• Published 31st Dec 2014
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Essenza di Amore - Cerulean Voice



Like Princess Twilight Sparkle, Princess Mi Amore Cadenza was not born into her royal title. Follow a younger Cadance along the path to ascension, and her discovery of the true essence of love.

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Chapter Two: For the Heart I Once Had

Eva awoke before sunrise the next morning. With a suppressed yawn, she stretched her forelegs and arched her back. After standing up from her heather bed with exaggerated care, she crept through the Samankas’ living room on light hooves, soundlessly parting the beaded curtain hanging in the door with her magic before stepping outside into the cool predawn air.

A red glimmer broke over the horizon and scattered through the trees to greet her. She took a deep breath, savouring the crisp morning air, the smell of pine needles and fresh daisies tickling her nostrils. Light, cool raindrops trickled down her coat; it was not enough to draw shivers, but enough to accelerate her waking.

Eva turned her back on the sun and walked westward through the village to the woods. They greeted her with a chorus of chirping birds as oaks and willows swayed gently in the westerly breeze. Shallow puddles in the path—cool against her hooves as the rain was against her coat—invited her with more invigorating chill.

The sound of flowing water ahead drew her attention. She smiled, increasing her pace toward the welcoming sound. A short walk later, she sat down at the river’s edge and watched the water gently pass by. Persistent, chilly pinpricks upon her coat stole the last remnants of drowsiness from her body.

With another yawn, she lifted a hoof and swept the black hood off her head, liberating her white mane. Using magic, she scooped up a small ball of water and splashed her face.

“This village is most serene,” she said to nopony in particular. She placed a hoof to her chest and massaged her face with the other. Cool water flowed down her face, through her mane, before dripping to the ground. “Oh, they are a special sort of herd, no doubts there at all. A pity I cannot settle with them.”

In the middle of rubbing her eyes, she froze as her horn vibrated. Ears perked, she turned her head slightly.

“Good morning, Kaviyayu.” Eva shook her head, mane flying about her face and back. She grinned internally at the absence of a return to her greeting. “Come on out, young filly. I can feel your presence. I promise not to bite.” She waited a few more seconds, taking the time to study the knots in a nearby oak.

Finally, a shadow fell upon her. Kavi descended, landing with a squelch in the soft mud. She folded her wings, looked up, and met Eva’s calm smile.

“How could you tell? Nopony ever knows when I’m in the air above them unless I make myself known.”

“Oh, I have my ways,” Eva said, facing the river once more. “When one has been everywhere and seen everything, one learns to maintain an air of caution about themselves. Not everypony I meet is friendly, to say the least.”

“Is that why you did what you did last night with the fire?” Kavi asked, walking slowly up next to Eva. “You thought we might not welcome you?”

“It was... a possibility based on my past experiences.”

“Oh.”

Kavi looked at her reflection in the water as the morning light glistened off the clear flow. She stretched out her wings sighing with every snap, crackle and pop of her joints.

“Your wings are lovely, Kaviyayu.”

Kavi’s cheeks flushed a deeper pink than normal. “Thank you, Miss Eva. I’m quite fond of them.”

Eva chuckled. “Please, just call me Eva. You need not be so formal with me.”

“Well, okay—” Kavi’s wings clicked a final time before she folded them in “—but only if you just call me Kavi.”

“A fair trade-off… Kavi.”

The pair sat in silence, enjoying the smell of the forest, the calls of the wildlife, and the drizzle upon their coats. Overhead, a rainbow kaleidoscope announced the sun peeking over the top of the trees. A pair of robins settled on the other side of the bank and dipped their beaks into the water, then shook themselves dry and took off again.

“You know, I’m really curious about something,” Kavi said, watching the birds flutter away. “I’d like to ask you, if you don’t mind.”

“Not a story-related question? Not something I can answer at camp tonight?”

“Um…” Kavi shook her head. “It’s actually a more… personal question.”

Eva raised an eyebrow. “And what is it you wish to know, my dear?”

