• Published 31st Dec 2014
  • 1,917 Views, 33 Comments

Ruminating - Hakuno



The sirens' lives change completely after their defeat. But is this change good or bad? And will it drive them apart?

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1. On the aftermath of our failures

Chapter 1. On the aftermath of our failures

Empty.

If Adagio had to use a word to describe how she was feeling, it would be empty.

She could only stare at the Rainbooms, for they were the source of the wave of light that had momentarily blinded her. She felt warmth rising up at frightening speeds within her body, and a downpour of emotions weighed her down as she lost control of her power. She looked up again right after she recovered her vision. There, at the other side of the crowd, the Rainbooms were singing. Why are they still singing? She thought as one of them, whom she recognized as Sunset Shimmer, started to levitate and glow.

She heard her own voice lowering down to nothingness as the oppressive feeling of burning ants closed her throat and died upon the base of her tongue. Every time her lungs managed to get some air, she felt as if her chest was being ripped off and all the muscles in her body screamed in pain as the heat intensified.

A crescendo of voices reached her ears, and Adagio knew that it was the end of the song. She felt a small glimpse of hope. Had she - no - had they been spared? A smile tried to make its way onto her face, but as she looked up, her face turned into an expression of pure horror. An ethereal alicorn made of pure Equestrian magic and the size of a mountain was looking down directly at her eyes. His gaze was unreadable, but emanated so much power that Adagio thought she was staring at the sun. And in that moment, she realized what was about to happen.

Wait! I surrender!

But the words never reached her mouth, and in an instant, her world stopped. She could only see light around her; rays of every color imaginable surrounded her as she levitated in an endless space of nothingness. But it only lasted a second, and then the torture began.

She felt her whole body being crushed in on itself, and every single muscle and bone torn apart as her blood boiled in her veins, burning them from the inside out. It was as if the boiler of a steam train had fallen upon her, and the flames were consuming her from above the weight. She tried to scream, she wanted to scream out the agony she was experiencing, but her voice betrayed her, and she just could only mouth a long, silent gasp.

Her mind started to replay her whole life, but she could only see the bad things she had done. She was forced to watch all the unspeakable atrocities she did searching heed. Thousands of years passed through her mind in the blink of an eye, and just as she finally reached the past few days, she started to feel a pressure in her neck. She couldn't move to see, but then again, she didn't want to. She could feel her necklace being overpowered and obliterated with so much power that it felt like a hammer crushing a piece of porcelain.

And just like that, everything faded away; the pain, the memories, the magic, everything.

Adagio fell. She didn't know how long or how much, but she fell, and she met the ground with a loud thud. Her body shivered as a cold breeze met her, and she sighed heavily, trying to calm herself. She opened her eyes, and her heart stopped for a moment at what she saw.

There, on the ground, was her red gemstone. Shattered.

No… This can't be happening…

She took it with quivering hands and held it to her chest. Through her peripheral vision, she spotted Aria and Sonata, who seemed to be in the same predicament. They glanced at each other for a brief moment, then nodded in understanding. Their necklaces, the very core of their power, were broken, but they were still alive; they were still breathing and their hearts were still beating, so maybe, just maybe, there was at least a little bit of magic left in them.

And so they sang. It was the last song they used against the Rainbooms, the song that had almost given them the victory. But something was wrong. The lyrics were the same, the intonation, the rhythm, everything was the same, but it just didn't sound right. They looked at each other, only to get confused gazes in return.

