• Published 12th Mar 2013
  • 3,354 Views, 216 Comments

This is Cloudsdale! - deathtap



While doing a census of ponies in Ponyville, Twilight discovers something peculiar about pegasi. Ever the curious one, she decides to investigate and get to the bottom of it. Will what she learns change the way she views her friends? Probably not.

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Apothetae

"So, what brings the Element of Magic all the way out here?" Cupcake asked putting an umbrella onto a set of hooks.

"Um... I'm just curious is all, Mama Cupcake," Twilight replied as she stepped inside. She was greeted by the savory scent of baked goods and nostalgic smell of old books. It was almost like walking into Sugarcube Corner's kitchen and the Canterlot Library at the same time.

Dinky grabbed Spike with her hoof and led him quickly down the hall, Derpy following close behind.

Unsure what to do, Twilight stood where she was as Cupcake took off a thick knitted scarf and placed it on a hanger before taking it over to the fireplace and leaving it as near to it as possible without risking it catching fire to allow it to dry. The living room looked so cozy. In the corner of the room was a huge mass of cushions of all shapes and sizes. Right next to that was a large shelf full of children's books and Twilight recognized more than a few in there that she read when she was a filly (and sometimes even now, but secretly when nopony was looking). There was a single sofa chair that sat next to the fireplace facing perpendicular to it. Over on the far side was another bookshelf with a lot more books. These were a little familiar as they were for big ponies and casual reading.

"Well, this is it. My home. I know it isn't much-"

"It's lovely!" Twilight spat before blushing. "I love books... I feel warm and comfortable here."

"Well, so do I, and the kids love it here."

"Kids?"

"Oh yes. My kids. It's Quiet Hour, so they're all in the back room studying, or at least they are supposed to be. Anyway, with their cousin Dinky around I doubt there's going to be any-"

"Dinky!" a voice squealed in glee.

There was some screams of laughter and delight before the whole house seemed to burst into noise. Twilight had first thought that Cupcake was alone, and boy was she wrong. She could hear them rushing about, the sounds of little hooves clopping to and fro, the screams of joy and glee.

"And there goes study hour," Cupcake sighed, but a knowing smile formed on her lips. "They love their cousins, and little Dinky is no exception."

"Who are they?" Twilight asked trying to peer down the hall. She could see fleeting glimpses of little fillies and colts from her angle.

"Coffee?"

"Um... okay, Mama Cupcake."

"Please, just call me Cupcake. I don't know why Derpy insists on putting 'Mama' in front of my name all the time. I would have thought she would've outgrown it by now. It's cute, but I don't want two fully grown mares calling me that, especially when one probably already knows who her mother is." Cupcake gestured towards the kitchen, "This way."

"If you don't mind me asking, why are you down here? Under Cloudsdale, I mean," Twilight asked as she took a seat at the kitchen table and watched as her host opened a drawer and pulled out two cups. The lavender mare noticed that the cupboard was full of cups, each one different and unique.

At the question, Cupcake paused for a moment what she was doing before continuing the search for coffee. She was feeling around one of the upper cabinets, "I think the better question would be: what brings you to this place? Nopony comes here unless they've started asking certain questions. Certain uncomfortable questions. Questions that most ponies would like to ignore."

"I'm doing a census-"

"You're wasting your time. Pegasi won't tell you their lineage because, apart from the first born of the two ruling houses, they can't. Pegasi don't know who their parents are." Cupcake took out a kettle, filled it with water from a large barrel, then placed it on a stove. "Well, that's not fair. Pegasi born and raised in Cloudsdale don't know who their parents are, so even if they wanted to, they can't tell you. Pegasi raised everywhere else, as in those with fathers or mothers who aren't pegasi, usually have normal families by earth and unicorn standards. But pure blooded pegasi from Cloudsdale? Ha! Fat chance."

"What do you mean?"

Cupcake watched the hotplate started to glow red hot as magic flowed into the device from its source. It seemed that the white earth pony was at a loss for words, or deep in thought. She reached over the back of her head and undid a small mane-tie. Her long, flowing blue mane looked like a river gently flowing over her body. She shook her head letting each strand breathe and turned to look at Twilight.

"You really don't know anything?" she asked.

"No offense, but I wouldn't be here if I did."

Cupcake smiled, "None taken. I completely understand where you're coming from. So, do you have any pegasi friends?"

"Of course! My best friends Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash-"

"Fluttershy? Did you say Fluttershy?" Cupcake asked, spinning around on her.

