• Published 26th Apr 2016
  • 1,375 Views, 14 Comments

Of Fever Dreams and Falling Stars - Ice Star



When Celestia unexpectedly falls sick in the middle of the desert, it's up to a young Luna to somehow obtain medicine for her sister.

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Act Two: Wind That Carries No Voices

The fire still remained silent, as did the buffalo surrounding it.

Once again their Wise One stepped in front of the flames, desperate for a reading. She was undaunted, but not without concern. The flames were not refusing their magic. Instead they were blank, and because of this, were without warmth to all gathering around. Within that golden light, no visions of that which would come, the gods, great spirits, the dead, or the world's magics flowed forth. No colors changed and danced. Stories could not live as they were supposed to, with great voice, honest words, song, and sparks alike. How could they be alive?

She frowned and shook her head after a while. The buffalo were shocked, how could such powerful magic be severed and directed elsewhere? Such deep magic was not distorted through ordinary means.

It meant that their most powerful Sage was blind to the twists and turns of the magic of the world.

It meant that the never-present Sage could be dead, wherever they were, leaving no successor and no means of transporting one. Another difficulty would be alerting the other camps, and even more so, the other tribes.

The Gates themselves would be useless unless one with enough power to open them again showed up.

They would not only require magic beyond that of any buffalo and Sage, but magic beyond that of a pony's as well.

Magic they had not been seen in almost a century.

A lone gust of wind blew a wave of ashes into the silent fire, snuffing it out. Yet the camp itself felt no colder, only much quieter. Such quiet could be dangerous in this new era when even stars did not dare twinkle as the world held its breath.

Only the wind scorned this pattern, chattering away in its mysterious language, although no buffalo spoke the language of the wind.

But perhaps a young filly could, even if she was so far away...

...

Sometimes, the night sky in the forest would look pitch black, and it was even darker when there were no stars out.

Tonight there must have been some stars out, but We could not see them because clouds had hidden the moon somewhere, and the whole sky looked like somepony had poured tar on a dirty mirror, and it is freezing cold and We do not know where We are going, plus our sister is sick and despite it all...

We are not scared.

Our hooves stop moving; We may have been following the same river, sparkling faintly, but all familiar surroundings had vanished leaving Us alone in the endless sand.

We sat down, feeling it shift under Us.

"We are not scared?" We repeated, aloud and grabbed some of the sand in front of Us, since it was all We could see. The sand was soft and smooth as We picked it up, watching as it fell back to the ground.

We felt safe, a little worried, but safe.

We like safe. Safe means home, and We guess We are home.

The castle is home.

The forest is home.

The sand is home, and one day the sky will be home too.

Is the world home?

In no hurry at all We get up, not bothering to brush ourself clean because perhaps even the dirt is home, and walk over to the river. Even though We are left in this dark, We can still see our face in the ripples and the clearness of the water.

Nearby, there are pebbles. We pick one up with glittering magic the same shade as Our eyes, which causes the water to show this as well, and toss the pebble in.

Plop.

We should keep heading west, or at least We think so. It will be easy to retrace Our steps if We just keep heading in one direction. Following the sun and the moon is good. Is west not how this big space-rock-marble spins because of Mommy and Daddy? We should follow that. Yes, that is good. We will find help in the west.

We scoop up another stone and instead of simply tossing it We skip it, counting each time it flies:

One!

Two!

Three!

Four...? No, just three.

We sat at the riverbank, shivering with the occasional gust of wind, and skipping stones until We see the first bit of dawn crawling across the sky. By then We are too tired to continue and Our magic falters as We fall asleep.

...

When We woke up it was sunset, and Our coat was covered in dust, which We had to blink out of Our eyes.

We headed off to the west in silence and watched the world turn dark once again.

Eventually, We found a stick along the riverbank. We tripped over it in the dark because We were too busy looking at the sky. After Our face met the sand, We picked up the stick – which was dry and bleached by the sun, so it gleamed silver in the night.

We immediately declared it Our new friend, and waved it about like a knight does a sword.