They looked at the crowd just in time for the students to start throwing things at them and booing. Adagio immediately stopped singing and turned to her left, noticing that Sonata had done exactly the same, she only guessed that Aria was right behind her. And so they ran away as fast as they could.

~~~~~~~~

"What is going on?" Sonata asked no one in particular, her voice trembling between pants of tiredness.

They had ran nonstop for two miles under the cold embrace of the night. The air proved to be mercilessly chilly, even on spring. Their lungs and throats burned from the physical effort, and Sonata specifically, being the weakest of the three, felt a headache building at the sides of her head.

Adagio looked up, meeting a three-story high house of dark blue bricks and white windows. The front yard glowed with a shade of blue under the moonlight, and the high bushes and crimson flowers gave it an eerie look. Adagio walked towards the front porch with her back arched to the front and her head hanging idly, and her arms fell freely at her sides while her chest moved heavily from the lack of air.

Aria stepped forward, with the remaining pain and growing tiredness slowing down her movements. "What do we do now, Adagio?!" She demanded, but her voice sounded more like a panicked whimper. But Adagio didn't seem to hear her, and just kept walking to the front door, looking like a lifeless puppet. "Adagio!" Aria forced her feet to drag her in front of Adagio, pushing her from the shoulder and intercepting her path. "Adagio! Don't ignore me, damn it!"

There was a moment of silence as Adagio slowly looked up. She gazed into Aria's eyes, and could feel the pain, the fear and the confusion that lingered in her mind and body, and she realized that she still felt them in herself. The corners of her mouth shivered and tears formed in her eyes as her breath became irregular once again.

Aria's eyes widened in surprise, unable to comprehend what was going on. And before she could even ask, Adagio pulled her in a tight embrace. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry." She repeated for a full minute, and each time, her voice lowered more and more until it turned into a whisper. And just as her voice became inaudible, her knees felt weak, and she fell to the ground, supporting her body with both hands.

Seeing that Aria was frozen in confusion, Sonata quickly reached Adagio's side, kneeling beside her and pulling her into a hug.

And the three girls stood there for the longest time, unmoving, as if time had stopped. Adagio and Sonata were fully crying, while Aria was choking back her tears, only to make it sound like someone was tearing away her breath. Minutes turned into hours as the weight of the day's events finally sank in their minds. But they didn't exchange a word, they knew each other well enough to know that any question had to wait until the next day. The only thing they needed to know at the moment was that they were still together, and only each other's company would keep them from breaking down.

It felt like the whole world imploded within Adagio's stomach, contracting her in ways she knew her body shouldn't be able to. A turmoil of colors of every hue blinded her and she went momentarily deaf. But before she could even think about what was going on, she fell, and it felt as if she had been thrown from a cliff. She screamed, but it only lasted a second before she landed with a loud thud.

Her body felt weird, and it sure wasn't because of the pain of her broken nose, though even that felt off. She opened her eyes and looked around. Giant pines covered in white layers of snow surrounded her. She blinked. Moments ago she had been in a city. Had Starswirl teleported her to the other side of the world?

The sound of small branches being crushed and a growl of pain sent a shiver through her body, and she could feel a smile forming in her face. At least she wasn't alone. She tried to stand up, but her tail didn't move as expected, and her hooves felt soft and squishy beneath her. She stumbled to the ground, meeting it with her face again. She groaned and tried to rub her nose with her foreleg, but she stopped when she saw a hand instead.

She screamed and threw back her body, hitting a pine with her back. Her heart stopped for a moment when she looked down, and then an even louder scream left her mouth. Her tail had disappeared, and instead she had two hind legs.

"Adagio! Adagio!" Sonata called frantically and her voice came closer to her.

Adagio instinctively pressed herself even more against the pine as the tall grass in front of her started to move. After three agonizing seconds, a… something appeared, crawling its way out of the grass. The thing looked at Adagio with confusion, fear and then concern. "Adagio?" It asked.

It sounded like Sonata. Adagio leaned a little forward to take a better look. Blue scales… No, they weren't scales. Fur? No, it didn't look furry either. Skin then. Yes, pale blue skin with a brown torso, pink eyes and… a mane? Yes, instead of fins, she had a light blue mane with dark blue tufts. It was Sonata, although as an animal she had never seen in her life, but Adagio could somehow tell that this creature was Sonata.

"S-Sonata? Is that really you?" Adagio asked cautiously.

Sonata's face lit up with a big smile. "It is you!" She said and began crawling towards Adagio, using only her arms to drag herself across the ground. "I'm so happy! I thought I was alone!" She said with tears forming in the corners of her eyes. Her arms were covered in dirt and stained with blood, but she didn't seem to care as she kept crawling until she got sufficiently near Adagio, managing to pull herself up to give her a hug.