“Well…” Kavi faltered, turning back to her reflection in the river; even then, she could not escape the curious gaze of Eva’s own image in the clear water. “I just wonder why you wear that thing all the time. I’ve never seen a pony so determined to cover up their body before.”

The sound of the river filled the following silence.

“That is actually quite a personal question, Kaviyayu,” Eva whispered, watching as the robins settled across the river in their nest. She pulled the hood back up over her head. “I will answer, but only if you tell me something first.”

“Um, okay?” Kavi sat on all fours and pressed her elbow into the ground, resting her chin on a hoof. “What do you want to know: anything about the village, the river, the mountain?”

Eva chuckled. “No, Kavi. I am a traveller and a storyteller, in case you forgot. I have seen almost all of our beautiful country. I know of the Smokey Mountain and that the dragon at the summit melts the ice that your river is so named for. As for the village and its inhabitants, well… I admit, learning about you all will hopefully be interesting.”

She pointed to Kavi’s back. “What I am most interested in… is those.”

Kavi craned her neck and stretched out her body. “My wings? Oh, I was born with them.”

“Yes, I am aware of that,” Eva said. “What I mean to say is, why are you the only pegasus in your entire tribe?”

Kavi cocked her head. “What’s a ‘pegasus’?”

Eva blinked. “You mean you don’t know what you are?”

“Of course I know what I am!” Kavi turned her head innocently. “I’m my mother’s ‘one-in-a-million angel’.”

“Oh, of course you are. I was watching you last night—you turn heads wherever you go, and not just for your appearance.” Eva smiled then. “Everypony adores you. It is no small thing that the adults trusted you last night, when you vouched for me. They treat you like one of them, and I saw how the other colts ogle at you, even if you yourself do not notice.”

Kavi laughed. “Oh, I’ve noticed. That actually does get kind of annoying. I’ll choose somepony when I feel like I’m ready. But anyway, what’s a pegasus, and why do you think I’m one?”

“That is what we call ponies with wings where I come from. In fact, there is an entire city filled with your kind.”

“An entire city of angels?”

“Yes,” Eva said. “There are many, many of your kind. Besides—” rainbow light surrounded her “—have you not been curious about my horn?”

“Of course,” Kavi said as she eyed the prismatic glow. “Everypony wonders why you have it and how you can create such fantastic images in our fire pit.”

“That is because I am what we call a unicorn,” Eva said, tapping her horn. “As with your race of pegasi, there are entire cities filled with unicorns, all of us capable of using magic in many different ways. Of course, every race has magic…”

She paused, appearing deep in thought. A short moment later, she lowered her hoof and smiled. “I can show you all of them now, if it takes your fancy.”

Kavi’s eyes lit up, sparkling like a dewdrop reflecting a sunbeam. “Yes, please!” she said, nodding vigorously.

“All right, then.” Eva’s toothy grin widened as her rainbow light danced and shimmered, contorting into the shapes of three ponies.

“Pegasus magic flows from their wings, not only allowing them to fly but also to walk on clouds.”

The pegasus’ image flittered up onto a small puff and sat down above the ground.

“Unicorns, however, are the most adept when it comes to manipulating items,” Eva continued. “Most use it to levitate, as you have seen me do around town, but there are hundreds of other uses for it. For example—”

Eva disappeared in a flash of light and reappeared at Kavi’s side, eliciting a squeal and a backward leap from the stunned filly.

“—I can use it to teleport.”

“Whoa!” Kavi shook her head and sat up, catching her breath. “Warn me next time you’re going to do that!”

“Sorry.” In spite of herself, Eva laughed. “But there are two other types of pony to explain yet.”

Kavi took a deep breath and held a hoof over her heart. “Do normal ponies have magic too?”

“Yes, they do.” Eva nodded and, with a frown, refocused her magic. “Even though they have no horns or wings, ‘Earth’ ponies—as we call them—possess tremendous strength and have a knack for producing food. The magic flows through their hooves, making the ground fertile wherever they walk.” Her magic depicted an Earth pony dragging an enormous pile of logs behind it, with flowers and shrubs sprouting up in the wake of its hoofsteps.

