• Published 20th Dec 2014
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Tears of a Foal - Rocinante



In the winter snow, a lost foal cries.

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Song of Snow.

“We found him in the streets, your Majesty.”

Celestia walked towards the chariot, snow crunching beneath her hooves with every step.

Looking down at the unicorn foal curled up in the back of the chariot, Celestia’s heart ached. He couldn’t be more than four. The foal should be bouncing and fearless, but instead he was catatonic with fear.

“Has he said anything? Are there any missing foal reports?”

The guard shook his head. “Only screaming and gibberish. There are no reports out, but we’re already combing the city for anypony looking for a foal.”

Sharing a sad look with the stallion, Celestia reached out a hoof to stroke the foal’s mane. He shrieked before she could touch him, curling up into an even tighter ball of quivering fear. Celestia’s heart cracked. ‘The poor foal…’

The guard sighed. “He’s reacted like that to everypony. You’d have thought we were trying to kill him when we picked him up to put him in the chariot.”

Celestia lowered herself til she was all but on her belly. Laying her chin on the chariot’s floor, she held motionless for a long while. Her stillness brought an unnatural silence to the courtyard, broken only by the whimpers of the foal.

Something stirred within her: a song of orchards and summer days. It was already old when she was a foal. She had loved listening to that one stallion sing it. ‘What was his name?’ she asked herself, caught up in the old memory. ‘Meillion, his name was Meillion.

She hummed the tune for a moment, before the old words bubbled out of memory and unto her lips. The ancient walls around them took their part in the harmony, giving her voice the depth of eons, while the snow muted the rest of the world.

In the second verse of the song, the little one’s whimpers faded. Tilting his head, he lay motionless, listening to the mare sing until she had finished the song, and let the winter reclaim its silence.

“Can you tell me your name?” Celestia asked after a moment of quiet.

The foal’s ears splayed out in confusion. He ran his tongue across his teeth, then cried out in chirping gibberish. Celestia smiled, grateful for something besides fear, but shook her head. She could not understand the foal. Easing herself back up, she again reached for the foal. This time he winced, but offered no further protest. Picking him up, she placed him between her wings.

“I’ll take him to a guest room. I want this colt’s parents found. Now.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” echoed a dozen guards, each leaving the courtyard without further instruction.

Celestia hummed a soft tune to the foal on her back. With gentle steps, she entered the castle and made her way to one of the many guest rooms.

The foal nestled between the pillows the moment she placed him on the bed. She smiled, and ran a hoof down his mane as he settled in. This time pleased that he seemed to calm at her touch.

“I will check in on you later. I have to go for now though,” she told him. The day was yet young, and she had much to do. Turning to leave, the little one whimpered as she opened the door. Again her heart cracked.

“Shhh… It’s okay. I’m not going to be far.” The foal’s desperate eyes made it hard to close the door behind her.

“Keep an ear on him,” She told the guard outside the room. “Send for me if he gets too frightened, and show him to the bathroom if he needs. When the parents show up, they are not to leave until I have spoken with them.”

With a salute, the guard took his post; keeping his eyes forward, but his ears towards the door. Green Bean hated door duty. It was dull, and he did not have the talent of being able to sit still for hours on end like the full-time guards did. But that was the way of things for the winter volunteer guard, they put you where they needed you. At least he was inside. As the hours passed, the guard let his mind wander off as he stood watch by the door, occasionally pacing the length of the hall to stretch.

His legs gone numb again, Green Bean rose to pace his allowed distance from the door. Looking down the hallway, he frowned when he realized the light from the window had crawled halfway across the floor. He had expected the parents to show up by now. ‘He’s been awfully quiet,’ Green Bean thought. Easing the door open, he peered into the room. Wedged between two pillows, the foal was asleep, but shivering. With soft steps, Green Bean moved through the room. Taking a quilt off its rack, he placed it over the colt as gently as his hooves would allow.

Smiling at not having woken the foal, Green Bean took a step back to watch the colt sleep for a moment. Something subtle moved at the edge of his vision. “Shh…” a voice whispered before he could turn to face it.

“No formalities please. Let us not wake the little one,” Luna said, sitting down beside him.

Green Bean sat rigid in place next to Luna as she watched the sleeping foal, but the cool tranquility of the room soon soothed his anxiety.

“His dreams are troubled, but his mind will not let me in. Not without force that would do more harm than good. An impressive show of willpower, even before considering his age.” Luna whispered.

Shifting her weight, Luna moved her head closer to the guard. “Do you have any foals?”

“Three. A colt still nursing, and twin fillies about his age.”

Luna chuckled. “You have let them outnumber you. Long ago, I was considered the motherly one, and my sister the disciplinarian.”

Green Bean held silent, ears and eyes locked onto the princess. He could feel the depth of memory she was falling into, and her sad eyes threatened to drag him with her.

Luna’s melancholy shattered as a smirk sprang up onto her lips. “He is awake, listening to us.”

Looking to the colt, he saw only a motionless foal with closed eyes. “He’s not deaf, but I don’t think he can understand Equestrian. Do you think, maybe he’s disabled?”

“No, his mind is healthy. I felt enough of his dreams to know that. I fear his plight may have been inflicted upon him by neglect or malice.”

“How… How could anypony do that?” Silence fell over the room. Green Bean sat by his princess, and watched the foal.

“He seems intent on waiting for us to leave,” Luna said, rising to all fours.

Green Bean stood to escort Luna out of the room, but paused. “He hasn’t had food or water since we found him. I’m afraid he’s too scared to ask. May I go fetch something to leave by the bed?”

Luna looked back to the colt with a frown. “Yes, please do. I will stay here until you return. Then we shall leave the little one to his privacy.”

In surprisingly little time, the guard had returned with a lunch tray balanced on his back. She eyed the tray as he passed her: a neatly sliced apple, a bowl of oats, some salty crackers, a salad of mint and watercress, and a glass of ice water with citrus wedges floating in it. “You make for a good sick nurse to your foals.”

A sheepish grin crept over the guard as he laid the tray on the nightstand. “Lily says I spoil them.”

“I suspect she’s right.” Luna held the door open for them to leave, giving Green Bean a devil’s smile as he retook his post in the hall.

Author's Note:

I shared this a while back, but I wanted to add it to the bottom of the chapter. This is the song I imagine Celestia singing.