Adagio complied, embracing Sonata and taking this opportunity to let her body relax a little. But it didn't last too long, as she pushed Sonata away and looked her right in the eyes. "Sonata, we must find Aria."

"But I can barely move!" Sonata whined. "I don't know how hind legs work!"

"Just think about it as two tails." A voice said, and both girls turned their heads. There, hanging desperately from the trunk of a pine, was Aria, with her legs bent in seemingly awkward positions, but she was standing.

"Aria!" Sonata yelled with joy, and tried to reach her to pull her into a hug, but she only fell to the ground again.

Adagio felt relieved as a small smile appeared on her face. She then turned around and used the trunk she had been resting on to help her stand up. It was a really weird sensation, but if she did as Aria suggested and imagined herself having two tails, she could actually start to move them. And before she knew it, she was fully standing, though she had to use the trunk as support. "Ok…" She said with a sigh. "Now that we're together, we need a plan."

"A plan?" Aria asked with an incredulous expression. "By the looks of it, Starswirl sent us to an alternate world! What can we possibly do now, Adagio?!"

"Think!" Adagio yelled, looking at Sonata, who was slowly standing up with the help of a nearby trunk. "If Starswirl really did send us to an alternate world, then it means there must be a way to return." She sighed, and her breath came out shivery. "But first, we need to get a shelter." Her stomach growled, and she absentmindedly put a hand on it, noticing a rough texture against it. "And food."

Aria was about to complain again, but Sonata interrupted her with a loud and endless scream. "BEAR!" She yelled and fell backwards, landing on a bush. Aria and Adagio turned to what Sonata tried to point out. There, barely a yard away, was what seemed like a bear, but looking a little closer, that fear vanished.

It was an animal like them, but its mane was shorter and gray, and it had fur on its face and the rest of its body. Its skin was a light shade of brown that almost combined with its torso. Aria sighed and frowned at Sonata. "It's not a bear, idiot!" She yelled.

"What is this that I see?" A masculine voice came from the animal. Adagio could see his green eyes tiredly widening. "Are ye lasses alright?"

"No!" Sonata whined. "My everything hurts!"

Adagio sighed as her mind quickly made up a plan. "I'm sorry, but we're lost. We're tired and hungry and freezing; we can't even walk properly because of that." She lied, analyzing his reaction, and fortunately, he not only seemed to buy it, but his eyes revealed a compassionate gaze. "If it is within your heart to help me and my sisters, we would greatly appreciate it."

The man stepped further. "Of course! My cottage isn't far from here. Ah, the name's Wooden Flex." He said, offering a hand to Adagio.

She took his hand and tentatively stepped away from the trunk, slowly finding her own balance. When she was sure she wouldn't fall, she smiled at the man. "Thank you. My name is Adagio, and these are my sisters: Aria and Sonata." She said, pointing at each of them. Aria was clumsily making her way to them, while Sonata was still lying on the bush.

Wooden nodded and walked towards Sonata. "Ye need a hand?" He said, showing her his hand.

Sonata looked at him, first with fear, but her expression slowly turned into a small smile. "Uhm, can you carry me?"

"Walk by yourself, Sonata!" Aria yelled.

"It's no problem." Wooden said and softly lifted Sonata from the ground. "Ye said yer tired and hungry. I can't ignore lasses in plight." And with that, he turned around and started to walk away. "Just follow me."

Aria and Adagio nodded. Fortunately for them, the trees were really close from each other, so they could support themselves on them, and after a couple of minutes of using the man as reference, they were finally able to walk properly.

As per Sonata's request, Wooden was happily telling her about all the kinds of trees he knew about, and the wood he could obtain from them and the things he could make from that wood. Since he was being really noisy, Aria decided that it was the best moment to approach Adagio. "So… Sisters?" She asked, making sure that Wooden didn't hear her.

Adagio huffed. "It's the first thing that occurred to me."

"Why don't we sing, Adagio?" Aria asked with a frown. "We could just get him to tell us everything we need and-"

"Shut up." Adagio said. "I don't even know if we still have magic." Aria's eyes widened in horror at that, and Adagio herself felt her stomach twisting at the thought. "So, instead of risking, I've made a plan." She turned to Aria and smiled deviously. "We'll sing as a reward for helping us. Thus, even in the worst scenario, we won't risk to let them know what we really are."

Aria grimaced. "I hope we still have magic."

"Me too."

They went silent after that, just listening to Wooden rambling about his job as a lumberjack and carpenter. Fortunately, his cottage wasn't too far away. It was a small house made of dry trunks, and the windows were made of wooden planks. And just at the thought of finally getting a shelter, Adagio could feel the weariness of her body, and her legs started to shiver more of tiredness than of coldness.

Wooden Flex opened the door with his shoulder and entered. "I'm home!" He yelled and proceeded to take Sonata to a couch, where she thanked him softly, falling asleep immediately. Adagio and Aria entered the house shortly after, already feeling better thanks to the comfy and warm interior.