“But there is one final type of pony—and this one is the most magical of all.”

The three different pony images swirled before Kavi, spiralling together in a haze of colour. When they converged, a blinding flash of light lit the wood. She raised a hoof to cover her eyes and looked away.

“The rarest of all ponies: the alicorn.”

Kavi lowered her hoof slowly, squinting. She gasped and her eyes shot open. A tall, slender pony shone with an illusory sun at its back. A coat of pure white, a flowing multi-coloured mane, an equally impressive tail, a colossal pair of wings coupled with a lengthy horn… and unlike the other images, clearly defined facial features. The kind, gentle face looked ahead; Kavi stared, slack-jawed.

“She’s so beautiful. Who is she?” she asked as the image turned in midair, revealing a decorative sun emblazoned on each of her flanks.

“This is the image of perfection,” Eva whispered reverently as she made the image spread its wings. She looked to the east, from where dawn had crept up on them silently. “The alicorn race has the magic of all three races together, but it is said that their overall power is far greater than the sum of their parts. In fact, the alicorn you gaze upon now is the only one in existence. It is said that she has lived since the beginning of time and rules over everypony in Equestria with a kind and just heart.

“Kaviyayu Samanka, I present to you the pony whom you and your village know as the ‘Sun Goddess.’ This is Her Royal Highness, Princess Celestia, Shepherd of the Sun and Moon.”

This is our Sun Goddess? You mean she’s a pony just like us?” Kavi walked around in a circle, assessing the image from every angle. “I wonder what it would be like to meet her. I’ll bet she has visitors day and night, just to say they’ve been near her.”

The image flickered and wavered, before being replaced with the visage of a gravity-defying city on the side of a mountain.

“This is the city of Canterlot, where she lives,” Eva said, pointing to the castle that seemed to make up most of the city by itself. “She lives on top of the world. That balcony right there—” Eva placed her hoof on the image where the tallest tower stood, the image rippling slightly “—is where she sits and raises the sun and the moon every single day.”

“I’d love to see her raise the sun one day,” Kavi said. She sighed and turned away.

“Is something the matter?”

Kavi stared at the river, seeing her downcast reflection. “It’s a village rule: nopony is allowed beyond the border of the White Tail Wood. It’s too dangerous to go any further east than the river or too close to the mountain where the dragon lives. They say it’s for our safety, that it’s a dangerous world out there. Besides, you heard what Elder Havijhan said—he doesn’t want anypony knowing about us.”

“Hmmm.”

The light around Eva’s horn flickered and died, along with the image of Canterlot. She walked next to Kavi, sat at the water’s edge, and placed a hoof on her shoulder. The breeze picked up, blowing a sudden flurry of leaves around the ponies.

“You know, you haven’t answered my question yet,” Kavi said after the leaves passed or fell into the river and around their hooves.

Eva stiffened and dropped her hoof. “I… I promise I will tell you. Since you gave me the information I sought, even without telling me, I do owe it to you.”

Kavi frowned at her, head cocked to one side.

“However, I would prefer it if we were truly alone. Put simply, it is not something I would like any… younger ears and eyes to be aware of.”

“‘Younger ears and eyes’? What do you mean?”

Eva shot her a wink. “I mean, you were not the only one to try sneaking up on me this morning. Others have been watching us for some time.”

“I think I understand,” Kavi said. “Come on, then. Let’s get back. Mother will wonder where I am—” she whipped her head around, catching Avran’s stunned gaze “—and where her youngest son is at this time of the morning!”

Four sets of hooves beat a hasty retreat north as the mare and filly laughed.


Kavi spent the majority of the day watching Avran, making sure he kept his nose out of mischief. The sun hung low in the sky, the temperature having already dropped to a comfortable level by the time she let her attention waver for the first time. Just as she was about to call it a day, Avran tried to climb a giant, fat oak tree and got stuck. It took Kavi—laughing openly at her crying brother—to fly up and lower him back down.

