• Published 13th Nov 2017
  • 894 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.

  • ...

Listen to Your Heart

“This is going to be embarrassing,” Rainbow continued, “so if you don't want to hear this, just stop me anytime.” She would have to try very hard to embarrass me, I think. Especially if this is about other people who aren’t related to me. Or maybe she...

“You know, I’m actually tired of all this.” She sighed and made a circular movement with her foreleg. “I’ve worked so hard to achieve what I can do. I wanted to fly faster and higher when I was at school. I imitated great fliers of the past, I was bold and self-assured...”

Someone opened the entrance door and Rainbow immediately stopped talking. She looked at me.

“Maybe you know some trick,” she almost whispered, “to muffle what we’re saying?”

Muffle? Well, I didn't know any technique for that...

“Rainbow, sorry...”

Was she about to cry? Wait, sound was carried by air, and I could control air!

“Actually, I'm not sorry,” I said.

Rainbow's pupils dilated and she almost stood up.

“No, no, I didn't mean that. I am sorry, maybe I know a way. Just let me think for a minute.”

To calm her I laid my talon on her foreleg. Rainbow jerked up her head at first, but her muscles visibly relaxed in a moment. But I still nearly jumped from my pillow when she did that. I still wasn’t sure how much physical contact was appropriate for ponies who have met only recently. Let alone between ponies and alien species from alien worlds.

At the same time I noticed that her eyes began fast movements right and left. I hoped it was because of these sensitive topics.

So, what I could do? I could reflect sound somewhere, or absorb it. To reflect I would need to make some gradient in the air: speed, temperature or density. But that would be hard without moving masses of air. And the owner of this place would hardly like a strong wind inside. So I’d have to absorb sound.

I couldn't create a resonance absorber, it needed a good sound reflection surface, which returned me to the gradients. Porous absorbers, maybe—but air doesn't have pores without additional materials... Wait, turbulence! A zone of turbulence would have many gradients and it could be contained in a small volume. So, I needed to summon a spirit of turbulence.

“Rainbow, I found a method that can muffle our conversation, I think.”

She stopped eating the cake and smiled at me.

“I will create a spherical layer of turbulence around us,” I said. “This should work like a sponge for sound.”

I closed my eyes and concentrated on the surface of the imaginary sphere, and pictured a number of small toroidal vortices. I heard a low humming and realised that turbulence itself created some noise. I hoped that it wouldn't become too loud before it began to absorb enough sound.

Now I needed to make more vortices, which create more speed and density gradients. I concentrated on points of contacts between the vortices. Surfaces of vortices moved in opposite directions, so it was a good place to create smaller swirls.

The good thing was that the noise didn't become louder. I assumed the bigger vortices absorbed the noise from smaller ones, or vice versa. Next I needed some more iterations. I already had such a complicated structure in my mind, I couldn't make it more complex. But I could imagine a fractal structure, self-similarity on smaller scales.

I concentrated on a small part of the sphere and imagined some more levels of similarity. Then I made myself feel that the same pattern of similarity repeated itself on smaller levels. And the pattern spread on the whole sphere. As a test, I tried to listen to the sounds from outside.

“Rainbow,” I said, without opening my eyes, “could you step outside the sphere and say something? I would like to check if it really absorbs sound.”

For several second she was silent, that I felt her remove her foreleg from my talon.

“Yeah, sure.” I heard, then she softly clattered from our table. Was she speaking much slower than before?

“Hey,” Rainbow said again, coming closer, “I'm talking now.”

“Yes,” I said immediately, “now I can hear you.”

“Looks like your muffling actually works,” she added.

“Good, let me hold it in my mind for a minute, to remember it better in a future, then we can continue.”

“You know,” Rainbow said, when I had almost memorised the structure of the sphere, “it’s beautiful.”


“See for yourself.”

I opened my eyes, blinking away the internal image of the sphere. Well, that was unexpected.

We were inside a shimmering, humming blue sphere. At first the sphere looked like it had no details, but when I looked closer I noticed surfaces of individual vortices. And the sphere was connected on opposite sides to my back through two translucent blue appendages.

“Of course!” I turned to Rainbow. “I subconsciously activated pegasus magic. It helped me to build this sphere.”

“Good, maybe you can teach me later.”

“Why not. So, shall we continue our conversation?”

Rainbow folded her ears back, but at least she was still smiling.

“You know, I wasn't always so brave and bold.” She turned her eyes down to the table. Again. “My mother taught me to be tender and considerate to others. But someday I decided it couldn't help me to fly faster. Neither could my parents.”