Once, We saw Our mother knight a mare. She did not say much but We had known it was important. Tia had us both hide behind a tapestry, except she was being annoying and kept talking through parts of it, even though silence can be just as important as her whispering excitedly to us about coats of arms. In her defense, she was trying to be helpful. Afterwards, Tia would not stop going on about how grand the ceremony was. As for Us? We thought the best part was when Mommy raised the sword and it was caught in a ray of light that passed through a stained glass window, making the sword sparkle all the colors of a rainbow, even if We were the only one who noticed.

We tried to mimic what Mommy did right here, in this grass-less plain, and closed our eyes as We tried really hard to recall everything.

When We opened our eyes, Twiggy no longer seemed like a mere discarded stick, but rather a mighty blade sparkling in the moonlight, huzzah!

We were a lone mercenary travelling the land in search of a miracle cure to bestow upon a damsel in distress! The journey shall be harsh and We will fight many a battle and solve countless riddles. But in the end no exotic location shall go unnoticed; every stone on every mountain will be committed to memory.

We ran off into the distance, our happiness bursting around Us. Luna, the mysterious adventurer and her sword-friend, alone in a land bathed in endless night light.

...

We opened an eye as the strange noise reached through Our dreams. Our vision was still blurry, but We could see the stars in the sky above the rock that We had fallen asleep on.

Well, to most ponies it would have been a rock. We knew better, recognizing it for the mighty caravel it was, ready for its brave captain to steer it across the ocean of sand. We were that sleepy pirate captain with her magnificent sword, resting after a hard night's plundering only to rise once more under the light of the moon to continue our thievery, huzzah!

Ssss-!

Oh, hey looky here, there is a snake in front of Us!

We opened Our eyes a little bit more to get a better look at Our scaly new friend. He was a light brown with rough-looking scales and irritated green eyes and a tongue which was making the 'sss' noise We had been hearing. There was a rattle attached to the end of his tail, yet it was still.

"Hi," We whispered, smiling slightly but refusing to get up and instead choosing to remain lying down. The moon was not yet up, so We imagine this snake had been sunning himself on our ship and snuck on while we slept.

"Do ya wanna join Our pirate crew?"

Ssss-sss!

"Okay then, We will ask you again later. What is your name? We are Luna."

Sssssssssss! The snake raised his head and glared at Us.

"Aww, how cute, you are going to use your rattle. We are sorry to say that We cannot pronounce your name so We will just be calling you Fuzzy; it fits you really well."

Fuzzy opened his mouth to show off his glistening fangs, and lunged in Our direction.

We bolted up and quickly dodged what We had seen coming from the moment We woke up. Fuzzy missed and received a very nice toothache. After all, rocks are not tasty.

We know that too well.

Magic sparkled around Fuzzy's form as We stretched him out as straight as a stick. Next, We picked up Our sword and poked him lightly with it.

"Ppht," We proudly proclaimed, sticking Our tongue out.

That is what you get for messing with the scourge of the seas! Arrr!

Turning around, We scrambled off Our ship and ran off in another direction, silently biding Our ship goodbye - although there was no way We could relinquish Our sword. It was too precious.

After We had crossed a short distance of sand, the magic glow around Our horn dimmed and flicked briefly and We knew that We no longer held Fuzzy to the rock.

So begins another night wandering the sands.

...

We blink a few grains of sand out of our eyes, and wish We could wipe them off with my quilt-cloak but that too is covered in sand. The warm air is heavy with it and it floats about like the Breezies in bedtime stories. Of course, it is still cold at night. The moon is setting and the sky is as gold as the sands as the stars fade in its light.

We feel dizzy and a bit hungry, when was the last time We ate? We tried keeping track of the time passing on Twiggy, but just ended up connecting all the tallies to form a maze.

There have to be some other animals nearby. We may not have spotted any since Fuzzy from a few cycles ago, but someone has to live nearby. We just know they do! Tia needs us, We need Tia!

Since the sun is rising We should probably find some place to nap, We thought as We came to the top of a hill of amber colored sand that lapped at Our pasterns as water would. Our legs shifted slightly. We were a desert flower swaying to an invisible breeze. Everything felt fuzzy.

We can not yawn.

We can not stay awake.

There was a muffled thud as We collapsed on the soft sand. It was just like velvet, really, warm and soft. We curled into a ball, too exhausted to yawn.