“And what in the Sun Goddess’ name made you think that was a good idea?” she asked when their hooves were all back on solid ground.

“Um… it didn’t look so high up from down here?” Avran shrugged as his posse sniggered at the thick trunk’s base.

Kavi shook her head as they bolted back toward the village, then sat beneath the oak. Time ticked further away while she just sat and relaxed, watching orange light dance upon the western horizon with its deep violet partner at the baseline.

What if I do want to leave one day? she thought. I have the wings to carry me anywhere, but… would Mother let me?

As the sun finally slipped out of sight, Kavi flapped her wings and headed home. She passed the fields near the mill, waving at the harvesters as she soared overhead. The scent of freshly cut hay wafted up, making her mouth water.

Smoke already wafted up from the village centre when she descended. Avran, Kartanya and their mother all sat in a circle. On her mother’s side sat—

Father!”

Kavi immediately dashed toward her family, hooves thudding in the dirt with a solid thunk. She hit the ground running and pelted toward a stallion of patchy green and brown coat. With a squeal, she leapt at him and caught him in a full body tackle, burrowing her head into his firm chest.

“You’re back! It’s been weeks!”

Her father laughed, almost overbalancing, his deep belly-laugh joining Avran’s sniggers and Mother’s quick chuckle.

“It’s great to see you too, my angel,” he said when she finally released her hold. “Come, let me look at you.”

Kavi zipped back and twirled on the spot with her wings up.

“My, my, you do seem taller every time I come back,” her father said, his eyes twinkling like the stars above. “And your mane—it almost touches your hooves! Might be time for a trim soon, yes?”

Kavi shook her head quickly, blonde and pink curls flying back and forth. “Nu-uh! I’m never cutting this, and you can’t make me.”

“Stamska, you may as well give up now,” her mother said. “She seems determined to let it grow out. Just wait—” she faced Kavi “—soon you won’t be able to walk without tripping over. I really think you should at least let me tidy it up.”

“You should listen to your mother, Kavi,” Stamska said. “Shouldn’t she, Samanka?”

Kavi harrumphed and folded her forelegs, standing on her rears with her wings flapping for balance.

“Do I detect a family quarrel?”

“Not a quarrel, so much as a little tease,” Stamska said as the family’s eyes all fell upon Eva. “Greetings. I am Stamska, patriarch of this little herd. I’ve never seen you around before.” His eyes flicked to her horn for the briefest moment. “In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anypony with one of those. Your name, Miss?” He held out a hoof.

Green and brown met white.

“Eva,” she said, shaking Stamska’s hoof. “And you are quite correct—I myself had not known I would stumble upon your quaint little home, even by yesterday’s sunrise.” She dropped her hoof. “You have a lovely family, by the way. Why, I’ve never felt so welcome in a new place before. I suppose it helps that nopony can get enough of my stories.”

“Are you kidding?” Avran’s hoof shot into the air, narrowly missing Kartanya’s face. “Eva’s amazing, Father. You should hear her—no, you should see her stories!”

“‘See’ them?” Stamska gave Avran a quizzical look. “How can one ‘see’ a story?”

“Oh, it’s rather fascinating,” Samanka said. “Eva here has quite the gift.” She shifted her gaze to the unicorn. “Will you be performing again tonight?”

“My tales are yours, if your food is mine.”

* * * * *

The Mare in the Moon gazed down upon the camp, the communal fire at its heart flickering invitingly. Sleepy ponies lay around the fire, murmuring to each other as they patted full stomachs, dinner and supper both long since consumed. Beds called, but the chill of the cold spring night convinced many that heat could cure their drooping eyes, not sleep.

“Once upon a time, in the magical land of Equestria…”

The fire roared to life. Ponies jolted awake as the flames crackled and sparked, leaping skyward as if to offer their heat to the heavens above.

“There were two regal sisters who ruled together and created harmony for all the land…”

A swirling image appeared in the fire. A winged white unicorn rotated opposite a similarly sized, winged dark blue unicorn.

