• Published 23rd Jul 2014
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Three Stones Lake - Renaissance Muffins



Just before the 50th anniversary of the Empire's return, Princess Kyanite slips away from the castle late at night unbeknownst to her parents, bringing a small trove of books with her.

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Chapter 03: Precaution

“Kyanite, wake-y wake-y. You're going to be late.” Deckle said, nudging her gently with his muzzle.

Kyanite grumbled. “...but Dad...”

“Guess I'll have to resort to the other method...” he sighed as he walked away from the couch. Using the magic of the small implant in his lower leg, he pull a small ball of red hot coals from the ashes. Still brimming with heat from the fire he had tended to throughout the night. He returned to the couch and held the coals close to her nose. “Kyanite,” He spoke more sternly. “wake up.”

She sniffed and took a breath, then immediately began to cough. Deckle threw the hot ash back into the fireplace. Croaking, “Deckle, that is a terrible thing to do!” She was a mix of tired and infuriated but all the same knew that she was in the wrong. She coughed again, regaining her composure. “You should be apologizing to me right this instant!” Her dry voice failed to give her hounding a proper impact.

Deckle laughed as she pouted from the covers draped over her. “Well, if you'd get up when you're supposed to...” He trailed off, knowing her mind would finish the sentence for him. “Anyways, you've about fifteen minutes to get ready. I've already cooked breakfast and the guard are stepping up their search.”

“Figures.” she yawned, sauntering over to the kitchen table. She eyed the pancakes and began digging in. “Might as well leave the thing on at this point. I'm honestly still getting used to it.”

“It takes time. It's worse when you have to constantly come up with new personalities and looks that aren't incredibly obvious nor an eyesore. Even staying aware from attractive looks was a hassle.”

“You have a pen name, don't you? All my research has told me is that you're just a lonesome writer with local friends.”

“I have one, yes. Just don't freak out if you're a fan of my work. Fickle Quill. I've nearly retired the name at this point. All my works have allowed for it, but not as a rich stallion with a hundred lands of his own.” He turned his gaze to the front door, as if he had heard a knock. “I prefer this, though. It's not bad, but the winter is a bit harder than what I would've liked.” He chuckled.

“Why didn't you move further in?”

“Noise.”

She recalled a few days back at the castle when a few days of her oldest brother getting married created nothing but that. Another incident with a maids baby running and crying down the halls. The echo only served to make it worse. The last thing that was likely the most pestering, were the days when her grandfather was out training more of the guard. A force that hasn't been used in decades. “I can understand that. I guess it's one of the reasons why I ran away. I do miss my sister, however.”

An odd and heavy silence fell between the two of them as she finished her breakfast. He prepared their coats and starting putting on his own while she put the glamor device on once again. A faint flash of light and she had become Berberis for the umpteenth time. Then their legs carried the two of them forward, out the door and into the bright, glittering white of another fresh snow fall. It was fluffy, unlike the night she had first came out here.

When they reached the coffee shop, Deckle let Kyanite take the lead so she wouldn't have to wait for him to open the doors, as polite as it was. Greeted by the smell of slowly burned cedar and the warmth of radiated heat from an old copper pipes, the two took to their usual spots. Deckle to one of many small coffee tables in the shop and Kyanite behind the counter, tapping the screen to clock in and begin the day once more.

A slow morning. Only a few of the regulars showed up, with the festival on its way, folks are a lot busier than normal. Although it's a parade, Nearly the entire downtown area is involved with it. Streets have to be fenced off, stores compensated for potential profit losses, and hardworking crafters spend weeks beforehand designing and painstakingly pouring their hearts and minds into their floats. The reason for this, to celebrate the expelling of Sombra, is to represent the events that occurred. Spike,who caught the Crystal Heart and then Cadence and Shining who reinvigorated it with their love. It is a reminder of those events and here there is a descendant of the two who took over the kingdom after Sombra was finally expelled.

Kyanite explained further that without the parade and the immense feasts and joy and love for all things, the heart would corrupt and another Sombra may appear again. The teachers in the Crystal Empire are instructed to recite it in their history lessons. They'd have to find another source of magic just as strong if the two's magic isn't strong enough anymore. Like what Twilight is trying to do with her title.

Deckled listened To Kyanite's rant on the matter, how the perpetual lesson annoyed her and the minor semantics that followed it. She didn't see the point to the parades, as nice as some of the floats were. Even contests were held. Kyanite preferred reading about the incident, the festivities never excited her. Deckle saw her point and offered the counterpoint of that the showcasing of arts through the floats can reveal the different cultures in the main city as a whole. Kyanite was dumbfounded and then questioned why the teachers never pointed the fact out.

