• Published 24th Sep 2017
  • 1,516 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)

  • ...
8
 80
 1,516

Please

With the new model of crystal clockworks in my head to make sense of the parallel diamond valleys and ridges I'd seen in my vision, I imagined a gigantic machine of blocks and tracks that needed to be shifted, aligned, spun, and wound up.

There

The sun. A spiral spring of condensed magic had run down within her crystal "chariot" woven of prismatic wicker and diamond planks. She rested near the horizon, waiting and radiating warmth. To the east, below the horizon, waited the ivory moon, her mood glacially blue but nevertheless anxious to be up and away. Unlike the sun, however, the moon seemed stand-offish.

All of it, the sun, the moon, the stars, the arcane machine of the heavens, floated in an electric sea of living, breathing liquid lightning—magic, light, and a hum that seamed like the song of a celestial chorus. In it, meanings and potential sloshed to and fro, becoming the wind I felt ruffling the fur on my muzzle.

The sun had spoken to me by making me remember events. I now perceived the crystal spheres by cues that played against my understanding of the clockworks I'd seen in the clock tower and my previous sense of a diamond landscape.

My senses crystallized and whisked my consciousness away.

At first I thought I wandered in a fog bank. But no, they were clouds and I flew through them without the aid of pegasus wings—or a body. When I concentrated on the sun or the moon, my view magnified to show snatches of a dizzying landscape without horizons that rose upward around me no matter which way I looked. I flew inside a bowl! Monstrous squared-off transparent valleys of diamond blocks sparkled below, refracting light in glimmering rainbows. The valleys and ridges flowed upward into the distance. The further I looked, the greater the number of clouds, but straining I saw that the valleys converged but never crossed. This then were the paths the sun and the moon took through the sky to describe the seasons.

I gasped.

They were wagon roads shared by two caravans: The sun and the moon—sometimes they would meet, mingle, perhaps flow over one another. Not a good design!

I finally found the horizon; after all we were inside a sphere that encased our world. Upside down from my perspective, I saw land that stretched as far as my clouded viewpoint allowed me to see, swaths of green and brown or blue, covered in places by lacy gossamer that stretched into the distance, clouds marshaled like armies into lines of storm clouds by pegasi or scattered puffy white clumps, all seen from the vantage of above the highest mountain top imaginable. I could see neither ponies nor the cities they built nor the fields they farmed. The world looked... pristine, beautiful.

I could get lost here, but I knew I mustn't.

I looked back at the sun—a glowing, throbbing swath of heat and light, swirling like a brilliant yellow egg yolk of incomprehensible dimensions. The intensity of the sight blinded me.

I slipped back into my blood and bone self.

"I feel her," I said and smiled. "I feel the sun."

I turned toward the window in the sunward side of the house on two legs. The shutters banged against the wall when I threw them open with my magic. Reaching with my forehooves, in my mind I latched on to the right and left side of the burning orb.

An orb at least the size of a city.

I felt a definite click in both hooves. "Oh my!"

Somepony said, "Lower the sun and raise the moon, please."

Maybe it was my imagination, predicated on my heart's desire, but there was that magic word in my vocabulary that nopony used with me.

Please?

My throat closed up; tears streamed down my cheeks!

I did as so courteously requested. Breathing in small gasps, my heart raced as joyful exhilaration flooded my veins. I felt sunlike warmth radiate from my body at the thought of what I would do. My mane and tail began to flutter madly and loudly as if blown by a strong wind. Caught in magic as fluid and buoyant as water, I felt my weight disappear. I felt suspended as I reached for the sky and inadvertently tapped my hooves on the ceiling.

That meant I self-levitated about a quarter-pony length in the air.

I smelled smoke—my new mage robes had caught fire! There was little I could do and not loose the thread of my purpose. Somepony quickly assisted; the burning fabric slipped away.