That caught Twilight by surprise. "Yeah."

"Yellow mare with a pink mane? Cutie mark is three butterflies?"

"That's the one! Fluttershy's the Element of Kindness, one of the Elements of Harmony and one of my very best friends! Do you know her?"

Cupcake sat down heavily, a dreamy smile on her face, "Oh yes. I know her. So, little Shy-shy is an Element? My, my, she certainly has come a long way from when I found her-" she coughed after those words, effectively cutting herself off as she smoothly turned away from Twilight. "Some sugar in your coffee?"

Twilight wasn't letting that one go. "Miss Cupcake, please. I need to know what's going on. Why don't pegasi know who their parents are? Why is there still a ruling house, or two, in Cloudsdale when we have Princess Celestia and Princess Luna? Why won't my friends talks to me about it? And how do you know these things?"

There was a substantial pause between them.

"Are you sure you want to know? It's not a very... what I'm trying to say is that it's a... um, sad, and..." Cupcake took a sip and leaned away from Twilight nursing the warmth of the mug. She looked into it, and swirled it around a couple of times. "Are you really sure you want to know?"

"Yes."

"Even if what you find out might... make you change the way you look at your friends?"

Twilight smiled and shook her head, "My friends will always be my friends. If they didn't tell me, it's because they wanted me to find out on my own."

"Or they didn't want you to know," Cupcake suggested, raising her eyebrow knowingly.

"Maybe, but I still think it's important, and more than that, I want to know. If you don't tell me, I'll find out another way." Twilight stuck out her jaw to show that she meant business.

Cupcake took another sip and placed the mug on the table, "Okay, then let's start. I think that the first thing you need to see is... where it all begins. Come with me."

Twilight placed her untouched mug of coffee on the table and proceeded after Cupcake towards the backdoor at the far end of the kitchen. There they paused as a closet was opened and two raincoats were pulled from it. One was hoofed to Twilight.

"Put that on, it's very wet outside."

"Okay. Thanks."

"Derpy!" the earth pony called out all of a sudden.

"Ya, ma?"

"I'm going for a walk with your friend. Don't forget to get dinner ready for the kids, okay?"

"Okay, ma!" came Derpy's call. A few seconds later a chorus of giggles emanated from Derpy's direction. It sounded like the youngsters were having a wonderful time.

Twilight thought about calling Spike, but he seemed to be having fun. Something told her that he shouldn't be there for this and more importantly she didn't want to disturb Cupcake's mood. For the first time since the start of this entire fiasco, somepony was about to tell her what was going on. She was not about to waste that opportunity, even without her writing utensils. She would have to remember as much as possible then write it down later.

Cupcake opened the door and gestured for Twilight to go through it. As she did, the first thing she noticed was a long, covered passage extending before her. It was narrow, enough for a two ponies to walk side by side, and sturdy. Stone, with hardened cement reinforce the passage in a windy route that led between an array of obstacles in the wetlands. There was a thick, constant fog that seemed to remain just above the ground. She could see the grass, but anything above that was hidden.

Twilight noticed in places where the fog was light, large stones protruding from the ground. These were not natural formations, and looked ponymade. The way each one stuck into the ground looked like they had fallen.

"Those are ancient remnants of ancient parts of Cloudsdale. When things got too old, and they didn't want them anymore, they just threw them away, never mind who happened to be down here in the first place." Cupcake slipped on the raincoat over her body. "In the old days they would take real stones and place them on special clouds. They always were very vain."

"They don't do that anymore?"

"They're not supposed to anymore, but some do. Some of the pegasi who think that they are above the law. Lucky for me, most of the recent... contributions, have been far smaller and further away from here. Not that it would matter, the house is actually built into the side of a small hill, so unless its something really big..."

"Isn't that dangerous?"

"Oh, incredibly so!"

"Then why stay here, Cupcake? Why stay where it's not safe?"

"I said that only really big stones are dangerous, and that's not allowed anymore. And there is another good reason why I stay here."

"And that is?"

"I said that I'd show you, and I will." Cupcake began to walk down the pathway. When she did not see Twilight following she stopped and looked behind her. "Coming?"

"Where are you taking me?"

"How much do you know about pegasi culture?"

"I use to think I knew quite a lot, but recently..."

Cupcake smiled and laughed gently, "I know how you feel. Do you know why this area is always drenched?"

Twilight followed Cupcake and thought about the question. "Is it because Cloudsdale's primarily made up of rainclouds? The lower base is made from a mixture of various heavy-set clouds, including cumulonimbus, which make up the structural support for their towers," Twilight recited the last part as if she were reading it directly from a textbook.

