• Published 1st Oct 2014
  • 3,599 Views, 435 Comments

Story Shuffle - FanOfMostEverything

Thirty-one one-shots inspired by thirty-one random Magic cards.

  • ...

Rock On

Maud would always remember the moment she began to hear the rocks. She'd been sorting samples in one of the geology labs, and for a moment, the world tasted like rainbows.

Rainbows were surprisingly spicy.

After the moment of sensory confusion… well, it wasn't exactly hearing per se. She suspected no one had ever experienced that sense before, so the word to describe it didn't actually exist. It was somewhere between sound, emotion, smell, and several concepts that were also outside of human experience.

When Pinkie's e-mail about her new friend and old friends and amazing magical abilities arrived, complete with attached photo, it only confirmed Maud's suspicions. The news answered more questions than it raised, which was always nice when dealing with Pinkie. As for those that remained mysteries, well, Maud was a scholar and an aspiring scientist. She knew what to do. She experimented.

Over the next few months, Maud came to understand the stones and their wisdom, secrets that had either been forgotten for ages or had only just come into existence. That part was still a bit vague. Between her studies, both the scientific and the supernatural, the holidays went by with little fanfare and spring break caught her by surprise.

The University of Arepona's spring break didn't sync up with the Canterlot school district's, which was something of a mixed bag. Maud would only have four days off with her sisters, but she'd be able to see Pinkie perform in a battle of the bands, which was very nice.

Still, something was… off. The local rocks seemed frightened of something. The susurration was such that she couldn't sleep the first night she returned home. She took Boulder, an unusually vocal pebble she'd found at school, and went downstairs, beginning the discussion as she walked.

Her communion was broken by a scream. A girl in the kitchen. No, two girls. Maud didn't recognize them, but they must have been Pinkie's friends. A slumber party, no doubt.

Well, she couldn't exactly tell them, "I'm trying to determine what's upset the rocks." She had to think fast.

"Boulder was hungry."

…She was going to blame that on jet lag. Still, best to follow through with it. A box of corn chips was a small price to pay for avoiding an awkward conversation. With any luck, she'd get the same benefit of the doubt people gave Pinkie.

The day of the finals had been a pleasant one. Maud had gotten a chance to catch up with the high school's geology club. Fido, Spot, and Rover had been doing a fine job in her absence, having excavated and catalogued a number of samples from around town. She didn't understand their dog-themed affectations, but they were very good rockhounds.

Oh. She just got that. That was almost funny.

Still, there was a tension in the student body that matched that in the stones. It was odd. Pinkie's e-mails had painted a very different picture, and while she might gloss over bad news, it wasn't like her to make up good.

Without more information, Maud couldn't do much. She would just have to keep her eyes open during the finals.

She didn't think much of the opener. Lyrics to the contrary, it neither captivated nor dominated, and she had to wonder who thought it would be a good idea to give a high school girl access to those kinds of pyrotechnics. Still, everyone else seemed to enjoy it, so she guessed the warmup group had done their job.

Then came the "Dazzlings." Again, Maud didn't think much of the music. Not nearly enough percussion for her tastes. However, while the performance didn't catch her attention, how it was being performed did.

There weren't three singers on stage. There were six, or perhaps three with two voices each. The jewels on their necklaces were harmonizing with the singers, resulting in chords only Maud could hear. She could feel the ground tremble beneath her. There was something wrong here, but she couldn't think of what. It definitely wasn't the wings and ears. Pinkie and her friends had made it clear that that just kind of happened. Maud had never seen it firsthand, so she couldn't say whether the "dark chrysalis" effect was normal.

Then came the Rainbooms' rebuttal… from a hill some distance from the auditorium. Huh. Maud supposed they were taking the "battle" part of the event a bit more literally than she'd expected.

The Dazzlings' rejoinder gave her pause. Fish-tailed horse monsters were definitely not just friendly—if magical—competition. Maud's fists clenched with a final low guitar chord. These were the girls that the stone feared, and they'd briefly clouded her own mind. Worse, they had hurt Pinkie.

As if in rebuttal, the sound of drums came from the hill. Maud relaxed. Every mineral grain in the soil was resonating with this new song. The earth itself was rejoicing, and soon, so was the crowd.

Given that lead-up, when the enormous horse formed from coherent light descended from the heavens, Maud really wasn't that surprised.

Once it smote the Dazzlings—and Maud knew with a poet's certainty that "smite" was the only appropriate way to describe its actions—she started working her way towards the stage. The trio fled, and the crowd was still distracted. This was her chance.

The fragments of the jewels sounded like nothing she'd ever encountered. There were harmonics there that didn't seem possible, horrified screams in the key of pure agony.

Maud stared down at them and mustered as much authority as she could. In the wake of the giant light horse, it came a little easier. Her ears itched a little, and she spoke a single word. "Quiet."

The crystals didn't fall silent, but they did at least go from wailing to whimpering. Maud nodded and gathered them into her hands. Then she squeezed.

The fragments glowed with the color of fresh blood and gave an unearthly cry, their voices full of horror and confusion and morbid fascination. Sweat trickled down Maud's face. Her mind ached as she fumbled with a power she'd never even thought she had, much less had used. But, after seconds that felt like years, it was done.

The outside of the mass in her hands was dull, almost gray, but cracks in the irregular lump showed the ruby interior. The stone's voice was still confused, unsure whether it was one or three or many.

Maud smiled, just a little. She'd find a much better use for this treasure. Or, at the very least, better music.

Author's Note:

One of the first rainbow rocks in Magic, and one that works off of the opponent's magic no less. :raritywink:
My first thought was an excerpt from Star Swirl's journal, but given Maud's cameo, this seemed like a much better story.

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