Again in the diamond realm, I saw the source of the magic flooding me. She welcomed me brightly. Using marshaled magic, I pushed down on the sun, felt how the clockwork she was embedded within resisted more on the left than the right, and ratcheted the mechanism appropriately using Sliding. I felt a springiness of the clockwork windings. I pushed down hard and left—blocks of maliciously placed crystal went flying—and away the sun spun, fully wound, to light the opposite side of the world.

Flames still crackling around me, my mane and tail still in furious motion, I reached for the moon and felt my viewpoint spin through the ethereal clouds, puffs and clumps of them streaking by as if I were truly flying. I would not leave out the malcontent his time. I felt my earthly body rotate midair to face east as my hooves scraped across the rafters in the ceiling. I threw open those shutters with a bang, too.

When the moon hove into view, I saw a totally different beast. Regardless of what the mages thought, I believed, in that moment, that my cutie mark demonstrated how little I had in common with her. Whereas the sun breathed liquid light and heat—and the earth reflected a patchwork of land and sea colors—the moon most resembled an orb of bone. It radiated a cold, bluish-white light. The orb, though dome-like, wasn't featureless. I saw tall pointy mountains and grayish seas that were either mud or dust, not water. I sensed her in all her desolation. Did the soul Crystal Hoof imprisoned in the moon... did she live a perpetual nightmare?

Unfortunately she—and some other power that I began to suspect helped her—noticed my attention just as I tried to hold her frigid surface. While it had taken me less than a minute to lower the sun, I struggled and wrestled to even grasp, let alone move the orb of cold light. It was as if I fought an angry screaming foal for a ball.

I couldn't fully marshal the lunar magic as I had with the sun. I cast Sliding and Motivate over and over.

Slowly, I visualized the paths and the direction of the seasonal adjustment to the crystal blocks, and the springiness of the clockworks. The fight turned into an immense battle of wills and magic. Somepony threw spells at me that unwove my own spells—but if this was something I was supposed to do, by Platinum's Grace, I would do it! Whomever the entity was that I fought, he or she tried to wield the moon as I had the sun with opposite intent. Eventually I exhausted it—and myself. It let go first. I tapped lunar magic cold as evaporating alcohol, as astringent as lemons, and as fleeting as the crackle of a leaf crushed under-hoof. It roared about me like a winter storm.

With a pull upward, a ratchet, and a spring load, I flung the moon into the sky. As an afterthought, I tossed the last of my magic against another level of crystal in the firmament, felt it as I might a well-balanced mill stone, and whirled it. This wound it up with surprising ease and it began to tick-tock, rotating the full sky into proper motion—a firmament filled with twinkling stars, eccentric planets embedded in their own spheres, and nebulae.

And I swooned.

#

I found myself crumpled on the floor, my chest aching as if half my ribs were sprained, and more exhausted than I would have been having pulled a cart of rocks up a mountain all day long. Blinking, I looked up and whispered, "I did it."

Moonlight streamed through the southeast window; the right shutter hung by one hinge. I smelled smoke, but faintly for some spell circulated air rapidly between the open windows. Concerned stallions hovered over me; they lit a rainbow of horns to provide light. Tin Whistle levitated a notebook, waving it wildly to fan air toward my muzzle.

The rough-hewn red-painted rafters looked scorched. I glanced at my bed; a puddle glimmered where it had been splashed with water. A few lines of smoke swirled up. Everything else had been shoved to make room when I had immolated. Somepony had thrown the purple draperies over me like a blanket—I smiled; it had obviously been done to protect my High Desert sensibilities, and that showed their respect. Fire had burnt the silky blue fabric of my mage's robe through in a few places, and singed it most every place else. Laying sadly discarded on the earthen floor, it was more black than blue now, and crinkled and bubbled where whole.

I looked at my audience. Star had fallen to the floor and looked like he'd been crying. Most of the other mages, including Rolling Rock, just stood in awe.

Da sat beside me. He held my right hoof between his two and shook it gently, if aimlessly. His amber eyes sparkled with moisture. "Thank goodness," he said. "Thank goodness."

"Had you worried, did I?" I grinned. "I've been through this before. I just didn't understand it."

