• Published 24th Sep 2017
  • 1,515 Views, 80 Comments

To Bring Light to Eternal Darkness - scifipony



In the days before Equestria was even a dream, when mares are second-class citizens, a pony with a solar cutie mark tries to help her brother become a mage. She doesn't realize that she and the sun have an appointment with destiny. (EqD Story Post)

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Impropriety!

Somehow I slept. I woke with a gasp when I caught myself in a dream floating in the deeply green woods above Five Waterfalls Township, engulfed in cooling flames, consoling a frightened crying sun.

I blinked and looked around, and remembered where I was.

The moonlight illuminated a gray stallion laying against the door. His black mane was dark as a shadow cast by the moon. Magenta eyes focused on me and he swished his tail, twice. Umbra's teeth gleamed as he grinned; in my imagination, they were sharp and wolf-like.

My ire returned. "Why haven't I spoken to my Da? I want to talk to Elder Golden Lantern. You assaulted me!"

A silver chain around propoli's neck ground against the wood as he pushed himself up against the door. He used his magic to snap the wrinkles from a robe that looked grayish-red in the light. He sighed for effect before saying, "Your father arrived an hour ago."

"I want to talk with him—"

"Impatience is unbecoming a beautiful mare."

"The impropriety of that statement is only exceeded by the indecency of you being alone with me in this cell."

"With my future second wife, I can make an exception."

"I will not marry you."

"Your father had a different opinion once I explained your options."

My concentrated derision escaped in a snort that steamed out of my nostrils in the cold air. I levered myself off the stone floor, certain I'd feel less vulnerable when I looked down on him. As I rose, my eyes passed through the shaft of light from the moon.

With a shock, my neck prickled and became covered with goosebumps. I stopped and blinked into the dazzling light. Had the orb given me a look of hatred?

It had! Its blank face held no solace.

My impromptu change in trajectory tripped me up. Before I realized it, I swayed left past the tipping point. My blanket dragged against the wall and slid the opposite direction. As I jerked my legs wide to prevent myself from falling, I reached for the blanket.

"Nah uh!" Umbra warned. "No magic!" Surprisingly, he'd swooped in while I'd moon-gazed. My heart stuttered as he leaned in, pushing me up bodily. When I jerked back, he pressed further, slamming me against the stone wall, pinning me between the heat he radiated and a mortared uneven surface that gouged at my side.

"Stop that! Stop that!"

"Why?" He pressed in. "You'll fall over when you learn the options I gave my new father-in-law. It would be a shame if you limped before the town elders or were lame at your wedding." His chest expanded against my side as he breathed. He'd used a rose powder to mask his horsey stallion scent, but I could nonetheless smell a cumin and cayenne odor on his breath as he spoke.

I wished suddenly I hadn't cleaned myself.

I heard a distant pop through the door. That got my momentary attention as my ears pivoted toward the odd sound, but he continued speaking in a low voice he must have thought seductive. With the pressure against my body, I started worrying that it had been some time since I'd visited a privy.

"—wealthy enough to keep you comfortably."

"What!?" I glared, but it wasn't me he was looking at; just some goal in his head. I heard another pop less distant, but it didn't register on him and I shook my head against the distraction.

He said, "Of course, I haven't read the charges into the town register, yet." He rubbed against me very slowly and said. "I could be convinced not to."

I pushed sharply with my shoulder and flank and shoved him away. For all his muscle, I greatly out-massed him. Our eyes locked as I said, "And I have to marry you to prevent that? Isn't that improper, too?"

He smiled. "Magic strong and smart, too. But, it's my word against yours and ponies have noticed your strangeness around town. I have plans. Harnessing your attributes would benefit me, and that's not even considering your physique; you'll throw many a strong colt."

Now I was shaking. Fear speared my heart.

"It's a better choice to do my bidding than to suffer the consequences. You don't want to be sold as a slave—"

"What!?"

"—and I'm not sure I'd be able to afford the price you'd fetch. I'd try, of course."

"But I didn't do anything wrong! You—you accosted me!"