Cupcake smiled, "You're pretty smart, you know that?"

"Thanks."

The earth pony leaned on a mossy railing and stared out towards the distance, "That's why there's so much rain and fog down here, and also why you didn't notice these huge rocks before. Makes for great hide and seek. This confounded fog that just keeps hanging around here making it impossible to see."

Twilight said nothing as Cupcake led the way again. They walked in silence for the rest of the way, Twilight following the mare as they continued along the covered passage. After what felt like ages she stopped and looked up. Here it seemed that the area was a little brighter.

"Come here, Twilight."

Cantering up, Twilight walked towards Cupcake and found herself standing where there was no longer any rain. She instinctive looked up to see a giant hole extending all the way up to the blue Equestrian sky. The sides of this hole were smooth as glass, and it was a near perfect circle.

"What is this place?"

"You know what you said about Cloudsdale being built on rainclouds? Well, you were mostly right. Except this isn't just a raincloud. It's a-"

"Storm cloud. We're looking up the eye of the storm," Twilight answered in a harsh whisper. "But... I thought storms were fast and-"

This time it was Cupcake who interupted the lavender unicorn, "You can't have a city on a fast moving storm cloud. Everything would fly off. They slow it down enough so that is spins so slowly that it takes months for it to do one complete revolution."

"But... why bring me here? What's the significance of this place?"

Cupcake sat down and inhaled the air through her nostrils. "This is where it all begins, or where it all ends. Depends where you're coming from."

"I... I don't understand," Twilight admitted, then looked up into the sky again. "Is this where pegasi come down to check the underside of the cloud?"

Cupcake laughed mirthlessly, "No. If only it were used for such a mundane purpose, then everything would be perfectly... normal."

"Then what's it for?"

"I'm going to ask you one last time, do you really want to know?"

Twilight thought about it for a moment, but she had already made up her mind. "Yes. I want to know."

"Does the name Apethetae mean anything to you?"

Twilight tried to recall everything she had read about the pegasi, but that name never came up before. She shook her head. "No. Never heard of it."

"And with good reason too. It's a very dark chapter in the history of our winged cousins. This hole above us, this eye in the storm, is called Apethetae. It's used to discard... 'useless' things."

"Oh? You mean like garbage? Trash?"

"Not quite, darling, although I'm sure they'd consider those unlucky enough to be cast down from up there trash, but no. It's not for that."

"Is it... I dunno... a sky lake?"

"With no bottom?" Cupcake shook her head. "They cast something else down here through this hole."

Twilight looked at the earth pony unsure what she meant. "Wait. Unlucky enough? What do you mean 'they'd consider those unlucky enough to be cast..."

Cupcake turned away from Twilight and looked up.

"N-n-n-not p-p-p-possible! Y-you can't h-honestly be s-s-saying that... that... that..." She found that she was unable to finish her sentence.

"You can blame the Gerousia for that. Any pegasi foal that doesn't meet their standards is... oh, the Gerousia are-"

"I know who they are, Cupcake," Twilight snapped. "I'm sorry, I just... this is very shocking... I never knew..."

"You're not the only one, Twilight. A lot of unicorns and earth ponies don't know about this. Even pegasi born outside Cloudsdale don't know. And it all starts with the pegasi's ruling body. They get to pick who lives and who gets thrown down here. Young foals, Twilight. Barely able to spread their wings. They are thrown down here. It's barbaric."

"How could the parents let that happen? How could the princesses let this happen?"

Cupcake looked at Twilight, "And who's foals would they be? The parents won't know. Nopony knows. And I'm sure that both Princess Luna and Celestia won't know who the parents are either. It just isn't their way."

There was a long silence as the lavender mare closed her eyes to process what she had discovered. It made her sick in the stomach.

"Is that why you're here? To save these foals?"

"No. I'm here to teach them how to appreciate good food," Cupcake replied. "Can't do that unless I provide a bed for them to sleep in, a blanket to keep them warm on cold nights, hot and healthy food so they can grow up big and strong! I am not here to save them, Twilight. I'm here to give them a home. I'm here to teach them. I'm here to make sure they have a place to come back to. I'm here to love them. I'm here because this is where I have to be."

Author's Note:

I am aware that there's a massive debate as to what the Apothetae was really for. I'm going with the traditional version. It was used to cast unwanted things down (like a landfill, except for bad guys and... unfit newborns).

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