• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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Province

It was barely half a day before Rainbow Dash stumbled upon another village. She was so startled that she nearly plunged in mid-flight. Gazing down, she saw a tiny farming community surrounded by wheat and corn fields. There were wagons being drawn through the streets and several active ponies filing from one building to another. Even from high up, the air resonated with the sounds of civilization.

Rainbow hadn't exactly expected to see another dwelling so soon. At the speed at which she was going, it would take an entire day to fly from Ponyville to the nearest village back home in Equestria. The quaint and simple architecture of the towns she was now passing over was obviously misleading. Emeraldine had to have been a far more densely populated province.

Rainbow Dash pressed eastward. As she did so, the land gradually sloped lower and lower. The further she drew away from the mountaints to the west, the closer to sea level the landscape descended. The air became hotter and more humid. There was still a delightful crispness to the atmosphere, but as night fell at the end of the first day of flight, Rainbow Dash's teeth hardly felt like chattering. She spent the evening camped out beneath a large stone bridge spanning a creek, warming herself to a fire and several Ridgeside samples of buttered bread.

Morning came, and Rainbow Dash flew at a lower altitude for the duration of the day. She skimmed over one of several cobblestone paths that had been drawn across the tranquil landscape. At random intervals, clumps of forests and woodland thickets sprouted from the earth, giving the otherwise spotless fields of Emeraldine unpredictable beauty. Rainbow Dash found herself looking a little too much at the land and not enough at the east horizon. Before she knew it, she had inadvertently followed the path instead of her own compass, and so she had to veer to the left to reacquaint herself with her epic journey.

There were more towns blurring beneath her in her flight. Several wandering merchants and local ponies turned to gaze at Rainbow Dash streaking by, their jaws dropped in wonder. As Rainbow Dash skimmed past a schoolyard, several fillies and colts galloped beneath her in a grassy field, waving and cheering. She smiled and gave them a salute before performing several dazzling flips and rolls. Then, in a blink, she was soaring her way beyond the sound of their gasping breaths.

Rainbow Dash barely had time to giggle in delight. Soon she was soaring over townships, dozens of them, growing thicker and thicker as the day went on. The bells of a large clock tower rang beneath her as she flew past the central courtyard of a lakeside village. Several miles further along, she darted her way past the rotating paddles of numerous windmills erected along the lengths of a winding river. She paused briefly as she hovered what appeared to be a trading fair of sorts. Several ponies had raised tents in the center of a field, advertising wares from across the landscape. The closer Rainbow Dash got to gaze at the items for sale, the more attention she summoned, so that the entire gathering was suddenly directing their gasps and murmurs towards her. With a shrug and a chuckle, she darted off in time to escape the fall of night. She slept in the branches of a large oak tree besides a thick merchant highway, her dreams occasionally interrupted by the sounds of creaking wagon wheels.

When she woke up, those sounds had quadrupled. She gathered her things and lifted out of the forest. Immediately, she spotted a long, paved road leading due east. It was thickly occupied by row after row of wagons and carts, each chock-full of food, nick-nacks, minerals, and other items of major worth. A few travellers were plodding their way west, but the thick of traffic was heading eastward at a brisk pace. Rainbow Dash followed the road at first through sheer curiosity. But then she hung low enough to spot a sign. It read: “Verdestone.”

“Well, alright.” She smiled and shot ahead of the trotting droves of mercantile pilgrims.

Along the way, several tiny clusters of buildings would appear alongside the road, fitted with saloons and inns and trading hovels for those crossing large distances. Then, as the Emeraldine landscape rose slightly, more and more roads would conjoin with the highway like tributaries emptying into a grand river. The paved path tripled in size, and soon there were so many trading posts along the path that they congealed into a grand urban sprawl. The buildings grew progressively complex, from wood foundations to masonry to metal-reinforcements. Then, as Rainbow Dash flew over even thicker distritcts, she spotted ancient architecture of weathered stone and granite.

She realized that she must have chanced upon one of the oldest establishments in the province. For most of the day, her eyes had been locked on the urbanscape below her flight. She was starting to wonder just how large and wide this city was. So, she looked up, and was shocked to see a giant mountain stretching up out of the middle of the urban sprawl. She couldn't imagine how an immense cone of earth could possibly have formed naturally. And then—upon seeing the pristine polish of the spire's granite surfaces—she realized that it wasn't a mountain at all.

“Holy smokes,” she murmured as she hovered to a numb stop in midair. “Verdestone.”

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