• 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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Impractical Magic

The sun never rose.

It had been more than a day since I'd shared the hospitality of the Collegiate of Mages. As a pair of propoli I'd never met marched me down a hall into the frigid air, I realized I was wrong about how much time had passed.

Frost painted the dirt of the fenced paddock with crispy patterns of white lace. Glitters of moonlight sparkled off the eaves of the building and a tree at one end of the space. Little icicles. My breath formed clouds before my face and my nose burned.

The world had begun to freeze over. This type of persistent cold would soon kill even hardy cabbage and kale crops. The cold seeped into my bones, making me feel even weaker. I'd been given no fodder, just water. With day and night broken, there was always the worry that the world would get stuck permanently in one or the other state. Was this the beginning of Unicornia's eternal darkness?

It would be my eternal darkness soon, regardless.

Not that it mattered to me, but I did hope it fixed itself soon. I'd done all these stupid things so my brother would prosper. I didn't want that to go to waste.

My chains rattled as I slow-stepped to the center of the enclosure. Somepony had provided a heap of oats atop a crate. Though I thought I'd lost all my hunger, my body disagreed. I lowered my head to eat as the propoli attached my hobbles to a stake stabbed into the frozen ground.

When I looked up, it surprised me to see shadows in the moonlit dark beyond the fence. What was about to happen was unspeakable. Da had always said that. Few ponies were willing to witness it. He'd ordered us never to attend.

A'today, I had no choice.

I noticed a preponderance of mares-cloaks… There were others. All were hard to recognize in the dark. Nopony lit their horn. I did see three mares congregating together whom I could recognize by the way they shifted nervously, together—the sisters Dell. I hoped it was their outrage at what was happening to me that had brought them here.

Toward the edge of the paddock, I noticed a pile of rocks when I saw Umbra walking toward it. At the same time, some ponies lit a large magic lantern that illuminated the paddock with a glaring white light.

There, toward the edge of the building, I saw a white stallion with his head hung low. Da. I looked immediately away.

I was a bad pony. I'd done this to him because I was stubborn, willful, and too proud.

I did not realize the old palomino propoli stood beside me and I jumped when he unexpectedly said, "Do you recant your crimes?"

At that moment, with the image of my father burning in my mind, I almost did take the option of a life of servitude. Surely that would be less harsh on Da than forever losing his daughter as completely as he had his wife. My mouth hung open.

But, as I looked toward the elder levitating the town register, I looked beyond him to see a young stallion with a mint green mane, scruffy yellow fur, and a pink blaze between his nut-brown eyes. Those eyes locked on me.

Summer Daze shook his head.

Beside him, the propolis' lantern illuminated other stallions, each wearing light-blue robes. To a one, their faces registered shock as if they'd seen a ghost.

Soon they would.

I felt my lips bunch in anger. I took a deep breath and shouted, "Umbra entrapped me! I am innocent. I have committed no crimes to warrant the impropriety of your treatment of me, and certainly none to recant!"

"Evil," stated the propoli with finality.

I looked at the mages. Propolis stood amongst them—including blue-face—standing as escorts or, more likely, enforcers of propriety. What had Sunny Daze hoped? The Queen's servants were powerless against the laws and customs of the people of the High Desert.

Umbra paced around the pile of rocks. My "no" had visibly angered him. At least I had the sense that I'd frustrated the gray-furred propoli's meticulous plans—and hopefully ruined his reputation with innuendo. His crimson magic pulsed and fizzed around the pile of rocks as he clacked them about and glared at me with fire in his eyes. The aura around his horn made it look like a spike of red-hot iron.

The old palomino asked me, "Do you have any last thing to say? Do you wish to ask your family for forgiveness?"

The word forgiveness struck something sore and bruised deep inside my heart. The world was broken! How did trying to provide for my family become a crime? How did trying to assure that my brother succeeded and that my father wasn't ruined financially because of an unfairly demanded dowry necessitate this punishment?

I found myself... seething.

The world was broken and nopony was fixing it! I glared at the gathered audience, wishing them to realize how broken it was that they were even here to witness this.