In no time at all, the noise of the winds ceased.

...

Huh? Why do We smell smoke...? Is this a dream?

"Stop that! You might scare him!"

Who is that? They don't sound like Tia or anypony We know.

"Cathecassa, why bother to speak in that tongue? It is not like he can hear you."

It feels like there is another blanket covering Us. There are two voices talking, the first one is female, and maybe she is a pony. We will not know until We open our eyes. She does talk a bit strange, though, all her letters sound a bit different from how We were taught to say them, and her name does not sound familiar either. The second one sounds male, he is either younger or impatient, maybe both. We think that We should keep Our eyes closed for a bit longer since We still feel very tired.

"Hmph, he cannot hear you either... I just thought that when the colt wakes up he shall desire to understand what we are saying."

Are We the colt? Why? We remember once when We were playing in the forest with Tia and she told us this big word she had learned. We could not come close to pronouncing it but We recall that it started with an 'a'. When We asked Tia what it meant she continued to pick flowers before saying that it was a pony who didn't look coltish or girly 'like you, Luna'. Why does there need to be such a big word for that?

"Yet you still persist in speaking so? Stubborn half-breed!"

"Dogged full-blood! May a mischievous spirit tangle your shadow!"

They seem to be arguing but not in a super mean way, they sound a bit like Tia and We do sometimes.

"Look!" The maybe-a-mare exclaimed, "I think he is waking up! Should we give him some food?"

FOOD?!

We bolt up, throwing off a thin, coarse sheet of a light brown color. We are in a tent of some kind that could have ten full-sized ponies crammed into it. There is a bit of sunlight poking through a hole in the roof where We can see some sticks poking through as well. There is not much in here, just a few baskets, some spears, and blankets along with a few other things We do not know. We still have our cape but it seems that We have lost Twiggy. Maybe Twiggy has passed on to Sword Paradise, although We hope not because We really wanted a sword.

Tragically, We see no food.

"Well, it seems he is awake." We looked at the speaker, the one We had taken to be a mare. We do not think We were too far off, but she did not look like any mare We knew of. She was much younger, not a filly but not quite a mare. She had a thick, curly coat that was tawny in color and big green eyes. She was thickly built, like she was the sort who wrestled ten cragodiles before breakfast. Her mane was in two plain braids, one daffodil yellow and the other violet.

A few strands stuck out, especially on the violet side, maybe she didn't brush it. We noticed her especially short tail; it was the same color as her mane but was not as long. She did not seem to have her cutie mark either, but maybe her fur hid it. Around her head she wore a pretty woven crown with a blue and green triangle pattern. Instead of jewels it had a few feathers standing tall and bobbing whenever she moved her head, which had a unicorn's horn poking through a stray lock of mane. Her face also looked so much like a pony's.

"Well," she asked, "do you want some food or not?"

"I do not think he understands you," grumbled her companion. Unlike Miss Flower-Braids, he looked like he had wrestled the whole forest before the crack of dawn, We would not want to mess with him! He seemed to be around her age as well. His features were different, and his coat was darker. We think he was slouching and he had two horns, he was not a pony but We did not know he was. We should not ask 'cause that might be rude.

"Nonsense! I am speaking his language, the Everfree tongue." Miss Flower-Braids made a fish-face and gave another 'hmph!'.

"Perhaps he is mute? Or maybe too young to speak? This one looks as if he should still be in how do the ponies say it... a nursery?"

Miss Flower-hmph gave yet another one of her signature remarks. "You know nothing of ponies, Hokolesqua. They are smaller, yes, he is maybe only four summers old, or 'years' to him. Is that correct, Blue Colt?"

We nodded shyly and our stomach grumbled. We do not think they heard Us, since Flower-hmph and Cocoa seemed to be arguing again.

"They are not my ancestors, these ponies. Our camp, no, our tribe has not seen any foreign ponies in five generations, you know full well that you are the only one with pony blood in the whole village, now that your parents are deceased."