I remembered my own parents. I didn’t see them as often as I could, and I hoped I hadn’t distanced myself. Should I have done more? It was my life, after all. I suddenly couldn't decide what to do.

“I'm already one of the fastest fliers.” She paused and sighed. “But now I'm afraid of...”

Rainbow stopped abruptly and looked at me.

“No! I can do this! I can't be afraid of these silly things.”

She stomped both her forelegs on the table. It was good that ponies didn't use metallic horseshoes here, or she would have damaged the table.

Rainbow took several deep breaths, sat down on her pillow, and blinked the tears out of her eyes. Under her eyes I noticed matted bunches of her short and otherwise smooth fur.

“Is anypony else here?” she whispered. “Can they see my face?”

I looked around. Two mares sat around table in the distant part of the hall, talking to each other. A mare with a powder blue shag cut and a light aquamarine coat—it was Harpy, if I wasn’t mistaken, though I couldn’t see her mark. Another one had fuchsia and cobalt-blue striped curled bangs and a pale yellow coat. They looked at me and Rainbow a couple of times.

“Actually, we have two spectators, but as long as you don't turn your face to them, they can see only your back.”

“That's good,” Rainbow said. “I’m actually afraid. That they might see me like this. But I can't hold these things... These feelings inside me forever.”

She turned her gaze from her hoofs to me. Several drops of water from her eyes hit the table. Her lips and eyelids began twitching.

“Why! Why am I like this! I don't want to be such crybaby.”

“Rainbow.” I paused.

What I could tell her? I was always taught how to conceal emotions, not how to show them or discuss. And my singing exercises, even if they helped me to express my feelings, could hardly help her now.

But I had to at least try.

“Rainbow, I'm sorry, I don't know how to help you with that. But you can tell me anything, and I wouldn't reveal it to anyone.”

“Fine,” she said, nodding. “Talking’s good already, because I haven't talked about this topic to other ponies since, I don't know, forever.”

“Maybe you could talk to some of your friends?” I asked. “Especially to someone who’s known you for a long time.”

“Don't know. I met most of my friends only a couple of years ago.”

She was beginning to calm down. At least she had stopped twitching, and her voice was becoming more tranquil.

“Most of your friends? Does that mean you have someone...”

“Well, yeah.” She looked on the table again. “Shimmering. I’ve known her since flight school.”

“Did she know about...”

“No! Well, I'm not sure, actually.”

No, she began sobbing again...

“You know,” she said, her voice breaking, “Shimmering behaves very similar to... to my mother. Both are caring, considerate, courteous. When my other friends hug me, I know, it's a common gesture between friends. But when Shimmering does, it's like I suddenly went home. And met mom.”

“Rainbow.” I briefly looked on the pastries, but they didn’t appear very tasty right now. “What do you think or feel about that?”

“I don't know.” She paused. “Shimmering may suspect something. She possibly saw that I behave differently with her than with our other friends.”

“If she knows, maybe you can finally tell her about it?”

“But what if she doesn't know? What if she thinks I have a crush on her?”

“If she really cares, she will listen to you in any case.” I wasn't totally sure about that, actually, but it seemed very likely.

“I hope so. But I’m still afraid that other ponies will find out. That they will see me like this.” She looked at me intently. “Tell me; am I repulsive when I'm whining like this?”

“You're not repulsive, and don't listen if someone tell you otherwise. You're actually very pretty.”

Wait, what was that all about? Did I really think she was pretty?

“Do you really think so?” she asked, her voice caught.

Yeah, I guess I did....

“Of course. And when you cry I actually want to hug you and tell you not to worry.”

What did I just say? It sounded like my voice, but...

“But I feel so weak!” she cried. “I can't get hugs my whole life. I need to fly higher, faster—”

“Stop that!”

Did I actually just interrupt her? But yes, she stopped and looked at me with the biggest eyes I'd ever seen in this world. She even stopped breathing

I continued, “Rainbow, I'm sorry. You may feel weak but actually...”

“Yes?” she breathed out.

I realized what I should say.

“Actually, you are not weak, because if you can expose this part of your personality, you are really brave. I know that, because I'm not like this.” Something ached inside my chest, as I said that.

“You...” Was she still looking at me? Everything became unpleasantly unclear.

“Rainbow, I can fly fast, and fight quite well, but for some reason I'm afraid of naming what I might be feeling right now. I keep telling myself that I just don't know.”

Something touched my cheek.

“You're crying...”

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