In looking, my eye caught the face of the moon staring down at me.

In a shock of enchanted insight, I knew this was how she felt, too: broken, seething, ruined by the hubris of unicorn magic.

Lying opposite her brooded another broken presence. My gaze shifted eastward below the horizon.

Sadness and regret filled me no differently than the sun's warmth would have warmed me under the light of an unbroken summer morning. I was supposed to be a helpful sister. I was supposed to bask in the light of the ascended sun!

But, once again, she was stuck.

Like me, like the moon, she too was broken.

I felt a frisson of recognition, of somepony searching through my memories like the pages in a book, of my emotions being refined to suit not just her or me, but the two of us together. I remembered the sisters Dell and their brother together. I remembered Da, Summer, and me at the dinner table, laughing.

Together.

I—I belonged? ...to a different kind of family.

I felt the fur along my spine rise. A breeze gathered my mane and tail, one that would witness the passing of my soon to be broken body. I felt a beat, a pulse in this suddenly growing zephyr. It was the mages' music in the form of an auditory memory, of words shifting meaning and spinning like cinders in a dust devil through my mind, of the ethereal whirling shapes incantation offered a caster as handles to affect realty. My mane began to blow now as I realized I had experienced but one joy during this one horrible week; I felt my hallucination coming on again as inevitably as a dropped spoon will clatter on the tile of the floor.

I embraced it, even if it were all a delusion... like life was when you saw its very end—as I saw it now.

I was rewarded with icy concentration and a mind clear of naught but purpose.

The sun was stuck, so I grabbed the vague flattened oval using Sliding, felt my horn do the outrageous vector math that balanced equations affecting a improbable unmanageable city-sized target, and reached out with my miraculous tool; I touched fire and the wellspring of all life.

In an instant, heat filled my body with unbounded energy and a strange sensation of buoyancy. The magic connected like lightning from a cloud to a random unfortunate tree, forming in an arcane channel that tunneled through the heart bedrock of the Guardian mountains east beyond the horizon. The thrill filled me so fully, my eyes shut of their own accord.

My long mane now whipped me about my neck and back. I heard a sudden crackling. Once again, I heard and smelled roaring flames. In my fantasy, a bonfire consumed the final condescending decency provided me—the propoli's blanket.

My delusion enveloped me completely. I felt my forequarters lifted until my chains caught, rattled, then clanged.

This was my delusion, however. No cold iron would stand in my way! I pulled and smelled the iron scent of a forge. Like taffy, the metal elongated, ticking and complaining and popping, until I drew my legs free and the distorted links clattered to the earth.

One last gift for my brother. I inhaled deeply, lifting my hooves skywards. I shouted with all my might, "If have but one purpose left in life, it shall be to bring light to eternal darkness!"

Magic whooshed around me like the strongest of sciroccos. It roared! I thrust out my forelegs and marshaled it all with a flick of my hooves, striking the sun like a chisel hitting hardwood. It bit in; magic potentiality spiraled away like clouds of wood chips off Da's best chisel, and, like that, I felt the sun like a foal's ball between my hooves. I slammed it to the right, shoving aside an interposed pile of mountain-size crystal blocks placed there undoubtably by the moon to prevent the sun's ascension.

The sun thunked into another parallel valley in the sky.

With all of my strength, with the entirety of my being, I heaved upward, marshaling magic unquantifiable...

That may have been a mistake. I faded, my life bled fully into the magic I had performed.

Hmmm. Why had the light beyond my eyelids turned pink and brightened? As I settled toward the ground, I forced my eyes open.

"Huh. The sun's rising."

Below me, I saw Umbra with a brace of rocks whirling around his head. He screamed in his rage as his aura shifted the trajectory of his missiles toward my head.

Ponies shouted. Others screamed. Some slammed against the corralling fence. Dozens of auras bloomed about the propoli, a rainbow of combined magic, dazzling bright despite the glare of the sunrise.

It made me terribly sad to see my townspeople help him. It was the last thing I saw.