. What's going on?

Girl! You can't just go to sleep in the middle of a bush-” the faint, chuckling voice echoed to her, as her senses were consumed by that same warm darkness.

* * *

She woke in a bed so soft,
Within her sister's warm loft.
With walls of alabaster,
All plain, white plaster.
Her sister sat across the room,
Brooding with en expression of dark gloom.
Memories of her smile, gone from sight.
Shadows covered the floor, where once there had been light.
How could she have left so much behind?
How could she have been so blind?
She was wrong and she knew it,
Had her chances and she blew it.
Now her statue sister sits alone,
Motionless, with her tears, dry as bone.
Regret falls upon her as she views her sister's face,
Cracks of sadness, carved of shadow and empty space.
She knows that she's to blame
Like the spark that brings forth the flame.
But she remained proud, her anger held tight,
For she caused it all, and so she'll forge ahead with all her might.
So that she may fix what she has broken:
A heart, her friends, and promises unspoken.

She closed her eyes, full of tears,
Whispering a farewell to her statue sister
Bracing herself, to face her fears.
How she knows she'll miss her.

* * *

Where am I? What is this place? She tried to turn her head, but it would not budge, she tried to move her legs but they remained in place, yet her eyes remained opened to see. Before her, the sun was setting in its orange hue. And brilliant green bushes, perfectly sheared, stretched around her as a leafy horizon. She watched the day fade away and the stars begin to fill the sky.

In the next moment, dawn crept up into the sky from behind, only to cycle once again to night, faster this time. And faster and faster still, the cycle repeated. Days passed, weeks, months, seasons, years. Ponies passed by, or at least that's what she thought they were, as a fleeting blur, every now and again, trimming the bushes.

She wanted to blink, to turn her eyes away, but she couldn't do anything other than watch. She saw bushes growing, being trimmed, dying off, and being replaced. Slowly she noticed in the distant skyline, through days of cloud, open blue skies, and star-filled nights. A city was growing the world moved on, with every moment she stood there watching.

How many years had passed? She had no idea, but she suddenly noticed something familiar about the ever-growing city in the distance. She recognized some of the buildings, it was a sight she had seen almost every day of her life as a backdrop to Ponyville. This city was Canterlot.

It was then that she heard a voice, thick with grief, yet lathered with bitter laughter. “Can you understand this feeling? Can you stand here, watching the world change as you are forced to stay the same, forever?” It was the voice of one who was ready to break, or perhaps already had.


* * *

Sweetie Belle woke with tears in her eyes, though she could not remember the precise reason for why she had cried; she just felt some sort of sorrow, deep within her. After letting out a few ragged sobs, the feeling slowly subsided, leaving her feeling oddly refreshed. She never knew that crying could make her feel that way. Blinking her moist eyes, she inhaled, inviting the fresh scent of the outdoors to help her rebuild her composure.

She moved to get onto her hooves, only to realize that her singed mane had managed to get tangled amongst the branches of a nearby bush. The unicorn gave the moonlit plant a cursory glance, its whole entirety softly glowing from its own energy. Well, at least it doesn't have any thorns, she thought with a sigh of relief as she struggled against the branches, eventually managing to sit up.

“Ugh, what happened?” she muttered to herself with a groan, tugging her mane free of the offending plant. “Everything's kind of foggy.” She then attempted to shake some twigs out of her knotted mane to little effect, and rubbed at her eyes with a hoof. “I sure could use a bath right about now.”

“Finally, you are awake girl,” Scoddri said. “You passed out hours ago, you must have had a pretty bad fever. You're quite lucky that no one has come out here in all that time, and for that matter, that no creatures found you either.”

“Oh, right,” she said, pulling herself out of her stupor. “We're still right outside the diamond dog's cave. Wow, it's nighttime already.”

“Indeed, sleeping through the afternoon will do that for you.”

“Say, I'm thirsty Scoddri, where's a river or something to get a drink from?”