He stretched his neck a bit to one side and examined my right ear. His magic scuffed my fur before he pressed hard, making me yelp.

Outside, I heard another loud pop, almost a rumble as he said, "Strange, no blood any more. That spell you used?"

His aura made his horn look red. His brow furled as he muttered something that rhymed, ending with Soothe. A warm tingling announced a spell that dissolved the ache and pressure. "Barely a bruise, now."

"I won't marry you."

"And here I thought I was being nice."

"I did nothing!"

"Ah, but if I read it into the registry, you will have and if you don't recant, we won't be able to even sell you as a slave. Am I really such a bad alternative?" As he spoke, he approached and, without a by-your-leave, nuzzled me.

Thunderous lightning struck inside my cell. A spherical aura shaped like an expanding soap bubble of blazing bronze appeared with a blast of air. It popped between the propoli and the window, shoving the husky stallion face-forward into my ribs, mashing his voluminous black greasy mane against my throat. My hide ticked at the disgusting sensation.

Summer Daze appeared, ribbons of frost steam rising from his hide, a final crackle of blue electricity grounding into the floor. His eyes narrowed when he saw Umbra. He bellowed, "Impropriety! Impropriety!"

My jaw dropped. I'd never heard him raise his voice, except for the rare times as a foal when he'd injured himself.

By the time the propoli recovered from his stumble, Summer had turned flank. He aimed a buck at the stallion's right temple. Spindly-legged and non-athletic as my baby brother was, Umbra managed to dodge, but crashed hard into the door and had to dance to remain upright.

Summer continued bellowing, "Impropriety! Impropriety!"

He delivered the phrase each time with the same monotone—like he understood how to use the tool yelling represented but not the emotion of anger that colored it. I found myself in tears and shaking—and very proud.

Then it struck me and I gasped: He'd used Teleport to search the building.

Umbra cast Illuminate; his dark horn lit with a ruby light to show his attacker. His eyes went wide. I saw his panic as Summer kept bellowing.

As Umbra muttered, his Illuminate flickered.

I cried, "He knows battle magic!"

Summer Daze didn't miss a beat as he bellowed. As Umbra lowered his head to point his magic-reddened horn, I threw myself across my brother, but—

Summer Daze had anticipated my action, leaning toward me so I barely shoved him aside but instead helped him rear. The magic the propoli cast made a bang. A bolt of red flashed toward my brother who stood on two legs, flicking with his hooves; in that instant a wave of dizziness rushed through me and apparently Umbra. The bolt curved sharply upward and hit the ceiling, blackening the stone and peppering us with tiny bits of rock.

In an instant of frightening insight, I sensed Umbra's overpowered Friction-like spell—equations, vectors, numbers, mnemonics, cylindrical-shaped control points, and all. When Summer Daze had continued copying the head mage's spellbook, the mage had reared and canceled all his spells with a potent gesture. My brother had figured out the "nice trick" sufficiently to cancel the blast's forward vector.

"Impropriety! Impropriety!" he continued to shout.

As Umbra sidled past the door, he cried, "Stop yelling, you imbecile! You'll ruin everything!"

My brother continued.

Another propoli threw open the door—an old palomino with white-shot golden fur covering his face and gray-streaked brown bangs drooping over his eyes. More hooves sounded, galloping down the hallway.

I heard Da call, "Sunny Daze? Summer Daze!"

I yelled, "Da! Help us! The propoli attacked me!"

The elderly but beefy propoli blocked my father so I only saw his red-robed flank. A rainbow of horn lights lit the hall. "You're not allowed back here!"

I heard a scuffle. The elder looked back into the cell. "Son, you're not allowed in here either!"

Summer Daze continued to bellow.

Trying not to smile, I said, "You've permitted that blue-faced cad and Umbra in here alone with me! My brother is protecting my honor and won't stop until propriety is restored! Get that blood-boated flea of a molester out of my cell!"

"You've done magic. We can't leave you alone."

My brother continued.

