• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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As Rainbow Dash pressed eastward, the ruins of Silvadel opened before her. For the most part, it was almost as barren an experience as the desert west of the gate. The landscape was dry, arid, and only sparsely dotted with clusters of grass and vegetation. Any oases that may have dotted the landscape had dried up into riverbeds of cracked earth. Any scarce bits of forest had been reduced to withered stalks of blackened wood.

She found townships, most of which were just as small and just as decrepit as the village immediately inside the gate. White marble buildings and alabaster structures fell in disrepair. Each and every one of them had the same signs of discoloration. A horrible fire had seemingly swept over the entire landscape, evaporating anything that may have once supported life.

The sun was setting, and Rainbow Dash still hadn't found any major cities. As the stars unpeeled from the night's veil overhead, Rainbow Dash touched down and settled in a tiny dwelling nestled within a dry dip of earth that must have once been a lake. Wooden docks lay in tattered clusters beyond a rickety lumber mill. Rainbow Dash trotted her way until she found what must have once been a two story hotel. Clearing debris off from a square patch of concrete, she started a fire. There were many materials at her disposal, and she was able to make a comfortable, warming blaze for once.

By the firelight, she hoofed through the pages of the book she had discovered. She read about a culture that so far had lent her only fossils. The Silvadelians were ponies who favored the structure of the family above all else. Marriage was something divine, and the equines were strictly monogamous. Age was seen as a thing of beauty. Birthday celebrations were grander occasions for the elderly than they were for the youth, and retirement was expected for all citizens at age fifty-five. The government, it would seem, functioned by an oligarchy that made the rules for all of society. Despite it's anti-democratic nature, the ponies of Silvadel gladly submitted to the system, and everything was peaceful.

Rainbow Dash slept, staring at the patch of starlight shimmering through the porous ceiling of the hotel. She imagined a perfect society with perfect rules with a perfect system, and how it had to have taken a perfect cataclysm to level it all to the ground.

Morning came. Rainbow Dash spoke with Cold Canter and took off towards the rising sun. As she did so, she spotted several shadows blocking the light. Her heart skipped a beat, for fear that she was spotting the limbs of some horribly large creature. However, the giant shapes weren't moving a single inch, even as she soared towards them at record-breaking speeds.

She slowed down as she passed by numerous mind-numbing sights. In the middle of a barren plain of dead grass and brown earth, gigantic stone structures emerged from the ground. Impossibly large statues swam and weaved around each other, forming what resembled colossal trees of gnarled branches. Rainbow Dash was flabbergasted, at a loss to imagine who or what would have had the strength, knowledge, or time to carve such immense works of art.

And it wasn't just a few of them. As she finished circling the four-hundred foot tall spectacle of one, she blurred eastward again to discover even more. There were giant statues of stone representing flora, briar patches, flower beds, shrubbery, and plant shapes she wasn't even equipped with knowing. Every piece of art was impressionistic in design, and incomprehensibly complex. She couldn't imagine any pony building a single one of these things a regular scale, and yet here she was discovering dozens of them half the size of mountains, with large and geometrically perfect blocks of concrete serving as their massive base.

Time had done its harm to the structures, but their beauty remained intact. Aside from a few spare “branches” or “flanks” of marble, the carvings were still in one piece. Decay and mildew showed the grooves in which the several gigantic chunks of rock had been pieced together, and vines and clusters of vegetation hung off the topmost spindles of the statues. There were no buildings or villages or any hints of civilization clustered around the gigantic bases of the artpieces. The purpose of the gargantuan carvings—it would seem—was just to be resting out there in the middle of nowhere, to be seen by nopony... or perhaps by one.

Rainbow Dash tried describing the mammoth objects to Cold Canter. The elder stallion brought Desert Light within speaking distance of his sound stone to bear witness to Rainbow's detail. Desert Light was utterly disbelieving. Cold Canter reflected in silence.