“What makes you think I would know, girl? I'm not a geography professor.”

Sweetie Belle chuckled lightly. “Well, you always seem to know which way I should be going.”

“So I do,” the voice replied with some measure of boasting. “And that direction would be to your right.”

Giving her mane one last shake, before lowering her head in defeat, the filly turned to her right, looking at the woods before her. “Wait, this isn't the Everfree anymore, is it?”

“Quite astute of you Sweetie Belle,” the voice called out, in his mildly mocking tone. “What gave it away? Perhaps it was the diminutive trees, or the fact that you can see the moon between the branches and leaves overhead.”

The filly just shook her head, rolling her eyes as she headed out into the brush. She walked slowly so as not to trip over anything that might be hiding in the darkness, but between her eyes and the natural glow of her surroundings, it didn't seem too daunting of a task, she would just need to remain careful.

“So Scoddri, I had a dream just then,” Sweetie Belle said. She was glad she could talk to him normally once again, without having Ruben around. As much as she had enjoyed the dog's company, his presence had made her feel incredibly awkward.

“Oh, this is bound to be precious.” he replied with a snort.

The filly paid no heed to the derisive tone and continued. “I dreamed I was stuck outside, by a beautiful looking garden. Days and years passed by. Ponies did too, sometimes stopping for a moment to point at me. And all I could do was watch. I don't remember much else. Just being stuck, and time passing. But it felt so real, I could feel the world go on and on, I could feel the time crushing me like a heavy stone. It hurt to sit there, unseen by everypony, it was just, so sad to be unknown and ignored.”

“But how would you feel, my dear, if you ended up in that same situation, yet you knew there was even just one pony out there who knew who you were? One pony you could call a friend, who would never forget who you were. A pony who remembered who you were and didnt just see what you have become. Just one pony who was willing to keep your company every now and then, helping to soothe the painful passage of time?”

Sweetie Belle paused to consider for a moment. “I wouldn't be as lonely,” she responded. “But I'd be more sad than anything else, only because I couldn't talk or play with the friend who keeps my company.”

The voice let out a soft chuckle at her reply. “Ah, truly there is nothing nearly as truthful, nor as insightful as a child's point of view.”

The unicorn only offered a frown at that.

“Oh, don't think too hard on it my dear, it was just a dream. After all, all ponies have them from time to time, and sometimes they are scary or sad. But they are still dreams, and they can't actually hurt you.”

“Huh,” the unicorn hummed as she pick her way delicately around some bushes. “If that's true, then what about that dream I had back in the cave. The time when I used the ruby and accidentally caused a cave-in?”

“That was not a dream, that was simply you projecting your magic in your sleep. Kind of like magic sleepwalking. It's nothing entirely unusual, and generally harmless; however, much in the way that having a set of stairs is a poor companion for sleepwalkers, a magic-filled crystal can be just as poor a companion for you.”

“Wait isn't that dangerous? Couldn't I accidentally set the forest on fire in my sleep or something?”

“Much in the same way that you could do so right now,” he replied jovially. “Do you feel in danger of starting a fire right now?”

“Not especially,” she replied with a raised eyebrow. “But why should that matter?”

“Because, you should realize that setting things on fire is not in your nature, girl, as much as your clubhouse may beg to differ.”

“Oh? Well forgive me if I'm not convinced then. I think the clubhouse provides a stronger argument.”

“Regardless, you live but once girl, so why should you spend every night fearful of burning down your surroundings?” he asked and sighed as a worried look made its way across the unicorn's face. “Although, I am sure that you won't follow that line of reasoning. So I'll just say this: Sweetie Belle, you know I have never lied to you, so if nothing else, know that you will be safe from your own magic while you sleep. This, I can promise you.”

Sweetie Belle's expression softened. “Thanks Scoddri."