We are a bit scared, We have never actually talked to a pony before. There were not any servants in the castle and whenever knights or diplomats visited Mommy and Daddy hid us both in another room, although We often snuck out when they were not looking. It was a bit strange, like Our family were the only ones who knew about Tia and-

"Yet this colt might know something, Hokolesqua! He is proof that not all my forefathers left generations ago, he is proof that not all citadels are silent, he might know why the land has changed. He could answer the stories Lady Sun Dance tells of how in the memory of her mother’s mothers before her this land was not unbalanced, of how your namesake is reduced to colorless memory!"

Oh, We are so hungry! How do We ask them for food? Our voice feels caught in Our throat. What if We offend them? Perhaps they are squabbling over something important?

"But is it not memories that guide us?"

Can We leave?

"Guide us, yes!" she shrieked, "But we cannot live on them, lest we become them!"

We just wanted to find a shaman to help Tia, not listen to them yell at each other. We sniffled a little bit and buried Our face in our hooves to make it all go away.

"Well done, Cathecassa, you made the little colt cry."

There was a hoof on Our head, stroking Our mane. "Shh, it is alright, I am sorry our fighting scared you, little one. You must be hungry."

Really? Us, hungry? Give Us all your food if you wish to be spared Our wrath.

"Hokolesqua, go get him some food," Orders Flower-hmph and We hear Cocoa leave. After he is gone, We move Our hooves away from Our eyes.

"W-w-what happened?"

Flower unfolds a small and colorful woven blanket, places it on the dusty floor, and sits on it. "You were found in the desert, lost and alone three sunrises ago by Hokolesqua and myself. We are scouts for our village. In fact we will be heading back there this evening, it should take us at least one full cycling of the sun and moon to get there, but I extend an invitation with all the hospitalities of my tribe to you, little stranger."

Maybe the village has a shaman! They could give Us some medicine to help Tia.

"Well, will you come with us Stranger? You seem to have none to follow?"

"Yes!"

Flower smiles politely. "Very well then. If we are to travel with you, may I inquire your name?"

"Luna, what is yours?"

"I am Cathecassa."

We tilt our head to the side. "C-c-c-ahhhh-sss-ee-?"

"Umm, no," She shakes her head, "In your language that would be... how do I say...?" Cahse then holds up one of her black cloven hooves and points to the left one using the right. "It means, umm, how do I say this color?"

"Black?"

"Yes, black, and this," she taps her left hoof.

"Hoof."

"Yes, in your language I am Black Hoof."

"What is your friend's name?"

Black Hoof cringes. "He is not my friend, he is kin but not in your sense. In your tongue his name is... it is the plant that grows very tall, with silk and a golden head, you can eat it. A plant of legend."

"Corn!" We guess enthusiastically, "It is corn! A stalk of corn!"

She laughs a little, "Yes he is Corn Stalk and I am Black Hoof, and speaking of the plants you eat, it seems he is back with your food."

Corn Stalk slipped back into the tent and nudged a pretty painted bowl towards us.

The food would get no mercy.

...

Corn Stalk, who was awfully slow compared to Black Hoof and ourself, was always more than a few steps behind. We could hear him grumbling about Black Hoof and how she made him travel so quickly in such short time. We did not mind Black Hoof insisting that we be swift in travels and We liked listening to them talk.

"Come, Luna, he will catch up soon. I will need to show the proper way down the hill, into camp and we cannot have that bloke in our way, am I right?"

We nodded.

"I heard that, Cathecassa!"

She rolled her eyes and nudged me towards the descending cliff face. "This way, little one."

...

"This is it," Black Hoof said, pointing a hoof towards a large circle of peaked tents she called teepees. There was a large fire in the middle and a thin curl of smoke was picked up in the warm breeze. We could see the faint shadows of clouds all the way up on this rocky hill as well as other buffalo milling about, it seemed that between carrying out chores We could not make out very well from up here and talking they all looked really sad. Maybe it is because there are quite a few pokey trees. We hate pokey trees.

...

Buffalo, it turns out, are giants! Corn Stalk was so tiny compared to them and We were even smaller. They may not have been as tall as Mommy and Daddy but they were still giants. They looked at Us with confusion as We were led through the camp by Black Hoof and Corn Stalk.

They guided Us over to the big campfire We saw from the cliff face.