Another one of the strange animals came into view. This one was shorter than Wooden, with longer hair of the same color. Adagio narrowed her eyes. For some reason, it looked like a female. She sighed, deciding to learn to differentiate them later. The woman looked at them with a confused gaze. "Who are they?"

Wooden smiled at her. "I found them lasses in the middle of the forest. They just need warm food and beds."

"We are planning to repay your hospitality, ma'am." Adagio said.

The woman smiled at her. "Well, aren't ye a classy lass. Of course ye can stay. The name's Sweet Spoon."

"Thank you, ma'am. I'm Adagio, and these are Aria and Sonata."

Sweet Spoon sat on an armchair and motioned the girls to do the same while Wooden Flex disappeared upstairs. "Before I serve food, I'd like to know more about ye."

Aria inhaled sharply, and Adagio decided to speak before Aria said something regrettable. "We are traveling minstrels…" She said, watching through the corner of her eye the smile growing in Aria's face. "We got lost in the woods trying to get to the next town."

"Oh, how wonderful!" Sweet Spoon declared. "Would ye mind reciting a poem of ye travels?"

Adagio frowned slightly. "We'd love to, but we're really hungry…"

Sweet Spoon stood up immediately. "Well, let's fix that!" And with that, she disappeared to what Adagio assumed was the kitchen.

Aria took the opportunity to speak to Adagio. "Why don't we sing already?"

Adagio gave her an annoyed look. "Food first, Aria. Besides, we need both of them to listen." She crossed her arms. "I don't know if we have enough energy, even if we can use magic. We better go for the safe path."

"So… A lull spell?"

Adagio nodded. "Yes. That should cover any possible failure." She then turned around and moved Sonata from the shoulder. "Wake up, bird brain."

Sonata moaned and looked at Adagio. "Is it food time already?"

"For once, yes." Adagio replied. "We'll eat. And then use a lull spell, so prepare your voice."

Sonata nodded and sat up just as Sweet Spoon returned with five wooden bowls stacked upon each other, using a hand to carry two and the other to carry three. "I must apologize. We only have oats left. But worry not, for tomorrow we'll go buy groceries." She said as she passed a bowl to each girl, just as Wooden Flex returned.

"Oh! I love oats!" Sonata exclaimed, almost burying her face on her bowl and eating like a wild animal.

Adagio turned to Sweet Spoon and Wooden Flex with an apologetic smile. "You'll have to excuse her, she's an idiot."

Wooden chuckled loudly. "Don't apologize, lass. She reminds me of my own girl! Only blue."

Sweet Spoon let out a soft chuckle as she gave him a bowl. "I must admit, ye certainly are quite beautiful lasses to be minstrels."

Adagio forced a chuckle. "Well, we love to sing." She turned to Aria for support, but she was busy eating her oaths and ignoring the world around her. "And… We love to meet new places."

"That sounds like ye have interesting lives." Wooden said, sitting right next to his spouse. "I bet ye have all sorts of stories to tell."

Sweet Spoon nodded in agreement. "They promised to recite something after supper."

Adagio smiled. "Of course. And I know you'll love it."

After that, they all went silent. Wooden Flex and Sweet Spoon let their guests eat peacefully, and Adagio used the time to plan strategies and ponder her situation. Sonata was the first to finish her food, smiling satisfied and rubbing her stomach. "That was delicious!"

"I am glad ye enjoyed it." Sweet Spoon answered with a proud grin. "If ye don't mind me asking… Where did ye get those beautiful necklaces?"

"Necklaces?" Adagio asked and almost immediately looked down, taking her hand to the hidden object to pull it a little so she could see it. Her eyes widened in surprise, and then joy.

"Our cores!" Aria shouted. "How did I not notice them?!" Even Sonata let out a squeal of happiness.

Wooden Flex tilted his head. "Cores?"

Adagio looked at him with a nervous smile and waved her hand dismissively. "Oh, that's the name of our gems! We… uhh… we thought someone stole them last night!" Wooden nodded in understanding. Adagio felt chills going down her spine. If they had their cores, even in the form of gemstones, then it meant that they did have magic. She smiled deviously. "So, how about we recite something for our hosts?" She said.

Aria and Sonata nodded and closed their eyes. They started to hum an A in complete synchrony, their voices complementing each other beautifully. Adagio stood up and started to walk around the couple, looking intently at them.

Three traveling minstrels, coming from a land far, far away,

Seeking for answers, that's what we are doing here,

Adagio could hear her own voice, and even if she was just talking, she could feel the harmonic notes coming from her mouth. She tenderly and slowly caressed their heads with her hand, feeling their bodies relaxing. She smiled, rounding Sweet Spoon and kneeling, lifting her hand and caressing the palm with a finger. Sweet Spoon narrowed her eyes while producing a silly smile.

We would greatly appreciate it if you told us everything you know,

And maybe provide with food and room for three.

Adagio's smiled grew a little more, and she stood up, only to position herself in front of Wooden Flex and looking directly at his eyes. Aria and Sonata kept humming lowly, their voices echoing through the house with ease. Adagio showed her teeth in a smug expression, slowly stroking her index finger across his chest.