* * *

A while had passed and the voice had fallen silent. The unicorn was starting to feel more than just a little bit parched. She hoped she would run into a stream soon. As if to answer her unspoken prayer, a soft sound in the distance caught her ear. It sounded like the gentle lap of water rhythmically washing against stones.

“Water!” she announced her suspicions aloud, and forged onward with renewed energy. As she moved between the light foliage, still keeping an eye trained to the ground, she could hear the sound growing in strength.

The forest came to an abrupt end before her, and Sweetie Belle came to a sudden halt as she noticed the ground fall away sharply, just a few feet ahead. Stepping up to the edge of the cliff, she looked down below her. She could hear the waves of the lake lapping against the cliff a hundred feet below her, and see its dark waters span off into the distance. The top half of the setting moon reflected off of its surface creating a line of shimmering silver, leading directly toward her perch on the cliff.

“Wow,” she said, nearly breathless. “It's beautiful.”

“So it is,” the invisible voice replied simply. “Beautiful enough for a filly to forget that she's thirsty.”

Oh right, I actually did forget for a moment. “I need to find a way down there,” she announced as she looked at the length of cliff to either side of her, hoping to see a portion of it sloped a little less steeply. After a moment's consideration, she harrumphed. “How am I supposed to get down there?”

“Unless you choose to jump, you aren't going to make it down into those waters.”

“Huh?” she responded.

“Girl, don't forget that you are a unicorn, and this should prove to be an ample time to test your finesse. Try and bring the water up to you, instead of going down to it.”

“Oh. That's a good idea, why didn't I think of that?”

Sweetie Belle promptly sat down at the edge of the cliff and closed her eyes. From here she could see the glowing waters flowing below her. Although it held no reflection of the moon, it was pretty in its own right. Reaching within herself, an action which came easily to her, she coaxed a thread of her magic out of her horn and willed it down, alongside the cliff.

After a minute, she felt it contact the cool water below. Now to pick some up. She tried grabbing at the mass of liquid, but it quickly slipped out of her magic's grasp. She grit her teeth and tried again, but her efforts yielded the same results.

“Why isn't it working?” she cried out as she kept try to grab the water with varying levels of force and speed.

“You have never lifted a liquid before with your magic. Just think of how you carry water normally without magic, surely you can figure out how to apply it to your magic.”

“Hmm,” she hummed as she formed her tendril of magic into a different shape. I guess a bucket would make sense, like when we pull water out of a well. With the new shape firmly in place, she pulled up. “Woah, that's heavy.”

“Yes, water weighs a lot,” the voice replied in amusement.

Changing the shape of her spell once again, she made it much smaller, the size of one of the Apple Family's cider mugs, and she gave it another yank with her magic.This time the captured bit of water slowly slid up the cliff-side, but she quickly felt her own magic reserves diminishing.

With a grunt she cast a look back to the bushes and trees behind her and cast a second tendril clumsily out of her horn and grabbed at some of the greenery. With a tug, she felt the magic of numerous leaves being channeled into her horn, and she saw the dark green magic gain the sheen of her own emerald magic.

Using this new source of magic, she redoubled her efforts with her impromptu bucket of water. After a couple minutes, she finally drew the water up past the edge of the cliff. “Yay, I got it!” she cheered. The filly was sweating from the exertion and drank her prize greedily.

Once she had finished off her refreshing beverage, she noticed that the sun had begun to rise, lighting up the world, with its faint light. That was the moment when her curiosity bubbled to the forefront of her mind. “Scoddri, why are we headed over here anyway?”

“Look to the other side of the lake girl, look at that distant mountain, that is where I am directing you.”

Sweetie Belle looked out across the lake and saw a mountain on the distant side, but that wasn't all. There was something on that mountain, something familiar.

As she gazed upon it, the sun slowly rose above the horizon, and its beams came forth clear and golden, catching the mountain and what it held on its stoney precipice.

“That's-” she paused while squinting, at the illustrious spires in the distance. “Canterlot?”

End of Chapter 16