"Sit here and wait, little colt," Black Hoof said as she scanned the camp. "Corn Stalk, you wait with him while I go inform the Lady of the arrival."

She walked over in another direction before Corn Stalk could refuse. We plopped down in the dust while Corn Stalk stood nearby, looking like he would rather be elsewhere. The both of us said nothing for a while.

"Corn Stalk, why is there such a big fire in daytime?"

"So the Lady Sun Dance can work her magic. She requires fire to do so."

"Is she like a queen?"

"Maybe? She is the wife of Chief Lightninghorn, he governs the Camp of Warriors, and she the Camp of Fire. Here there are many buffalo, young and old, bull and cow. At the Warriors' camp this is not so, there are only fighters there along with the chief and a young Wise One who trains to be like our Lady. Every tribe has two camps, perhaps with different names, yes, but still the same but-"

"But what?" We asked excitedly. These Wise Ones sound a lot like mages and wizards, who are probably a lot like shamans, and shamans can help Tia.

"Well if you stopped interrupting, I could tell you!"

"S-sorry."

"Well, you see all buffalo weather warrior, calf, or Wise One-any that have a tribe-heed the power of the greatest of our magic users, answer only to the gods themselves, the Sage who is our greatest-"

"Shaman!" We shouted, "They are the greatest shaman!"

Corn Stalk looked at us funny. "How did you know-"

"Is this the colt you were telling about? He is indeed quite small." This voice was unfamiliar to Us, but We saw Corn Stalk bow and turned to face the speaker. She was a buffalo who looked very old, but still incredibly strong. Her coat was white and if it weren't for her wise brown eyes, she could have been a ghost. She wore red and yellow feathers from a bird We did not recognize and there was a painted design on her withers. It looked like some sort of circle in a pink paint but We could not tell.

"Yes, my Lady," Black Hoof replied, her head bowed. "His name is Luna."

"Luna," Black Hoof said, "This is-"

"Lady Sun Dance?"

The old buffalo nodded. "That I am." She gestured to Black Hoof and and Corn Stalk, motioning for them to step away. When they did, Lady Sun Dance sat down next to Us. "What are you doing all alone, little one? Cathecassa here told me you were found in the middle of the desert."

"Tia is sick!"

She gazed at me in way that reminded me of Mommy and Daddy. "Who is this Tia, your mother?"

"Older sister."

"Hmm, how much older? Is this why you travel alone, or at least alone with your sister."

"She is much older than Us-"

Lady Sun Dance's wise sleepy look was replaced with one of alarm and confusion. "The Royal We?!"

We pointed to Our chest. "We," We said. That should clear things up for her.

She looked at Black Hoof and said something We could not understand. Black Hoof's horn lit up with glittery yellow aura and she gently untied the knot We used to fasten the dirty quilt-cape around our neck.

All of them gasped and We even heard a bowl break in the background. Sun Dance rose from her seat only to slip into a deep bow, We watched the entire tribe do the same including Black Hoof and Corn Stalk.

"Your Majesty," Lady Sun Dance began, her tone stern and serious, "Prince Luna, whose kingdom is unsaid, first Alicorn in many moons, the Camp of Fire of the Lightning Tribe is in grave need of your assistance."

Author's Note:

Are We the colt? Why? We remember once when We were playing in the forest with Tia and she told us this big word she had learned. We could not come close to pronouncing it but We recall that it started with an 'a'. When We asked Tia what it meant she continued to pick flowers before saying that it was a pony who didn't look coltish or girly 'like you, Luna'. Why does there need to be such a big word for that?

This bit here has a weird history. When I had a non-brony friend read another one of my stories, Tomb of Magic, they mistook Luna for a colt/young stallion when reading some of her inner monologue. Then, after I had the idea, outline, and a few paragraphs of what would become this story, I decided to see if I had any potential cover art in my pony art folders.

As I clicked through pictures of the sisters (and some of just Luna by herself) I noticed that compared to Celestia , filly versions of Luna without her regalia had a much more androgynous look to her. It seemed to fit well with the much more cheeky, tomboyish, and adventurous nature as opposed to Celestia's mature, reserved, and strategic one.

(The original cover art was this)