• Published 24th Jul 2012
  • 3,752 Views, 145 Comments

Darkened Shores - Silver Flare

An adventure that takes the Mane 6 around the world to face the what destroyed the alicorn homeland.

  • ...

Lyral Thredony

The sun sparkled brightly off of Canterlot's elegant spires and cobbled streets alike. The smell of the warm summer air pervading the streets and open market carried just the right balance of baked goods and lilacs. The Canterlot weather team had quite outdone themselves, some ponies might have mentioned. Others might have pointed out the extra couple of hours they'd been given in the afternoon two days before, and why shouldn't they be on top of things? And if the day seemed just a tiny bit colder than yesterday, well that was to be expected when living at such altitudes, wasn't it?

At a table in one of Canterlot University's courtyards, a golden-eyed unicorn poked glumly at the salad she'd ordered. Then she squinted into the harsh glare of the sun, as though it had wilted her appetite long before it could have wilted the lettuce before her.

Sitting across from her, an earth pony with an elegant coif stopped mid-sentence. "I'm sorry, am I boring you?"

"What?" The unicorn perked her ears and straightened her spine. "No. . . I mean, that sounds great. Let's do it." Her usually subdued and melodic voice had an unfamiliar edge to it.

"Do what?" The way her companion said 'what' made this unicorn realize she'd dropped the ball. Again.

Crud. She thought. The unicorn scratched her head with a nervous hoof, but she went on the offensive. "The museum. You said you wanted to go look at the new tech exhibit, right?"

"Lyra, that was like five minutes ago." The earth pony sounded more disappointed than angry.

"Well look, I'm sorry if I've had a long day, okay?" Lyra's tone didn't sound apologetic. "There was a simply massive line at Barns and Noble this morning, and by the time I'd worked my way up the queue they were out of crullers. . ."

"That is a bad omen."

"Right. Anyway, I was late to my first class, so of course Silver Note made me stay to discuss the importance of punctuality in a student of music, completely missing the irony of making me late to my next class. And then my vocal coach gave me more grief about studying multiple instruments as well as voice. And to top it off, I'm certain I nearly failed my music history essay!"

The earth pony nodded in understanding, her blue mane with its rose-pink streak bobbing with her. "Which is why I'm here." She said softly. "To try to make your day a little better."

Lyra sighed heavily and laid her head on the table in front of her. "I know. . ."

"This just doesn't seem like you, Lyra." The earth pony reached out a hoof and placed it over Lyra's. "Enrolling in summer classes, taking on extra courses, pushing yourself like this. . . I mean, I was really looking forward to having you back this summer. Especially after. . ."

Lyra pulled away. "I'm just trying to get ahead, Bon. Is it wrong to apply myself? Seriously, I'd hoped you would be more supportive than this!"

A louder voice managed to interrupt the pair, even before addressing them directly. ". . .'ll be there, you know it! No Scratch, no party, that's right!" The approaching unicorn lifted up a pair of goggles, and made no effort to reduce the volume of her voice. "Wub-a-dub dub, motherbuckers! How's it hangin' on CU's west side?"

Bon Bon's smile was polite, if nothing else. "Just enjoying the beautiful day, Vinyl."

"Yeah, that's great. Listen," Vinyl dropped her voice down from a shout to merely loud. "There's gonna be a party at Neon Light's place this Saturday night. You little fillys down for some bass-dropping bad-assery?"

Lyra glared up from her tray. "I don't know, are you ready to slide from one meaningless party to another, with no objective except to score your next high and eventually die alone in the back alleys of Manehattan un-mourned and useless?"

"Lyra!" Bon Bon gasped in shock.

Vinyl's enthusiasm drained away. ". . . What?" She said, sounding unsure of what to think, let alone say.

Lyra sighed. "Just get out of here. Some of us want to accomplish things with our lives." She went back to poking at her food.

"Tch." Vinyl struggled to gather up her defenses as she beat a hasty retreat. "Whatever. Stuck-up prudes."

Bon Bon waited until they wouldn't be overheard. "Lyra, what's the matter with you? This isn't like you at all!"