“To do this, the eldest used her unicorn powers to raise the Sun at dawn. The younger brought out the Moon to begin the night…”

Eva’s voice washed over the village as the images danced in the inferno. The white pony smiled over a field of happy, dancing smaller ponies, while the blue one turned away, a single tear dropping from her eye as the same ponies slept through her beautiful night.

Kavi sat enraptured by the performance, her eyes following the figures’ every move as they danced in the flickering flames. She gasped as Eva’s voice dropped to a vicious whisper when the younger sister threatened to bring about eternal night. She hid her face in her mother’s mane when the rebel princess blasted her elder sister with a beam of magic from her horn. But it was the sight of the white one using a collection of mystical weapons to banish her sister to the moon that finally brought tears to her eyes.

“Those poor sisters,” Kavi whispered to her mother.

“It’s just a story, Kavi,” Samanka said, stroking her daughter’s mane. “A myth from almost a thousand years ago. There has only ever been one goddess, the Sun Goddess. She controls both sun and moon.”

“But what about the Moon?” Kavi pointed up to the sky, the shadow on the moon’s face suddenly feeling much more imposing. “Is that really the jealous younger sister, trapped inside?”

“This is the story we are told—” Eva’s commanding voice drew the villagers’ attention, the images fading with the aura around her horn “—when we grow up in the city of Tall Tale. Whether it is myth or ancient history is irrelevant. Only Princess Celestia rules in the east, and she commands both Sun and Moon. Be it because she always has, or because she adopted the role from her banished sister, only she can truly say.”

Stamska stood, leaving his family sitting together. “Now I have seen what you are capable of, Eva. I must say, it was a truly impressive performance, the likes of which I’ve never seen. Kavi and Avran weren’t lying when they said you would ‘wow’ me.”

He beckoned to Kavi, who looked at him with her head cocked. “Daughter, please join me by the fire. I have a tale of my own to tell in return, one that you have never heard. I understand your mother wanted to tell you yesterday, but with the arrival of our guest—” he gestured toward Eva “—it must have been driven from her mind.”

Samanka and Kartanya shuffled; Kartanya looked at the ground.

“What is it, Father?” Kavi asked.

“So, you believe you can tell a story to rival my own for sheer impact, Stamska?”

Stamska grunted and wrapped a hoof around Kavi as they stood before Eva. “As a matter of fact,” he said, “I do. It is a story not yet told, for everypony knows what happened. In fact, it was my own eldest daughter who experienced the events in this tale first-hoof.”

“Kara?” Kavi said, looking at her sibling, still determined to count the individual grains of dirt at her hooves. “What story is this?”

“The time has come for you to know, Kaviyayu,” Samanka said. “You too, Avran.”

“What is it?” Kavi and Avran asked simultaneously.

Stamska took a deep breath, exhaled, and looked to the sky.

The Tragedy... of Artax.”


It couldn’t be.

It just wasn’t possible.

They had always been her family. She’d never known anypony else. Her first and earliest memories were filled with nothing but Mother, Father, Kara, and the village.

So why did the story feel so… so…

So real?

Kavi looked around at the villagers, the houses, the fire…

Not my home.

Her parents…

Not my parents.

Kartanya and Avran…

Not my siblings.

“Kaviyayu.”

She looked at her mother.

“We know this must come as a huge shock to you. But you must understand that despite everything, we still love you.”

Samanka approached Kavi with Stamska at her side. The pair made to wrap their forelegs around her—

“No!”

Kavi backed away, shaking her head, eyes dancing wildly. “Don’t touch me!”

“Kaviyayu!” Stamska boomed. “Don’t speak to your mother that way.”

“She’s not my mother,” Kavi said, looking away. “My mother is dead. So is my father. You two are just pretenders.”

A hush descended upon the village.

Kartanya stepped cautiously forward. “Listen, Kavi,” she pleaded. “We know you’re upset, and we know this is a really big thing to take in right now, but we are as much your family as we could have been. We love you, sister. We always have, and we always will. But you need to calm down.”