You will do that much for us, because you know it's the right thing to do,

And you will feel relaxed, satisfied and free.

Wooden and Sweet Spoon nodded at the same time, both with absorbed gazes and silly grins.

Just then, Aria and Sonata stopped humming, and the environment became silent, even more than before, as if it was some sort of aftereffect of the spell. Adagio then felt her chest become heavy and her stomach become hollow. Sweat started to form on her forehead and a little migraine tried to make its way up from the base of her skull.

She inhaled sharply and sighed heavily, and then looked at the couple. She smiled relieved, seeing how they were still under the spell. "Now, I'm pretty sure you like to tell stories." The couple only nodded. "Well, how about you tell us the story of your world?"

"Just, what are you?" Sonata asked. Adagio frowned and was about to snap at her, but Sweet Spoon interrupted her.

"Humans." She said in a whisper.

Adagio only scowled at Sonata, but decided to ignore her for the time being. "If you don't mind… Please tell us everything about you humans…"

Long hours passed while both Sweet Spoon and Wooden Flex introduced the sirens to the human world. They told them everything they knew. They told them about the town they lived in, about the kingdom, about other kingdoms. They didn't leave anything out, completely willing to comply with their request.

When Adagio was satisfied with the information, she leaned back and smiled. "Thank you very much, you've been very helpful. Now, I believe you are very tired. Why don't you both go to bed? I'm pretty sure tomorrow you'll wake up full of energy, and having forgotten this little talk."

The couple nodded and obliged. They walked slowly, feeling really tired, just as Adagio had 'pointed out'. When they were out of sight, Adagio stood up with a small frown and turned to her fellow sirens.

"Now what?" Aria asked. "They didn't tell us how to return to Equestria."

"Yeah… And I feel… odd." Sonata admitted. "Like I'm hungry, but not really…"

Adagio locked her eyes upon Sonata and her frown deepened. "Sonata." She said softly.

"Yeah?"

Adagio moved quickly, and she slapped Sonata with all her might, sending the girl to the floor with a loud thud. Aria flinched and made a little jump backwards as her eyes widened in surprise. Sonata moaned in pain as she tried to lift her upper body. "Why was that?" She cried as her eyes met Adagio's enraged stare.

Adagio leaned down and grabbed Sonata from her robe -now that she knew its name- and pulled her closer. "Listen to me, and listen carefully." She hissed in a low and dangerous tone. "Next time you speak out of turn before, during or after a lull spell, I will personally shatter your core. Understood?" Sonata gaped for a moment and then nodded slowly.

Adagio dropped her and turned to Aria, but she spoke to both girls. "We can still do magic, but our energy is very low, and I have the feeling that we can't get too much." She circled Aria and turned around, so she could face both girls. "We'll have to settle for lull spells for the time being until we obtain more energy. And as you know, lull spells are weak and easy to fail." Her eyes met Sonata's, and she injected her next words with a warning venom that made the girl shiver in fear. "And we don't want anyone to break our spells because we failed to keep them concentrated, now do we?"

Sonata quickly shook her head, and Aria only remained silent. "Good," Adagio said, "now, we'll get a good night's rest. Tomorrow we'll head to the town square. I have a plan."

Adagio slowly opened her eyes, meeting the all too familiar sight of white ceiling. She shifted uncomfortably beneath the yellowish-white sheets, feeling her body heavy and sore. She wanted to stand up, but her mind started to spin around wildly, and she easily gave up.

She remembered that last night, after her little breakdown, the three of them entered the house and, without saying a single word, each went to their own room. Adagio had been so tired that she even shrugged off the fact that she was still wearing the attire she had used at the battle, and she just tucked herself in and quickly drifted off to sleep.

A throbbing pain at the base of her throat made her grit her teeth. She thoughtlessly took a hand to grab her core, only to find nothing. The memory of the red gemstone being shattered in her hands replayed in her mind, and it made her heart ache as a migraine started to press at the sides of her head.

Tears quickly formed in her eyes and made their way through her cheeks, wetting the pillow below. She sobbed, feeling empty inside, as if someone had taken one of her organs out of her. She felt hollow, as if she couldn't remember her own face, or the face of her fellow sirens. And she felt dull, as if the world had lost all of its colors.

Her sobs quickly turned into moans, and almost immediately, she found herself screaming. She screamed because she had lost her core; she had lost her magic; she had lost a part of herself; she had lost her last hope to return home; she had lost her voice.

Her screams increased as the pain that was bottled inside her forced its way out. It felt like someone was flaying her alive, only instead of skin, it was her soul being ripped off. She didn't care if the girls saw her. She couldn't care less anymore. The pain was too great for her to bear, too great to try hiding it. She screamed until she couldn't scream anymore, until she lost her voice.

Not that she cared anymore. For she had lost her only reason to live.

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