"Oh, come on!" The mint pony gestured towards the departed DJ. "She's always shouting about stuff and cheating on tests. . ."

Bon Bon interrupted. "But you haven't always been mean!"

"Oh, is that what it was? I thought it was called 'being honest.'" Lyra snapped.

Bon Bon paused for a heavy breath. "I'm worried about you. Your parents are worried. . ."

"Don't drag them into this!"

"Ever since the changeling incursion, you've just been so distant. . ."

"Yeah, remember that?" Lyra's soft voice wasn't naturally suited to harsh screaming, but she tried. "Because I remember it! I remember being brainwashed! You have no idea what that feels like, do you? That's right, you can't possibly know what it's like! So why are you trying so hard to make me feel like the bad guy here?"

"Hey, don't treat me like I don't care, okay? I traveled all the way up here from Ponyville just to. . ."

"Well, maybe you shouldn't have."

Bon Bon's eyes filled with tears. "If you aren't a changeling. . . you sure are changing." She finally said, gathering her things and trotting away.

Lyra watched her go without a word. Then, with a shuddering breath, she grabbed her lyre and her notebooks, and headed out in a different direction.

Of course, all of the practice rooms on campus were taken, so Lyra found herself in the heart of the Canterlot Gardens practicing the more complicated runs she had to master. By the time the sun began setting, Lyra found she still did not want to go back to her apartment. So she found a bench near some statuary and closed her eyes, thinking bleak thoughts about her day. A pair of ponies trotted by, arguing quietly. All I wanted was some peace and quiet. She growled under her breath.

They didn’t understand. None of them understood her need to keep playing, her need to immerse herself in music. Well, her new friend Minuette understood. During the invasion Chrysalis, the Queen of the changelings, had broken and bent both of their psyches. They’d felt their will scooped from their minds like so much ice cream and thrown away, replaced by something dark and spiteful. How could Lyra explain what that felt like to someone else? How could she explain what it felt like to be unmade? She never spoke of it. She didn’t have words for it. During the days that followed Chrysalis’s defeat, Lyra appeared in public, acted out her life, finished her classes, and smiled at the world. But her nights were spent staring at the wall and feeling just as blank.

Only the music she immersed herself in made her feel whole again. It seemed to bring her back to herself, and she reveled in the sensation. And spending time with Minuette helped. Just being around one another helped, knowing that they had both been in that dark place together. She knew that they understood one another. Staying in classes, giving in to the music, spending time with her friends, keeping herself busy, Lyra was starting to feel almost normal. There were more good days than bad, now. But today? Today was definitely a bad day.

She dwelled on her relationship with Bon Bon, one of the gentlest ponies she'd ever met. The two of them had gotten along so very well the first few months. They had a great deal in common. But after the changeling incursion, they started to drift apart. Bon Bon was very supportive and patient, at first, but Lyra always seemed a little cold. A little detached. There was a distance there that she couldn’t breach, and Lyra knew she didn’t hide it well enough. Lyra was no changeling, that was certain, but Bon Bon had accused her of changing, and. . . maybe she had. Lyra found more solace in her music than in Bon Bon's company these days, and Bon always seemed to take that personally. She thought to herself, Maybe I’m not cut out for relationships. Or maybe we’re just too different. It was plausible. If she had changed, maybe their differences were irreconcilable. I should end it tonight.

“Who’s there?” Lyra sat up and quickly looked around. Had she heard something? No, probably just the wind. But she felt like she wasn’t alone. It was the same feeling one gets when you’re standing in a line and someone comes up and stands behind you. Yet, as twilight fell on the garden grounds, Lyra could clearly see she was all alone. She tried to remember what she’d been thinking. Oh, yes. Breaking up with Bon Bon. Maybe she was right. If they had grown apart, then there was no sense in dragging the relationship out any longer. Lyra teared up, feeling worse now than she had all day. She gathered her things and headed back to her apartment.

Had she paid more attention to her surroundings, she might have noticed just which statue she’d been resting near.

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!