The elder shouted at Umbra, "Get out!"

Having recovered his wits, Umbra said, "I'll handle it; I'll handle her!" and galloped down the hall.

The door banged shut and I heard a latch.

Sunny Daze stopped and faced me. "The butterfly escapement chaotic key won't allow me to specify an arbitrary object."

I stood blinking at him.

He actually rolled his eyes, an amazing sight that showed how far he'd come all by itself. "My spell can teleport only me."

That was a relief. Were he to help me escape, he'd become a fugitive, too. I explained what happened, Umbra's advances, my travel to Five Waterfalls Township to contact the mages, the good news they'd told me, the medicine-laced restorative tea, the hallucination of conversing mentally with the sun and my flinging the moon into the sky, then being stoned, hobbled, and carted away.

As I finished, I found myself silently staring at the moon; she insisted upon glaring back at me.

"Sunny Daze."

I blinked, momentarily surprised I was in the cell again, and looked at him. He had listened studiously—throughout my recounting—though he had started nodding his head when I spoke of raising the sun. He asked, "You lost your cloak when you raised the sun and lowered the moon?"

"It got burnt off when she—" I stopped myself, again pulling my eyes from the moon, shaking my head. Ridiculous! Not she, but it, "Of course not. I found it burnt." I pointed at the scorch on the stone ceiling. "Umbra must have burnt it. He destroyed the gifts the mages gave me in a fit of spite, after he had heaved a stone at my head to make sure I didn't fight him when he hobbled me. He's a bad pony."

"The propoli showed us the broken gifts. Umbra said you wore nothing but your cutie mark. He insisted you had no cloak when he captured you. It frightened Da."

"B-but, but that's not true." Was that my voice cracking?

"Umbra lied." His flat words were an assertion of absolute reality with no hint of doubt. "He, however, reported that you were inebriated and that he had pretended to—to— seclude—"

"Seduce?"

He nodded. "Seduce you and that got you to get into the wagon."

I blinked. A tear rolled down my cheek. Thanks to the mages' tea, I didn't have any idea what was true. Would I have?

No, I—never! Not with that foal stallion. "My head. He stoned me."

Summer Daze drew me into the moonlight and examined me closely. "I see nothing." He touched spots with his hoof. It hurt, but nothing like it had.

"He healed it. Some spell ending with Soothe. Last a'night I used a spell that cleaned away the crusted blood."

"His word against yours."

I moaned as it hit me. "Umbra stalked me, figured out my strengths and weaknesses, and trapped me into becoming his possession." Something deep within refused to submit. I found myself again staring at the moon.

She did not submit. Never did. Refused to. In this, she and I were sisters.

"Sunny Daze."

Frustration welled up. "I did nothing wrong!"

Not exactly true. It would have been proper for me to make the trip only in the company of my father or my brother. Doing otherwise left me vulnerable to aspersions or manipulation, both of which now afflicted me, which was why it was improper.

My celestial sister blurred in a veil of tears. I felt her crystal prison, full of immobile blocks and frustration; not so much unlike mine.

A hoof pressed against my face; I refused to move until the pressure began to hurt. Forced to break my stare at the face of the moon, I wiped my cheeks, blinking at the unfairness of it all. I hadn't been in the cell and now I was again. A faint wind must have been blowing through the small window for now I felt my mane settle against my neck and back. I looked into my baby brother's eyes.

He asked, "Where is the sun?"

For no good reason, I felt a sudden warmth, like a strong hug. I traced the glow and shifted around and pointed below the horizon opposite the shaft of light entering the cell. "She's there."

Summer Daze smiled, an incredibly rare and confusing display of sunlight in the dungeon gloom. He repeated, "'Thaumaturgy and a predilection to matters celestial in the pressing matter of day and night.'" As I blinked at his non-sequitur, he added, "Do not agree to anything under any circumstance."

Before I could ask him why, a pony-height sphere of amber formed and lightning swirled around him. He teleported away with a bang.

Thaumaturgy wasn't the science of magic. No. It was the performance of miracles.