Kavi flapped her wings and flew backward into the branches of a nearby yew. “Why did none of you ever tell me before?” she called down. “Why did you let me believe a lie for so long?”

“We’ve never lied to you, Kavi,” Samanka said as she walked up to the tree trunk. “We just… thought it would be better if you were older when we told you. We thought you’d understand.”

“You’re still our angel, Kaviyayu,” Stamska said, joining his wife. “You’re still our daughter, whether we made you or not. We loved you the moment we laid eyes on you, and we’ll never stop.”

“Yeah!” Avran added—the whole family had gathered at the tree by now—“You’re still an awesome sister. You’re one of my best friends, even when you tell me off.”

Kavi turned her back, rotating on the branch. She held her hooves in front of her; she ran one through her mane, and rubbed the other over her pink coat. She stretched her wings, eyeing her feathers before folding them back into her sides.

“I should have known all this time,” she said. “I’ve always been different. But you all let me believe it was because I fell from the sky, that I was an angel from the heavens above. Not because I’m… a pegasus.”

She descended from the tree and swooped over her family, where she came to a halt before Eva.

“Thank you, Eva. In twelve years, you were the first to tell me what I really am. So far, you’re the most honest pony I’ve ever met.”

“Er…”

Eva looked around as her audience cast looks her way. “Well, I wasn’t aware that you didn’t know you were adopted… even though the thought did occur to me. But even if I was, it wasn’t my place to say anything.”

Eva began to back away. “Perhaps… I should take my leave. You’ve all been so kind to me, but now I feel my welcome is worn out.”

“Nonsense,” Samanka said with a shake of her head. “You can stay here. You’re not at fault… that would be Stamska and I.”

She looked back to Kavi with shining eyes. “Please, Kaviyayu, you have to believe we never wanted to hurt you. We’ve raised you since before you could crawl. You are our daughter.”

“I… I just want to be alone right now.”

With a flap of her wings, Kavi ascended into the air. “Just give me a while, okay? I really need some time to think.” She turned and sped away to the north, over the wheat fields.

“Kavi!”

Avran leapt up and made to gallop after her, but Stamska placed a firm hoof upon his shoulder. “Let her go, son,” he said. “She needs some time alone. Don’t worry—she’ll come back soon.”

“Will she, though?” Kartanya whispered, watching the pink form vanish into the heart of the wood..


The night dragged on, seemingly endless. Quiet rustling and tiny pinpricks of light shining through the bushes around her were Kaviyayu’s only indication that she was not alone. She sat in the boughs of an enormous elm, overlooking the northern border of her village’s territory.

Not her village.

It was all too much to take. She’d had a loving family her entire life, been treated the same as her sister and her brother, given all the same rules and allowances…

The same love.

She sobbed into her hooves for the mare and stallion she’d never known: the pegasi who had gifted her with life and given theirs to allow hers to continue. She imagined what they would have been like. Who would she have grown up making friends with? Would she have lived in the floating city that Eva mentioned in one of her stories?

The parents who had been claimed by a red wyrm’s wrath.

And she’d had another, older brother? Artax, the one who’d died valiantly trying to save her birth mother, who together with Kara had saved her life.

I know they love me. But how could they keep this from me for so long?

Maybe it’s because they love you that they did so? To protect you.

Protect me from what? Did they think I would run away and get myself lost, or hurt?

Can you blame them after Artax?

She shook her head, sick of the warring factions in her mind. She sucked down a deep whiff of air and opened her eyes. Extending her wings for balance, she stood on her hind legs and shouted to the moon. The sound of wings filled the air as nearby nesting birds took flight, shocked and disturbed from their midnight slumber.

Kavi ended her high cry and sank back onto the bough, laying her head upon her forelegs.

“Hey up there!” called an unfamiliar, honeyed voice.

Kavi lifted her head and peered down over the edge of her perch. Squinting, she saw nothing but shadows and the lower forest canopy. “Hello? Who’s there?”

“I’m coming up. Don’t move.”