The quiet conversation carried on until a guard came through the door. Silence struck them all like lightning weaving through a cloud. A guard in a coffee shop is an unusual sight, especially in their full attire. Varnished gold plates that overlapped one another but moved as well as water down a stream. It was a call to the older armor styles, which lacked a fair amount of protection and was more for mobility and escorts. The use of heavier armor was rare, as magic could easily take care of it. Now not so much, as the new full-body equipment was lighter and far better. “Citizens, I have a report that there was a sighting of the Miss Princess Kyanite in the area. I am here to investigate these claims.”

And so he did. Each customer, each employee, until he got to Deckle who politely moved his work to one side to avoid distraction. The guard hunched his back, obviously tired of asking around. “I hope you can give some information, sir.”

“I cannot.” Deckle told him with the easiest set of eyes. A lie so convincing, it convinced Kyanite for a moment. “I haven't seen the gal before 'cept in the news. She ran off, right?”

“Correct.” the guard answered.

“I'm sure she has her reasons, I imagine stress is a big one.”

The guard rested his shoulders and leaned back in his chair. “Thank you.” He tapped a few parts on his bracer and waited for a response. “Captain Bulks Worth?”

“Private Fletcher.” the voice was nearly garbled noise.

“Only confirmation I have is seeing a cloaked figure running towards the woods east of here. Same night Kyanite ran off.”

Bulks grumbled loudly, “It's a start. Good job private, make your way there in ten. Warm up a bit.”

“Thank you, sir.” Fletcher tapped his bracer again and placed his hoof on the table. “So, you're a writer?”

“Of sorts. I like to travel and document.” Deckle answered, hiding the fact that he was growing annoyed by the guards presence.

“Where have you gone?”

“Manehatten, Chineigh, Ponyville, Canterlot. Bunch of places, really.” Deckle took his pen away from his work and focused on Fletcher.

“I don't mean to distract you, sir. However, I can't help but feel you know more than what you've told me.”

“I know a lot of things, sir. Just not about the Princess. I'm only guessing at behavior and what's common in these scenarios. Do you ever read?”

“I do!” Fletcher scoffed, lurching forward “Just not as much as I used to...” He retreated. “Maybe I should read a book once in a while.”

“You should. I recommend 'A Manor of Dreams' by Haybrush Ashings, if mystery is your thing.” Deckle implored.

The guard immediately took to looking up the author and his book. After a few small woes, he found it. Fletcher whistled after reading the synopsis and then closed the program. He glanced at the clock and read the clock and recalled the time in which his earlier call had ended. Pushing himself off the table, he gave a sigh and thanked Deckle. The bell's signature falsetto ringing ended the awkward silence the polluted the air in the shop.

Deckle let out a slow breath, eyes closed until he inhaled. Kyanite spoke up, “Are you okay?” Deckle nodded and got back to his work. Kyanite did the same, minus the nodding.

A few moments later, a small party of troops were going down the road at marching speed. Cloaked in their armor, they appeared as clones with subtle differences in color, rank, and scrapes from older times or duels. A treaded vehicle followed behind them, carrying more. It's shape took form of several boxes slapped together. Steel and magic infused armor protecting every asset on board. The design had earned it the title of “Storm Turtle”.

When the rumbling had carried on elsewhere, the TV became audible again. They already began reporting the information that Fletcher had passed on to his captain. There was an addendum to it, however. One, the search in the nearby mountains and forest would go on throughout the week, ending after a week. Two, searches of homes may become necessary. Three, no volunteers for the search. Deckle muttered a swear behind his teeth. Kyanite could see the thoughts begin to roam through his eyes. His focus on writing decayed and new plans festered.

He began to pack up. “Berberis, I'll come and pick you up when your shift is over. I've got a few things at the house I need to sort out. I know Mishmash over there might give you a little trouble, but he's harmless. Just work like you normally do, alright dear?”

“Got it Deckle.”

“Good.” Deckle slowly charged his way out the two doors the led in. Stood a moment outside to take in the cold air, then walked off.

Deckle made his way home, the guards nowhere in sight. The treetops were visible from his home, as were the mountains beyond. Unlocking the door, he found the fire sparking slowly. He fetched wood, tossed it in and continued on. To start, the mirror for the glamor pendent. The guards have been using tracing equipment of sorts to search for Kyanite. Deckle knew that the glamor couldn't hide a scent perfectly.

He moved to a set of shelves on the far side of the living room, pulled on a few books and after a pause, the wall behind it gave way, sucking the shelf in and sliding it into a crevice that concealed it. Almost in whole. Behind the shelves, a stairway leading down into a separate basement. In there was an old library. Books that had beheld light for the first time in years. Dust an inch thick covered the few that had remained stacked after some research. Deckle carried the mirror to the far side and stood it against the wall. The cold cement under his hooves made them slightly numb, forcing him to consider every step.