Da shook his head. "You stopped breathing! They had to pound on you to get you breathing again. I though I'd lost you." His voice quavered and he stood shaking. "It was like the sun had come down to roost in my house—"

In our odd synchrony, Summer Daze and I whispered, "It had."

Da choked. "—then left, forever."

Rolling Rock added, "You're not going to be able to raise the sun and the moon everyday. It'll kill you."

I quashed a snappy Really? and nodded. I had to accept that. Well... At least trying to raise the moon had been terrifically hard.

Star got up and began pacing. He said nervously, "What you did, how you did it: this changes everything. Presenting you to the queen..." He huffed and shook his head, and huffed again. "We'll say you have no interest in politics. Strength in just one thing. A singular resource! We'll need to emphasize this. Since you command the celestial spheres, we're going to have rename you so your name sums up your value in one word that she can quickly comprehend, but to what? Sunrise? Daybreaker? Crystalina? Celestia? Heavena? Spheria…?"

He looked at his fellow mages and they nodded sagely as if they understood his logic. He faced me. "Crystal Hoof had a stamina you don't possess."

Despite sundering exhaustion, I pushed myself up, wobbling, saying, "No. No! Don't even think of murdering ponies to turn me into a winged monster!" I visualized pools of blood; nausea crept into my throat. "I forbid you!"

"Better to fear the Queen than us." The Acting Dominant Mage laughed, waggling his goat beard. "The Last King taught us many things, but the one we learned ourselves is that the magicks of all the pony tribes exist in the heart of all ponies, even in the heart of a unicorn. We will hire earth pony and pegasus tutors to find your inner tribal magic, that love that exists in the heart of all ponies. We will figure out how to provide you the endurance you need, without the magic of death. We must. It's why you must join—"

"No." With a sigh, I sat—because my shaking legs refused to support me—and raised a hoof. "I can promise to work with you, but I am a High Desert mare. I refuse to be controlled even by the most trustworthy of less than perfect choices. I'll work with you to move the heavens but you'll never make me an 'alicorn-gn-ga-gah—'

"Alicorngnathus—"

"Whatever, and you'll protect me from the improprieties of wrong-headed ponies who are trying to run my life. That's my offer."

I locked eyes with Rolling Rock. Those deep blue orbs were hard; he blinked as he thought about it—like a merchant who'd realized I'd left out something he could charge for later. "l—"

"If you try to coerce me in any way that goes against the spirit of my offer, my interpretation of it, I'll go my own way."

Buster said, "You and Queen Platinum will get along famously." His tone filled his words with equal parts speaking-truth-to-power and sarcasm.

Rolling Rock said, "This won't be easy."

"I'm a mare. Really, is anything easy? I promise to understand."

He raised a deep blue hoof. "Then so shall we. Deal."

I clacked hooves with him. "Deal." But because I had watched Da conduct business deals many times, I added in stallion-like fashion, "But we'll have that in writing before it is binding."

Da started laughing.

Star said, "So, Celestia—"

My neck nearly snapped as I looked at him. "My name is Sunny Daze!"

"My given name was Pace. Growing up brings responsibility and change."

I looked at Summer Daze, who had that determined expression I liked to consider to be his style of smiling. Da just shook his head, also with a smile, clearly overwhelmed by the events of the day.

I said, "Let's talk about that, alright?"

Star coughed. "Will you accept this new purpose in life?"

A purpose!? "Mares have a purpose in life: to raise foals and to keep their family." The import of the request and the respect it carried... Well, I just stared with my mouth open.

Da said, "I can't make this choice for you, Sunny Daze."

I looked at him, then at Summer. They both nodded.

They were right—they could not make the decision for me.

In a final act of resistance, neigh even disobedience, I lay back down, rested my head on outstretched forelegs, and fell instantly asleep.

They weren't going to take no, anyway, even if I didn't want to say yes.

For the record, the resistance I'd felt when I moved the moon was indeed the magic of another pony. However, By Platinum's Grace, she is another story.

Author's Note:

That was the original end of the story. But wait! There’s more. An epilogue follows.