Eventually, Rainbow Dash forced herself to fly east from the structures, only to stop in midair. To her shock, it was already nighttime. It took her a few minutes of careful contemplation to realize that such a loss of time was impossible. Gazing up, up, up—she realized that the entire eastern hemisphere beyond the plain of statues was a perpertual dark gray. The reason for this was a gigantic, ever-pervasive cloud of smoke that was climbing high above the troposphere. Rainbow Dash had barely noticed it from the onset of night the evening before. What was more, the further she flew east, the darker the entire sky appeared around her. It occurred to the pegasus that some heavy smog was filling the air, and the more she pierced it the less light she had at her disposal. However, it never became perfectly pitch black. If anything, the graveyard of Silvadel resembled a perpetual thunderstorming waiting to happen. She even thought she heard a rumbling in the distance.

Upon hearing her latest descriptions Cold Canter insisted that she bend south and attempt to find a way around the grand plume. She kept flying regardless, not so much in an attempt to fluster him, but because she was drawn to what was now stretching before her.

She had found another wall. It was much smaller and far less pompous than the huge barricade she had encountered upon arriving the outer limits of Silvadel. Here, the barrier was thin, porous, akin to a gigantic series of arches joining a continuous aqueduct around what must have been the central core of the civilization. She guessed this, because the villages had appeared again, only they had all congealed together to form a gigantic urban sprawl.

It was all ruined. Chunks of large granite buildings lay where they had fallen catastrophically over the tinier buildings and residential dwellings beneath them. In what must have once been geometric perfection, several adjoining aqueducts wove in from the inner wall. They crumbled and collapsed in several places, gathering dead brown grass and weeds. The ground had a bone gray haze to it. Curious, Rainbow Dash settled down and walked in a dead street of a dead district. The air was eerily quiet; even the wind had no noise to it. As she trotted forward, gazing up at the overcast sky, she became aware of things settling all around her.

She scraped her hooves to a stop, blinking. Raising her goggles, she squinted and saw several flakes of white ash falling like thin snow. Raising a hoof, she allowed a speck to land on her forelimb. She rubbed against her other leg and watched as the powdery sediment dissolved into nothingness.

The streets, sidewalks, and alleyways surrounding here were covered with the dust. From the piles of it forming in the remote edges of delapidated buildings, she imagined that the snowy material had been falling for countless years.

She trotted, galloped, and flew up into the air. She didn't have to glide for long until she noticed a disturbing pattern all around her. The ground was beginning to slope down, as if something deep below the surface of the earth had tugged at the entire surface of the world.

For an hour she flew, watching as the land gradually sank below. Then, out of nowhere, there was a gigantic cliff, as if an enormous sinkhole had consumed the very heart of Silvadel. Buildings teetered off the edges of steep drops, their contents forever crumbling into the depths and making ghostly echoes across the sudden canyon. Gazing beyond the broken acqueducts and half-plunged apartments, Rainbow Dash saw a grand valley punctuated by occasional stalks of land that somehow had survived some horrible collapse. The grayness was dimming, and Rainbow Dash guessed that the onset of night was looming above the blackened cloud. Still, she could make out what must have once been the heart of Silvadelian civilization.

Everything had been reduced to a giant pit of rubble. The depression in the earth was like a continent of its own, and stretched for what had to have been two dozen square miles. A brisk wind blew into the horrendously large crater, forcing Rainbow Dash to flap her wings at greater intensity to maintain her balance. Below, the remains of cities were bunched and crunched together like an endlessly spilled jigsaw puzzle. Occasionally, a tall white tower or cathedral would emerge from the ash-bathed surface. Otherwise, everything was crumbled desolation.

The only things that stood out were the gigantic stalks of earth remaining from the depression. Atop these sparse and hauntingly thin plateaus were the barren shells of buildings that were immaculately untouched by the sinking disaster that had evidently consumed the rest of the kingdom. Two mesas in particular remained standing in the centermost apex of the sprawl.

Rainbow Dash blinked. Hovering in place, she reached back to her backpack and pulled out the medallion. She glanced at the image on the back of it, then at the two mesas. One half of the palace had crumbled from the touch of time. The other half remained standing, like a gravestone, its white surface reflecting what meager light could still shimmer across the gray deathscape. As everything fell into darkness, Rainbow Dash settled for an island two miles across from the center, and found a hollowed temple where she could rest, start a fire, and gaze upon the untouched cemeteries of Silvadel.

She suddenly couldn't sleep.

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