He kept moving, up and down the stairs, taking everything that Kyanite had brought with her. Bags, books, and jewelry, all into containers, labeled and set aside. Then a distraction struck him. A piece of paper, fluttering from the old desk and onto the floor. He picked it up and examined it, an old character sheet. Reference for an old story he wrote. The plot rolled forward in his mind: a runaway princess finds a mentor in the darkest of forests, and there she discovers her talent. She roams the world for decades before returning home, a welcome that put her in the midsts of controversy. One solved by a small scar she'd received as a foal and an heirloom she did well to hide.

Deckle tucked the paper back under the open book of notes, a corner folded to remind him to get back to it. Huffed at the likeness of his situation and recalled that he'd never finished the story. Writer's block had gotten the better of him and when he began another story, he'd forgotten it. It left off in a city, if he remembered correctly.

A loud knocking shattered his nostalgic remembrance. He rushed up the stairs, closed the hidden passage way and peeked out the window. Kyanite had returned, slightly disheveled. The wind had blown her scarf off center and snow built up on the fringes of her coat. Her teeth chattered as she eagerly waited for Deckle to open the door.

The familiar creaking poured out from the hinges as he did, “Berberis, come on in.”

“Thank you.” She answered. “The temperature dropped, it feels like.” Wandering in as if it were second nature, she hung up her cloak, hat, and scarf on the coat rack.

Deckle closed the door behind her. “It can do that.” When a clack of the lock, he moved over to the large paned window and peeked out, suspecting a follower. With a light sigh he drew the curtains closed and turned to Kyanite, “Berberis, keep the pendent on, even when you're sleeping. I've-”

“Where are my belongings!?” She roared, steaming towards him. Butting her nose against his, eyes narrowed and wild.

“I've hidden them.” Deckle stated slowly. “They're bound to have tracking gear. Did you not do homework on the guard while you were couped up in the castle?”

“No! What use was it to me? Sure my siblings studied it far more than I, my grandfather and mother more so. They participated in those acts, Celestia knows how many they've killed or injured. I've always refused to hear his stories because I wanted no part.” What began as a scorn, delved into a hard choke, “I-I hated it. An era of peace and I have to study war?” She lowered her head and sobbed.

Quietly, Deckle let her head fall onto his shoulder as he placed one leg around her collar. He pulled her to the couch and had her sit down. “Berberis, you've taken to the library, correct?”

She wiped an eye and cleared her throat, “Yes... wait, do you...?”

Deckle smiled and walked over to the shelves, pulled the proper books once more. Again the passage way opened and again the stairway revealed. She stared like it was a dream. “What, no hidden passages in your castle?” He scoffed.

“Not that I'm aware of.” She approached the stairs, anxious, thoughts brewing with what kind of books he had. History texts, encyclopedias, alternate universe studies, astronomy, physics, mythological research. The list went on in her mind.

The warm, stuffy air brought a front to her nostrils as she descended down the stairs. Wary of spiders and her step. Deckle followed her down once she began perusing the bookshelves. She spotted one and mouthed the title, then looked to Deckle for his permission, which he kindly gave. With a swift movement, she removed the book , dusted off the binding and the pages. She opened the book and fired through the pages, then closed it and held it to her chest, “Thank you.”

“Your belongings are to your left, next to the mirror. You're welcome to come down here as often as you like. Not when guests are around, however.”

“Why is that?”

“Because... I have an order to it, I prefer it not to be disrupted. It may not be library standard but it's worked for me.”

“I understand, Deckle. Again, thank you. I'm sure you're just as fond of books as I am.” She smiled.

Deckle smiled back, “Perhaps, but I make them, too. You know that much.”

“Yes, I did some research before my shift ended.” She spoke with glee. “Pen name: Fickle Quill. Books include The Messenger, A Queen's Gambit, Almighty: The Pebble and the Mountain, and Iron Runner. All good books that I-” She stopped, realizing that she was spilling out her more admiring side. She was a fan of Deckle, she hid it well. “I apologize, Deckle. That was unbecoming and I will not speak of it again.”

“It's alright. I'm quite used to it. Most folks who've read my books will recognize me. I had the glamor pendent to shield me from the paparazzi, really. There was some rumor that I was bedding a local celebrity, no idea how it started. Some folks think I ran off because of it. I moved because of the stones in the lake.

“I see. Sounds rough.”

“It was.” The topic ended there with a light silence. “You hear anything about the two seekers sent out by Princess Twilight?”

Kyanite looked over some of the other books, “They're in Appleloosa, apparently. Culinary capital of Equestria. It seems that none of the news crews are interviewing them, though. I find that rather strange. Figure they'd be confronted by them at every corner.”

“Maybe they've got a glamor of some sort as well.”

“I don't doubt it.”