A moment later, a bright flash and a pop almost made Kavi fall off the branch.

“Whoa!” she cried, flailing to keep her balance. Her wings extended, allowing her to catch herself and regain her composure. “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to you doing that.”

Eva smiled as she found a place to lodge her hooves as the light around her horn faded. “At least I warned you this time.”

“Not really,” Kavi replied. “I didn’t know it was you. Did you change your voice? You sound a bit… um, less like you, I guess. Sweeter.”

“My voice changes after a large meal, dear.”

“Oh. Weird.”

“So,” Eva said as she lit her horn again, bathing them both in a dull glow. “Would you care to explain your grand, overly dramatic performance earlier?”

Kavi lowered her head with a sigh. “I’m not sure I want to talk about it. I sort of wanted to be alone for a while.”

“I know that,” Eva said. “But your mother looked so upset when you left that I offered to go and find you. Even if you do not return with me, she will be glad to know that you are okay out here.”

“My mother…”

Kavi turned and looked at the moon again. “I… know that I said some really hurtful things. It’s just that, well, my whole life, I knew I was different. But I never really knew why. And now, knowing what I do, I just can’t help feeling like I’ve been… sort of betrayed.”

“Kaviyayu Samanka.”

The mention of her family name drew Kavi’s attention.

“You were taken in as a barely-born filly,” Eva continued, “by a family who lost their eldest son, because your birth mother indirectly contributed to events leading to his death. Do you realise just how lucky you are that they did not instead choose to abandon you to your fate?”

“Um…”

“They rescued you, despite the heartache they must surely experience whenever they look at you. They’ve fed you, raised you, and from the sounds of it, treated you just as if you truly were their own foal. And this is how you repay them?”

“Stop—”

“You need to consider what truly matters, Kavi. The blood family you never knew, or the adoptive family that have given you the world out of the love in their hearts.”

“Okay!” Kavi yelled, drawing a slight flinch from Eva. “I have to go back. I know that. It’s just... things won’t ever be the same anymore.”

Eva closed her eyes. Rainbows poured off her horn and began to form an image in the air. The haze twisted and swirled until a clear picture of the village emerged.

There was the fire burning low. Everypony had gone to bed, except Kara and her parents. The three ponies huddled together, staring into the night with glassy eyes. Samanka’s gaze had misted over, and she was leaning into Stamska’s shoulders. Kara simply sat still as a statue, watching, waiting. Avran was not present; presumably he had been sent to bed.

Kavi looked at their forlorn expressions, their defeated yet hopeful body language. “They… really care about me,” she whispered.

She cringed as a hoof came from nowhere and bopped her nose.

“Of course they care about you,” Eva said. “You’re their daughter, and no technical matter like whose blood flows in your veins will ever change that.”

“How can you know that? You don’t even know us—you’ve been in the village for barely a day.”

“Oh, trust me on this, Kaviyayu,” Eva said. She patted the cloak covering her barrel. “If there is a single thing on this planet that I know, it is how to recognise love. Why, you could consider love-detection like a secondary special talent of mine.”

“How?”

Eva paused. She leaned back on the bough and turned her head. Dropping her hood, she let her stringy white mane fall about her shoulders, her face obscured. She held a hoof to her barrel, murmuring unintelligibly.

“Eva? What is it?”

Eva dropped her hoof and faced Kavi. “Never you mind, dear. Just a little self-conference, that is all. Now, I… suppose I did say I would show you if you answered my questions earlier this morning, did I not?”

She slipped off her cloak, eliciting a gasp from Kavi. Like her mane, Eva’s coat was pure white, so bright that Kavi imagined snow would seem brown next to it. Her tail was the same; even longer than her mane, it too appeared pallid and unkempt. The only parts of her that showed any kind of pigment at all were her pink eyes and her cutie mark: a pallet of rainbow paints surrounded by a prismatic aura.

