• Published 13th Nov 2017
  • 881 Views, 22 Comments

I Can Read Names in Clouds - Yuu

In the aftermath of the confusion with replacing the newest princess, a human arrives to learn about pony society.

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Across the Universe

Scents of meadow flowers filled the air around me, replacing the strong flavour of tree bark and leaves. I quickly headed into the light that heralded the exit from the forest, and I had to squint my eyes from the sharp sunlight that contrasted with the general gloom of the forest. Once my eyes adjusted, I carefully looked around, spotting a town nearby. It seemed similar to one the spirit had shown me, but he hadn’t told me what to look for. Was it a person or a place? Most likely a person, one who was capable of sending a messenger spirit.

The streets were filled with small colourful equines, again matching the spirit's vision.

The setting around me could be mistaken for Earth: the sole, yellow, morning sun shined in the electric blue sky. The clouds also looked quite normal—formless white puffs. Though the town was more colourful compared to cities on Earth, befitting its inhabitants. Houses, trees, even roads in the town were bright and saturated. And the forest behind me appeared very familiar, though a botanist still might notice something alien.

I sat on the roof of a small house, observing the equines and listening in on their conversations. Almost all of them had small images on their haunches, with only the smaller equines being the exceptions. What should I do in regards to a first contact situation? Well, perhaps it was time to apply the training I had.

One couple discussed a recent holiday; another talked about furthering their education in the near future. Having observed the beings for a while, I decided it would be better to refer to them as ponies. It was certainly easier than calling them ‘small equine creatures’ every time.

None of them had anything on their hooves. I could only assume their hooves were very strong, or this town had a pavement suitable for ponies. Of course, they might need to use hoof boots outside of town.

Several buildings had small signboards with different symbols or images. These signboards seemed to be made of wood and had small holes in them, enabling them to be attached to walls. I was even able to recognise some of the symbols and their significance, such as the one on the burgundy building nearby. There was a flower on its signboard, so the building was likely a flower shop.

I noticed only a few ponies with hues that were familiar to me. Their manes and coats sometimes bordered on the bizarre in their colour combination. Mane length and style also varied greatly: long and short, curled and straight. Some of the curls looked too perfect, so I suspected they were created artificially.

A pony with a light cyan-grey mane styled in a mohawk, of all things, walked out of a nearby building. He had a dark grey coat, bordering on black, and a mark which looked like a cloud with a lightning bolt. A cheerful-looking mare with light-brown mane and twin braids trotted on the street, her tail fashioned into another braid.

I cursed myself, for I had missed her mark symbol; she had quickly turned around the corner. At most, I had barely glimpsed what seemed to be geometrical shapes on her light grey flank. In any case, I noticed a mare with light grey curly mane who was close to me, turning her head to the right, then to the left, possibly looking for something. She had a light purplish-grey coat and something white and fluffy on her flank—maybe a cloud? Unfortunately she didn’t speak to any other ponies before going off in her own direction.

Comparing with manes, the coats looked more or less uniform in texture. Also some ponies had jewellery, mostly in form of necklaces and hairpins.

All ponies looked pretty healthy except a mare with a cerise shag cut and a pale yellow coat. She had a bandaged leg and walked slower than the others, limping slightly.

I had assumed, from the physiology of the ponies I had seen so far, that they were mostly mares, but after several minutes of ponies passing by, I began to doubt the accuracy of guessing their gender. With a flap of my wings, I returned to the ground to gain a lower vantage point. After ten minutes of observation, I realised that this town had at least two mares to a stallion. I wasn’t mistaken before—they didn’t wear clothing, except for saddlebags and hats, so their gender was determined rather easily.

I spotted another mare with a shag cut with familiar colours. Her mane and tail were pale yellow and she had a light steel-blue coat. She walked down the street with large saddlebags attached to her. When she trotted near three smaller ponies, possibly fillies, they noticed her.

“How does she do that?” asked one of them, light olive with an amaranth side fringe.

The mare in question noticed the three fillies and turned an eye on them, still looking at the road with her other eye.

Really, how could she control her eyes like that?

A white-coated filly with mulberry and rose-striped, curled bangs turned to the others. “She had a pet lizard when she was young and she learned from it, somehow. My sister told me so.”

The third filly, amber-coated with a cerise shag cut, sat with a slightly opened mouth, possibly an expression of awe, then turned to her friends.

“I heard she can see invisible creatures. Maybe she can teach us?”

“Nah, somepony told me she writes books in her free time, and those are ideas for a story,” the filly with the mulberry and rose bangs said.

“Hey, maybe she can teach me, too!” a pony with a curly raspberry mane exclaimed, suddenly appearing behind the three fillies. How did she manage to sneak over?

The fillies screamed and scattered in different directions, a cloud of dust the only evidence of their congregation.

“Hehe, sorry,” the mare with the raspberry mane said. She had a pink coat, and three ovals of different colours on her flank. She sat down, looking at the mare with the yellow shag cut, and said to no one, “Maybe somepony can still teach me...”

In that moment, I realised that I could lose the entire day listening to random conversations. No-one around me was talking about spirits or sending messages, or anything else of note.

I needed to find traces of magic if I was going to find out who had sent that message. Even with my limited capability to detect magic, I could manage it, and I could fly around town to cover more ground.

I leapt off the ground and flapped my wings, the noise attracting some glances from nearby ponies. The town was more or less rectangular in its layout, so I began to fly from one edge to another in a zigzag pattern. Regular use of magic would leave some imprint on the surroundings, an imprint I could hopefully identify.

It took me more than an hour to cover the whole town, but I located three places with a magical residue. I found a rectangular house, a cylindrical house, and a house inside a tree. Unfortunately, none of them had any trace of spirit magic, but at least there were some kinds of magic I couldn’t recognize.

I had seen mages grow and meld trees in different shapes. This tree house also looked like a result of some manipulations, not just a big tree with a hollowed interior. Considering this was a different world, it was an interesting coincidence. What would be next, a home carved out from a giant mushroom?

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