Yet what drew Kavi’s attention the most was the thing fastened around Eva’s neck. A glorious light-blue sapphire gem sat at the heart of a pendant, affixed to a chain of rounded amethysts. It glowed in the night, seeming to call to her…

“This is my secret, Kaviyayu,” Eva said as she fondled the sapphire. “My Crystal Pendant detects and enhances the feeling of love anywhere nearby. It is how I found your village, when I saw you playing in the river with your brother and his friends. Since I set hoof in your village, it has been going completely haywire with excitement. Even now, it reacts to the love residing in your own heart—the love you feel for your family.”

“It’s so beautiful,” Kavi said. She leaned in closer, wishing to appraise the finer details.

Eva drew back, clasping a hoof over it. “Sorry, Kavi, but I cannot let anypony touch it. It is my only valuable possession… my one constant companion on my travels. I guard it with my life.”

The pendant faded from sight as Eva slipped her traveling cloak back on and lifted her hood again. “Also, I would appreciate it if you told nopony about this.”

“Um, sure.” Kavi nodded.

“Now, come on. You have a family to return to—and to apologise to for scaring to death.”

Kavi nodded again. “Yes. Thank you so much, Eva. Will you come with me?”

“Of course.”

Eva charged up her horn and disappeared with a pop. “Follow my horn, Kavi, lest you lose your way in the night.”

Kavi spread her wings and descended beneath the canopy. She landed next to Eva, leaves crunching under her hooves. Glowing eyes retreated into their bushes as the ponies set off at a swift gallop.


Kavi and Eva entered the village square. The fire had burned itself out, leaving only smouldering cinders and lingering smoke. Most other ponies seemed to have indeed taken their leave and elected to retire for the night. Yet the three ponies remaining on the log closest to the fire pit were all she cared about.

“Go on,” Eva said. She nudged Kavi’s flank. “Do what you have to. I shall hang back—this is a family affair, after all.”

“Okay.”

Kavi stepped slowly forward. Each step felt like trudging through sticky mud. Her head felt heavy, and her tail dragged along the ground. As she neared the green trio, she regained confidence and lifted her head higher.

“Mother? Father? I’m sorry I ran away. I was just… hello?”

Kavi called to them as she approached, but nopony even acknowledged her.

“I’m back. And I want to say—”

“Say what?”

Before Kavi knew what was happening, Kara was in her face. “My brother died twelve years ago,” she spat. “We took you in, we fed you, we raised you! And when we finally work up the courage to tell you your origins, you run away? Denounce us?”

Kavi stepped back, opening and closing her mouth, but no words came.

“You ungrateful little filly,” Samanka said as she walked next to Kara. “How could you put us—us, your parents—through such an ordeal? We loved you, and you threw all of that love in our faces and abandoned us!”

Kavi never saw the blow coming, only felt the sharp pain in her cheek and heard the crack of hoof against bone. She gasped and stumbled backward, collapsing onto the ground.

“Wha…? Mother! I’m sorry!” she yelled as tears welled in her eyes. Her cheek burned as she rubbed it. “I never should have run away. Please forgive me!”

“Why?”

Stamska had joined his wife’s side. He glared down at Kavi. “Why should we? You broke our hearts. Your sister, who saved your life, your mother, who allowed it to continue, and I, who protect us all each and every day from the horrors out there. We’ve done and do so much for you—what do you do for us, besides generate misery?”

“I… I-I… don’t…”

Kavi scuttled backward away from the three ponies. Not a single one appeared to have any semblance of care in their eyes. Instead, she could almost feel the waves of hatred emanating from their sharp, fierce glares.

“Go away, Kaviyayu,” the pony who was once her sister growled. “Don’t ever come back.”

“You don’t belong here."

“You'll never replace Artax. It's your fault he's dead!”

Waterfalls cascaded freely down Kavi’s cheeks as she picked herself up and spread her wings. With a final wail, she flapped her wings violently and sped off, past Eva, past the houses, and back from whence she’d came. Tears stained the ground from above as she retreated into the darkness.

Author's Note:

Stamska: derived from Stambha and Skā'uṭa, meaning "Pillar" and "Scout" respectively.

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